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On This Day

This morning Facebook showed me an “On This Day” memory that I wasn’t expecting and particularly didn’t want to see. A couple of wall posts from eight years ago, from a person who hasn’t been in my life for quite some time. A person that, for a number of reasons, I would prefer to not be reminded of.

And yet, I am. Every now and then a reminder pops up in one place or another. A reminder of my less-than-awesome self, from a less-than-awesome time of my life; a woman that I barely recognize anymore. A woman who wandered off into sad, lonely territory, who lost her way, and herself. I usually try to push those reminders away; after all, nobody enjoys a spotlight being put on our lesser selves.

It took me a long time to put the woman that I once was behind me. I still see her lurking in the shadows some days. I’m not perfect. I don’t always make perfect choices. I’m not always easy to love. Some days I am weak and selfish and downright broken.

But we all have those days. Now that I am more close to being the person I always wanted to be, the more I am able to forgive those less-than-awesome days, and the more I am able to forgive myself for that particular time in my life when a string of less-than-awesome days slid into a less-than-awesome year.

This morning I realized that those reminders are actually a good thing. They allow me to see how far I’ve come, and more importantly, they remind me of where I never want to go again. Because even though that “old Sunshine” might lurk in the shadows now and again, I’m not that person anymore. We all need those little nudges from time to time to keep us heading in the right direction…and to help us be grateful for where we are.

On this day eight years ago, I was a shadow of a woman, desperately looking for something in all the wrong places.

But on this day – today – I hit the ‘delete’ button with a smile…thankful for the reminder, but realizing that having it hanging around wasn’t going to do me any good. I need to keep moving forward. I’ve found my ‘something’. And the beauty of it is that it was in me all along.

Thanks for the reminder.

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Remembering the Good Stuff

I started a photo album on my Facebook page this summer where I’ve been making an effort to post lots of pictures from the summer. I’m sure that some of my friends are getting kind of sick of these photos, like I’m in a constant state of bragging about how lovely my life is. We all know those people on the Facebook. The braggers. <insert eyeroll here>

The truth is that these past several months have been a struggle on a number of different levels. An ADHD diagnosis for my CBG. Job stuff. Financial struggles and setbacks. Health issues for me.

And so so so much stress.

Ah, stress, the one common glittery golden thread sewing all of these things together.

Some of these things I can’t change. Others are being worked on, but the exact timeline is out of my control. What I’m doing my best to focus on right now are the things I can control.

The greatest of these is my own attitude. It’s a challenge, I won’t lie. But one thing I always tell my girls is that the things we pay the most attention to in our lives are the things that seem most important. When we focus on the negative/stressful things in our lives, they seem to eclipse everything else.

Well guess what? Same goes with the positives. This is why I’m working so hard on just enjoying life as it is right now. Hence, the Facebook photo album of the silly moments and fun adventures I’m having with my family this summer. Some day, in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to look back at all of this remember that sure, it was a rotten summer for many reasons but guess what else? It was a whole lot of fun, too. And as time goes on, things will get better. And those rotten, stressful memories will become just a hazy blur and we’ll be left with all the good stuff that I made a point of recording…because they’re things we paid attention to the most through all of this.

So, dear Facebook friends, about all those photos: sorry NOT sorry.

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Enjoying Life as it Is

So some things are happening with CBG and I (no worries, kids, the marriage is fine), and we’re basically at a point where we’re waiting on some big important changes. Good changes. Life-direction-altering-changes. We’ve started moving in that general directly already, thankfully, but it will be a while before it happens. Though hopefully not *that* long.

Sorry for being so cryptic. Some things just have to remain private for the time being.

I think we’ve all been in a similar place in our lives before…a sort of “holding pattern” while we wait for something else to happen or come along. I know I’ve been there before myself plenty of times. In the past, it’s been tempting to focus on the “end result” to the point that it eclipses all else. When that happens what you’ve got is a situation where you’re thinking about something down the road so hard that you kind of forget to look around and enjoy where you’re currently at.

