Time to wrap it up, and start over again

2013 is almost over. I couldn’t be happier. As some of you know who faithfully follow this blog, I like starting things on specific important dates. I would never start a diet or new exercise routine on a Thursday. C’mon now, that’s just silly talk! So the start of a new year (even though it does fall on a Wednesday! The HORROR!!!) will be on the right note. As weird as it sounds, I’ve never been one to declare a resolution on New Years Eve. When I have tried to do this waaaaay back in my 20s, I would fail before the first week was over. The goal to eat less, lose a specific amount of weight before the trip to Jekyll, keep the house cleaner, on and on and on. Yea, by January 6th, I’m on the couch with a bag of Cheetos, dust bunnies and dog hair in clumps on the floor and as I wipe my orange stained fingers on my sweatpants to pick up the remote, it occurs to me that I just completed doing the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. Self sabotage at it’s finest.

So this New Year’s Eve, I would like to reflect back on the year, and see what went right, what went wrong and what can I do that make this a better trend. Because let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger.

 

1. I’m so proud that I have had this blog for a year now. It has at times become therapeutic, other times a chore. It has been a source of relief, and it has caused me great anguish. It has grown to have many loyal follows, I get emails from around the world. I never thought that my little blog would be followed or noticed by anyone. I have made a friend from clear around the world, and we will probably never meet. She is a recovering alcoholic, has just published her first book, she reached out to me in hopes of helping me deal with living with an alcoholic. All through a blog. How amazing is that?

2. Speaking of alcoholics, in case it has hasn’t become abundantly clear…..I live with an alcoholic. He is. He always will be. If I have ever sugar coated it, gave the impression that he does not drink, or anything of the sort, I beg forgiveness. Perhaps that’s my own coping mechanism. Perhaps it’s my own denial. Co-dependancy. Enabler. Whatever little buzzword anyone would happily stick on my forehead, that’s fine. I know what I live with, I know what I struggle with, I know what alcoholism can do and will do to a marriage, to trust, to a family, and to any semblance of normalcy. If you also struggle with this, please know you are not alone. Contact me. I’m more than happy to listen, be a shoulder, whatever.

3. People who want to hurt you, will find a way to hurt you, no matter what. I have a crazy, stupid, often times too pollyanna-ish look at life. I try to start every morning with a positive thought, a prayer for my day, and the intent to help others as a way of also helping myself. I also blindly think that I surround myself with people who also want to bring out the best in others. I am so wrong. There are people who want nothing, NOTHING, but to infer the worst. People who want to hurt me for no earthly reason that I can fathom. I have not said, looked at, acted towards or even thought ill will towards these people who seem to want to cause me harm. I don’t get it. Maybe that’s a tough lesson learned though my year of blogging. Even though I have said it many times, this blog is not about YOU. It’s not about anyone you know unless I specifically say so. I will NEVER specifically say so unless I have your permission first. (Well, Ryan is the exception. He’s my child and a minor, plus, since Rob is out of school and out of my house, it’s pretty obvious…lol) All I can ask, I beg, I plead, is if a topic is hitting too close to home, just ASK ME to talk with you. I pretty damned accessible. And I can almost guarantee…..it’s not about YOU!

(Wow, I used a lot of capital letters in that section. Sorry. Hope I made my point though.)   

4. I have been able to reconnect with old friends through this tiny little blog of mine. It’s a great feeling to not only make new friends, but to reacquaint with old. Cheers to you all. 

5. Friendships come, friendships go. Old saying. It’s an old saying because it’s true. I have some friends who I have known for years!! Decades!!!! I could call them at 2am, tell them I need them and they would be by my side in a flash. No questions asked. I have friends who I have known for a short period of time who would do the same. I like to think I am that friend to those who know me. If you don’t know me well enough to call in a time of crisis, let’s fix that this year. Call me. Contact me. Let’s go to lunch and reconnect, or connect for the first real time (not just over the internet). Let’s find out why we have so many people in common. Let’s find out and celebrate the threads that can hold us together instead of constantly looking for the snag that will tear people apart. I would like that. 

6. This is kind of like #5, but different. (The same, but different. Inside joke. Sorry) I am sooooo thankful that I have such a diverse, colorful, extravagant world of friends. I have had some very enlightening conversations in person, on the phone, over facebook, in email with people who have a completely different outlook than I do. They see the world so variated from my view, but most of the time, we can find that common ground. I like to think it makes me grow as a person to truly listen to other perspectives. I think that’s what can bring us together. You might not agree. You might change your mind. But when each side listens instead of thinking of you’re going to say next, it helps promote true learning and growth. Respecting others point of view is a two way street. 

