Thursday Ten: Ice and Cold and It’s Winter Edition

BLEH.

1. I think we all know that this is the time of year that I struggle with the most. I hate cold weather. I hate winter driving. I hate paying my energy bill. I hate that I can’t work out outside.I hate that my car is nearly white now from salt remnants. Yesterday it was -13 degrees when I woke up – and that’s without taking the wind chill into account (actually, the wind chill was also -13, so I guess it could have been worse? What am I even saying anymore?).

2. One of the things I did to just after Christmas is to buy a Nest Learning Thermostat – I had a programmable thermostat before but I’m hopeful that I can further cut energy expenses by better programming my schedule and the ability to set the thermostat as “Away” when I’m not at home. In just a few short weeks, I have noticed that my January 2015 bill reflects less energy usage than my 2014 bill, but there are other variables that could factor in — so I’ll be looking forward to next month’s bill (WHAT DID I JUST SAY?) just to see. Am I nerd’ing out about my energy bill? Only a little. So far.

218 | 365 - January 8, 2015

3. I have been grateful that with the rough roads last week, that I was able to carpool with my mom. Last winter’s car accident has made me even more cautious and I find that driving on icy roads just stresses me the hell out. A storm brought in truly brutal weather last Friday – which resulted in a nearly 200-car pile up near Kalamazoo. Fortunately, I was at home, working at my dining table (and NOWHERE NEAR THE HIGHWAY!), but oy. Stupid winter. Though this week has brought in some very very cold temperatures, I have to admit, I’ll take the bitter cold over the snow and ice. At least my commute is a smooth one and I have coffee to warm me.

4. Chris and I finally finished listening to Serial over the weekend and… well, gosh. I’m not sure WHAT I think. I have gone back and forth and around and around and well, I won’t spoil any of it here – but if you have listened to the series, leave me a comment letting me know what you think. Did Adnan kill Hae? Do you think Jay lied? And what do you think Serial has up its sleeve for Season Two? I admit, I am SO hooked.

5. I got my hair cut last week – had several inches cut off and I have hair cut remorse. I wanted a change. I wanted a noticeable difference. And. I got it and now I want my hair back.

216 | 365 - January 6, 2015

6. My dog has been seriously smelly the past few days and as much as I don’t want to dedicate any of this post to heinous dog farts, it’s pretty bad and he deserves some public blog shaming for whatever he did that is making him smell this way.

7. Pumpkin won her class spelling bee and then went on to compete in the school bee and was out in the first round. It’s a really interesting and terrifying thing, as a parent, to watch your kids do these kinds of things – because on one hand, I didn’t care if she won or not because I was so dang proud already, but on the other hand, I knew that no matter when she was out of the game, that it would be tough for her. And yeah, it really as. She held it together fairly well, but I could see that she was discombobulated. She said later, “I knew that it was good just that I got in but my eyes were still trying to cry even if I knew inside that it was okay.” As much as any sort of “failure” is no fun – I have to say that she handled it was grace – acknowledging that it was tough and that it was no fun, but that she ultimately is okay. Sigh. Learning experiences. Whee?

8. Still watching Gilmore Girls with The Princess every evening – and it remains one of my favorite rituals. Still hate Jess. Rory has just finished her first year of college. Lorelai just opened the inn. I’m glad that there were so many seasons so that our binge still has a while longer to go.

9. And we’ll go from the Gilmore Girls to Parenthood in its last season and still making me cry and what on earth happened to Lauren Graham’s face? (Oh. I just googled. She’s 48. I guess I’m just not used to seeing people age on television. I’m sorry that I made fun of her face.)

10. The thing about the environmentally friendly lightbulbs (besides their horrifyingly unflattering yellow glow) is that they’re all dying at the same time. I NEED REPLACEMENT LIGHTBULBS, STAT.

 

Aloha, 2014. Aloha, 2015.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect last year at this time. 2013 was truly a struggle and I felt every pang of it in the core of my being by the time December rolled around. I felt so defeated – and then along comes January and my part time job was cut altogether and my job hunt, already pretty aggressive, became frenzied. I cried a lot in January. I busted my ass interviewing and applying for jobs and networking, all the while training my former coworkers… and crying a lot.

I didn’t have much hope for 2014. I didn’t.

I had my kids, I had Chris,  my family —  but I was sure that I’d be living in a cardboard box somewhere by the time the snow finally thawed in spring.

