My brain used to be so full of stuff. Work stuff, home stuff, kid stuff, husband stuff, friend stuff. I’d find myself maniacally ticking off lists in my head like the little boy in the Sesame Street short. “A loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and a stick of butter”. And then I’d create lists that needed to be written on my lists. I’d often find myself saying in meetings, “don’t let me forget to pick up my kids.” And then once I had my kids, I found myself rushing to put them to sleep so that I could pop open my laptop to try to “just get on top of it a bit.” I never really “got on top of it” at all. Last summer, I spent many hours of my secluded, unplugged vacation at the local biker joint, sitting at the bar, plugging in to the free wifi, writing grants and processing payroll. What a life!
But, I loved it. I loved checking off things on my list. I loved the sense of accomplishment I got from getting stuff done. I loved my reaction (a shrug of the shoulders, a sigh, and a smile) when people said, “I don’t know how you do it all!” I loved the accolades I got from others. Honestly, I loved being a superwoman, and I loved the fact that it all gave me great joy. And, I know that I had moments of smugness, of ego, of hubris, but didn’t I deserve it?
Now, unencumbered by the 8:00 til whenever job, I’m forced to reevaluate what I loved about my old life. How much was about me and how much about the cause? Did I get too wrapped up in the process of my life and stopped thinking about the product?
I’ve found that I’m a little uncomfortable with how empty my brain is, and the silence that comes with it. What used to be filled with endless tasks is now a hole dug in the sand, waiting for the ocean to role on in. Lovely image, no? But think of all the junk that the ocean can bring in. Shells, seaweed, little clawing creatures, medical waste….
Oh, the doubt that came seeping in. Can I pull off this grand career rehaul? Have I made the right choices in my life? Do I really need to work so hard? Can I move on, taking what I’ve learned?
The emptiness in my head and the space available for all of the negative thoughts began to take it’s toll. I stopped focusing on the things that were important to me. Conviction, love, positivity: I couldn’t seem to find space any longer. But, then, look… there was some space to discuss ocean desalination techniques with my eight year old, and then some space to enjoy my five year old’s redecoration of his bedroom, and then a great potato soup recipe, and a new pair of fabulous hand knit purple socks, and then the first of my spring blooms.
And then I realized that I have gained time. So much time. And with time comes opportunity. It’s time to get moving. It’s time to start filling all that empty space with the ideas that have been scrambling to get in my brain but have been dissuaded by the lists and the tasks. And I have so many wonderful ideas. And so many great plans. And so many opportunities to apply all I know to make a difference in a different way.