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2017: A Year to Evolve

Like a lot of people, at the start of a new year, I like to choose a word that I want to define myself and my life for the upcoming 365 days. In 2016 it was “Joy”. And even through all the not-so-good things that happened throughout the year, there was also an awful lot of joy, too. I made an effort to focus on seeing the joy in life as much as possible, and it made a big difference. Because that’s the thing about joy – its often pretty easy to find, once you get out there looking for it.

A few weeks ago I started thinking ahead to 2017 and what word spoke to me. What word I wanted to define my life for the coming year. I was out running as I was mulling this over, and out of nowhere, a word came to me.

Evolve.

The last couple of years a lot of my time and energy has been about either just holding my own, or rebuilding after a big change. Now that we’re in a more settled place, I feel that this upcoming year needs to be about change. Doing better. Growth. Evolution. I’m not sure what this is exactly going to look like. I’ll be honest, it kind of scares the crap out of me. Growth, change, evolving – all those things mean busting out of my comfort zone and pushing myself. And as we all know, comfort zones are just so dang comfy.

So that’s where I’m at, and that’s where I’m headed for 2017. It’s my year to evolve.

 

Thankful

thankfulI’ve been writing a fair bit lately about the imperfections of life at the moment. It’s true — things are far from ideal right now for a number of reasons. Unfortunately I’ve been allowing myself to fall into the trap of focusing on life’s imperfections a little too much lately. And as I’ve written about before, the things we pay most attention to seem to grow in size.

Monday was Thanksgiving here in Canada and I spent the weekend really trying to think about all of the things I have to be thankful for in my life. I’ll be honest — I wasn’t 100% successful at this, but thanks to a conversation with my husband, I think I’m feeling ready to re-focus myself again.

On my run this morning I made a specific point of thinking about the things in my life that I’m feeling thankful for. Mostly I am thankful for the people in my life. The obvious ones — my husband, my girls, my step kids, my friends and family. I thought about how different my life looks than it did 7 or 8 years ago, and how very thankful I am for that, too. I’m not sure that I ever really had a clear image of how I wanted my life to look, and while there are some things that I would change, for the most part, life is good. Life is good even taking all the current factors into consideration. Because no matter what else happens, I still have the important people here. My husband. My girls. My step kids. My friends and family. And as long as I have all of them, the rest is manageable.

Not perfect, of course…but I’m sure that complete and utter perfection is impossible. And if not, then pretty dang boring. And I don’t know about you, but that’s sure not something I ever want life to be.

I’ll settle for sometimes stressful but full of joy and other amazing things any day.

And in the meantime, I’ll focus on being thankful for all the wonderful things that this life provides me with.

 

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

So…my husband has ADHD

So for those of you who read CBG’s blog, you’ve likely read about his recent diagnosis. If you haven’t, take a minute to hop on over and take a peak.

For those of you who haven’t read it and really just don’t want to be bothered (hey, we’re busy people, right?), I’ll cut right to the chase. CBG has been diagnosed by his psychologist with ADHD.

I’ve written before about how since last fall he’s really been struggling with depression. Well, as time wore on, the thing that struck me the most was the fact that despite taking medication, and despite making greater attempts at self-care, he just didn’t seem to be getting that better. I guess what really was happening, now that I think about it, was that as the depression filter lifted, it became apparent that many of his issues and struggles were about something other than depression. We just didn’t know what the problem actually was.

I’m not sure what it was that I read, but one day I fell down the internet rabbit hole and I came across an article on ADHD in adults. As I read through the list of symptoms, I could feel my heart starting to pound. It described CBG almost perfectly. I fired the link off to him and waited to hear what he had to say about it. Not long later he responded…in agreement. He made an appointment with a psychologist and off he went.

After taking a number of tests (and even one that *I* had to fill out about him), she sat us both down last week and confirmed what I was already pretty certain of at that point:ADHD (just without the “H” part, which from what I’ve read, is often the case with adults).

The interesting thing is that after doing a lot of reading about ADHD (specifically how it affects adults in relationships), I’ve realized that this explains so much of why CBG and I clash in the ways that we do. Now, to be fair, we are for the most part a pretty low conflict couple. But the times when we do struggle…well…those times can almost all be explained because of ADHD symptoms. So many things are explained. He isn’t ignoring his share of the chores because he’s “lazy” and “inconsiderate”, he just honestly doesn’t notice the basket of laundry sitting right there in the middle of the living room. He doesn’t forget important things because he doesn’t care…he honestly doesn’t remember them. He’s not crummy with money because he’s “selfish” and “immature”…he struggles with impulse control.

It’s weird…so many things make sense now…suddenly…like a light has been shone on the situation.

The good news here is that we’ve got a diagnosis and so we know what we’re dealing with. Also, the more I read about ADHD, the more I learn how to help him, and the less frustrated I feel. There’s also the fact that there’s help out there for this. These are all really good things.

At this point, there’s honestly only one bad side I can see to all of this. I can basically no longer get pissed at him for anything anymore. After all….he has “a condition”. 😉

Now, I know that life isn’t going to magically get better now that we can put a name to what’s been at play in CBG’s life and in our relationship. But for me, this diagnosis is a positive, because this is something we can not only name, but something we can research and learn about and tame…together.

It’s just another one of those little bumps in the road of life that we all inevitably encounter.

