Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Spillover Effect




It is amazing to me the spill over effect one small change can make.

Recently I purged my Littles' clothes. I have a couple of large bags of clothes ready to be given away. The Littles now each have seven outfits plus three pairs of pyjamas. That's it. All of their clothes fit into one load of laundry. This has simplified my life so much! One load - if every piece of clothes they own is dirty! I'm contemplating reducing even further, down to four outfits each since they tend to pick the same clothes over and over anyway.

I purged my dishes as well. I now have 4 dinner plates, 7 lunch plates and 7 bowls plus glasses and utensils. I got rid of my ancient, Teflon-flaking pots and bought a set of pots. They all fit together nicely in the cupboard. I purged my appliances and only kept what I use.  As a result we can actually get a pot or appliance out of the cupboard without risking a bruise or broken toe.

Two small actions. One huge result. Because all of the laundry can fit into one load I am staying on top of laundry. Because I'm staying on top of laundry I have more time. Because the dishes *have* to be done after every meal if we want plates to eat off of for the next meal then my dishes are done most of the time. No more overwhelming pile of crusted on dishes greet me in the morning. Because I'm staying on top of the dishes I have more time. More time to battle the clutter that life brings in, more time to spend with my kids and my friends, more time to read, more time to spend building a future, more time getting healthier. 
This time is such a gift to me. 

My entire parenting career has been marred by an overwhelming "need" for more hours in a day. I have realized I don't need more time. I need balance.

Balance is what I am striving for. I have never been good at balance. I have always been "all or nothing" about everything. There is no half-way. I go all out, give more than 100% and then, more often than not, I burn out and fail. This cycle sends me spiraling downward in depression. I have had enough of that. I want balance.

My new plan is 75%. If I can accomplish 75% of what I want, achieving 75% toward perfection, 75% of the time then that is good enough.

One small change, the purging of some kid clothes, has spilled over into other choices that have improved my life so much. It has help bring balance and perspective. It's amazing what a choice can do.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The messages I hear & what I will do about it

Every single day I hear the same things:


You are fat. 
You are ugly. 
You are worthless because you don't have a job. 
You are such a statistic of the good for nothing teenage mom 16 years later. 
You aren't good enough. 
You are too lazy. Your house is such a mess your kids should be taken away. 
You are too lazy. You should be at the gym running 10km every day.
You are a terrible mother - no wonder one of the kids moved out and two others only live with you half the time. 
You fail at life. 
You need to be perfect and you are so far from it you couldn't see perfect if it hit you in the face.
You fail at love. It's your fault  you are single. If you were "better" he never would have left you.
You don't deserve to be treated kindly - you deserve every bit of garbage that people throw at you.
You should drop off the face of the earth, no one would miss you and the world would be a better place for it. 


If I saw or heard someone treating my friends, family or even an acquaintance so poorly I would be livid. I would step in, I would defend them.
So why is it okay I keep hearing this? I keep listening to it and believing it.



I am my own worst enemy the vast majority of the time. This has really become clear here lately.

I will choose to ignore those voices screaming at me from within my own head.
I will choose to battle my faults, but keep a realistic view of what those faults actually are.
I will keep educating myself. 
I will surround myself with people who show me that I am better than all the "truths" I hear about myself. I will distance myself from those who reinforce those messages.
I will find a way to give back. No, right now I can't hold a job but I can volunteer somewhere I'm sure.

It's hard. So hard to make change but I am strong and I can do it. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Change


I have been putting a lot of effort into changing my behaviour, changing my patterns and choosing better. What a difference that makes! 


Day to day life is essentially the same: I am still a single mama of five kids, I am often overwhelmed by the weight that is on my shoulders, there are still money problems, the house is often a mess... I could go on and on. Instead of letting it defeat me I have been making a concerted effort not to let it crush me.
What a difference choices and attitude make!


The Littles are loving the new arrangement of more equal time between Daddy and Mommy's houses.  Accepting that I am not SuperWoman and I don't have to be has empowered me to enjoy the time I have with the Littles and enjoy the time when they are with Daddy. Jaron loves school. Yesterday halfway to school he looked at me and said "Do you see my smile getting bigger? That is because the excitement grows inside me as we get closer to school!" What a difference a few months makes!


