I’ve just walked in the door from my banjo lesson and I think it’s probably wise to give a little context to tonight’s episode. I feel like I am wrestling in so many areas of my life right now, particularly with being in limbo. I don’t do well with the feelings that are coming up since I am project/task/results oriented. When I don’t have enough of those things to keep my mind occupied, then I end up with all kinds of emotions that I am not really sure what to do with.
Yesterday afternoon, Paul had organized a recital for his students. It was in a very cool tiny theatre and there were 16 students who played for the audience. He’s got students of banjo, ukelele, mandolin, guitar, basically anything with strings. While I was watching the students play, I thought to myself “Banjo is something else you have to make a decision on. Either you invest in more practice or you give it up.” Nothing like a light dose of shoulding on myself again. With one set of thoughts, I turned what I do to teach myself not to think into a task. Bah. So, tonight in my lesson, I talked about this and some of the other things I am struggling with, while mindlessly playing songs out of my head. That was actually a key moment. I can play songs from memory while talking about something completely unrelated. Go, me! In my conversation with the Banjo Buddha, I also realized that it isn’t something I am going to give up and I need to stop with the extremes.
No, that’s not quite the whole truth. I was admitting that years ago, I would be pretty good at keeping emotions compartmentalized. Playing the banjo means that I am less able to emotionally repress myself. Which sounds deeply serious. Or the beginning of a sad song about how the banjo won’t take my feelings back. While it sounds ridiculous and it made me laugh at myself, it also made me aware of the question that was really needing to be asked… what do I want to do with my life, right now?
I have only heard that I need to have more patience regarding the external job, that they are taking longer than expected. This gives me ample time to spin possible outcomes in my head, none of which are making me any more calm. It also makes my day to day job more stressful because I really want to be able to say “this day will be the last day so we need to plan for it now”. It makes it harder to put up with all the things that currently drain my energy. It’s reducing my ability to care about what happens. I engage in projects half heartedly, because I don’t want to let the customer down but really I don’t want to be involved because I won’t be there to see it complete. My overactive sense of responsibility won’t let me say “No” but my side that has already decided to leave can’t speak freely either. See, more wrestling.
Then today, in the middle of the afternoon, I got a call from the Refugee Center that I had emailed months ago offering to teach basic digital literacy. They have decided that would be a really great idea and there is a need for it, so could I come Wednesday and talk to them about it? Whoosh, the rockets went right back up and I was immediately brainstorming what was possible… which seemed to be a little overwhelming to the poor man on the other end of the phone.
I spent a great deal of time today talking with my manager. Partly because I was meeting people to interview to take over my role, partly because she cares about where I end up. Out of this came the following, that I will know by the end of the week about the job that is tentatively titled National Empowerment Plan for the Netherlands. I don’t want to put too much hope into it because I would be really disappointed if it doesn’t happen – I mean the plan in general, not just me being part of it. And at the same time, I am already thinking about all the things that would be required to make it work and what I would want to see it become. This would be something that I could do for years to come because there is SO much work to be done. There’s all kinds of questions around it, since it is not a position that exists on the organizational blueprint, etc. Which then makes me think, if I am in the position to choose between two, which one is the right one? Does it matter more to me to be in a brand new environment with a very different culture, from the underdog perspective? Or does it matter more for me to be helping to build an infrastructure that will enable people to be change agents for themselves and their communities in the long run, but at the same company that I am at now?
I know, I know, luxury problems to have. In the meantime, I’m realizing that I have a lot of stuff to work through. My dreams lately are really complicated and come back to similar themes, all related to events that have happened in the past 4 years that apparently I still need to do some work processing. I know they are coming up during the night because that’s when I am not distracting myself with tasks and projects. I realized tonight on the way home that both my parents always kept themselves busy. My mom was always exploring something new, sitting still and going through emotions was really difficult for her. Being sick brought that to the forefront, having time in your own head. My dad is 70 and still taking projects for work because he doesn’t really want to sit still and reflect on emotions either. It is not a judgment but rather suddenly an awareness that maybe some of this is a learned behavior 😉
A very scary decision I made is that if I am going to go to the new employer, I will take a month off and just be. That’s not the most appealing decision ever but it is something I need to do, if I want to be stronger and healthier emotionally speaking. I’m wondering if somewhere along the way, I missed the class on Emotional Health or if this is something that you learn based on your stage in life? Is this part of my midlife crisis?
I’m curious, how do other people get this right? Is it something you’re born with, a skillset you learn or the luck of your personality? My first instinct is to take a class 😉 but then I can very calmly apply academic learning to the situation, which is not the answer. For example, I understood on an academic level what grief could look like for children and how it might manifest itself. Until I lost my mom, I had no understanding of the emotional impact that Raven must have felt not being with his birth mom or the actual loss from moving from family to family. I remember sitting in the grass with him overlooking a bluff in Idaho and him telling me what he did when things hurt too much. I felt like the roles really were reversed that day, that suddenly this teenager was showing me how to cope. It was humbling moment and one that made me realized what an amazing person he was. It was one of those moments that I realized how much greatness he had inside him.
I want to be free. I want to be able to spend three days in a camper with Little C at Pinkpop and then leave the next day for a week in Sicily with GG. I want to be free to take on the projects that matter, to support the people who shape my life for the better, to drive change, to play music that matters, to be the best friend that I can, to be the fun sister instead of the one who takes responsiblity way too seriously and as the most important thing, I want to be the parent who gives children a place to thrive and grow, I want to be the best that I can, whole heartedly. I think I might need to remember that the next time I get overwhelmed by the limbo stress. Well, this was helpful for me 😉