Monday, November 7, 2011

Moments that bring clarity

There are moments when something or someone makes you take a look at your life and where you're going and what you might really want. These moments happen quickly and can be ignored just as easily as they can be recognized. I suppose it takes a certain mindset to do either. And lately, since about the time I found out I was pregnant, I have had the right kind of mindset for recognition.

I am not an overly religious person. I do not attend a church. I have thought about doing so, but have yet to take that leap. I truly feel that God will not hold against me that I don't spend hours on Sunday mornings sitting in a building that may or may not have been originally created as a church. I truly believe that God knows what's in my heart and will focus instead on that and my actions.

With all that said, I have struggled in my life to put my faith a deity that my mind cannot comprehend or prove with certainty. I have always talked to God and asked him to please guide me to him should he exist. That I know he shouldn't have to, but I need it. After every damn thing I've been put through and suffered, I NEED reassurance of his existence. Some of you may be condemning me to hell at this very moment, and that's okay, because as far as I understand it, no human knows who is going to heaven or hell. So your opinion on my eventual place of rest hardly matters (sorry for the bluntness).

And so there are moments when I am in place where I can recognize a push or shove. And I am feeling such a force in my life now. I have spent a lifetime dreaming of the life I want to have. I have spent hours imagining a life where I didn't have to worry about paying bills, keeping the house or the car, buying food or avoiding the embarrassment of taking food stamps. I have spent my entire life focused on ensuring I never, ever go back to where I was. That my children will never live as I lived. That I would not suffer the pain of poverty or addiction. These things have always guided toward an ambitious goal. I have been, and remain, driven because when you grow up as I did, you either succumb to that life or you rise above it. The problem is in knowing when you have risen high enough.

I always want more. Not because I'm greedy. Not that all. I want more so I can give more, if anything. But that's not it either. I want more because the more I gain, the further away I am from that life. I want to be as far ahead as I can be. The further I advance, the more secure I feel. I know money isn't everything, but when you grew up with none, it's hard not to think about it or let it be a factor in your every day and your career.

The problem is that the higher you climb, the less time you have and the more obligations you find yourself committed to. Someone recently told me that women need to get out of the mindset that they have to be the ultimate caretaker. I recognized it as a sign. Things in my work life have also shifted since becoming pregnant. I have seen opportunities pass me by, and while I won't pretend to know why, I know why. And that's okay. I recognized this, too, as a sign.

I have a three-year-old who thrives under my attention and adores me. Trouble is, I often find myself short-tempered or preoccupied with "other" things. I often find myself the victim of copious amounts of stress brought on by trying to "do it all." At some point, I will break if I continue on this path. It has to happen. Right?

So bring on the next sign. I went to a conference last week. I always bring one of those sappy books with me that requires no thought so I can distract myself from the fact that I'm so high above the Earth that should something go wrong, there's about a .0000000000001% chance I'll survive. But I had some time to kill, so I was looking in the gift shop. I came across a book entitled, Left Neglected. The back cover read something like...this busy working mom who is VP of HR is trying to do it all when an event brings about life changes that make her reexamine her life, her choices, and what's really important. I recognized the sign and bought the book.

As I read her day-to-day activities, I found so much of myself in her. I could relate to what she felt and what she was saying and the dream she was trying to live. I found myself questioning my own choices and my own life. And (SPOILER ALERT), when the accident occurred, I recognized how easily it could me. I check and answer email while driving. I text while driving. I drive on awful roads. And I tell myself NOT to do it, yet I do because every email and every text seems so vitally important that I respond that instant, lest I lose my standing. She lost her left side. Look up Left Neglect if you're curious. She had to rethink everything. I don't want to wait until that moment to recognize what's screaming at me right now! I have to slow down. I don't have to move at warp speed. I don't have to achieve the highest level of recognition. I don't have to lead an entire department to be successful.

And the thing is, I may very well do that very thing someday. But that someday doesn't have to be this year or next year or even five years from now. I have a lot of working life left. Why rush. Our family makes decent money. We struggle, but we don't hurt for things. Yes, I'd feel more comfortable with more, but I'm comfortable now.

And so as I prepare to welcome another life into this world and into our home and into our family, I am listening. And I have never listened more clearly.


  1. Your heart and mind are open and that is such a beautiful thing!

  2. This is a great post. One thing I must say is that you have to put your cell phone away or your will end up dead and then you can't be the mom you want to be. Second, I grew up going to church. When we married my husband felt he paid his dues to the church and we never went. He was Catholic I was raised Presbyterian. Our children were not raised in a church. God has always been with me. About 14 years ago I joined a church and I loved it. Then we moved further away and I eventually stopped going. God loves me and I don't have to be in church each Sunday. We have a great realtionship.

  3. It is so easy to get caught up in life and all the things we feel we need to do. I think it is completely normal to lose sight of certain things because we are so focused on the end result. But in the drive to get to that point, that end result, we miss out on so many things, like slowing down to enjoy the journey. I'm completely guilty of this too. There are times where I get so upset with myself because I let the every day stress start getting to me and I forget to truly enjoy every second of my kids life. It's easy for me to get caught up in all the chores I have in my head that need to get done, but when I get a second to think about it, or sometimes it's the look on my daughter's face when I say I can't do something with her at that moment because I have to finish washing the dishes etc. It sometimes takes the sadness on her sweet little face, or time to reflect, before I realize that the important things are staring me right in the face, that those dishes will always be there, but my daughter's wish to spend time with me, won't be. I realize I will regret the moments I wasted because I was too focused on things I thought I needed to get done, when I really should have dropped everything to go make memories with my two kids.

    These reality checks are important, it brings our misguided focus back where it belongs.