Neighbors: Shaming Myself for Not Neighbor Networking

I haven’t done much lately in regards to the neighbor project, short of walking to my mailbox and hoping I catch someone’s glance so I can start up a follow-up conversation. I almost had a Tupperware party – yeah, they still exist! – and had invited my cell-phone-number-possessing neighbor to the would be party, until I had to cancel so I could study for a final exam. Grr! That would have been the perfect opportunity.

I’m having a garage sale this Saturday, so maybe that will lure them in, which sounds creepy and outdoorsman-like at the same time. It is so hard to go out and so easy to just remain complacent, adopting the mantra, “they’ll come to me!”

I know that isn’t the point of this lesson God is teaching me. I have to unshell and be confident, even when it seems like there is no way I can.

Neighbors: I’m Nervous, Unsure, and Diffident

I am nervous about tomorrow, my D-Day of determining whether I have the real guts necessary to meet my neighbors. Well, it is beyond nervous and beyond just meeting them. I’m so anxious that my medicine isn’t working for my anxiety disorder…my heart quickens and my breath shortens into fast, nasal inhalations so that oxygen continues to pump through me, but I’m feeling like tomorrow’s uncertainess is swirling around me and I’m not really in my body, but more like I’m looking at myself go through this painful experience.

And tomorrow is more than dropping off tiny, Christmas gifts at the door, regardless if they are home or not. Tomorrow is about action and engagement: fellowshiping and building relationships. Why am I so scared? The worst thing that could happen is that no one comes and I’m left with twelve dozen eggs sitting there. No, the worst thing that could happen is that I start a conversation and then end up making a fool of myself by whatever comes out of my mouth. The worst thing that could happen is that I don’t build any relationships and I’m left with nothing.

I believe in a real, viable Devil who sends out thoughts of uncapability, that scare us into thinking that we can’t do what God tells us He needs us to do. The Devil has infiltrated my plan already; my husband will be in Dallas tomorrow and there is enough of a chance that we might not make it back home in time (although he assures me he’ll be back with no problem), the weather is supposed to be coooold – 57 degree high, but that is cooold for this time of year in Texas, and now the anxiety attacks.

Please pray for our work tomorrow and what can be accomplished through a simple egg hunt. I hope to update you all with happy and relieved thoughts afterwards!

Mission Pt. 2

Nineteen days ago, I said I was going to venture out and meet my neighbors.  This daunting task has still not happened.  Believe me, I’ve thought about it.  Nearly every time I drive into the garage with my three kids in tow, I think, “go ring someone’s doorbell.”  But then the kids start screaming for what they want or the oppressive 114 degree weather of east Texas shoves me into my nice, air conditioned, but most importantly – safe – house.

The worse part, though, is when I start justifying why I haven’t gone over there…more than just using the kids and the heat as my reasons.  I use the fact that my neighbors haven’t initited contact with me as the ultimate talk down of why it just isn’t necessary to branch out and get to know the people who are literally the closest to me.

“If they haven’t tried to meet you, then it’s okay for you not to try to meet them.  You’ve lived here longer; they should have introduced themselves when they moved in here after.”  These are only some of the things that circulate inside my head.

I have challenged myself, but how do I hold myself accountable?  I thought that writing it out for the public to see would be my motivator, but that hasn’t been enough.  There are people that could use a neighbor like me, I hope.  Why is it so hard to get over my qualms?

Torn

As I embark on a potential switch in careers while carrying our third child and wanting the best for him/her, I find myself simply torn.  I battle with serious depression and anxiety, for which I am medicated, but the rift within me seems so much greater than any kind of medical diagnosis.  I want the life of a mother raising her children in a focused and loving environment, but I would be devastated if not given the opportunity to use my intelligence and abilities. 

 Fortunately, we cannot afford for me not to work.  While I find myself dreaming of the picturesque day when I could get in some writing before my children wake up, prepare a nutritious breakfast for them to feast upon, have a day lined out with brainwave enhancing activities for them to practice, and retire in the evening with three in the hay and a nice glass of wine in my hand, I know that this will not be a possibility in any near future of mine.  I have married “under” me, which is a term that inherently seems elitist and probably is more than I would like it to be, but at the time of our marriage my husband had no college degree besides his Associates and worked in manual labor.  I, on the other hand, came from a family in which both parents held masters in their fields and I personally was four months shy of my Bachelors.  I graduated with honors and felt that I was smarter than he.  In truth, I do sound elitist. 

 Work, though, is something I have to do because of my intelligence.  I’m inquisitive and simply enjoy learning.  If there was an occupation in which I could sit, listen, take notes, write papers based on all I’ve learned, and then hopefully be praised by others, I would take it in a heartbeat.  There may be variations of occupations with these prerequisites, like being a Researcher, but to my knowledge no such job truly exits.  However, that does not keep me from seeking a job that could definitely use these skills, these favors towards continual education. Work is a place where I can separate myself from “mother of three” and just be. 

 The rift that I previously referred to has grown stronger since the uncertainties have loomed larger.  This rift caused me to ravenously search Amazon for a book that just might give me a glimpse into another woman’s life, whom might just be experiencing what I was.  Then I found it, a buoy in a sea to which I could hang on to and simply rest when the uncertainties chased me like the current. Samantha Parent Walravens compiled Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood which is a collection of stories from women all over the world who sent in their day-by-day struggles with balancing children and career.

