12 In Midlife Crisis Fodder/ Thoughts & Observations

How Do You Go About Re-Wiring Your Mousetrap?

A few days ago, I did a post about laying down my superhero cape.  The day that inspired said blog was one of many recent events that seem to be converging into one, steady message from the universe; “Slow the hell down, Rhenna.  It’s time for you to re-write your rules.

You’d think adjusting would be easy given many, blessedly positive forms of motivation:

  • Special moments with my daughters (even with there’s homework involved).
  • Time at the movies with the whole family fighting over who gets to hold the popcorn tub.
  • Perfect fall weekends where we get a lot of stuff done together…and yet, my neck doesn’t feel so tense it could snap on a stiff wind.

Those are some pretty nice looking carrots, right?

So, why am I taking so long to adjust?

Because the mousetrap in my head has been the way it is for a mighty long time.  No matter what I do, the wires seem to spring back into their originating position with a precision to make a mechanical engineer weep.

I keep coming up with an image in my mind of those thingys in the grocery and convenience stores that push produce and cans forward as soon as you pull the front object out.  I’ve googled for the last ten minutes to try and find a good picture or a name, but damned if I can find one.  You know what I mean…the pain-in-the-butt feature that, when you want to put something BACK, you have to push against the lever so you can wedge the product back in?

Yeah, I feel like I was born with one of those.  One that’s constantly applying pressure and pushing me past the good stuff. And I really, really want to figure out how to disengage the damned thing so I can take life as I’m able instead of how fast it thinks I should go.

I’ve already started rearranging some aspects of my life.  Friends, when you put things to them nicely, are usually supportive and encourage you to make your life better.  Bigger things?  Things have the potential to impact your paycheck?  Yeah, those are tougher.  Definitely more frightening.  I can’t help but wonder, as I’m navigating career steps, if I’m exchaning a bed of coals for one made of needles.

Life choices aside, I think the biggest change I can make is re-wiring the mousetrap.  Awarenss, I think, is the key.  Setting in place positive behavior replacements for the ones I want to lose.  Kinda like replacing cigarettes with suckers, but on a much less tangible basis.

A coworker recently used the expression, “Redifining what’s productive.”

Yeah, gnaw on that one for a bit.

Have you tackled any big life changes like this?  Behaviors you can’t always clearly define but know you want to irradicate?  What worked for you?

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  • Reply
    Maggie Amada
    November 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

    You know, Rhenna, I’ve been dealing with similar issues recently. I was doing really well stepping back and then life hit me. I stepped up to the challenge and now I feel like I have to keep going. I’m so tired my brain feels like a flickering light bulb right before it goes out for good.

    Hang in there. I’ve seen what happens when you don’t stop and it’s not pretty. Basically, your body forces you to stop by shutting down in stages because you don’t have the sense to do it yourself. Drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you and chat. I haven’t talked to you since RWA. Maybe we can help each other out through these life changing issues.

    • Reply
      November 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Absolutely on the emails. And don’t give up. Take a breather if you must and let some of life’s energy into your heart…your strength will snap back and you can tackle whatever life throws at you. And I bet you look good doing it too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Marianna Heusler
    November 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I always remind myself that time is our most precious resource because once it’s gone, it can’t be replaced. So I try to use it productively. But I spend too much time on the phone, talking to people about things I really don’t care about, and watching reruns I’ve seen so many times, I could quote the dialogue. Thanks for your post – I really have to think about what’s important and redefine how I use my hours as the clock ticks.

    • Reply
      November 13, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      You know, it’s funny you talk about time that way, because it’s my one biggest fear…not getting to everything I want to do. Then I see people who (from all appearances) seem completely unfazed by the passage of time and I just want to shake them. It’s amazing. But, on the other side, I can see that they might be ENJOYING life more than me. It’s such a delicate balancing act.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Yes! I’m in the middle of that struggle right now. And my head is ready to snap off with all the tension in my neck and shoulders. There’s only so many things we can juggle before we start dropping things. We only can do so much. A devotional I read once likened it to a gardener and why they prune plants to produce more fruit and blossoms. I had never fully understood it, but it was a light bulb moment for me. A plant takes in only so much nutrients and transfers it into the leaves, fruit, flowers, etc, but if there is only leaves and we wanted it fruit/flower blossoms, the plant won’t produce beyond what it is capable. So thus the gardener prunes back the leaves with the hopes that the nutrients will also go to produce fruit/flowers. Does that make sense? Either way, I have yet to tackle that beast as I tend to over commit to the point of burning out.

    Lists and having a calendar help me set boundaries. I think knowing a head of time what my boundaries are before someone asks, that way I can practice saying no. Ha! The hard part is I WANT to do it, but I have to learn to respect my body physically and emotionally.

    • Reply
      November 13, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      “But will be so upset if I don’t….” I swear, I hear that phrase in my head at least ten times I say. Sucks being a people pleaser. I’m trying to stop.

  • Reply
    CJ Burright
    November 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Change is so hard, and jumping off the merry-go-round without cracking your skull is no easy task…but the bruises are worth it. My best advice (since it’s often one of my own problems): learn to say no at the right times, even when you want to be a people pleaser. Figure out exactly what you want, relearn how to relax and have fun while balancing only the necessary responsibilities for a while. Simple, right? 🙂

    • Reply
      November 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      I think NO is the hardest word EVER. I almost cringe when it comes out…

  • Reply
    Suzanne Vince
    November 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I admire you for wanting to permanently disable the mousetrap (I call it shutting down The Committee). Have you ever read Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth? It was a life-changer for me. It took several readings (and dozens of times listening to the CD version) but even from the first reading I got so much out of it. What you’re talking about (I think) is how to really live in the present moment and let all other thoughts and distractions fade away. Anyhoo, might be worth a read.

    • Reply
      November 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      I saw the post where you mentioned this and thought about grabbing it. I know I’ve heard other people talk about it and you can usually rely on solid word of mouth. I’ll have to grab a copy.

  • Reply
    Susan Shay
    November 14, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Just say no! I know. Not as easy as it sounds. I had an exercise I practiced for months before it came easily.
    “Place tongue at the front of the roof of your mouth, hum, (Nnnnn) then drop tongue to the bottom of your mouth and make your mouth a circular shape. (ooooo)”
    If you practice it long enough, it gets to be almost second hand.
    You just have to be careful how you use this. 😉

  • Reply
    Gretchen Wing
    November 14, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Good post, Rhenna–I think I got as much out of the replies as you probably did. After 20 years in the classroom, I’d like to say I’ve taken my watch off and learned to make my own schedule, but no, I’m just as anal as ever about time and Getting Things Done. I’ve decided to make peace with it, though–some hard-wiring is too hard too rip out.

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