About Those New Year’s Resolutions

j0402319Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year?  Did you set any goals that you’d like to work on for yourself?  If you did, how are they coming along?  Have you kept at it or have you, like so many others, found your enthusiasm waning as the year progresses and the gloomy, dark days of winter (sans the celebrations and plus the bills of the previous celebrations) drag on? If you’ve let up on pursuing your New Year’s Resolutions, it’s not to late to get back on track. 

Numbers, Measurements & A New Scale

The other day a friend of mine and I were chatting on Facebook and he asked me about my New Year’s Resolutions.  This person is one of those friends who lives quite a distance away and checks in about every couple of weeks or so.  This was the check in, I suppose.  During that conversation he mentioned that he still reads my blog and wondered if I was keeping up on my New Year’s Resolutions.  I was pleased to be able to report that not only have I kept up on them, I’ve lost 5.5 inches.  That was Wednesday.

Today is Saturday and Saturday for me is weigh in day.  I’m pleased to announce those numbers have again changed. 

But before I reveal the numbers, I have decided that I must get a different scale.  I have a cheap one and I am absolutely certain the number it registers is not accurate.  The reason I know this is because I cannot get the needle to stay on zero with no weight on it.  I also can’t read the thing when I am standing on it and any shift of my feet sends the needle spiraling around the dial.  Squatting on the thing to get a better read doesn’t seem to work either. I often fall off before getting an accurate read.  Not a good look.  So, today, at some point I will go out and get a more accurate (aka. more expensive, I think) scale. Till then I’m not reporting my weight loss because I don’t know what it is.  I think it’s a pound or two, but like I said, I can’t be sure and I just don’t want to fudge those numbers.  If I get the new scale and I’ve been off, it could be psychologically depressing.

The good news is my measurements continue to drop.  As of today, I’ve lost a total of 7.75 inches! That’s a combined total of all the measurements, of course.  Separately, in inches, that’s 1.5 off the hips, 2.5 off the chest (good-bye back flab), 1 from the waist and 2.5 off my thighs (I only measure the right one), and my bicep showed a one-inch gain this week (muscle definition, gotta love it) for an overall loss of  three quarters of an inch on the bicep.

j0441048 Looking Better Naked, Feeling Better Clothed

What’s even better is when I look in the mirror, I’m beginning to see the me I used to know.  I’m not there yet, but I’m looking better naked.  I’m definitely feeling a lot better clothed.  I have more energy and the very, very best part of it all is that I no longer feel as though I’m one step away from the assisted living facility or grave.  I’m beginning to think that paintball with my daughter and her boyfriend might be a possibility this summer as well as actually running again.  Yes, you heard me.  Running.  I hate running.  I look like a hippo running.  I’m graceful in the water, but like the penguin, walrus or many other amphibious creatures I’m somewhat awkward on land especially at high speeds.  But, I’ve already made plans to go running this spring with one of the women I work with.  Yeah, she’s ten years younger than I and will kick my butt, but I’m competitive enough that I’ll work to try to keep up.  That can’t be bad.  I’m pretty certain I’ll never see my 7 minute miles from my triathlon training days again, but I don’t care, just to be moving at something more than a walk and not falling will be a good thing.  What is it I really want to do with all this?  Whatever I feel like.  It is going to be so good to be strong and more agile again.  These thoughts keep me plugging away.

Smooth Sailing, Not Exactly

I have to say, it hasn’t been easy or perfectly smooth this month by any means.  As expected, the schedule is crazy tough to keep routine so I can fit my workout in at the same time every day.  This isn’t going to improve either as I have seven consulting events lined up between now and April which take place in the evenings, in addition to my day job.  Further, my social life is pretty full and I like it that way.  (It also explains a bit why you haven’t seen me here as much.)  I’ve also had my moments of discouragement, stuffing my face with the Bugles and chips the kids brought from their other house and simply, as I mentioned in my last post, throwing the rope on all of it .  In spite of it all, I’m pretty pleased that I haven’t given up on myself and I keep on plugging away.   I’m really successful on some fronts (watching portion size, eating healthier, no drinking during the week, lots of water, consistent exercise) and I’ve failed in some areas momentarily (the binge snacking one week and missing exercise for four days in a row the same week…not good!).  It’s a mixed bag.  The really positive thing about this is that I’m continuing to force myself after every slip, to get back up and get on track. j0442363I’m staying with it this time.  Because of that, I will be successful.

Refuse To Give Up

On a larger level, I think this is what so much of life is really like. Life itself is one big mixed bag.  The good is mixed in with the bad. The successes are intertwined with the defeats. We hit bumps in the road, we derail, we get back up, we keep moving on.  We do it because we must.  We do it because the alternative is less pleasant that the current pain or discouragement.  We keep trying.  We keep working.  We keep hoping.  We keep living. We derail.  We cry.  We hurt.  We heal.  We move on.  It is life.  If we are very lucky, we find others along the way who, though the specifics of their journey differ from ours, the lessons are similar or, if not similar, interesting.  We find friendship.  We connect.  We experience kindness and caring.  We find love in all its many forms in smiles of friends, the hugs of children, the laughter of companions, the conversations with those we care about and enjoy being with. 

The journey to fitness for me, has been far deeper than obtaining physical results, though, let’s be clear, I’m not going to mind looking and feeling better pushing 50 than I did when I was ten years younger.  It’s also been a very internal journey as well.  As my Facebook Friend said so well, “It’s a process of clearing out the junk, both externally and internally.”  I’d have to agree.  That’s exactly what it has been for me.

If you made resolutions this year and you find your enthusiasm and determination faltering, it isn’t too late to try again. Join me.  We can do it together you and I.  Whatever your goal, your dream, your hope.  It can happen, as long as you simply refuse to give up on yourself.  I’m not going to.  Don’t you either.

