Can we really have it all?

“You only live once.  But if you do it right, once is enough.” ~Mae West

I started another post a few days ago on the idea of unconventionality in life.  It’s so scattered and messy right now, that it’s not ready to be posted, but I hope that I can post it soon.  With my dad passing and the school year ending within the last week, I have been very contemplative about life in general and while writing that post my thoughts began to spiral.  My insomnia is back, so I have been awake, hours each night, just laying in bed with my mind wandering all over the place and I can’t seem to make sense of any of it.

So much has been happening in the past few days, weeks, even months, that I am having trouble processing what it all means within the realm of my life.  I feel completely turned around, with no idea if I am coming or going, or simply sitting still.  And with no real production or work that has to take place during the day, since I am off for the summer, I am feeling quite lost.

If you know me in real life, you already know that I am not good at compromise.   It’s either this way or that way but it can’t be both.  In the simplest definition, I tend to be an extremist.  I usually go from far left to far right with no stops in the middle. I tend to be going either 100 miles per hour, or at a complete snails pace.

I’ve often battled with the conflicting ideologies of “you only live once” and “you can’t always get what you want” going back and forth between them.  Depending on my day, or mood, I always seem to be either completely for one or the other.  Are there times when one is more appropriate than the other?  Do I choose one based on convenience?  Is it “YOLO” when I want to be selfish and “You can’t always get what you want” when I feel like being a responsible adult?  I wish I could just pick one and decide to live my life that way.  Consistency is key and at this point I am so far removed from it that I literally can’t even think in a straight line.

At what point does “you only live once” simply become a cop-out for taking the easy way out?  Can we really have our cake and eat it too?  When is it ok to be selfish and when is it not?  What if our actions, while making us happier and more fulfilled, hurt the ones we love?  At what point should we just accept the wonderful things we have: a roof over our heads, family, friends, a good job, health insurance, and stop bitching about happiness, being fulfilled, finding a purpose?

Can we really have it all and, really, should we even be trying to?

Judgment Day

“There are many things that people do happily that I can’t imagine why they would do it.  But I have to say that even though I am critical or judgmental of society at large, I’m not critical of people individually.  We are who we are.” ~Ian MacKaye

After my dad died, I felt the need to go a little crazy.  That’s not true, I had been feeling this way for a few weeks now, but this was the excuse I needed to let it happen.  I needed to feel alive, to feel like I was doing something exciting and different even if the decisions I made were ultimately stupid.  No matter what I did, I was ready to face any consequences my actions may have.

Luckily, I have the best friends who were willing to help me out on this little endevour.  Our end of year staff party was coming up and this was the perfect avenue for us to let our hair down and end the school year with a bang.

We decided to have a “judgment free” night.  No matter what happened, none of us would be allowed to judge the others, or talk about one with another, etc.  We hugged on it, took a jell-o shot on it, and pinky promised that we would not think badly of each other, or at the very least, if we did, we would keep those judgey thoughts to ourselves.

Long story short, a lot of fun was had and a lot of craziness ensued.  It was exactly what I needed and while no boats were stolen, I don’t regret a thing about that night.  It wasn’t until I was driving around the next day that I realized there was something wrong with the night.  Then it hit me.

Why the hell did we have to plan a “judgement free night”?  Why did we have to pinky swear and promise that we weren’t going to judge either?  As friends, pretty close friends, shouldn’t we already be doing that?  Shouldn’t we simply be supporting our friends in the decisions that they make instead of spending that time judging their lives and their actions?

What drives us (as women, as a society) to judge others so often?  Is it jealousy?  The desire to always be right or have things our way?  That when we identify what we feel to be a “mistake” or “lapse of judgement” in someone else, our life begins to look better or more put together?

I wish I could say that I wasn’t judgmental, but I am guilty of this as well.  And need to stop.  Like, really need to stop.  But how do you do that?  Not talking about people is one thing,but how do you tell your brain to stop having those thoughts to begin with?

And because I judge, I know other’s judge.  And because of this, I don’t know if I am ever truly honest with anyone.  I tend to keep a lot to myself, “secrets” about myself that, while I don’t care if others know, I simply don’t want to be judged by this information nor do I want the information passed on from person to person without my consent.

It’s a sickening feeling, being scared to be yourself or say what you really think simply in order to avoid judgement.

I wonder how much time I would free up in my life if I was not only able to stop judging, but also stop having anxiety over being judged.

Maybe, one day, I’ll be able to find out.

