Friday, March 23, 2012

Crack A Book Open Why Don't Ya!

I'm a reader. I've been doing it since I was four years old, and I've been known to finish dauntingly long winded books in record speed. I'm rarely without SOMETHING to peruse, whether it be a book or a magazine, it's not often that I don't sit curled up with something on the go.

Lately? I can't seem to get into the groove of reading. I have no idea what this new illness is, but it's annoying. I have several books ready for consumption on my Bluefire yet I can't seem to, you know, actually sit down and read. I've started a few and just rudely ditched them. I've not even cracked open others. I have one I'm supposed to read for Book Club and I've read one or two chapters.

My Mom gave me a book for my birthday, and another for Christmas. My daughter has read both and I've read neither.  My niece is reading "The Hunger Games" and is finished with the first one, which she is then going to pass to me. I'm drowning in books without a bookmark life preserver!

I think the issue is the darned internets. At night when I could be immersing myself in different times and places, with different characters at the helm, I'm instead pouring over quotes and recipes on that black hole that is Pinterest.

I need to put the iPad down and pick the books up. Tonight, we get reacquainted-just me and the written word for a nightcap a deux.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Open Up!

I'm a very private person and tend to keep most aspects of my life on the down low. I'm not the friend that's going to pour my heart out, telling you every little detail about my relationship, my sex life, my struggles or even my history. It stems from not being trusting, I guess, but it's also just how I'm made.

I've been trying, however, to open up more. The thing I've learned is that, pride and ego aside, when I open up to my friends, the world doesn't come crashing in around me, they don't judge me or my situation, they don't gossip and try to hurt me. Of course they don't-that's why they are my friends in the first place! I've always known that I COULD open up to them, but I've never wanted to burden my friends, and I've also always feared showing a side of me that's "messy."

I know I'm not perfect, nor do I try to be. Believe me, it would be impossible, given what all has happened in my life, to even try to act like everything was hunky dory all of the time. Somehow though, a lot of people seem to think I come off that way, and it makes me laugh to myself a little.

I DO try to live the best life I can, despite circumstances. I absolutely try to make everything around me work as seamlessly as possible.  I desperately try to create magic and wonder and happiness for my girls. Above all else, I try to remain positive and hopeful, even in the face of challenge.

I've been testing the waters a bit, letting stresses and fears that plague me take shape outside of my head and inside conversations with friends. Shockingly, not one friend has turned up their nose or gloated at my struggles. They've all, instead, immediately rallied and encouraged and held up. Man, I love them!. They are the family I have created for myself, and their love sustains me.

Don't get me wrong, there are ALWAYS going to be the haters out there that are full of glee to hear of an other's misfortune. They feel better about themselves and their situations I guess when someone else is having a difficult time. I used to worry what they would say or think, but now? That negativity is their own flaw and I realize it comes from their own insecurity or ego, and that's totally okay. I'm not about that, and it's why I choose to surround myself with positive, strong, healthy individuals who know that at some point, we are ALL going to be  in each others' shoes in some way, shape or form.  I'll be there for them when the time comes, just as surely as they've been there for me-whatever the situation.

Little by little, I peel back the layers of the walls around my heart and with tiny, baby steps I start opening myself up to everything that is out there for me.

If you don't open yourself up and let people in, you can't be upset when you find yourself alone.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Case of the Stay At Home Blues

This Mommy gig is just full of guilt and questions and more guilt with a side of WTF am I doing, huh?

I know this is the battle lament of Stay at Home Moms everywhere but, lately, it's just been really bothering me. It could be because I've been discussing it with other Mom friends, or maybe it's just that it's March and that tax refund sure would be a welcome adjustment to my bank account.

The real problem with talking about this is, no one wants to hear it, and no one really "gets" it unless they've been there.

Let me start by repeating yet again-I'm SUPER DUPER glad I've been able to be home with my kids. I didn't want someone else being the person that they spend the majority of their days with, I didn't want someone else's morals, values, discipline or guidance to be the background of their formative years. I wanted to be there for my kids for every tear, every laugh, every teachable moment. I have an almost 13 year old, so trust me when I say, I KNOW how quickly that time speeds by and you really can't get those moments back. I'm grateful to have a pre-teen that still likes to be tucked in and who tells me daily she loves me. (She's SO going to kill me for outing this!)

I'll also immediately put the disclaimer here that I'm not judging Moms that chose to go outside the home to work. I'm not about that. Every parenting decision we make from birth plan to feeding to education to TV viewing is personal choice for each of our unique situations and what feels right to each of us individually. Besides, we all beat ourselves up enough to not need any help from others in that department.

