Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Confessions of a Control Freak

I admit it. I’m a bit of a control freak. (Okay, perhaps more than a bit.)

I dislike chaos and crave orderliness. Delegate is a dirty word for me. Peace and calm are my constant goal. Change scares me (just the word makes me cringe).

I recently chaired an event that required me to rely on others for the majority of the components. It was hell. In the end, it all worked out but the week prior to the big day, I gained five pounds (I eat when I’m stressed) and lost countless hours of sleep.

It’s a problem, I know, and not something I’m particularly proud of. You would think my need for control would have been cured after having three children. After all, there’s nothing like a sick baby or an unexpected homework assignment to throw your to-do list right out the window.

But sadly, I somehow held on to my controlling habits, despite the best efforts of my children to derail me.

I don’t think it’s wrong of me to want a calm, orderly life. I think control, in many cases – especially as a mother – is important. It’s just not a good thing when it affects you physically. Or when it affects your life and those around you.

I’m afraid I am teaching my children, especially my youngest, that change is something to be scared of. And THAT is not a good thing.

And that is what I’m trying to work on in 2014. I’m going to keep my orderly life, but throw in some change every once in a while.

As you know from my last post, I picked up Lu Ann Cahn’s new book, I Dare Me. It’s a great book about doing new things to recharge your life. I loved it and have already made a list of things I want to do for the first time (or for the first time in a long time).

For example, I tend to sit in the same pew for Mass every Sunday. Not so unusual, as I see many families do the same thing each week. But, just to switch it up, I will not only sit in a different pew, I will sit on a different side of the Church.

Now, there are probably two different reactions you could have to this statement. You are right now either nodding your ahead in agreement and understanding, since you tend to be a creature of habit as well, or you are shaking your head in amazement that I actually have to make a resolution to sit somewhere else in Church. (Crazy, I hear you thinking!)

For those in the latter group, I applaud your spontaneity – really! But sadly, I think there are a number of us “control freaks” out there who are set in their ways and see change as a dirty word.

For those of you, I say join me. Join me in shaking up your life a little.

What else do I have planned for 2014:

1. Going to a movie in the middle of the day by myself.
2. Going tech-free for a day.
3. Dance in the rain.
4. Sell/buy something on e-bay.
5. Finger paint
6. Host a home trunk show.
7. Learn to Hula Hoop.
8. Learn to put on and wear fake eyelashes.
9. Stay silent for a day.
10. Yoga on the beach.

And many, many more.

In fact, I’ve already marked a few “firsts” off my list, including learning to recite the ABC’s backwards and shopping in a new market in the area. Grant it, they’re not earth-shattering opportunities, but it’s a start – a new way of looking at the same old things. And it’s a chance for this old control freak to shake things up a bit and see that change does not have to be scary.

For once, I’m actually looking forward to some change in my life. And I’m learning to ignore those butterflies in my stomach and take a chance.

Any other control freaks out there looking to shake it up a bit?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time to Shake It Up a Bit

It’s another snowy day here in Eastern PA. School is on a 2-hour delay (at least they are in school) and roads are supposed to clear by lunchtime. This is good news for everyone in my household because we are all pretty much sick of each other these days. We’re tired of the snow, the cold and the confinement.

It’s been a tough winter around here, with words like Polar Vortex and thunder snow being bantered around on a daily basis. I’ve been woken up at 5:00 a.m. with a phone call from our School Superintendant over a dozen times (so far) and if my daughter asks me one more time, “Do you think we’ll have school tomorrow?” I will scream!

For whatever reason (lack of sleep most probably) I am in an especially down mood this morning. It’s snowing (again). It’s cold (again). My schedule is being interrupted (again). Winter fatigue has set in but considering there is still over a month until spring, and more snow and cold weather in the forecast, I need to get over it.

