I have had the good fortune the past few years to have off 12 weeks every summer. Each summer break, I start off with a list of the things I am going to do: Exercise, meditate, cook healthy food, organize things, learn Italian, get to bed early so I can get up in the morning to do it all over again. I write my list down, take pictures, make a schedule…all to hold myself accountable.
From Fall to Spring, I set an alarm for 5 am each day so that I can get up early to stretch (because I am approaching 50 quickly and I feel like the Tinman before Dorothy oiled him when I get out of bed). I then plan on getting on the treadmill each morning for 30-45 minutes, have a nice healthy breakfast and preparing an equally healthy lunch, take 10 minutes to meditate and breath, take my shower, get my son up and ready in order to drop him off at school at 740 am. In the evening, I wind down from all electronics by 9 pm, head up to the bedroom to do my bedtime routine of washing my face and moisturizing to ward off wrinkles, taking 10 minutes to write in my gratitude book, and get into bed before 10 to get a full 7 hours of sleep.
I am so impressed by this schedule and routine that I just had to re-read it because it is quite remarkable if I do say so myself. I set this schedule up at the time I sold my business because I was coming down from a horribly stressful process of selling one business and closing another. Would you be shocked to learn that I set these goals day after day and have maybe accomplished them all once or twice in 4 years? What the fuck, right?
So, let me tell you what my days actually turn out to be. In the summer, I have a shore house, a large family, and lots of friends. The shore house is such a gift and a blessing that we made it big enough to have many, many guests. For those of you not from the Philly area, shore house = beach house. If I don’t have guests, tons and tons of people we know vacation in this town so each time someone is in town (which is every week), I find myself going out to or hosting No Shower Happy Hours, dinners, and brunches, or just a late night drink fest. This leads to getting to bed late, over sleeping, overeating, over imbibing (Is that a real term? Fuck it, it is today). I have so much fun, make tons of memories, and feel like shit on a regular basis. But life is short right? I am determined to live it to the fullest.
From Fall to late Spring, my alarm goes off at 5 am. I stretch, check my emails (several) and Facebook. I don’t just scroll through Facebook quickly to catch up, but I find myself engrossed in videos…sad videos that make me cry. I watch food videos. I save them in a folder called “Food” so I can make them the next summer…I HAVE 100’S OF THEM….I shit you not! I have made zero of them…”0″! I am like a private investigator on Facebook. I see someone change their couple profile picture to one of just themselves and I think “uh oh…trouble in paradise.” Or I see a post of someone pledging their love to their someone special and I immediately check the comments to see if that someone special liked it or commented back. If not, I jumped to that other person’s Facebook page to see the last time they were on Facebook and whether it was after the pledge of love was posted. If it was, I label the someone special a “Non-acknowledger” and predict the relationship will be ending soon. You have no idea how fucking scarily accurate I am with this little formula I created. I scroll further to make sure no one died over night, I wish people I haven’t seen in 30 years a happy birthday. Some of them I am not exactly sure I even know. Why????? Because, God forbid I miss out on anything. I then check email again, just in case someone sent me an important email while I was Facebooking.
I get that this is fucking insane…but wait…I am not done. It is now almost 6 am so I quickly get dressed and make a cup of coffee so I can get on the treadmill. I snuggle into the sofa to drink my coffee and turn on CSI. I find myself so engrossed in how someone could be so stupid to leave their lipstick stain on the wine glass (why would you not wear LipSense the day you were going to kill your boss’ husband’s boyfriend?), why do they not burn the clothes they committed the crime in or how did they found the condom of the killer in the dumpster 4 blocks away under all of that trash. At this point, I have officially lost track of time…it’s now 635 am. UGH! I jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes, scream up to my son at 705 am to get up before we are late. I inhale eggs and toast and make another cup of coffee while I throw his breakfast together. In the next 30 minutes I manage to take the world’s fastest shower and get dressed for work…the whole time yelling to my son…”Are you eating? Did you brush your teeth? Are your shoes on?” It’s now 745 am, I frantically run down the steps, throwing shit in my work bag, and saying non-stop…”Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” He runs down to let the dog out, while I grab our things and start the car. I pull up to school at 752 am and finding myself yelling to my son out the car window…”Run Forrest, run?” so he gets in the door before 755 am and the bell rings and he has to get a late slip. My forehead literally hits the steering wheel when I see the door shut and I think to myself…WHAT….THE…. FUCK! I take a gasp of air to recoups and sip my now cold coffee. I solemnly swear to not do this tomorrow, but I do…DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY…because I am a glutton for punishment. I did warn you about this earlier. And forget the nighttime routine. I crawl into bed at 1130 pm exhausted with make up on, not giving a flying fuck that it is turning me into Cruella Deville and, when I remember, I thank God quickly for another day and pass out.
