Balance


By Guest Blogger Kelly Duffy

“When you go through life, so sure of where you’re headin’, and you wind up lost, it’s the best thing that could have happened”

-Brad Paisley, “Find Your Self”

You may find this odd, but I wasn’t really a Brad Paisley fan until this morning. I found myself returning from the two hour marathon that is the morning drop off ritual (the two older to one school, the little guy to pre-school) and listening to the closing credits for Pixar’s’ “Cars”. Despite the fact that I’ve seen this movie close to a thousand times the song I quoted previously really jumped out at me. As a matter of fact the lesson of the entire film hit me powerfully right between the eyes. Who among us hasn’t veered off course because of detour signs somewhere in life?

One of the things I miss the most in life (besides a firm backside and my natural hair color) is the crystal clear vision I had of what I wanted for myself in the future. I was rock steady, unshakable in my convictions.  It was almost as if it was predetermined and nothing could get in the way. There was no self doubt, I was positively fearless. I can picture that young gal with her Pollyannish bravado just waiting to jump out into the world with her equally enthusiastic friends. “Here we go!” they all shout, knowing that with hard work and determination they would all arrive at their destination.

Cut to twenty years later and take a look at how many of us stuck to the original plan. Some of us are close, several are right on the mark, and most of us aimed high but didn’t hit the target. Let me preface this by letting you know that most of the women I spoke to were very honest about what they really wanted deep in their hearts. Even if that wish were as kooky as wanting to be a fairy princess, I let them run with it. How far away from the prize did we find ourselves? Let’s see.

I landed so far away from what I originally imagined that it could be said that I’m residing in a completely different universe. The plan I deviated from was not a realistic blue print by which to live a life.  When I was four, I desperately wanted to be a “drawer.” No, not the place you fold and place your socks, but someone who draws for a living. My mother was a frustrated artist (far more naturally talented than I’ll ever be) who chose motherhood and housewife duties over pursuing any kind of dreams she may have had.  When it came time to test my meddle, I gathered my best stuff, compiled a decent portfolio and prepared to submit it to the list of art schools my teachers had given me. Aghast, my parents discouraged this avenue and begged me to reconsider a four year liberal arts university. It was an easy choice given my expertise at quitting and the powerful influence of an overbearing mom and dad.  I still draw, but not with the passion I used to have. However I’ve gained some things I never imagined would be mine, a funny creative husband, a charming but sometimes challenging old house, three delightful (sometimes) kids, and two dogs and a guinea pig that screams. I feel happy, satisfied on most days and thankful that I have a life this full.

My friend, let’s call her Vicky, lived in a number of big cites after graduating from her very high falutin’ university. It was assumed she would go on and take the world of academia by storm, but she was presented with a whole host of issues that don’t usually plague the big brains. She was pregnant by her less than worthy boyfriend of two months.  Shocked we wondered how someone this smart, who was due to go to law school right after getting her master’s degree could have let this happen? I remember saying, “wow, if this can happen to her, then there really is no hope for the rest of us shmucks.” Last week I got a hold of her and posed the same question. Were there any regrets? Was she happy with what she had made of her life? The most surprising response came out of her mouth. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing, this is how it was meant to be and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Wow.

My other friend, who we’ll call Barb, has had her future in her apparel since the first day of high school. It was going to be fashion or nothing at all. She made all the right career moves and was even able to dance around a high profile layoff and turn it around into an advantage. She never had time for a serious relationship and instead went through a series of men as quickly as she changed outfits. Later on, however she turned around and realized she was sneaking up on forty and there was no one to share all this blinding greatness with. In a year she managed to get herself fired again (sort of on purpose), dive headfirst into a relationship with a great guy, spend time enjoying herself and finally get married.  I asked her about regrets and she took a moment to think back over her life and finally said “I’m sorry we never got to start that girl band in high school”. Hmmm, okay.

So with all this hoopla over the unhappiness rates for women, I wonder to myself how many gals are satisfied with what life has handed them so far. How many obstacles and what appeared to be insurmountable road blocks have you pole vaulted right over to get and keep what you want? Life doesn’t always turn out the way you thought it would, but sometimes having poor aim isn’t such a bad thing.

Kelly Duffy

http://dufmanno.wordpress.com

Readers, tell us, did you stray from your path in life? Are you happy with how things are going? What did you learn?

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So, our brains constantly torture us to the tune of ; I should be spending more time with my kids, cooking healthier meals, calling friends more regularly, returning emails, working harder, going to the gym more often, being nicer to people, coming home earlier from the office, baking more, eating better… Oh the Guilt! Oh the Guilt!