I think the most significant change in the last few weeks has been in the way I have decided to let people treat me. I have made a conscious decision to put myself "behind glass" as explained in a Facebook status I stole:


I was reminded of something important today: If you're not being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Perhaps you've marked yourself down. It's YOU who tells people what you're worth by what you accept. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables! LEARN to value yourself… more! If you don't, no one else will


It took me about 35 years but I finally see that I am the one who decides how people get to treat me. I am the one who will make the choices in my life. I am strong enough to weather whatever life throws at me (and no God, that is not a challenge thank you very much!!) I have the strength to work through trials, I have the strength to walk away from anyone who doesn't treat me like the amazing person I am. I am capable of thinking things through and making decisions. I am worth it all darnit! At times I get lost in a swirl of "Look at all the pain I've allowed, look at all the time I wasted!" but I stop the thoughts and accept I cannot change the past but I can change the present and the future!


Onward and upward!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Escaping

I am escaping reality for a couple days and heading to Algonquin to camp. A break from the every day, time to enjoy watching the Littles explore, sitting by a campfire, sleeping in fresh air - it all sounds like exactly what I need.
I'm looking forward to time to think in a beautiful setting and plan out the next little while. I'm trying to figure out some plans for my future and need time for quiet contemplation.
Off to the woods I go!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Smiling

Today I found myself smiling for no reason at all. I realized I was singing while I did some dishes.
I played with the Littles, sat and watched a show and chatted with the girls.
For the first time in a long time I feel content. I feel peaceful. Dare I say I think today I felt happy?


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Attitude change

In the last few days I find myself experiencing - and working hard on - an attitude shift. Some parts of my life situation really suck. I can change/control some of it, other parts I just have to accept. Well, no, I don't. I could wallow and cry and whine and never accept that the way things are is the way things are. I do have that option. I have no interest in exercising that option.

I have great friends. I have a wonderful family. I have a safe place to lived. I can provide for my kids. I have plans for my future. I do not want to dismiss all of that and waste time being miserable.
I am struggling to keep myself from swirling in depression and pity and sadness when I'm alone, especially at night & when the kids are gone. Staying busy is key I think. There are times the sadness is overwhelming and there are times I give in & have a cry but then wipe away my tears and get busy again.
I'm really tired of life knocking me down but I'm not letting the knocks win. No way. I want to live.

Monday, August 8, 2011

An old post from an old blog

I wrote this a couple years ago when life had flattened me. I'm re-posting it on this blog. I know I'm not there yet but I will be.

I was thinking back to a couple months ago when I was talking to a friend. I told her how so many times over the last years I have been broken. I believe I compared myself to a vase - how eventually after being broken so many times you just can't glue it back together.
I realize today that I am not a vase.
I am a tree.
I have had storms batter me. I've had the wind blow so hard I was sure I couldn't survive. I lost some branches I'm sure, but in those storms, without even knowing it, I was digging my roots in. Pushing them down into the ground where they will hold me strong.
This latest storm won't break me. I will painfully push my roots down and grow.
There are five small trees growing near me looking to me, seeing my strength, watching these storms and surving their own storms. They are growing strong along side me.
I will stay strong, I will not break.

I will get there. I'm done with being used and lied to. I am worth more than that. Another person's behaviour toward me does NOT speak to my worth or my character.
Someday I will truly believe that, until then I will remind myself over and over again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

For the Better...

Life is changing in our family. I hope it will be a positive change. I'm experiencing some guilt but I am sure this change will be better.

The Littles' dad and I have agreed to a more equal custody arrangement. I never thought I'd be okay with not being the 100%, full-time parent - but it actually was me that requested the change. Me. I asked for my babies to be away from me almost half the time.

I have been flattened this year. No, I've been flattened by the last few years. This last year has just put me over the edge. I've always been able to look after everyone and keep myself together. Now I'm finding myself too tired, too broken, too weak to keep doing it. With what feels like no hope of my life changing I have to do this in order to just survive.

I'm not sure why I feel like I'll have a scarlet letter on my chest for doing this. The Littles are going to be with their other parent, I'm not selling them on e-bay or dropping them on the doorstep of a church. I know I'm not less of a parent because of this but I wonder if other people will see it that way. Will it look to the world that I'm abandoning my kids half the time?

