Banished from Pemberley

I have banished myself from Pemberley.

I thought long and hard about what to give up for Lent, but all along I knew I needed to give up the thing that I most crave in the world: reading Jane Austen fan fiction.

It sounds silly, I am sure. It is silly, in fact, but I can’t help it. Reading about Darcy and Elizabeth is escapism at its best for me; it takes my mind off everything else in the world, and does it in such an easy fashion that it takes very little effort on my part. (I always say that I don’t read much fantasy because I don’t like being introduced to new worlds and having to learn about them. With my Darcy stories, I don’t have to learn anything at all; the characters and locations are already familiar.)

I have been going crazy for the past 24 hours, though. I have built some powerful habits around this addiction, so every time I sit down to eat a snack, for instance, I find myself reaching for my phone. It’s going to take some time to reach for something else — or nothing else, really. It would be much better for me to live in the present and heighten my awareness of the world around me.

This world, however, is much more difficult for me than the world of Regency England, of entails and suitors and Lady Catherine deBourgh, of balls and fine eyes and ten thousand a year. This world is challenging and messy and stressful, and for whatever reason I find myself less and less able to handle that stress.

My hope is that the time I would have spent reading on my phone will now be spent in doing healthier things. Perhaps that will go a long way toward enabling me to live in the here and now, and no longer in days of yore (and yesteryear.)

Lyme Park Snowdrops IMG_0083aBR by Brian Rogers / CC BY

Mission check-In: Lighten Up!

When I originally started this blog last summer, I had just come off treatment for – and received a definitive diagnosis of – primary progressive multiple sclerosis. It opened my eyes and made me take a closer look at the way I was living. I knew that I was being held back by habits and behaviors that were not working for me, and I began to take steps to release them from my life.

As the weeks went by, I realized that my desire was not just to release things from my life, but also to bring certain new habits and behaviors into it. I decided I wanted to “lighten up” in five areas of my life: my attitude, my relationships, my surroundings, my health, and my time.

I’m going to revisit each of these areas this week. First up: my attitude, otherwise known as the category “Lighten Up!”

Changing my behavior in this aspect of my life is of prime importance to me. I have been a life-long worrier. I come from a long line of worriers, though whether that is nature or nurture, I can’t really say. Genetic predisposition to anxiety? Modeling of worrying behaviors? Either way, I have sadly passed that trait along to my son. Luckily for both of us, we worry about different things, and so we are able to talk each other through our worries rationally.

I’ve felt guilty for years that Quinland takes on this role with me. On the one hand, I tell myself that I have taught him a skill that helps him handle his worries, and taught it to him so effectively that he is comfortable turning it right back on me. That’s healthy. On the other hand, I worry (ha!) that it is putting him in an adult role at too young an age. He should not be comforting me and helping me cope; I should be doing that for him. So learning to “bust” my own worries when they strike is a high priority for me.

I also realize how worry sucks away my time.  It steals away hours that I could be accomplishing things. I know that worry is nothing more than fear, fear that something will go wrong, or – at the very least – that nothing will go right. This fear causes me to avoid things I need to tackle, which causes me, of course, to worry even more. I want this vicious cycle to come to an end.

When I started the blog, I wanted to use it to a) help me keep my goals at the forefront of my mind, b) give me a place to record my successes, and c) hold myself accountable. Over time, however, I realized a couple of things. At the beginning of the blog, I concentrated pretty heavily on lightening my load by getting rid of the excess things in my life. It was an admirable goal, and one that was much-needed, as I had to empty a large part of my house for our friend Greg to move in. Later, the blog tended to be more a chronicle of my life; while interesting, it was not really helping me reach my goals.

I want to make a conscious effort to concentrate on each area of my mission weekly. I’m not going to assign a specific category to a specific day, but I will try to post once a week on how I have worked on that particular area. (That way, I’ll be posting five times a week, giving myself a little leeway to do some writing.) My hope is that this will give me focus and direction, two things I definitely need to develop!

Next week, I’m going to look at how (or if) I have been working toward the goals I’ve stated above – to relax, reduce stress, stop worrying, and think positive thoughts – and whether my efforts so far have been successful.

I’m still going to check in on each post with things I am grateful for. No matter what the blog topic of the day, being aware of my blessings will bless my life in many ways.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for having  a strong marriage. David and I have our ups and downs as all couples do; we are very different, and while our individual strengths complement the other’s weaknesses, our differences can also lead to frustration and misunderstanding. Still, we have always made a conscious effort to work things out. (We have a “rule” that neither of us can ever stomp out on a fight-in-progress. We can ask to wait to talk about it later, when we are more calm, but no door slamming!)