dreams: thinking about the future

Monday, January 16, 2017

What do you answer when someone asks you what your dreams are?

I don't mean the kind when you're sleeping, but the dreams you have when you're awake, the dreams of the future.

I was asked this recently and by "asked" I mean tagged in a post on Instagram... and by "recently", I mean it happened months ago and I haven't let it go.

It stumped me. Legit.

Initially I was thrilled to have been called upon to answer "aw thanks" and I sat and stared blankly at the "comment" bar as I realized I had no idea what my answer was.

I read through the other answers, so concrete and well thought-out. The only things I could come up with were arbitrary hopes for my children and what kind of house I'd like to live in.

The challenge for me was when I tried to picture where I would be and what I would be doing, I could imagine everyone around me, my loved ones and what they might be doing, but I couldn't see myself in a place that I wanted to be because I didn't know what that place was.

I felt a lump in my stomach. It was as if all the confidence and self-awareness I thought I had suddenly got knocked out of me.

Ashamed and somewhat embarrassed that I, as a Social Worker, someone who has spent a significant amount of time analyzing where I come from and talking about the importance of fulfillment,  haven't taken the time to re-evaluate who I am and where I want to be...

I mean I know who I am, I know what I value, but the more the focus of my life has been on my children, my family, the more lost my non-child related goals have gotten. It's like all other things faded into the hazy background from that first positive pregnancy test and it's hard to remember what they looked like before they got so blurry.

It's not to say the focus on my children is misplaced, it's not. It's not to say that they won't always be my primary concern, they will, always, but there's room for me in there too, there has to be. Right?

I have friends watching their children go off to college and university and I know they have ideas about what they, as 'empty-nesters' will do now, the adventures they will go on and all the dreams for themselves they will see come to fruition.

I don't want to be the person who doesn't know who she is when she's not taking care of children. I can't be that woman who doesn't know what she wants other than the best for someone else.

That's not enough for me.

Having hopes and aspirations, not just for those you love, but for yourself and living your passion is something I hold of great importance. The thing is, those hopes, aspirations and passions change. They need to be constantly re-evaluated. Unfortunately, the chaos of life doesn't always allow for
that coveted 'alone time' to think of all the things. This might be one of those things, for me, that is worth making time for. This might be one of those times where I greet that voice in the back of my mom-brain saying "you're being selfish" with a "no, I'm honoring myself, the person who takes care of all of these other people, that person needs care too, she's important too".

When we ask what people's dreams are, we assume they have an answer. We assume that all people have some idea in their head where they'd like to end up but perhaps that's not the case. 

Thinking about this same question now, even weeks later, I still don't have an answer. I can still quickly tell you my hopes for my children, my husband, even friends and family, but for me personally, it's still unclear.

For a while I was self-conscious about this and not wanting to admit that I didn't have some goal, however abstract or unrealistic, but I feel differently now. For me it's more about the process. I still can't see an ideal end place but I can see a 'next step' and that's the important part.

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed about some distant reality that we lose sight of all the small steps between our present and that distant hypothetical 'ideal place'.

I'm showing myself a little grace (we could all use more of that) and instead of pressuring myself to come up with a destination, I'm starting the journey. I am starting to ask myself the question - what would make ME happy (assuming everyone around me is taken care of)...? |There aren't answers yet and I don't imagine it's going to be quick or easy, but what good things ever are?

Looking back, I'm thankful I was tagged in that post, no matter how silly I felt at the time about not having an answer, and even though I STILL don't have one, I am at least thinking about the possibilities and taking some steps in the right direction... don't they say it's all in the journey? Well, here I go...

Goals for 2017 - part 2

Friday, January 13, 2017

Hey, I'm assuming you read Goals Part 1 and are just so eager to see what I'm hoping to accomplish in 2017 that you're back for more. Am I right or am I right? Wrong? Meh, either way, here you are...

My last post I shared a couple of my goals for 2017 and in an attempt to not overwhelm you all, I decided the rest of the goals warranted a post #2. Also, it means I spent more time writing which is one of my goals so I'm basically just winning 2017 all over the place. Minus the fact the year started with a sick kid and then me being sick but I'm not bitter.

Okay, moving on (cause I can do that). More goals.

Get a massage once a month - I hold all my tension in my neck and shoulders. This, combined with the fact I work a lot of the time at a desk, basically means my neck/shoulders/back are a ball of knotted muscles. It's not comfortable (read: it's painful) and I am not great about upkeep. I have benefits, it's covered, I just don't make the time to do it. This is an attempt to not only take care of my body but also for some self-care because, I mean who doesn't love a massage?