On Loss

“Stand there dance with a memory. The caption reads, “It’s all over now.” ~Appleseed Castoe

I guess I should start with the short version.  My father is dying.  Was that too blunt?  I don’t really know what to say or how to say it in a nicer way; tiptoeing around the subject as though it will make it better.  Due to years and years of healthy issues, and psychological issues, emotional issues, mental issues (you get it) he is currently in hospice and only has days left, in the best possible case.

I could focus on the bad things, that’s always so easy to do because they bring forth the most feeling and pain, hurt and regret, anger and animosity.  But I’ll try not to.

Bottom line, he wasn’t always very nice to me, and this is putting it in the best way possible, but everything he did or said made me who I am today, and I kind of like me.  

Bottom line, he wasn’t always the best father, but there are times, distinct memories that are good, that I can believe he really cared: coaching t-ball, going to the beach, teaching me to play cards. I will choose to hold on to these things and remember them when things get too dark.

Bottom line: there were times when I down-right hated him and not in a normal teenage angst kind of way; in a grown-up unhealthy kind of way.  But hate is not the opposite of love, not caring is, so essentially I still cared.  I still had feelings and emotions surrounding this man and this relationship, which, in a small way, means I was still living and still willing to fight for something.

I’ve been handling things as best I could, trying not to fall apart or dwell on the past, but my insomnia has come back and I am not getting much sleep.  At night I don’t have anyone or anything to occupy my thoughts and that’s when the worry and anxiety sets in.  I am most worried about my younger brothers, who essentially had a different father than I did and their grief is so much more profound and raw than I feel mine to be.

I’ve been feeling like my skin is too tight, like I’m itching to do something, anything to rebel against this and to prove that I am still very much alive, even when surrounded by all this death.  I need to break free, go crazy, at least just for a short amount of time, to prove that there is something still left in me.

Do we all have things we wish we would have said or done before it was too late?  Yes, of course, but I feel like in this situation, I wish I could say things to simply make him feel better about moving on.  I want to tell him that I hope wherever he is or wherever he is going he finds the peace within himself that he couldn’t find here with us.  

Does any of this really matter?  I feel like I have made my peace with it, and while I can talk about it, I don’t hold on to it, or feel (overly) bitter or harbor feelings that are going to weigh me down for the rest of my life.  At the end of the day he was my dad and no one else in the world can make that claim.

And that’s got to mean something.

Choices…we have to make them.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves.  The process never ends until we die.  And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

The saying goes that there is nothing certain except death and taxes.  I’d like to add something to that.  Nothing is certain except death, taxes and choices.  We face them every day.  Sometimes they’re easy to make, sometimes they’re hard, and sometimes they down right suck.  I usually loathe making choices.  I’m always certain I’ve made the wrong one and usually agonize about making them for longer than necessary.

I’ve been very proud of myself lately.  I’ve been taking my choices in stride; knowing that each choice comes with their own set of consequences, both good and bad.  I can choose to eat this or that.  I can choose to work out or not.  I can choose to get worked up or calm the f*** down.

Today was my non-gym day.  With no kids at home the husband and I ordered out…Chinese.  These types of decisions usually stress me out.  What should I eat?  What is the healthiest?  Is there even a point or should I go all out and say “screw it”? I know you’re dying to know what I got, but technically, it’s irrelevant.  I made the choice, owned the choice, and in no way regretted the choice.

About an hour later I had a hankering to go to the gym.  I don’t know why, but I’ve learned when the mood strikes, own it or you’ll regret it later. I convinced an awesome friend to join me (Hi Jane!) and was so happy I decided to go.  I ran faster than I did on Monday and while I only burned 350 calories, that’s 350 calories more than I would burn sitting on my ass and watching TV (or writing this blog post).

I’m not only proud of the choices I have been making lately, but more proud of the fact that I am owning them.  What I am learning to do is make the best choice I can for me.  If I go to the gym, that’s a choice I made.    If I eat a cookie, that’s a choice I make (because sometimes you just need a damn cookie).

And really, doing what I know to be my best I can is all I can ask of me.  And I’m pretty proud of that.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that today I realized I can now bend over and touch not just my toes but the FLOOR without bending my knees.  That, in itself, is an awesome victory…no matter what choice I made today.

And really, we all know, personal victories; the ones that only matter to us, are the best!

Making a list, checking it twice

“I started reading about people of great accomplishment… and it dawned on me suddenly that the person who has the most to do with what happens in your life is you.” ~Benjamin Carson

Last month I decided, at the urging of a friend, to make a list of “real” things that I want to accomplish this month.  I decided to focus on 10 things…10 real things that I could accomplish in 30 days or less.  I thought that maybe if I wrote it down, it would make more more accountable and, therefor, more willing and able to complete the task.

