Focusing on what is important

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I know, I know it has been a while since my last post.  So long in fact, that I had to reset my password.  But since so many of you have been giving me gentle (and some not so gentle) nudges to write a new post I am giving up my morning to sleep in to sit in my bed (with my coffee of course) and write.  Happy now (Jeff)?!

Here is the thing, I have wanted to post, I have written partial posts here and not published them, in my notebook and never typed them…but none of them were exactly what I wanted to say.  So this morning I am just biting the bullet and writing some thoughts, even if they are scattered and unorganized.  Because that is where I am right now, like my unfinished posts my life is a series of unfinished projects, unfinished conversations and unfinished plans.  Can you blame me, I have four kids – I can’t even finish a cup of coffee!

And so, given the state of my life at the moment I have decided to take on a new mantra – “Is this important?  Why or why not?”  It may sound simple but it is harder than it seems.

We have had it pretty rough here in the Camp house over the past few years.  Tim was laid off, Addie was born two months early, my mom got sick, I was laid off, my mom passed away, the boys were born 15 weeks early, I was laid off again… Lets just say it hasn’t been easy.  While Tim now has a great job, and Addie and the boys are doing fine there are some things that happened over the past few years that I am not sure I will ever fully recover from.  These things shape who I am and how I view the world.  And  if I am being honest, sometimes they make me angry and bitter.  Tim and I have found that there is a very fine line between staying positive in life, finding a silver lining, hoping for a smoother future and being angry and resentful at all you have had to endure.  It takes great effort to stay on the side of the line of positivity, but most of the time we can.  However this May was not one of those times for me.  Gearing up for Mother’s Day took all of my effort and as I had predicted, it was painful.  My mom and I always spent the day together and I still feel young in my motherhood and so haven’t quite reached the point where I feel it is all about me.  A few days after Mother’s Day is my birthday and Tim and I had a great night out with friends.  The day after, I found out that my district would be cutting teachers with their shrinking budgets and enrollment and so once again, I would be out of a job.  The silver lining here is easy to see, I get to be with my kids, but personally this was a difficult pill to swallow.  I worked very hard for my degree and I am good at what I do so to have that taken from me stings.  Not to mention a job search takes energy and stamina (may I remind you I have four kids! Energy? Stamina? Yikes!).  So May was hard.  Hence, no posts.

However, listing our troubles of the past, comparing our difficult roads to the seemingly smooth roads I read about on Facebook does nothing for my fight to stay positive.  Cue the new mantra!

Is it important that I am no longer employed, that I may need to change careers in order to find steady work?  Yes.  Why?  Perhaps it is important because years from now I will look back at this crossroads in my life as the time I was forced to step outside my comfort zone of the classroom and pave a new path.  When I am a wildly successful author, my hand cramped from signing so many copies of my book to the line of people wrapped around the block of the bookstore I will think of this time as the moment my life as a career woman changed.

Is it important that our house is neglected, that clothes are rarely ever where they need to be, that I hate our couches and want new ones, that we need to paint but have neither the time nor the money to do so?  No.  These things are material.  There will always be clothes to put away and work to be done on the house.  Even if we were rolling in money, these things would still exist.  However, I can’t deny rolling in money would make them a lot easier to manage!  Still.  I have to let them go, and manage as best as we can.

Is it important that I deal with the loss of my mom, that I recognize how hard it is to be without her, especially during this past year when I really needed her?  Yes.  Why?  I was talking to a friend recently that suffered a loss a few years ago, she said she recognized in herself an anger towards the small things; while all of that anger was piling up she came to realize she wasn’t angry at the small stuff, she was angry at her loss.  Until she could come to terms with that grief, the anger would still be there.  So I am working on it, but it is hard.

Is is important that my children have matching outfits, combed hair and clean faces when out in public?  No.  And lately it isn’t that important for me to either!  I am proud of myself when we all make it out the door, so I have to learn to let some of my need for a shiny outward appearance go.  The other day I was walking through the grocery store, no make up, hair in a messy ponytail when I looked down at my shirt to see spit up stains.  I didn’t see those in the dim light of my livingroom but standing in the cereal aisle with the fluorescent bulbs beaming down was a different story.  The first thought that popped into my head was, Oh well, if these people only knew that I have four kids (two of them infants) at home they wouldn’t judge me for my messy appearance, they would applaud me for being out!  So I kept shopping with pride!

