How often do problems seem like a freeway pile up?

 

As if it can’t just be one bad thing at a time. Nope, that’s not good enough, it has to be several. This isn’t just “things always happen in threes”, cause sometimes it’s way more than that. Sometimes it’s a series of events, one right after another, so you can’t catch your breathe. We all have those times periods that stand out as one big flaming mess. I call 2010.

 

Even when it’s small things, there’s a pile. A little cluster of suck. It’s the way of the universe I suppose, and people have been trying to make sense of it since the dawn of time. I may have found the solution.

 

Stop. Making. Sense.

 

The Talking Heads were onto something. I’d wager they were coming at it from an artistic angle, but it’s true of life too. Just stop. Don’t for a minute. Pause and remember these things are going to happen in groups. We all know it. It’s a cosmic joke passed on for centuries. And it will pass. That’s the part we always forget when we’re breaking down.

 

Next time it feels like the world is crashing down, stop. Take a moment, make a new plan, a new promise. Live this question: What happens if in every aggravating situation, I pause for 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Not to think, or stew, or panic, but just pause and do nothing.

 

Stop.

 

About a week ago, my boyfriend and I got into a small argument. For whatever reason, his own that I won’t guess, he started to escalate it. Rather than joining in and having an all out fight, which isn’t productive, I stopped arguing. I let him vent and get his frustration out, because I knew it wasn’t about “that”. It was about a pile up of unfortunate things recently, and he didn’t have anywhere to put that energy. (Note: there was no violence, and no one was in danger, just high emotions.) And it kinda floored him. He was expecting a bigger argument. When he didn’t get one, he was able to calm down, and eventually apologize for getting heated. He also commented specifically on me sitting quietly on the couch while he raged around the kitchen. He simply needed time and space. We don’t give ourselves enough of that.

 

I’m working on this with my child too. We tend to butt heads quite often. I am still learning why, but to her, I’m both the enemy and the great protector. Every morning, I become the adversary, yet by the end of the day, she needs me to cuddle her to sleep. It’s been like this since…. Birth?? Definitely at least since she was 3. Every interaction has to be full of tension. Folx, she’s 5. I’m going to have a teenager for 15 years. I’m hoping she calms down around 10, at least for a few years, so I can recoup.

 

I am actively working on changing our dynamic. I want to break her expectation. Not everything needs be a confrontation. We can just do things. We can. When she’s having a tantrum, instead of getting exasperated and threatening time outs and what not, I’ve started giving her space, followed by a hug and a song. Time outs are reserved for rule breaking. We now have distinct rules. Next will come chores, so she can earn her own money. (She asks for things so much, I told her get a job!) I also pause with her more. I just don’t say anything. I’d rather have an extra moment of silence than more yelling. As much as she frustrates me, I am not here to frustrate her.

 

And it’s not just other people.

 

My car has had a slew of issues this year. As soon as we fix one thing, something else goes funky. I wish I could afford a new one, but right now, it’s much cheaper to fix a few small problems, and know that it will last quite a bit longer. And through all this, I’ve had to calculate the consequence. I know it’s all fixable, I know there are people to help me. I’ve also figured out quite a few things myself, and know what to do in certain situations. I feel at least journeyman level at jumping car batteries now.

 

On the business front, this has been a very frustrating year. I feel like I am treading water. No, that’s not quite right. Like I’ve been plunked down in the middle of nowhere, with a map out, but no compass. Everything looks the same, so trying to figure out which roads is home is daunting. I feel good about what I have invested in myself, but a little discouraged that I can’t turn that around into something beneficial for my whole family. And honestly, I’m tired of trying. Not in a defeatist, giving up sort of way. But in a true pause. A slowing down, reordering, rethinking. I need to find the thing that I WANT to do that others also NEED. It could be anything. Anything at all. The trouble is finding the right place to start. That is still a work in progress. 

 

I never make resolutions. I make plans.

 

2018 will be a time to stop. To slow down and plan. A time to take in all the obstacles coming my way, because I know there will be many. Just look at the tax plans on the table right now. Sheesh. There’s already changes happening in our world that are gonna make for tougher times and tough decisions. As a single mom, I must prepare. As an artist, I must react. For myself, though, I must pause.

 

My hope for all of us is that we stop, breathe, think, and flow.

 

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