Week 4 of Lifebook and we’re past the half way mark already. It’s such a weird feeling. How quickly and yet slowly this program has been going. I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t too sure this week would be all that useful to me.
I don’t have children, nor do I foresee having them in the near future either. I’ve got to find my man first, before that becomes a topic!
I’m also pretty happy with my social life for the most part. In quarantine, I am admittedly limited to my own company and that of my roommate, physically speaking.
However, I’ve got to say I quite like my own company… and I’m not feeling cut off from friends and family either. Especially now we have Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, email, telephone… shall I go on?
Nevertheless, I dove into it with an open mind. You never know… I could always learn something, right?
There were no unexpected bonuses in this week’s Lifebook course. As such, the format was the usual two videos with the PVPS (Premise, Vision, Purpose and Strategy) exercises.
The Parenting video was 1 hour 25 minutes and the Social Life video 1 hour 19 minutes long. The bonus videos were 1 hour 52 minutes in total.
My experience with: Parenting
So, moment of truth here. Parenting is something I’ve not really thought about much in my life. I am a single child, had a single working mother and was never really surrounded by children. As such, I really have very little idea of what having one would entail.
From what I can tell my mother was a strict, but exceptionally devoted and effective mother. I always knew I was her main priority in life growing up. I missed her a lot in younger years, because she spent all her days away at the office. However, she was fully mine every weekend and as such I never felt lacking of her love.
My mother was always the first to cheer me on and tell me I could be anything I wanted to be growing up. This allowed me to be confident and try many new things in life.
She never swore and though she was definitely strict, she rarely criticised me. This method of parenting has made me sensitive to swearing and critical wordings as an adult, but it’s also something I am eternally grateful for.
Especially, as I am now careful how I phrase words and criticism to others myself (i.e. constructively!) and now have an in-built curiosity and knack for figuring things out, that progresses my life immensely.
That being said, I am not my mother. Nor do I wish to be. She is a great woman and yet we are very different people. We have had very different experiences, and I am happy that in many ways she has taught me to avoid repeating her own mistakes in life.
That being said, there is one fear that growing up with her definitely instilled deep inside me. Triggered by the thought of having children myself, that fear is the fear of parenting alone.
Facing the fear
As I went through this chapter it raised some unpleasant memories for me. For example, I remembered being the kid at 7 years old hearing my mother crying regularly after putting me to bed.
Sometimes it was after my father had come by for a visit, other times she may have simply been exhausted after a long day at work.
But what I remember keenly is hearing her sobbing at our dining room table. The heart-wrenching sound of loneliness, and feeling at such a loss. Knowing that there was nothing I could do to help her.
Many times I was told as a pre-teen that I was too old and wise for my age. I’m pretty sure that maturity came from my mother confiding in me and relying on me.
She relied on me heavily to listen and be the good kid. To be responsible, to not cause trouble, to make sure I didn’t give her any reason to be upset… and mostly I didn’t.
I didn’t want to cause her grief and I somehow knew she was strict for a reason. Even though I didn’t always like it, I never even considered going up against her word.
Mom’s word was final. The famous “Because I said so” was a definite thing in our house. Until I finished high school just shy of 17 that is.
You see, my mother had always told me she would not support me past 18. She told me I would be an adult then. That I would have to fend for my own then. That I could not count on her being there for me after that. And as such, that’s what I prepared for.
I left home at 18 and have never been back past 2 months or so since.
Going through this Lifebook chapter brought back all these memories and more. It made me think of what kind of parent I would like to be. Repeatedly the same answer came to my mind… not a single one.
I realise I can’t predict what’s going to happen in my life. I can’t know if or when I will meet someone who may or may not be the future father of my children. Or whether I will even be able to have children one day.
Nor can I say whether the man I choose to potentially be the father of my children would end up staying on as a lifelong partner.
However, one thing I am clear on is how I want to become a parent. And that’s the good old fashioned way. Meet someone, build a solid relationship, get married, and then have lots and lots of (very fun) rounds of sex, and love-making, and see if children turn up that way.
I firmly believe that if I do not find a partner to share my life with, I will not have children. Personally, I do think it would be a shame if I never had children. However, I am also pretty certain I would not be the type of woman to get pregnant on my own.
I thought about women who decide that if they don’t find a man by X age, they will get pregnant alone. They choose to do so via IVF or surrogacy or adoption or what not. As I did though, I promptly decided that I likely wouldn’t ever be one of them. (Never say never, but I really don’t think it would be my style.)
