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Don’t Be “Nice”

One of the things I love about being a mom is the fact that I get to impart my wisdom to my daughters. Wisdom that, in a lot of cases, took me a lot of years, a lot of mistakes, and a stack of bad decisions to gain. I’m not naive enough to think that they take in everything I have to say, particularly at 12 and 14, but my hope is that what they don’t use now, they will at least tuck away for future reference.

Not that I have all the answers, of course. None of us do. But I think that most of us can benefit in some way or another from the advice and experiences of others. I sure as hell wish that I’d had someone providing me with helpful advice over the course of my life.

Pfffft. What am I saying? I still wish for that.

One of the things that I often tell my daughters is that they shouldn’t be “nice”. Being “nice” is something that I feel got me into a lot of bad situations in my life. Being nice meant that being liked was made a top priority. Being nice meant not standing up for myself. Being nice meant that I should acquiesce to the wants and needs of others, for fear that I might be seen as NOT niceNice people are taken advantage of, railroaded, dumped on, and rarely respected. I know you know that old saying that “nice guys finish last“. Well guess what? It’s even worse for nice women.

Before you go thinking that I’m a crummy mother who gives terrible advice to her children, allow me explain. For me, the word “nice” conjures up images of a weak person, who is largely disregarded by others because hey, “they’re SO NICE”.  Nice just isn’t that great. It’s bland at best. Don’t believe me? Consider this. Let’s just say you had a great time in bed with someone. You’re happy, you’re satisfied, you’re feeling all the warm and fuzzies that you normally feel. They turn and look at you say, “That was nice.

Um….nice?

Seriously?

So I tell my daughters that they should not be “nice” to others….because there are many better things to be than just “nice”. They can be kind, generous, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, considerate, assertive, brave, reliable, creative, compassionate, fair, loyal, polite, trustworthy…so many things.

…just never, ever “nice”.

 

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Resurrection

So I’ve been thinking about blogging again for a few months now.  It would seem that I still feel as though I have things to say, even though I’m pretty sure I’ll be saying them to relatively few people at this point. That’s okay, though. I feel like somehow the people who need to see my posts the most, will.

In the interest of privacy, I’ve made all my past blog posts private. Away from the prying eyes that recently scoured my blog with what seemed to be a fine-toothed comb. It’s no mystery to me who this person (or people) likely are. And that’s okay, actually. I hope you learned some interesting things. Maybe so interesting that you’ll take that info and bugger off to spread your negativity elsewhere. I have no time for that in my life.

Besides, the old blog feels a little too personal these days. Not that I’m embarrassed about anything that I wrote — far from it, in fact. This blog was once the place I retreated to work through the piles of crap that were weighing me down. I read old posts and see how far I’ve come in the last 9-ish years. And I’m proud of that. Seeing personal progress in such an obvious way is pretty empowering. But I’m a different person now, my life is different now, and I feel like I want to make a bit of a fresh start. Blogging may have vastly changed in the past decade, and is even dead for some, but it’s still a useful outlet. One that I plan to use.

So here’s to fresh starts. Because everyone deserves one, don’t you think?

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Happiness is Like a Pillow

(This is a bit of a long post, but bear with me — I reach a point eventually).

When I was in my early 20s I was in a pretty bad car accident. The kind where you see the wreckage afterwards and are amazed that the people involved walked away from it. I suffered from a major case of whiplash and unfortunately it’s one of those situations where I’ve “never been the same since”. I haven’t really felt “normal” when it comes to my neck and upper back since then.

Over the years I tried different things and found that some things seemed to help a bit. Getting regular exercise certainly made a difference. I tried heating pads and popping Advil regularly. In recent years I started seeing a chiropractor and a massage therapist. And while all of these things certainly helped, I would still experience some level of discomfort on a daily basis.