And as I told CBG recently: We’ve got this.

Language Barrier

On Friday CBG and I found ourselves in yet another heated conversation. Actually, calling it a “conversation” is pretty generous. If I’m being 100% honest, it was an argument. Without going into a lot of detail, I will say that the crux of the issue is that we have both been feeling some frustration toward the other this past little while.

Neither one of us have actually been our best selves lately…this much is obvious. It’s like this dark cloud hanging over everything…his depression, my seasonal affective disorder. One of the things that came out during this conversation is that we’ve both been making efforts. But the problem is that neither one of us are recognizing the efforts of the other person. So it feels like they’re really not trying. I pointed out how CBG isn’t really actively doing anything toward getting better. He noted that I’ve been walking around with a shitty attitude. That doesn’t really seem like two people that are trying all that hard, now does it?

It wasn’t until later when I was out for a mid-day run that I put the pieces together. We’ve each been taking an entirely different approach to recovery. CBG has been working on his attitude and way of thinking. He feels that if he can improve that, then the other things will follow. As for me, I’ve been focusing on getting out there and doing things — taking care of myself physically, putting my focus into bringing happiness to others — knowing that this will help to improve my attitude. I’ve been looking at his lack of ‘doing’ and he’s been looking at my still shitty attitude and it seems like neither one of us have been doing a damn thing, when nothing can be further from the truth.

It’s like we’ve been speaking entirely different languages.

Realizing this was like having a lightbulb switch on for me. Things suddenly made a whole lot more sense, particularly the frustration we’ve each been feeling. What we need to do now is respect and trust in the other person’s “recovery methods” a little bit more, and perhaps make a greater effort to speak the other person’s language a little more. I.e. CBG needs to get up and get out there and start “doing” a little bit more, and I need to make a bigger effort on improving my attitude.

The good news is that we ARE both trying. Despite the difficulties we are experiencing right now, we both love each other very much. Love might not always be enough, but love + mutual effort + understanding + compassion just might be the magic formula we’ve been looking for.

Shedding

I believe that throughout our lives we’re meant to grow and learn and change. We’re not meant to be the same people at 40 that we were at 20; imagine how boring life would be if we were! Though I’m sure there are lots of people out there who haven’t changed at all (In fact, I think I might even know a few). I’m just glad that I’m not one of them. Life is meant to teach us, challenge us, cause us to grow. I’m not certain what the point is, otherwise.

Lately I’ve found that I’ve been feeling a little extra navel-gazey. I go through periods like this from time to time, when I find myself doing a lot more thinking and questioning about myself and my life. This usually happens during times of personal growth, when I’m being challenged and forced out of my comfort zone for one reason or another. Sometimes there’s a reason for this — some kind of major life event that causes me to stop and re-evaluate. Other times, like now, it’s like it’s part of a natural growth process, not really happening for any one specific reason or other…just simply “because life”.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my past and the person that I used to be. I’ve found myself being visited by old ghosts. Last week, while CBG and I were on vacation, we spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing and decluttering and painting our house. I’ve really been feeling the need to clear out the “old junk” that’s been hanging around.

Hellooooo, metaphor.

I can feel myself changing. Nothing big or drastic. Nothing earth-shattering or dramatic. Just a small shift beginning deep within myself, as I shed another layer of “who I used to be” to make room for “who I am now”. Much like a snake shedding its skin to allow for continued growth. I’m happy to say goodbye to that “old layer” so that I can make room for the new. I don’t want to be that same old person. I’m NOT that same old person.

I’m ready to move on.

Crazy In Love

Marriage has its ups and downs. I fully expected it, having gone through a marriage before, and having dated CBG for almost four years before we said “I do”. I’d like to think that we entered into this whole thing with some realistic expectations.

I will admit that there’s one thing I didn’t expect. I never really expected those moments of complete and utter clarity where I can feel the love I have for my husband expanding tenfold…in the blink of an eye. They don’t come along often, and many times happen when I least expect it, when he’s not trying to be particularly lovable or sweep me off my feet. They come in those instances when he’s just busy being himself, and it touches me deeply in some unexpected way.

I experienced one such moment on Monday.

CBG and I have taken this week off work together. Originally we’d wanted it to be our family vacation to Disney, but even though that wasn’t in the cards this year after all, we decided to spend the week getting some long-overdue chores completed around the house. De-cluttering, organizing, a few home repair jobs, and most importantly, painting those last few rooms in our place that we hadn’t gotten around to painting.

We started with our girls’ rooms, since we’ve been promising them for the last two years that we’d paint their bedrooms. They were both really excited about it, particularly since we’d promised them that they could help. We started with Lil’ Mo’s room first. I did the cutting in, and then when the time came, CBG helped her with the rolling part. I was in the room finishing up my part as he talked her through how to fill the roller with paint, roll off the excess, and then start rolling the walls. Throughout the whole process he was gentle, patient and encouraging.

As I listened, I found myself being filled with love and gratitude…love for my husband, and gratitude that my girls have such a loving, patient, encouraging and generous step father. A man who has learned to love my girls like his own; who stuck with it even though it wasn’t something that came easily to him.

And in that small moment, in the middle of an ordinary un-glamourous moment, my husband made me fall in love with him all over again. He swept me off my feet without even trying…and I realized, yet again, how incredibly fortunate I am.