Is this a mid-life crisis? Asking for a friend.

There are some things we just know about ourselves.

For example, I know that I will never eat haggis. I don’t have to think about it; I just know that I’ll pass on the sheep’s organs 100% of the time.

I also know that I’m highly sensitive. It took years of feeling like the piece that didn’t quite fit before I learned that there’s a name for people like me… erm… highly sensitive person… and that it’s an actual trait and not some personality flaw. (Resist the urge to comment, Husband.)

Something else I know about myself: I am really, really good at organization. It’s like my brain is just wired to audit and edit spaces and stuff. As a teacher, that skill has served me well. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve lost track of the number of times colleagues have complimented my organized classroom, or asked for my help to transform theirs.

This skill set has helped me create a beautifully uncluttered and organized home, as well.

I used to be good at organizing my time, too.

And then this year happened.

This year I have felt like a helpless passenger on a rickety, runaway rollercoaster.

This year, when no amount of culling and sorting and re-arranging and agenda-ing could keep me from careening off the tracks.

Does watching this make you feel sick too?

I transferred out of my old school (life’s too short for toxic leadership) and joined a lovely staff a little further from home. I left my position in Special Education to try teaching Grade 7, and in doing so, ended up with a huge coverage load. (For you non-teachers, ‘coverage’ is when a teacher covers another teacher’s class so that they can have their prep time.) Rather than teach 25-30 students as I had always done, I ended up teaching between 120 and 180 students, depending on the term. Multiple grades, different subjects.

But, I sucked it up because of my ‘new kid on staff’ status.

Throw in all the pivoting and extra steps resulting from the pandemic. The enormous amount of time spent planning (and apologizing) when I needed to be away from work to care for a child with – GASP – a runny nose. The somewhat-understandable-but-hugely-problematic by-product of the pandemic whereby students are still under the impression that completing work is optional.

My mind was is always…fractured.

I’m only ever a day ahead of myself, at best.

And that’s just the work overwhelm.

There’s personal stuff, too.

I’ve been experiencing health issues for a couple years. (Let’s just say the moniker Smelly Kelly fits.) I didn’t connect the dots until recently – that all these undesirable symptoms were my body’s way of telling me that something was wrong.

Friends? It’s looking like major lifestyle changes are a-comin’, changes that I’m currently ill-prepared for because there’s still so much to learn and understand.

Learning takes time. Actual minutes and hours.

I’m hardly able to keep all my balls in the air as it is, running on this hamster wheel every day, watching, helplessly, as the wheels come off the bus.

Got carried away with my idioms there. Sorry.

Somewhere along the line, I started to really SUCK at organizing my time.

Friends? I think I have to face the cold, hard truth: I’m a hot mess.

(Which is really just a more socially-appropriate way of saying shit show.)

And while some folks wear the title with something akin to, I dunno…pride?… I do not.

I mean, it’s cute.

I’m not ok with it.

I love being a mama to my little maniacs. I also happen to actually like Husband, which makes being his wife a lot of fun.

But there’s more to me than being a wife and a mom.

More to every woman.

Before I donned those hats, I didn’t appreciate the time I had. All those glorious hours-upon-hours to spend however I pleased.

Looking back, I wonder why I wasn’t in the best shape of my life with several published novels under my belt and maybe a Nobel Peace Prize. I mean, I had the time.

Now that I have considerably less time to pursue my own, er…pursuits…, the things for which I need focused, undistracted time seem to be multiplying: Learn how to cook for a plant-based, gluten-free lifestyle. (Let’s be real, I need to learn how to cook full-stop.) Build my tiny business into something less tiny. Publish my novel. (Happy to report it’s with a developmental editor as I type this post!) Maybe write another? Get back to using the gym for actual workouts instead of for gym equipment storage. Learn how to make stickers with my Cricut.

OK, that last one can wait forever.

But the rest of that list requires time. Like, years of time.

I don’t want to wait til my kids are older before I fix my fractured focus and pick a peck of pickled peppers and feel on top of things again.

Strangely enough, a recent 48-hour power outage helped me to formulate the beginnings of a plan. As I raged about the Mount Everest of laundry piles that I couldn’t tackle, the absence of Nanny Netflix, and all the food that would need to be thrown out, my brain took advantage of the distraction-free opportunity to bombard me with reminders that I need to figure my shit out, preferably sooner than later.

I think I broke out in a rash from lack of productivity. Or maybe from eating gluten. Definitely one of the two.

In any case, I struggled to enjoy those 48 hours with my family because my brain couldn’t stop thinking about all the things piling up that would obliterate any time that would’ve otherwise been for me stuff.

Friend? I’m tired of being at the mercy of my to do list.

As soon as the power was restored, I hopped online and invested a not-insignificant amount of money in what I’m hoping will be the solution to my time management, er…issues. OK, that’s a lie. First, I put in a load of laundry. Then, I did the online spendy thing.

Just as I know in my bones that the food described as “a type of pudding composed of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep” will never pass my lips, I also know that I’m about to embark on something that has the potential to be transformative.

More about that in my next post, but if all goes according to plan, I won’t be a spicy disaster for much longer.

I’ll just be spicy.

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