In order for The Plan to be successful I will need to have a clear idea of what I need to do at any one time. I decided that I would list my goals and aims and brainstorm some tasks to get me going. I was not going to get caught up on perfectionism; these tasks do not need to be definitive as I will revisit my goals and aims regularly.
I deliberately made sure that there were some simple tasks for those days where everything feels hard. I also made sure that there were plenty of things I could track as I find it motivating to see my progress and mark things off in a planner. Tracking will also allow me to see where my time is going and whether I am devoting equal chunks of time to each goal/aim.
I have given each section (health,self, finances and business) its own colour and put washi tape along the edge of the page so it is easy to turn back to these pages if I need to.
My next step will be to make a time tracker for my days and schedule the tasks or the time to work on a task at definite times throughout each week. It is easy to forget about things if I don’t deliberately carve out specific time to work on them.
My beautiful eleven year old son started secondary school in September 2016. He was diagnosed as having autism when he was five years old and has struggled in a school setting. He is high functioning autistic and this can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand he is able to communicate using language well above his age ability, on the other hand this often leads to people assuming that his autism “isn’t that bad”. This is where the difficulty for us can arise. I have had teachers say things to me such as “I understand he has autism, but he needs to communicate with me” when he has shut down due to being over stimulated. He is able to fake being okay a lot. He can come across as articulate and engaging at times and this leads to people assuming that I am making a fuss about nothing, that he is not “that autistic”.
He was excluded from primary school on three occasions. I may sound over protective (possibly I am), but this was never for an offence that I would deem exclusion worthy. Once it was for sitting on the school field and refusing to come in, ignoring his teachers and running away if anyone got too close. I can imagine it was annoying for his teachers, I imagine it was frustrating, but it was an autistic behaviour from being overwhelmed, not a deliberate act of defiance. Schools are often unable to do what is best for a child with autism such as a quiet place with minimal stimuli and to be left alone.
My son (A) is very intelligent, he has a thirst for knowledge and deserves to do well in school. I am unsure as to whether he will. He has started at a grammar school for secondary and he finds it hard. He doesn’t like it when other children are noisy in the classroom, or when teachers raise their voices. He finds the constant changes of lesson difficult to deal with, homework is immensely hard for him to organise as he won’t always see the necessity of writing enough detail down in lesson to be able to complete the task at home.
I am trying to help him with this transition and have made a series of cards for him to use for times when verbal communication is too hard, or he is becoming overwhelmed. I have also given him his own filofax with strategies in to help him when he is struggling. Part of THE PLAN has been to give up work and in part this is to help A settle in and thrive at secondary school.
THE PLAN speaks in capitals in my head because it is important. It has to be important. I want to change my life and that is not going to happen by chance.
I am a great fan of mind maps and scribbling out my thoughts on paper. So the first thing I did to start THE PLAN was to choose the planner that would hold it, map it and develop it. I confess now to being a tremendous plannerphile. I love planners; ringed, bound, large, small… anything containing paper that I can organise and decorate and love. Due to the great and significant importance of THE PLAN, the chosen one had to be special. Not average, not run-of-the-mill or plain. It had to sing to me daily so that I would connect with it and love it and THE PLAN would then blossom unhindered from its pages.
I present to you:
Gillio A5 Appunto in purple. Gillio Epoca leather is pretty awesome and the appunto is definitely woman enough to hold THE PLAN. With the help of a Leuchtturm1917 dot grid notebook, I shall plan THE PLAN.
It has been a while since my last post. Well, more than a while. I can only apologise. To whom, I don’t know as I don’t imagine I have the whole world waiting with bated breath to hear my latest ramblings.
Now the apologies are out of the way, I want to share my BIG NEWS. Life has been extra tough for the last 5 months. One of my daughters had an awful experience back in June and has PTSD and anorexia, my son is autistic and has started secondary school and I have my own health issues that have been taking over recently.
I have always been a perfectionist; things are either completed at 100% perfection, or they are not done. This is a pressure that I apply only to myself and only by myself. No one else has the same ridiculously impossible standards for me and I don’t hold them for anyone else. As a result, I run to the flighty side. I am a very all or nothing person and I cannot stand to let anyone down. The recent events in my little family have meant that I feel I am letting everyone down. I have to put my family first and that can mean not being the best person in the world at work. As a teacher it can be hard to take a day off for a hospital appointment as there is that niggling thought that you are letting the children down. Once or twice this can be forgiven, but recently I have been having more time off than present at work. There have been appointments at various clinics for my children, appointments at the doctors for me, I have had flu, dizziness, a chest infection… and there has always been someone to berate me for it. Okay, one person; me.
My perfectionism has lead to me feeling guilty whenever I am unwell which has lead to me being more unwell. I love my job, I always have, but recently it has felt like I cannot possibly continue working 50+ hours a week in pursuit of perfect when I have so much else that needs my focus and attention. I have dragged myself over hot coals of deliberation and drawn many a (colourful, pretty) mind map. Even this short post doesn’t do justice to the misery I have put myself through over the last month or so. I have quite literally wrestled with indecision and worry.
The options I was considering were:
Carry on working, find some way of coping with the stress, pressure and guilt.
Give up work entirely
Option 1 – To paraphrase Einstein, to keep doing the same thing but expect a different result is insane.
Option 2 – my perfectionism made this not really viable as I would have a propensity to work full-time hours for part-time pay. I don’t really have an off switch when it comes to work.
Option 3 – made the most sense, but it is the littlest bit TERRIFYING>
These options went round and round my head perpetually. A constant itch that I couldn’t scratch. All the time the appointments, ill health, guilt, worry, anxiety and panic were going on and making each other worse through my inability to act. It is very obvious to anyone that option 3 made most sense. It is obvious that it would give me time to be with my children, sort out my ill health and actually be. However, it was the most terrifying thought. I love my job. I love the people I work with, I love teaching. How do you even begin to accept that the very thing you love is causing the biggest misery in your life?! It upset me so much each and every time the idea came back round for consideration on the merry-go-round that my thoughts had become. I pride myself on my intelligence, but I can be incredibly stupid when it comes to taking care of myself. It struck me that I was watching my health decline (especially my mental health) and I was getting more and more stressed that I couldn’t take care of my family as much as I wanted to and all the time there was a solution. A solution I was terrified of, but a solution nonetheless. (Side note: isn’t nontheless an awesome word?)
Yesterday I went to work for a meeting with my headteacher. Yesterday I cried in her office. A lot. Yesterday I gave in my resignation. And while the tears still threaten at times, the relief is also starting to hit me. I have cut an enormous amount of pressure out of my life by making a choice. It was not a choice I wanted to make, but I am still glad I have made it.
Currently, I am giving myself a year. A year to change everything. I want this blog to be a record of that. Today is a new day, the newest in fact. Today I start the next phase of my life, however short or long it may be. I am excited, terrified, relieved, regretful, sad and happy all at once. Let the games begin.