Posts Tagged With: growth

The fear of the fear

I read a passage recently that really resonated with me. Loosely translated it reads that, “everyone has some type of post-traumatic stress, but many of us suffer from pre traumatic stress.” What is that?  The fear of a fear. We fear something that hasn’t even happened yet and may not ever happen to us.

When you think of all the things you accomplish regularly and how you manage challenges that show up in your life, doesn’t it make you wonder why we have such fears?   Think about it: most of the stuff we worry never comes true anyways.   I’ll forget. I’ll look stupid. They’ll laugh at me. I won’t know what to do.

I thought back to a former boss’ stories about attending community meetings and nearly being run out-of-town “on a rail.”  He was there representing the company we work for and, at that time, we weren’t thought of very highly. He talked of getting into red-faced shouting matches with officials.  Now, bear in mind,  I never experienced what he went through but, along the way, I picked up on his anxiety .. and carried it with me.  I listened to his stories in horror and developed a healthy fear of that happening to me. I developed … a fear of the fear.

After reading that quote earlier this week,  it dawned on me that, in my new job, I’m doing a lot of speaking in front of community officials. Guess what? I’m doing just fine.  Some talks have been delicate and some have been challenging but all have been professional.  There’s been no rails to be found anywhere.

I had no idea,  until I read that passage, that I’d developed a fear of the fear.   Unwittingly, new experiences have let me through most of it. Yes, I still feel a tug when asked to meet with certain groups, especially if a contentious history is known, but every time I do so, I get a little better and that gives me confidence to step past the fear.

Interesting stuff we do to ourselves.

Have you ever developed a fear of a fear? Do tell.

Some days I'm the mouse, other days the cat!

Some days I’m the mouse, other days I’m the cat!

“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

Categories: Confidence at any age, Faith, fear, Growth, Home, Life, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

on Communicating

Most of the time,  Hubbs and I communicate pretty well.

He’s a planner, even more so than me. It’s the Virgo in him.  You can set your watch to this guy.

He’s the one who taught me to speak up about where I’m going and what I’m up to and what time you can expect me to be somewhere.  Being a Gemini, I’d never much considered telling anyone all that. But, as we dated, I seemed to have a knack for frustrating him. If he said “let’s meet at such and such place at this time” he’d be there. Early. Every time.  Not so with me. I’d be there, on time, or shortly thereafter. I’d see him look at his watch and sigh and give me the look.   Quite honestly, it was annoying.

It took me a few years to understand that when I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work without saying anything ahead of time, that action caused him anxiety. I thought he was ridiculous. He thought I was uncaring.

It took him explaining the knot he got in his stomach when I wasn’t where he thought I’d be. It took him referencing his brother’s sudden death for me to understand that my actions were actually causing him pain. When I wasn’t where I said I’d be, his first thought, his first instinct, was that I was lost to him … forever.

Geez that’s heavy stuff.

But in the 22 years we’ve known each other, I’ve grown.  I’ve learned to communicate proactively, to share my plans because someone else cares to know. I’ve learned that speaking up doesn’t mean surrendering a part of me, it means caring for another, too.

But even after all that, we still have our moments when I think we’re talking two different  languages.

I’m all about words, kinda obvious, since I write a blog. 🙂

He’s a quieter guy who doesn’t always want to talk.

I can talk about anything and often do.

He relishes silence.

So the other day when he commented about “having to clean out the dryer lint drawer cause no one else ever does” what I heard was “you’re an inept housekeeper and whatever you do will never be good enough for me.”

That’s not what he said, but that is what I heard.

And that’s when the snarping started.

I understand now what he was really saying: See me.

I understand now what I was really saying: See me.

Later today, I’m heading out to run a few errands. The 9-year-old in me doesn’t want to tell anyone where she’s off to.  The woman in me commented on the amazingly clean lint drawer and referenced stops at the dry cleaners and gas station.

# # #

How do you and your loves communicate?  Has it changed over time?