7. I love yoga. Me. Miss Unbendy. Yep. I love it. I can’t do it well. I will never have the body of Giselle. (Michael will never look like Tom Brady, so I’m not worried about it.) But I love all aspects of my yoga class. I love that it makes me feel centered for an hour. That I can push myself a little bit more than I thought I could. Here’s the thing about my yoga. I’ll try to explain so anyone can understand, but I don’t know if I can: A successful yoga class for me is when I hold a pose slightly better than last time. I mean s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y. Sometimes, I will feel this “pop” in my back and I know I just bent a millimeter further than I did last time. Not perceivable to anyone but me. But I know. I love my class, and I’ve said it before, but they never judge me. I’ve been in exercise classes where you get sized up the second you walk through the door. You can see it on their face. Not cool judgemental people!! Not everyone is a perfect Size 6. AND, did you ever think that the obese lady who just walked in the door mustered all her courage to walk through that door in the first place? She’s there because she wants to make a positive change in her life. Whether it’s the gym, the yoga studio, or the walking trial, at least she’s out there trying. 

In light of all of this, I’m making a pledge to blog more, eat less. Go to yoga. Ask for help from my friends when I need it. Be a friend to someone who needs it. I want to cut the negativity out of my life. If you can’t be a friend, how about you just don’t hurt me. 2014 is MY year. 2014 is going to be about what makes me happy. And I’m going to rock the hell out of it!

                                                     Image

Time to celebrate and relax

Do you ever get that feeling this time of year that the stress, and money, and stress, and lists, and stress are take all the joy from your holiday season?

Sometimes trying to remember everything that you “have” to do can overshadow what you should do. And that, for me, can just suck the joy right out of the whole jolly, merry celebration. Trying to remember everyone you should buy for, send a card to, baking, shopping, wrapping……sigh. It can get to be too much. The crowds and the traffic can make even the most centered calm person start wishing harm on those around them. Oh wait. Is that just me?

Every year I vow to start earlier, wrap as I go, make lists, set money aside, all the good things I should try to do. Yea, it never seems to work out that way.

This year I was able to get shopping finished, gifts wrapped, and only go slightly over budget, with a few days to spare. Wooo hoooo!!! So now, I can relax. Right? Yes. And I can also refocus.

I can focus on what this season is all about. Family, friends, reconnecting with myself and those I care about. It’s about Christ and a baby being born and celebrating the blessings that brings. It’s about being thankful for everything I have been blessed with, even if sometimes my life hasn’t felt blessed. It’s about being able to give back and help others who have it worse than I do, because someone always has it better and it’s easy to fall into that mindset, but how often do you realize that others could be looking at you and thinking of how blessed you are? Someone might have it better than you, but someone definitely has it worse than you. Feel thankful for what you do have.

I’m thankful every day. I’m thankful for my parents, my brother and his family, my husband, my children. I’m thankful for having a roof over my head and food in my fridge. A car to drive and money to pay for the things I need and even some things I want. I’m thankful for my church family and the people we’ve met there who have touched my life. I’m thankful Michael found God out of his tragedy, which led us to our church. In the midst of deep sorrow, there really can be a silver lining.

So now that all of my things are done that I felt needed to be done, I love being able to do what I want to do. I’m baking, watching the rain fall and actually wishing it was snow for Christmas, and most important, I’m playing the Carpenters Christmas album while putting gifts in the stocking hanging by the fireplace. And feeling very very blessed.

Testing Difficulties and Positive Attitudes

It’s Mid-Term time for high school students and that means…..lots of cramming, studying, raw nerves and sleepless nights. This is a difficult time for most students. The stress the kids are under is enormous. The pressure to do well, maintain that GPA, have excellent grades on their transcript so they get into “the” college, get “the” job and go off on their successful life with the spouse and kids and dog and cat. All of which will crumble if they don’t do well on their midterms. Right??

Ok, so what about the kids who don’t test well? What about the kids who have the learning disability? What about the kids who, like me, at age 16 have NO IDEA what they want to do for the rest of their life? It isn’t so easy, or clear-cut. And it is more stressful than you can possibly imagine.

Ryan has such a learning disability. I have chronicled his difficult birth and how we almost lost him. I have spoken about his extreme ADHD and how he was tested at such an early age that they wanted to use him as a test subject (we declined). But the learning disability is difficult for him. He doesn’t want to be different. He doesn’t want to be what he deems “the stupid one” of his friends. He doesn’t want to struggle with what comes so easily to others. But it’s his burden. 

He makes up for up by clowning around. He’s the jokester, the prankster, the silly one. Part of that is because it is damned near impossible for the child to sit still, even on medication. Part of that is because it’s a cover. “If I’m funny, they won’t notice the D on my test. It won’t matter if I’m failing a class if I’m making everyone laugh.” I get it. Not everyone does. They see him as a disruption. A nuisance. That he doesn’t care. That…….that breaks MY heart. Because if you took any time at all to get to know him, really know him, you would know he cares more than you can imagine. And every time he hears someone make a comment like that, it cuts him to the quick.