I need to plan out the time that the Littles are away. I need to use this time to get myself to a place where I can make it through the day without feeling that it'd be better if I just hadn't woken up. I need to use this time. I need to use this time to spend time looking after myself both physically and emotionally. I need to use this time to spend time with my girls who have suffered from me being so broken. I need to use this time to spend time with friends and maybe laugh a little. I need to use this time to get stronger. It sounds so selfish when I see it all typed out.

It's going to be so strange around here when the Littles are gone so much. But I'm sure it'll be for the better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Numbers and regrets

What do you do with regret and consequences of mistakes made?

6237 days ago I made the biggest mistake of my life.
I had no way to fix it so I tried to make the best of my life, always feeling the haunting memories and reminders of that mistake. It would pop up fairly often, I tried to push it away but it would resurface again and again.
For the last 315 days I had the chance to try to rectify that mistake.

I failed.

Now I get to live out the remainder of my days living with the regret of my failure. I wonder how many days that will be.

I never knew I would be punished for the rest of my life for that mistake. I never would have made that choice if only I knew.

Every day, many times a day, I pray and I hope that someday, somehow the punishment for this mistake will end. I will get another chance and maybe, must maybe, I won't fail again.

All I can do is hope and pray.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

10 Things I have learned while Mom is away...

1. I want a dishwasher. Staying at Mom's where we have a dishwasher to use has convinced me of this. It saves me crazy amounts of time. The dishes actually get done after every meal even when life is rushed.

2. Having my family living in two separate homes is annoying. Going back and forth almost daily is wearing. Having kids making a mess in two separate places is more than I care to deal with. It will be nice to have us all under the same roof. That being said, having siblings who tend to rival frequently in two separate homes has been a nice break for them and for us.

3. I call my mom a lot. I thought we spoke often but it turns out it's about 2-3 times a day. I miss her. I miss her a lot more than I thought I would.

4. Keeping up a uncluttered home is a lot easier than trying to keep up my own disaster pile. Must work on that when we are back home! It feels like I am always decluttering, I guess I need to kick it into high gear. Heard a quote on The Big Bang Theory that sums up my house: "This isn't anyone's 'home'. This is a swirling vortex of entropy." Mom's house is decluttered but not stark. Not quite minimalist but way closer than mine is.

5. House-sitting is much more pleasant than dog-sitting. I always dreaded Mom going away because I thought house-sitting was terrible. Turns out it was just the dog that makes it terrible.

6. Did I mention I miss my mom? I really do.

7. I often feel spoiled because we have 1.5 baths at home. Here with two full baths it's heavenly.

8. Having the playground a five minute walk away means we are outside a lot more. The Littles sleep a lot better when we hit the playground to burn off the last of their energy after supper.

9. Central air is a gift to me directly from God. I truly believe this. Other than having two full bathrooms I will miss central air the most.

10. The Littles do not need nearly the amount of clothes that they own. I packed each of them five outfits and two pairs of pjs for the two weeks. They wear the same three outfits over and over. The only thing I would change would be to have a third pair of pjs in case of a bedtime snack spill or pee accident when the first pair is in the wash.

Mom is home at the end of the week and brings my sister & nieces with her. I can't wait!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Great Summer Plans of 2011

Whenever life knocks me down I tend to retreat, give up, hide from those who care about me. I shut down.
I am done with that. No one on this planet is worth me losing more months of my life than I already have. To that end...

The Great Summer Plans of 2011:

The YMCA and I are going to become best friends again. I'm going to drag my kids with me unless they are at work. My ultimate goal: 5 mornings a week. This time around I need to lose my fear of the weight room. Maybe I'll save up and get a session or two with a personal trainer. I felt really good - both mentally & physically when I was doing my 5k a day last year. I want to get back there.

Start our homeschooling year the first week of August. I still haven't decided yet whether I am going to homeschool this fall or not. I figure starting a month before public school starts will give me an indication of how things will go - and plenty of time to enroll J if that is the better decision.

Sign up for a distance ed course from Ryerson University. This is scary and exciting all at once!

Get my G1 *BEFORE* August 24th. There's no way my oldest daughter can learn to drive before me! Not sure what to do about the actual learning to drive part now but I'm sure I can figure it out.

Spend more time with the girls. I hardly see them all school year. I really want to connect with them this summer.

Read. I have a very long list of books I want to work through.

Spend time with friends. Quit hiding at home and enjoy people again. I need to kick my anxiety in the butt and get out into the world.