Long story short, I failed.  Some things were easy, some things were hard, and some I plain forgot.  See for yourself:

  1. Complete a 5K   Woohoo!  I did this one and it was awesome!  See my post on it here
  2. Make strides to become a better wife.  This month’s goal: Have one “at home” date night per week and two “going out” date nights this month.  I actually accomplished this task, but I am far from being a better wife, so I’m leaving this one “uncrossed”
  3. Apply for 5 jobs that I would actually go on an interview for, even if I am not completely qualified.  Nope, but mostly because I decided to stick it out with my current job for at least one more year.
  4. Spend more quality time with my children and really get to know them.  Each child gets one date day/night with just me per week.  I promise, this is for me, not them.  Nope.  Just call me Slacker Mom.  I could give you a million excuses, but I won’t.  I just need to do better.
  5. Read three new books this month.  Again, no.  Though somehow I managed to read three books that I’ve already read (hangs head in shame).
  6. Come up with a savings plan.  Kinda, but not really.
  7. Write at least two blog posts this month.  Score!
  8. By the end of the month, be soda free. I am currently sitting here with a diet coke, so this obviously didn’t pan out.
  9. Find a new hobby, that I can do without current friends/family (as in something completely for myself).  Does running count?  Probably not, because, although I didn’t specify, I’m thinking it should be a hobby I actually ENJOY.
  10. Take one photo everyday to document a moment that makes me smile.  This will remind me that I was happy at least once a day this month.  I was going strong for awhile, and then, like most of the other items I forgot.

So there you go.  I accomplished 2 out of 10 things I put forth for May.

Do you think it’s OK to simply recycle the other 8 and try again for June?

Running for Something

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” ~Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

I had a good week-end.  And, truly, it’s been a while since I have been able to say that.  It wasn’t good in the sense that I accomplished a lot, or made substantial contributions to society.  It was good in the sense that I started the week-end happy and ended the week-end happy.  There were no fights, no drama, no big jobs to get through, nothing pressing, making me stressed or unhappy about what the future holds.

I think this also has to do with the fact that my motivation is slowly, but surely, being restored.  I think one of the biggest problems I’ve had in this whole weight loss/getting healthy process is that I am constantly looking outward for motivation – looking for other people to motivate me and get me going – and that is something I need to stop.

I need to keep this thing going, because I know this is a lifelong process.  In order to do that, I have to start believing that my motivation can come from within – that I am capable of motivating myself.  I decide to look back over the past four months and see what I have already accomplished, so I know that I can keep going forward.

1. I have officially lost 42 pounds since January.  I can sit here and rattle on about how this is a big deal, but really, this speaks for itself.

2. I am officially down 3-4 pants sizes.  I can officially fit into shirts that only have one X in front of them as opposed to, well, more than one.

3. While I did not run the whole thing, I completed a 5K, something I never thought I would do.

4. I realized that the things that used to bring me so much comfort, non-healthy food and wine, are still fine…in moderation.  I don’t need them the way I used to think I did.

5. It’s ok to care what I look like and give a damn about my appearance…within reason.  As long as I feel good about myself that’s what matters.  And I have definitely seen an increase in my confidence.  While I don’t seek out the spotlight, I no long try to hide or avoid.

6. This whole process started as a way to get healthy in order to keep up with my kids and be around for them for as long as I could.  While this is still important, it’s not about that anymore.  It’s about me and the things I want to do and acomplish…and this is OK.

This week-end I was so proud of the new decisions I was making.  I’ve begun putting things in perspective to see what I really want in life.  I was shopping at the Gap (again, something I couldn’t do before) when I found a very cute dress that I really wanted to buy.  Once I looked at the price tag ($67) I realized that instead of buying this dress, I could buy the running shoes I wanted.  It hit me then, that running and exercise have become important to me.  Important enough to sacrifice something else in order to be able to keep going. This is probably the biggest deal of all.  It’s no longer that I need to exercise…it’s that I want to.

Exercise has become somewhat of a saving grace.  There were weeks that I would have to get on the scale every day because the weight loss was the reason I was doing all this.  I haven’t been on the scale in two weeks, because I’ve realized it’s not about that anymore.  Exercise gives me time to clear my head and really think.  Something I don’t always get the luxury to do with a full time job and kids.  Even running, which I am NOT good at at all, has become a new goal, something for me to strive towards, something to work for, a new accomplishment waiting for me to conquer.

Because in the end, I may not run hard or fast, but at least I can say that I run.