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Blessed

When CBG and I first met almost 7 years ago, we played a game of “chicken” during one of our first online conversations. Basically, we took turns revealing some of our deepest darkest secrets, each seeing if there was anything we could say that would frighten the other off.

Spoiler alert: There wasn’t.

It was during this conversation that CBG told me that he had another daughter. Older than Rugrat, from a relationship that didn’t work out due to complicated reasons. Long story short, the mom left and told him that she didn’t want anything to do with him. At the time, he gladly accepted the “get out of jail free” card and continued on with this life. He often thought about this daughter, but the shame of what happened was something he continued to carry around with him.

He didn’t tell many people about this daughter, not even his first wife. It was one of those dark secrets he kept hidden from her that he didn’t want hanging over a future relationship. I’ll admit it, I was a bit taken aback at first, but honestly knew that I had no place to judge him, considering some of things about me that I revealed to him during that same conversation.

Any long time readers will remember that this daughter, “Pebbles”, came into our lives just over two years ago. It’s an unusual relationship with have with her, really. CBG is her “bio-dad”, but basically she’s just a really cool kid that we get to hang out with. In the short time we’ve known her, she’s shown us the value of forgiveness, and has demonstrated how to focus on what’s truly important in life. I can happily say that our lives have only become richer for having her in it.

Last week, CBG and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend Pebbles’ high school graduation ceremony. She invited us to attend a while back, and we jumped at the opportunity, honoured to have received the invitation. Sitting there and watching her walk in with the other graduates, I was struck, again, by how amazing life can be. A few short years ago we never would have imagined being there, and yet, once we were, we couldn’t imagine being any other place in the world at that moment.

We are truly blessed.

The One in Which I Whine a Lot

So.

These past couple of weeks have been pretty stressful. It would seem that pretty much every area of my life has some sort of stress attached to it: work, home, my marriage, my relationship with my ex husband, finances….you name it, and I’ve probably experienced stress and anxiety because of it in the last few weeks. And it’s not just me looking for things to worry about (full disclosure: I’ve been known to do this), no, this is more than that. This is real, actual stress because of real, actual stress-y things, not just my overblown sense of drama.

Guess what? No surprise here — it sucks.

I’ve been muddling through and trying to deal with the stress as best I can. Running definitely helps. So does ice cream – that is, until I start worrying about my pants getting tight. I’m at a point now where my stress levels are causing physical symptoms. Namely, I’ve been exhausted. I’ve been hitting the sack early, and have scaled back considerably on my running mileage, and yet here I am, every morning, s-l-o-w-l-y peeling myself up out of bed, despite how early I went to bed the night before.

It’s amazing how mental and emotional stress can physically wear you out. And yet — here I am.

CBG is gone again for the weekend to spend Father’s Day with Ankle Biter. It’s our usual weekend to be alone together, which means that my girls are also away, as well. I’ve got a whole entire weekend all to myself stretching out in front of me. I haven’t decided exactly how I’m going to spend this glorious time alone, but I’m thinking early bedtimes, a couple of runs, maybe a little thrift store shopping, a nap, reading, Netflix, and visiting my friend and her new baby for some baby cuddles. And I’m hoping to be able to drink ALLLLLLLLLL the coffee.

My hope is that some time to myself – which is in short supply these days – will help me to recharge my batteries and deal with my stress in healthy ways (and maybe some unhealthy ways too, because hey, I’ve got an unfinished tub of ice cream in the freezer). Here’s the thing. Many of the things causing me stress in my life right now are outside of my control. I am powerless to do anything about them, at least not immediately. The only thing that I can actually control is me, and my reaction to this situation. My goal is to try and make the best possible choices that I can right now. I’ve gotta give myself a fighting chance, right?

Remembering Who My Husband Is

It’s weird, but sometimes it’s like I almost forget who I’m married to.

Now, I’m not talking early-onset Alzheimer’s or anything like that. Or I don’t suddenly think that I’m actually married to Ryan Gosling or Paul Rudd or even John Hamm.

