Nostalgia

I’ve been in a bit of a strange head-space this week.

I guess it started on the weekend, when I found myself going through boxes of crap, hell-bent on de-cluttering and lightening my load. I kind of feel like I’ve opened to the door to those old ghosts I was talking about, and now they’ve set up camp in my brain.

This week I went back and did a lot of reading of my two prior blogs, from a different time in my life. My girls were little, I was still married to my ex husband, I was a stay at home mom. Life was vastly different in pretty much all areas from what it is now. Reading those old posts made me feel strangely nostalgic for those old days, when life was simpler in a lot of ways. It’s strange, though, because despite life being simpler, it was definitely less happy than it is now in a lot of ways.

Last night, continuing with this week’s theme of “nostalgia”, I whipped up a recipe that I’m sure I haven’t made since the girls were tiny. It was once part of our regular dinner rotation, but something I just don’t make anymore. Curried lentil stew, definitely a comfort meal from days gone by, the smell of which transports me instantly to autumns of years gone by when my girls were tiny.

It’s strange to feel nostalgic about a time that I wouldn’t want to go back to. I’m happy with life as it is now. I’m happy with the person that I am now. I’m happy with the people who are in my life (and with those who aren’t). It’s just those damn old ghosts hanging around, haunting me.

It would seem that in addition to getting rid of the physical clutter, I’ve got some mental and emotional clutter to get sent to the curb as well.

Evolution

While working on de-cluttering over the weekend, I happened to come upon some old video footage of when my girls were little. Around one and three, I would guess. I popped it on and watched for a bit, a strange mix of emotions washing over me.

I didn’t appear in many of the videos (since I was behind the camera most of the time), so it provided me with an interesting glimpse into a typical “day in the life of Sunshine” when my girls were tiny. Looking back, those days seem like both a million years ago, and just last week — both at the same time. I can so clearly remember them at these ages — my two sweet little girls — and yet, so much has happened since then.

Most significantly, I was struck by how I am not the same person that I was back then. So much has happened to me in that time…a major depression and near nervous breakdown, the dissolution of my first marriage, the loss of a community of friends, meeting CBG, sustaining a long distance relationship for nearly four years, finally ending up together in the same city, getting married…if you had told the woman who shot that video footage what was in store for her, she never in a million years would have believed it.

It’s been an evolution. As my circumstances have changed, *I* have changed. I have adapted. I have thrived. Those things that haven’t served me have been cast aside (people, shitty self-perceptions, lies that I clung to for far too long), and I have come out on the other side of everything a stronger, happier, more independent and all-around better person. When those videos were made I had no idea where life was going to take me. And while a great deal of it was a hellish journey, as I look around at the life I have built and the person that I have become, I know that I wouldn’t change one bit of it.

Survival of the fittest at its finest.

Old Ghosts

So CBG and I have embarked upon cleaning up our financial act. This is an exciting prospect for me, and I’m actually really looking forward to the whole process (as surprising as that might seem). As part of this whole “being responsible grown ups” directional move that we’re making, I’m also hell-bent on de-cluttering and getting rid of unwanted “stuff”. I sort of feel like less clutter goes hand-in-hand with living a more frugal lifestyle, since after all, “things” cost money, don’t they? Add to this the fact that our small house has been feeling even smaller lately, as the “stuff” piles up.

The worst is our basement storage area, known in our family as “The Pit of Despair”.

pit

It’s a relatively small storage area, but it’s basically plugged with “stuff”. Now, some of it is legit — holiday decorations, out of season clothing, things like that. However, a great portion of it is not — including a number of boxes from when I moved into this house and just never dealt with.

(And for those of you keeping score, you’ll likely remember that it’s been over TWO YEARS since CBG and I moved into this new place together).

Yesterday I retreated to The Pit to spend some time down there, dealing with “stuff”. I vowed that I would deal with at least one box. When all was said and done, I’d effectively dealt with five of them. I ended up with some garbage, some things to donate, and actually very little that I wanted to continue storing. It’s amazing the things that I’ve continued to hang onto over the years that serve no useful purpose.

Among the things I pulled out were three old journals. Journals that I’d kept both during my marriage and during my early relationship with CBG. I began flipping through them, casually, stopping to read the occasional page or two here and there. And that’s when I realized something important: I am no longer the woman who wrote these words, all those years ago. That part of my life is behind me now, and by keeping those journals around, I was merely keeping unwanted reminders of those days. I realized that some day, when I’m no longer on this earth, I wouldn’t want anyone reading through what I’d written — much of it very private thoughts and feelings. I would never want those words to be someone’s impression of who I am.

So I brought those journals up out of the pit, and without going down the rabbit hole (i.e. reading through them all), I destroyed them. I have no need to keep reminders of those parts of my life with me. I’m not that person anymore, and the last thing I need are those old ghosts haunting me.

I feel lighter already.

Finally Acting Our Wage

Lately CBG and I have been talking a lot about our finances. Specifically, how we haven’t really had a plan, and how that lack of plan has been negatively affecting us. No, we’re not on the brink of bankruptcy (or even close), but truthfully we’re not nearly as financially stable as two people our age should be. Granted, there are factors working against us — like both of us having to completely re-build after our previous marriages, but I think that we’ve both been hanging on, waiting for some kind of “magic answer” that was going to solve our money issues.

Guess what? There is no magic answer. Duh.

However, the answer is simple, really. We just need to clean up our act, behave like adults, and basically start “acting our wage.” Which has inspired me to begin a whole new blog project, talking about money and finances and all that fun stuff that most of us don’t really want to talk about.  It’s all still taking shape at the moment, but if you want to stop by and check things out, you can find us here:

http://finallyactingourwage.wordpress.com/

Drop by and say hi!

