Some days…

Some days, no matter how hard you struggle, it just feels like life is beating you down. There’s no amount of positive thinking and “looking on the bright side” that’s going to make it better.

Some days you get a punch in the gut from life that reminds you that maybe all this positive thinking crap is just that — crap. And sure, maybe you can keep yourself afloat for a little while but sooner or later, you’re just going to get dragged down by it all.

Some days it’s really tough to see the point of it all.

Some days you just want to crawl in bed, yank the covers over your head and pretend that everything is fine. Even though pretending doesn’t actually change anything. Maybe pretending even makes it just a little bit worse.

Some days you just wish desperately for a magic answer. Even though you figured out a long time ago that magic doesn’t exist. It’s all just illusion and that’s not really the same thing at all.

Some days you’ve just wear you down. Do better, tomorrow. I can’t do another day like today.

Half-Assing It

The end of last week wasn’t exactly the most stellar in my world. A single incident between CBG and I triggered a couple of ugly arguments between the two of us. I’ll spare you the details, in the interests of both privacy and the fact that, as is often the case, the things were were arguing about weren’t really the things we were arguing about.

Gotta love how that works, right?

Also — it got ugly. Ugly in that way where you start questioning everything that’s happened in your relationship to lead you up to this particular point. Ugly in the way that pushes you toward something that logically really makes no sense whatsoever, but in desperation you’re just not sure what else to say or do.

Bah.

The good news is that several days of communication, tears, laughter and love means that here, on Monday, we’re in a much better spot than we were three or four days ago. But we still have lots of work to get where we ultimately need to be.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Sunshine! You and CBG haven’t even been married a whole year yet! What the blue hell is going on here?!”

I’ll tell you exactly what’s been going on here. I realized something important about us over the weekend. We’ve been half-assing it. Life. Our relationship. Ourselves. Our goals. Everything. The thing is, CBG and I haven’t stopped to sit down and figure out life as it is right now. For so long we were ‘long-distance Sunshine and CBG’….just trying to get from visit to visit and make life bearable in between. Sure, we sometimes worked on our own personal goals when we were apart, but The Big Picture was always about our long-term dream of being together full time. And to a smaller extent life was also about getting the most out of the time we did have together. Carpe diem and all that jazz.

And then, when CBG made the decision to move here, we quickly moved into planning mode. Life became focused on all the details involved in starting a new  life together here. Finding CBG a job, getting a place to live, selling his house back home, moving him here and on and on. The process itself took almost a whole year, from beginning to end.

Before this was even over, we launched straight into wedding planning. Our focus became everything wedding related as we worked to ensure that our day was exactly what we wanted.

And then, once all that was over, we were very much looking forward to just relaxing together. No more long distance relationship. No more moving. No more wedding planning. The truth is that we took our “relaxing” a little too seriously. We both kind of just sat back and didn’t really do much of anything. Sure, we’ve been dabbling at some personal goals, but we’ve both been lacking a certain zest for life, particularly in the last six months or so. We’ve been going through the motions — at home, at work, and especially in our marriage. The Sunshine and CBG who used to squeeze every bit of fun out of their time together have been more than content to just sit on the couch and allow life to continue on around them.

Sure, there’s something to be said for “just being”. But there’s enjoying the moment and then there’s  allowing the moment to just happen all around you while you just kind of idly watch it happen. And we’ve definitely been spectators more than we’ve been participants.

And you know what? It’s got to stop. We’ve been taking a half-assed approach to life lately. An approach that’s been slowly wearing both of us down to the point that finding and enjoying those moments of joy have been a lot more difficult. And you know what? This is not the way it’s supposed to be. This is NOT the life that CBG and I fought so hard to have together. We owe it to long-distance Sunshine and CBG to make this life that we have together a whole lot better than this.

I’m not going to let them down. No more half-assing it. Life is far too short.

Choices

I woke up this past Sunday morning feeling a bit of inner turmoil and less settled than usual. Saturday night was filled with unpleasant dreams. Not nightmares, exactly, but dreams of struggle and conflict with others. I woke up feeling like I’d been arguing with people all night…and I suppose in a way, I was.

