Neglect

I am sad to confess that my blog has become like a neglected child. Until recently, I would check on it numerous times a day—lovingly responding to comments, feeling proud of it as its readership grew, spending hour after hour nurturing it with my words. Now weeks have gone by without taking a single peek just to be sure it hadn’t been attacked by Spam or to see if anyone had visited.

The rush that I used to get after clicking publish on a painstakingly-created post, has now been replaced by a feeling of complete and utter guilt. I did not intend to stop writing, but each day as I wracked my brain for what to write next, I realized that I felt barren—I had lost my creativity. So, when life suddenly became more demanding—as it has a tendency to do around the holidays—I willingly allowed it to take over the time when I used to write, always telling myself that I would begin again tomorrow . . .

The reality—the difficult-to-admit-reality—is that I am really an all or nothing kind of person. I am not saying that I am a quitter . . . but I do have a tendency to let things fade. People who know me best would probably describe me as someone who throws herself into new things wholeheartedly. I love a challenge. So, when an opportunity arises, I jump in with both feet. I become consumed with its planning and execution, spending endless hours focusing on how to get this “new thing” done. Looking back on the last two years, I see a trail of starts and stops—each one leaving me feeling just a little bit more disappointed with myself.

The one that consumes me every other year or so is my health, specifically my weight. I drive myself crazy being such a yo-yo dieter. Each time I get close to my goal, the intensity begins to ebb. It’s usually at that time that something else takes over my focus. About two years ago, the shift in my focus came when my husband asked me to transform his smaller store (he has two next door to one another) from a place to keep his rugs to one that sells home accessories and gift items. I became obsessed with researching new products, spending endless hours in the evening looking for the perfect things to sell. Six months later, our new store was born, I had regained about twenty pounds, and I was completely burnt out. Later that year, I was so disgusted with myself that I turned my focus back to eating well, and I even began exercising.

Enter my new obsession.

I soon found myself getting on the elliptical twice a day—once during my lunch break and once in the evening. The time I used to spend surfing the Internet looking for vendors was now spent reading health articles and looking for new fitness equipment.

Inevitably things in my life always begin to suffer.

I wish I could say that my children weren’t one of those things, but in small ways, every time I turn my attention to something new, they become affected. During these times, I slowly stop being the ever-vigilant mother I strive to be: my children’s bedtimes slowly begin to creep later and later; the brushing of their teeth is lost in the chaos of bedtime; and their arguing only gets more and more intense.

During this “health phase,” before I knew it, I did feel better physically, but the world around me was slowly falling into disarray. I then found the outlet that would give me the perspective I felt I was lacking with my children, and the place to focus my creative energy: my blog.

It was perfect.

Then I went overboard.

Again.

The time I once spent focusing on exercise and eating well was now spent writing or reading fellow bloggers’ posts. I don’t think I could have anticipated how much I would love writing. It’s all I could think about—I even carried a notebook in my purse so I could write even when I was without a computer. It wasn’t my children that suffered because of my writing—although I may have spent a little too much time on the computer here and there—it was my weight, once again. As I started to gain back the weight I had so painstakingly lost, I slowly found myself feeling unhappy and out of control, and ultimately that is what contributed to my loss of inspiration when it came to my blog.

So, that is where I am now, or should I say, that is where I was last week. I don’t want to call it a “resolution” that word is tinged with failure. Instead, I am calling it “having a new awareness about myself and doing something about it” (okay, not as succinct, but I’m having trouble coming up with the perfect word). I’ve decided to once-and-for-all find balance in my life, but I now think I have the key.

  1. To do anything well, I have to first feel good about myself—both physically and mentally—therefore, I need to eat well, and exercise at least a couple of times a week in order to lose/maintain my weight.
  2. I need to be a mom that provides my children with love, structure, and follow-through.
  3. I need to write, to create, to have this one thing that is only mine.

I believe that if I make these three things a priority in my life,  I will be able to attain the balance that I so desperately seek. My advice to my daughter is simple, I want her to take care of herself—both physically and mentally—so that she will be able to go out into the world and achieve all that she sets her mind to. Just as I hope to do now.

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34 thoughts on “Neglect

  1. I am visiting from mama kat’s!

    I really enjoyed the time you took to write this post, I could relate to everything from turning 38 this year, yo yo dieting, weight, blogging etc.

    Some very good words in this post, thank you.

  2. Well said Erin and yes I have missed you! I enjoy reading and I too have let things slide. Too much stuff and lots to say. Time is a problem for all and I am relieved to know you are ok and will be posting again when you can.