The one thing that I always relied on was my pillow. I’d tried other pillows in the past but with no success. This particular pillow I’d dragged around with me for years, convinced that this was the thing preventing me from being completely debilitated. Over the past few months, however, I started to notice that my neck and upper back were progressively getting worse. It seemed to me that maybe it was *finally* time to throw in the towel on this pillow of mine, which was easily 15+ years old (I know, right??!!)

So we headed out to the mall and I (rather reluctantly, I might add) found myself a new bamboo filled pillow. It certainly seemed like it might be something that could do the trick. I was nervous, but convinced that perhaps this might be something that would help; after all, my old pillow certainly wasn’t working for me anymore. The first week or so was a bit sketchy, I’ll be honest. I woke up every morning with a soreness in my upper back and neck that I hadn’t experienced before. But then…as the day wore on, the soreness always vanished, and my body always felt better. And then as time wore on, as my body adjusted to the new-ness of it all, the daily soreness disappeared completely.

I realized last week that although not 100% “cured” (and I will never be), my neck and upper back feel better than I can ever remember them feeling. All those years that I tried all those things to treat my neck issues, I realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing. I was looking everywhere else for the solution to my problem, and missed entirely what was at the root of my problem: a scratty old pillow that I’d been desperately clinging to, for so long that it had almost become part of who I was.

I’ve been thinking a lot about CBG’s blog post yesterday about finding inner happiness. I’m convinced that he’s been looking for happiness in all kinds of places — in a job, in money, in weight loss, even in our marriage. He’s like me desperately trying all those things to cure my neck pain, hoping that maybe “this” would finally be it, but still never fixing the source of the problem. The one thing that I was convinced was helping me, was actually the one thing that was hurting me the most.

Honey, it’s time to sit down, say goodbye to that scratty old pillow you’ve been desperately hanging on to, and throw it out for good. I promise it will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off you. And sure, you can still pursue all those things that are a part of being happy — finding a great job, making more money, getting in shape and losing weight, hell, maybe even improving the state of our marriage. But none of those things are doing to mean a damn thing if you’re still laying your head down at night on a smelly old pillow.

It’s time to help yourself, instead of hurting yourself.

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2016: The Year of Joy

When I was out running the other day I was thinking about what word I wanted to be my focus for the coming year. Some years I struggle with finding just the right word for me, but this year it came leaping out at me, loud and clear, without hesitation.

Joy.

2016 is the year that I make the effort to both create more joy in my life, and to look for joy in those small, every day moments of life….moments that often overlooked and under-appreciated.

I started the year by doing something that I’ve done before and something that always bring me great joy: The Annual Polar Bear Dip. This was my third year taking the plunge and I daresay it was the best year yet.

DIP!The best thing about the Polar Bear Dip this year was the fact that CBG finally decided to come good on a promise he made to me seven years ago (!) when we were first dating that he and I would do this together. He’s been a spectator on my two previous jumps, and this year he finally realized that he needed the symbolism of this jump to wash away 2015 and welcome the coming year.

And he did it. Like a boss.

Todd jump!I can’t begin to express how proud I was of him for this. Not for the jump itself, but for his willingness to shake off 2015, leave it in his dust, and literally leap into 2016 with everything that he’s got. That takes guts, my friends. And that bravery and optimism and fighting spirit are just some of the many reasons why I love and admire and respect this man.

me and Todd post dipI can tell that this photo is going to be one of my favourites for a long time to come. For all our silly photos where we’re mugging for the camera, this one is about genuine emotion — and it’s written all over our faces. Happiness. Pride. Excitement. And most of all — joy. Which is what 2016 is going to be all about for us.

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The One in Which My Husband Proves his Love for Me…With a Spider

Yeah…you read that right. Weird, I know.

When my girls were little I was a stay at home mom with a dream of homeschooling my kids. Though I did educate them until my oldest daughter started Grade 1, unfortunately life (namely my divorce) prevented me from continuing with this. We used to spend our days together reading books, going for walks, baking, doing arts and crafts…all of the lovely things you’d expect from a stay at home mom homeschooling her two young daughters.

