Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Really Good Friend

Today, like many other days, I find myself thankful for a really good friend.

Over the past week I've really been a little low. Last year when I quit working full time I was so relieved to be free of a place that I hated that I didn't really stop to wonder what I would do with 5 days every week at home. We don't have kids yet, and let's face it, I was more than accustomed to spending 40 hours every week at work. And really, if you consider lunch breaks and commute I was really spending like 50 hours every week. That's a lot of time to fill at home.

But I did just fine. The newness of freedom kept my spirits up, and my house was in dire need of some rigorous cleaning. Then the law firm came and I was back to working 3 full days a week. Then the holidays came. By the time we got to January I was just reeling from the Christmas whirlwind and trying to get my house back in order. In February, more changes at the law firm, which meant for me, more days at work. I really wasn't feeling at all like I wasn't busy enough.

But since vacation the law firm is finally managing the accounting side of the business on its own. This is what I've been hoping for so that I can phase myself out. I am after all only a consultant. As someone once said, it's my job to work myself out of a job. :)

What I thought would make me happy, giving me a little more time around the house to finish up some bigger projects has actually been causing me quite a bit of anxiety and soul searching over the past week. I thought the additional free time would allow me the opportunity to catch up with some people that I've lost touch with recently. And I thought it would be comforting to know that I would have time for absolutely anything I wanted to do. But then I realized that the to-do list I thought I had is really not nearly as full as it was in my brain, and the people I've lost touch with don't seem to have time to rekindle. Suddenly it was as if I was facing day after day of solitude with nobody to share it with, or to help me break it up. And I'm not really the type of person that just loves to spend time alone. Really, I'm quite the opposite.

I tried expressing my feelings to several people, because talking is how I sort things out. I don't usually need the other person to participate in the conversation, I just need to talk myself into the solution. My husband manages to do all of this in his own head. That just makes me feel crazy, and I never accomplish anything. So instead, I bounce it out loud, off another person. Or more accurately 3-4 people.

On Tuesday I started bouncing my thoughts around and by the early afternoon I was really quite in despair. I was convinced that I'm the only person in St. Louis who is 20-something and doesn't work but also doesn't have kids, there is no way I will ever find a place to meet new people or make new friends who have the same interests, and I am so different now from the friends I once had that I was sure I'd lost them. I was just positive that my life would dwindle down to being the size of a thimble within two weeks. In less than a month I would be resistant to driving anywhere further from home than the grocery store and I would become a complete stay-at-home blob.

And that's when I called her: a really good friend. I just word vomited everything I was thinking and when I was done ended with "I'm sure I sound really whiny but..." and she just calmly and gently told me that there was nothing to worry about. She talked me through the time I have blocked aside for cleaning and household chores, and the additional time I want to block out for new things like a garden. And then she reminded me of things I do on a regular basis that I had discounted or forgotten about. Then she said the unspeakable: that it was okay for me to take a day now and then for myself. *GASP*

She suggested places I might meet people, and told me how she had gotten connected when she moved to a new city (which passively made me feel like a boob since I still live in my hometown). And most importantly she called me out for being lazy about some things that I really do need to take responsibility for. **Please note, those are my words not hers. The message was clear but she is so much kinder than to phrase it like that. **

After our conversation I did a little more bouncing of thoughts. Some with myself as I had free time, and some with my husband or again with my really good friend. Now when I think about the possibility of actually being a full time stay-at-wife, and hopefully in the future also a stay-at-home mother, I don't panic about how empty my days will feel and how alone and unaccomplished I will be. Now when I think about it I look at it as a bounty of challenges and opportunities. And while it is hard to let go of some of the excuses that I've been using, it might actually be fulfilling to accomplish some of those long-set goals.

I'm so very thankful for my really good friend. I can't imagine anyone who could have delivered the same message with as much kindness, concern, and love. Of the people in my life that I could never live without she is certainly at the top of the list.

I wish everyone could have such a really good friend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to the Grind

It is amazing to me how much an upcoming vacation can add to a to-do list. 

Ken and I just got back from a week in the Caribbean. And let me just say, if you're jealous about that you're going to be even more green when I tell you it was fantastic! I can sincerely say I have no complaints to lodge about last week except perhaps that we lost our waterproof camera on the journey home, and therefore have no record of several days.

Well preparations for a week of vacation seemed innumerable. First, the law firm that I consult for part time needed a lot of prep work. Apparently there is a lot there that I am still responsible for, even though I've really been trying to phase out. So there went 2 really long days. Additionally the week before vacation was also a remodeling week at my mom's church. This had me on the hook for the tearing down of two walls, and the painting of a new room (which at the beginning of the week was actually 3 rooms). Plus, Wednesday morning I was in a car accident. Nothing serious, but a fender bender good enough to make my back and neck stiff for days. Good thing I had vacation coming up right?

Saturday was finally a day to relax. I started packing and cleaning up the house a bit. Then Saturday night we had scheduled plans with my Bestie and her husband, who were in from Chicago. Of course then at dinner we find out that THEY ARE EXPECTING THEIR FIRST BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Lord knows then I needed to have all of the details and so we sat and talked until nearly 10:00. I know what you're thinking: What's so bad about 10:00? But we had 30 minutes to drive back home, and a 6:00am flight. And by the way, it was daylight savings time weekend which means one less hour of sleep. So we were in bed at 11:00pm and up at 2:00am which was really 3:00am and at the airport by 4:00am and completely exhausted by 9:00am. But who cares if you're exhausted when you can sleep as much as you want for a week!

We cruised to St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten on a Carnival cruise. The week was completely full of great weather, even better food, and the best company we could ask for. For the first time we chose to vacation with some friends of ours, instead of taking the time for just the two of us. I'll admit, I was a bit nervous, because although I've known this girl for going on 15 years, I wasn't sure how they like to vacation, and whether her boyfriend would really enjoy having us around. I should have known we would have nothing to worry about. By the first evening on board we had all established a "We're doing whatever we want, if you want to come great, if not see you later" attitude. And we were all perfectly happy with that. No hurt feelings if we weren't doing the same thing. No whining or arguing about appropriate activities. Just 7 days of relaxation and fun.

In St. Thomas and St. Kitts we spent some time on the beautiful beaches. In Barbados we intended to tour a rum distillery or a sugar cane factory, but we were so late getting up and getting breakfast that by the time we were off the ship we didn't have enough time left in port. St. Lucia was a zip line tour, which I highly recommend despite my great fear of heights, and in St. Maarten an amazing morning snorkeling followed by an up close encounter with dolphins on our return water taxi trip. Sadly any pictures of that were lost with the waterproof camera :(

So although we had to leave paradise, I'm happy to be home. And I'm feeling really refreshed and ready to tackle my to-do list for the next few months.