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Letting Go

I’m admittedly a bit of a pack rat. I’m not sure where this tendency ever came from, or why it’s still sticking around, but it’s been a part of my life now for forty-two (almost forty-three!) years. Every so often I decide that I’m finally going to do something about this pack-rattish-ness of mine. I go on a bit of an organizing and de-cluttering spree. I get rid of things. I purge. At least for a while. And then for whatever reason, I always run out of steam and not only stop, but return to my previous hoarder-like ways.

For example, last year I read the popular “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo and decided very quickly that this was the The Answer to my problems. I pulled everything out of my closet and dresser and went through each piece, asking, “Does this bring me joy?” And guess what? I got rid of a lot of clothing.

And then, I stopped.

And not long later, I began buying more clothes. Always with the justification that this or that particular item “brought me joy”. What it also brought me an overflowing closet and a return of that “cluttered” feeling.

I’ve realized that when my physical space feels cluttered, then my mental and emotional state tends to match.

I don’t know if it’s inspiration from the start of a new year or what, but once again, I’m feeling the need to de-clutter and rid myself of all those physical things in my life that seem to be weighing me down. Maybe this feeling will pass again but for time being, I am feeling very at peace with the idea of letting go, paring down, focusing on the truly important things in my life. And guess what? My shoe collection isn’t it.

It will take time, and dedication to the cause, but once again I feel that the time is right to let go.

The Language of Love

I’m pretty sure that one of the most important things about having a successful marriage is learning to show love to your partner in ways that they appreciate. It’s not an easy task, because I’m pretty sure that most of us do the opposite; that is, we show our partners love in ways that we ourselves want to be loved. It’s easy to think that, “Hey, because I like this, then surely my partner will, too.” I spent a lot of time thinking that in my first marriage, assuming that my (then) husband would appreciate the ways that I chose to show him love.

I had it all wrong.

I’ve come to realize that the best (and only good way) to love your partner is to figure out the ways that they want to be loved, and then respond to that. Showing love is less about the giver, and more about the receiver. Doing things for the one you love that maybe you personally don’t enjoy all that much, but doing it anyhow because it’s something that they absolutely love. After all, loving someone should be about being unselfish, at least some of the time.

I feel like CBG and I have made a lot of strides lately in this department. We’ve been working on communicating the ways that we each want to be loved, and the other has been making an effort to meet those wants. I’m not even talking huge gestures, but more like small, daily acts that reaffirm over and over again, “Yes, you matter. I will make an effort for you, because your happiness is worth it.”  For me, this meant offering to watch one of CBG’s favourite TV programs with him (turns out, I actually love it too – who knew?). For CBG, this means making an effort to suggest things for us to do together (even something small like going out for coffee). These are just two small examples of how we are each making a small effort to love the other in ways that we know they want to be loved.

It all sounds simple, but the truth is, it’s a habit we fell out of for a little while there. We were each so focused on ourselves, and why our own needs weren’t being met, that we didn’t stop to remember that a happy and well-loved spouse will show love in return. Now, every time CBG supports my silly ideas (like our own personal Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day), or whenever he makes me laugh with his antics, I remember that those are things he’s doing for me. Because he loves me. And that makes me want to do something in return.

Give and take, and speaking each other’s love language. That’s what its all about.

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.

 

Closing the Gap

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching lately. This is a good thing, as I’ve realized that I’ve gotten a bit lazy about this. A few years ago it was like I was in a state of almost constant introspection; it kept me in touch with myself and really helped me to grow and be a better person. Lately I’ve gotten kind of complacent, just going through life with blinders on. I would like to say that I’ve been mostly happy and satisfied with life as it is. While that’s true in some areas, in others, the exact opposite is true. I’ve been feeling a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction with certain parts of life. I’ve been feeling stuck. And while it is certainly tempting blame it on any number of outside factors that have been affecting my life, particularly this past year or so, the hard truth is that I’m feeling stuck and frustrated and dissatisfied mainly because of me.

