Stepping Back In

Well, hellllllllooooo there!  It’s been well over a month since I last wrote a blog post, and I hope that my time away didn’t push this little site in to the bowels of the Internet graveyard.  Because I imagine that place to be filled with old Youtube clips of Saved By The Bell and reviews of Milli Vanilli, and no one wants to be there.

Stepping back in

I would like to say I spent this hiatus reevaluating and making goals for blogging.  That I stepped away and had time to reassess things, come to some conclusions, and am returning to writing fresh and anew with a binder full of ideas and a game plan.  Sounds pretty good, right?

But did I actually follow through with that lofty goal?

Well, not exactly.

Starting a new job, the holiday break, family visitors and a snow storm or two made that  time I was supposed to be reflecting and coming to some sort of eureka moment difficult.

But I did have some time to think.  To ponder some things not just about my writing and my attitude towards blogging, but about my personal life as well.  And I’ve decided to work on two major aspects of myself this year.

Call it resolutions, revelations, habit-forming decisions.  I had them.  Or made them.  Or whatever.

Sure, they’re pretty broad and general.  I know the Dr. Phils of the world might say they’re not specific enough and that I should break them down in to smaller, more achievable goals.

But these two issues are at the foundation of what’s making me feel unmotivated.  Blah.  Stuck.

I’ve been slacking in taking care of myself and my connection to the world around me.

You know.        Basic.      Life.      Skills.

So, first, I’m working to take better care of myself.  And that goal changes from day to day in how it’s achieved, but the point is that every day I’m prioritizing doing something to take care of myself.  Drink more water, move a bit, get more sleep.  Floss.  Be more present, maybe meditate.  BREATHE, for God sakes.

Connecting to people is the second thing I’m trying to let rise to the surface of my daily life.  I’m not talking about any kind of smarmy networking or something superficial.  I’m talking about real-life connections.  Bonding with my spouse.  Playing hard with my children.  Staying in contact with friends and family far and wide.  Using Skype more.

It seems that I’ve lost the ability to feel connected lately.  Perhaps some of it is taking my relationships for granted.  I’ve realized that I often sit back and expect folks to reach out to me, and then get pissed when they don’t.   What remains is a disconnect that leaves me feeling resentful, bitter, and wanting to hole up like a hermit.

So if I want to deepen my relationships, make them healthier and meatier, I have to put in some work to nurture them.   I need to remember that relationships are more like roasting a turkey than microwaving a burrito, and they require a bit of basting so they don’t dry out.

Certainly, some of this spills over to blogging and my reasons for taking a break.  If I want to feel connected, I’m going to have to put in some work.   Like any relationship.

Because my experience with blogging has been similar to dating.  It started off all exciting and new and I put my whole heart and energy in to it.  Then eventually, I got comfortable.  Started peeing with the door open, so to speak.  Inevitably, the magic was lost.  Now I’m trying to regain that spark back.

So, I’m changing my perspective about blogging.  Looking at it through the lens of connection and communication, rather than marketing and self-promotion.

It feels like a very small, but very radical change in viewpoint for me.

That’s where I stand.  I may post a lot.  Or a little.  I’m not sure.  I do know that if I come back to blogging trying to put the pressure on myself to post so many times a week or concentrate on SEO and Pinterest-worthy images, I’ll be right back where I was in December, and I really don’t want that to happen.

Bare with me.  I’m slowly stepping back in to the blogging pool.  I may still hug the ladder for a while, but be patient.  I’ll warm up, enter the water and saunter over to the swim up bar soon enough.

Hanging up my blogging stocking

T’is the season.  For parties, family gatherings and good tidings.  For joy, good will, and hot chocolate.  For panicked shopping, cookie-induced bloating, and lame elf-rearranging.

And all of it makes me sweaty with stress.

Tack the task of helping out a former employee part-time on to this month, and I’m feeling over-scheduled and under-motivated.

The solution, I think, is to take a break.

From blogging.

blogging hiatus

Not that it’s why I started writing, but I’ve been at this blog over for two years now, and it appears to be going nowhere.

Sure, I’ve had a few things published here and there that I’m proud of.  But I’m not one of those famously popular bloggers who wrote a post that went viral overnight, received a shit-ton of followers, and the rest just fell in to place.

It’s easy to compare my small number of followers and readers to others success and think, “What’s the freaking point?

My blogging feels like jogging on a treadmill at a crowded gym, where everyone else is running with a smile on their face and logging in miles, while I’m sweating profusely and getting my shoelaces stuck in the track belt.  Dammit if it doesn’t smell like my dance career all over again.  The same insecurity and self-doubt and self-loathing I had to battle with myself as a dancer surfaced again while writing.

I started blogging because I wanted to write and I wanted a creative outlet.   But somehow it morphed in to this thing that doesn’t feel about the writing at all.  It became about the marketing and the tweeting and the pinning and the hand shaking and the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”.   All of that took a lot of time, exponentially more time, than the writing.

And because I’m so I’m horrible at all of that self-marketing and networking, it’s put a damper on the whole blogging process.

I’ve lost my passion for writing, and instead, have been approaching it half-assed.  It feels more like a chore than a joy.  I’m plagued by a writer’s block of momentous proportions.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m doing a mediocre job.

I need to step away for a bit and reevaluate why I write, who I write for, and what I want to write about, because I veered off path somewhere.

And I need some time away from my computer.  Time to readjust my posture from that slouched one I’ve adopted while stooped over my laptop.  Time to snuggle on the couch, warmed by a blanket and my husband instead of the heat of my MacBook Pro.  Time to work on myself – to work out, take a class or two, find a hobby, catch up on projects, find what fuels me.