I was pretty angry at 2014 already.

(I got a new nephew in the midst of the job hunt. It was a saving grace, for sure.)

-

My expectations for the year were pretty low.

I don’t mind saying that – they were low. I just wanted to survive this year.

Instead, i feel like… I may be on my way to more than just getting by.

A new job, a paycheck, routine.

An unexpected need for a new car (love my Prius, hate my car payment)

It was a step forward, two back.

But here at the end of it I think – I am doing this. I can do this.

-

They say it takes a woman five years after a divorce to get back on her feet financially. I’m not sure who they is, but a former co-worker told me that statistic, said it was true for her when going through her divorce. It hasn’t been five years, but I’m hopeful that 2015 is the year that I wipe out any doubt that I can get back on my feet, that I will stand on my own two feet. I hope to finish paying off all that stuff that accumulated during those first few months (the debt made worse by a thousand dollar vet bill from the night that my dog barfed and barfed and barfed for so many hours, over and over, that I ended up at the emergency vet ready to give them all of my money that I didn’t have just so they could make my dog well again).

Yeah. All of that. It’s almost gone.

I did it.

Without all of the love and encouragement I received from the people who love me, I don’t know that things would have gone as they did. But I was lifted and carried and encouraged and embraced during the darkest moments and somehow along the way, I found light.

-

I still have a ways to go.

But now I believe I can get there.

I am grateful that 2014 was gentler on me than the previous year.

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What are my hopes for 2015?

I don’t dare to have big hopes – not because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and for things to turn to crap – but because I still don’t know how to think bigger than one foot in front of the other.

Last year at this time, I was in deprivation mode – fearful of spending money, fearful of losing everything. Yesterday, I impulsively ordered three pair of yoga pants in an Old Navy athletic wear sale. I probably won’t lose sleep over the purchase, either. That’s…huge. It may not sound huge, but compared to the fear that enveloped me earlier in the year, it’s really freaking huge.

I will keep working towards those moments of smoothing out the rough edges – of finding peace where I’ve been stressed, of breathing easy when I once was filled with chaos.

I’ll try to drink more water. Exercise consistently. Find a bit more peace with my body even though hey, I’m aging and I don’t super love the effect it’s having on my waistline. I’ll continue to love my Fitbit and strive to hit my step goal more often than not. I’ll aim to officially set aside money to travel – I don’t know that travel is in the stars for 2015 – but I want to start making plans for travel. I would love to make it a point to spend more time with friends – it’s tough – my schedule is chaos and most of my friends are moms – it’s hard to find time to connect, but I’ve realized lately that I’ve missed that – missed having time to talk with friends and maybe I need to redefine what that time looks like – perhaps it’s not, let’s go out for dinner – perhaps it’s come sit on my couch and talk awhile, you bring the wine and I’ll bake some cookies. I was able to spend time with friends this year – but… not enough. I live in a town that makes me feel isolated, and I need to push through that – because the town isn’t going to change, so I must. I want more of what was good in 2014 – so I hope 2014 has a trip to Traverse City in the stars, perhaps a new bottle of something great that we’ll bring home to share.

In 2015, I’ll turn 39.

I’m gonna have to come to grips with the age thing. Or start. Because holy hell, 40 is coming and I have a feeling I will need more than a year to steel myself against the punch in the face I’m afraid 40 is going to be.

But this is supposed to be a positive thing. So.

I have my eyes open to 2015. I have no idea what is ahead, only that I am allowing myself to feel hope again and that is encouraging to me, and that makes my heart feel better coming into a new year than I have felt in awhile.

I’m still scared of what’s ahead – I think that’s just my nature – but I also believe that I can overcome any of the bad stuff — and I’m starting to let myself believe that maybe it won’t all be bad.

There’s something good up ahead for me.

I’m going to try to let myself believe it.

Goodbye 2014.

Hello 2015. I’m looking forward to getting to know you.

-

“In Hawaii, don’t they use aloha for like, hello and goodbye?”
“Yeah, so?”
“So if you’e on the phone with somebody and they won’t stop talking how do you get them off because you say, “Okay take care, aloha’ don’t they start over again?”

Another year is nearly gone

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Usually by this point, I’ve created my list of all the high lights and low lights of the year in order to recap them in some way – the songs that defined the year, the moments, the things I accomplished, and the things I hope to accomplish in the year ahead.