And you know what? That kind of sucks. The harsh truth of life is that we’re not guaranteed anything in the future. We have no idea what life has in store for us. The only thing that we ever have is the present moment that we’re in. A life spent constantly anticipating the future is a life wasted. I’ve wasted way too much of mine already.

I’ve been trying really hard lately to just enjoy the here and now. Sure, I’ve got my eyes on the prize, thinking about what is down the road for us, but I’m determined to not waste life in the meantime. What this has meant for me is that I’m just trying to stop and look around a little more. I’ve been spending more time getting out with my family — having fun, making memories. Mostly importantly, I’ve been documenting these memories…so that down the road when I think back about the challenges 2015 has presented our family, I will be able to say that despite all that, we some really fun times, too.

Memories like these:

tree climbing rollerblading lake fam meeeeeeeee 1st night

There’s no point to all of this if we can’t enjoy life as it is, right this moment, despite the stress, the challenges, and the uncertainty of the future. I plan on squeezing out every last drop of joy, no matter what.  No matter how bad things may sometimes seem, there is always good to be found in there in there, too. I promise.

Beach Therapy

I feel so incredibly lucky to live so close to the ocean. It’s something that I try to never take for granted, but I have to admit, it’s something that I don’t always appreciate as much as I should.

Lately, with all the overwhelming stresses in life, I have found myself seeking out the ocean. There’s something about the salt air that just soothes the soul, I guess.

On the weekend, CBG and I went to a local beach, just for a little walk and to enjoy some quiet time together. It did not disappoint.

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It didn’t take long for CBG and I to find our smiles.

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We had a lovely walk along the beach that evening. I even got my toes wet, but lacking a swimsuit and towel, decided not to go in all the way. An hour and a half at the ocean we left feeling lighter than air, the stress and worries seemed to have been washed away. I felt my heart soar for the first time in a long time. I was truly in that moment, loving every single bit of it.

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CBG’s daughter Rugrat arrived late on Tuesday night, and so last night, we decided we would escape the heat of the city once again and take all three girls to this beach. And quite honestly, I was feeling the need for some more beach therapy. CBG wasn’t in the best mood, either.

Oddly, as we drove closer, we could see the fog rolling in. By the time we arrived, we could barely see the ocean right in front of us. But the cool air felt lovely and we decided not to let a little fog stop us.

the girls

What started out as “let’s just get our feet wet”, turned into full-on silliness and frolicking in the waves….my crabby mood and the weight of life stresses once again melting magically away.

us girls

I didn’t have a bathing suit this time, either, but I stripped off my shorts and headed into the water in just my underpants and tank top. Wheeeeee!

We girls played in the water (while CBG watched and laughed at our antics) until Kiddo and I got too cold to handle it anymore. We got changed into dryer clothes in the car while Lil’ Mo and Rugrat continued to play until it was almost dark.

It was one of those wonderfully spontaneous evenings that just fills the soul. The five us drove home with huge grins on our faces, feeling completely grateful for this fun experience together. One of those small things that mean so very much.

Beach therapy.

Nourishing my Soul

With this past Monday being a holiday here in Canada, I made the decision to take Friday off work as well. After the week I had, in a string of stressful weeks, I knew that having the extra time would do me some good. This weekend the girls were off with their dad, giving me and CBG three whole nights together to just relax, enjoy life and most of all — enjoy time with one another. There hasn’t been a lot of any of that lately.

The weekend including many soul-nourishing things. Things like running. And colouring (my new obsession!). Coffee with an old friend. A walk by the ocean. An overnight stay at a cottage with friends (including a swim in a lake and an evening by a campfire — two of my most favourite things in the world). A walk in the park. Sunshine. Coffee. Laughter. So many of my favourite things. The weekend gave me space to breathe — just a little bit.

Most of all, the weekend gave me the opportunity to remember the things that are truly important in this life. One thing I’ve noticed about stressful life events is that they have this way of taking up way too much space. Sure, the stuff going on right now is Big Important Life Stuff, but no matter how big, or how important, it’s not the only thing in life happening.

And when you’ve got people in your life who love you? Well, no matter what “It” is, “It” isn’t even the most important thing.