Meeting up with my blog friends - this is a goal but it's happening. I think I just needed to write it down to solidify that it is, in fact, happening. Most of the ladies from the Blended Blog are meeting up in Toronto in May!! I can't tell you how excited I am to be reunited with some of my besties AND to meet some of the women who inspire me regularly. I get giddy just thinking about it. How awesome are these ladies? Well, despite the fact I do VERY LITTLE over at the Blended Blog, they still consider me one of their own and support me 110%

Niagara trip with Mr B - since little man was born, Mr. B and I have been on very few dates. We don't have a regular sitter (maybe that should be another goal?) and not a lot of people to take care of the little people. Alright, I'm also TERRIBLE at actually asking people to watch the kids because I feel bad (another goal? I'm gonna goal myself to death here... lots of work to be done). Anyways, I'd LOVE to head to Niagara and spend a weekend, kid-free, with my husband. Yummy food, wine tours and no kids! One way or another I'm going to make this happen. We haven't had a night without kids
since we went away before little man was born in spring of 2015... that's embarrassing.

Meditate once a week - I don't know that this requires much explanation... mediate... once a week.

Night out once a month - this requires me to leave the house with no little people and no husband with the purpose of having fun. Doesn't mean I need to go party it up (although I don't actually recall the last time that happened) but I need to interact with other adults (read: my girlfriends) and not be in my home. Self-care AND social time. Check and check. Note to self: plan this for this month.... who wants to do something?!

Date once a month - intentional time, without little people, with the husband. It doesn't have to be a grande evening out, just time together, out of the house without the kids. We are AWFUL for this. It's complicated by few childcare options but lucky for us we happen to have some great neighbor who we may be able to trade childcare with ;)

One-on-one time with each child once a month - I would really like to spend intentional time with each child once a month. I do this day-to-day but I want it to be an intentional "date" with each little. The bonus here is that if I'm spending time with one, the other is pretty much guaranteed to be home having one-on-one time with dad SCORE!

Less frivolous spending - I spend too much money on things I don't need. Period. Full stop. I need to get better at this.

Less credit card use - this piggy backs the last goal... buy things with real money or don't buy at all. If I HAVE to spend on credit (i.e. something online that I actually need) then I need to pay it RIGHT AWAY.

Kinder parenting - I'm not a "mean mom" but I am "firm". My kids get time-outs and I sometimes raise my voice. I am also guilty, at times, of over-parenting. I am a very caring and affectionate mom and I don't think I'm wrong in my parenting but I do think I need to let go of more things and leave them be a little bit more both for themselves and for me. I am a "worrier" by nature but it doesn't really get me anywhere and I don't want my kids looking back in years to come thinking about a mom who was nagging them constantly. So, kinder parenting it is. More freedom for them (within reason) and less hovering for me (within reason). Wish me (and them) luck!

There you have it, the majority of my goals for 2017.

What are you working on or hoping to accomplish in 2017?

Goals for 2017 - part 1

Monday, January 9, 2017

For as long as I can remember I have felt pressured, at the end of every year, to come up with a list of resolutions. Things I need to improve or ways I need to change. This whole practice has always felt like a necessary evil that I really only ever did out of a sense of societal obligation.

It sounds stupid writing it. Do things for yourself, no one else and all that. Nevertheless, every year I find myself in the same predicament. Often making resolutions for the sake of making a resolution and so I had an answer whenever someone asked "so, what are your resolutions?"

Given all of the above you're probably going to find yourselves stunned when I tell you that I cannot think of one single resolution that I have kept. Crazy huh? Or not so much.

I mentioned in my last post that 2016 was a weird year for me. It started kind of slow and then turned into this perpetual rush that I just couldn't seem to slow down.

I let a lot of things go. This blog. My eating habits. My exercise routine. Self-care activities... the list goes on... and on and on. 

As the year came to a close in the blink of an eye I knew that I wanted AND needed to make some changes. The time of the year that has become synonymous with making cliche changes had suddenly become my time. Never say never.

On this year, this time, instead of making resolutions I did something a little different. I decided to sit down (with the help of one of my besties) and come up with some concrete goals for 2017. Some might argue this is the same as making resolutions but I can tell you, for me it doesn't feel the same. Perhaps the notion is the same and what's different is me and my level of motivation. My recognition that things cannot continue the way they are. The acknowledgement to myself (and now you guys) that I want and deserve (yes, the 'deserve' part can be hard to say and believe) better.

So friends, the few I have left after my random hiatus. Here I am to share some of my goals with you. I'm doing this for a few reasons. One, I find when you put something out there in the world, it automatically keeps you more accountable. Two, I hope to inspire you to set some goals for this year. things that matter to you. Or, if you've already set your goals, I'd love for you to share them.

note: I have a few more but some might be kinda boring (or not make much sense to someone from the outside) and there are 1 or 2 that I am keeping to myself ;)

Intention words: happiness, self-love, kindness, gratitude

I love that the template my friend gave me had intention words. I've seen a lot of people setting a word for the year, but being the indecisive person I am, I liked being able to pick more than one lol. 