The Wild Mind

Disconnected Musings

Copyright 2009, The Wild Mind

Four nearly completed (but totally unpolished and incoherent) posts later and it is clear I’m not posting a thing of worth tonight.  There’s just too much going on in my mind.  Really, really too much.  It’s disjointed.  It’s random.  It’s deep.  It’s trivial.  It’s about everything and nothing. It’s totally disconnected mostly.  It looks like this:

Strands of thoughts from a fellow blogger’s blog who confessed she dreams in advance about things that happen to other people,  a dream last night that seemed so real, one I haven’t yet forgotten, I might never forget.  It has been my life for the last two years.  Different faces, different specifics, same words, same pain, the same, all of it.  A scenario I’ve lived many times over in some fashion or another.  A scene I am well aquainted with.  Wondering if my friend has already dreamed my future and if it will simply be yet another of  the many second place finishings I’ve experienced. More ideas and pondering about trust, intimacy, authenticity, connection evaporating in my reality of hidden feelings, unsaid words, unasked questions and confusing behaviors.  Goals for the future opportunities and success running parallel with current 2nd place realities with no means to see the two paths join.  Happiness, contentment, confidence, hope, enthusiasm and joy all tangled up with disappointment, sadness, longing and, yes, somewhere in there, I must confess, the old familiar sting  of  pain.  Words I want to say but can’t.  Ideas to convey, but tangled up with accusations of “not good enough”. Where do these accusers of inadequacy arise and how? Inhibited thoughts that simply can’t get out into visible or audible form, at least, not in a manner that would be comprehensible and confident, let alone adequate.

Not here. Not tonight.

Sometimes there are days when I simply must say…I tried.  I didn’t make it, but I gave it my best effort. I did the best I can, it is all I have to offer. Here it is.

Sometimes there are days when my best doesn’t quite cut it, but it has to be good enough to have tried.

Then there are also times that, in spite of the disconnected randomness of it all, I can look at the craziness called my life and say, everything’s alright and I’m going to be okay. 

Tonight is one of those nights.

I Almost Got Struck By Lightening While You Were Gone

This post is one I am moving over from my other blog, Welcome To CABsPlace, where I am pretty certain I will not continue writing.  That is…unless…someone can come up with a really good reason why I should write two blogs that mostly deal with the same stuff.  This particular post, speaks of doing the single parenting job with four kids and how sometimes, for no seemingly apparent reason, you just encounter turbulence.  I wrote this post originally in June, 2008 and have made only minor revisions. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Summer 2009 033 A sunny summer June Monday morning started out peacefully but soon deteriorated into complete and total chaos, then, just as suddenly as it erupted, the chaos evaporated. This kind of disturbance happens routinely in my home and I am often perplexed as to why or how it starts and what to do about it when it does. Today, I did nothing. That seemed to work.

I awoke, as I normally do to the peaceful music of the birds outside my window. These wonderful sounds were angrily disrupted by the grumbling, groaning, clanking, banging noises of the garbage truck makings its rounds on the block behind mine. My oldest daughter, who had rolled in well after midnight last night from an out-of-town choir tour, continued to sleep undisturbed. Now, she doesn’t usually share the bed with me, but this last week she was gone and her room became the laundry room. When she returned in the wee hours of the morning, I was unwilling to move the laundry and my bed, so though I hated the thought of enduring the battle of the bed sheets and her snoring, I suggested she just crash in my bed tonight. I figured if it got bad enough, I’d just go sleep on the couch.

The night passed uneventfully, meaning I slept without disturbance, until around 5:30 or 6, my youngest decided she wanted to crawl in with us. Once cozily sandwiched in between her older sister and me she drifted off into blissful sleep. I rolled over to try to catch a few more winks myself. That’s when the fun began.

j0422197 I was just drifting of into some nice REM sleep when the warm blankets were abruptly pulled off me. I was startled awake by the chill morning air and the loss of the covers. My youngest, sweet cherub that she is, had become too warm and kicked off all the blankets in her sleep. I glanced across the vast bed to my oldest. She was still sleeping soundly. So was my youngest for that matter. The kicking clearly bothered no one but me. I grumpily pulled the covers back up, rolled back over and went back to sleep again. I’m not sure how long I was sleeping before the covers were suddenly pulled off me again. This time, knowing it was my daughter’s kicking problem, I just reached out grabbed the blankets and pulled them back up over my shoulders. I burrowed down into the bed cinching the covers close around my neck. I closed my eyes. I waited. Sure enough, it was only a matter of a few moments when my daughter’s began flailing in an attempt to rid her body of the constricting sheets. That was it for me. I slid out of bed and padded into the kitchen to start the coffee. I was officially up for the day.

Connecting through Random Sound Bites

Later that morning, as I was putting away dishes, my daughter (Number 2) was mixing up pancake batter when an argument arose between my son (Number 3), and my youngest daughter (Number 4) about who woke up first this morning.

I mean, what’s up with that and who cares?

Then there was the confusion about how Number 1’s dirty clothes got mixed in with the clean clothes in spite of the fact that she’s been gone for a week. This then moved into a discussion (okay, it was really an argument) about moving the family computer out of my oldest daughter’s (Number 1) room to the kitchen/dining area where I am now typing on it. Never mind that all school year she complained about having it in her room because she needed to study and no one else was allowed in there to use the computer while she was studying. Sigh. Then there’s the breakfast table conversation which went something like this:

Number 1: I know for sure I’m not going to Elite Private School in That Big City by Puget Sound.

Me: Oh, why not?

Number 1: I’m not so sure I like the city. (She’d just returned from a week long trip to That Big City.)

Me (raising my eyebrows internally): Well, that’s definitely a consideration.

Number 1 (to Number 2): I got some really neat things while I was gone. (Note the random and sudden change in conversational direction.)

j0422455 Number 4: Pass the syrup.