And instead, I’m a bit stuck.

In an exercise the other day, I recounted the things I didn’t mess up in 2014. The list was longer than I would have thought and perhaps that is why I don’t feel this huge rush to kick 2014 to the curb. Instead of relief, I’m more so looking forward to what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to continued progress towards… towards I don’t know what. Towards getting on my feet again, towards making plans again, towards letting go of some of the stress and blah and insecurity that still plagues me far more often than it should.

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I was just thinking this morning about how much I’ve enjoyed watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix with The Princess and how grateful I am that they’ve never resorted to tacky flashback gimmicks and then the episode I’m watching as I type this is filled with flashbacks, of Lorelai’s pregnancy and Rory’s birth. Go figure. Anyway. I look forward to watching the rest of the series and finishing it up in 2015.

And then moving on to Friends because HEY FRIENDS IS COMING TO NETFLIX SOON!

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Anyway, I have a few days left so I can wax poetic about 2014. And I probably will – I love New Years. I love the symbolism of a new start, a new calendar, turning the page. Somehow, I feel that shouldn’t pass without me having some thoughts about it.

For now, though, the closing credits are rolling and I’m ready to curl up in bed to read Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” and think about how I might spend the day tomorrow. I took a few days off this short work week, and so I’ll be spending the last few days of 2014 spending massive amounts of time with my daughters and cleaning my house so that I’m ready for a fresh beginning on the first.

Thursday Ten: TWO WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS edition

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1. This month has flown by – this YEAR has flown by. I find it hard to believe that in two weeks it will be Christmas. In three weeks, we’ll be staring 2015 in the eye. I’m…not sure how I feel about all of that. This year didn’t start that well, and it’s continually gotten better as tine has gone on and now we’re about to roll into a new years and I’m a little bit like, “WHOA. WAIT. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”

2. I should probably chill out and just focus on Christmas first.

3. I had been feeling quite a lot of stress when it comes to little projects at work (and big projects, let’s be honest) – it’s something I have to work on, the fact that I let myself get SO WOUND UP over things. So – the other day I started thinking about how I need a bit of perspective. No matter what, even on my worst day at work, I’m not Brady Hoke with a legion of Michigan fans awaiting for my firing (poor Brady – I’m sure he saw it coming). I’m not any of the other people that have been in the news for screwing up royally in their jobs with huge life or death consequences. If I really do mess up (instead of just feeling like I have): No one dies. Life goes on, y’know. Is it worth the drama? Nope. Probably not. Thinking a little differently has helped.

4. Know what else has helped? Treating myself to a manicure this week. I’ve been spending a lot of time staring at my nails over the past few days – they’re still short, but I do love how clean and shiny and polished they look. It makes me happy. I go back and forth – It makes me happy, I should do this more often and I can’t fathom being that lady who spends money on her nails. I’m not fancy. I’m not frilly. But boy. I like when my nails are lovely.

5. Lest y’all think that I’ve become some weird new version of myself totally wow’d by things like my fingernails – I am also currently very excited by the purchase of a pair of leggings that feel like fuzzy socks for my legs. Of course, I can’t wear them in public because leggings as pants is a line I don’t really want to cross (nor should I) but damn those things are comfortable.

6. I am still pretty in love with my FitBit.

7. The girls and I will be baking and decorating ALL OF THE COOKIES this weekend. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions even though it’s a lot of work. A record number of kids have RSVP’d so it’s gonna be an interesting time! Messy and covered with sprinkles.

8. After a slew of bad weather and snow days, the weather here has been decidedly calm. Thank heavens. Still terrified of driving on snow and ice and so if it’s an uneventful wither, that would be a-okay with me.

9. That thing when you’re wrinkle cream has such a strong smell that you’re constantly aware that you’re so old that you need wrinkle cream.

10. I average about six hours of sleep a night – and it’s not necessarily good sleep. I have GOT to learn better sleeping. I’m tired of being tired.

 

 

Thursday Ten: Welcome to Snowvember edition

1. It’s not even winter yet but oh my god it’s winter. We’re into this year’s version of “HOW MANY SNOW DAYS WILL WE HAVE” game – and if this week is any indication, the girls will be in school until August. And y’all know I’m no fan of this weather, so it’s been just super fun. Yesterday’s morning commute? An hour and a half. UGH UGH UGH.