 

This Week in Motherhood

This week in motherhood, I….

…helped a daughter navigate breaking up with a friend.

…wiped away tears.

…coached about the importance of standing up for oneself.

…demonstrated exactly how stand up for oneself.

…explained why the word ‘p*ssy’ is an insult.

…had a sex talk. Or two.

…giggled over fart jokes.

…baked up a storm on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

…squeezed and hugged and kissed my girls.

…snuggled on the couch and watched movies.

…dished out praise for jobs well done.

…reminded about chores, homework and school notices.

…spoke the truth, despite the difficulty in doing so.

…worried that I’m messing this whole motherhood thing up.

Being “Nice” vs. Being a Doormat

My mother raised me to believe that it was important in all situations to “be nice”. Being nice meant being compliant. It meant compromising, being agreeable above all else. It meant looking after the needs of others before my own. It meant ensuring that no matter what, people liked me. Being nice and being liked were the two most important things, according to how I was brought up.

As you can imagine, this has caused me lots of problems over the years. Because this version of being “nice” equates to basically being a doormat. It means laying down and letting people walk all over you, in the hopes that it will result in them liking you and believing you to be a good person. This has led to me having terrible boundaries, being taken advantage of, and giving everything of myself until I was utterly exhausted.

This week my oldest daughter, Kiddo, has been struggling with this very thing. She’s been having issues at school with another child. It’s a situation where good solid boundaries are required. I know from personal experience how difficult this can be. I will give Kiddo credit, she is trying. I have been coaching her on how to handle this situation in a way that will (hopefully) improve things. The problem is that setting and enforcing these boundaries is leaving her feeling guilty. She is feeling like protecting her own mental and emotional health means that she’s “not being nice”.

Ohboy. It’s like she opened her mouth and *my* inner voice came out.

It’s a little ironic (or perhaps, not ironic at all) that I find myself going through a similar struggle myself right now. For the past while I’ve been making a great effort to “be nice” to the girls’ dad. Get along. Keep the peace. It became evident this week that in my doing so, I’ve really been just allowing him to walk all over me. Patterns from our previous marriage are just getting repeated over and over again.

This week I gave my head a shake and reminded myself that, like my daughter, I need to remember that there is a big difference between being nice and being a doormat. It isn’t “not nice” to have firm boundaries. It isn’t “not nice” to refuse to continuously bend to someone else’s wishes. It isn’t “not nice” to put your foot down and demand better treatment. I need to remember to stand up for myself when it comes to my ex husband, just like my daughter needs to stand up for herself when it comes to this other child at school.

The best way that I can teach my girls how to be happy, strong, independent women is to be one myself. Because all the conversations with them in the world aren’t going to mean anything if the example I live in front of them every day speaks the exact opposite.

It’s time to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk, too. Not only will *I* be happier and better off for it, but so will my two precious daughters.

Thirty Six Seconds

I’ve been running a lot lately. It’s been good for me for a lot of reasons. I had originally planned to run a full marathon again this fall, but there just wasn’t room for that in my life this year, for a whole lot reasons. After this was put on the back burner, though, I found myself a little lost. That’s when I made the decision to start trying to improve my speed, as I’m not nearly as fast as I would like to be.

So this past week I’ve started cutting my distance back a bit, in favour of concentrating more on speed. I won’t lie, it’s been tough, since I’ve come to rather enjoy my slow-and-steady paced morning runs. And let’s face it — pushing oneself physically like that has a tendency to kind of suck. However, I’ve been able to push through those “this sucks” feelings to focus on my goal. I’ll never be speedy, I’m just not physically built for fast running…but I want to be able to say that I’m “fast for me”. I have a certain time goal in mind that I would like to work my way up to hitting pretty consistently. If I can do that, I will be pleased with my progress and feel like I’m getting somewhere.

This morning I headed out for my usual morning run. I could tell in the first kilometer that I was feeling good (thanks to a deep-tissue massage earlier this week) and so I decided to push myself to see if I could hit that goal of mine. I run with a running program on my phone, which gives me an update every kilometer, so I can know how well (or not well) I’m doing.

And so…I pushed myself. I kept that goal planted firmly in my brain. Every time I thought about slowing down, I pictured that particular number in my head. I knew if I could just hit it, then I would be happy with my progress for this particular run.

As I was coming up on my “finish line”, I heard the smug female voice of my app inform me of my time. I missed my goal. By thirty-six seconds.

I’m pretty sure that I swore right out loud when I heard that. So close…and yet so far. I won’t lie…I was pretty disappointed in myself. I wanted to hit that particular goal. Badly. Anything less felt like a complete failure.

As I continued on with my run, however, I thought more about this. The time that I reached, though slower than I ideally wanted, was still pretty damned good. Especially for a “slow” runner like me. I have definitely made progress from where I was just a few short months ago, which I can see from my increasing speeds.

And then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. A voice that asked me what I would say to one of my girls if they encountered the same thing. And what would I say? I would tell them that progress is progress…and that it should be celebrated. That goals are nice to have, but they shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all to something like this. That when it comes to running, the joy is in the experience, and that I shouldn’t discount an otherwise great morning run because of a measly 36 seconds.

Sure, goals are great to have, but what happens when we don’t quite meet them? We have to celebrate the process. We have to enjoy the moments leading up to that finish line. And I’m not just talking about running here, either. In life, if we boiled everything down to either goal achieved = success or goal achieved = failure, then life would be pretty miserable indeed.

I still plan on keeping my eye on that goal. But you know what? Until I get there, I’m going to enjoy the journey. It’s what life is all about.

I refuse to allow my joy to be swept away by thirty six seconds.

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