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
― C. JoyBell C.

related – Virgo and the Circus

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Life, Men, Personal, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Grow the people

I’ve been thinking a lot about something — something that’s had me troubled since I took the  new job 6 months ago.  Sure, I knew how the department worked, I’d been a key part of it for years. I had a list of what needed tweaking and where changes could be made.

But an area I was least familiar with turned out to be the most important of all.

You see, because the other employees were my colleagues all those years, I really didn’t know what it was like for them.   Now that I was their boss, it was my job to find out. 

Located all around the state, none of us share an office and we rarely see each other. And even though my management style and the previous boss’s are vastly different, I didn’t want to make changes too quickly.

So I started out slowly.  Visiting the team, spending time with them on their turf. Listening.  Bringing forward their ideas, offering encouragement. Bridging the gap between trusted colleague and trusted adviser.

I found myself thinking most about an employee who should have been promoted long ago.

He was doing Manager level work, and had been for years. He wasn’t being paid Manager-level wages.  Oh no, that had never happened, despite the promises made by another.

He didn’t have the right title, although he had all the responsibilities that go with it. Not having the right title meant he often was left off emails sent by other departments.   Not having that information left him at a deficit and unable to perform to the best of his ability.

This wasn’t right.

How to fix it?

I talked with H.R. and my supervisor and slowly but surely,  made it clear that his move up was priority #1.  I kept that move on the forefront of conversations; just enough to have it remembered, not enough to be annoying.


Because here was someone working hard and not getting ahead for it.

Isn’t that why we go to work?

For the reward? The money? The status?

The more I dug into it, the madder I became.

At the years of indifference.

Years of neglect.

The years of hard work for another’s benefit.

No, not this time.

It was not for nothing.  It was going to be for something.

I am delighted to report he got the promotion he deserved and some more money, too.  He’s a proud man, and his quiet but dignified “Thank you, thank you so very much” was beyond meaningful to me.   We laughed about his email in-box “blowing up” with congratulatory notes, and I took great joy in hearing the joy in him.

Thinking about it further, I came to see that this is why I am in the job.

Not just because I understand the policies and can navigate the systems.  Not just because of my experience and good reputation.

No, that’s not it.

I am here to grow the people.

And in there is growth for me as well.

no point climbing the ladder just to sit there by yourself

no point climbing the ladder just to sit there by yourself

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
― Woodrow Wilson

 Have you ever been in a similar position?  Were you able to fix it?

Categories: Faith, fear, Forgiveness, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Men, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

Bothering or brothering

There was no one happier than oldest son when the words “It’s a boy!” were announced.

Seven and a half years between them, he was the best baby helper anyone could ask for.

Peek-a-boos and I-love-yous, oh how those brothers played together.

Forts and castles, bikes and swords; skateboards, Legos and “come help me with my car.”

But …

Worlds change, boys grow up, and brothers move away.

But sometimes, like right now, their worlds come back together again.

And when that happens, parents get to see what they always knew:

A friend is a brother who was once a bother.”  ~Author Unknown

brothers .. then and now; an emjayandthem photo

Are you friends with your siblings? Are your kids good friends?

Categories: Faith, Family, Friendship, Life, Mom, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 32 Comments

Go with what you know

So, some of you know that I started a new job last Monday.   Holy Guacamole  – to say I’ve been a little busy would be an understatement.

The thing is … I’m still doing my old job,  and I’m navigating the new one, too.  And, truth be told, I’ve done a quite a bit of it for some time now.

Somewhere in the quiet part that is Sunday evening a little voice whispered to me: “Hey you, the forecast is nasty, and you have an awful lot of calls scheduled, so how ’bout a bit o’ lunch?”   I dug out a bruised Gladware container and assembled a beautiful salad of fresh greens, tomatoes, English cucumbers and grilled chicken. Then I wrote myself a note so I’d remember to take it with me today! 

And it was a good thing I did because this day took off like a shot and it was 2:00 before I remembered that I even had a lunch to eat.

And in that moment, I caught my breath, laughed out loud and thought, “Go with what you know.”

