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Kelly: Surrendering My Superpowers

One of the gazillion images I need to edit, this one captured in Virginia last month.

I had to meet with Olivia’s teacher yesterday morning regarding her reading grade. Livvie started out poorly this year, then made the A/B honor roll for the second and third quarters, and now has dropped back down as the school year is winding down. Ever feel completely powerless? Have a conversation with your second-grader’s teacher about her failing reading grade.

We talked through why this might be happening. After all, she did make the A/B honor roll for two quarters! I think with Olivia, it’s all about concentration, or lack thereof (something she, unfortunately, probably gets from me). Ms. G said that lately she’ll race through her reading comprehension quizzes and just circle random answers, seemingly without giving any thought to what the correct answer might be. She’s one of the first to turn in her quizzes. We asked Livvie about this at home, and she said that when she sees other classmates start to turn their quizzes in, she feels like she needs to hurry up and finish and turn hers in, even though these quizzes are not timed. Wow, ever feel like you are trying to keep up with everyone around you when you really don’t need to? I know I could learn from that lesson. Food for thought there… I asked Ms. G to send home several sample quizzes so I could work with Livvie on them over the long holiday weekend and try to get her grade back up. Her reading skills are fine. She’s reading above grade level. It’s just the patience it takes to actually complete the quizzes that she’s struggling with. I also need to help her realize that she is a wonderfully beautiful individual and doesn’t need to compare herself to her twin sister.

I do often feel powerless when it comes to trying to do what’s best for my children. Sounds crazy, maybe, but that’s how it hits me at times. I’m not home for homework time. Most of the academic year, I get home about 6pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and 9pm on Tuesdays. Fridays are my only decent days since I can usually get home by 4pm.  DH picks the girls up from school about 4pm and does homework with them when they get home, so by the time I get home, it’s time for dinner, baths, snuggling, a little reading, and bedtime. DH is great with helping them with their math, but he admits he struggles helping them with their reading and writing. And those are my strong points! That’s where I can and really should be helping them! It all comes down to time.

And that’s also where I’ve been feeling powerless lately and am trying to find ways to make some major changes. Overall I think I’m at a point in my life where, though I’d love to be working on my creative endeavors more, there simply isn’t much spare time most of the year. And I have to tell ya, if I hear one more person tell me “Oh, you make time for what’s important to you,” I think my head will pop off. You can’t create more time, so, no, you often can’t make more time for what’s important to you without something that’s just as important suffering. That’s where reality kicks in. “Find some time after the girls go to bed!” others have told me. My girls go to bed between 8:30pm and 9pm. I can’t give up sleep due to my balance disorder. It’s crucial that I get at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night or my spins pick up. My dizzy meds work to reset my balance while I’m sleeping, so that sleep is ultra-important. I have to get up at 5:30am or 6am, so that means my bedtime is typically about 9pm.

But there are changes I can make, and that’s what I’m working on. I’ve cut back quite a bit on Etsy. I’ve pulled out of all my team commitments, am saying no to new requests, and rarely even pop in to team chat threads anymore. The most I do is post team treasuries I’m included in on my blog as a thank you to the curator. I’ll be keeping up my website and my Etsy shops as far as inventory, but I’ll be spending little to no time on Etsy promoting. I know that my sales primarily come from my shows anyway. And speaking of shows, I’ve been re-assessing my goals there as well. Though I love having the opportunity to combine both my jewelry and my photography in one booth, I’m finding that it’s just too much darn work, especially when nine times out of ten, I’m on my own for shows. And I think in some ways having two media in one booth, no matter how much I tie them together, is confusing to many visitors. Given that, this fall I’m returning to concentrating strictly on my jewelry at shows; that’ll free up some time for me as well since I won’t have to prep for two media. I’ll keep up with my photography online since it’s something I really enjoy. I’ll also stick to my traditional three shows instead of adding anything else.

And the biggie, which is totally in God’s hands…I’ve applied for another faculty position. If I’m successful, that will give me quite a bit more time, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ve been wanting to get out of administration and over to faculty full-time for a few years now, but it’s a difficult transition to make. The screening committees are made up of faculty members, and though many of them are my friends, many also don’t understand why I’d want to take such a large pay cut to leave an administrative position in which I excel. But even though you excel in something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something you should continue doing at all costs. I’d be happy to take that pay cut to get more time. My family needs that time, and I’m starting to realize that my health and my brain need that time, as my brain seems to misfire at least once a sentence these days. I enjoy teaching, I know that I’m a very effective teacher, and the tradeoff would definitely be worth it.