Actually, guilt does serve its purpose on occasion. It sometimes guides us when things go wrong in our lives, when we’re not working hard enough, or when we’ve done something wrong, for example. But us ladies truly take guilt to a whole new level. I would even go so far as to call it our disease.  We suffer from guilt about so many things. Instead of recognizing all the wonderful things we do for those around us, we let the things we CAN’T do completely overtake our mind. This is a sad thing ladies. Sad. But I will tell you, I suffer from this disease as well! And it’s chronic.

I sold my business three years ago to be home with my kids, because I was feeling so guilty leaving them all the time. Now, I feel guilty if I can’t be at all the carpool pickups for my little son. Or I feel guilty if I want to take time alone. I feel guilty if I miss a dinner with the kids due to a school meeting. I feel guilty if I go to the 7:30am kick boxing class. I feel guilty ALL THE TIME. And I don’t know why. After all, I think I’m a pretty good mom, daughter, and wife. I just can’t turn off that guilt switch.

So what is the solution? Many experts say we truly need to put ourselves and our needs first. To take that “Me time.” Haven’t we all heard “The first Love, Self love.” or “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” and “Happiness comes from within. First please yourself, and then you’ll be pleasing to others?”

Well that shit is darn easier said than done!!!

There is such a fine line between pleasing and nurturing ourselves, and being selfish. That’s at least where I and so many of you struggle. If I treat myself to an afternoon alone, am I a bad mother? If I leave the office too early, am I bad employee? If I leave my marriage without trying, did I give up too soon?The list is endless.

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So, what do you do? Guilt can be very paralyzing and destructive. And the thing with guilt, is no one punishes you but yourself! Every woman deserves to be happy, and live their life to its maximum potential.

  • First, accept that you are human, and that you are always acting the best you can, at any given moment. Accept that humans fail and err, and all you can do is your best. Guilt keeps you stuck in the past, and doesn’t let you move forward. Let it go.  You’ll do better the next time.
  • This leads up to; if you made a mistake, learn your lesson and move forward. Learn to be resilient. It’s a process.
  • The “should-haves” cause tremendous guilt. Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself serves you no purpose other than to stress you out. This leads us back to learning to say no a little more, and saying it guilt free.
  • Don’t get sucked in when someone is trying to give you a guilt trip. For example, “Really don’t come if you don’t want to… Isn’t that too expensive for you?… You put your child in daycare after 3 months?… Shouldn’t you be home with your kids now?” Don’t even answer the question or you are being sucked in.
  • Remind yourself of ALL THE GOOD THINGS YOU OFFER TO THIS WORLD. Calm those negative and guilty thoughts. Seriously, the power of positive thinking is an incredible thing. You’re worth it. We’re all worth it. We all deserve a little “me time,” and deserve it guilt free.
  • And finally, stop asking yourselves, “What will the world think of me if I…” Stop caring what others think… you’ll see how much guilt dissipates once you stop caring about how the world views you. I know people who have mastered this art. They don’t give a sh*t what anyone thinks of them! And I tell you, they’re happy! Now, I’m not saying not to care or be accountable to your family and friends, but stop that need for external approval.

And stop living your lives the way OTHERS want or expect you to. And stop feeling guilty that you’re not perfect; my friends, neither are they!! Live your life according to your own values and beliefs. We are on this earth for a short time. Make is great.  Make it count.

xoxEDxox

Any of you have your own tips for calming the guilt in your brains? Share with our readers…

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Good Morning, m’Ladies. I started writing a book a few years ago. I just found it on my computer today and thought I would share the first page with you. The issues are pertinent today, and it’s what some of you have been stuck on the fence about. I owned a good business at the time, but was deciding if I should sell it or not. Obviously you know the outcome, but here is page 1.

Just so you know, I had two titles.

“If you Can’t Take the Heat, Get out of the Kitchen”

Trading it all in for Sanity

or

Knowing when to pull the plug on your career

MY DECISION ON WHETHER TO STAY IN OR GET OUT

And while my life was just too busy at the time to complete it, I thought I’d share.

Page 1:

“So, you’ve finished years of schooling, graduated with top honors, you’re making a nice salary, you have a few beautiful kids, and things couldn’t be better… right? WRONG. You are overworked, overstressed, and are lacking some serious alone time.The “fine balance theory” of women being able to juggle a career, a home, a husband, and happiness is a very ancient concept. However, the issues arising for young working women today couldn’t be more modern.  It is virtually impossible to have a one-income household today. If you want to be able to give your children what your baby-booming parents gave you… private school, camps, cars and comforts, you’d better be working. So, going to work becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity. And I don’t mean to afford that bigger house or that fancy car… I mean diapers, formula, nursery, groceries… everyday living expenses.