I can’t be the only person who does this, am I? It makes no sense to me that I keep this schedule. It is literally stressing me out, contributing to my weight gain, and aging me at an accelerated rate. And you would think that it would be wearing on my poor son, but it doesn’t at all, because he doesn’t know any better!! Why is it that I, or we prioritize the way we do? Clearly, the mother duck quacking at the sewer to get her babies who fell in or Grissom, Sara and their team solving the murder mystery does not take priority over my life. And is this the way I want my son to live his life…running in for a meeting or an interview the second it is scheduled to begin? Not at all, so how do I fix it?
Let’s start with the danger of Social Media. Social Media has created this very real disease called FOMO…Fear of Missing Out. We, and I am a big offender, feel the need to not only tell everyone everything we are doing, but then find out what everyone else is doing. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, and whatever new sources are out there, people are becoming less and less present in their own life. I am trying to tackle this dilemma more and more. I am now starting to take pictures only once at the beginning of my night for a memory and then putting the phone down so I can actually participate in whatever is going on. It is hard, as my FOMO forces me to peek here and there…but I am becoming less glued to it all. Tonight, I watched I couple I know in a restaurant, they said almost nothing to each other the entire meal. They spent their time, and I mean entire time on their phones. I have watched teens do this all the time, but now my generation is doing it. What if one of them suddenly dies (I know I am being dramatic, just go with it)? Their final meal together, in which they could have laughed together, looked into each other’s eyes, told each other what was on the minds just slipped away. We must find a way to disconnect from our electronics and reconnect with the humans in our life. As I typed this, I took a break. I have 5 email accounts. One is an old one that was hacked so I changed it but still check it. The other is the new one. I have one for my son, one for my business, and one for a school I contract with. I just deleted 2 from my phone. The one that is old I no longer need. I also deleted the school one. I am a contractor and do not get paid outside of work…so why am I checking and responding to emails outside of work. Done! 40% of my data checking gone! I am also vowing to only check Facebook between the hours of 6 and 7 pm each night. That should, I reiterate should, help me to get my early mornings back on track.
Now, let’s look at my other issue…being the life of the party, ha-ha! This will be harder for me. I must learn to say no. No, I can’t make it. No, I am focusing on my health and can’t go out drinking. No, I have a gluten and dairy intolerance and cannot eat that pizza. Here is my issue with this. I had a friend, a very good friend for most of my life. I bumped into him in the parking lot of a shopping center one day and he told me that our old crowd was going out at a bar literally minutes from my house and asked me to come out. I was tired and said I would try. Instead, I went to bed early. 6 months later, another friend from that crowd called me to tell me that my friend had died of a drug overdose. I was sick. I sobbed. It broke my heart for several reasons. My good friend was gone, and I didn’t even know he had a drug problem. I had an opportunity to go out with him. Maybe I would have seen he was having problems. Maybe I could have helped him. Maybe he would still be here if that happened. Maybe I could have had a better memory than standing in the parking lot in the middle of the winter. MAYBE!? But for the first time in a long time, I said no. And it bit me in the ass. I now am horrified to let another opportunity like that slip through my fingers. However, I am now losing myself in the chaos. I am going to try to set limits. Maybe I put out to my friends that I can only do Sunday Fundays down the shore and try to connect with everyone on vacation that week the same day. Or perhaps I do a No Shower Happy Hour with one set of friends and a dinner with other. Wait, I can’t go to dinner hammered. So maybe I do a brunch with one set and a happy hour with another. It’s doable and worth a try.
The short of it is this, I am burnt out. I need a change. If I don’t change something, my next 50 years of creating memories is going to be cut very short. Growing up Catholic makes you feel guilty and selfish if you do things for yourself, but being a realist is helping me to see that I will be no good to anyone if I continue to push myself to the limit.
So, here is my commitment. I vow to love me first. I vow to solve murder mysteries less and care less about Dogs who eat Bees pictures on Facebook. I vow to disconnect from the business world when not in work. I am not a brain surgeon. There is nothing that cannot wait until later. I vow to be present with the family and friends more. I vow to speak Italian one day and master meditation. I vow to find me again. I challenge you to do the same.