Luckily, I was able to get out of the house last night and hear a wonderfully inspiring speaker who has written a book to help me shake off this mood. Lu Ann Cahn, a Philadelphia TV reporter, has written a book, I Dare Me, which talks about how she “rebooted and recharged her life by doing something new every day.”

THIS is what I needed to hear. She started by asking those in attendance, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

Wow, think about that for a while.

“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

She admitted she was in a rut in 2009 – unhappy and frustrated with life. Her college-aged daughter challenged her to shake up her life a bit by trying something new every day and writing about it on a blog. Cahn was reluctant at first but decided to give it a try. On Jan. 1, 2010, she participated in the Polar Bear Plunge in Atlantic City, NJ. For someone who admitted to not going into the ocean in July, this was a big departure from her comfort zone.

Cahn kept it up, trying everything from hula hooping to eating in an Ethiopian restaurant for the first time to zip lining in Mexico, all the while recording her daily adventures on her blog.

At the end of the year, she realized what had been missing in her life – firsts! Trying new things added excitement to her life and made her appreciate what she had.

Her goal with the book: helping others become unstuck and discover the wonder life has to offer!

I’ve had the book in my hands for about 16 hours and can’t put it down. It’s inspired me to change it up a bit. Me, who thinks living dangerously is sitting on a different side of the Church on Sundays.

It’s amazing what comes your way when you really need it.

I've already started a list of things I want to try for the first time and, while I won't be doing something new every day, I am challenging myself to shake it up a bit at least once a week.

I’m not getting any compensation for this post. My only goal is to help others who may be stuck and in a rut, especially with this crazy winter we are having.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Pick up this book and challenge yourself to do something new, today! I dare you!

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s also our school’s 10th snow day, as well as the ninth snowstorm that has hit our area this season, with more snow predicted tomorrow. We have had over 55 inches of snow this winter so far. Here's my view as I write this:

For this warm-weather, beach-loving lady, this is my version of hell!

But, I digress. It’s Valentine’s Day. We aren’t big fans of this holiday in our house. I’m not saying I would turn down some chocolate and flowers, especially when I am surrounded by children and snow these days, but I am not the type of woman who requires a big fancy dinner out and a tiffany-blue box on the table. (Having said that, again, I certainly wouldn’t turn either down. See first paragraph!)

For once, this year I thought ahead and picked up a few things for my daughters and husband for Valentine’s Day a few days ago. Since we were housebound yesterday, my forethought allowed me to gloat a bit this morning at the breakfast table when I pulled out said gifts. I’m not proud of my actions, but it certainly was fun to see my husband squirm a bit when I pulled out a card and gift at 8:00 am. (This was after I served him heart-shaped pancakes! I know. I have no shame!)

Having been married for 24 years, I know my husband well enough to expect some flowers and chocolate in a few hours. He knows the way to my heart. But while in the shower this morning, I started thinking about all the gifts he has given me through the years for which he never gets credit.

The biggest gift: The ability to be a stay-at-home mom for our three children. Financially, this is worth countless bouquets of flowers, pieces of jewelry and dinners out, but emotionally, this is a priceless gift that I appreciate every day, and yet rarely thank him for.

Other gifts he has given me:

-Filling up my car with gas when I’m almost on empty.
-Waking up early and running to get me a bagel at my favorite bagel shop.
-Warming up my car before I leave in the morning.
-Walking our dogs at night, in the rain, and never complaining.
-Picking up our kids after that late-night party because he knows I don’t like to drive at night (and I’m already in my pajamas).
-Coming home to another night of “breakfast for dinner” or take-out dinner (that he has to pick up) – and not complaining!
-Giving up many a weekend at our shore house so that my sisters and I can have a girls weekend away.
-Making many late-night runs to the grocery store to satisfy my chocolate cravings.
-Making me laugh every day!

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I want to thank my sweet Valentine for all the gifts he has given me these past 24 years. I may not thank you every day, but I appreciate them more than you’ll ever know. And those gifts are worth more than any flowers you could every get me. (We can talk about that tiffany-blue box later!)