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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.

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.

 

Looking Ahead at 2017

I love the start of a new year for a lot of reasons. I love the idea of a fresh start, an opportunity for a “do-over”, to make changes for the better. In reality, we don’t have to wait for January 1 to start over or to try to do better; every minute of ever day is a chance to change, in my opinion.

But a brand new year feels special somehow.

In years past I’ve made myself a laundry list of things I wanted to do in the upcoming year. Read “X” number of books. Run “X” amount of kilometers. Lose weight. Declutter. On and on. I would always start out the year with great intentions, and then usually by around March or so, it had all fallen by the wayside. It’s tough to keep up that kind of momentum, particularly when my lists were long and varied.

For 2017 I’ve decided to take a bit of a new approach. Instead of making specific goals for myself for the coming year, I’ve decided to broaden my scope. For this year, my one and only aim is to do better.

Do better – in whatever I tackle. Try harder. Make a greater effort. Push myself just a little bit more – when it comes to parenting, my job, my friendship, my marriage, my fitness goals. Nothing specific, just better. My ultimate goal in life is to keep growing and changing, and so if I focus for this next year on simply doing better, then I feel like just maybe I’m setting myself up for success, rather than failure. There are any number of ways that I can be better and do better in all aspects of my life. I’m excited for this.

Do better. It’s something we can all work toward, don’t you think?

A Look Back at 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about this past year. It’s hard to know what to say about it, really, as I’m experiencing a lot of mixed emotions. It’s been a year of both ups and downs; many happy personal things have happened, but there’s also been a lot of loss, not just in the celebrity world but for a lot of people close to me as well. It was a strange year, indeed.

On a personal level, there was a lot of loss around me. A good friend lost her husband. My best friend’s father lost his battle to cancer. Another friend’s mother passed away just before Christmas. CBG’s daughter Pebbles lost a friend, too. There was a lot of sadness around for people that I care about.

And of course there was a lot of loss in the celebrity world as well. A lot of beloved celebrities died this year – more than usual, it feels like. And more that seemed to go “before their time”. For me I lost three of my all-time favourites: Prince, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael. Each of those artists touched me in a different way, and I’ll be honest, the world feels just a little bit emptier without them. However. I also feel a deep sense of gratitude for the fact that the world even had these people to begin with; people who I never had the privilege of meeting, but still managed to touch me in a memorable way.

There’s been a lot of good things that have happened in our family this year. CBG landed his dream job. I landed a job that I am much happier in. Because of these two things, we’re starting to get back on track financially. This summer I got to see my best friend again for the first time in almost 12 years. Most importantly, with some hard work and a lot of love, CBG and I have been able to reconnect and reach a good place again.

Equally important, I feel like groundwork is being laid for continued good things in the future. The past couple of years have been a bit of struggle for my family, and it is good to feel like we’re moving in a forward direction again. It makes me excited to see what’s in store for us.

2016 has been a time of learning for me. Yes, there has been loss, but that loss has reminded me that there are no guarantees in this life. And because of that, we need to get out there and live. We need to take risks. Push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Spend time with loved ones. Tell people how much they mean to us. We need to make good things happen – to get out there and grab life and squeeze every bit of goodness out of it that we can.

And that’s exactly what 2017 is going to be all about for me.

Life Lessons from a Forty-Something

The older I get, the more I think about aging. I know that there are plenty of people out there who hate it, who fight the whole process tooth and nail. Now, while I don’t exactly enjoy those growing morning aches and pains, and the thought of death rushing headlong toward me, I have realized that for the most part, I have actually been enjoying growing older. Lets fact it — it’s way better than the alternative – there are plenty of people denied the privilege of growing old. I feel like every year I spend on this planet are a gift, not to be wasted.

(Or, maybe wasted a little bit, like when the new season of OITNB comes out on Neflix. Y’know….priorities and all that.)