The situation was really no different than when I started blogging two years ago.  I remember getting all caught up in the excitement of it, the newness of it, and the desire to take off on the journey and see where it would go.

And I remembered how, later on,  I found myself stepping back and, in the end, giving myself permission not to know everything. To not have it all together. To do it my way.

So with that, I’m revisiting that post tonight.

I’m taking a page out of my own book and I’m going with what I know.

 * * *

Write what you know

by Emjayandthem

Asked about blogging, it hit me what I’ve learned from the experience:

1. Write as often as you want to but resist the pressure to publish every day.  Remember that you do this because you enjoy writing.  Example:   At first, I obediently followed the mandate set by my instructor –  to write and publish daily.  I know she meant well because her point was to keep it fresh and avoid too many days between posts.  But now, looking back, I can tell the difference between my “going through the motions-posts” and those that were really me –  at my most authentic.  And if I could tell, I’m pretty sure others could, too.

2. To that end, let your posts breathe.  Not all of your readers are “online” at the same time and when you post something new, older posts get pushed to the bottom.  Give each one its due.

3. Read (and be inspired) by the work of others:  Be moved by the posts, dreams and the designs of the many talented writers here in the blogosphere.  When I feel “stuck,” all I have to do is click & read.   In no time at all, I’m laughing, smiling, crying, nodding my head in agreement and commenting.  In no time at all, I’ve forgotten about my little blog and have subscribed to several more.

4. Commenting on blogs is a wonderful way to connect but there’s a tiny line between being interested and supportive and just being there to promote your stuff.  People will find you if they’re interested and they don’t … then they don’t.     The self-promoting commenter makes me think of that snot-nosed kid who dumps his milk at the dinner table on purpose: Look at me, notice me, see me, I’m here.   Geez, I get it already now knock it off!

5.  Mind your manners: respond to comments and acknowledge those who took the time to weigh in.  However, if someone chooses to swear at me, their comments will not see the light of day.  Constructive criticism – bring it on but general viciousness? Hell to the no.  My blog – my rules.

6.  Take the challenge:   The topics I care most about are the hardest for me to writeSo when I find myself feeling that pinch, I dig a little deeper and keep at it because I know I’ve hit the good stuff.

7.  Slog through:  Often, what I feel most passionate about can leave me feeling vulnerable and it’s tempting to self-censor…. but then I can easily lose the point of my post.  However, what I’ve learned is that the most difficult posts to write have become my favorites. Maybe not the most read, but.. My. Personal. Favorites.  And that counts for something, too. 🙂

8.  Be open to ideas:  Ideas come in all shapes and sizes and often at random times. Keep a list.  You can email ideas to yourself, record messages on your cell phone or, like me, scribble notes down on the backs of envelopes, post-its and grocery lists.

9. Have fun: If writing starts feeling like a chore, step away and do something else.  Chances are something else in your day will inspire you.   We’re not curing Cancer here, people!  Step away, mix it up, come back & let ‘er buck!

10. Write what you know:  Lastly, lots of blogging “authorities” will tell you to “become the expert,” or to find out what you’re an expert on.  Well, the only thing I am an expert on is me, my life and my experiences … and all of it is a work in progress anyways.

Have you ever stepped back from something only to discover that what you already know is actually … quite enough?  What have you learned to trust yourself with?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, fear, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

On deciding where to go

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.

And you know what you know.

And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
— Dr. Seuss

Today we vote: it’s time to decide where we’ll go.

You going?

As we head to the polls today, America, let’s be all that we can be: civil, respectful, patient and kind. I’ve met and witnessed too many wonderful people across this great land to ever believe that what’s shown on TV represents the best of us.   God Bless America!  – your grateful citizen, MJ.

Categories: Attitude, Elections, Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

A newly swathed ship leaves the harbor

As a child, springtime found us running alongside ditches gushing with water; my cousins and I loved nothing more than launching our boats and racing to see how far they’d go.  Armed with rubber boots and wind-breakers, we’d suffer boot-fulls of icy water and, more than once, we fell in trying to retrieve our crafts from the currents.