(Related: I smell a revised ‘Top 5 list’ blog post coming on)

No, what I mean is that even though CBG and I have been together for over six years now (crazy to think about), I sometimes forget that he is dramatically different than my ex husband.

Lord. Yes…I know how that sounds. Humour me and read on, would ya?

So I’m going to fess up and admit that I still have some lingering issues from my first marriage. Nothing major, really, just some…tendencies that rise to the surface like a foul odor. Usually when I’m least expecting it. Everything is going along (seemingly) great and then suddenly…there it is. And for some reason, things go from “What’s that smell? Did someone cut one?” to “Damn, I reek!” pretty quickly.

We had one such moment (or more like a series of moments) recently when I had a bit of a meltdown in CBG’s general direction. Now, the reasons behind this are complex, as they often are in a marriage, as any married person can likely sympathize. Much of it boiled down to the fact that I need that husband of mine to step up and do more. In terms of housework. In terms of our marriage. In terms of his own self-care.

He’s written a lot about his recovery from depression  over the last several months and while there has been improvement, he’s not “all better”. Not yet, anyhow. Some of this is showing up in other areas of our life — many of them in the areas I mentioned above. I hesitated to bring any of this up with him, as the deep dark part of my brain was expecting him to a) disagree with my assessment of the situation; b) give me a list of reasons WHY I was wrong; c) completely disregard my feelings on things and then d) not actually do anything about it.

Guess what? Me expecting that reaction even a little bit is kind of crappy of me, because the truth is, I have no basis in my relationship with CBG to expect that. Because he’s not that guy. He’s never been that guy. Those fears of mine have no basis in my current marriage and are based entirely on my past life.

I fully admit that I kind of suck as a wife sometimes. Thankfully I make up for it in other ways.

After my meltdown, and ensuing discussion, guess what? CBG took to heart my concerns and has started making greater efforts in all the areas I mentioned. He has stepped back up in the housework department. He’s once again paying greater attention to our marriage. He’s even making a bigger effort at just simply taking better care of himself, too. Because guess what? He’s not my ex husband. Not even close, in fact. And that’s something that I need to remind myself of a little bit more often.

No meltdowns necessary. I’m pretty sure I know at least one person who will be pretty happy to hear that.

 

Lessons From a Year Long Running Streak

So…as I wrote about last week, I recently completed a year-long running streak. (And felt like a certain fictional character in the process). I’ve been thinking about this accomplishment of mine a fair bit these past couple of weeks; specifically about the lessons that I learned during the process.

So what did my year long run streak actually teach me? I have thought long and hard about this question and have come up with three very important points. I have definitely learned other lessons as well, more personal ones, but these are the main three that I think a lot of people (runners or not) can relate to.

1. There are very few legitimate excuses for not getting exercise.

For years I struggled with getting myself out there to run. I grabbed onto any excuse I could find — it was too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy. I was too tired, too busy, too sore, too stressed out. Here’s the thing I’ve learned about excuses. If you go looking, you can always one. The truth is, though, there aren’t very many real, legitimate reasons for not getting exercise. Period.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to go on a year-long running streak, not at all. But whatever your chosen activity is, and whatever your weekly goals are, you have very few excuses for not meeting them. The simple fact is, if something is important enough to you, then you need to make it a priority in your life, and you need to make it happen. Period.

Excuses are lame. Don’t be lame.

2. Running is much more a mental game than a physical one.

Sure, there’s a certain amount of physical ability required to run (or do any kind of exercise), but the truth is that it is someone’s mental fitness that determines how successful their exercise goals will be. Not only do you need to work on training your body, it’s also important to work on training your mind. It takes a special kind of focus to be able to lose yourself mentally so that you’re not thinking about every single step on a 5 or 10 km (or longer) run. If you can’t do that, then running is going to truly suck. And if it sucks, then you’re not going to keep doing it.