(Of course, there were lots of hellish parts about it, too, don’t get me wrong, but this is my story and this time I’m focusing only on the good parts).

My girls were particularly fascinated by insects and spiders. Because they were only around other children in small numbers, and because creepy-crawly things never bothered me, they never learned to be grossed out or squeamish by creatures with many legs. We spent lots of “nature walks” observing ants on the sidewalks, digging up worms, or watching spiders spin webs. After all, it’s educational, right?

Now that my girls are older, they’re a bit more hesitant around bugs, but still hold an interest in spiders. They *are* pretty fascinating, after all…spinning their webs and catching bugs and just generally doing their thing.

About a month ago we noticed that a smallish, striped spider had built a web in the window, directly beside our front door entrance (inside the house, I might add). It had built a big, beautiful web and positioned itself directly in the middle of it, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to come along. We spied our new friend and took an immediate interest in him.

CBG, however….was not nearly as impressed.

Y’see, my husband is arachnophobic. To the point where **I** am normally the person to usher out spiders that happen to get into the house, provided the cats don’t murder them first. CBG is creeped out by anything creepy-crawly, but spiders, in particular, are the worst for him.

As soon as he noticed the spider by the front door, he indicated that he would be making short work of our new friend…or better yet, that I should do it. The girls and I protested – loudly – and CBG relented. Reluctantly.

Very reluctantly.

Over the past month or so, the girls and I have continued to watch this spider with great interest. His web-building habits, the intricate patterns he creates. We have even noticed that he’s growing. Over this time he has also acquired a name —  “Stubby Longlegs” — as chosen by Lil’ Mo. Yeah…we’re a little weird like that. It’s part of our charm, right?

Every time we leave the house, we make note of Stubby Longlegs, while CBG makes disapproving sounds. But he has never, ever laid a hand on Stubby. Maybe CBG is too afraid of him at this point. Maybe he’s worried that if he does kill him, Stubby’s friends will find their way into our house in great numbers and get revenge. Personally, I think that this not-so-little-anymore spider is just one more way that CBG shows his love for me and our girls — that he is willing to knowingly co-exist with a spider, probably for the first time in his entire life.

And every day, as that spider gets a little bit bigger, so does CBG’s love.

*Not actually Stubby Longlegs.

*Not actually Stubby Longlegs.

 

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The Gap: Why I Love Running

I’m happy to report that in the last few weeks it would seem that my iron levels are improving. I haven’t had anything officially checked at this point, but I can tell by the way that I’m feeling. Getting up in the morning isn’t a struggle anymore. I am no longer cranky and irritable during the day. My running distances have been gradually getting longer. Make no mistake: I’m not operating at 100% yet, I certainly won’t be training for a marathon anytime soon. But I am making progress and progress is good.

The thing that makes me most happy about getting back into the groove with running longer distances is that this is my main form of stress relief. I’ve been dabbling in a few other things this summer — namely, colouring. And while sure, colouring is great and relaxing and all that, it’s just not the same as making my muscles work and getting my sweat on. Long running distances = a happier, more relaxed Sunshine.

I was thinking the other day about long distance running and why I love it so much. I’ve been doing it consistently for years now – close to 15, I’d say, with some breaks in there when I was pregnant and dealing with babies and such. Still, a pretty long time.

For me, there’s just nothing else as good for my mental and emotional health as a nice long distance run. There’s a magic that happens there, where my body goes on autopilot and my brain is free to roam where it likes. It’s as though as I rack up the physical distance, a mental and emotional distance is created as well. Running allows for a gap between my thoughts and emotions and the events of my life. I am able to look at things a more objectively, without the same kind of emotional attachment that is normally there.

So I run and I think and I process. Running gives me opportunity to assess life, to dream about the future, to make peace with the past. To plan and remember and analyze. All with my emotions checked at the door. There’s nothing else out there that allows me this same gap. Because in this gap — in this space between thoughts and emotions – is where joy is found.

running

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