I got ready and headed out on my run. It was just a short one this time, not really long enough to clear my head and give me enough time to process everything I was thinking and feeling, but it gave me a bit of a start. The one thing that was overwhelming in my mind was choices.

I thought about how our past choices shape our current life. Choices that may have seemed to be the right ones at the time they were being made, but that affect our future in ways that usually we aren’t able to envision at the time. Any particular choice we make today could potentially trap us or even harm us later down the road. The scary part is that we don’t even know it at the time. A seemingly small, unimportant choice could create a ripple effect that changes the entire course of our lives.

It’s kind of scary when you stop to think about it.

Scary enough, in fact, to want to not make any choices at all. But the thing is, if we don’t make choices for ourselves, then inevitably they end up getting made for us, in one way or another. And isn’t it better to at least feel like we have some sort of control over our own lives, even if it’s just an illusion?

I’ll be honest. I have made some choices in my life that I regret. I’m not sure if I would change any of them, even if I had the magical ability to; after all, my choices have led me to where I am today. With two beautiful daughters, a gaggle of awesome stepkids and the love of my life by my side. I certainly wouldn’t want to put any of that at risk.

But if I could change some things without adversely affecting where I am right now? You can bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat.

Happy Accidents

I love those photos that end up being magical without even trying.

I captured one such photo this past weekend; a total accidental shot that I happened to snap with my phone on Sunday afternoon when CBG and I were out walking in the sunshine, just enjoying one another. A happy accidental capture of an almost perfect moment. In a flash it was over, but in those few seconds, I was able to grab onto it and now I get to re-live it through this photo, again and again.

Often the best moments in life are like those happy accidental photographs. They happen when we’re not trying to create anything special. A quiet, perfect moment, and if we’re truly lucky, we can hang onto the emotion created long after the moment has passed.

The accidental photo

 

100 Happy Days — Success!

Well, gang — I did it!

I’m happy to report that I successfully completed the 100 Happy Days project that I embarked upon over three months ago.

Looking back over all of my pictures, I see a definite theme. Many of my happy things were about small things — happy moments with my girls, my husband, my friends, and even myself. People. Events. Appreciating the small stuff. Things that remain the same regardless of the other circumstances in my life.

Not every day was overwhelmingly happy. Such is life. Work stress, family life, the small nagging details of the every day have a way of weighing us down. On those days I found myself sometimes struggling to come up with a happy thing. But ultimately I never failed. On those days when nothing particularly happy occurred, I created something happy — whether it be having a treat at the end of the day or enjoying a moment cuddled up with CBG, or having a little giggle with my girls.

While I’ve known it all along, completing this project has confirmed something important for me. Happiness is a choice. Sure, there are many circumstances beyond our control on this earth. That’s never going to change. But we always have the choice to look for the good things. And no matter how rotten the day may be, there is always some small good thing there — your loved ones, your pets, a moment enjoying a beautiful summer breeze or a delicious meal. After 100 days of keeping my eyes open to those happy little moments in life, I am able to see how lovely life really is.

So the question is — am I really happier after finishing this project? Well….yes and no. What I see now is that the happiness has been there all along, but I wasn’t always noticing it as much as I should have been. Life is a whole lot happier than I’ve been giving it credit for. I have definitely gained a new appreciation for the little things in life that make it truly happy.

If you’re considering starting your own 100 Happy Days, I highly recommend it. Stick with it, no matter how much of a struggle it is some days, and I think you’ll be as pleased as I have been with the results.

And also? I have decided that this project was so successful that I’m going to continue posting them every day. Bring on Day 101!

Here are just a few of my favourite happy moments from the last 100 days….

Enjoying that first hug after spending a weekend apart.

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Finally getting my name changed on my driver’s license!

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My thirty-tenth birthday party!

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Heading out for a pre-blizzard run with CBG like a couple of badasses!

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A lunch date with Little Mo.

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Nacho and movie night with my girls. Our little Friday night tradition.

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Hanging with Pebbles!

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Spending Easter weekend with my girls and Ankle Biter.

 

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Seeing my hubs in a whole new light (again) and falling in love with him even more. (Again!)