My quandary of late is that often being home is not the most appreciated job in the world. I don't get bonuses or trips or performance evaluations that say what an awesome contributing member I am of the team. Most days, I feel like it's just assumed that the house will be tidy, the laundry done and put away, and a hot, balanced meal on the table nightly. Yes, I CHOSE to be home. I get that.

My friends and I were talking about not being the breadwinner and how sometimes that feels like you get an allowance, or how sometimes the jokes of not contributing financially sting. In my case, it's REALLY annoying because I've worked FROM home for the last 12 years, except for a year (or less!) after we've moved each time, to help us settle. Now, no, I've never had a pension plan or made big bucks to support us all, but I've contributed. However, when I look at my double income family friends, I do feel guilty or like I've somehow stunted my family's future.

If I had worked outside the home, making a bigger salary, we would have had more of a cushion. We would  have put more away for retirement, for our kids' educations, for a rainy day. Many friends are more secure financially because both partners have been working for many years and they've had more to put away.

So-what am I to do?

I can't go back in time, nor would I change the decision I made. My girls are truly amazing, and I've been allowed to be there for every single moment of it. I don't regret one blissful second of being home with them.

Do I try to find full-time employment now? I DO still have 25 years of working time to rack up some dough. When I consider this option, I STILL feel like it's not time. I don't like the idea of my kids being in someone else's care all summer, and they aren't at ages I'd like them home alone all day every day. My salary would also likely all go to just paying daycare fees! It's crazy expensive!

My plan has always been to do daycare supply teaching. I can work as much as I'm asked to, but pick and choose my days. That's where I'm at right now. Come September, hopefully I'll be putting my name on some supply lists and doing what I can to make myself feel like I'm making more of a contribution financially.

Then I can feel guilty about THAT and about the house not being up to standard or the dinners being sub-par and.....

Does it ever end?? Is there any parent out there who doesn't constantly feel like nothing is ever enough?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm SO Stoked!

I have to share this with SOMEBODY that will be excited (as excited?) because my family are all "Ya, that's cool" as they keep just doing what they're doing.

In the fall, I set out to start my Couch to 5K program outside. At the time, I ran with my niece who is nineteen. It was pretty ugly. She was way ahead of me, and I trudged along huffing and puffing. I would run 3-4 minutes and then I'd have to walk 3 minutes or so. This was a step back from what I'd been doing in the spring, while living in Halifax, and it was pretty disappointing. It was, to say the least, brutal. I was dying and not sure why I was even out there.

Fast forward to today. I haven't run since that day, in October or so I'd guess. The weather here was fantastic and I was deciding what workout to do when it just hit me-"Get outside!"  I laced up my sneakers, grabbed my  eldest daughter and hit the road.

We walked 2 minutes, and then started to jog. She was ahead of me, but I was okay with that. I just wanted to focus on doing my own pace, but more so, on trying to minimize the walking portion. Let me admit right away, I was struggling in my head. My breathing was crap and I could taste that coppery sensation in my mouth. I told myself, "Hey, you run this, and longer, on the treadmill all the time. You can do this!" and "Your legs aren't tired! Just keep going!" For awhile, I truly doubted if I'd be able to go a minute longer. When I looked at my time, I had been running 8 minutes straight. I went another two minutes to make it 10 full minutes of running time, and then walked for 3 minutes to catch my breath. Well, and maybe spit a time or two.

Once the three minutes were up, I ran again another 10 minutes!!! In total, I did 3.25km's and ran for 20 full minutes, with only 3 minutes of walking. I walked another minute or so at the end to catch my breath.

Let me add in here, my daughter? She may have started ahead of me, but by the time we got to the 3 minute walking portion? She was DONE. I ran her home and kept going! She's been complaining since getting in that her legs are killing and asking me, "Are your legs so sore??"  Guess what? Not. At. All. I was teasing her that her almost 40 year old Mother just outlasted her! Take THAT!

So, I made some dinner and am about to do some baking for the week ahead, but I'm off and on almost teary that I accomplished this! I know it sounds silly for only 3.25k, but I've had it in my Bucket List to run a 5k at some point, and I was starting to feel like it was just never going to happen for me. After today, I really, really feel confident that I can ACTUALLY do this!  For me, this is a huge, huge thing.

I'm hoping I can keep this up, and I hope I can keep running with it! Pun intended!

