Thursday, May 26, 2011

Surrendering my Superpowers

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I had to meet with Olivia’s teacher yesterday morning regarding her reading grade. Livvie started out poorly this year, then made the A/B honor roll for the second and third quarters, and now has dropped back down as the school year is winding down. Ever feel completely powerless? Have a conversation with your second-grader’s teacher about her failing reading grade.

We talked through why this might be happening. After all, she did make the A/B honor roll for two quarters! I think with Olivia, it’s all about concentration, or lack there of (something she, unfortunately, probably gets from me). Ms. G said that lately she’ll race through her reading comprehension quizzes and just circle random answers, seemingly without giving any thought to what the correct answer might be. She’s one of the first to turn in her quizzes. We asked Livvie about this at home, and she said that when she sees other classmates start to turn their quizzes in, she feels like she needs to hurry up and finish and turn hers in, even though these quizzes are not timed. Wow, ever feel like you are trying to keep up with everyone around you when you really don’t need to? I know I could learn from that lesson. Food for thought there… I asked Ms. G to send home several sample quizzes so I could work with Livvie on them over the long holiday weekend and try to get her grade back up. Her reading skills are fine. She’s reading at above grade level. It’s just the patience it takes to actually complete the quizzes that she’s struggling with.  I also need to help her realize that she is a wonderfully beautiful individual and doesn't need to compare herself to her twin sister.

I do often feel powerless when it comes to trying to do what’s best for my children. Sounds crazy, maybe, but that’s how it hits me at times. I’m not home for homework time. Most of the academic year, I get home about 6pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and 9pm on Tuesdays. Fridays are my only decent days since I can usually get home by 4pm.  DH picks the girls up from school about 4pm and does homework with them when they get home, so by the time I get home, it’s time for dinner, baths, snuggling, a little reading, and bedtime. DH is great with helping them with their math, but he admits he struggles helping them with their reading and writing. And those are my strong points! That’s where I can and really should be helping them! It all comes down to time.

And that’s also where I’ve been feeling powerless lately and am trying to find ways to make some major changes. Overall I think I’m at a point in my life where, though I’d love to be working on my creative endeavors more, there simply isn’t much spare time most of the year. And I have to tell ya, if I hear one more person tell me “Oh, you make time for what’s important to you,” I think my head will pop off. You can’t create more time, so, no, you often can’t make more time for what’s important to you without something that’s just as important suffering. That’s where reality kicks in. “Find some time after the girls go to bed!” others have told me. My girls go to bed between 8:30pm and 9pm. I can’t give up sleep due to my balance disorder. It’s crucial that I get at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night or my spins pick up. My dizzy meds work to reset my balance while I’m sleeping, so that sleep is ultra-important. I have to get up at 5:30am or 6am, so that means my bedtime is typically about 9pm.

But there are changes I can make, and that’s what I’m working on. I’ve cut back quite a bit on Etsy. I’ve pulled out of all my team commitments, am saying no to new requests, and rarely even pop in to team chat threads anymore. The most I do is post team treasuries I’m included in here on my blog as a thank you to the curator. I’ll be keeping up my website and my Etsy shops as far as inventory, but I’ll be spending little to no time on Etsy promoting. I know that my sales primarily come from my shows anyway. And speaking of shows, I’ve been re-assessing my goals there as well. Though I love having the opportunity to combine both my jewelry and my photography in one booth, I’m finding that it’s just too much darn work, especially when nine times out of ten, I’m on my own for shows. And I think in some ways having two media in one booth, no matter how much I tie them together, is confusing to many visitors. Given that, this fall I’m returning to concentrating strictly on my jewelry at shows; that’ll free up some time for me as well since I won’t have to prep for two media. I’ll keep up with my photography online since it's something I really enjoy. I’ll also stick to my traditional three shows instead of adding anything else.

And the biggie, which is totally in God’s hands…I’ve applied for another faculty position. If I’m successful, that will give me quite a bit more time, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ve been wanting to get out of administration and over to faculty full-time for a few years now, but it’s a difficult transition to make. The screening committees are made up of faculty members, and though many of them are my friends, many also don’t understand why I’d want to take such a large pay cut to leave an administrative position in which I excel. But even though you excel in something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something you should continue doing at all costs. I’d be happy to take that pay cut to get more time. My family needs that time, and I’m starting to realize that my health and my brain need that time, as my brain seems to misfire at least once a sentence these days. I enjoy teaching, I know that I’m a very effective teacher, and the tradeoff would definitely be worth it.

