Monday, November 8, 2010

A Puzzling Life

I have a blog friend named Nancy. She is an amazing writer. I'm talking deep stuff, folks. I read her posts and am filled with longing to write the way she does. Nancy writes from the heart and from the gut. That is a lethal combination. Seriously. One of the things that I so deeply respect about her writing is that she is so honest. Nancy tells it all, her struggles and successes. She also writes fiction based on truth. Is there any other kind worth reading? Anyway, do yourself a favor and check out her blog, Away We Go. You can thank me later.



Nancy is the one with the big grin.


I was reading through her posts last night, leaving a bazillion comments, as I am loathed for doing, when I came across this one. It's about working on a puzzle with her two boys. The amazing thing is, it spoke volumes to me about me. Here is the part that really grabbed my attention:


After the puzzle was complete, Owen and I talked about our thinking process. We unpacked our thinking, and determined a few strategies that helped us be successful:


1) We figured out that straight-edges go on the outside edges.


2) We looked for like colors and patterns.


3) We did little bits when the big bits seemed like too much.


4) We asked for help when we needed it.


As Owen and I talked, I stated, "See how you can do hard things?" and "I like how you worked to meet your goals." I was trying to develop his sense of self-efficacy. Things in life aren't always going to be easy; having strategies when things get tough can be the difference between confidence and defeat.


I seriously cried when I read those words. I have been going through some soul-searching for quite a while now. It probably has something to do with being in my fifties, both my parents being dead, all but one of my children being grown and gone. That's what the books say anyway. But the truth is, I believe it's deeper than that. It's about disappointment with me. It's about not being who I want to be or even who I thought I was. It's about not achieving goals, not setting goals, making excuses, wanting do-overs and realizing there are no such things in this life. So, I have been reading and soul-searching and praying and doing the best I know how to do when it comes to figuring out what's next. How do I do the rest of what's left of my life in a way that feels on purpose and not just survival mode? Then I read Nancy's post.


The straight-edges go on the outside edges.




I'm setting my boundaries. Something I have rarely done throughout my life. I have not been good about setting them where other people are concerned and I have been horrible about setting them for myself. So, today I am picking through the pieces of my life and relationships to find those outside edges. Then I am putting them in place, stepping back and smiling at what I've done. I know they are there; I just have to find them, lock the pieces together and keep going.


We looked for like colors and patterns.




I have made some really poor choices in this area. I have sold myself short, again and again. Told myself I wasn't good enough, or smart enough, or thin enough for too many things. I have avoided people and places based on my own insecurities. I have looked down on others because I thought they were better than me. Yeah, read that one again because it may seem I meant it the other way around but I didn't. I have had opportunities to do some great things with great people and I turned it down. Why? Because of fear of not being enough. But I am enough. So, today I am going to look for those people and opportunities that are like the me I know I can be, am meant to be, am destined to be. No more excuses. No more fear. No more judging others. No more judging myself.


We did little bits when the big bits seemed like too much.




The big bits always seem like too much to me. I can easily focus on the big bits. So, today, I am focusing on the little bits. There are some HUGE bits in my life right now. Take my hips for instance. My piles of paper on my desk. My writing. I could go on and on but the bottom line is this: I am going to tackle each huge bit, one little bit at a time. I was a project manager. I understand time management, dividing the project into workable pieces and meeting the goal in a timely fashion. Come hell or high water. I was successful when I did it for a paycheck. This is so much more important this time. This time, the pay is a balanced life. My life. A life I can be comfortable in, not constantly squirming to find a place to hide.


We asked for help when we needed it.


I love this writer. They know how to ask for help.


Out of everything I read in Nancy's post, this was the hardest for me. I hate asking for help. I want to do it myself. Everything. Myself. Why? Because I am a control freak. Because everything I do is better than the way anyone else does it. Because I am afraid of needing people. Because I am a freak. Whatever the reasons, I need help and I am going to ask for it. This does not mean I need or want unsolicited advice. You know the kind where you tell me what to do then when I decide not to do it you get mad at me and won’t speak to me for a year. I am talking about the kind of help that really helps me be a better me by accepting help from those people that are better than I am at certain things. Lots of things. So, I will ask. It won’t be easy but I will.


I really want to be able to say to myself one day soon, "See how you can do hard things?"




What hard things are you doing today?

23 comments:

Blasé said...

I would tell you what to do, but then you wouldn't do it, and then I would get mad with you and likely not speak to you in a year and things of that nature...

Katharine said...

Wow- This was awesome, and true, and beautiful. Today- I am letting go of something I never should have taken hold of in the first place. Thanks for the post, blessings on your day!

Mommy Lisa said...

Isn't it funny that everything we need to know we learned like that? As a child learns?

Peace and a good day for you!

Brian Miller said...

hey i am a guy i defintiely have a hard time asking for help...smiles. really this was a great post because i share similar struggles at times and getting those straight edges out...thanks for the intro...

