The World Becomes Introspective

Today, I find myself with a few moments and a mind full of thoughts that have been peculating over the past few weeks.

It’s been just over 3 weeks since I’ve stepped inside a store, a restaurant, an office…etc. Other than a gas station and the Emergency Room for D’s broken arm fiasco, I haven’t seen another human face in person other than the three boys I live with. And I’m okay with that. This post isn’t really about my own isolation but rather things that have begun to come into focus through it.

We all have choices to make. Every day, we make choices that impact our lives and even those around us. These choices can add joy, anxiety, freedom, constriction to our lives. How often do we consider the impact of our choices, though? What will it do to the “whole” of our lives? I don’t think I’ve truly thought about that in years. Life moves at such speed that I often feel I’m moving through the moments trying to get through each day without slipping up. Without forgetting something important in my disorganized world.

Because that’s a thing. I am not organized. I want to be organized. I want everything to live in a neat little space, but I don’t operate that way. I don’t think I ever have or truly ever will.

I thought maybe I’d get my shit together when I took a faculty position and could spend time home during the summers. But those kids! They want to go places, do things, EAT! And then came the community garden. All of a sudden my cherished summer space became similar to the rest of the year. Kids, appointments, gardens, paperwork, classes to prepare for… all gets so bundled and jumbled and…just…so…busy. Each day is a day to get through with sparse moments of pure enjoyment.

And now it’s not.

Yes. I’m busy. Seven online classes. Zoom sessions. New puppy. Kids that need things. Kids that need to learn. Kids that break their freaking arms! But you know what isn’t there? The places to be and the people to see. There is no wrestling practice, music lessons, or ninja classes. There is no office to go to. There is no grocery store trip. No dentists. No doctors. No birthday parties. No yoga. No….nothing.

And I love it.

Yes. I’m busy. But I wake up, drink some coffee, eat some breakfast, and start my day. There are moments for introspection.

Even with a world in disarray, so many unknowns, and different types of stressors, I am more relaxed than I’ve been in years. It literally feels like my shoulders have lost that tightness I carry almost daily. My eyes are scrunched in the middle less frequently. My brain feels less scattered and chaotic. I like being home. I like NOT having obligations.

We have a rare opportunity to assess things most important to us. I hope not to squander the moment. I hope to make the best of this situation because there should be some good that comes from it. There has to be some good. I am fortunate enough to have my job, have my family, be able to pay my bills, and be able to stay home. I am one of the lucky ones. The least I can do is NOT waste this time. So these are the things I’ve been pondering.

  1. I’m well-equipped for this.

    I love my people and I love spending time with my people. However, it usually comes with some kind of public interaction that leaves me uneasy if only for a few moments. If new people are involved, it means I have to make small talk or seem like the “snobby” friend or the “unfriendly” friend. I don’t like small talk. I’m not witty. I’m not funny. My comebacks or great responses usually come to me on the car ride HOME when I think, “damn it! Why didn’t I say THAT!” Or “damn it! Why DID I say that?”

    And I hate being “on” all the time. I don’t want to be “on.” When I’m with just my own people, I don’t have to be. If I want to take a walk, I don’t have to worry about people wondering if I’m okay. I’m fine. I just need a few moments to breath. To be alone. To regroup. To think. There are few people in my world that understand this about me. And there are few people in my world that I am truly comfortable saying whatever around. Being stuck at home relieves the pressure.

  2. I’m an observer and it’s exhausting.

    I have always watched the world. I pick up on nuances of people’s personalities. I think I developed this level of observation out of necessity, but nevertheless, it’s there. And it’s exhausting. It’s not that I’m intentionally sizing people up. I have a genuine interest in how people interact with each other. I’m a people watcher (not to be confused with stalker).

    These insights help me navigate the world in which I reside, and at times, they’ve protected me from danger.

    I can see the good in people when others may see them as off standish or selfish or mean or whatever other term you wanna come up with. I can see motivations for actions. And I defend these people.

    I can also see the not-so-good. The manipulation. The drama hogs. The insecurities. The lies. The holes no one else seems to recognize. And often, these people are necessary. They’re people I can’t necessarily call out…and I’d have a hard time doing it anyway because confrontation just isn’t my thing. (I can be confrontational, but generally, I retreat from it).

    This is exhausting. It’s hard to be “friends” with the person that can’t see their own value. They can’t see their own good. It’s hard to defend the people that seem to want to sabotage themselves. It’s hard to navigate the people with ulterior motives. It’s hard to process all the ins and outs. It’s hard to try to see every situation from all sides.

    Right now, I don’t have to navigate these waters. I talk to who I want. And that’s it. There are no people to watch. No observations to make (unless you count FB). No conflicts to smooth over between people. No explanations to give on behalf of others. No attempts to get people to see different points of view. I spend more time than any one person should on trying to make “peace” for those in my world. And I shouldn’t.

    That doesn’t mean I should never help. Never explain. Never discuss. It just means I should spend a little more time focused on observing my needs as opposed to others because when I spend all of my energy observing others and giving my energy to others, I do not give to myself. I do not take care of me.

    I need to take better care of me.

  3. I’m not where I want to be.

    My career is solid and I love it. I’m so thankful for the opportunities I have to impact the lives of students. Yes, it’s exhausting and sometimes falls under #2, but this is where I want to spend my energy in the workforce.

    From a health standpoint? I’m far from it. Since we’ve been home, we don’t eat out. We can’t grab a “quick bite.” In fact, as soon as I finish this, I’m going to whip up a smoothie to tide us over until dinner.

    Prior to “home,” I’d fallen into a bad habit. So busy, so rushed. No time for breakfast. Little time for lunch. I have eaten more fast food in the past 6 months than I would ever care to admit. I’ve had more drinks than I’d care to admit. I’ve pepped up with soda more than I’d care to admit. And each time, I would say, “I’m going to stop doing this. I’m going to make more time to work out. I’m going to eat healthy and bring food with me.” I didn’t. I was too tired. So tired. No time.

    Today I’m joining a yoga class. Tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I’m signed up for classes through Zoom. I had a home-cooked breakfast and a quick, but healthy lunch. I’m drinking a small cup of mushroom coffee to pep up now and will energize with a smoothie full of veggies, fruits, and protein-filled seeds.

    I have time to do this. I have TIME.

    I don’t know how to keep that moving forward, but I hope to use this time to re-establish good habits and remove bad habits. I’m working on it.

  4. Simplicity is a wonderful thing.

    I think this is the most important realization. Simplicity is beautiful. And I thrive in simplicity. Yes, my life is still messy. I hear a chair scraping the kitchen floor as I write, but all the outside clutter is gone. No, I can’t spring clean because where would I take all the stuff I want to rid myself of? Or maybe I just can’t do the “traditional” spring clean.

    Maybe I can spring clean my life.

    There’s an opportunity here. A real opportunity. A moment has been given where we can assess our outside lives. I am a relatively simple person. Maybe I need to focus on what each “outside” thing brings to me. Is it joy? Is it stress? Anxiety? Fear? Hope? Love? I know I can’t have all the positives all the time, but why can’t I have most of them most of the time? I can. I just need to simplify.

    Who do I want to see when this is over? What do I want to spend time doing when this is over? What things do I want to give energy to when this is over? And by giving to these things, what things do I lose at home? What do I pull away from myself and my family? And is it worth it?

    To achieve #2 and #3, I have to achieve #4. I have to simplify. I have to decide how I want to move forward.

I don’t have all the answers, but right now, I do have the time. What means the most? What can I live without? What do I need? What will help me better achieve the balance I seek in life between work, social, kids, home? These are the things I’m pondering.

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