168 | 365 - November 19, 2014

2. So it’s not too early in the season for the people who love this garbage to point out that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if…IF I drove a truck, IF I lived somewhere else, IF IF IF. Well. I don’t have a truck – I have a Prius. And I have to live in Michigan. And la la la. Here I am. Me and my tiny fuel-efficient non-winter friendly car doing the best I can. Sorry. Can’t make me like this weather.

3. The weather was so awful on Tuesday that I worked from home while the girls were home snow-day-ing. During my three hour conference call, they put up the Christmas three. Not the ornaments, not yet (I told them they couldn’t without me!), but the tree is up. Guess if we’ve got the snow, we might as well get the holiday stuff up.

4. After months of lukewarm baths and showers and wondering why the hell I have no hot water, my dear friend offered up her husband to investigate my water heater and fortunately! It’s not broken! Apparently the temperature thingamabobber was turned way down and so voila, it’s hot was not very hot. He just adjusted the gauge and BLAMMO! I have hot water. It’s unreal. And blissfully wonderful. Just in time.

5. One of my favorite rituals lately is watching Gilmore Girls with The Princess before she goes to bed.

6. “If you stacked a lot on top of a lot on top of a million more lots, that is how much I love you. ” Pumpkin said that to me at dinner last night and it made me very happy. It melted the layer of snow in my soul. She also loves me more than garlic bread, so you know…I’m pretty much winning at life.

7. Not sure what I’m looking forward to more – Thanksgiving dinner (YUM!) or a four day weekend.

8. I love the Health function on the iPhone 6 but because i don’t always have my phone with me, I feel like I miss out on a lot of steps “counting.” I’m in the process of trying to talk myself into getting a FitBit. I hate spending money on “big” purchases (and yeah, it’s big – it may “only” be a hundred bucks, but I just don’t really do that – spend money on myself like that). I wonder if it would motivate me to move more.

9. I am typing about health but I’m still thinking about garlic bread, so…

10. It’s been quite the month and I’m not sure why it’s been so challenging but it has been. Will December bring a change? Sure hope so! I could use a bit of a break.

There’s Something That Lingers.

163 | 365 - November 14, 2014

It’s Sunday night and my brain is twirling – twirling over work projects and anticipation over Monday and an apprehension is setting in about the week ahead of me, a feeling that has occupied me in various degrees over the past two weeks.

Nothing is really wrong. I’ve got a lot of projects and some time frames and a lot of moving pieces and a lot of people and a lot of components and as is the nature of the beast, when you have that many parts and that many people – not everything goes according to plan.

So plans have shifted and timelines have shifted and through it all I’ve done the absolute best that I can.

All of the wheels are in motion, everything is rolling. Sure, it’s not according to plan but… the general public doesn’t know our planned timeline. Only the people close enough to the project know that the time frame shifted.

Why, then, does it consume me the way it does? Why, then, when there were roadblocks beyond my control, do I take on all the negativity from a project when I have done everything I could? I can motivate, urge, prod. nag, and push to make things happen but ultimately? There are things outside of my control that interfere.

Every project is a learning experience, a chance to take away something that will give me greater experience and comfort moving forward.

I want everything to go perfectly.

I want timelines adhered to. Things to mail when scheduled. Approval processes to not get bogged down.

But.

Sometimes that’s not the way it goes.

And while I don’t want to let go of caring, while i don’t want to let go of my drive for perfection, I need to let go of the all-consuming anxiety I tend to feel about these projects.

I am not doing organ transplant surgery. I want every project that I take on to be successful, but I have to remember at the end of the day, where it fits in the overall scheme of things.

Lately, I’m losing sleep over problems real and imagined because I want so badly to please everyone.

-

I am dealing, i am certain, with the after effects of having lost my job earlier in the year. At the time when I was transitioning from old job to new job, I was wary of saying too much online – I still am wary: a) because it’s tacky and unprofessional to talk smack about your employer or previous employer online and I AM A PROFESSIONAL, DARNIT and b) because i actually had to sign something stating that I would not speak negatively about them, especially online.