  3. Missed you and good to hear ur voice again. I wish us all luck when it comes to balance- that’s been my mantra the last year. I think it’s the only key to the next steps in life.
    Love
    L

  4. You’ve gained wisdom from your self-examination! The little secret that “older” mothers have learned is that you cannot have it all or do it all. We neglected to tell our daughters that on the way to “having it all” meant that some things would be given the short shrift during times of increased demand in other areas of our lives. We only have 100%. If you give 100% to your children, then what do you have left over? If you choose to balance things, you will have 80% attention to work and 20% for something else. But, is that really enough or is that shortened aspect of your life suffering from “attention deficit”?
    So, pace yourself and be patient with yourself. The people in your life and the things that you have to accomplish will be lovingly waiting for you, too!

    • Thank you for sharing this perspective—it is definitely not one that is taught to us women when we are young. I will be more patient with myself, and I know that finding that sense of balance can only be found within myself.

  5. I can totally relate to this post. Balance is SUCH a challenge! I know I’ll never get it exactly right, but I try every day…

    Thanks for visiting my blog – it’s great to meet you!

    🙂 Anna

  6. I certainly fit in that pattern. When I start something new, I’m completely engaged in it…but eventually cannot maintain that intensity, or something else comes up, and I’m off in another (just as intense) direction.

    • I know that it’s impossible to maintain that same intensity with all things—but wouldn’t it be great if we could? Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one!

  7. Finding that balance is difficult and it is a struggle I deal with daily. I’ve found that if I limit my writing and blogging activities (reading and commenting) to the six hours while the kids are at school, things have a way of coming together nicely most days.

    Keep at it.

    Linking up from LoveLinks.

  8. Loved this – loved your honesty. I’m right there alongside you, Mama – in all the excess in whatever one direction I happen to be focused on. So far with the blog though it’s been moderate but I hear you on food, I hear you on kids. Great post.

  9. I could have been reading this post about myself. I start projects full force and I don’t even notice that I let them go when starting the next one…. I always blamed it on being a libra.

  10. This was great. It’s so hard to find balance in life. It’s easy to get excited about one aspect and focus on it at the cost of others. The three key items you listed are certainly ones I could stand to focus on too! I’m trying to start the new year healthier and lose some weight, so we’ll see how it goes. Good luck finding your balance!

  11. You and I are so alike in that I dive head first into a project. I become obsessed with it, only to let it fade later. I hope you can find the level you’re looking for and incorporate the blog in there, maybe not on full tilt, but at least as an outlet.

  12. I, too, am one that throws oneself into something new, then fizzle out/ burnout from being overly obsessive about it in the first place. So I know about the starts and stops. I’ve had to deal with that too when it comes to health. I have gone all out and been never fitter in my life, to sitting around eating cookies for breakfast.

    I think your new awareness is great, stick to it. Good luck!

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  14. Love this. Finding the balance isn’t about doing it all…or about doing one thing as if it were the be all and end all. It’s taken me over 40 years to figure this one out. Wishing you the very best as you find that point of equilibrium 🙂

  15. There are so many parts of this story here that resonate with me…the fade and the eager embracing of new passions. But writing for me has been cathartic and saving grace but I too, cannot allow it to compromise my babies or to have me be there, but not be “there.” best of luck with your balance, I am right there on a balance ball next to you!

    • Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment. It helps so much to talk about my struggle with finding balance with women who are so much like me. Thank you!

  16. balance, the eternal search. And of course, what felt balanced yesterday doesn’t feel balanced today and might not feel balanced next week. Having the ability to stop, breathe, look around, take stock–all that good self-reflection stuff–matters. good for you for noticing that things got out of whack and thinking about what you can do to get things *into* whack. As it were.

    • You’re absolutely right about the feeling of balance coming and going. It can be a constant struggle. I’m learning to focus on balance each day—some days it’ll be my job and kids, other days my health—and trying to not get overwhelmed.

      Thanks for your response!

  17. WOW! You and I sound so mcuh alike. I get a new pet project and ignore everything else. The sense of accomplishment I feel doing the new THING, is lost when I realize how everything else has fallen apart. I have a real hard time with balance. I think it is a perfectionist tendency. My eldest daughter (10) is eat up with perfectionism. My youngest (8) is totally free spirited and happy. I wish I could be more like the younger daughter and figure out a way to help the older one be less stressed.

    I will certainly be a new follower of your blog!

  18. Balance is HARD!!! Very very hard! I’ve felt all the same guilt and am also someone that gives all or not much. I don’t like in the middle. But I’m working on it because in the middle is what keeps it balanced! I am sure YOU can do it. You are such a wonderful and honest example to your children – even us grownups still have some things to figure out.

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