Is it important that Tim and I rarely get time to just be husband and wife?  Yes. Why? Because our relationship is the backbone for all other things.  Tim is what keeps me going when I am having a rough day, and without our strong bond all of these other things would be nearly unbearable. But can I do anything about it? No.  Hello – four kids, two dogs, no job…romantic evenings out will have to go on the back burner for a while!

Is it important that the boys continue to make strides and reach milestones? Yes, very!  And make strides they have!  Carter weighs about 16 pounds, has two teeth, can sit up on his own and is about to crawl.  We learned last month that his eyes work, but he wears a patch for an hour a day to correct a lazy eye.  Griffin weighs about 15 pounds, rolls and shimmies like a mad man, is really smart, and becoming quite the happy baby.  This is what really matters, this is what makes all the other unimportant stuff seem trivial. 

Is it important that our lives haven’t turned out the way that we planned?  No.  What is important is that we live in the moment and not live in what could have been.  This is really hard to do, especially for a planner like me.  Preparing for your wedding, just as your adult life is about to begin you don’t plan for the worst, I am not even sure if I knew what the worst was.  I planned for a white picket fence, BBQs, nice cars, fulfilling well-paying jobs, great friends…I planned for easy.  I planned for the life in the commercials, but now I know better, now I plan for happiness and love.  Whatever form that takes, in whatever way it comes.

It is important that we can’t afford to have the summer we would have liked, either financially or because of time, or the fact that we have two babies?  No.  What is important is that we make memories with our kids, and spend time together as a family.  And that we have.

There are just so many things that cause me to stress or worry in a day that I know are not important.  This is my new goal.  To prioritize my inner thoughts, to rangle in my stress and worry, to always ask myself; “Is this important?  Why or why not?” And then proceed accordingly.

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6 thoughts on “Focusing on what is important

  1. Debbi Spencer

    I loved this post, Allison~and your insights are wonderful, so true, and hard-won! I lost my mom at a very hard time for me too, and no matter what is going on in your life, losing your mom is devastating. We need them forever, but they can’t stay forever. I’ve thought of her so many times and knew how much it had to hurt for you to go through so much without her. I know there’s nothing I can say or do to ease your pain, but know I’m thinking of you and praying for you and do understand.I truly believe she knows about all your struggles and is bursting with pride over your family and how you have handled it all together, not to mention the literary prowess you’ve inherited from her! She will be so proud of you and that book when it comes out, and I’ll be first in line for an autographed copy 😀

  2. Pamela pane

    Wow! What a post! You are an amazing survivor and you have learned life lessons way too early in life. I am so proud of you for your strength, stamina, patience, and insight. I know your mother must be watching over you, so proud of you for focusing on what’s important in life. And yet, through all these difficulties you find time to console others. You are an amazing friend, and I’m so blessed to have you. I know God is protecting you, and I pray that He grants you times of easiness in between these struggles. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Mary Kate

    I cannot find the words to tell you how much I love this post, as I do all of them! You certainly have an amazing gift and I am honored to be a part of your life.

  4. Kath

    Thank you for your post Alison… I struggle at times over these same questions. Actually i don’t struggle. I Know what is important to me. I struggle with balancing what is important to me and what is important to others in my home and life. You affirm my values in this post, and for that i thank you (again lol). I have a couple of thoughts i hope don’t mind my sharing :).

    First, I believe romance is more about state of mind than wining and dining. A touch, a look, a feeling of comfort even when the kids are crazed. A ‘knowing’, an acceptance of who each of you is to each other. Or at least I think this is what is can be about… even if it lasts all of two seconds before the next cry :0)

    Stepping out of our comfort zone can be most difficult when we need most to take that step, don’t you think? It is the time we need most to grow… and grow we will into richer more fulfilling lives.(eventually… after numerous hyperventilations!)

    And last but not least, your house is your home. It is never neglected when it is filled with love. And yours surely is. Every day.

    Just my two cents :). I am thinking that was as much a letter to myself as to you!

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