But I figure knowing what i endured may explain why I am how I am. I also figure that I’m not disparaging the employer – my problem was not the company but rather one person within the company, a person who has since been stripped of her managerial role and no longer has direct reports, a change that – in my opinion – was far too long in coming. (The company itself? I won’t name who they are – but emphatically believe that the professionals there are top notch and phenomenal at what they do – there’s a reason for the company’s longevity.)

I worked hard there to do well – I worked so that my contributions would better the company as a whole. I had great success with projects large and small – and then somewhere along the way, one person decided that instead of supporting my efforts, she’d criticize and disparage them at every pass. And then she started giving pieces of my job away to other people in my department. Slowly, the pieces of my job where I excelled were taken from me and little by little I was treated to more and more hostility until my job was cut to part time and then it was eliminated altogether. I have no doubt that along with budgets and reducing head counts – that not having this one person in my corner contributed to what happened.

I lost my job in the midst of getting back on my feet after my divorce. I scrambled to find work and was lucky to find work. I work in a fantastic company with great people.

So, uh… why am I freaking out all the time?

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It comes out of nowhere – that feeling of, “HEYYYY I’m doing great things!” to “We had to deviate from the timeline and is this going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the one that makes them change their mind about me?”

-

“Be confident,” my friend says. “You need to focus on your value which is off the charts!”

(I have the best friends – you should be jealous.)

I’m trying to please everyone in an industry where pleasing everyone is a rarity. I’m still learning. I’m getting on my feet. I’m working hard to turn every project into a learning opportunity. I’m working tirelessly to gain confidence from each experience.

But oh.

What do I do with myself, y’all?

How do you balance a desire to do well with a realistic expectation of what the best case scenario can be? How do you let go when something doesn’t go according to plan – you can’t go back and change it, you can’t undo it, you can only learn and move on – so how do you learn to leave it at the office at the end of the day?

Because.

I don’t know how.

***

Because I’m interested in how other people operate, feel free to leave me a comment telling me what your work style is? How do you deal when things don’t go as planned? How do you balance a desire for success with the reality? I’d love to know what the norm is for other people, how y’all cope, what you do.

Thursday Ten: I Voted on Tuesday And All I Got Was This Sticker edition

1. While I don’t talk politics much, I make no secret of the fact that I’m fairly liberal… so I’m not super enthused with the results of the election and I just have to hope for the best and continue to exercise my right to have my voice heard by voting when I can.
153 | 365 - November 4, 2014

2. Having said that – WHOA NELLY, PEOPLE. Did your mamas raise you to act that way? I get very discouraged reading the vitriolic comments that people spew on Facebook and in response to news articles, particularly when it comes to election-type-stuff. Having the forum to spout off on whatever the heck you want to spout off about doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Also? You look stupid when you do it. Really stupid. You can’t express your feelings and opinions and beliefs without resorting to second-grade level name calling? Phooey on you, then. How are you even allowed to vote? I just hate it. I don’t get it and I hate it.

3. This has been a tough week for me and I don’t like operating with stress levels like this. Work is busy and I’m working on a project with a lot of moving parts and I just want everything to go perfectly. And perfect is an illusion. I’m doing my best and my best is pretty darn okay.

4. Someday i’ll write about all the baggage I feel like I cary with me after my last job and how that all went down. What once might have been routine throws me into a stress spiral.  I have no accurate frame of reference anymore. To me, even a small bump in the road feels like the end of the road when it comes to things not going as planned on a project. I’ll need to find a way to get over that.

5. Our dog groomer let Pumpkin help groom our dog last night and when we were leaving, she told me, “If you ever get mad at her, bring her back here. The dog lady will keep her.” It was less weird than that sounds now that I read it back to myself. (P.S. the dog lady is the mom of someone I went to high school with and not just some random stranger who shaves dogs butts every day. She’s a really nice lady, so, totally… not weird.)

6. I accidentally triple booked my Tuesday and then did almost nothing anyway because of a migraine. Not like me to be so inept with a calendar but that was bad. Also? I never have THREE options for something to do. Weird.

7. Most people I know are having a rough week. Are the planets aligned funny?

8. Leftover Halloween candy plus a crazy schedule means that I feel like a slug. A bloated slug whose insides are coated with Baby Ruth wrappers.

9. I have read some serious books lately. Not like SERIOUS books, but a serious amount. Boom. (And book club is on a Liane Moriarty kick and I just don’t know that I feel like reading a third within such a short period of time even though her stuff is really easy to read – maybe I’ll get caught up on magazines first.