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Happy Father’s Day, CBG

Dear CBG:

I know that being a good dad and stepdad are pretty high on your list of priorities in life. I also know that you worry a lot about whether you’re doing a good enough job. And that you beat yourself up when you feel that you’re somehow “failing” in these roles.

I wanted to remind you that you need look no further than the faces of your children and step children to see the truth. I see the truth in their smiling, shining faces when you’re around. I hear the truth in their laughter. I recognize it when I hear them say or do something that’s obviously a result of your influence in their lives.

You are a good father. The simple fact that you struggle with doubts and feelings tell me that. Because it’s so often the good parents that worry that they’re doing a good enough job. The fact that you’re even here tells an important story. You know that I had doubts in the beginning about you parenting my girls, simply due to our sometimes different approach. Those doubts are long gone; believe me when I say that if the doubts were still here, you would not be. ;-)

I am so grateful to have you here as my co-parenting partner. Yes, you and I struggle sometimes to parent effectively together when all the kids are present. We’re not perfect. The important thing is that we love each other enough to keep trying to work this out. I know that with everything we’ve ever encountered together, we will not only get through it, but grow stronger and better because of it.

Thank you for being the best dad and stepdad that you know how to be.

Thank you for always striving to be better.

Thank you for being open to compromise and change.

Thank you for the love you show my girls. Thank you for being another strong male role model in their lives.

Thank you for your patience with me as I (sometimes) stumble through this whole “being a stepmom” thing.

Thank you for all the love and support that you show me in this parenting adventure. I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side.

I love you.

 

Saying Goodbye to an Uninvited Guest

I’ve been logging a lot of running miles and I have to say, it’s been exceptionally good for me. I haven’t even hated peeling myself up out of bed at 5:00 pretty much every morning, because most days I’m excited to lace up and hit the streets. Not only is it good for me physically, but it’s great for me mentally and emotionally, too.

Running: cheaper than therapy.

I do some of my best thinking and mulling over of life when I’m out on my morning run. I basically just let my mind go wherever it wants. I think about relationships, problems, issues I’m having, work stuff, past problems…you name it. Basically nothing is off limits when I’m out running.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with my ex husband. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our custody arrangement (50/50), it means that we end up communicating a lot more than I would ideally like. And because of this communication, I end up sometimes knowing more about his life than I would like I know.

I mean, let’s face it, best case scenario would be never having to see him, talk to him, or think about him ever again. I don’t wish him any ill, but I would be a whole lot happier if we could each just go our separate ways and just live our own lives, completely separate from one another.

But that’s not the situation we’re in right now. We talk often. About parenting — issues the girls are experiencing, school stuff, schedule changes, problems that need to be solved at a parental level, heck, even things like purchasing clothes and school supplies. There was a time, not that long ago, that we didn’t go a single day without talking about one thing or another. And while things have gotten better in that department, we still go through cycles where we’re communicating a lot.

What is worse than that is that often CBG and I end up in conversations about my ex. I tell him about conversations I’ve had with him, or a text message, or sometimes I will even forward emails. Because my relationship with my ex is strained at best, our conversations are often of a not-very-flattering variety. I mean, really, we’ve all gotta complain sometimes, right? CBG is my ear when I need to offload about my ex husband.

I’ve noticed, though, that conversations about my ex — in one way or another — sometimes end up taking up a bigger space in our lives than they need to. To the point where, sometimes, it feels like there’s another person in our marriage, if that makes any sense. And while I will always be connected to my ex through our wonderful daughters, he should in no way have anything to do with my marriage to CBG.

It’s like having an uninvited houseguest, taking up valuable space in our home and our lives. With the potential to cause friction and difficulties between CBG and I, if we allow it.

And so, last week, I made an important decision. I’m asking our uninvited houseguest to leave. For me, this means no longer engaging in conversations with CBG about my ex beyond practical matters. No bitching about the tone of an email or my annoyance-du-jour with something that he said or did. Now, I know that I’m not going to be perfect at this (we all have our weak moments) and I know that there will be times when a major incident will require a greater discussion. I’ll save the bitch sessions for those rare times when I get together with girlfriends for a “let’s vent about our exes” session.

But on your average, ordinary day? No thanks. There’s only room for two people in this marriage.

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