So far this year has been a year of reflection and gaining insight. About my marriage and what makes it work, and what threatens to break it apart. About how I work, what motivates me, and how I sabotage myself. About how my children push me over the edge, and what I can do to back up a few feet so I don't fall. About what feels right for my family, and ways to make our lives fit that dream.
I'm collecting insights like…things you collect (sea-shells? stamps? coins?) but the challenge, of course, is putting them into action. I know I should plan my work days better, not snap at my husband, take a deep breath before yelling at my kids---but I don't always do those things. In fact, I rarely remember to do them. Its quite hard to change patterns of learned behavior, especially those that have been there for years.
In biomedical research, we talk a lot of "translation", the critical process of taking molecular and functional insights gained from basic science and using that knowledge to actually improve clinical care; "bench to bedside", as they say. It doesn't always work, of course. Understanding how a gene or pathway functions in a mouse or in a cell line isolated in a laboratory with exposures that you carefully control doesn't necessarily tell you what's going to happen when you modify that gene or pathway in a human actually interacting with the world and making independent decisions.
Similarly, knowing what I should be doing given in the hypothetical situations I've created in my head doesn't necessarily translate to what I actually do in the heat of the moment, with emotions and discomforts and the wants and needs of others. Yes, next time B starts whining about not wanting to go to school, I should really sit down and talk to him about why he doesn't want to go, to figure out if something happened, or something is bothering him. But when its already 8:30 AM, and L is painting the sofa with watercolors, and I haven't eaten anything in the 3 hours I've been up---I simply snap "I don't care, you're going". And I know in the mornings that I need to get to work, sit down, and start working on my most important project first. But when I've had a morning of bickering kids, snappy spouse, no breakfast, and just walked for half an hour in 15 degree windy weather, I make myself a cup of tea and tell myself its "just a little break" before I realize I've spent 30 minutes on decidedly non-work activities. And at the end of the day, I know I should talk to my husband. At least a few minutes of connection, and find out why his day was so "awful", but by the time I've finally got B to stop getting out of bed because "I'm not tired. I want to sleep with you. I want a NEW bed. I want to watch a movie", etc… I just don't have it in me to be encouraging or supportive. So I nip any any possibility of connection in the bud with a quick "I'm tired, goodnight" and go upstairs to read while he hangs out downstairs.
I guess what I'm realizing is that learning about myself is great, but I need to get a lot more practice to ensure that this education actually leads to any positive impact on my life.