So, here comes the dilemma. Unless you are a trust fund baby, or your husband is earning big dough, you are faced with what many women are faced with today….the exhaustion and stress that result from trying to achieve that fine balance. But, for some women, that struggle for balance is just too much to bear. In my case, that was just the case. It’s the cost / benefit concept for many women– by working you can afford the nicer things, but your body cannot afford the stress. So, you waver, do I give it all up, or do I hang on and hope things get better? Do I give up time with my children to be able to give them the good life, or do I settle for less knowing it brings sanity?

This book is for those female business owners or high powered career women wondering if it’s all worth it. I have documented the feelings and emotions I have been going through over the past while deciding whether or not to stay in or get out. I am hoping it might help other women realize they are not alone. Actually, when I started the book, the end was undetermined. Do I keep something going that has given me passion, self-confidence, and independence, or do I throw in the towel?….”  END OF PAGE 1.

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And so, for all you women wondering whether or not to throw in the towel on your careers, or even to quit the current job you’re in, it’s a process. Here are some deciding factors which I hope will guide you in the right direction:

1) Your job is making you sick. It’s not worth it to get physically or mentally ill over a job. If you are, you have to put your well-being first.

2) You are being marginalized at the office. Your boss has taken away responsibilities, and you are being treated like an invisible woman. You are no longer invited to meetings, and suddenly find yourself on the “outs.” If this is the case, speak to your boss first, but you may have to catch the hint and take a hike. Your work should be a place where you can grow and flourish. Not a place where your wings are being clipped.

3) You’ve outgrown your job. You may have started as a junior, but have gained all the expertise in your field, maybe more than your job requires now. You are feeling under stimulated and bored. A trip to the water machine for a quick chat is more stimulating than the work at hand. You know it’s time, baby! Be courageous. It takes a true woman to move out of a job that has caused you complacency.

4) You receive a better offer somewhere else. If you have been stuck at the same job, for the same pay for a very long time, and what seems like a great offer is blown your way, CONSIDER IT. But beware, the grass often looks greener on the other side of the fence. And only you know if that salary increase means taking on more responsiblity, which you might not be ready for right now. But, if your skills are being underappreciated where you are, it may be worth an interview.

5) Work is interfering with home life. If you are being forced to travel weeks on end. Night meetings until 10PM. Your daily lunch hour is as long as a pee break. It may be your time. Naturally, if you are single, and this feels ok, then go for it. Reach for the stars. Save up as much as you can before you settle in matrimony bliss, if that’s your long term goal. But if you’re a mom, and you’re not waking up with your kids, or tucking them in at night, it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities. Just a thought.

So, whether you’re a career woman thinking of “throwing in the towel,” as I did, or just want to change jobs, always think it through. It’s a major decision either way. Whatever you decide, I wish you happiness, peace and success in your next endeavor. And remember, a winner is always a winner. Even if it’s covered in an apron and whole wheat flour!

xoxEDxox

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It’s Saturday morning. Right now, as I’m writing, the Wii is going strong in one room, another child  is climbing on me, and my husband is calling out some order down the hallway. And guess what… I just don’t feel like it all today. I just feel like sitting on a secluded beach, aqua blue water, waves crashing, sun shining, sand and ipod, and me, lovely wonderful me, ALONE. Silencio.

Naturally, I don’t feel like this all the time, but I can be honest with you readers, I do feel like this sometimes. This feeling of needing more alone time came when I sold my business and started a new career as a “full-time mom.” That is actually why I started this blog. I know that, for me, I need something to occupy my mind beyond my children.  I need a purpose to my life beyond my wonderful family. I need to use my brain again. It was starting to go soft on me.

But all back to the point of this blog. Experts do say that for a woman to stay mentally happy and healthy, everyone needs personal time– time just for themselves. I know this. If I go too long without a girls night out, a fast getaway with my hubby, or even a long walk alone, I start to LOSE IT! I mean lose it. I do.

And I know I’m not alone, cuz many of you have written in complaining about the lack of personal time. The inability to even go to the bathroom without a little person at your feet. The laundry, the bills, your work, your children, your responsibilities… it all takes its toll, that by the time the kids finally get to bed, who even can appreciate that alone time? You just wanna kerplunk on the floor.

