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On being a hermit.

If I were to give the past year a title, it’d be The Year Carly Became a Hermit with the subtitle …and Learned a Lot of Life Lessons. I’ll spare the internets the course of events that preceded this hermitism, suffice it to say that due to a perfect storm of things, I found myself in a place of soul searching, prioritizing and change.

What used to be a very frenzied, busied, hurried existence filled with work and demands and deadlines and dummies is now something much more akin to “sanity” and peace.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned.

#1… If you find yourself making statements repeatedly, it may be that you’re trying to convince yourself of something that isn’t necessarily true. i.e. I was repeatedly saying, “My family is my top priority, they are my everything.”

Now… my family is and always has been my number 1, after God, but does that mean I was living my life in a way that was consistent with that ranking? Short answer… no. And I just kept trying to convince myself it was true. Cue a major change, a shift in how I was working (and where!). Bringing my work home was hard – I had moved my work away from home for a reason. For me, working out of the home was not, ultimately, the ideal situation it seemed it would be. While my work time was much more productive, generally, there was just way too much I was missing out on. I’ve now adjusted my schedule and tailored things to ensure I get all my work done, but my kids aren’t constantly begging me to play with them or pay attention to them because I already have been playing with them all day! By strengthening family bonds and having a better, stronger marriage, I’m happier and more at peace. Once your family is your top priority, everything else falls into place. It’s spooky. Spooky cool. (Every time I hear/say/type the word “spooky” I get Werewolf Bar Mitzvah stuck in my head. 30 Rock fans should be feelin’ me right about now…)

 

#2… People that spend a lot of time talking about other people are also spending a lot of time talking about you (you know, behind your back…). These people are not worth your time, so run quickly for the hills rather than spend your time listening to their b.s.

Isn’t this a lesson we learned in jr. high? Well, some of us need reminders, I guess, and sometimes those reminders are ever-loving painful. Stay away from gossipers. You know what is the worst part of hanging out with gossipers? You become a gossiper too. (Is it technically called a “gossip”? I never know what it’s called.)

Nothing feels worse than realizing that not only were you in a gossipy-conversation but that you had contributed to it… ugh, makes my stomach ache and there was a time where I’d found myself guilty on frequent occasion. It’s all about the people you surround yourself with… I’d rather have zero friends than be surrounded by son-of-a-beestings that can’t help but keep their mouths shut. Breaking up with bad friends is not easy, but it’s so worth it. The best feeling in the friendship-world is finding people who do nothing but speak positively of others and are always serving others. Those are the real friends, those are the ones that really get it, those are the people you can trust. And hey, women must vent, it is in our DNA, but vent wisely. I literally can count on half of one hand the very few friends I’ve gathered over the years that I can safely vent to, that understand I’m simply venting and that once the vent is over I’m over it and it no longer needs to be discussed. Oh, I love those sweet friends… those sweet trustworthy angel-women are worth more than diamonds to me.

#3… Never say never and listen to your gut. These two things have gone hand in hand this year, repeatedly, but the biggest example has been the choice to switch my oldest from public school to home school.

This was an intensely gut wrenching decision. I love public school. I love the classroom, the work, the smells, the other kids, the playground… 90% of the time I wish I was back in the third grade, let’s be totally honest. But, as that isn’t possible, my plan has been to live vicariously through my children’s classroom experiences. I’ve gone so far as to say, repeatedly, “I could never homeschool!” I’m the kind of mom that deeply loves my children, but that also appreciates a little “me-time” now and then. I have always believed that with the time my kids spend at school, away from home, I’m allowed the sanity to be a good mom while they are home – it’s a perfect balance, right? Well, imagine my surprise when I found myself making a completely out-of-character gut-reaction decision to end that wonderfully balanced existence and begin schooling at home. Um, hello, it’s like I wasn’t even present while that decision was being made. No sane person does this!!

Well I am here to tell you I have never been more wrong (and at this point, you’ve realized my affinity for hyperbole, I’m sure…). I don’t even know where to start, and I’m sure this will be a major blog post, if not a major theme of it’s own throughout multiple posts, at some point in the future. This experience has taught me that not only am I capable of homeschooling, but that it’s an incredible joy. Surprisingly, I don’t feel like maiming anyone at the end of the day, the stress level has gone way down, and I’m loving my kid in a whole new way. I’m getting to know her in a way that I didn’t realize I was missing out on. More on this later… but, never say never. You have no idea what you might be missing out on! Trust that gut. It’s never wrong.

#4… Eliminate the negative… in this case, Facebook.

This past week I’ve chosen to avoid Facebook as much as possible. I had found myself checking in all the time, on my phone whenever I had a free moment, on the computer when I was supposed to be working, etc. Sick. I do not like being addicted to anything, that’s just not something I’m proud of or that I want in my life. So I chose to take a little break. Over the past week I’ve logged on about once a day to check my inbox and make sure I haven’t missed anything important on my business page (like, an inquiry or something). I deleted the app on my phone and log out each time I check it on the computer so that if I’ve found myself habitually going there the login screen reminds me I’m taking a break. Of all social media, I think Facebook is the worst. I can’t give up Instagram – it’s like my little diary almost, where sadly without it I wouldn’t have a fraction the photos of my kids to hang on to…

By simplifying daily rituals to no longer include this time-suck, I’ve found myself disgustingly more productive. In addition to being more on top of chores (not perfect, remember, I’m pregnant, homeschooling, running a business and have two kids… the work is never really caught up…) I’ve read two novels this week. TWO. Do you know how long it’s been since I read two novels in a week? Well, my oldest is almost 7 so it’s probably been almost 7 years. :) Not only am I more productive, but I’m so much happier! I had no idea to what extent other peoples ridiculous Facebook-complaining and public airing of problems was bringing me down. Now, I believe Facebook can be a tool. I use it for my business and will not give that up. I also use it to keep in touch with long-distance family and friends. Can’t give that up either. But using it as a way to avoid daily responsibility and in replacement of personal-growth activities is just plain dumb. I hate that I have to set boundaries for myself, but I do. Cut the crap and start seeing the good!

Each of these lessons has led to me becoming quite the hermit. Bringing my work home, adjusting my friend-priorities, homeschooling and giving up social media (to an extent) has given me a lot of at-home-time to really think and really consider what’s important in my life at this point. And while being a hermit is not the goal, it’s what it took to open my eyes to some areas that were in need of a little extra attention and it’s given me a greater drive to become a better me.

What’s important in your life right now? What are the lessons that’ve been big for you recently?