It also sets up a potential “shame spiral” for him. Adults think he’s goofing off because he doesn’t care, he hears them label him as stupid or a disruption, then he figures the best way out of this is to act like a goofball and it doesn’t bother him that he was labeled a goofball, and around and around and around it goes.

So much of that thinking was all around him in elementary school and even to a degree in middle school. Starting in 8th grade, we were able to try to pull him out of what he was going through, and get him the help and direction the school could offer him and the support he needed.

But the stigma seems to follow him, because he is still the goof off. We try to make him see his worth, his potential, his amazing gifts he has to offer. To let him know that not everyone really does know what they want to do with their lives at 16. Some people don’t know what to do with their lives at 40-something!

So when it comes times for testing, the struggle I see him going through breaks my heart. But I know we have a great plan set up with his teaching group. But the stress and worry and sleeplessness and his inability to even eat is something else. As a mom, I want to take it away and make it better. But I also know he needs to do this, if for no other reason, to be able to look back on his high school career and know HE did it. No strings were pulled, no exemptions made.

But in the meantime, I’m really glad that this week is over. Now we can focus on Christmas and happiness. I think I’m going to bake, wrap and play some Carpenters Christmas music.  

The lists

I started doing my Christmas cards today and it got me to thinking which we all know can be extremely dangerous. I have lists. Oh boy, do I have lists. Years of them. Coffee stained, hot cocoa stained, wrinkled, torn, scribbled. Some in pen, pencil, different colored highlighter, dates, stapled, clipped… Let’s just say they’re well worn. 

I was flipping through my lists, looking at what I had to do, counting (I KNOW!!) and trying to figure out a master game plan. 

But as I was flipping, and looking and counting, it dawned on me, how in the past 25 years each and every name on these lists has had some impact on me. Has touched my life in some way. And I marveled at the fact that in all of those lists, only a scant few were crossed out to not send a card. Name after name after name of a person to reach out and send a card to and let them know in some small way, “You had an impact on my life this year!” or “Hey, remember me? I know we haven’t talked since LAST Christmas, but I was thinking of you and hope you’re well.” or even a “Hey, we may have our differences, but it’s Christmas, so let’s bury the hatchet and have a drink!” 

It’s nice to see some names on the lists, and sad in other cases. Very sad in tracing my fingers over the lines crossing off a name. But overwhelmingly, it’s joyful! JOYFUL!!!! So wonderful to see the names of high school friends who still laugh at inside jokes, so amazing to see names of people I just talked to yesterday, but they’re getting a silly card from me tomorrow! JOYFUL!!

I might consider consolidating my lists into one list this year after the holidays. Maybe. But I almost think it would take some of the nostalgia away. The years of revising would be gone. The pink highlighter. The pencil (because a certain someone seems to want to move around a little too much and now I ONLY write her address in pencil), the coffee stains, the wrinkles. The lists seems to have aged like me. Maybe I should keep them just the way they are.   

Christmas and Yoga

I haven’t been to my yoga class in almost 2 weeks. I hate that I’ve missed it, but between MIchael traveling so much lately, and Christmas obligations, it seemed like my regular yoga times took an unfortunate back seat. It really made me sad, because we all know how much I love my yoga class. 

Then on Saturday, when I already had to miss class, I woke up with a horrible backache. It still hurts today and I don’t know what I did or why it hurts. But guess what I have been doing instead?? Yep, the ole stand-by yoga DVD. 

I like it cuz it keeps me moving, keeps me bending and stretching, but wow do I miss being in class with my girls and familiar faces. I will admit that I seem to be able to do this DVD much better than when I first bought it, so I give full praise to my yoga instructor for making me stronger without even realizing it. That’s pretty awesome. 

I also have to say, a very amusing side effect is being able to stand on one foot, put my sock and my boot and realize I didn’t wobble, fall over, hold on to a chair or anything else for support. I could do both legs that way! Ha ha!! Way to go Tree Pose!!!

But I think one of the things that I struggle with most and have complained about on this blog a lot is my inability to quiet the noise in my head. And this time of year it’s especially hard. I have a million and a half things running through my mind at any given moment. (Yes, I’ve even stopped typing this TWICE to jump on Amazon because I’ve thought of something I want to order. ACK!) I miss the focus and calming of being in my yoga class. I can tune out the DVD. I can still hear negative thoughts, or the list of things I need at the store, or “what was I going to get her for a gift?” running through my mind.

This is the best calming feature of yoga for me. Even if it’s for an hour, focusing on breathing and form and posture, it gets me out of my own head. Now if I can just find a way to incorporate that into my daily grind when I’m feeling overwhelmed, or my mind is cluttered.