Friday, March 9, 2012

March is marching on....

I'm supposed to be on my way to sitting in the hot Florida sun today, and yet here I am in -12C weather. To say that's a bummer is a huge understatement. We had planned a 10 day plus vacay south of the border, but had to pull the plug. My husband's job is super busy right now and it just wouldn't be the best time for him to be away for two weeks, plus he's got a business trip away in a few weeks again. So, here we are. We're all a bit disappointed, to be sure, but also looking forward to our summer trip to Halifax even more now!

Next week is March Break and we have nothing planned. It will just be nice to not have any schedules to worry about, and not having to get dressed immediately upon rising is always tops in my books! I'm really hoping to just do some free, fun, outdoors activities with the kids. It wouldn't hurt if it was nice and sunny and above zero degrees here as well.

Booty Camp finished up it's 8 week session, and I'm signed up for April and May for another round. The results I've had from camp are seriously awesome to me and I'm looking forward to more of the same. I tried doing some of my old DVD's this last week, and I found them all a lot easier than when I did them previously. My strength and endurance are so elevated compared to a few years ago. Heck, compared to a few months ago! Of course, I'm not some superstar-yet. I have a long way to go on this road, but I was looking at some pictures the other day and realized my mindset is totally different than it's ever been before. I used to think "I'll never get to THAT size again so I'll be happy at THIS one" or "Well, THAT is unattainable so I won't bother" and now I'm all about "WHY NOT?"  Why can't I look like that? If I do the work, why can't I get the rewards? I think it's certainly about being comfortable in your own skin, with your own goals and expectations-let me be clear. I'm not trying to look like a Supermodel or a Fitness Competitor, I'm trying to look like my best ME. That, my friends, is VERY attainable. I've let go of the idea of hurriedly having it happen in like two months, but I now feel like it definitely can and will happen.

I'm honestly trying to change my life here. It's time for a wholeheartedly new me. I'm happy with who I am, but I know I have so much more to give, to do, to be. That's my focus this day, this month and this year.

If you thought I was awesome before (and I know you did, c'mon!) Watch Out! The best is yet to come!

Florida or no Florida, this month is going to be fantastic!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pssst...You Wanna Know A Secret?

Ah, secrets. They run the gamut from a wonderful surprise kept hidden, to a hurtful lie kept in the shadows.

I grew up living a life where there was a lot of secret keeping.  We didn't speak outside of our house about what went on within. At least, I didn't. I think that was the general unspoken message. I kind of grew up with the thinking that you keep your personal life, well, personal.  The sad truth is that all of those secrets put quite a heavy load on a kid's heart and soul. They also cause walls upon walls to get erected because you don't want people to get too close and discover all that you've tried so hard to not reveal.

I had a lot of practice, so I got really good at keeping secrets. In fact, I'd say I'm pretty much the master of it. There are things that I know that could ultimately change the course of lives. But they aren't my secrets to tell.

The thing about secrets is that, eventually, they always come out in some way, shape or form. Part of that is because not everyone is great at keeping them. There are those that DELIGHT, frankly, in revealing every sordid detail they know about every single person they know. There are also weepy confessions and guilty consciences by others who can no longer go on with the tales they've stuck to in the past. There is also crazy coincidence that sometimes lets the secret get blown wide open unintentionally. Some people call that Karma, but I don't really believe in that. If it existed, there would be a hell of a lot more people getting a hell of a lot more coming to them-and it doesn't happen because they are still going about their merry ways.

There are good secrets, too, of course. Plans for birthdays fall in this category, trips surreptitiously scheduled, babies whose gender isn't revealed 'til the last minute. When life gives us these great secret reveals, it's like the world is trying to balance out all of the crummy secrets we've had to keep under our hats in the past.

There are also secrets that need to be kept for a time until one has all of the info. There's no point in telling the world a half of something until you can sit down with all of the facts. Those kind of secrets are necessary ones and usually cover health, financial or marital worries.

However, most often when someone leans forward and conspires in a whisper with a "You wanna know a secret?" my heart always immediately sighs. You know what? I really, really don't. It's a burden to carry all of those secrets around for others when I've also got my own. I'm talking about gossipy secrets here-not the good kind or the private need for help kind. I'm very open to receiving those!

My own opinion is that no good can generally come from keeping a secret. If you need to keep something hidden, you probably shouldn't be doing it, thinking it, saying it, planning it or allowing it. Keep your personal life personal, keep your secrets to happy surprises and we'll all walk a little taller and our hearts will feel a little lighter.