Properly giving thanks

The last week and a half has been so… um… challenging, that I’ve not taken the time to blog. I’ve been busy re-evaluating my life as a whole. You know, one life sure gets complicated. Re-evaluating is a huge job.

Re-evaluating my life is a bigger job right now than living it — and living it is challenging enough. I find it interesting that the universe has an uncanny habit of showing me all the things I should be thankful for at the exact moment that I permit myself some comfortable pity-party and wallow time…

I rattle off the list of things I have to be thankful for and feel guilty when I’m not completely happy with every aspect of my life.

I have great kids, a fantastic husband, wonderful extended family, my health, a good education and a great career. I own my own business; have the farm, the cabin is over half-way completed and my office is awaiting a bit more work. And I’m overwhelmed. I’m not thrilled with my life.

Actually, most days lately, I’m not even happy.

And not being happy, with all that life has given me, makes me feel guilty… which makes me even more unhappy. Now, in the midst of all this, I have decided that I need to make the changes required in my life to GET happy. And making that decision was painful.

It’s like this…

I set myself a long string of goals over the course of my life. A long and oftentimes, difficult set of goals. Many of the goals have been questioned (rather loudly) by many of my nearest and dearest family members and friends. I’ve always wanted to live on a farm, at least since we left the farm in Tennessee when I was ten. Now, that’s done.

I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Done. Then I wanted to run the newspaper. Done. I wanted to get my college degree, despite the fact that I had two young boys. And I wanted to get it from a good, well-respected, liberal arts college. Done.

I set the goal to move, alone, from the city to the country — dragging the kids along behind me. Done.

I wanted to raise happy, healthy, fairly well-adjusted children. So far, so good. I announced that I wanted to quit my job at the medical center, move to the middle of nowhere and start my own business on the Internet — and make enough money to support the children. Done.

Then, I hoped that I would find someone special. A man I could adore and love completely who would return my love, accept and love my children and appreciate my lifestyle choices and help me keep my life exciting. Done.

The only thing left is finishing the cabin and the office and writing the great American novel.

I wonder if my frustration and the “unhappy” I’m experiencing right now is a direct result of accomplishing the bulk of my lifelong goals and wondering what to do next. I’ve noticed in life that the points when I have had unlimited number of choices are the times when I tend to get the most frustrated. Although, I’m sure, having no choices would be worse. But, I know that a limited number of choices is the easier option.

Like parenting, when you ask a child what they want for dinner – you say… “Would you like to have hamburger or chicken?” rather than saying “So, Junior, what would you like for dinner?” Too many choices frustrate children… and adults.

Granted, building a house with cash, rather than taking out a loan, makes life more challenging… and makes completing the chore take longer. But, I obviously love challenges.

The financial pressures of my choices are sometimes nearly overwhelming. Being debt free would improve the quality of my life dramatically. Perhaps THAT is my new goal. Once the cabin is finished, once the office is polished and inhabited…then debt free would be the next goal. Yeah, that’s a good one.

Debt means lack of freedom. Freedom is the reason that I’ve done much of the things I’ve done over the last few years. Seeking freedom, I’ve ending up enslaving myself to the goals to achieve freedom. Hmmmm. Interesting.

So I’ve been working ungodly hours, foregoing the “smelling the roses” portions of life. Over committing my time and under enjoying it. If I have goals and a few lists to follow — I do fine. Wrapping myself around the concept of improving my quality of life, learning to “let go” and enjoy every moment… well that’s a bit more difficult.

I’m great at preaching at others. Stellar, in fact. I’m a great teacher. I’m a lousy student.

My question is… How do I make a “goal” of learning to relax, of learning to enjoy life more? That should just happen. It shouldn’t be planned. It shouldn’t have to be planned. It should be natural. Sometimes I’m so “uptight” I even surprise myself. I’ve finally gotten to the point that I know this has to give. Something has to give. NOW.

And being in this position — with my back against the wall — makes me cranky. I know I’ve got to make changes. It’s a scary thing. I don’t like it much. I want to just be where I should be — enjoying life, smelling flowers, enjoying long walks, meditating, getting regular exercise, playing more and working less.

So now, I try to figure out how to do that. And, I can’t help it, I’ve set a deadline. I want to get this figured out by the end of the month. You see, once I have a goal, I usually meet it… usually.

And a brand new year is the perfect time to assign a deadline. Always.