Number 2 to Number 1: Did you get me anything?

Number 4: Is the first gallon of milk already gone?!

Me: No, it’s right here.

Number 1 to Number 2: No, but you can use some of it if you want. (Referencing the stuff she got on her trip but which was not for her sister.)

Me: Number 2, I don’t think we have enough pancakes here. Does anyone want some more? We can mix some up.

Number 2: You mean, Number 2, can mix some more up.

Number 1: Number 2, are you going to be in Youth Ensemble next year?

Number 2: While you were gone I almost got struck by lightning.

I kid you not, that is how the conversation went. That is how the morning went. One random thought after another. Sound bites of our lives, disconnected but fitting together.  The heartbeat of a family simply comfortable with being together.  It sounded like no one was listening to anyone else, but that wasn’t the case.  It seemed everyone was content just to say something, anything even if no one responded to it.  It is enough to make the thinking adult go nearly mad.  Except that somehow, almost miraculously it seems, there was actual dialogue and forward progress on those daily activities that keep a household afloat. Have you ever stopped and listened to the flow of the daily conversation in your home?  Close your eyes for just a second and listen.  What do you hear? Keep your eyes closed, now what do you see?

Expect Occasional Turbulence

Number 2 did tell about her close encounter with lightning, we did finish breakfast fairly uneventfully, the laundry is getting folded and put away, in spite of Number 2 and Number 3 creating an alliance against Number 4. Currently, Number 3 is attempting to avoid changing the sheets on his bed by suddenly developing an interest in reading, Number 1 is agonizing through her allergies by doing the dishes with Kleenex packed firmly in each nostril and Number 4 is refusing to let me type one more word until I give her permission to scoop the dead worm she found out of the pool. None of this would be a problem except now the older kids are accusing Number 4 of digging up the worm and putting it in the pool instead of finding it already there. Hmmm, how would a worm get in the pool on its own anyway? And then, Number 4, when passing through the sliding screen door knocks the screen completely out of its tracks, you’d have thought she was struck by lightening.

There are days in a family that pass by fairly uneventfully, like when all the kids are gone to their other parents’ homes or spending time away with friends. There are other days, when we are all here and things still pass fairly uneventfully but that seems to occur only if I let the kids do whatever they want and make no demands on them. Since that is not  our reality, it is more common that there is going to be some turbulence at points along the way. I know this. I understand this. I expect and accept this. But I don’t always like it.l_60fb08cb5f694286b3a6544b7f9c3f53

At this very minute, there seems to be an unofficial cease fire and things are calm. I wonder how long this will last? It baffles me how the tone in a home can go from blissfully serene to completely insane in seconds and then just as suddenly back to peaceful. It is not unlike being struck by lightening. Sometimes in family life, it feels like you end up dead too.

On the other hand, it can also leave you with the feeling of being more alive than ever.

How’s That Hope And Change Workin’ For Ya?

Yeah, I know.  It’s a political sentiment posted on Facebook status updates and bumper stickers, but that isn’t how I intend it.  I’ve spent my last two posts talking about my grand designs for a “Healthy New Year”.  I feel in the interests of honesty and authenticity, I ought to share exactly how that’s gone for me so far, only one day into this “healthy” (hahaha!) new year. 

Yesterday I had such great plans.  I’ll save you the angst.  Suffice it to say I accomplished absolutely none of it.  I stayed in my p.j.’s all day.  I did not exercise.  In the name of not wasting food, I made lunch for myself of leftover (wait for it) fried chicken.  Yes, the yummy greasy stuff and store bought to boot, not even home made, which I’m certain would have shaved, oh, half a calorie off it.  I ate three whole pieces.  Not true.  I ate two whole pieces and the skin (ewwww!) off the third.  Sigh. 

If that wasn’t bad enough I had the healthy food compared to what my kids got.  I am such a derelict mother! My kids chose Bagel Bites for lunch! And, of course, I let them choose.  Yeah, all that, while perfectly healthy and yummy tasting turkey is in our fridge ready to be made into sandwiches.  (What?  The bread is moldy? Crap!)

On top of all that, my son digs the chocolate chip cookie dough out of the fridge and decides to start digging in.  Well, out of sight out of mind, but put the junk right in front of me while I’m blowing off my entire day relationally and otherwise by importing all my CDs to iTunes and then synching my new iPhone (yeah, don’t get all excited…it is only the 8 gig one and a refurbished one at that) I ended up just having to have a taste.  And then another taste and, now, well, I’m not feeling so great.  Add to that two glasses of yummy Reisling (hey, it was just there begging to be sipped) and  I’m laughing uncontrollably at my own weakness. So much for my great resolve, eh?

Yep.  The best laid plans of mice and men…or something like that?

Sigh. I’ve developed a lot of really crummy self indulgent (as opposed to not so crummy self indulgent?) habits over the last decade. 

This is going to be a bit more difficult than I thought.  

Well, I guess, I can take the Scarlett O’Hara approach and deal with it tomorrow. 

But that’s the last “gimme” I’m giving myself!  I swear! 

Toward A New Year of Healthy Living

New Year’s Day, 2010

photo by nkzs Yesterday’s post spoke about thinking more thematically about New Year’s Resolutions.  To follow up on that, I feel I must give some more concrete examples of really what I mean. To that end, I have only one New Year’s Resolution. More aptly put, I believe this is a New Year’s theme that I hope characterize my year and the years to come. That theme is Healthy Living or Health. 

You see, I could do what I did last year and talk about all the things I want to do, as though life were some sort of checklist to be completed before the end of it. As a product of the American baby boomer culture, I’ve seen life this way more often than not.  I’d make my list, work frantically to accomplish it, come very close (or maybe not at all) and feel miserably unsuccessful or ineffective if I didn’t complete the list. I was what I could accomplish. 