Life’s like that, you know.  We sail along on our comfortable routes, confident we understand the stream enough to relax into it.  Jobs become stale, but we don’t do anything because, well, we have a job.  It pays the bills and maybe even a bit more.  We don’t complain but secretly, secretly we miss what it feels like to race alongside the current.

And then once, once in a great while, an opportunity arises that makes us think about venturing out onto unfamiliar ground, sticking a toe in the water, and we wonder if we can even make it to the other side.

We have a choice: go with what we know or go for it.

I went for it.

A company restructuring occurred and I launched my boat into the churning waters of corporate mayhem. It was stressful yet invigorating beyond description.  I’ve had many meetings with many people, gulped down my shyness, talked up past accomplishments and then had to do something I’m not used to doing …  I had to sell it.  I had to make sure they knew how much I wanted it and how appointing anyone but me would be a mistake.

But I did it and, after many weeks, I got it:  I got the job I’ve worked years to get and Monday … I start.   And, on top of that, I’ll still do my old job until I find a replacement.  Still, I’m ready to take on what wasn’t done, learn what I don’t know, and navigate the new structure.

And then yesterday something hit me, something I hadn’t had time to consider:  in my new role, I’m going to be in front of a lot of more people.  Important people: Legislators, Department Heads, Vice Presidents.  I need new clothes and this is a girl who hates to shop.   Exercising and eating better changed my shape; that old stuff no longer fits.  And it isn’t just that the old wardrobe doesn’t  fit my hips or my waist, it’s that they don’t  fit me.    They fit who I was, but not who I am today.

Now, I have a voice and an opportunity to use it.   I will be swathed in some new duds, in colors and styles that fit and flatter and my intention is to carry myself in a way that says, “If you don’t like being a doormat then get off the floor.“*

 * * * *

How ’bout you?  Thought about launching your ship lately? What’s stopping you?

I have to give a special shout-out to the Hubbs (who will never read this but I’ll be sure to tell him):  Over the course of all these weeks, we shared many late night chats, lots of “what-ifs” and a heckuva lotta “you deserve this, go for it.”

You were right and I couldn’t have done it without you.

..::  XO ::..

*doormat quote belongs to Amelia Earhart

Categories: fear, Growth, Joy, Men, Personal, Relationships, Uncategorized, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Do it anyway

So, I’ve written about how eager I was to start the Couch25K plan, an 8 week program that gets you off the couch and running 3 miles in about 2 months. (download the free podcasts here).

What I haven’t written about is the transformation that is occurring.

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” Arthur Blank

Oh, there’s a wee part of me that whispers shh don’t talk about it yet, you’re only in week 3.  But there’s a stronger, louder, more powerful part of me that tells her to shut it.

Because here’s what I need to say:

I mustered up my courage and actually went into a running store. You know the kind: everyone in there is a 9′ tall gazelle with 3% body fat and knows what to do with the hydration stuff and anti chafing products sitting at the till.

Not me.

I ambled in, took a deep breath and let the athletic gal fitting me know that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  She found me some new runners and let me try them out. And I did. I ran in the store.  Me. I know! And here’s the thing: I didn’t care who saw me.

Yes I still have my old tanks and sports bras and I haven’t invested in any new shorts or cute outfits. I run on a treadmill and the only one who sees my wardrobe is the 12-year-old dog who is partially deaf and near-sighted.

But the very best part is this: Everything, and I mean, everything – my job, my co-workers, my family, my ancient, arthritic dog, and even our neglected house have taken a backseat to this.


Because nothing I’ve ever purchased, tasted or experienced has ever made me feel as alive as this does. Nothing.  I love everything about it! I love the sweating (and I’m talking rivers of sweat).  I love the endurance and confidence I’m gaining. I’m loving the kick-a** way 30 minutes of this makes me feel. I love that moment that comes in the middle of a workout when my inner lizard harps that I can’t possibly finish; I love to silence her by pushing through anyway. I’m loving how well I sleep at night.  I love the “atta-girls” I get from the Hubbs and the pride I feel when I reach another milestone.

