Distraction Kills Dreams

My social media fast experience went amazingly well.  It made me realize a few things about my life. It has been months and I believe that the impact of this challenge on me may be bigger than I ever thought.  I honestly didn’t know if I could do it.  It started off hard for the first few days but became easier with each day that passed.  I didn’t realize that social media had become a mindless addiction until I was forcing myself to live without it.  I also didn’t realize how much of my day that I was losing to it without even making a conscious choice.  I had no idea how much time I waste on silly things that do not really matter and are not bringing me any closer to my goals.  I decided to go through every aspect of my life and take some time to decide if I wanted to continue to choose to include that in my life.  It was a long tedious job.  It took me some time to return to this site which was not my original plan but it had to be carefully considered as well.  I have decided to continue with this site because it is part of the life I see for myself and I truly enjoy it.  I love having a creative outlet.  While I did use Instagram and twitter, my Facebook feed was my number one offender.  I have returned to using social media.  I now set limits for myself and make a conscious choice about what time I spend on it.  I no longer allow myself to stare hypnotized at my screen for hours scrolling through my feed.

Until I took away the distractions I did not notice how unhappy I was becoming.  I didn’t know how bored and boring I had become.  I was honestly very shocked by this.  I had always been the person who was doing something.  I had many hobbies just a few years ago.  Had the mindless noise of social media and television really drowned out all of my hobbies?  What I had done was pick up a few unhealthy ways to appease myself including being envious of other people on Facebook and Instagram, playing video and computer games, and watching more television than I have my entire life.  I had become addicted to technology.  I never expected it but it happened.  By facing my addiction to social media I opened the flood gates.  I had been mindlessly hopping from distraction to distraction.  I had successfully removed anything and everything that provoked deep thought from my personal life.  But why?  That was when I started to become aware of my unhappiness.  I have all these dreams and I was not doing anything to get closer to achieving them.  In fact, I had found ways to avoid even thinking about them in any realistic way.  The distractions I had become addicted to were killing my dreams.  The distractions make it so much easier to ignore them.

Ok, I’m going to get super honest here.  I am afraid that if I try my hardest, really give it my all, that it will not be enough.  I am simultaneously afraid that it will be enough and my entire life will change.  You always hear of these people who achieved their dreams and their whole life changed.  They always seem happier but still…Change is scary too.  What if I get what I think I want and it is not what I thought it would be?  What if I fail miserably and then I lose the beauty of the dream?  Is this what stops most people from attempting to live their dreams?

If I want to change something in my life I have to take the action to do so.  I figured out that if I put my mind to it I could take steps to get closer to that crazy dream life I desire.  My dreams are a little different but they are mine.  I am willing to put in the time and effort to achieve my dreams.  I am also willing to finally face my fears.

New Perspectives

We are a month into our project, “Dedicating one year to life.”  I am shocked by the difference a month has made.  The family has made huge progress toward our goals.  The kids are adapting to the changes.  We have been trying to make the changes at a slow pace to give us all time to adapt but sometimes I feel like we are on a freight train barreling down the tracks to a completely different life and there is simply no stopping now.  Maybe this is a good thing.

I have high-functioning anxiety.  I have for as long as I can remember.  It got much worse after becoming a parent.  It is something I hide and never speak of.  I even tried to hide this in the middle of a paragraph with a disclaimer at the beginning when I wrote this.  I have gotten very good at avoiding things that make me uncomfortable.  I have big dreams and I am honestly afraid to live them.  Just admitting this to myself was an issue.  Writing this is giving me palpitations.  I am trying to be brave.  I keep telling myself that I don’t have to hit publish.  I could just delete this and nobody will ever know.  I know I need to confront my fears.  I know that many of them are irrational.  I am afraid that if we continue to do this project that I am going to be confronted by some big things.  I am more afraid that if I stop now that I am going to be a bitter old lady that let fear ruin her dreams.  I have overcome some of my fears over time and it has always been for the best.  I have a list of excuses about why I can’t live my dreams that I have been hiding behind.  This project is breaking down those hurdles. 

I have grown as a person as I spend more time thinking about what I truly want in life and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t.  I always read these articles or hear these stories where the people “gave it all up” to travel the world.  I will admit that I am down right envious of those folks.  I often feel like I “gave it all up” to live the American dream.  You know the one.  A nice house in the suburbs full of crap that you don’t need.  The two cars, two fulltime jobs, kids in a good school kind of life that you didn’t know came with fun add-ons such as debt, stagnation of dreams, an ever-expanding waistline, and boredom.