List Fail

The problem with this thinking, at least for me, is that the list can never be completed because something is always being added to it.  You check off one item only to put another objective in its place.  What’s the sense of accomplishment in that?  How does this manner of operating lead to peace and contentment?  Even if you do accomplish something, the effect or result is only temporary, unless the item stays on the list and then, if you think according to the list, even if you’ve made progress, the danger of perceiving that you haven’t completed anything or not as much as you would have hoped exists. Lists are about completion not progress.  I want to focus on progress, process and becoming.

Really, what I am talking about here with this whole New Year’s Theme thing is not giving myself more stuff to do (and more reasons to be disappointed if I fail) but instead I’m dealing with effecting lasting change in my life.  There are areas I am not content with and I need to change.

Time for Change

Perhaps an example from my own life might serve to provide greater understanding of what I’m really driving at here.  Several years ago, nearly a year, maybe almost two before my divorce even started beginning, things (as things in a failing marriage will tend to be) became very chaotic and conflicted.  I was unhappy, he was unhappy, the kids were caught in the middle of that and dealing with the magnitude of kids that we had (11 in our blended situation), tensions were running at an all time high.  We’d been separated and back together more times than I care to consider, and I was at the point where I knew that something had to change.  I was afraid of what that might mean, but I knew I could not continue in the present situation any longer.  My health was failing rapidly and it was only a matter of time before  I experienced a serious and major collapse.

j0386273 I really had to take some time and think about what it was I wanted.  Now, I didn’t take the attitude of it’s all about me.  I took the perspective that I needed to take care of me so that I could take care of those who depend and rely on me.  In that case, my children, my support network, my community in a larger context, but admittedly I wasn’t thinking on that grand a scale back then.  I was simply in survival mode thinking about what was going to be best for my children and I in the short run, but also in the long run.  If you’ve ever been in this place you know what a difficult task that can be.  How do you think about making monumental decisions that will be right for the immediate future and still be the right ones, down the road a piece?  There are ways of doing this, I’ve since learned, but at that time I was floundering around in a state of hopelessness, fear and anxiety. 

Respect and Survival

As I sat there in a school presentation where the speaker was talking about dealing with children respectfully and building a climate of respect in schools and in homes, everything crystallized for me. It all came together for me, not as a list of things I needed to do in a sequential order, but rather as a frame of mind I needed to adopt; as a way of being I needed to pursue.  It became clear to me, in seconds, that what was lacking on so many levels and in so many areas in my life was, quit simply, respect.  I wasn’t being treated respectfully, nor was I extending it to others in most areas of my life. Not only that, material possession, symbolic of someone’s effort, time, life and money were being treated disrespectfully, the world around us was not being treated with any measure of respect either by any of us. This is not how I wanted to live, nor was it the environment I wanted my children to grow up in learning that this manner of living was an accepted option. 

With the theme being respect, I was then able to clearly see that in the current situation I was going to be crippled if not completely detained in my pursuit of a respectful home atmosphere and lifestyle.  I was then able to make the hard and frightening decisions with confidence and assurance that I needed to make at that time to ensure for me and my children a life that involved treating each other with greater respect and infusing our home with respect.  Three years after that day, I can look back and say it was the right way to look at things and, though we haven’t perfectly arrived, because we continue to learn more each day about areas where we can demonstrate greater respect to each other and because, quite frankly old ways of being die hard sometimes, we are in a much better place than we’ve ever been. We would not be here now if I hadn’t taken the necessary steps to start the process.  I couldn’t have taken the necessary steps if I had focused on what I should or shouldn’t do.  Focusing on what I wanted my children and I to be and experience made it possible for me to figure out the rest.

Healthy Living

 j0442586 It seems I’ve come to another place where a theme is stepping up to the forefront and demanding attention.  In the last three years, several themes have developed. First, was the theme of Respect.  The next theme that characterized the first year after the divorce till now was Survival.  The next theme which I believe to be developing in my life is that of Healthy Living or maybe just Health.  It is a theme that encompasses not just the idea of physical fitness and healthy eating, but also the areas of spiritual health, intellectual health (sustenance and growth) and relational health.

These “themes” I am talking of, if that is even an appropriate terminology, are not something I adopt, carry around with me for a while and then discard because they no longer suit the situation.  If you could think of building an onion from the inside out a layer at a time, you might come closer to how this all works for me.  As each theme develops in my life, it becomes part of me with following themes overlaying themselves on pre-existing themes.

So, since the title of this post is about a healthy new year and since I did mention it earlier on in this now rather lengthy post, I suppose I should discuss it just a bit.  Healthier Living, as a theme in my life, for this year, or for whatever amount of time it decides to be the forerunning focus, will help me make decisions daily regarding my time, my activities, my decisions, my focus.  Instead of creating a list that I may or may not accomplish, depending upon my motivation level or my feelings, I will instead operate from the place of asking myself, “Is this the healthiest thing for me right now?”  Or I might consider, “Is this particular choice going to move me closer to the healthy, whole life I see for my children and myself?”  The particular questions help me sort the myriad choices I face each day in order to more closely align my life with the healthful vision I see of myself and for myself and my family (because I don’t just simply think of myself, ever, in isolation; what I choose impacts and affects many others whether I recognize it or not).  So, in brief then, the theme works to direct my efforts, focus my energy and determine my choices.  I am no longer burdened by a list that can never be accomplished. I am simply, moment by moment becoming healthier and these moments will, undoubtedly stack up and create a year that is much healthier than years previous.

j0433106 Enthusiasm, Hope, Confidence, Optimism

Approaching life this way has, over the last three years, been very effective for me in implementing significant and incredibly positive change in my life over a relatively short period of time.  This approach might not work for everyone, but I’ve found it to be incredibly effective for me in determining where to focus my energy, how to prioritize all the conflicting demands that bombard me daily as a single mom, and in helping me keep at it even when things become discouraging and disappointing as they likely will. It is an approach which instead of frustrating and defeating me, fills me with optimism, confidence, enthusiasm and hope. Since I’ve heard those are some of the key ingredients for someone in good mental health, I guess that’s not a bad place to start.