Delirious said...

Great post!

Someone yesterday told us about this bit of wisdom that he received: "Live so that your heart won't cry out for years gone past." That didn't make sense to me at first, until he said that to him it means that we should live so that we don't have regrets later in life. If we don't live up to who we should be, we will always wish we could go back and do it over.

Glen said...

very nicely adapted for your life. nice work

Parsley said...

Good post and makes us all want to reflect a little on ourselves.

Dawn said...

You are a very talented writer. This post just proves it. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. It gave me chills.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

you have just proven (again) that we are truly related in some deep way. i could have written evey bit of this (the negative parts - not the "fixes" you're planning because i have to get there myself). you read my mind and pulled out what i didn't want to face or admit.

thanks for such a great post.

Katherine Jenkins said...

Marla, you are magnificent as you are and you probably want to shoot me like the mockingbird on the post for telling you so, but it's true. I think you need to read my most recent post. You might find something there! Peace to you my friend and I hope you are doing well!!!!

Gucci Mama said...

Needed this today. My heart to yours.

Nancy C said...

Marla, I am beyond honored. Your words touched me deeply. And, oh! The wisdom you pulled from my words...just gorgeous.

You inspire me.

Love you.

Kristen said...

SEE- you wrote one heck of an amazing post! Loved every minute of it. Hard for me right now is learning HOW to relax and enjoy the moment....

Lily Robinson said...

Yep, twins. I find it hard to believe, though... that YOU feel that way. Your posts tell a different story. You have accomplished more in your life so far, than I will probably do in my entire lifetime!

But thanks for reminding me of some things I already knew but forgot... baby steps, set goals, etc.

Yep, we're twins. Seriously? The word verification is 'mylife'.

Enchanted Oak said...

Dear Marla, I am in the same sort of re-definition of my life. Just out of the hospital and catching up with friends. You have written a wonderful strategy here. Please print it and post it beside your main area where you will see it daily.
I wanted to become a poet of some skill. I started with small bits and asked questions. I looked to others who were doing it. I looked at my world and wrote about my world. Practice at a goal does actually work, amazingly. I am too fat and my face has sun spots and one front tooth has discolored, ruining my smile. But I am learning that people look beyond the flaws that bother me, and when I stand up to read a poem, which was a huge step for me, I don't worry about the fat, the tooth, the skin. I am following a dream. It can be done the way you describe it. I won a state poetry contest in August! I am now published in an anthology in Europe! All Query others. If you don't care about writing locally, search the web for a writing outlet. Baby steps. You are a gifted writer. I am rooting for you. You are a glorious, shining human being.

Enchanted Oak said...

Dear Marla, I am in the same sort of re-definition of my life. Just out of the hospital and catching up with friends. You have written a wonderful strategy here. Please print it and post it beside your main area where you will see it daily.
I wanted to become a poet of some skill. I started with small bits and asked questions. I looked to others who were doing it. I looked at my world and wrote about my world. Practice at a goal does actually work, amazingly. I am too fat and my face has sun spots and one front tooth has discolored, ruining my smile. But I am learning that people look beyond the flaws that bother me, and when I stand up to read a poem, which was a huge step for me, I don't worry about the fat, the tooth, the skin. I am following a dream. It can be done the way you describe it. I won a state poetry contest in August! I am now published in an anthology in Europe! All Query others. If you don't care about writing locally, search the web for a writing outlet. Baby steps. You are a gifted writer. I am rooting for you. You are a glorious, shining human being.

Coby said...

This was beautifully written - thank you for exposing your heart. You said something so key that God spoke to me a few days ago: You are enough. As you are. As God created you.

Beautiful.

Sarah said...

You are perfectly normal, Marla. We all tend to sell ourselves short, thinking we're not good enough or could do better if only...but by reading your blog I know you've accomplished amazing things many couldn't. You just reached a point in life that we all have to--looking at our own lives and trying to make sense of it. No matter how you decide to approach it I know you will do a great job. Chin up!

Sonya said...

I'm almost 36 and have felt like you have for awhile now..I think it's normal to feel those things. We give alot and leave ourselves short alot of the time..

Nancy is the best isn't she :) I love your posts aswell..it always makes me feel like I am sitting down with a true friend and talking about stuff we are both going through and knowing that each of us gets the other one.

TechnoBabe said...

This is such a great post, one all ages can get something out of. We are all going through things at various times and this list seems so simple. But so wise.

Sandra said...

Good for you for giving such high praise to one of your fellow writers and for learning and growing from her words. Wow. I am truly in awe of BOTH of you right now.

Bob said...

Marla Ann,
I am truly humbled to be your man...Bob

Unknown Mami said...

Marla Ann,
I am truly humbled to be your friend...Unknown Mami

I might be paraphrasing a wise man.