Participate vs. Anticipate

Some people embrace spontaneity, while others are rooted in making plans. Some people let problems slide over them like water on a duck’s back, while others struggle to stay afloat from the weight of their problems. Live in the moment. Plan for the future.

I’ve always known that I’m more comfortable making plans, rather than doing something on the spur of a moment. With spontaneity comes risk and I’m not a big risk taker. Instead, I’m a big worrier. Some people might think I have a gift in that I am very good at looking forward and seeing all the obstacles and hindrances and potential pitfalls on the way to something, and I can problem solve ways to avoid all those things. In other words, I anticipate something very well.

Anticipate: to foresee and deal with in advance.

This is a highly honed skill for me. I am a master at taking large projects and breaking them down into manageable steps. I am gifted at contemplating a future event, thinking of all the things that can go wrong and having a plan B for each. I’ve often joked about how for some things I have a plan C, D, and E too. When faced with an upcoming touchy conversation, I can cogitate the conversation six different ways and plan what I want to say in response to what the other person says. In a business setting, I can forecast plans five years out, which is one of the reasons why I’m so good at my current job of project manager. Some days I get so immersed in future planning that I have to remind myself of the month and year that is truly today.

Participate: to take part.

Living in the moment is not my forte. I’m actively present in the room, taking part in the conversation or the activity, and I may even be enjoying myself. But my mind is racing ahead, predicting where the conversation is going to go, watching for the drink that’s getting placed too close to the edge and the hand or elbow that’s going to knock it off. It’s difficult for me to relax and be “grounded” in the moment because I’m too busy anticipating what’s going to come next.

People would laugh out loud if they knew that I really do physically stop and smell flowers. It’s a conscious effort on my part to take part in the moment. It’s also a tool I use as a writer, to record a moment in my memory, involving as many senses as I can so that I can rewrite the moment later in a story. Indeed, it’s a rare occurrence when I can embrace the moment and not think of the future. And when I realize I am in the present, I consciously pause and take it all in.

Lately I’ve been working on my participation skills. For a natural born worrier, it’s much more difficult than it seems and I feel completely out of my comfort zone. I am certain mayhem is going to break out at any moment and I won’t be prepared. It’s downright scary. And it’s exhausting. But necessary, for life is too short to spend every moment living in the future.

A Consequence of Blogging

I’ve been writing since I was ten years old, but created this blog only about eighteen months ago. With four daughters and two stepdaughters, I was driven to blog about some of the more nonsensical events that transpire in my life. My purpose was, and is, to share some of my life experiences in the hope that someone, somewhere will benefit from lessons I’ve learned on my journey. In that regard, my blogging has been purely selfish. It would give me satisfaction and a sense of reward to know I’ve helped someone somehow, a sort of preventive dose of parenting medicine if such a thing exists.

Writing is a form of therapy for me. When journaling or blogging, I’ve always put truth on the page. Some people like my honesty. For me, I don’t think about it. My life is what it is. And I’m willing to share it, although I rarely use a person’s real name in any of my blogs. If I’ve been guilty of any falsehood, it would be in the act of minimizing reality. Sometimes even I can’t believe what is happening and I’m living it! So I’ve been known to paint a less dramatic picture or tone down the extreme level of emotion so that readers will find it all believable.

And therein lies the rub.

At the turn of the year, about seven months ago, I took a look back at all my 2012 postings. I was approaching my one year anniversary of writing my blog and for the first time I took a detailed look at all the stats that are kept through WordPress. And a couple of things came to my mind as I did this review of my blog. First, I was shocked to see in my words so much sadness and despair along with complaining and, yes, even whining. While promising in a post to not throw a pity party, sometimes I did anyway. In retrospect, it was a stressful year. But so was the year before that, and the year before that. And so on and so on, etcetera, etcetera.

Second, I learned I have followers. Really! Complete strangers have decided my blog is worthy of following. And that made me smile because perhaps my main purpose (see paragraph one) was being fulfilled.

However, at the time I discovered all of this in January, I was feeling depressed, which is probably why I was led to do a review of 2012 in the first place. After reading all that doom and gloom, I told myself I needed to focus more on the positive and less on the negative so as to build my readership. Well, that was much easier said than done. It didn’t take long before I found myself playing around with catchy headlines and choosing one word over another in the hopes that a reader would find my writing more interesting. Consciously and/or subconsciously, I had begun to censor myself. And, without knowing I was doing it, I found myself putting up posts on certain days and times so as to gain the most “market share.”

In this January moment of enlightenment I was propelled into discernment. And for the last several weeks I’ve lacked any desire at all to blog. It’s as if I don’t want to write because I’m not being true to my purpose or to my self.

Enough!

I can’t promise there will be sexy words or a play on words in a headline. Don’t expect to see a building of loyal readers. I won’t guarantee a value gained or a lesson learned in reading any one of my postings. And I certainly won’t promise all sunshine and roses. But I will promise honesty and no more censoring. I will honor my self and my readers by committing anew to my original purpose.

Parenting is incredibly challenging. It’s something I find I have to work at every single day. I welcome the opportunity to share this wobbly, drama-filled, hormone-laced journey. And maybe, just maybe, we can learn together and make sense of a nonsensical moment.