Time For Change

There are whole years for which I hope I’ll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Another New Year’s Eve

clocks-med When you look back on 2009, what single word would you use to describe your year?  Was it a year of triumph, of joy, of wealth or misfortune?  Was it a year of stability or change?  Was it a year of loss, grief and pain?  Was it a year of peace and tranquility? Is it a  year you are glad to have lived or is the year for you already reminiscent of heartache, failure, struggle or regret?  Is there, if you were to consider it, a theme to your year?

Another year has come, tarried awhile, and is on the verge of bidding us all adieu.  This year no doubt brought its share of surprises, joys, disappointments, challenges and successes.  As I consider 2009 as a whole, I’d have to say that one word above all describes it best.  For me, that word is disappointment.  This, of all years, in my recent history, has been most disappointing for me.  Sure, there’ve been successes and some high spots and things are looking up overall. I’m incredibly grateful for all that, but just like a painting that has some red, some yellow, but is painted with mostly blue, I’d have to say 2009 was painted with mostly disappointments and false starts. 

58600_4561 I’m not going to take the time to review my resolutions from last year.  I’m certain I kept none of them though I got started on a few.  They’ll probably all be on my list again this year.  I do think, however, that I’m going to try something different this year.  Instead of developing a list of things I’d like to accomplish in my life, because there will always be those things I hope to do and most of them are ongoing items anyway, I think I will focus on becoming.  Instead of pondering what I need to do this year, I am going to stop with all the emphasis on "doing" and reflect more upon the person I should be.

Better, even, than this, I think I will just focus!  Most of my problem this year, seems to be that I got distracted from my priorities by things that were not priorities, yet I somehow convinced myself to make them so.

Some things have transpired this year, and even this week that indicate to me that I have a bit of internal work to do.  I’ve gotten distracted again.  I need to take time to reassess my own priorities.  Maybe you can relate. 

Personal Inventory

Have you ever gotten to that place in life where you were just uneasy with your life? Things are not horrible, but they aren’t quite what you know they could be?  You know you need to be doing things differently but instead you’ve been making excuses? Maybe it is that weight loss program you wanted to start but you keep making excuses as to why you can’t exercise now, or why you haven’t planned for healthy meals. Maybe you’ve continually said you wanted to do this or that but something always comes up and you are no closer to starting it than before.  What is all that about? After considering that question, have you then gotten to the place where you finally are simply tired enough of the status quo and the excuses that you say, "Enough.  It is time for me to change"?

Note, I did not say time for things to change.  I said time for me to change. 

Because it isn’t the things I am doing necessarily that are the issue and really most of the things in my life won’t change dramatically over the next year.  It is the me that I am being that is problematic.  I am my own worst enemy. I am the one who must face my own internal music, listen to the tempo, try to figure out the score, find the beat and play my life according to that.  Anything else will only end up with me, at this time next year, writing about more disappointment.

New Year’s Resolutions

Now, I must also mention, since all this sounds so dismal that 2009, for me was not a bad year. It was actually a very good year in many, many ways.  There are just areas, nagging little pockets of progress I’d hoped to have made in certain really significant areas that I did not. So with that, I will probably review my list of resolutions, but instead of writing a list that looks like this:

1.  Get in shape

2.  Learn to cook healthy meals that look good and are edible.

3. Read more. 

My list will instead focus on the kind of person I’d like to work on becoming, but this is much more difficult to pin down and specify.  It also demands some prerequisite contemplation about what my own priorities are, what my goals are, what I see my purpose in this world as being (and, no, I don’t see it as being all about me, but how am I fulfilling whatever role I believe I’m to be doing on this earth), and in what ways am I already doing whatever-it-is well and were can I refocus my thinking, adjust my time management, or change my perspective? It might very well prove to be an interesting journey, at least for me and those who are closest to me. 

I hope you will consider, if you haven’t already done so, at the start of this New Year, taking your own personal inventory and beginning your own inward journey.

Happy New Year!

The Wild Mind

Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  ~Carl Sandburg

Don’t let time take control of your destiny. Let your destiny take control of your time. ~Ulrick Ricardo Milord

 

Two Men In My Bed

If he is comic, it is only because of the incongruity of so demure a look and so wild a heart.  ~Alan Devoe

1243928_97069126 I am not a morning person.  Wait! Under certain circumstances I might be considered very much a morning person, but even so, the term night owl is still more likely to refer to me.  I do my best thinking at night, usually because that is when my busy world finally becomes quiet.  Because of this,  I usually come to consciousness each morning, slowly, gradually. 

This morning was no different.  I realized I was awake before my eyes actually opened.  I felt the slight pressure on my legs of another being in my bed, then another weight between my legs.  Yes, most definitely, there were not one but two men in my bed and both of them there at the same time! It was only moments before some serious tussling activity ensued, around me, on top of me, beside me.  My two male cats were at it again wrestling, scrapping, clawing and scratching playfully as two young cats will do. 

I’ve never been much of a cat person really.  For pets, I’ve always chosen dogs.  This summer, a friend of mine had a cat that got out and as cats will do, this one ended up pregnant.  From the get-go she began working on me to take one of the kittens.  I already had a dog.  A cat was not something I needed.

1081424_17150445 To make a long story short, she convinced me.  Or more accurately, she convinced my youngest daughter.  Upon the condition that I would not have to touch the litter basket and that I would not be responsible for that mess, I agreed to take one kitten.  So, my youngest daughter and I went over to my friend’s house and chose our kitten when it was only a few weeks old.  When the kittens were old enough, we went to pick up our new little fluffy member of the family.  As we were doing so, I noticed one of the brothers frolicking around.  It was a cute little black tabby thing with gold eyes.  I was irresistibly drawn to this little guy and, you guessed it, instead of coming home with one cat, I came home with two. 

