Saturday, April 14, 2007

Downtime is a good thing

Four days into my five days off and I'm feeling much more rested. I've needed to just decompress from work and I don't mind saying that until I started writing this post today, I had not thought about work once.

I've also been able to do a lot of writing, reflecting, and met with my spiritual director, Fr. Silva, yesterday. I really poured out some stuff to him and it's amazing how helpful a totally objective and insightful person can be. So, even though I still have much thinking and interior work to do, I have already passed one test and I'm pleased with how I managed things.

There are lots of micro-sized things to work on but the big picture item is now being without any responsibility to aging parents or growing children. I have complete freedom to pursue who I am. I know that is a way over-used phrase but that is exactly what is going on. I am learning how to be true to and secure about myself, understand myself, and I'm starting to zero in on the most true expression of the creative side of myself.

I'm discovering that the areas I felt I was lacking in and that I viewed as a weakness (focus, authority, discipline, and structure - FADS) were actually expressions of my more introverted and reflective personality. I show a very different face to the world so I'm often mistaken as being a gregarious and outgoing person. Surprise, surprise - I'm not really the extrovert I thought I was. Yes, I'm not shy; yes, I'm open and friendly to people, but I find it much easier to be on my own or close to just my immediately family and long-time friends, then pursuing day in and day out social friendships. Basically, I'm accepting that I am very comfortable in my own skin and I should not view the lack of a large social network as a failure on my part. I guess a good way to put this is, where friendships/family relationships are concerned quality will always win out over quantity.

Mom's death has freed me to stand on my own; has freed me to move forward to a discovery of my real strengths and along the way, I'm discovering that FADS are really my friends, not the negatives that I have come to view them as. I can tell FOCUS that it is alright if I daydream. Daydreams are what bring me to my poetry and vision of the world around me. I can tell AUTHORITY that even though I might consult with others, in the end, it is my opinion, my feelings that count. I can tell DISCIPLINE that it is perfectly alright if I don't go from point A to point B with no sidetrips inbetween. If I finish something fast, fine. If it takes me years, fine. And I can tell STRUCTURE that I'm not a youth anymore. I don't need the structures and rules of childhood to clutter my adult thinking. I don't need to have my adult mind intruded upon by voices that sound like lecturing scolds.

Coming to grips with the adult person that I am isn't easy. Even though I feel I have been a successful adult - strong marriage, adult children that are managing life well, a job I feel a lot of loyalty to and responsibilty for - there are still those lessons to learn when you are on your own and cut loose from whatever it is that ties you to the idea of putting others first.

The two things that I would like to change and improve on are weight and writing.

Weight is a complicated issue for nearly all women and I have no intention of exploring my weight issues here. However, I did make a decision today to try again to get healthy. After mentioning bi-pass surgery to Don, I discovered that he was not keen on the idea at all. He asked me why I couldn't try again with something that I have tried with some success in the past. Since I know that the 3 week or 3 month mark tend to be my downfall times, I'm going to go into this time with a counselor and tackle those tough times as they approach and ask for help getting through them. Also, Don is being really supportive and agreed to go with me to the Jenny Craig offices tomorrow. I've known people who have had great success with this program and the on-line site was very helpful in my making this decision. I have learned very clearly that I cannot do this on my own.

Writing is the area I want to explore. I love poetry but I have never real delved into the discipline (there's that word again) of poetry. I've never taken a literature class that concentrates on poetry as a writing style. I have loved the writing I do here whether it be reflections, poetry, or reports of the day. But now I think it is time to take a class or join a writing group and immerse myself in the methods of poetry writing and essay writing. I include essay here because I have learned that the short form in writing, like the miniature form in my visual arts is what is most successful for me.

I might not have ever gotten to this place had I not started blogging. Before I started blogging, I was all over the creative map, trying many things and not exploring any of them deeply. I like the work I've done and for the most part, the work is a reflection of my writing style - to use as few words as possible to convey a large message or idea. I admire the artwork of many of the women I have met here but I found that the real pull was for writing.