Life is not going to flatten me again. Onward and upward!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nixing the Negative Nelly

Negative people suck the life out of me. You know the type? Always complaining, always commenting - almost always something negative? I fear I am becoming one of those people. I am going to change that.
Trying to figure out my plan to change it. I want to reframe experiences and thoughts and phrase them in ways that are accurate but not negative.

Perhaps I'll start by committing to the "say three positives before saying a negative" my mom always insisted on when we were children. That helps for what I say... but I'm not sure how to turn off the negativity that is in my head. I tend to go to sad and dark places when I'm alone with my thoughts. How do I break that cycle?

Tonight I am really struggling with staying positive (or at least not negative.) I am home alone. No kids, no boyfriend, no friends. There is no one here but me. I feel sad and suffocated by the "alone" but I am trying to reframe it. It.is.hard. I'm not sure how to accomplish this. I guess for now I will grab a snack and turn on a movie and wait for another day to come up with a plan for these difficult nights.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Learning to fly by the seat of my pants

I like plans. I like knowing what is going to happen every step of the way, planned out in advance. I want to know what the outcome will be or should be. I want the plan as clearly defined as soon as possible. Apparently the universe has been desperately trying to cure me of that fault. It seems every time I turn around, every time things feel settled and I can take another step in my plan another curveball comes my way. Some of the curvealls have been great. I've had curveballs that were amazing life changing surprises which have enriched my life and for those I am grateful. Other curveballs have been soul-crushingly painful. Maybe one day I can be one of those people who say they look back and are grateful for their trials. I certainly am not at that place yet.

Between the universe and my own screw-ups and others' screw-ups that impact my world, my life is not what I thought it would be. My plan for the "perfect life" went off track. My life is not nearly what I had planned but I need to learn that just because it is different that doesn't mean it's wrong, or bad or anything other than what.is. Those voices in my head, the ones that overwhelm me at the end of an exhausting and challenging day tell me that if only... if only... if only... my life would be so different and so much better. All blame rests solely upon me if I believe those voices. I need to learn to tune them out. I need to learn to silence them and realize I cannot change what has happened. I can re-frame, I can adjust my attitude and I can move on.

I just need to do better. Every day make better choices and accept where those choices take me, whether or not they fit into my plan.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Father's Day

Sunday marks the beginning of a very difficult time for me.

It begins with Father's Day. I tend to hide myself away for Father's Day. I avoid church, the barbecues, the parties, the celebration and lock myself in my house - usually in my room. I have that option because my children always go to their dads' that weekend.

I miss my dad. I miss him every day. The ache of missing him turns into gut splitting agony on the day everyone shows their dad how much they love and appreciate him. I would do anything for just one more Father's Day. One more minute even. I love my dad. I miss him.

A short four days after Father's Day comes Daddy's birthday. This year he would have been 66 years old. Would have been...

We'll have a cake. Probably lemon since Dad loved lemon. I probably get my love of lemon cake from him.

Two days after that my mom has her birthday. I am thankful every day that Mom is still around - even the days we disagree and she frustrates me to no end. But even Mom's birthday makes me sad now. You can see in her eyes, in her voice, in her expressions that her life is incomplete without Dad at her side.

July 4th was my parents' anniversary. They married July 4, 1969 and this year they would have been married 42 years.

The hardest of all the days come a month later. On August 6th, 2006 I received the phone call that would change my life. It was Mom telling me Dad was on the way to the hospital via amubulance, that they had restarted his heart but he was unconcious.

Less than 24 agonzing hours later Dad died on August 7, 2006.

I don't know how I will spend that day. Maybe I'll make a trip to his grave site. I've only been there twice: the day we buried him and at Thanksgiving that same year. I just can't bring myself to go. It makes it feel too real.

I guess often I live in a fantasy world. I will think "conversations" with my dad, asking his advice, imagining what he'd say. It's been a long time since I picked up the phone ready to call him then remembering he isn't there to answer the phone.

The place in the world I felt safest was sitting on the couch beside Dad. Because of his heart condition you could almost always find him there. He'd lift his arm up and say "come here Anna-babes" and I'd sit beside him, as close as I could get and we'd just sit and watch tv and talk. I'd drive him crazy watching movies, trying to figure out what other shows and movies the characters were in. I guess he'd really appreciate my discovery of imdb.com eh?

I miss my Dad.