I have not yet regretted this act of complete impulsivity. Some would call it insanity and in my BC life (Before Cats) I would have agreed. Not so, these days.  The kids have been absolutely terrific about keeping the litter box cleaned out daily.  Feeding them is no chore nor is keeping the water dish full. We have one of those watering tower things and that works perfectly. I am absolutely certain that rodents will not venture near my home anytime soon so the presence of my cats serves a utilitarian purpose, but they also add a positive emotional dimension to our home. 

Cats are both wonderfully affectionate and yet very independent. Unlike a dog who will jump up and pounce all over you, licking and slobbering before you’ve even set your laptop down a cat will sit on the couch or by the wall staring silently at you as you enter the abode after a long day of work.  A cat will not run and pounce excitedly smothering you with affection before you’ve had a moment to relax.  A cat waits.  A cat watches.  A cat might follow you from room to room enjoying your presence.  Once settled, a cat will gracefully rub up against your legs, curl up in your lap or beside you on the couch.  A cat somehow stays connected, but remains independent. 

I love that about my cats. They truly are two cool cats.  I never thought I’d ever be a cat person, but I’m afraid I’ve been won over by these two characters.  It is so nice waking up to something warm, cuddly and soft each morning.  It does a great deal to stave off the loneliness I often experience when the kids are away for extended periods of time as has been the case this holiday.  I don’t feel so completely alone.  There are other creatures in my life giving to me and me to them in a caring and nurturing way.

And…until the day comes (if it comes) when I am instead waking up to something warm, cuddly and hard and human…these two boys do a great deal to put a smile on my face each morning with their antics.  Granted, they aren’t the same kind of antics I would otherwise someday hope to enjoy again, but then there are many ways of enjoying life aren’t there? 

The Wild Mind

Cats come and go without ever leaving.  ~Martha Curtis

You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.  ~Jane Pauley

Divorce Transitions or How To Slay a Dragon—Another Year Later

Costumes_Halloween_Lady_Dragons I wrote this last year at about this time of year over on my other blog. It is rather lengthy so I’ve broken it down into a series of several posts.  Those of you who have been through the divorce process and are trying to heal up after it, might have some very significant and quite possibly different perspectives to share.  If so, I hope you’ll leave a comment.  I certainly don’t profess to have the only valid experience.  I only share mine and what was helpful for me.  I love hearing what others found helpful.  I know my readers do too!

I spent most of my childhood growing up in rural eastern Oregon.  My family lived in the same home from the time I was in third grade till after I graduated from college.  We drove the same ’68 Chevy Camaro and never had another car.  My mother had the same job in the same office building across from the county library until she retired many years after I was grown and beginning my own family.  My grandparents lived across the river in Idaho, a mere six miles away.  They owned a department store in town where I spent my pre-school years hiding in the racks peeking out at customers from behind the clothes.  It was a stable, predictable, secure childhood.  Very little ever changed.  It was not the kind of beginning that exactly prepares one to deal with the transitions that come after a marriage ends.  But, if we are fortunate, and I was, we should not be preparing for such sad events.  There just weren’t that many dragons to slay back then…and…I guess that’s a good thing.

clocks-med Change is the only constant.  This is never more true than when going through a divorce, when emotions run high and everyone is running scared at some level.  Everyone, except the attorneys and the dragon.  They are running to the bank.  (Sometimes I think I am definitely in the wrong career.  Hmmmm, is it too late for a law degree?) Even so, I am grateful for a good attorney who helped me see the issues clearly and without emotion.  The dragon is bigger and has the fire-breathing capabilities.  You can easily determine where the dragon fits in your own analogy.  For me, it was a volatile and completely unstable partner who was an incredible con artist and who had everyone believing (including myself) that I was the crazy psychotic problem child.   

Phase 1–Acceptance

This is the first transition and probably the most difficult in divorce:  accepting that the marriage is over.  Accepting that one partner wants out badly enough  to formalize the dissolution legally can be a difficult and heartbreaking reality to grasp.  Whether you are the one initiating the divorce or the one having to accept that your partner is saying, "I’m out!",  the very first step is to accept that no matter what happens, when the dust settles you will in fact be divorced.  Nothing else but this will be certain as you head into the process of negotiating like you’ve probably never in your marriage or maybe your life negotiated before. It is not unlike dodging the fiery blasts of the dragon’s anger as you attempt to defend your kingdom. The finances, the assets, the kids, the child support, the alimony and the acrimony will all be undetermined until the judge raps his gavel or until the two of you sign out of court. Until then, you just don’t know how the dragon will move, twist, or turn.

BooksandGavelA_jpg When I walked in to see my attorney…a good two years before I actually retained her…she told me these words, "Look, I can’t assure you of anything except that by the end of this you will be divorced."  She was right, and despite what is oft said about attorneys, she was honest, direct, a great strategist and she advocated on my behalf.  She helped me negotiate the frightening web of legalities to ensure the best possible outcome for my children and I.  She was there to negotiate some of those transitions for me.

Plan on the transitions.  Expect them, anticipate them, negotiate them and then live them.  My attorney helped me plan and prepare for the first phase of transitions but I had to first face the reality that nothing I could do was going to change the eventual outcome.  Armed with this knowledge I was able to take a more active role in determining and shaping my own post-divorce world.

If you are at this place in your life and the inevitable is going down, I encourage you to begin doing your own research.  Find out what the laws are in your state or county.  Find out how property is usually divided and how the courts generally treat custody and parenting issues arrangements.  Your attorney can be a valuable resource in this area.  You can also do your own homework.  There are many great resources on the internet. 

