March to Aim Higher

March is the month to Aim Higher. Here is the checklist Gretchen Rubin’s book suggests I follow.

a) Launch a blog. Check. Make time for regular posting, figure out what posting schedule works best for me, find time to edit the thousands of words I’ve put down on paper so that they are understandable and pithy. Well, I can’t say I’m exactly hot on the trail of those items just yet. I’m working on the schedule, thinking that maybe once a week is good, but I know I’m far off from consistency at this point. Right now my most regular appointment is with the little notebook I carry around in my purse for moments when inspiration hits.

b) Enjoy the fun of failure. Is this kind of like laughing at yourself when learning to ice skate or ski and you fall hard on your butt? In the right mood, I’m quite good at that. Of course, the next day when I wake up with giant bruises and achy muscles, I’m not so happy, but I can laugh at the time. I think I’m going to have to work super hard on this goal. I’m going to take this task slowly and hope I can build up to it over time.

I’m really good at laughing at myself when I fail physically; I would never call myself an athlete, even though I do try to incorporate regular yoga practice into my life. But baseball, softball, foot ball, basketball and other team sports? I’m a miserable failure, and I have no choice but to laugh when I get out on the field or court or rink with friends or my son because otherwise I would simply cry. I’m okay with that, however. I’ve made it this far in life without being an athlete, and I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to decide to run a marathon just because I think it sounds cool. I have no illusions about what training to run 26.2 miles and then actually doing it in one fell swoop will do to my beat up knees with one damaged ACL; I like walking much better.

So I laugh at myself regularly when engaging in sports or sports like conduct. I am aiming to do this in all areas of my life.

c) Ask for help. In this area I am a subscriber to the maxim, “do as I say, not as I do.” I am the first person to tell those around me to ask for help, yet I am the last to ask for help. For me, asking for help is like admitting defeat, admitting failure. It’s hard to do. I dislike it immensely. I get angry at myself; I get defensive and angry at the people around me who tell me they want to do the helping.

I’m not entirely sure why I have such difficulty asking for help, but I suspect it has something to do with not wanting to reveal weakness, not wanting to show that I am vulnerable. I’m sure a therapist would have something to say about it. Perhaps I’ll start asking for help by finding a good therapist and asking her. Or perhaps I’ll just remind myself regularly that my husband, my sister, my parents, and my friends love me and would help me as readily as I would help them.

d) Work smart. I know I need to do this. I need to set up a dedicated work space and set regular hours in which I occupy that space. I definitely need to stop work from invading all areas of my life at all hours. Ernie Hemingway and I discuss this regularly as we are both truly slaves to our “to do” lists. We allow our electronic devices to take away our attention and to interrupt our family time. As a result, we end up “working” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Recently, I made a suggestion that Ernie agreed to try. We both agreed to dump our mobile phones and our Blackberry devices at the door at 5pm (or whenever we get home), and not check them or answer them until the next morning. Of course, because Ernie’s older child hates me, she only calls on his mobile, so that throws a little monkey wrench into the plan, but overall, we’ve been doing okay with it. I don’t want to try to force Ernie into following my rules, but perhaps if I’m better about “working smarter,” Ernie will be also.

e) Enjoy now. This is another hard one for me. My entire life I was planning for the future: I’ve got to get good grades in high school so I can get into a good college; I’ve got to get good grades in college so I can get into a good graduate school; I’ve got to get good grades in law school so I can get a good job in a good firm and make good money; once I have the good job and the good income, I can focus on my life, then I can live my life. I’ve always looked forward, planning for the future – the next vacation, the next milestone, the next season.

Having a child has helped me live in the moment much more than I ever have, but I’ve still got that big list bouncing around in my head, the list that includes things like cleaning the garage and finishing up my latest knitting project when school starts up again in September, organizing my writing notebooks and assignments when summer camp starts, and other such sundry items.

March will be a tough month for me, challenging in its simplicity and pull. I hope I’m up to the challenge.

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