Posts Tagged ‘changing course’

In my blog entry yesterday, I talked about writing a mission statement for my life. This is something I have never considered doing before because I have spent my entire life adapting to my circumstances and using my intensity to break through barriers. On the rare occasions that someone asks me about my dreams, I say that I want to go to Hawaii (which I actually plan to do when my son leaves for his freshman year of college – that’s still a few years away, though). Beyond that, I have had no dreams.

I could not fall back to sleep after two hours of trying, so I starting thinking about what I want in my life. I could not answer the question. I can tell you many things that I do not want, but I draw a blank at dreaming about what I do want. Dreams are a foreign concept to me.

So, I came up with the following personal mission statement:

I want to produce something of value that is meaningful to and appreciated by others.

I came up with this at 4:00 a.m. after only four hours of sleep, so bear with me. LOL

I then asked myself if my life is currently leading me in this direction. The answer was a resounding NO. Perhaps that explains the level of unrest I have been experiencing for pretty much all of 2012.

Here was the hard part – What could I do differently that would meet this mission statement? I immediately went to the book that I want to write “someday” about healing from child abuse. My vision for this book is similar to the format of this blog – a book where people could look up applicable topics rather than have to read through the whole thing in narrative form. Just like with this blog, the book would include “taboo” topics that are not currently addressed in any healing books that I have found on the shelves.

Of course, my first reaction was that I don’t have time to write the book. I have been waiting for my life to have fewer responsibilities so I could focus on writing. I am now starting to think that I have this backward. If my personal mission is to produce something of value that is meaningful to and appreciated by others, then why am I not doing it?

Don’t get me wrong – this blog is also something of value I produce that meets my personal mission statement. However, this blog is also the first thing to get pushed aside when I am weighted down by responsibilities. I have a long list of responsibilities that come first, but my passion for the blog drives me to squeeze out 10 minutes here and there to write it.

Perhaps I have everything backward. Perhaps the part of my life that fulfills me needs to come first rather than last. I am not saying that I will just walk away from my job and family and go write, but perhaps there is a way for me to fulfill my own needs instead of always ignoring them to take care of everyone else.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Most companies have a vision and/or mission statement that guides the direction of the company. As a detailed-oriented person, I used to think a mission statement was a bunch of hooey. I would read my company’s mission statement posted on the wall and think, “Thanks for that. I had planned to do a $#%&ty job today, but now that I read the mission statement, I’ll do a good job instead.” (Yes, I am a sarcastic person by nature.)

However, as I have developed the other side of my brain so that I am better able to see a bigger picture, I have grown to appreciate the value of a vision or mission statement for an organization. Whenever an organization has a big decision to make, it helps to ask which direction will lead the company in the direction it wants to go, and that direction is defined in its mission statement.

I have been struggling with insomnia for weeks (am writing this blog entry in the wee hours of the morning after only four hours of sleep), and I think it is because I am trying so hard to grasp a concept that is just out of my reach. I have glimpses and pieces of what I am trying to see, but I am unable to see the big picture yet. The following concepts tie into what I am reaching for: letting go of control, pouring energy into dead ends, managing my time, surviving versus living, facing reality, awakening to my life, finding fulfillment, and having a purpose.

In Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, there is a passage involving critical thinking and challenging assumptions, and I feel like I am learning along with one of the main characters. The conversation was interrupted by an emergency, so I didn’t get any farther along than the character did. However, the line of questioning got me thinking about my own life, especially what I want out of my life.

What do I want? That is such a foreign question to me because most of my life has been about adapting, not directing. I haven’t been steering the ship for open waters – I have been navigating around the harbor mines.

As I tried for two hours to fall back to sleep, I asked myself what I want out of my life, which I could not answer. So, I decided to come up with a mission statement. This is what I came up with at 4:00 a.m.:

I want to produce something of value that is meaningful to and appreciated by others.

I am not sure if that is where my mission statement will stay, but it’s a start. Tomorrow, I will talk about applying that mission statement to my life as it is now.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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Do you ever feel like nothing is ever going to change in your life, so what’s the point in even trying? Sometimes I get that way, especially after I have been sick for a while. I feel this physically, such as watching the child spill applesauce and the dogs track in mud on the floor that I just mopped. I think to myself, “Why did I even bother? Maybe we should just live on a dirt floor and be done with it.”

I feel that way sometimes when it comes to overcoming my eating disorder (binge eating). Before I got sick, I had exercised every day for nine days. I was eating healthier. My clothes were getting looser, and the pounds were dropping off. Since I have been sick, I cannot exercise (still don’t have my energy back) and have gained a few pounds back. So, I ask myself why I even bothered trying to change the size of my body when roadblocks always seem to get in my way.

I felt that way as I dropped off to sleep last night. I asked myself why I even bother putting so much energy into trying to change the course of my life when I just wind up right back where I started. What is the point of trying so hard when some invisible force continues to move me back to square one?

Then, it hit me that I have made many permanent changes in my life, and I am just being unrealistic in wanting to change them all at once. What helped was contrasting my life with my sister’s life. (I mean no disrespect to my sister. I just needed a visual to help me see how far I have come.)

If my sister and I had made no changes, our children would be abused themselves. Both of my parents were abused as children (my mother to a larger degree than my father). My mother continued the abuse, and my father failed to stop it, so that family tradition passed along to another generation. However, neither my son nor my nephews have any idea what it is like to experience child abuse, and I am so grateful for that. No matter what else my sister and I have or have not managed to change, that family legacy stopped with us, and we need to be proud of this.

There are areas that I have changed that my sister has not, and I need to recognize and applaud myself for those changes as well. For example, my parents were both social outcasts with no concept of how to interact with society. My father could turn on the charm to get something out of someone, but he didn’t have the first clue about what an emotionally intimate connection with another person was. My mother did not know how to interact with others without offering up her children as the main course. Clearly, my sister and I learned few positive social skills from either of my parents.

My sister and I grew up as social outcasts. I was the nerd, and she was the freak. Her children are also social outcasts. They are nice enough boys, but they don’t know how to interact with their peers and come across as “odd.” The oldest has been plagued by bullies for years now for this reason. Unfortunately for my nephews, it will be in their hands to figure out how to break free of this family tradition or pass it along to the next generation.

Contrast this with my son, who is Mr. Popularity at his school. Other children love him, and he makes friends very easily. He did not learn those skills from my hermit husband who has no friends and would rather hole himself up in a log cabin away from society. He learned those skills from me, the person who would not rest until she figured out how to make a connection with someone outside of her family. I frequently marvel over how a former social outcast like me could be raising such a “normal” child.

And, the thing is, my kid really isn’t “normal.” He has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which typically makes it difficult for children to make and maintain friendships. My kid’s social skills are so good that he is able to be popular (as in very well-liked) despite having ADHD.

So, I need to acknowledge that I have made changes. I hope that gives me the energy to keep trying.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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