It helped me to think of life in three categories: the things that were non-negotiable for me, the things that I could easily give up, and the things that fell in between these two extremes. It became a matter of prioritizing.  When it came to negotiating with the ex, I knew clearly what I had to barter with and what wasn’t up for negotiation from my perspective.  This ended up being irrelevant for me as my ex didn’t even show up for the hearing and the judge ruled everything as proposed by my attorney with some added stipulations making it more difficult for the ex should he seek to drag me back to court in the future. This, however, is extremely rare.  Expect a battle and arm yourself intelligently and thoughtfully for it.

 

Old Maids and Fairy Tales

This post originally appeared on my MySpace blog in 2007 back in the day when I actually maintained a MySpace page.  That was in the pre-FB days.  My, how things have changed!  I migrated this piece over to CABsPlace when I originally started blogging.  I’m moving it here now, because it is vintage Wild Mind thinking…with some minor updates. Let me know what you think. 

cinderella-stories-with-the-disney-princesses-8236784-800-600I was one of those misguided people who grew up with the idea that somehow the right way, or the good way or the proper way to do the "fairy tale" was to go to college, meet Mr.. Prince Charming, upon graduation get married and then begin doing life.  I was also under the misguided impression that if I wasn’t engaged by the time I graduated, my odds of ever getting married were rapidly declining and I was running the risk of dying an "old maid". 

Now, I have no idea where I came up with these absolutely ludicrous ideas.  I mean, my mother certainly didn’t instill those into me.  In fact, she was the one who constantly admonished me to spend time figuring out who I was, what I wanted and what I was about before even entering into marriage.  It was her voice that encouraged me to spend a few years after college being single and on my own so I could learn whatever I needed to learn to be able to stand on my own two feet.  My father agreed with my mother on that score and together they actually taught me to reason logically, value education and intelligence and to stand my ground in the face of adversity. 

Their relationship, at least from my perspective, didn’t look at all like the fairy tale I envisioned.  They got married after being divorced twice in front of the justice of the peace, for crying out loud!  No, white horse drawn glittery carriage for them.  Though, I have to admit that my dad, who was an amateur rock hound and who cut and polished his own semi-precious stones as a hobby, did all right where the ring came into play.  He cut, polished and had set the most beautiful blue sapphire I have to this date ever seen.  It was huge.  It was sparkly. It was some serious bling! It was gorgeous and it had fairy tale written all over it.  Come to think of it, it was probably as big as Cinderella’s carriage…but I digress.

My parents were practical, responsible, intelligent people.  They’d lived long enough to have the fairy tale beaten out of them. Or maybe they had learned along the way that the fairy tale exists, it just doesn’t always look the way the storybooks and Disney portray it.  Hmmm.

But…being young, headstrong and unwilling to consider (at least at that age) that my parents even had a clue about how to do life, much less that they actually made good choices in the romance department, I did not listen.  Instead, I forged ahead, dreaming of the day when my own fairy tale would be realized. 

Anyone who spoke to me of enjoying being single and seeking my own life independent of any man was received by me with the same response most folks would give Dracula.  I didn’t exactly pay them any heed.  In fact, I smiled nicely and avoided them like the plague.

Fast forward, two marriages, four children, and a quarter of a century later and I’m thinking my parents and all those well intentioned advisors may have had it right all along.  No, not may have, they did have it right all along.  Instead of seriously considering spending my 20’s discovering me and learning to be comfortable with me, which would have then later helped me to recognize Mr.. Prince Charming and make a more informed marital decision, I jumped into marriage.  I didn’t know him, I didn’t know me, I had no experience with which to make decisions and I was very miserable for many many years and it spiraled out of control less than 20 years in.  When I self-destructed as the result of my own self designed disaster, my "fairy tale" self-destructed.  You’d think I’d have learned from my mistake.  You’d think. But no, I tried to fix the first wrong, by committing a second one.  I married a second time only a brief two months after the ink was dry on my first divorce.  As you might imagine, thus began the nightmare from which I couldn’t awaken and it lasted for six long and terrifying years.

My parents had it mostly right all along. I should have taken my twenties to just get to know me as I am.  I should have taken the time, as my mother advised, to figure out what my likes and dislikes are…apart from parental admonitions.  Apart from a significant other’s overbearing demands.  Apart. Alone.  Me.  Unedited.

Now, today, here I am, a lifetime later (it seems), taking their advice.  I am, at 40+,  doing what I should have done 25 years ago.  I am a slow learner.  In the education world we call that the student who needs more time.  I guess, that’s me.  I needed more time…and now I’m taking it.  But, to be honest, it’s really not easy at this stage of the game. 

You see, when I was twenty, I had better odds of having more time.  In my mid-40’s, it’s likely, I don’t have that kind of time left.  There is the sense, in some ways, that time is running out, and, to be honest that worries me occasionally.  But it only worries me sometimes, not all the time.  I don’t dwell on it ever.  In fact, I have reached the point where I mostly don’t care.  I am no longer afraid of being the "old maid", because simply stated, the old maid doesn’t exist, and even if she does and even if I were her, after what I’ve been through, I can confidently say there are fates worse than that.  I’ve lived one of them already.  I’m not soon going to sign up for it again.

Young people today are waiting longer to get married and that, in my mind is wise.  Some, no many, are choosing never to marry, even though they could.  People are living longer, women even older than me are far more active for far many years than in past generations.  I look around and see many women who are single, divorced, widowed and I don’t see a single old maid among them.  I see people choosing life, enjoying life and making choices that work for them, because they know themselves well enough to say yes to the options that they know they can live with and enjoy.  They easily and without apology say no to the options or choices that would be unhealthy or damaging for them.  They do this because they know who they are and what their limits are.  This is a very good thing.