10. I probably won’t shop on Thanksgiving (because DUH, who can move after a meal like that?!) but I won’t hate on you if you do. To each their own. I can’t presume to know that the folks in the stores aren’t grateful for the overtime, and I can’t presume to know that the shoppers have left family at home for shopping. I don’t know what I don’t know. I can only deal with me. So, shop if you want or don’t shop if you don’t want. See how easy that is?

Thursday Ten: Netflix Binge Edition

1. I finally wrapped up Friday Night Lights so the obvious next step was to dive into something else immediately. The Princess and I have started watching Gilmore Girls. Given how she ridiculed me when I turned the first episode on, I find it amusing that she’s so engrossed.

2. Coming home to nice mail is a fun change of pace. Yesterday was StitchFix day. Unfortunately, I don’t necessarily have the budget to buy a bunch of clothes so fortunately there were some fit problems: I am far too long waisted for the blue dress, the denim jacket had a fit I didn’t love, and the orange top – though I loved the color – just wasn’t worth the $54 price tag to me. I’m keeping that funky cardigan on the bottom – when I pulled it out of the box, I was sure it was a sofa pillow but it’s funky and warm and will probably be ideal in the super cold Michigan months we’re about to dive into.
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3. A client visit yesterday meant that I was on the road by 6:30. In the morning. While I’m usually awake then, I’m not usually up, ready and out the door then. And then there were no convenient coffee shops on the way. And then everything was awful. Actually, it wasn’t that awful, just early mornings with PMS and no coffee don’t really bode well for my general demeanor. Sorry.

4. I finished antibiotics for a sinus infection a few weeks ago and well… I think the damn thing is back. That’s probably not really helping my mood either. This morning I woke up feeling like wet cement was poured near my sinuses and then hardening and expanding and blowing up my sinuses. Pretty picture, huh?

5. I have been on a reading frenzy lately. I went to the library a few weeks ago – picked up six books. While there, I told myself I wasn’t going to berate my choice in books and if I want to read even if they’re not rocket science. The result? I have entertaining speedy reads to pick up after a long day. It’s been nice to want to read again.

6. I actually bought Halloween candy to pass out this year instead of turning my lights out and pretending I’m not home. Actually, last year I wasn’t home – but that’s neither here nor there – usually, I avoid it like the plague – and this year I HAVE CANDY.

7. But I’m hoping no one comes so I’ll have enough candy left over to make the Leftover Halloween Candy Vanilla Bundt Cake I make every year.

8. I have no concrete plans this weekend but to get my shutters back on my house and I’m relieved and hopeful for a moment or two to breathe. Feels like life has very much been gogogogogogogogogogogo lately and I just want to stop moving and catch my breath. I want to not have to do anything or be anywhere at least for a little while.

9. I’d also like to sleep in and not be on the road at 6:30 a.m. Last weekend, i didn’t have anywhere to go and yet I was up just after 6. Ridiculous. Body clocks are absolutely ridiculous.

10. Isn’t it nice that I’m not talking about elections?

Thursday Ten: What 38 Years Has Taught Me edition

Oprah is kind of known for many things, but in recent years, she’s done a lot of the whole “What I Know For Sure” bit – she even released a book about it, which is cool and all – you can do that when you’re Oprah. But the thing is, what I know for sure is that there’s very little that I truly know for sure.

Today, I turn 38 and I find that there are far more mysteries than certainties – and I’m trying to reconcile myself to that fact. Perhaps I am not meant to have all of the answers.

But here are some things I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Plans are just that. Plans. Sometimes plans change.

“Make a plan, god laughs.” I think that’s how the saying goes. Anyway, I’m a planner – I like to have a path – I like to know that I can put one foot in front of the other confidently in the direction of my goals and that I’m going to get there. Except…sometimes you don’t. Sometimes things change, plans change, and you have to adjust your sails and change along with it. I thought that I knew where I would be at this point in my life – 38 feels dangerously close to 40 and I still feel like I’m muddling through sometimes.

The thing is, as difficult as it may be to change your course, sometimes – plans change for a reason.

Not knowing the direction you’re heading towards is scary, but it’s a lot less scary than moving in the wrong direction.