3. Goals are essential.

My goals changed over the course of the year. At first it was just to run as many days in a row as possible. And then, as certain milestones began approaching, I would promise myself to meet them and see how I felt after that. As I was getting up do day 80-something, I made a deal with myself to hit at least day 100. Then as I was around to day 140-ish, I knew I wouldn’t stop until I hit 150. I’m just not the kind of person to willingly quit a streak on day 167. Or 172. I just can’t do that. And then, of course, as day 365 began getting closer and closer, I knew I wanted that to be my next goal.

And now that I’ve passed day 365? I’m not so sure. We’ll see how I feel once day 400 hits. ;-) I’m hopeful that maybe there are more lessons to be gleaned from all of this.

 

 

Girls’ Weekends


Because of my shared custody arrangement with the girls’ dad, I spend every other weekend with my girls (in addition to the time we spend together during the week, of course). On those weekends CBG goes to visit his son Ankle Biter. It works out pretty well for us. It gives us each dedicated time to devote to our kids, and allows opportunity for us to have the occasional visit all together as a family. This has been our pattern from the beginning (even when CBG and I were a long distance couple) and it’s always worked well for us.

I love the kid-free weekends that CBG and I have together. It allows us time to get stuff done, hang out with our “couples” friends, and spend some quality time alone. These weekends are part of what make our relationship so good.

On the flip side of that, I also love my girls’ weekends. Now that Kiddo and Lil’Mo are getting a bit older, they’re becoming a lot more fun to just hang out with. Not that they weren’t before, but it seems like more and more we’re able to relate on a more adult level, rather than a mom looking after her two kids. Our girls weekends are spent, for the most part, hanging out together. We watch movies and have treats, play board games, go to the park, sometimes we hit up the movies or the library or go shopping. We love going out on “coffee dates” at one of our many neighbourhood coffee shops. We tell stories. We make plans. We snuggle on the couch. And we laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Occasionally other plans are made. Sometimes one of them goes off to a sleepover with friends or invites someone over. At this point those kinds of plans are still rather rare for the most part and even when they do happen, we still work in plenty of mother-daughter time around it.

I absolutely cherish our weekends together. This is the part of motherhood that I’m loving most — being able to help teach and guide my girls as they grow into lovely young women. I enjoy the fact that we’re reaching a place where we talk to each other as friends in many cases, not just as mother-daughter.

Now, I’m not under any illusions here. I know that while my girls and I will always be close, we’re not always going to be spending this much quality time together. I know that as they get older, they’re going to start choosing to spend time with their friends, doing their own thing, more and more. And I’m okay with that, as I know that it’s part of life and part of growing up. It’s inevitable.

But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy every living room dance party, every nacho-and-movie-night and every single giggle that my girls and I share. This is a special time in life for all three of us, and I’m determined to make as many memories for all of us while I can.

What Forrest Gump and I Have in Common

gump2

It was a little over a year ago when I decided that I was going to go on a bit of a running streak. Before this I ran frequently, and in the last few years I trained for and ran both a half and a full marathon. So it’s not like I’m new to this running game.

I made a deal with myself to run for at least two kilometers every single day for as many days in a row that I could. I had no specific ‘end goal’ in mind, the whole point was just to run more.

At first it was relatively easy. I mean, I started in the month of May, when the weather is great and only gets better from there. I sailed through the summer months without giving it a lot of thought.

In mid-August I hit the 100-day mark. Whoa! 100 days. I’ll admit, I felt pretty bad-ass. And yet, I didn’t feel quite finished. I decided to continue with the streak and see where I ended up with it.

And so…I kept running. Some days saw nice long runs…10…15….even 20 km. Other days, I only hit the minimum (2 or 3 km). It really depended on how early I managed to get up in the morning and how good I was feeling. If I felt like I needed a “rest”, I would run a couple of kilometers and call it good. If I was feeling great, then I would run for as long and as far as time would allow me. I toyed with the idea of training for either a half or a full marathon, but life kind of took over and I failed to make it a priority.

Still…I ran. Some days feeling a little more like Forrest Gump than I would have liked.

That's me. Just without the  beard and the gaggle of adoring fans.

That’s me. Just without the beard and the gaggle of adoring fans.

And then…winter hit. And it wasn’t just any winter, kids. It was a particularly brutal one. Storm after storm after storm hit.