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In fact, in the book I mentioned a few blogs ago, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” Dr. John Gray explains the notion of men needing time in “caves” in order to relax and cope with stress. His explanation of this concept gives all your husbands, fiancés and boyfriends across the world permission to have time alone to decompress after work. Now, while I agree with Gray that men need time to decompress, my argument is that women need it too. Women need “cave” time too. Most women I know would love to hide out in a cave for “me” time, if not just for a little.

I encourage you, if you are one who is desperately craving for alone time, or even if you’re someone who might feel lonely or bored being alone, take the time! While you’re at work, go for a walk alone on your lunch time. If you’re a stay at home mom, read a book on your porch or balcony while your child naps. Turn off you cell phone. Zone out. Be alone. Close your eyes and meditate. Turn off your ringer in your bedroom. Regroup. Rejuvenate. Reenergize. It often doesn’t take much to recharge the battery during the day if you’re feeling depleted.

And ask your husbands after they have had their cave time, to let you take yours. Be it on a Saturday, like right now for me. Or on any other day. In fact, all hell is breaking loose right outside my door, but I’m off duty right now. I have my coffee, the sun is shining in my office, my cozy bathrobe is on, and I’m recharging. Come to think of it, I’m feeling better than when I started the blog entry!

So, take some “me” time when you can.  I’m telling you, you’d be surprised what a little time alone can do for your spirit.

I gotta run now ladies. I think my “me” time is officially over. My husband is calling. So are the kids.

Till next time,

xoxEDxo

ps – How do you escape for some “me” time? Can you suggest some tips for our readers?

Okay ladies. 2nd blog! I’m officially a blogger!

The idea for this  blog was born on the golf course.  (I can’t figure out why after playing golf for so many years left handed, I would go and screw things up and become right handed… but that’s a whole other disastrous topic). Anyhow, back to rushing. So, we’re teeing off on the second hole, and my girlfriend tells me “I feel like my entire life is spent rushing.” As she’s saying this, I realize how I am rushing her through her swing so we can just finish the bloody game… kinda like I always do. I think I do this a lot actually. Rush people off the phone. Rush my son to finish his “poo” so we can get to the park. Rush in and out of the fruit store before I get a ticket. Rush my husband through sex….  just kidding… ok well not entirely kidding!

My entire life feels like one big fast forward button on a VCR.

So when you stop to actually think about why we do this, I think we have almost all been programmed to move this way. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Quoted from one of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  But it’s true.  Life in the fast lane.  Car racing.  Ski racing.  Speed skating. We live in a very fast paced society…and I don’t even reside in New York City! I am beginning to think this is all a very shitty thing.  In fact, I think my rushing in making me age a little. If I can just return 3 more emails,  change a quick diaper, and run to the pharmacy quickly, I can pack it all in! Yah great. And give myself a heart attack in the process.

So, what I’ve been trying to do, is slow down the pace. I’m thinkin’ TURTLE SPEED.  It’s VERY IMPOSSIBLE for someone like me though. I eat fast. I talk fast. I walk fast. I’m fast and rushy. But I think we can all try and slow down. I think it will make us much less stressed out. Much more happy. Even maybe bored… it could feel boring to go slow. But I think it’s better long term. We all know stress kills. Duh.

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A few things you can do to slow down your own pace (unless of course you’re perfect, and if you’re perfect, you’re in the wrong place):

1) Firstly, slow down slowly. Someone like me can’t get all Zen in 5 minutes. It takes practice and effort. You gotta make a conscious effort.

2) Imagine you could take tomorrow off. No work. No kids. No meetings. What would you do? Get a massage? Make a cup of tea to go, and stroll through a museum? Sit on the beach with your ipod and a pina colada? Don’t you feel your blood pressure going down already? Try and bring that happy feeling and good vibe into your day.

3) Your “slow hour” to recharge. We were given a “lunch hour” on purpose. It was there to provide renewal, rest and rejuvenation. This has mostly disappeared. Bring it back!! Take the hour. Take the time for yourself. Be comfortable being alone in your thoughts.

4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Traffic is a bitch. Long grocery lines are a bitch. Bring your ipod and upload some twilight music if you have to.  But find a way to breath through the rush. Always remember to BREATHE! AAAAhhhhh. You are now starting to relax. You are now starting to feel calm. Ohm.

5) Slow down now. It should be your goal for the week. Try and bring more calm to your life to deal with whatever crap is thrown your way. I’m gonna start today… I know I’ll be so terrible at it though. But I am after all, in the words of MY American Idol, Miss Oprah Winfrey, simply “a work in progress.”

xoxEDxox