Not by a long shot.

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Self-Care = Selfishness?

I’ve long known the importance of having good self-care. Granted, it’s not always something that I’m the best at, like many people. It seems like there is this little voice in the back of my brain that keeps trying to convince me that good self-care is “selfish”.

When I think about it, it’s not just my own inner voice that tells me this. It seems to be a widely-held belief in our society that self-care is just plain selfish. Or only for those people with “too much time on their hands”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the receiving end of passive-aggressive comments from people about my running, for example. So many people seem to have the attitude that giving and giving and giving to the point of mental, emotional, and spiritual depletion is an admirable quality.

Well, I’m calling bullshit on that. Big time.

This is life. There’s no award for “Most Burnt Out”. When I’m a little old lady I’m pretty sure I’m not going to wish that I’d pushed myself harder, that I’d stressed myself out more, that I took less time to enjoy life. It’s ridiculous.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I have a few things going on right now. Firstly, I have anemia. I battle with low iron from time to time and I know that this is something I need to take better care of, but don’t. Also, I have been dealing with what can only be described as a crushing amount of stress right now. I know, I know…that sounds a little dramatic, doesn’t it? But honestly, with everything that’s happening, ‘crushing’ is really the only way to describe it. But as I wrote about yesterday, I am doing my best to remain tough and battle through it.

Last night I paid a visit to my naturopath. I haven’t seen her in a while, but she has been extremely helpful to me in dealing with health issues in the past. In fact, she has been able to help me when my regular medical doctor couldn’t. I respect how naturopaths look at the entire picture and take all factors into consideration when determining how best to treat someone. We talked about my symptoms. We chatted about my diet, sleeping patterns and lifestyle habits. We talked for a long time about the amount of stress I’m currently dealing with. We looked at my blood work results together. She was very thorough.

The verdict? Basically, I’m a mess. lol Her primary concerns at the moment are dealing with my low iron, and managing the effects of all the stress I’m under. I have supplements to take, dietary recommendations to follow, and even some suggestions for a certain tea to start drinking. Basically, what it all boils down to is that I need to do a better job at this whole self-care thing. Sure, those daily runs are great for me mentally and physically, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. A puzzle that actually has many, many pieces.

So for the next while, this will be my focus. For the time being there are a lot of things out of my control — like the sources of stress in my life. As I work to improve the causes, the next best thing I can do is manage the effects of this stress. Those things are in my control.

And you know what else? I’m going to have zero guilt for taking good care of myself. Because it’s not selfish, no matter what that stupid inner martyr or people around me have to say about it.

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On Being “Tough”

I kind of pride myself on the fact that I’m a pretty tough broad most of the time. I have dealt with a lot of really tough things over the course of my life. I say this as a statement of fact, not in a “poor me” kind of way. Some people get handed more difficulties in life than others. And me? Well, seems like I managed to somehow get a little more than my fair share.

It is what it is.

With a few exceptions, I’d like to think that I’ve dealt with life’s challenges relatively well. For me, falling apart just isn’t an option that I allow for myself. I make the choice to stay strong not just for myself, but for CBG, and especially for my girls. Because there was a time in my life when I wasn’t all that tough at all and guess what? I don’t really like that person.

Lately, however, I have to admit, my toughness is being challenged. Big time.

I am doing my very best to dig deep and find that inner strength, that toughness that I’ve had to rely on plenty of times in the past. I won’t lie — it’s been difficult tapping into that.

Logically I know that there is no shame in admitting weakness, particularly when life’s circumstances are weighing particularly heavily. Logically. My ‘tough inner bitch’, however, is telling me to “suck it up” and push through it. So there’s a bit of an inner battle going on there.

I guess the good news about having this tough inner bitch inside me is that I know that even if I do fall apart, just a little bit, that I have the ability to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward. She is too tough, too strong, too stubborn to let life get me down for too long. This I know for certain.

And maybe…just maybe there is strength in allowing some weakness, for just a little while.

Worry not, kids. Though things are at a low point now, bouncing back is inevitable. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just have to make it through until I’ve gathered up the strength to do it.

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