But guess what? I kept running. Every day, for at least 2 km. There were plenty of days when I thought that this was going to be “The Storm” that finally stopped me. But then the plow would come by and I would think, “Well, it’s not THAT bad out there…” and I’d lace up and head out.

Now, let’s stop and think about this for a moment. I am a self-professed wimp when it comes to the cold and particularly winter running. I run in the winter a bit, but I also struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder every year, too. Which makes things more…complicated interesting.

Y’see…exercise really helps when you’re feeling emotionally and physically low. Getting a bit of a sweat on is one of the recommended treatments for S.A.D. The only problem is, when you’re feeling tired and cranky and sluggish, really the last thing you want to do is go out in the dark and the cold and run.

As the winter pressed on and it began just beating people down, I got pissed. And stubborn. I decided that there was no way I was going to let the winter defeat me.

Not this time.

The result was some pretty effed-up running conditions, if I do say so myself.

I bring you, Exhibit A:

Uh...yeah. Those are my footprints in the unplowed street. Which street? Not so sure about that anymore. Does it really even matter?

Uh…yeah. Those are my footprints in the unplowed street. Which street? Not so sure about that anymore. Does it really even matter?

How ’bout Exhibit B?

I trudged through this out to the main street, which was cleared. This was after our biggest storm of the season. IN MARCH. I was ready to punch a snowbank by this point.

I trudged through this out to the main street, which was cleared. This was after our biggest storm of the season. IN MARCH. I was ready to punch a snowbank by this point.

And this photo, friends, perfectly sums up my feelings about this past winter:

 

Screw you, Old Man Winter.

Screw you, Old Man Winter.

And then finally the snow began to melt. Milder temperatures (eventually) prevailed. And, like our friend Forrest Gump, I kept running. And running.

And on May 10th I hit the goal that I’d had in my sites for a while now: One Year. 365 days solid of running…all outdoors…in one of the worst winters we’ve had in recent memory.

Crazy? Stubborn? Dedicated? I dunno. Maybe all three. All I know is that it’s now May 25th and I’m still running.

felt like

Only time will tell where it will take me.

This is 41

Somehow when I wasn’t really paying attention, I managed to turn 41.

Ouch.

It’s weird because in a lot of ways, I don’t feel that much different than I did when I was in my 20s. I mean, I’m definitely wiser. And a little more jaded than I was as a wide-eyed, optimistic 20-something. The world has given me a little bit of a crusty side that I’m actually grateful for. A little protective crust can be a good thing. And there’s also the inability to stay up late partying. Not that I was ever much of a party animal back in the day, but these days I’m like a middle-aged Cinderella — midnight hits and instead of turning into a shabby housemaid I turn into a whiney grump. [And folks, whatever ever you do – never, EVER feed me after midnight. It’s bad news. Just sayin’.]

It’s also weird because I’m not sad that I’m 41. As I grow older, I’ll admit that I can’t think too long or too hard about death because I’m still at the point in my life where it scares the hell out of me, despite the fact that it is inevitable. So while some days I carry that fear in the back of my mind, most of the time, I’m just happy and grateful to be alive and healthy.

Because not everyone is so lucky. So as long as I’m still here, still kicking, still healthy, I’m going to be grateful for every single sunrise I get to see. I’ve reached a point in life where I’m feeling fairly happy and content with the person that I am. Sure, there are still plenty of lessons to learn. There is still lots of room to grow and improve and do better, but at this point I’ve realized that this will always be the case. That’s how you know you’re living a good life — you’re growing and changing and rising to the challenges that present themselves to you.

I’ve faced plenty of challenges over the course of my 41 years and I can say without a doubt that learning to overcome them has resulted in me be being a wiser and happier person. Hell, at the rate I’m going, by the time I’m a senior citizen I’m going to be a frickin’ genius.

As I start my 41st year on this earth I’m not sure what the future holds but I do know that I look forward to finding out. It won’t always be easy, I know, but there will always be lessons to learn and improvements to be made.

And most of all, many, many happy memories to be made.

 

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