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When Life Gets in the Way

A good friend lost her husband recently. The news came out of nowhere and I’m not going to lie, it shook me to the core. Another one of those stark reminders of the impermanence of life. And the unfairness of it all. And how at any moment, everything could come crashing down. It’s one of those things I can’t allow myself to think about for too long; otherwise the anxiety overtakes me and it’s incredibly difficult to function.

This gaping hole in my friend’s life got me thinking about my own life, and how, despite our vows to NOT allow it to happen, CBG and I have gotten a little bit complacent in our marriage. It’s easy to blame it on current circumstances — stress of my new job, CBG’s lack of job, our less-than-ideal financial situation. Stupid Seasonal Affective Disorder sucking the life out of me.

The real truth is that we’ve gotten lazy and complacent with each other. We’ve even – dare I say it – been taking one another for granted, just a little bit. But my friend’s husband’s passing has reminded me that there are no guarantees in this life, and honestly, we have no idea how much more time we have together. We could have 40 years…or a single day. But even though we’re relatively certain we have tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that we should waste today. We can come up with all kinds of excuses — lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy — if we want to. But by allowing those excuses to get in the way we’re doing each other and our marriage a huge disservice.

CBG and I sat down last weekend and had a long argument talk about our current situation. I won’t lie, it wasn’t pretty. But it brought us to a place where we needed to be — and gave us both the kick in the ass that we very much needed. No, we don’t have a lot of money right now. And I’m seriously lacking in my usual get-up-and-go. And yeah, CBG’s unemployment is dragging him down mentally and emotionally. But we’re determined to not let those excuses keep dragging us down. All we have is here and now, and dammit, we need to make the most of it.

January Blues

January blues

So I know that I started off the year posting about how I’d decided that 2016 was going to be the “Year of Joy”. I started off the year feeling fresh and optimistic, ready to tackle the coming year with as much zest for life as I could muster.

Well, now the middle of month has hit, and I feel the need to fess up: I’m struggling. Already. Winter is always a tough time for me, thanks to Seasonal Affective Disorder, but the last few winters have been better. I’ve been taking vitamins, using a UV lamp every day, and getting out to exercise daily. These things have made a marked improvement in my winter state of mind and energy levels. Not perfect, mind you, but noticeably better.

But this week, something changed. I suspect that it’s a number of things: true winter settling in, PMS, a bit of weight gain, frustration over CBG’s continued employment status, and a healthy dose of self-doubt thanks to my still (relatively) new job. Whatever the reasons, this past Monday started off on a bit of a sour note and it’s just been a big struggle to keep myself mentally and emotionally above water since then. Past history has taught me that the best thing for me to do is to just put my head down and let myself feel whatever I’m feeling, do my best to do the things that I know will help me, avoid the things that I know will hurt me, not make any major life decisions, and just wait for it to pass.

Because of course it always does. Past history has also taught me that.

My hope is that I find my way out of this January funk before it drags me too far down. I’ll keep doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things as best I can.

And even though I’m arse-deep in these January blues, I’m already looking forward to feeling better.

Fingers crossed that it doesn’t take too long.

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.

Goodbye 2015

A year ago I looked forward to 2015 with a lot of hope about the things that it might bring. The reality is that things kind of got derailed a bit and the year didn’t exactly go as hoped. CBG continued to struggle with depression. He was diagnosed with ADHD and began dealing with that. He lost his job over the summer (and continues to be unemployed). Then , last month, I moved on to a new job, something that’s a fair bit out of my comfort zone.

Whew. I don’t care who you are — that’s a lot.

And while, on the outside it kind of looks like a lot of negative stuff, my belief is that 2015, as difficult as it was, was about laying the groundwork for the good things to come going forward. Getting that ADHD diagnosis was the best possible thing for CBG (and for our marriage, I might add). Having some time to re-group and get himself together mentally and emotionally hasn’t been a horrible thing, either. And me starting a new job? As stressful as that can be sometimes, I firmly believe that this is taking me in the direction of bigger and better things as well.

So even though I’m happy to see the back of 2015 as it heads on out the door, I do feel grateful for the changes that it brought to us. Because those changes are going to lead to a much brighter future.

I just ask one thing of 2016: Take it easy on us, okay? I think we’ve more than earned a bit of a break by now. ;-)

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2016 bring you all the happiness and joy that you deserve.

So In Love

I know that I’ve really sucked in terms of blogging lately. It’s one of those things that I’ve just allowed to fall by the wayside as life gets busier and busier. In a way, it’s a good thing; it means that I’m out there actually living instead of spending so damn much time circling around in my own brain.