At 49, I’m loving that I can.

:: Just run:: Image from

What have you discovered about yourself lately?

Categories: Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

At home

So, there I was, two weeks ago, boarding ticket in hand, bags packed and ready to go see my ailing Mom. The fridge was stocked, my guys had hugged me 2 million times and all there was left to do was to just get there already.

Not really knowing what I was headed into, I can look back now and admit that I was a mess.  The flying was uneventful but I sure wasn’t.  Sitting in MSP airport I watched as a young girl interact with her grandmother… and silently I cried.   Standing behind a woman buying soup, I watched her rest her hand on her daughter’s head and silently I cried.  Working my way through customs, I did my best to stand purposefully and move the line along and when the Immigration Agent politely asked the purpose of my visit, silently, yep, I cried.

You see, I just couldn’t say the words out loud and this was the big secret I carried: the fact that this trip felt different. This trip frightened me. I couldn’t acknowledge how this trip felt bigger than many of those that had come before it.

So …. as most of us do … I held myself in check and choked out short answers like, “Just visiting family” to airport inquiries and prayed my watery eyes wouldn’t betray me.

But when I got through customs and into the receiving area, I lost it.  Spotting my other sister, the one I’m not as close to as I once was, I can only imagine now how much my sobs must have confused her.

It’s been a long summer.  There’s been a lot of uncertainty.  A lot of “what ifs” and a too many miles separating me from the rest of them.

But … so much of that melted away when I walked into my oldest sister’s home and spotted Mom comfortably ensconced in her sun room.  Her face lifted and when those eyes met mine, the grins were undeniable and then, well … that’s when the tears came.

After the hugs and the how-are-yous, we found ourselves settling into a new normal. I’ve never stayed anywhere but with her on the farm because there’s an unwritten rule that my time is always, always spent on her. Well, Mom was at Sissy’s and now, so was I.

What I didn’t realize until I got there was the role I would take.  Yes I knew I would comfort, cheer and engage but I soon found myself supporting my sister as she did the work to nurse Mom back to health.  I found a spot at her sink, washing dishes and cleaning garden vegetables. I found myself folding towels and at her range, simmering soups and whipping up favorite icings.  I found myself up early with my brother-in-law, brewing coffee and crafting omelettes and doing everything I could think of to make it easy. I made myself available so Sissy could step away for a break, a shower, a moment.

After several days we moved Mom back to her house and I saw a change in her that I hadn’t expected:  I saw her at home, in her element, and back in control.  I watched as she whipped her oxygen cord around like a lariat and laughed when I got myself caught in it.  I delighted in the fact that it was her little  face that I kissed good night and her sweet smile greeting me morning after morning. And when I caught myself standing at her sink washing vegetables or at her range simmering supper, I realized that I’d come home, too.

It wasn’t just that I’d come home to the place I’d grown up — but that I’d come home to a role she’d taught me — one I’ve grown familiar with over the years: that of being useful, of having a purpose, of offering up my assistance with a heaping helping of good cheer peppered with absolutely no b.s.

But it was when those little arms wrapped around me late at night and she expressed her appreciation for my just being there, I don’t mind telling you that those moments – those exact moments –  those were the most wonderful. Why?  Because they gave me the opportunity to pull her close and whisper “it’s been my pleasure.”

Me & Mom on her 82nd birthday. 8/21/12

How about you? Have you ever “gone home” again only to find yourself in a different role than the one you’d expected?

Categories: Faith, Family, Home, Mom, Personal, Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Welcome to the warbling woods

So, as many of you already know, we’re in a period of transition here at the Emjayandthem house.

We’ve always been able to say that we’ve got one foot in each world – one grown and one at home (in high school).  Now, that’s no longer the case .. the youngest graduated and, while he’ll be living here – working and going to school – he’s “off” so to speak.  In his mind’s eye, he’s already “independent” (I know, try not to chuckle).

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about what’s next.