 I began reading the stories after one of my largest meltdowns I had had in awhile.  After reading a couple of the true tales, my emotions swung like a pendulum to another side of peace, a place I could navigate knowing I was not alone.  God had blessed me with a gift in Walravens’ compilation and I am compelled to share it with women that I know could use it. 

 One such glimpse into a woman’s life struck just the right chord.  Lindsey Mead, in her story “A Foot in Two Worlds” talks about her prestigious Ivy League education being wasted when scaling back in the professional world to align herself with her family goals.  Her fears resonate with me as I hope that one day I will be able to continue in my pursuit of my masters and doctorate in English and that my education and all the money I will spend to attain that education will be worth it and not a detriment to my husband and children. 

 I strongly encourage anyone reading this who may have the same fears and tears in her life to read this book.  It is a fabulous look at what modern mothers struggle with in our society today.  I pray it gives you the sense of peace it has offered me in these past few days.  It might just give you some direction as well. 

 References:

 Mead, Lindsey.  “A Foot in Two Worlds.”  Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the

            Conflict of Modern Motherhood.  27 April 2011.  Coffeetown Press. 

            Originally published online in PAW (Princeton Alumni Weekly), September 22, 2010.

 Parent Walravens, Samantha.  Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of

            Modern Motherhood.  27 April 2011.  Coffeetown Press.

Diffident, that’s me

I finally did it.  After almost six years — yes, six years — I took the opportunity to express my ideas to the world.  I started a blog.  My mom would be so proud.  Okay, not really, but what may seem like such an easy decision to many has been a mountain to me.  Actually, make that more like Mt. Everest.  My life is a moment-by-moment mountain where self-doubt towers over me and tells me “there’s no way you can.” 

Several post-graduate ventures on my part testify to my constant refusal to refuse to give up.  I, the “major in what I love” not what is practical, graduated with a B.A. in English and almost as soon as my diploma was in my hand, had the startling, pull-into-reality question of “now what am I going to do with this degree” ground me into dust.  Which direction would the wind take me?  Notice, the wind would do something, not I.  With a (minimal, kinda, sorta) interest in the legal field I would test the waters with a position as a legal secretary.  However, I had no idea exactly how hot the water would be.

I struggled with my perfectionism and learning to put my soft heart aside.  I struggled while trying to emulate the direct, no-holds-bar, extremely confident lawyer I had to impress with my skills.  Who knew that although I felt that I floundered in this position, he would see skill?  It worked, for awhile, but my crying when I felt I didn’t master the attempt at making my working-self a 180 degree of what I had grown up to be the past twenty-three years was constantly in the way.  I thought – more like fraught – that there was no way for me to succeed in this field, so it was time to move forward. 

After gaining employment at the law office, there was always this nagging in my idealistic heart that I wasn’t effectively using my degree and I should pursue, instead, the education of children in all things English.  I had my bachelor’s already, so I set forth and completed a one year post-bacclaureate certification program at a local, albeit expensive, university.  As you read this, you may think that I was surely undertaking productiveness versus hesitancy.  On the contrary, most of my bachelor’s program was a swing between several majors: journalism, psychology, criminal justice, and finally English – education was far from my ambitions.  All of my college hours were also “accomplished” at three separate colleges nonetheless.  I had made my decision over several months of weighing pros and cons of pursuing education and then jumped off the cliff. 

Four, tumultuous years later, I’ve taught English to 10th graders, 9th graders, and will possibly do so for 8th graders this coming fall (I’m still tipping the scales back and forth as expected).  After finding out in March that I would be non-renewed due to my inept classroom management skills, I thought this is the end.  I even applied to the law office I had worked at prior to teaching, hoping that I had done enough of a good job to be reconsidered.  I joked with interviewers about my flightiness with careers, saying that I should have worked in high school education before embarking on any legal career. As it pans out, no such luck winning any lawyers over with this phrase.  I could write lesson plans out the wazoo, implement them to some degree, but expect me to control other people who have very independent minds of their own and I lose. 

Right now my indecision is based on uncertainty.  My husband, who has recently graduated from an working-adult based program pursues a teaching position in the worst possible time — legislatively speaking.  In order to make himself more marketable he has stated he would coach and decline the first year stipend.  We also attempt to sell our house and downsize like millions of other families, raise an independent and stubborn four year old and a “terrible two’ year old, and expect our third child in November.

The question floating in my head since December 2005 has never ceased to tick across my brain.  Another question that follows it is “why haven’t you written anything worthwhile since graduating with your beloved English B.A.”  I feel like a stock broker monitering my constant influx of self-depreciation. 

However, now I’ve done my research by subscribing to Allena Tapia’s articles on Freelance Writing at About.com, signed up with an account I’ve had for six months at Freelancer.com where I’ve bid, but fear has kept me from responding with samples.  I decided I would begin creating samples by starting a blog to hopefully remedy this fear. 

I did it.  I created a blog.  The questions that come now are: “will I keep up with it?  What if no one cares?  Will I humiliate myself and have nothing to add to the billions of blogs already out there?  What if I fail at something once again?”

Today I took a step forward toward my writing future.  I really hope it sticks.