2. Priorities – you really should have some.

I am a parent – first and foremost, probably – I am a mother and so there’s an ever present realization in my mind that there are two amazing children who come before me. It means that sometimes I am at the absolute bottom of my list – but having people counting on me means that I need to be dependable, reliable and someone they can trust to be there.

Because I am a parent, because I am an employee, coworker, teammate, because I am someone that people count on, there are times that life gets complicated because I’m juggling so as to make sure things are taken care of.

And not to be all judgey (but I totally get to be all judgey because it’s my birthday and it’s my blog) but sometimes I see people acting with no real sense of obligation to anything except their own self and it boggles my mind. Ditching plans with your children, calling in sick to work because you don’t feel like it, waiting for someone else to take care of you rather than trying to find your own solutions.

I think I was born an old soul. It’s not to say I always do the right thing – but generally I know what is most important and all else falls in line behind that.

3. There’s a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. And it is possible to feel lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people.

I wrote this on a scrap of paper for this post and then had a conversation with a friend who basically said to me these very words. It is possible to feel lonely when you are surrounded by people. What I’ll add to that is that loneliness is one of the worst possible feelings in the world.

I’m all about my alone time – I am every bit an introvert – and being around people nonstop eventually wears me out. That alone time to recharge, recoup – it is as essential to me as air some days.

But lonely is different. Lonely doesn’t feel like a choice. Lonely is feeling like someone chooses not to see you. Lonely is an ache that seems to build in the pit of your stomach and leaves you hunched against the wall wrapped in sadness.

I’ve been alone and I’ve been lonely and I’ll take being alone over being lonely – any day of the week.

195 | 365

4. Bacon and maple syrup. Grilled chocolate sandwiches. Dipping fries in milkshakes. Warm french bread. Deprivation = bad. Moderation = good.

When the South Beach diet was the rage, there was nothing that sounded quite as miserable to me as a life where carbs were a no-no. And now there’s paleo and whole 30 and voluntarily going gluten-free {Hey y’all with legit gluten sensitivities – chill out, I’m not talking about you}. I’ve had my days of counting fat grams and calories but ultimately, every time I hear the phrase, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” I just feel sad for those poor lost souls who have never had a decent piece of cheesecake.

I cannot imagine my life without warm cinnamon rolls, or garlic bread. Without margaritas in a salt-rimmed glass. Chips so fresh that they’re warm and a spicy salsa.

I don’t want to imagine my life without them – so I don’t. I just eat them. Maybe not as much as I want, or as often – but at least I don’t have to live without. (I haven’t yet worked out how to not feel guilty about it yet. Ask me again next year.)

5. Break a sweat daily.

Maybe this is why I can say with such certainty that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of the yummy stuff – because you should also be moving. Not only is it better for you health wise if you are active – but if you’re anything like me, you’re probably less of a jerk face when you’re exercising regularly.

6. You are not responsible for other people’s emotions.

When it comes to emotions, it may not always be easy to understand but essentially what you feel is what you feel. No, someone didn’t “hurt you” – your hurt stemmed from your reaction. Someone didn’t “make you sad” – you just WERE.

If you are one who avoids conflict then you’re familiar with the feeling of trying to not upset people – but this is the glorious thing: YOU CAN’T. If you could control the emotions of other people, MY GOD! Imagine the power you would have. But… you can’t. You can’t and I can’t and he can’t and she can’t. We just…can’t. Feelings are what they are and you can’t go through life trying to protect people from their negative feelings or expecting them to protect you from yours. Sometimes you will be sad. You’ll hurt. You’ll also be okay because everything will get better. Feel what you need to feel for as long as you need to feel it and then find a way to move onward. Sometimes other people will be sad or mad or whatever they happen to feel.

Feelings don’t always make sense, but it’s up to each of us to own our own feelings.

7. Sleep isn’t as easy as it should be.

All the science says that there are big time benefits to getting enough sleep and huge detriments to your health and well being when you don’t accumulate enough zzzzz’s and yet so many people I know (and myself!) struggle with insomnia, at least occasionally. You would think that for how lovely and enjoyable and good it feels, it would be far easier to do. It’s not.

When the girls were born, I thought I was done with insomnia – I was just so worn out at the end of the day that I slept HARD. These days? I fall asleep easily… I just often end up waking in the middle of the night and then an hour before my alarm in the morning. I’m tired. I shouldn’t be mad at sleep but I am more than a little bit mad at sleep.

