My life is, as it seems, spiraling into control. I realized that this morning, watching The Flight Attendant.
I got up from the couch where I was eating a plate of breakfast hash. I felt it was time to sit and pull a post together.
Before opening up a blank page, I took a look at what was in my drafts:
Truth is, I have started and stopped a lot of thought trains. Trains trying to capture my current mental processing but there are a lot of threads to weave into a quick entry “hey this is life!” post.
How do I capture the humor of my current battle with my robots and the growing list of yet another idea for Google Home (and should I even share that without a patent?)
When I slay the mental math of “what is there to eat” does that officially put me in the mommy blog blogosphere? Like, nobody thinks I should start doing 10 Ways to Max a Pandemic Grocery Run life hack posts, n’est ce pas??
And when it is not how 3 meals were expertly served out of the same cut of meat, I have mindful living quips and anecdotal stories on how the furniture is arranged today to set up for the weekend. But these stories involve the learnings of a new, young marriage and HOW do you share a bit more about that or our house strategy without, you know, being public about our private plans? So those posts I don’t even try.
The only other little snippet suitable for Frozen Spaghetti is the regular processing of the whole why I retired thing. Little glimpses of the things I really miss about my work at Enterprise will pop up now and again. I’ll have an impulse to reach out off a flashback of hopeful moments talking shop on really, really good transportation ideas over exciting lunches in black blazers.
And this is where the rubber hits the road.
This is where self discovery would be at the core of all of this: who is the person that knows what to do with the ideas, has the functioning abode which ticks along a reasonably flexible but consistent schedule and that is actively in the publishing project each day? With so much going on, it is enough to make you think that I need to do that discovery work but the thing is. I actually truly already know that. I followed that self’s gut when I wrote my retirement announcement. I am in the aftermath of self discovery. I am in the living part. And it has been a long time since living meant doing whatever I wanted with my free time.
In a one on one phone call I made before my announcement, I was talking with a VP I had worked with for well over a decade. I told them that even if I had the perfect pitch for the right team or the right team had the perfect pitch for me, that I needed to evolve out of whatever thinking I have been in. Too long in one environment, I think, makes you start to believe certain things about yourself and about how things work.
I had come to recognize that there were things I believed about myself and about how things work that actually were only true within my place of employment. Not that they were wrong, bad or untrue – but what I said on that phone call when describing this was really, really necessary: I needed the saran wrap off my brain. I wanted to feel myself think and be unboundedly creative.
When I experience moments of shock or pressure that there is a litter box in the living room (basement being remodeled) or that it has been weeks since I have had that sweet “all the laundry is done and floors are clean” moment, I can get really hard on myself. It is a mix of feeling behind and out of sorts. I’m smiling now, editing this post, I totally get this now.
So last night, on NYE, the game I got out to play was super strategic and – though surely fun – virtual school and TikTok literally dissipated my teenagers’ attention spans and the comical groaning was just a little much while I tried to read the instructions. We called it and started a movie. I sat at the table, aware of how loose the seams were across the board. I let it make me feel really bad. Actually, I think I might have cried.
In hindsight, I think I felt like I didn’t execute the plan right. Felt like this on Christmas Eve, too. But as this pandemic holiday season serves a real lesson in knowing where you want to be and what you value, it is unique in that it shows you all the pieces without them all lined up and recognizable. << I think this is a universal truth.
I went and gave David a hug and cried about how stupid I felt trying to play that game. I lamented my choices and ruining the night. He rubbed my head and told me I didn’t mess anything up.
I felt pretty and full of love for my family. And even though I had this weakness, I felt like I was surrendering to the beauty of everything going on. I mean – my life has changed absolutely dramatically in the best possible ways. The pieces are not going to line up yet. The seams are loose and each day we get up and we do what we want and don’t do what we don’t want, we start to draw them in. David is teaching me this.
I went back out to the kids and Ellen gave me a hug. I apologized through tears that I didn’t have fireworks for them to shoot off at midnight. She looked at me like I was crazy and reminded me she hates fireworks. I laughed, she does hate fireworks – they make her nervous. It was funny because my distortion was proof that I was missing the moment, the point and the embrace.
She brought her guitar down to the table and started learning Walk Me Home by Pink while the other four kids came as if via magnets to the table, joined up teams for a round of Old Maid. (laughing now… a MUCH simpler game lol.. oh man, it feels good to laugh about when you know your kids and think “ok – Old Maid, not Risk”. I mean, it’s not that they’re stupid…. but… #yikes lol)
Ok – anyway, Ellen went on to play the chords to Hit Me Baby, One More Time as well as some Brandi Carlisle and of course Taylor songs. We played cards and sang until the ball dropped. (Which, Maddox pointed out, doesn’t actually drop and is either a conspiracy or a rip off.) Then, though I was tired as hell, I changed and curled up on the couch in the room with the litter box and watched Tangled with my teens, Ellen and Aria. I make Ellen laugh with my fatigued unfiltered and under the breath flow of consciousness commentary and she makes me feel good when she shares this with her friends.
Ah, my friends….
I am learning the relief of walking by a pile of laundry or not fussing about my tech stack: iPad waiting for illustrations, laptop waiting for words.
And, it is true: Google and Apple really do need to make these “stupid f*cking robots” (as I tend to mumble) a lot better.
But even if Siri and Hey Google don’t figure out how to intersect in some really wonderful life giving ways for me, they still at least take and display pictures of the unfolding of our wonderfully colorful life. Which is nice of them, I guess.
In watching the out of control spiral in The Flight Attendant, I realized how grounded I am in my self and in my life. And all the churn? The litter box and the constant need to tweak the system? This is the spiraling into control. And not corporate control like I have grown to know it.
This new kind of control requires NO estimates or timelines. It simply requires me to show up and be myself. Self control.
In closing, David told me this morning he does not make New Year resolutions. He simply “sets his goals whenever he wants and goes after them”.
He reads, he gets certified, he does new things with technology, he learns about what he wanted to learn about, he picks up a new instrument, he downloads the software and plays with it, he looks up the place, the recipe, the book and – boom: he evolves. He goes to sleep at 8 (9:30 on NYE), he gets up at 5, he loves coffee and his wife and his family and he doesn’t mind rinsing and repeating as long as there is an adventure around the corner.
And just like I know the truth that the best way to parent is to demonstrate not instruct, I think I recognize the best way to learn is to apply.
I am thinking husband may be an incredible teacher.
Here are a few favorite clips from last night