So how’d I do in 2014?
1) Prioritize: Some years ago I realized that I was raised with a mindset of scarcity. Our economic fragility and the possibility that we would be living in the proverbial poor house framed my young reality. I’m not whining about mommy issues here. My dad was a first generation American whose parents had a grade school education. My mom was raised by her mother and grandmother in a time when women had no means to raise kids. They both lived through the depression and neither had college degrees. As often happens with parents, it turns out they were human and the difficult circumstances of their own childhoods affected their parenting. No blame here, just an acknowledgment that the fear of not enough is calcified in my bones.
One manifestation of the scarcity/fear model is that I’m not a great money manager. I avoid looking at the reality of situations for fear of impending disaster. Sometimes I make poor decisions out of willful ignorance but sometimes too out of resentment. As in, I think I deserve more. Progress: This year I traded in a pricier car for a less expensive one. Yes, I miss the satellite radio and keyless entry, but I like the extra $140 a month from a lower payment.
Another is my tendency to cook for the people I’m feeding as well as twenty imaginary guests. “I’d rather have too much than not enough” is often heard in my kitchen. I don’t know what to do to change that, but dang, couple that with the fact that I really don’t like eating leftovers and you find an area that needs some work.
In times of swirling pits of fear, I pull myself aside and remember that I’ve never actually lived in a poor house. The universe is a benevolent place and things have always worked out one way or another for me. While that’s no guarantee for tomorrow, it’s also no reason to believe that some dusty monster is hiding in a dark corner, about to pounce and take it all away.
I used home improvement as an example in my original post. I shook off that paralysis of indecision in grand fashion. New master shower, kitchen granite counter tops, new carpet, patio, and as of next Thursday, another new bath/shower for the kids. Because of that frenzy and the fact that my eldest started at a private high school in August, we didn’t take a family vacation. However, I did take a second job.
As I work to overcome the scarcity, I can’t ignore the fact that resources (like time and money) really are finite, so decisions have to be made. Increased demands on my shrinking free time continue to offer me opportunities to improve my prioritization.
Even typing that makes me feel a little squirrely.
All that is a fancy way of saying “I’m still working on it.”
2. Advocate: I continue to make my voice heard, although with my limited resource of time, I feel like my writing has taken a back seat. While you can argue that this is only temporary, I also know that if I am not attentive it will drift out to sea. Take this post, for example. The accountability of it all brings me back, not a burning desire to spend my Saturday morning reviewing my year when I could be at the gym or cleaning the family room.
3. Release: I tend to think that where ever I am is where I belong, which is a fine frame of mind, but I take it a step further toward unhealthiness. Whatever I am doing, whatever feeds me at this moment becomes superior to whatever I was doing before, as if it is some sort of competition. As if now, I have finally found “it.”
That ignores what I’ve come to believe as the Numero Uno Universal Truth – Impermanence.
I feel like I’ve improved on this front: understanding that what I need and what is available changes over time. I think I’ve learned to let go, or at least that I’m open to learning more. The remaining challenge is to do so without judgment. To let something go with gratitude, rather than bitterness and recrimination. To let go just because it’s time to let go, not because there were flaws.
I think I did alright in 2014. Didn’t knock it out of the park, but I did what had to be done and I feel like I clarified things.
So where am I going in 2015?