I’ve been Mom for 26 of my 48 years and have never had much time for just me.  A lot of it has been by choice – I’m no martyr but I really do believe kids spell love t-i-m-e.   But, truth be told, I’ve never claimed much time for me.

It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started saving some of the week just for me. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started thinking about a bucket list, much less acting on one.

Hubbs heartily suggested that I take up golf; he golfs regularly and loves it.  There’s nothing more that man would love than me by his side, riding, laughing and competing.

He loves it so I would too, right?

Armed with my steady rebuttals I gave him my pat answers over the years:  I don’t have time, I’m not very good at it, I don’t like the heat.

All true.

But here’s the real truth:  I stink at golf and I am used to being good at everything I do.   Not only am I not good at it, I’m not sure I care enough to invest the money and energy it will take to become better.

I listened to his encouraging words and his assurances that, after 30 some years, he still works on his game.  After 30 years, he still struggles.  There’s a part of me who thinks he’s nuts to work at something for so long!

I’m starting to understand him now.

See, I’ve been exercising regularly for about 3 months.  I don’t know when it happened but one day, one day I was able to do more than the day before.  A lot more. When I began I could barely do a push up; now I can do many. When I first tried, I could barely get through 15 min. of a fitness DVD;  now I can complete an hour and, panting and sweaty, I’m ready and eager for the next challenge.

And his words got me thinking:  have I really only chosen activities that I know I can shine at?  Entertaining, cooking, organizing, public speaking, project leadership?

Have I shied away from that which challenges me?

Yes I have.

I don’t know when it happened but I suspect that, somewhere along the way, I settled into the comfortable support pattern that so many Moms do: I set my hopes, dreams and delights on the back burner.  The problem? I forgot to go back and switch that burner on.

How about you?  Do you gravitate to that which you can master?  And can you delight in just trying?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Joy, Life, Personal, Quotes, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 39 Comments

Change is hard

The Mighty Mac stands confidently in the Straits; photo from


“You cannot change what you won’t acknowledge.” – Dr. Phil

Boy, do I get that.

Change.  Is.  Hard.

Everyone says it.

And it’s true .. right?

Sometimes what needs our attention is obvious:  exercise more, eat better, get more rest,  blah, blah, blah.

But I don’t think that’s where most of us struggle.

I think we get bogged down before we even start … because .. before you can change anything.. you first have to acknowledge it.  To see it. And for many of us, me included, it’s easier to keep on doing what we’ve always done.

For a lot of us, recognizing an issue is the hardest part of change.


Because once we see it, and I mean really see it, it’s a bit like stepping out onto your front porch wearing only your underwear: You’re. Completely. Vulnerable.  Unlike in the past, when we’ve strolled through life blissfully unaware that our fly was open or a skirt was tucked into our pantyhose, once you know, and once you get it, it feels like everyone else does, too.

And I think it’s right there that we get stuck.

Isn’t it easier to be who you’ve always been?  C’mon, it’s comfortable to play a familiar role, to be the “go to” gal, the funny guy, the chubby girl, the reliable neighbor.  Why?  Because when we acknowledge what we want to change, we realize that we may actually have to do something about it. And that feels … risky.  Why? Because taking action feels like a threat to all that we know; will it undermine our relationships?  What happens when we don’t do as everyone expects? If we Lysol the toxic people out of our friendship cupboard, who will remain?

I’ve asked myself all those questions and discovered something unexpected in the discomfort:   It’s here that growth lives.

Change. Is. Hard.

Or is it?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Life, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E. E. Cummings

Wonder how long it took for that tree to grow that much? an emjayandthem photo

I have a strong need to be in control.  Examples:

  • I plan gatherings, parties and vacations, down to the last detail.
  • I tend to be a perfectionist and am my own worst critic.
  • If you ask my opinion, I assume you want to know. I  get irritated when you don’t take my advice.
  • It’s difficult for me to trust.
  • I drink socially, but I can count on one hand the times I ever felt drunk … and that feeling?  Far from fun, try horrifying.
  • I make lists for everything.
  • It drives me crazy not to have enough to do.
  • Conversely, while I love a day off with no schedule I only love them if they’re by my design.  (I.E. sitting around waiting on someone else? Drives me c-r-a-z-y).
  • I do not like to be the center of attention, unless it was my choice to be.  Example:  I’ve never thrown anyone a surprise party; I think they’re vile and I’d never want to be subjected to one.  I know some people love them; it would be pure torture for me.