Writing all this down though, I quickly became pretty clear on one thing. Finding a husband and building a strong relationship would need to come first in order to make my parenting vision a reality.
That being said, I suppose it’ll be a little long while before I re-visit this chapter. Therefore, dear Parenting chapter, I say too-de-loo to you for now!
My experience with: Social Life
I have to say that writing down the PVPSs for my Social Life, were possibly my favourite exercises on this journey so far. Even now when I read back on them, a smile comes to my face.
For example, my Social Life premise reads:
“My friends are like my own personal sunshine. They nourish me with with their light, bring me joy, when I spend time with them, and help me grow each day. They provide me with warmth, love and encouragement, that reminds me each time that tomorrow is another day, filled with opportunities.”
John spent a lot of this chapter talking about positive and negative social influences. About making sure you have the right kind of people around you.
In some optional bonus videos, he spoke of an equation of having 1/3 of friends who are more successful than you, 1/3 who are at your level and 1/3 who are a level down from you in order to strike a balance. That really resonated with me.
However, as I was thinking about my social group I realised how immensely fortunate I already am in this area of life.
Being a single child without any siblings, I think as I left home I naturally made my friends my family. Of course, I have had friends in the past who did negatively impact or influence me.
However, I must say that in the past 5 or so years, I think I have been very successful in cultivating an exceptional friendship group – both loose and close.
Having travelled a lot, I know people from most every continent of the world. I have friends of many different age groups too and from many different backgrounds and walks of life. It was amazing to review all of that.
However, the one thing that I saw the most in this area was just how much my friends really embody how I imagine amazing friendships to be. Warm, encouraging and supportive – and that’s an amazing blessing.
Reflecting on the why
As I started reflecting on this area, I started to wonder why. What was I doing right in this area to feel so successful at it?
I thought back to when I quit my job and moved to Spain. I don’t remember one person telling me not to do it. They all believed in me and encouraged me. Every single one.
Then I thought of when I decided to do some book research and gave a shout out for help. My friends helped me mobilise volunteers from their own friendship groups across 5 different continents. Some of those that helped were people I hadn’t spoken to in years too!
Finally, I thought about my ever growing local list of friends too. I traditionally host dinner parties at my place, or elsewhere, about 4 times a year. My birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
My resolution for those parties has been for a while, that the party isn’t a success party unless I’m introducing someone new into the Claudia clan.
At the time of my last birthday, I was still new to Barcelona – 5 months in. However, joining me for dinner were new(ish) Italian, Dutch, English, Turkish and Indian friends. I looked around the table and felt a little awkward at first. I didn’t know any of them super well, so it was hard to introduce them to each other effectively.
However, I needn’t have worried. They were all having a jolly good time getting to know each other independently and I felt immensely grateful.
Each and every one of them had decided to join me on my special day. They had decided to come celebrate me and be open enough to get to know each other too. That felt like the most beautiful blessing ever.
When I think about it now though, I think it is the effort I put into my friendships that makes me feel so blessed.
My friends are really important to me. Probably a part of that has to do with not being super close with my own family. So I often get adopted by theirs!
However, I really do also try to make sure they feel positively encouraged by me. I go out of my way to help them follow their dreams, I do my very best to guide them when I can, and I also have a policy of accepting them for who they are – no ifs, buts or maybes about it.
On the rare occasion that I can not accept them for whatever reason, I talk to them and let them go gracefully. I set my boundaries where I need them to be and the ones that stay with me are the ones who accept that.
I must say I felt very proud of that realization. I’ve had feedback from people at times to say it’s not easy being my friend. In fact, two of my best friends told me that it wasn’t easy because they felt they had to be the best version of themselves around me.
However, I take that as a compliment to be honest. It shows me I have a real clarity in this area of life and that though my standards may be high, they are not unreasonable.
As such, I realised I may be able to learn from this area and adapt it to others. How amazing would it be to have such success in all areas of life, eh? 😉
Explore the rest of the Lifebook journey!
- How I found Lifebook
- Lifebook Warm Up
- Lifebook 2020 – Week 1: Health and Fitness & Intellectual Life
- Lifebook 2020 – Week 2: Emotional Life & Character
- Lifebook 2020 – Week 3: Spiritual Life & Love Relationship
- Lifebook 2020 – Week 4: Parenting & Social Life
- Lifebook 2020 – Week 5: Financial Life & Career
- Lifebook 2020 – Week 6: Quality of Life & Life Vision