#WorthRevisit: Panic at the Retreat

I was listening to a podcast this morning while I baked cookies for the soccer team’s pasta party. Greg and Jennifer Willits were talking about one of my favorite subjects–personality–and that was spun into a discussion about why Greg needed to leave a retreat over the weekend.

I’ve taken various forms of the MBTI countless times over the years, and I just went through the free survey at 16personalities.com, the site Greg and Jennifer recommended. My score: ISFJ (but I’m pretty close to ISTJ.)

I completely understand Greg’s experience at the retreat, as he described in episode 157 of the podcast. Which brings me back to a story I shared last fall–a story about the very same type of retreat Greg attempted to attend last weekend.

The first time I was called upon to share my faith story, I had just returned from a Christ Renews His Parish (ChRHP) retreat. Newly married and new to the area, I was already feeling shy, and I was dismayed to discover that after you’ve attended a ChRHP weekend, you’re expected to be a presenter at the next one. I sat there at the follow-up meeting, listening to other women share dramatic stories of conversion and renewal of faith. I didn’t feel like I had anything to add or contribute; certainly, I had nothing that could compare to those witnesses. Finally I fled the meeting, weeping, and in a full-blown panic attack. I never returned. I felt like a fraud.

That was exactly Greg’s point in the podcast. We’re not all the same. Those retreats are wonderful–for certain types of people who benefit from certain types of activities. I am not one of those people.

Today, for the first time in over 25 years, I felt OK about running away from that meeting (though there are tears in my eyes as I think about it.) It’s part of my personality to want to finish what I start. It’s why I stuck it out a whole year in the school lunchroom, though I discovered under one month in that it wasn’t a good fit for me. I’d learned, by then, that I could create a new opportunity to help the school–and I’m still volunteering in the school library even though my kids have all graduated.

St. Paul is famous for saying, “There are different gifts, but the same Spirit.” There are different personalities, too–but the same Spirit. What works for one does not work for everyone. (It’s why I don’t podcast or do Facebook Live. It’s why I’ll probably bury myself in small tasks at the pasta party tonight.) As Greg said in the podcast, we don’t all fit the same cookie-cutter! The trick is finding what works for you, and using your own personalities, gifts and talents to serve God and others.

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I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

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Small Success: Fleeting Seasons

I looked out the front window Tuesday morning and saw the lilacs beginning to bloom. I’ll enjoy their sight and scent, for about a week. And then they’ll be gone.

It’s important to appreciate the fleeting things while you have them. So I opened the window and savored the lilacs, and got work done while I listened to a mockingbird’s serenade.

File Apr 19, 7 46 48 AMLilac season lasts about as long as Tech Week at the high school (10 days or so). It’s Tech Week right now, and I’m volunteering at the Tech Week Dinners, bringing chicken tacos or salad and croutons, pouring drinks, wiping tables, and marveling at the great kids who participate in the musical. People who think all high-school kids are self-centered need to show up at a Tech Week Dinner. They will see students carrying plates and drinks for someone who has full hands or an arm in a sling. They’ll see students making sure to tell the Dinner Moms that their friend has a track meet and will be arriving late for dinner, and asking if we’d save a plate or two. They’ll watch a student walk through the line with the shyest girl of all and invite her to sit at a table full of friends. They’ll hear students thanking us for the dinner from the second they walk into the cafeteria, as they pass through the line, after they say grace before the meal and again before they head to their 4-hour rehearsal.

leaning tower of beveragesI’ve gotten through the two Tech Week Dinners so far without any panic attacks, so that’s definitely an improvement over previous years. And it’s been nice; I remember quite a few people who ask about my Big Kids and wonder if I missed being the one who organized two weeks of food for 100 people. (No, I don’t miss running it, but I have missed being there.)

This week I also made a small tweak in my work “schedule” (such as it is; I don’t have an assigned schedule. As long as each article at CatholicMom.com is posted at its scheduled time, no one cares what time I work or in what order I do things.) Reworking a few things in my workflow has allowed me to be more efficient, which is a good thing! Yesterday I had to pick up some medical supplies for TheKid yesterday and bundled in a trip (first ever!) to Trader Joe’s where I did not buy everything in sight, so I guess that can count as a success.

Giant sugar cookies with sprinkles (8)cT

And my giant sugar cookies with sprinkles were a huge hit at the school bake sale. I sent in 2 dozen and TheKid reported that only one cookie was left after first lunch.

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Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes! Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Crying It Out

Those tears I should have cried 16 months ago are trying to leak out now, at the most inopportune moments.

Some of the stuff The Kid carries everyplace he goes. Because diabetes.
Some of the stuff The Kid carries everyplace he goes. Because diabetes.

I guess I’ve found the limit of how long I can pretend to be strong.

Ever since Saturday, I am struggling to keep the tears back. We spent much of the day at an event for families of diabetic children, sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the JDRF. That event has outgrown its venue, which is good in one way because more people can learn important strategies to help their kids manage diabetes, but bad in another because it means that there are very, very many kids who have to learn to manage diabetes.

On Saturday morning, everyone at the conference was jam-packed into a hotel ballroom, where someone had played a game of “How Many Skinny, Uncomfortable Chairs Can You Pack Into One Conference Room” and each and every person in the audience was the loser. As it got more crowded, I got more tense and upset until I couldn’t stand being in there anymore. My heart was racing and my eyes were filling with tears and I felt like I couldn’t breathe in there. Well, hello, panic attack! How nice of you to come at such an inconvenient moment!

I missed most of the keynote address because I was hiding in the bathroom battling back the tears, then sipping a (decaf) mocha in the lobby, where the chairs were far away from each other. I managed to calm down enough to make it through the day, but I haven’t really decompressed completely since then, so I almost broke down this morning in the school parking lot, during Mass, and in ShopRite.

Besides the (very reasonable under the circumstances) claustrophobia, I think a lot of this is because I never did cry when The Kid was diagnosed with diabetes. I had to jump right into management mode, because there’s no luxury of time to do anything else. We went straight from diagnosis into a 3-day boot camp, then home to deal with it all on our own.

I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason that every time we go to a Diabetes Convention, where the focus is All Diabetes, All The Time, I break down. Last year it wasn’t as bad; I just couldn’t manage sitting at the lunch table talking diabetes with other parents, so I wandered around the exhibit hall. That seemed to head it all off at the pass. I also don’t deal well when we go to things like cast parties or school events, where I freak out at all the unlabeled food, though we’ve done fairly well at counting carbs at such times.

I’ve been too busy being the mom and trying to stay competent and, you know, keep my kid alive. I haven’t had time to cry.

Also, if I let myself cry, does that mean that this has beaten me?

The thing is, I look around at the crosses all these other people are bearing, and I feel ashamed that I am being brought to my knees by what seems to be comparatively small stuff. I should just be able to roll with it and handle this, right?