Family: A US Baseline

My third topic of interest on this trip is Family. Get ready, this is likely going to be one of my longest posts. I will try not to ramble, but this is personally, by far, one of my biggest reasons for taking our trip. While America is one of the greatest countries on earth, I think the American lifestyle is broken.

I play many roles in life; mom, wife, daughter, employee, friend and here are some of my observations about life in Fishers, Indiana.

Fake Life, but Real Problems: Social media is constantly bombarding us with “perfect.” Personalities and celebrities are our figures of success and the amount of constant advertising to buy more “things” is mind boggling. We should be inspired by those with like life situations that are rockin’ out in life. Even in our inner circle of friends, we hide the mess. We seem to always put the “perfect” out into the world. I find that social media takes the messy out of life and the mess is where the greatest joys are found.

Embrace, Not Fix: We are constantly trying to “fix” ourselves; working out, diets, treatments, pills, therapy, and the list goes on.  We need to embrace, accept, and love ourselves for who and what we are today, while still striving to improve. I’ve always said I think happiness is finding contentment in where you are today, while still growing and changing for tomorrow.

The Great Purpose: It’s only been recently that I think this has become more of an awareness for me, but I feel like there’s a constant push to achieve a great purpose in life.  Who am I? What will I do with my life? What’s my 5-year plan? Honestly, these questions don’t resonate with me. I think life is full of phases and happiness is about enjoying the journey, not the final destination. We seem to be so caught up in the end result, we forget to stop and appreciate the small things.

Over Scheduled: We are constantly on the go, go, go. Our calendars are booked to the max. Evenings and weekends are booked months in advance and somehow saying “no” makes us appear selfish. As moms we struggle to find a few moments of peace and we are constantly reminded to find the “fringe hours” for self-care and maintenance, because taking time for ourselves means taking time away from our families.   I think it is important for our families to see us, as Moms, make time for ourselves. It sets expectations that I’m not here for “you,” our families are part of who we are, but not all of who we are.

As for my data points, here’s are my observations around Fishers, Indiana;

  • Work Hours: In general, I’m not sure there is a standard work day anymore. I think we work from 8am to 5pm, but I also think we are constantly working at all other hours of the day as well. I’m guilty of it too. I’ll check my email at 7am when I first wake up, I’ll pop back down after Nolan goes to bed to check in, I’ll scan my G-chat over the weekend.  It is constant.
  • The Park: The parks are always busy around our house, but I find that most parents sitting on the sidelines on their phones. It’s rare to find parents engaging with each other.
  • The Coffee Shop: Coffee shops have turned into a second office. If I stop in on a weekday, it seems to be packed with people engaged in almost an interview type conversation or people have their laptops out, headphones in working away.  Weekends seems to be a bit more relaxed, but most people are alone, reading a paper, and drinking their coffee.
  • The Neighborhood: We’ve lived in our house for almost 10-years and before Nolan was born, I could tell you maybe 5 neighbors’ names. We waved across the street, said hello, but I would not say we really “knew” each other.  Since Nolan, we’ve become more aware of kids in the neighborhood. I know a few more kids but can’t say I really know much more about the parents in the neighborhood.

Thirty days, that’s all I get in each city.  Let’s see what happens.

Photo: This is our last family photo prior to leaving for our trip. The photo includes Marcia Barnes.  Marcia was gracious enough to allow us to stay in her home for our trial month of June 2018.

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