 

8. Sometimes you just gotta go through the yucky stuff.

As much as you want to avoid anything negative, sometimes you can’t. And as much as you want out once you’re in, sometimes there’s no way out but to slog right through it. It’s this yucky stuff that builds our character and all that stuff. It’s the badge of honor, the sense of pride, the “lo hicimos! We did it!” Dora-The-Explorer moment. Sucks when you’re in the midst of it but life doesn’t let us move in reverse. Onward.

9. Money can’t buy you happiness but a lot relies on that stupid green stuff. There’s nothing wrong with you if you think about money. A lot.

Yes, money can’t buy happiness.

The best things in life are free.

Things are just things.

And all of those little platitudes would have me believe that any emphasis I put on money or my lack of it is superficial or wrong, or that my focus is in the wrong place and I’m not truly appreciating all of the blessings ahead of me to which I say: Uh. Whatever, bub. Like it or not, money is what keeps the roof over your head, the food on the table, the clothes on your back, the lights on above you. It is what fills your gas tank so you can drive to work so you can earn money for said roof and all that other jazz.

And really most of us are just getting by. Or so it seems.

I can’t begin to recount the number of conversations I’ve had with friends and family – and there’s probably not a single one of us who would turn away from a money tree in our front yard. But trust me, there’s also not a single one of us who doesn’t see how blessed we are in other ways. You can feel blessed AND stressed.

Trust me. I know.

10. I’m not done learning.

Think I’m done learning? Think again. I’m learning new things all the time – about myself, about my kids, about the people in my life, the world around me. I joke that I am older than dirt, but I’m still at the beginning. There’s so much more to learn, so much more to see, and so much yet still in front of me.

I’m a spring-mother-clucking-chicken. (I cringed as I typed that, I hope you know)

I’m not done yet.

Here’s to another year.

Here’s to love and learning and hope and slogging through the yucky stuff. Here’s to saving my pennies and bitching over the energy bill. Here’s to margaritas and cookies. To alone time without loneliness. To birthday cake and wrinkle cream.

Alright, 38. Let’s do this…

Thursday Ten: Okay, You Saw the Art Now Go Home edition

1. I’m at the point of Art Prize where I’m tired of it. I’ve seen all the pieces I want to see. I’ve voted. The jurors have told us what pieces they think we should care about. And now I’m tired of all the people crowding the sidewalk with their slow walking, art gawking, pausing in the middle of a cross walk as if suddenly confused about where they’re going. I’m tired of the cars with drivers who think that looking for pedestrians is an optional activity. Basically – I’m just annoyed with it. I get to this point every year – and so now that I’m here, it can be all over please.

I Am Not Who You Think I Am | Salvador Jimenez-Flores

2. The weekends seem to fill with STUFF and I am getting nothing done around my house. I painted my shutters ages ago but they’re still propped up in my garage. Everything is a mess and I CANNOT STAND IT. I have vacation time to burn before this year is up and I’m thinking about how lame it will make me to take a week off to un-mess my house. I’m also wondering how much it costs to rent a dumpster so I can haul this crap away. TOO. MUCH. JUNK.

3. So. GONE GIRL. Saw it Saturday night. It was amazingly well done and left me so tense I was jittery in the dark parking lot afterwards. I read the book so I wasn’t really surprised, but kinda sorta, I was surprised.

4. The Princess called me to the window yesterday morning to watch the eclipse. It was pretty awesome and I am glad she knows about these things so she can tell me and I can start my morning with the amazing things that the world can do instead of just a cup of coffee.

5. That thing where you have zero traveling budget but scope out airfare anyway. As if. We’ve already established I need to use my vacation time cleaning my house.

6. So, I’m thinking I may finally take the plunge and CANCEL CABLE. So tired of paying for it. Plus, they just put Rehab Addict on Netflix so it may just satisfy my HGTV-addiction.

7. Not that I have time to watch anything else while I’m still in the midst of binge watching Friday Night Lights.

8. We’re getting into gymnastics season. As much as I love watching my kid compete, I hate meet fees. October’s meet fees are kicking my ass. Is gymnastics season over yet? (It hasn’t even started. Only the paying for it has started.)

9. I really should watch less Netflix and START READING AGAIN. Or, y’know… cleaning.

10. One week until my birthday. Just so y’all know. A week until I’m Even Older Than I Already Am. That’s old.