Though…to be fair…I still do that more than I likely should. *cough*

In any case, whenever I look back on the blog posts of years past, I’m always really grateful to find these musings of mine — good or bad — because they remind me of the journey that I’ve taken — that CBG and I have taken — to get to where we are today. This was always a big motivation for writing as much as I have in the past — to record everything. Good or bad, this is my our story, and I enjoy having it all written down, even I am the only one who will ever read it again.

Since I haven’t been writing a whole lot anymore, a lot of stories are being lost. Big life moments and the tiny insignificant ones. Things that I’m not always as careful to take note of and appreciate like I once did. I guess it’s easier to cherish a person that you only see four days a month, rather than someone you see almost every single day. But you know what? Despite not taking the time to record these moments and remember them carefully, they are still happening. I still fall asleep in my husband’s arms with a smile of contentment on my face. I sometimes still tear up with joy at looking into his eyes and just being consumed with overwhelming feelings of love. My heart still swells when I see one of my girls curl up next to him on the couch in that easy, loving way that they have.  There is so much laughter. So much joy. So much contentment.  All of these things in among all those every day moments that seem to consume so much of life.

So in love. After 7 years of loving CBG, I can still happily report this to still be true. We have gone from the giddy, horny, teenager-y crap to the deep and lasting love that survives some of the very things that we’ve been through in the past year. Not just survived, but thrived and grown. Sitting here tonight I can say that in 2015, without a doubt our worst year to date, we are better and stronger because of it all.

And if that doesn’t qualify as “so in love”, then I sure as hell don’t know what would.

Tricky Parts of Marriage

I’ve written about this before, I’m sure. About how marriage is just plain hard some days. I firmly believe that it’s supposed to be hard sometimes, though. I mean…why wouldn’t it be? Marriage is about sharing your life with someone. It’s about compromise and getting along and sometimes doing things that you don’t really want to do. To me, that’s work. I know that not everyone agrees with that perspective. But even if you don’t agree with my definition of “work”, you can at least agree that marriage requires effort sometimes, yes?

I’ve been thinking this week about balance in marriage. About how a good marriage is a bit of a balancing act. That depending on what’s happening, sometimes the marriage is more focused on one partner than the other. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the pendulum swings back at some point, so that the other partner gets some of that focus at some point as well.

I think one of the trickiest parts of all in a marriage is figuring out when it’s time to be completely giving and unselfish, and when it’s perfectly fine to go ahead and be totally selfish. In a well-balanced relationship there’s comfortably room for both; but again, only when there is a give-and-take and both partners feel that everything works out fair in the end.

One of the things wrong with my first marriage was that I gave and gave and gave – and my ex took and took and took – until I was completely drained…not to mention pretty dang resentful. I grew up thinking that if you loved someone you should give everything to them…and that anything else was selfish and well…just plain bad. Thankfully I’ve learned a lot since those days, and I realize that we’re all selfish sometimes and not only is that okay…but it’s actually healthy. It’s good to sometimes put our own wants and needs ahead of others. Because honestly, sometimes that’s the only way those needs will get taken care of.

But you know what’s kind of shitty? Some days I still have that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m a kinda crappy wife. Old habits die hard I guess…and old inner monologues die even harder.

Note to Self

Hey there Sunshine:

I know that you’ve been struggling a bit lately. This new job of yours has taken you out of your comfort zone a fair bit and you’ve been kind of hard on yourself because of it. I know that you want to do well with it, and there are days when you feel that you are, and yet far more when you feel like you’ve made a big mistake by stretching yourself and reaching for more.

I want to just say with much love and respect: cut that shit out.

Of course you’re feeling uncomfortable right now. This is what happens when you try something new and different and this isn’t at all unique to you. Comfort zones are comfortable for a reason. But you know that no one ever grew, changed, or improved by choosing to stay firmly planted in their comfort zone. Yes, safety and security and predictability feels good a lot of days, but it also feels stagnant and boring. Those are the feelings that caused you to want more for yourself. You decided a long time ago that you deserved more and that you were worthy of more. So why now with all the self-doubt?

Fear. Yes, that old familiar friend of yours has been sniffing around, whispering those doubts in your ear. Confirming all those thoughts that lurk in the back of your head. Fear is telling you that you can’t do this…that you should have stayed where you were. That you don’t deserve this after all. And that fear is easy to listen to, I know. It’s easier to believe the bad stuff because doing so means you get to stay in that comfort zone of yours. But pushing that aside and pressing forward to take some risks…well, that’s decidedly UNcomfortable.

Sunshine — you’ve got this. And you know what, even if you don’t, it’s way too soon to tell. At least show yourself enough compassion and respect to allow enough time to find out for sure. Because you know what? Three weeks into this gig definitely is NOT enough time. Take a deep breath and keep moving forward.

And most of all — cut yourself some damn slack, mmkay?

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