Somewhere along the line, I’ve gotten off track, and I have to re-find my way. And some of the paths I’ve been trying, and some of the groups I’ve been trying to connect with, just haven’t felt right. They haven’t felt like me. I’m not a deep-thinking, existential, the-universe-will-bring-it-to me kind of girl, and I can’t pretend to be. I am a risk taker, but I’m also a very practical thinker. I have some big dreams that maybe one day I’ll realize, but I also remain closely in touch with the reality that is life. So, there you have it: one burned out superwoman admitting that she can’t do it all, and frankly, realizing she doesn't want to try to anymore; I'm surrendering my superpowers. Oddly enough, I’ve been craving cross-stitch lately. But when I think about why I might be craving cross-stitch, it does start to make sense. Though I haven’t cross-stitched for years because it started getting too hard on my hands and my over-40 eyes, thinking back to when I was an avid stitcher, I realize it was that rhythm of the needle and thread going in and out of the canvas that soothed away stress, and that completion of a piece that brought great satisfaction. Wrapping up that last finishing stitch in a large piece, I didn’t feel powerless. I felt like, “Dang! There’s gotta be more than 19,582 stitches in this piece! That’s accomplishing something!” I need to get that feeling back. Maybe it’s time I teach my girls how to cross-stitch.

8 comments:

Carmen said...

Oh how I can relate Kelly. I have my hand in too many pots most of the time and I really want to figure it all out. I think what I want most is to simplify while still taking strides towards my dreams.

Best of luck with the faculty position, my fingers are crossed for you.

Much love my friend,

Carmen

Kelly Warren said...

Thanks, Carmen. Simplifying while still moving forward is exactly what I need to figure out too. Best of luck to both of us! :-)

MamaCroxton said...

Kelly, I've told you once I'll keep on telling you....your an amazing woman who touches so many. I have felt the same way Livvie is feeling before....wanting to get the quiz in. She is amazing like you and I love watching them interact. I hope you get the faculty position you want so badly....but I'm so thankful you were in administration when I went through! I know you will figure this all out....YOURE THE WIZARD.... I love you like a second mother....and I'm always here if you need me however....just as an assistant... :-)

Rebecca said...

Yep. I work full time these days and am feeling the crunch with my 2nd grader and kindergartner. I really REALLY want to do more art, bit am feeling overwhelmed with blogging and promoting and just don't know where to focus. My full-time is not a career for me - just a way to make money, but is needed because we choose an alternative school. Hang in there, take a step back and do what you need to do.

amelia said...

oy, balance is so much easier said than done. I think the great part about pursuing a creative life is having flexibility - I think in the same way our creativity ebbs and flows, our time and energy does too- some seasons are for photography/jewelry/painting etc and others are for tending different areas. I do believe though that even during our down times, out of the studio, life offers many opportunities for inspiration that manifest itself in our work when we pursue it again. Sorry, I'm rambling!! Good luck with the job!

Kat said...

Ah, so much here I identify with. So many things that I want to do, not enough time with working full-time, family and my creative pursuits. Oh yeah, and we're moving this summer as my assignment in Italy wraps up. I know that will take more energy too.

I've come down to the fact that I have to do what works for me, what aligns with my heart, and let the rest go. So, I may not be doing all the "right" things to promote myself or my creative goals as per the "experts," but I'm doing what works for me. When I start to feel the overwhelm, like you are, I realize I have to cut back again. It's so easy to slip in more and more.

I completely understand your desire to change positions too - I work for a large corporation and I left management for an individual contributor position a couple of years ago. I'm so happy I did. Next step: Go part time. The people around me at work may not understand it but it's what makes me happy.

Supporting you all the way!

Jen said...

I completely relate to what you are feeling. I am also trying to balance working outside the home, time with family, time for art, and time for life.

I can relate to the late nights when I barely have time to have dinner with my girls and then get them ready for bed.

I am realizing this year that I can't do it all and I am making the changes necessary to respect that. It's hard to do, but I'll get there.........as will you =)

cath c said...

like so many others, i am right there with you.

there is a lot that is important to me and not enough hours in the day or energy in my broken down body to do it all. but i still do it, and that brought me to tears this morning as i looked ahead to my busy weekend, already achy and exhausted just out of bed.

you'll find the balance you crave. and it may not look like what you think it will. good luck with that job change!