Somewhere along the line, I’ve gotten off track, and I have to re-find my way. And some of the paths I’ve been trying, and some of the groups I’ve been trying to connect with, just haven’t felt right. They haven’t felt like me. I’m not a deep-thinking, existential, the-universe-will-bring-it-to me kind of girl, and I can’t pretend to be. I am a risk taker, but I’m also a very practical thinker. I have some big dreams that maybe one day I’ll realize, but I also remain closely in touch with the reality that is life. So, there you have it: one burned out superwoman admitting that she can’t do it all, and frankly, realizing she doesn’t want to try to anymore; I’m surrendering my superpowers. Oddly enough, I’ve been craving cross-stitch lately. But when I think about why I might be craving cross-stitch, it does start to make sense. Though I haven’t cross-stitched for years because it started getting too hard on my hands and my over-40 eyes, thinking back to when I was an avid stitcher, I realize it was that rhythm of the needle and thread going in and out of the canvas that soothed away stress, and that completion of a piece that brought great satisfaction. Wrapping up that last finishing stitch in a large piece, I didn’t feel powerless. I felt like, “Dang! There’s gotta be more than 19,582 stitches in this piece! That’s accomplishing something!” I need to get that feeling back. Maybe it’s time I teach my girls how to cross-stitch.

[Crossposted from Artful Happiness]

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. oh my gosh Kelly such an INCREDIBLE POST. I know I have been feeling these same things trying to find success in these places that truth be told leave me feeling little more than worn out and not filled up.

    So first, SO GLAD we will still have you here. And SECOND, thanks for affirming the same ‘clear the clutter, no explanation needed’ that I began about a month ago and am BREATHING EASIER even now.

    June 2, 2011
  2. Kelly, I think we should all have a cape-burning party. No, you can’t do it all, at least not at the same time. That’s OK. Far better to be able to embrace the beauty of everything that you ARE doing right now — which is a huge amount.

    Cross-stitch is an ideal outlet — no surprise that you’re instinctively craving that.

    Can’t wait to see how this stage unfurls for you, Kelly!

    June 6, 2011
  3. Brittany Vandeputte #

    Love this post, Kelly! I feel the same way. There’s so much I want to be doing, but not enough time to do it all.

    I know what you mean about the cross-stitching. I feel the same way about embroidery. Satin stitch is more forgiving than cross stitch and doesn’t frustrate me quite as much as all those little precise stitches. But it’s the same idea.

    Hope everything works out for you! It sounds like you’ve pointed your compass and are ready to start the trip!

    June 6, 2011
  4. Thanks ladies. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I have my first interview at 2pm tomorrow. First time for Skype for me! A bit silly that I have to do a Skype interview with people who are sitting across campus from me, but they do Skype for the first round for everyone, no matter where they are, on campus or not.

    June 6, 2011
    • Give us an update, Kelly!

      June 15, 2011
      • First interview went well. Now things are stalled a bit until the administrator over the process gets back from vacation! Hopefully second interviews will be the week of June 27.

        June 15, 2011
  5. Amazing post Kelly–so feeling you. Every day I think most creative moms are torn between what we need to do (care for our kids, our homes, etc.), what people are counting on (maybe a job you don’t love but one that your family income relies on) and the things you really want to be doing. As I sit here I’m looking at a quote I have taped on my monitor, that I don’t remember often enough, though it seems applicable, “You cannot make everything a priority and enjoy a fulfilling life. Pick and choose carefully.” About every three months I up my commitment to stop committing, then something comes along that seems like an opportunity too good to pass up. Thanks for the reminder that, super powers or not, it really is impossible to have it all…at least all at one time. Hang in there and keep heading in the direction you know is right for you! Good Luck!

    June 6, 2011
    • Love that quote, Wendi. I need to print that one out and tape it to my computer monitor as well!

      June 9, 2011

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  1. Kelly: Disappointments and Moving Forward | Studio Mothers: Life & Art

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