I have in my mind an image of the person that I want to be. I don’t think that realistically I will ever attain that ultimate goal, but there were certainly times in my life that I was a lot closer to being that person than I am right now. The gap between my ideal self and my actual self has widened. Some days its widened to the point that I don’t recognize or even like the person that I see in the mirror.

I’m not looking to be perfect. I may have an “ideal self” in mind, but I’m also a realist. All I really want at the moment is to go to bed at night knowing that I did the best I could on that particular day. Some days that’s going to mean being absolutely awesome. Other days, it might just mean surviving. But for a long time now I’ve been coasting along, satisfied with “survival”, waiting for better days to come. Perhaps even magically appear somehow. What I’ve realized (or re-realized, I guess, since I’ve always known this deep down) is that every day can be a better day. I just have to be willing to work for it.

When I’m 100% honest with myself, I know that I haven’t been doing the work that I need to be doing. The truth is that I’ve been slipping in all aspects of my life. I haven’t been the wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, employee, co-worker, runner, writer, or human being that I want to be. I’ve been making excuses for myself. I’ve been blaming outside forces. I’ve been blaming other people. And sure, my situation, the situation of others, and the people in my life definitely have an effect on me. But I am the person behind the wheel. And while the vehicle stays the same, I can certainly choose which road I take, and the passengers that I take along for the ride.

It’s time to work on closing the gap between the person that I know I ideally can be, and the person that I am right now. The two need to be a lot closer than they have been. I can make that change.

Good Things This Week

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and this week in particular I feel like it’s necessary. Not that there’s anything particularly bad going on, just that I’ve been struggling a bit, attitude-wise.

I started a new job back in mid-August (yes, *another* one), and I’ll fully admit that I’m struggling a bit with it. Once again it’s a job that’s completely different from anything else that I’ve done before, and once again, it’s taken me out of my comfort zone. I know that when I’m feeling happy and positive I keep telling myself that I *want* to be taken out of my comfort zone, so that I can grow and improve, but dang, when I do get pushed out of it, I always end up fighting it, kicking and screaming.

What’s up with THAT, hmm?

So while I’m struggling with being patient with the learning process and with staying positive, I thought that it would be good to remind myself of all the good things that have happened this week.

  • The weather has been spectacular. The humidity has broken, the sun is shining, there’s a bit of crispness in the breeze. Now while I would love to hold onto summer for another month or two, I have to admit that fall is pretty lovely too.
  • Both of my girls are loving school. They’re in grades 6 and 8 now, and though it’s still very early in the school year, they are both happy and doing well.
  • Lil’ Mo started gymnastics on Wednesday – and LOVED it. Now, Lil’ Mo is one of those people who has a lot of natural athletic ability but doesn’t always make good use of it. She’s been really into doing just-for-fun gymnastics with her friends this past year. We enrolled her in a recreational class last winter and while fun, it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. We found another one and she attended the first class on Wednesday evening and is officially stoked about it. She doesn’t have any aspirations of being an Olympian or anything, she just wants to have fun and improve her skills. this is a non-competitive, recreational class and seems to be well suited for her. I love seeing her so excited about something.
  • Wednesday was also CBG’s birthday. Because this week has been so dang busy, we decided to postpone birthday celebrations until next week. So while we kept everything low-key for now, we did go out for birthday ice cream on Wednesday night. More birthday fun will follow.
  • I’ve been really enjoying my walks to and from work. It’s about a 4km walk each way, and I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying the longer walks again. It allows me time to just think…to process everything that’s going on right now, work-wise. And believe me, I need it.
  • Date night. CBG and I have been making an effort these past few months to have a dedicated date night during the week. It’s never anything huge or magical, but it’s time we set aside to just spend some fun together. Thursday night we went to one of the local candy stores, looked around, frolicked, and got some treats to take home and enjoy.
  • Girls weekend! This upcoming weekend it’s going to be just me and my girls, as it’s CBG’s away weekend. Definitely looking forward to some quality time with Kiddo and Lil’ Mo.

