When Reality Crashes Into Ideality

Life is not ideal.  At least, my life is not ideal.  So, I constantly find myself disappointed or disillusioned or guilty as reality crashes into my ideality.

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Sometimes that crash is big.  Like when my daughter was born almost two months early and soon after diagnosed with an unrepairable heart problem and in need of a transplant.  That crash was huge.  But, more often, the crashes are small.  Just little collisions really, that jolt me back to the disappointment of reality.  One such collision just happened.  I was reading an old blog post and saw a book that sounded wonderful.  So, I clicked over to Amazon to put it on my Wish List and CRASH!, I had bought it already.  In 2016!  I’ve owned this book that sounded absolutely wonderful and that I really wanted to read, for the past two years.  In that time, I haven’t really read much at all.  I buy books, I have Kindle unlimited, I go to the library regularly, but I. do. not. read.  In my ideality, I would read all the time.  But, in my reality, not so much.

A second crash happened a little before this one.  I got up to get something to drink and CRASH!, I saw my kitchen.  I have really been trying to follow Stephanie O’Dea’s daily tasks and keep my sink clear of dishes and my counters wiped down.  I feel like I’ve been more on top of cleaning the house (I feel like I’ve been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning), but that kitchen is evidence to the contrary.  And I mean, totally to the contrary.  Messy counters, sink full of dirty dishes, the floor needs sweeping, etc., etc.  And I know that I would feel so much better tomorrow morning if I cleaned it up tonight, but I. am. tired.  So, the reality is my kitchen won’t be clean tomorrow despite my ideality of wanting to be able to follow a simple, daily to-do list.

A third crash happened this morning when I realized that despite my desire to rejoin Jazzercise classes this week, I wasn’t going to be able to do it for numerous reasons.  I want to be a healthy, happy and fit person in my ideality, but in reality, I am often unmotivated, tired and feeling overwhelmed, so instead I sit at home struggling to get through a to-do list of cleaning and work items.

So, how do I prevent these crashes from happening?  I figure I have two choices.  One, I can accept reality as it is and live with it.  I can stop setting myself up by trying to be more, do more and do better.  But, to me, that sounds depressing.  It sounds like a lack of progress.  It sounds like settling.  It sounds like…well, giving up.  So, I refuse to take that route.  Two, I can work on avoiding the crashes by living up to my ideality.  This is going to take work, of course.  But, according to Psychology Today in Five Ways to Help Become Your Ideal Self the advice includes giving yourself credit for any steps you’ve taken, even if they are small.  So, despite not keeping up EVERY day with the dishes, there are fewer mornings they are piled high and the beds are made every day.  Despite reading few books over the past few years, I am currently reading a book out loud with my DD and I am reading a chapter a day in a cozy mystery set in Ashland OR, where I visited last week.  From there, the road gets a little less paved:

“You are the values you embody.”  Yikes.  I embody some good values.  Caring about others.  Being kind.  But, others, I really fail to act accordingly.  I value being well-read, but I only read things online most of the time.  I value social justice, but I can’t really identify much that I do that advances social justice.  So, this is an area I need to work on making changes.

Assessing daily choices can offer guidance for what you must change in order to become the person that people may one day toast.

That is a pretty powerful statement.  I go through my days without really thinking about the choices I’m making and how it will impact my future self.  For example, when I get up in the morning and just drink coffee without eating breakfast, I don’t think of that as a choice, but it is.  When I fail to focus on grading for a certain period of time or choose to read emails and scroll through Facebook mindlessly instead of cleaning something, that is a choice.  I really need to be asking myself, “What SHOULD I be doing if I want to move closer to my ideality?” every time I make a choice during the day.  That would probably be a pretty big shift.

“You are who you befriend.”  In this area, I feel better than other areas.  I have some good friends and all of them are pretty good people.  But, I also feel like I limit myself quite a bit.  I can’t decide if I am an introvert or just a little bit lazy.  I often feel exhausted after teaching, so having more interactions seems more than I can handle.  But, I am also energized by those really meaningful interactions when I have them.  So, I think choosing those people who really energize and motivate and embody the values I am interested in embodying would be helpful.  Again, choices.  Good choices as my daughter’s elementary school would say.

“You are how you use your time.”  Ouch.  That one really hurts.  I know that this is a major weakness of mine.  I love having the TV on, sitting on the couch, laptop on my lap.  It is only made better if I can be in pajamas and comfy socks.  This is not a good use of time.  This is not a good choice.  I could be reading books.  I could be visiting with those energizing friends.  I could be cleaning my house so it feels good and welcoming.  I could be sitting outside and enjoying the sun or rain or flowers or butterflies.  But, instead, I am sitting on the couch.  Enough of that already!  I am writing this message on some sticky notes and putting them on my refrigerator, my planner, my mirror, etc.  I need to be constantly reminded of this item.

“You are how you spend your money.” Another ouch.  A lot of this is awareness.  I don’t look at my bank statement or online statement unless something goes wrong or I’m running out of money.  I spend mindlessly.  I buy things I don’t need.  I buy my DD things she doesn’t need.  Our house is overflowing.  If I am how I spend my money, I am mindless and out of control.  Yup.  It pretty much fits right now.  Again, I think raising awareness is step one.  Looking at statements.  Balancing checkbooks.  Actually thinking about what I’m spending and on what before I spend it.

“You are what you eat.”  Well, this one also isn’t good.  Today was not a bad day.  I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner and all of them were decently healthy.  Some days (many days?) I will drink coffee for breakfast, grab a soda and some snack for lunch and then eat so much for dinner I feel like I’m going to pop.  I will also eat dinner early because I haven’t eaten all day and then I end up hungry and eating around 11 p.m. again.  If I am what I eat, I am, again, mindless and out of control.

I like this article because, despite my negative findings above, the ending gives me hope:

Remember, life is not a snapshot in time. It is a path. So, if you were celebrating your 100th birthday today, could you say that you are proud of not just the life you’ve led, but also the path you chose for your future?

Choosing a path means choosing each and every turn along that path.  That can seem a little daunting, but I think it just requires mindFULness instead of mindLESSness.  It means that I actually consider my choices from the time I wake up in the morning – take a shower or not, wear clothes that make me feel good or not, do my hair and put makeup on or not, brush my teeth or not, exercise or not – until nighttime, what time to go bed, reading before bed, cleaning before bed, etc.  Up to this point, I think I’ve been living by not making choices, but in the words of famous rock band Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

What will your choices be tomorrow?

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I like idea gardening. Give me a seed and I'll plant it, care for it and see what grows! I am mom to a pre-tween heart transplant recipient. I work full time plus, teaching college and coaching speech and debate. I lead a Girl Scout troop. I do too much and not enough, all at the same time. We can do this! Join me!

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