I have spent a lot of time getting to know what I really want.  I have always known that I have some very big dreams.  I also always knew that there was no way that I was ever going to do any of them.  It was just one of those unspoken things between my husband and I…or so I thought.  Because of this project I found out that when my husband said that he would do any of those things with me and he thought that we could do them, he was being…SERIOUS!  I had no idea.  This information has been a bit of a shock.  I took the time to go over all the crazy things I have tucked away for someday.  I am planning, truly planning, my five-year plan based on things that I actually want.  Our list of things stopping us from living our dreams gets shorter everyday.

I’m still scared but I’m ready.

That Restless Feeling

Does anybody else ever feel like they are actually two people deep down? Like there are two ends to your personality that do not always quite meet up. On the one hand I love being a mom and all that comes with it. I love my husband. I love the life we have created. I desperately want a new baby. But, and here’s the kicker folks, I also want to pack up and move away. My husband has told me he is with me. Whatever I need, wherever I want to go, he is with me. It is nice to know that I have that support if I decide to do something crazy and stupid. And that’s what I tell myself, It would be stupid to even consider moving away now. Our life is so nice. We have a beautiful home and life here. It would be silly to give that up. But then a little voice deep down, almost buried says “But what if it’s not?” Then I start all over again because at the end of the day I’m afraid of that little voice. It could wreck havoc on the perfect life we have built.

I really want to move some place warm. I dream of being near the beach and having a pool in the back yard we can use on a regular basis. We have moved a lot but we have spent most of our time within hours of my parents. Moving far away would mean it would just be us. No family or friends within a decent driving distance. That is a little scary. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. I know my family pretty well and I know that I would only see my mother and youngest sister if I came home to visit. The likelihood that they would visit is so slim that it would shock me if they came. My dad and other sister would visit and may even move near us. We do not rely on family or friends for anything tangible. I would just miss having people to have dinner with or grab coffee.

What if I give up what I have here and things don’t work out? Even worse, What if I ask my family to give up everything they have here and it doesn’t? My oldest daughter doesn’t want to move. She is afraid to leave her friends. I fear she would hate me for moving her away. But what if it’s just what she needs? What if she loves it there? What if she loves it and we hate it so much we move back?

It could be a financial disaster. We would have to give up our jobs. I can find a job elsewhere as a nurse and my husband assures me that he could find something anywhere we go. We would have to sell our home which really means something special to me. We could rent it out if we only left for a year or so. That may be the perfect amount of time to live somewhere as a trial. What if renters destroy our house?

A few months ago, I met a lady, a fellow nurse, that made a huge impact on me. She has no idea that she affected me so deeply. She told me a little of her story which basically was that she had spent years married and raising kids wanting to move away. She was planning to move to Florida when the kids were grown but never did. She is now raising a grandchild and said to me “I’ll move somewhere warm when the time is right.” All I came away with was “What if the right time never comes?” This could be me. I have a huge list of things I want to do with my life, of places I want to see so bad that I feel homesick for them. Can you be homesick for a place you have never visited? These are the constant stream of thoughts going through my head lately. I want to find a way to fully embrace every part of me. Every time I stop to consider all the things I want to do and start to really consider it, the fear and guilt creeps in. It’s like being in an endless cycle.

I have done everything I am supposed to for my age. I have all the things I am supposed to have. There is still a feeling that everything is not complete. I have worried my entire life about what everybody else thinks about me. I always worried about my weight and how I looked. I worried if I would appear dumb if I said the wrong thing or asked the wrong question. My big desires were so not mainstream that I kept those to myself. I worried about what people might say or think if they knew who I really was. Mainly I just worried. I worried about everything.

Recently something happened. I lost a patient. Not just any patient. My favorite patient. Yes, this is a no-no in nursing but it happens when you spend everyday taking care of somebody. I see a lot of death. I also hear a lot of regrets. It is the nature of the job. But after this very special old man passed away something happened. I stopped to think about the gift that is life. I cried. I prayed, really prayed, for the first time in years. I suddenly realized that I was sick of the worries. I don’t have to impress anybody. I don’t have to make everybody happy. I only had to make myself happy. I do not have to feel guilty for having dreams. Suddenly I found myself thinking about what I wanted. Who was I? This is dangerous territory. This was the point that the little voice started to grow. Then for the first time in my entire life I listened instead of suppressing it. This is when the scary voice started to make it’s demands. I started to dream again and not quietly to myself when things were rough but openly. What would happen if I completely gave in to the little voice and did all the crazy things I want to do. What if I moved away, learned to scuba even though my swimming is questionable, had a baby even though a third might be a bit impractical, traveled to far away places, said what was on my mind, truly connected with the world, or got the tattoo I’ve always wanted? What if I embraced the cliché of YOLO? What if instead of talking about what I want to do with my life I go do it? What if I actually sat down and created the big scary bucket list? What if I spent my time, money, and energy doing the things I really want to do?

What if I really lived?