So, as the mother of three daughters and one son, I’ve worked hard to debunk the Old Maid myth and rewrite the fairy tale.  I’ve worked hard to encourage my children to be themselves and get to know themselves.  This requires some detachment at times as a parent.  It also requires skill in listening, accepting and keeping lines of communication open.  Critical, judgmental and harsh evaluations cannot be entertained.

Do I always enjoy hearing about my daughter’s latest agony with a guy she likes, a catty girlfriend who just betrayed her, or the relational stresses any of them might at any time be experiencing? Hmmm, no, sometimes it’s just too much information, but I’d rather she discuss it with me than not.  It also gives us the opportunity to practice taking a look at who she is, what she’s about, what her personal goals are and how all the noise around her fits into that.  In the end, I can’t walk with her into her fairy tale, but I can give her the tools to write it for herself in whatever manner she chooses. And, I can help free her from the Disney image of what that fairy tale must look like.  This is what I am doing with her and each of her siblings in turn.

As for me?

Well…sigh. 

I often think my chance at love, romance and enjoying life with Prince Charming may be well past.  I hope not.  As a realist, I have to entertain the idea that this just might be my reality.  I have to move on. I have to deal with me.

cameron_diaz_mike_myers_shrek_001If he does appear…my Prince Charming doesn’t have to fight any dragons or wake me with a kiss from an endless, enchanted sleep.  In fact, he doesn’t have to do anything. He just has to be honestly, to the core, himself.  No apologies.  I imagine when he finally rides onto the scene, I will be busy ruling my kingdom, he will be busy ruling his, and we will know ourselves well enough to recognize that what we have together has all the makings of a very fine fairy tail. It won’t look like Disney.  At this point, it might not even look as good as my parents’ fairy tale, but, then, it might look a whole lot better too. It won’t matter, with any luck we’ll recognize each other when we cross paths and we’ll know the fairy tale we want to create and we won’t hesitate to set about making it happen.

Until then, I’m defeating the scary dragons that threaten on occasion to consume my castle and my kingdom on my own, doing quite well at it and enjoying, well, almost every minute of it.

After reading that, I realize, it is probably geared mostly toward my female audience.  I’ve been doing some thinking though lately and my hunch is that men aren’t so “undesirous” of the fairy tale as we might be led to believe.  It might look different to a guy.  I don’t know. It’d be nice to hear what some men out there think about the fairy tale.  I think maybe we are all closer to being on the same page than we think about what we want and hope for in relationship.  What do you think?

If Life Were A Supermarket, Where Would I Find You?

Copyright CABrasseur, 2009

Some of you might know that I have another blog titled Welcome To CABsPlace. I’ve kind of let that dangle a bit as I try to clarify really what my own vision is for each of my blogs.  For now, I think I’ve decided to make CABsPlace more of my personal or family blog and have it deal more with parenting, home improvement, and single mommy stuff, while this one will address more adult themes of mid-life singles, divorce, relationships, dating, self-improvement and personal growth, as well as parenting.  To that end, I am going to start moving some of the CABsPlace Posts over here in cases where the content is more suitable for this blog.  This is the first of such posts.  You’ll know the original post content because the font will appear (hopefully) in a different color.  And, yes, I am taking liberties, at times to edit and enhance (this does not mean re-write) the posts when necessary.

I hope you enjoy these.  Some of them are my earlier works and it is interesting to see how much I’ve changed in my thinking and my writing in the last couple of years. Do, please, let me know what you think.  The feedback is incredibly valuable to me.  

The email comment read, “If life were a supermarket, I bet I’d find you in the desserts and treats aisle”. I pondered this statement momentarily, thinking, well that’s a pretty creative way of putting yourself out there.  However, I thought to myself as I gazed at the digital text, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate. I mean, desserts and treats?  Fun?  Yes.  Sweet and yummy? I like to think so in the right circumstances with the right kind of guy.  Complete fluff and no real relational nutrition?  Not so much.

I decided to rewrite myself as if my life were a supermarket. Where would one find me? Here’s my start to that creative question. 

Check out the decadent phallic symbols in this picture!

If life were a supermarket, I’d be in the desserts and treats section because I am fun, sweet, yummy, tasty and gooey and, at times, in the appropriate context with a suitable member of the opposite sex, very decadent.  I’d also be in the fine wines section because I am aging well and I deserve to be savored rather than gulped and tossed aside.  You’d find me in the the tri-tip steak section because I am tender, flavorful, tasteful and authentically real unlike the hot dogs or bologna slices you find in the processed lunch meats aisle.  You’ll  find me in the produce aisle especially near the dark green leafy vegetables, the mushrooms and the zucchini because I am really down to earth, health conscious, but not fanatical. You’d find me in the coffee aisle because the smell of fresh brewed coffees is more about ambiance that caffeine and mood is so important to a satisfying relationship.  You’d find me in the cleansers and detergent aisle because while I’m not OCD, I am definitely a bit of a neat freak and I like my home and my things and my children to be clean…as well as myself and my own clothing. Of course, you’d find me in the toiletries aisle, at some point, because like all good moms, I take care of the details and I’m prepared for any emergency. You would not find me in the fast food or chips and dip section, because I have a bit more substance than that. However, even I have been known on occasion to indulge in popcorn or cotton candy and even I, on occasion drink a beer. But I don’t frequent those aisles often and if you caught me there it would be a chance meeting indeed. You might find me in the section with wild jalapeno peppers because I can be hot and spicy.  You’d find me in the International Foods section because I love the world, it’s peoples and hope to travel to meet them someday in their own countries, at their own tables, in their own settings. In short, you’d find me in any aisle with food that authentic food goes well with fine wine, friends, good music, good times and the making of cherished memories…that is…if my life were a supermarket.

Now, if your life were a supermarket, where would I find you???

Have fun with this!  I look forward to your comments.