From an evolutionary standpoint, cultivating a sense of control over our environment ensures we will survive it.  Do I need to be in control as much as I need a sense of control over the outcome?

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and my next steps.  I asked myself, “What are you afraid of?”  At first, I couldn’t think of anything.  OK there’s the obvious big stuff that frightens most of us – war, an environmental disaster, something happening to my husband or children, etc.  I realized that, for me, what I am most afraid of is lack of control over my being or my life.

It started young; I’m the youngest of five.  My parents enjoyed a hobby (horse racing) that sometimes took them away from home.  I remember being frightened when they weren’t there and more scared during the parties that were held with loud music and strange people in my house.  I remember being told to go to bed even though I could hear the kids hooting & hollering in the room not far from mine.  I think about the trouble my siblings sometimes got into, and my vows to not follow in their footsteps. So, instead, I became the good kid; the teen who could be left alone because she was always responsible. I became the friend who would drive her drunk boyfriend and his friends home because she kept a level head. I became everything .. to everyone else.

I created a façade for myself; someone who takes care of everyone else and I became an expert at it.  Professionally, it helped that I am naturally organized and pay careful attention to detail.  Making lists was rewarded.  Soon, because I was responsible, on time, and someone others could count on, I was rewarded with more – more work, more responsibility, more to organize, more to care for, more to do. More.

During college, I didn’t date because I had three part-time jobs + a full time course load.  Don’t get me wrong, I was no saint, I went dancing with friends and we drank a little and flirted a lot and had fun, but those times were few and far between.  Consequently, I have very few memories of my college experience. What I do remember is always working, always being exhausted, always over-performing.  What I do remember of that time is intense loneliness and a desire to be something.

At 21, I left Canada and came to the United States. I had $178, a guitar and a few friends.  Auspiciously, I planned on staying for a season; I’ve been here 27 years (and I’m a citizen now .. yay!). It never occurred to me to fail, and I didn’t. But now, years later, I can see how terrified I was.  I was so afraid to fail; afraid that all my big dreams wouldn’t come true and I’d be one of those girls that came slinking home to her parents with no job and no prospects.  And to me, failure was to be feared.

What’s scaring me today is one word: change.   I am turning 48 in a few days and while I am not afraid of aging, I am unfamiliar with who this woman is.  I have always been able to count on myself.  Now, someone else is showing up and, what’s more confusing, I don’t always recognize her.  I don’t know if I can trust her.

Naively, I assumed that I’d become more patient, more giving, and more, well, everything,  as I grew older.  Meh .. not so much.  With my grandkids? Absolutely. Other’s idiosyncrasies? Best I just step away. “Pick the hill you want to die on” is a quote I love but, of late, I’ve picked unfamiliar hills and walked away from known ones.   Weird.

My life is full and, most of the time, I’m content.  I’m thankful that I’ve cleared out the toxic people to make room for the good. I eat well. I exercise regularly now. I sleep great.  I listen. I express my ideas. I share and I pull back.

Things are coming together and changing all at the same time.

What’s next?

I don’t know.  But I do know this: while some of what I’m experiencing feels foreign to me, I’m trying my hardest not to be afraid.  I’m trying to just have faith and not be so worried about controlling the outcome.  I no longer have to be in survivor mode.  I will get through this; I just don’t know who I’ll be on the other side.

Have you struggled through a transition of late?  Please share.

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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Better Days Blog

Learning from yesterday, living for today

Another Stir of the Spoon

Food, Art, Books, Birds and whatever...

A Little Wild Farm

Planting roots on our little wild farm.

Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with People in My Path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine; For your light has come!

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by three opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.


Nancy Roman

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

I also live on a farm

Just another weblog

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...