This week I started cleaning out my studio. It is overrun with art supplies and ephemera. I will keep some of it but I decided today to get rid of most of it, especially the paper and fiber, beads and charms. I'm not quite sure what to do with it all but now that the idea is out there, I'm sure there is an answer right around the corner. Oddly enough, once I decided to do this, it became a lot easier for me to zero in on the direction of my resurrecting studio. I hope by the time it is finished that I will have identified areas for my sewing machine, a writing and art journal area, and storage for family photos going back to the 19th century. I have lots of archiving to do.

I have all of you to thank for this. Being welcomed into your creative worlds has helped me to finally discover what it is I want to do and grow in those efforts in a more structured way. But this time is will a structure that I build. Thoughts and input accepted and desired but in the end I will finally have the creative house and healthy body that Annie built.

15 comments:

Star said...

Such positive words here, Annie. I could stand to take a page out of your book...

trailbee said...

Sometimes we don't understand the road signs that almost knock us over. It takes courage and a willingness to try things, discard, and try again. It is why we set such great store by family and friends. You are correct, blogging is a blessing for so many reasons. You are aware, Annie, you will be doing this agaain...? Oh, yes, but you'll be that much wiser. Tuesday.

Susie said...

Glad you've had some quite relaxing and introspective time.
The studio you're planning sounds like it will include some wonderful areas for you to explore your creativity. Your 19th century photos are a treasure onto themselves!!
Love your music today...
((hugs))

Tammy said...

This sounds like a wonderful plan. Your writing is wonderful and will get better as you continue to write, finding your zone. Enjoy this time! HUGS

diana said...

YOU.GO.GIRL !!! and hey Jenny helped Kirstie... she can help Annie !! xoxoxo

LisaOceandreamer said...

I am in awe of this post Annie, for many reasons. I never had the children part but my mom AND my dad were a large part of me and my responsibility to/for them for several years. When I lost my mom it left me wondering who I am, what am I really about, where is MY focus. This all has hit home for me and I want to thank you for putting it out here in your, as always, eloquent way. Even the weight issue. I wish you blissful peace and complete self satisfaction as you embark on this journey.
XOXO

AnnieElf said...

Thank you all for your kind words and loving support.

Star - Take any and all pages.

Trailbee - Yes indeed. There is always something is there?

Susie - I'm actually pretty excited about the evolving studio. I never expected it to go in this direction.

Diana - Kirstie was pretty much where I am now when she started. Of course, I'm not 5'9" and stacked so the results won't look quite so Amazonian but I'm sure looking forward to seeing what has been hiding away for way too long.

Lisa - You and Kara and I have been such sisters through this journey together, losing our moms within 3 months of each other. I'm so grateful that I had the loving support of both of you and was able to give you the same.

Ally Bean said...

You sound like you are well on the way to being yourself. Change is difficult, but good. I'm rooting for you.

Jone said...

Wow. Many parrallels here for me...the exploring the creative side, the deeper knowing of who I am not that parents are gone.
Good luck on your studio. am glad to have met you in this creative community.

Rethabile said...

I agree. Change is hard, but good. I've liked the poetry of Annie that I've ever read. There's a lot of potential there, so going in the direction you've chosen is almost the most natural thing to do. good luck. know that we're behind you all the way.

CattyCat said...

You are getting pretty clear Annie. I'm proud of you and it sounds like you are in a very goal oriented state of mind and you are admitting the truth to yourself of what it will take to achieve your goals. I wish you only 100% success. Pursuit of health and creativity and wonderful healers.

Daisy Lupin said...

Go for it Annie! It is now the time for us ladies of a middle age to have our 'me time' and explore all the different facets of ourselves and just enjoy doing various things.

Kara said...

Annie - it sounds like your break was a chance to connect more with yourself. I look forward to seeing how all of it develops for you - what you've written here is very inspiring. I wish you peace, happiness, and insight for your journey.

miss*R said...

such a wonderful growth spurt AnnieElf! I understand completely when you say that the blogging girls have helped you with their words - I am going through a wonderful period of my life right now, more settled - and that is largely due to the fact that I can vent on my blog and there is someone, somewhere who knows exactly how I am feeling and what to say!

paris parfait said...

Sounds like you're really finding your own way now, Annie. And it's terrific that your husband is so supportive. xo