For the most part, I realize that life is only getting better as I get older. There’s something to be said for being a forty-something woman who knows herself, over being a twenty-something woman who doesn’t really have a clue. I’m still a work in progress and hopefully will be for a good long time to come.

Here are some things I know at forty-something that I certainly didn’t twenty years ago.

  1. I can’t control other people’s reactions to me. All I can do is my best to communicate clearly to others, and then let them take it from there. Some people will get it, and some people won’t. But trying to control their choices is only an exercise in crazy-making.
  2. My own self-care is the greatest gift I can give to others. Although I’m not perfect at it, I’ve certainly gotten a whole lot better at this whole self-care thing over the years. And gone are the days when I allow myself to feel guilty for it. No freakin way. I’m a better mother, wife, friend, employee and general human being when I make the effort to take care of myself properly. You’re welcome.
  3. Not everyone likes me – and that’s okay. When I was younger, I really scrambled to try and make everyone like me. All that did was leave me exhausted. It also meant that I was constantly trying to be someone and something that I wasn’t. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that hey, guess what? I’m not everyone’s cup of tea….and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only person I really have to make sure likes me is me – and if I focus on that, on being an integral and likable person to myself, then those closest to me, those who “get” me, will feel the same.
  4. So much more can be accomplished with self-love than with self-loathing. I used to try so hard to change myself out of hatred. I would see something about myself that I disliked intensely, and would work to try and make myself better. I’ve come to realize that attempting to change for those reasons just doesn’t work. The best way (and the only way to make it stick) is to change yourself out of self-love, because you know, deep down, that you deserve better. Loving change is always the best.
  5. Mistakes are the best learning tools. I will be the first to admit that I am far from perfect. I have made a great number of mistakes in my 42 years on this earth, and I know that before it’s all said and done, I will make many more. But as cheesy at it sounds, those mistakes have been great learning tools for me. I have been able to learn something valuable each time I’ve screwed up. I can’t say that would be the case if I’d always done everything perfectly my whole life.

Instead of being sad that I’m getting older like some people, I choose to be happy about it. Because really? We all only get better with age. 🙂

Self Care

I work hard at maintaining good self-care habits. I run every day. I make a concerted effort (most of the time, anyhow) to eat healthy food. I try to get to bed at a decent hour most nights. These are all things that I know work together to make me a happier, healthier person. I’m not perfect when it comes to self-care; some days are a greater struggle than others.

I’ve written before about my yearly struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I do what I can every year – exercise, vitamins, a SAD lamp, early bedtimes. These things are always a struggle, and I still always end up feeling pretty rotten by about March. By the time spring arrives, I feel like I’ve survived something.

This past year I didn’t feel like I bounced back 100% from the winter. I struggled through the spring and well into summer before I started feeling like my old self; even at that, I still didn’t get to where I wanted to be. Fall was pretty good, as far as fall goes but now that it’s winding down and I see winter looming on the horizon, a big part of me was absolutely dreading those cold dark days and the low mood and exhaustion that go along with it.

I saw my doctor last week and together we made the decision to put me on a low dose anti-depressant. I’m not normally one to take medication; I was on anti-depressants years ago when I was going through a particularly tough time, and I didn’t find them to be all that helpful for me. Of course, the problem back then was more the situation that I was in, and once the situation changed, my mood dramatically improved. Go figure.

This year I decided that I didn’t want to drag myself through the next three or four months, feeling terrible all the time, holding my breath until the weather got warmer and sunnier. I recognize that meds aren’t the cure, but my hope is that they will help me feel good enough to keep up with all the other self-care stuff that will definitely help – the exercise, the vitamins, the positive attitude…blah blah blah.

I know that medication isn’t the right answer for everyone. And hell, it might not even be the right answer for me, but at this point, I’ve tried everything else outside of eye of newt and tongue of bat, so I figure that it might be time to finally explore this as an option. It’s not a decision that I came to lightly, but hell, if I can make it through the coming winter without feeling like I’ve fought a hard battle, then I’d call it a win.  Time will tell.

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.