I want to feel inspired, motivated and creative again.

So, I’m taking a step back and taking time off to refocus.  How much time?  Until I  can come back to writing and hitting “Publish” with the confidence that I will not measure my self-worth in shares, likes, comments, pageviews or retweets.

I’m not sure when that will be.  Maybe in a couple of weeks.  Maybe longer.  But I’m definitely giving myself a hiatus for the holidays.  I’ll still be present and accounted for on , , and , and if I find some rockin’ kids music you simply must hear, I’ll post it.

But for now, I’m hanging up my blogging stocking for Santa to fill.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a box of inspiration, wrapped in hilarity with a pretty bow made out of sheer genius.

Or maybe I’ll just get coal.

I hope you’ll find your way back here when I do, and have a very happy holiday season!

Over-scheduled and underpaid…


The 12 of you that regularly read this blog may have been wondering where I’ve been lately.

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.  I’ve just spent the last two weeks in the bowels of school fundraising. Swimming in last minute errands and tidying up projects. And managing to let everything else around me slide down in to a muddy, stinky pit of procrastination and forgetfulness.

I was so busy that I was unable to keep up with the basic things in life like paying bills, getting enough sleep, and regular bowel movements.

For the past four months, I had been coordinating and executing 11 grade-level art projects for our schools’ biggest fundraising event of the year. And I am no artist.  My stick figures would make any preschool teacher cringe.  I have yet to find my .

Thank god for a wonderful art teacher who guided me through every project and held my hand as I begged for suggestions on art supplies and techniques.  Together we made a great team and helped the students produce some really fantastic pieces of children’s art.

But I think I’d rather walk barefoot over hot coals naked while carrying a fridge on my back as birds peck at my eyeballs than volunteer to do that again.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to meet some other parents in the school, to befriend some wonderful teachers, and get to know administration on a first-name basis.

But the operative word in this whole endeavor is VOLUNTEER.  As in, I didn’t get paid, and neither did anyone else.  And it was a ton of work.  And time.  Time I’d rather spend next year looking for work that does pay.  Or at the very least, spending that time making sure my underwear get washed regularly.

On top of the time I spent helping to get this event organized last week during the kids’ school hours, there was all the other life things that overtook my schedule and sanity.  Like missing naps three days in a row to get doctor’s visits or errands in.  Or having sandwiches for dinner in the car those same three days in a row on the way to a baseball game or soccer practice or dance recital photos.

All while my husband was called out of town for work.

Normally, things don’t coincide quite like that.  But when they do?  It wreaks havoc on the whole energy of the house.  The kids felt it, for sure, and retaliated with sour moods and shredded patience with each other.  And me.  And my sour mood.

I wouldn’t say that we’re over-scheduled on a regular basis, so I didn’t have a plan in place for a week like last week.  How do people do that all the time?

Thankfully, things have slowed way down and are returning to normal.  Now that I’m not burning the candle at both ends, I’m a bit less stressed out on those evenings when bedtime is pushed late for a baseball game.  I can plan a meal that has at least two representatives from the basic food groups.  And I’m remembering to brush my teeth.

I can remember all of this chaos and running around when I was a teenager.  Eating egg-salad sandwiches in the car on the way from school to dance class, all the while covertly changing in to my tights and leotard with the deft and limberness of a contortionist as we drove down the highway.

But now that I’M the parent?  It sucks.  So I’m asking for help.

Those of you that have these kinds of schedules in place All The Time, what’s your secret?

I’m not talking about the “just take a moment to breathe” or “make it all the night before” kind of advice, but the honest “this saved my ass more than once” kind of tricks.

How do you manage to keep  one kid entertained while trying to watch the other hit home runs or do shuffle-hop-steps?  How do you keep them from getting scurvy on a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches or fast food?  And how do you keep from pulling your hair out when you realize you haven’t had a moment to yourself all day?



Down time…

My father recently had open-heart surgery, so I flew out to visit him and help out a little during his recovery.  Even though he’s doing great, and better than I imagined he would be, it was hard to see my father so helpless.  This is a man who doesn’t sit still for long, doesn’t like being at the mercy of others.  I was glad I was able to help out in his recovery.  My being there gave him someone else to chat with, my step-mother a supervisor for my father so that she could get out of the house for a while, and the dog someone to walk and play with him. 

The upside to this trip was four child-free days.  I feel like I should have missed my kids more.  And I did miss them:  their little personalities, awesome smiles, hugs, and little voices. But I didn’t miss the headache pain in the ass of all the work that comes with them.  Does that make me a horrible parent?  This is where I feel my husband is a better equipped parent.  I think he loves every bit of child rearing, and he takes the good with the bad in the same stride.  Me?  I get a little more burnt out a bit easier.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still love them with every fiber of my being and can’t wait to see them again.  They mean the world to me.  And my amazing husband does, too.  Perhaps every parent just needs a break every now and then.  It was wonderful to get to wake up whenever I wanted to (even if I was just “sleeping in” until 8am), to eat when I wanted to, and not feel beholden to anyone else’s demands.  Get a renewed sense it what quiet is like. I think when you spend an enormous amount of time with someone, you can’t really know what it’s like to miss them until you’re gone longer than 10+ hours. And you can’t really appreciate what you have, either.  I know that once I see them, I will be hit with longing to cuddle and smooch them until they can’t stand it anymore.  Until then, I will soak up every kid-less moment, read without distraction, and enjoy missing them.