Blog - figure it out. Alright, it's not surprise my blog has been in limbo for a while. I have a lot on the go and have been all over the place about what this place is and what I want it to be and what I can realistically put into it. My goal here is to simply set aside some time to think about it in an attempt to pick some kind of direction. I'll keep ya posted. 

Write/create 1 hour a week - I miss writing just to write. I think part of what had me struggling with blogging was sometimes I felt like I was writing because I had to. Having said that, it's better to write than to not write at all and I have been writing NOTHING lately. I miss it. So, whether I'm writing a blog post or just yammering to myself in a word doc, I'd like to spend a cumulative hour a week writing. Big check-a-roonie for this week - go team!

Exercise 4 times a week - and by "exercise" I mean pretty much anything that involves moderate physical activity. Previous years I've said I want to lose "X" lbs and that's just not realistic. Personally, I have stopped caring about the number on the scale because at times when I have weighed more than I thought I should, I actually felt and looked better. So now I focus on how my clothes fit and how strong I feel. Right now things are a little tight (I'm being kind) and I know I'm not nearly as strong as I can be. This needs to change. 

More positive self-talk - confession: I am my own worst critic. I know, everyone says this but to know me, to know me very well, is to know that, for whatever reason, I have this constant inner dialogue that is downright cruel. You might not know it being in my presence, I think I can present as confident and outspoken. The truth is I reexamine every word I say, every interaction I have and I am constantly, I mean CONSTANTLY, criticizing myself. It's not healthy, it's not kind and I'm working on it. Clearly I need to refer back to my affirmations for moms and start intentionally saying kind things to and about myself. At some point I bound to believe them, no?

Alright, I'm gonna leave it at that for tonight. I've surely hit my writing quota for the week, you've probably started to zone out AND after not blogging for months I can't really come back with a 10-pager now can I? Can I? No, I'll hit you with a part 2. Stay tuned. Oh and I promise it won't be a month... maybe just a few weeks. I kid, I kid. A few days at most :)

hello 2017... where did you come from?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Do you ever open your agenda to schedule something (assuming you're old school like me and not all fancy-like using your new iphone calendar or whatever) and have a slight panic attack when you realize what day... okay, we're being honest, what month it is?

Just me?

I feel as though 2016 began so slow... I was just sorting out some dairy and sleep issues with our little man and my exhausted self was feeling as though the days were long (and the nights VERY short). And then, in the blink of an eye, things started to move at warp-speed. Without any notice life just kicked into high-gear. The kids were happier but it felt like my hours with them were so much less. I guess sleep takes more time than we realize. Then my time was up. My year off was gone and I was thrust back into working-mom life.

I was anxious about my return to work but not the same way I had been last time. It felt similar but so different. Harder.

I left my crying babies day after day until the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. Until there were no more tears as we all resigned ourselves to this new "normal".

Normal. I'm not even sure it feels that way even now, months later.

"You'll find your groove". That's what people kept telling me. It's what they keep telling me.

I'm still scrambling to get dinner on the table. I'm still feeling like life is a perpetual rush of trying to do far more things than are humanly possible in the hours we have awake. I stay up longer to accomplish more things and easily regret it the next morning.

So I let go. I let go of some of the things that consume some of the precious hours, some of the things that seemed to be less of a priority... but I miss them, those things left by the way side. This place, this blog and the people who have followed along from the beginning or who stumbled here by accident along their way and just happened to stay.

I'm still in a strange place, feeling torn between longing to share it all and feeling overly exposed and vulnerable. I still don't know how to reconcile that. I still don't know where I'll land or if whatever I decide makes a difference anyways.

But here I sit, typing again, not making much sense but at it nonetheless. Here because I want to be but glancing at the clock knowing I'm going to need an extra coffee tomorrow and that I could be putting away the dishes, washing the floors or folding laundry... but still HERE.

This place was the thing I needed to let go of because it felt like so much work, more of a commitment than I could continue to oblige myself to but I have never really been ready to just say goodbye. I haven't figured out what this place should look like, what I truly want to do here... I just know I need to be here. Whatever that means.

Clearly 2016 was not "the year of the blog" lol and I'll hazard a guess and suggest that nor will be 2017 but I'm hoping to try and get a little more organized, a little more focused or at least figure out what purpose this place serves in my life and what efforts I can continue to devote to it.

While I sort myself out over here I just want to say THANK YOU. Thank you so much for those who continue to inspire me and check back to see what I've been up to. I cannot express enough gratitude for the people I've met through blogging. Especially my Blended Blog ladies who I can't wait to meet up with in May!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2017 brings you all you ever dreamed of and then some, I hope whatever journey you're on, you find whatever it is you're looking for and I hope you all are surrounded by happiness and love.

Cheers to a new and amazing year.

Much love,