So there you have it – this past week in review, and some of the good things about it. After putting it all out there like that, things don’t seem so bad.

Besties Back Together

A couple of months ago I wrote about how I hadn’t been in the same room with my best friend in twelve years. We live several provinces apart and although we’ve tried several times over the past few years to get together, we just haven’t been able to make it happen.

It so happened that she was back home this year visiting family over the summer, and I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to let another year pass by without hearing that infectious laugh of hers in person. I planned the trip, and CBG and I headed to New Brunswick over the long weekend in August.

To say that I was excited about seeing her again was a mild understatement.

The second we saw one another, we threw our arms around each other, laughing, and crying. And hugging. And crying some more. It felt so good to be standing there beside her, and in the blink of eye, it was like absolutely no time had passed at all. Everything was exactly the same.

And everything felt right with my world.

We spent an amazing weekend together – not just with each other, but with our husbands, and other old friends that I haven’t seen in even longer. We laughed, we reminisced, we remembered why life seemed so much better when we saw each other all the time, instead of just chatting through random daily text messages.

I owe this woman a lot of credit for shaping me into the person that I am today. She’s the person who helped shape my ridiculous sense of humour, who always encouraged my creativity, and who loved  me through a lot of crazy crap. She’s been there through breakups, my divorce, the birth of my children. Aside from CBG, she is the only other person on this planet who knows it all – and who has loved me through some of the ugliest parts of my life. No, we haven’t been in the same room much over these last years, but our friendship has endured, in spite of that. Hell, not just endured – but grown stronger. A true friend…which, as I’ve come to learn in the last decade or so, are a pretty rare thing. Proof that a best friend doesn’t always have to be in the same room as you. But it sure as heck feels wonderful when they are.

And I can promise you one thing – it won’t be another twelve years before I see her face in person again.

Finding Joy Again

I had one of those big realization moments the other day when I was out running.

Ah yes, running…the big metaphor for life.

I was thinking about running, about how I recently hit my two year running streak milestone. A big moment for me, for sure. But despite this milestone, and despite continuing with my daily running, I really haven’t been giving it my all. I go out there every day, completing my runs, without challenging or pushing myself. In fact, I’ve been basically half-assing it for a while now. Phoning it in.

And as a result, I haven’t been feeling nearly as joyful about running as I once did.In fact, there are many days when it had just been just feeling like a chore. And really, if it’s going to feel like that, what’s the point anymore?

It’s not just running that’s been feeling this way lately, either. The truth is that I’ve been phoning it in when it comes to a lot of things in my life. My friendships, my career, my parenting, my personal development, my marriage. I’ve been on autopilot when it comes to my life, just like with my running. Just showing up and doing my thing, not challenging or pushing or bettering myself. Which is all well and good of course, but not the kind of person that I ultimately want to be.

I’ve been feeling kind of stuck lately, in all these areas. It’s a frustrating spot to be in, feeling like I’m not getting anywhere in my life. Though I could blame plenty of things — my job, my friends, my ex, CBG — the truth is, the only person responsible for these things is me. I’m the person who hauls my butt out of bed in the morning for those uninspired runs, just like I’m the person who chooses to sit on the couch every night instead of coming up with fun things to do with CBG, or who doesn’t bother pursuing the other things I love in life.

Me. I’m the person who has been making the choice to be stuck in life lately. And just like I’ve been making the choice to be stuck, I can make the choice to be un-stuck, too. And that’s that decision that I’ve made. I made the decision that it’s time to get out of the rut that I’m in with my running, and with my life in general. It’s time to find the joy again — in the miles, my friendships, my job, and my marriage.

And most of all, with myself.

It’s time to stop phoning it in.