7 Ways to Deal With Problems on the School Bus and Mostly Not Get Arrested

This morning I was seeking solutions to some ongoing school bus woes. I thought brainstorming here may help to clarify an appropriate course of action for me to take. Because despite my many (many) deficits, I am trying really hard to do this adulting/parenting thing correctly. I came up this list of seven possible solutions this morning.

7 ways to deal with a kid who is bothering your kid on the bus:

  1. Call the school, let the principal and support staff handle it.
  2. Tell your child to ignore it and the other kid will get bored and move on.
  3. Tell your child to stay respectful but stand up for his/herself and others when this clearly unhappy person is acting up.
  4. Pull your kids off the bus and drive them to and from school each day while cursing the broken school system and the ongoing breakdown of society.
  5. Call the school, let the principal handle it and pull your kids off the bus until you are assured that the problem has been effectively dealt with.
  6. Walk up to the offending kid in the morning, after drop-off and say: “ Keep your mouth shut and your hands off the other kids on the bus. I have over thirty years longer experience than you do at being a cunty bitch and you DON’T want to challenge me. You will lose. Now mind your fucking manners and make something good out of your life.” Use your meanest, most menacing Liam-Neeson-in-‘Taken’ face and voice.
  7. Homeschool.

I know it should not be quite so hard to decide on a course of action, but it is. Adulting is stupid hard. You want to be mature, serene, wise and calm, set a positive example and raise good and kind humans while at the same time you want to tell shitty humans who bother other children exactly what they are, where to go and how you’ll help them to get there, using a lot of extremely immature, inflammatory, ugly and yet momentarily immensely satisfying words.

Well, this exercise did not work out exactly as planned. I am still undecided on how to proceed and now my kids will be late for school. Oh well. I guess I’ll load my kids into the minivan now and figure it out along the way.

Or, I suppose I could just resurrect Mildred.

What would you do?

~A.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 2 of 3

Part Two of the Engagement ring trilogy, examining the history of engagement rings and how diamonds got involved in this debacle.

Know her? Dude, I OWN her!

So, it turns out, this whole engagement ring business is pure fuckery. We have been had. Again. All the Jarrod’s, Zales, and Spence advertising is all hooey. But really, it should have come as little surprise that upon researching it, engagement rings originated as a public declaration of ownership. Of a woman. By a man. For fuck sakes.

During the 2nd century B.C., it is believed that the ancient Romans came up with the brilliant idea of giving a betrothal ring in lieu of giving the bride-to-be money or a valuable object (in effect, BUYING her, but with something worth LESS than cold hard cash). According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events (because even back then, people cared what their neighbours thought of them, it would seem), then he would give her an iron ring to wear at home, which served to signify her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Well, that’s romantic a.f. Yes?

Enter, the diamond.

So, we trudge through history, wearing our iron bands, until 1477 when the uber-romantic and and completely politically manipulated Maximilian I, soon-to-become-the Holy Roman Emperor, presented the first documented diamond engagement ring to Mary, the daughter of his father’s chief political opponent, the reigning duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. As the story goes, Duke The Bold, had but one daughter, who was called Mary of Burgundy, and Frederick III (Maximilian’s pop) was hell-bent to secure his son to her through marriage, in order to forestall military conflict.

Honestly. What woman could say no to an offer like that? Well, maybe a lot of women could. Like, I don’t know, just about every single woman? So, to sweeten the pot and Maximilian throws some diamonds in the shape of Mary’s first initial on that band of ownership he was hoping to win her hand with, and yeah, she (or her father) consented to the marriage. Ugh.

Although my purpose in this series is really to look at why I am (and many other people are) so obsessed with having, owning and wearing a sparkly diamond on my (her) left hand, the story of Max and Mary is fascinating, so I am going to continue this trip down memory lane bit longer, in the name of history. And in the name of it’s my blog and I can if I want to *spoiled brat moment exhausted now*.

Okay, so Max and Mary get married, and he gave her the diamond ring that would become the beginning of the end for potential grooms the world over, and then, wouldn’t you know it, they also lock into a pre-nuptual agreement (these fuckers were beyond forward-thinking, yes?) that stipulated that only the children of bride and groom had a right to inherit from each, not the surviving parent. Mary tried to bypass this asinine rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded. After Mary’s death in a “riding accident” on 27 March 1482 (a mere four-a-half-years later), Maximilian turned his aim on securing the inheritance to one of his and Mary’s (dare I say, favourite) children, none other than Phillip the Handsome. I want to leave the story here, but I cannot.  Not before I note that Mary gave birth to three children during her brief marriage to Maximilian, the eldest two survived her. They were Philip the Handsome and Margaret. Yup, that’s it. Just Margaret. Not Margaret the Beautiful or Margaret the Brave, just plain Margaret. But Max and Mary loved their children equally. I mean, of course they did. When Mary died, Handsome inherited a world and two-year-old Margaret was shipped off to France, to marry the Dauphin, in an attempt to please Louis XI not to invade the territories owned by Mary of Burgundy. Because of course she was.

It is interesting to note that Mags outlived Handsome by almost 25 years. She went on to do amazing bad bitch work and helped pave the way for women rulers. She married twice and was widowed twice. Overcome by grief, she threw herself out of a window when her second husband died. One can assume she really loved that second husband quite a bit more than the first. But, as people often do, she survived throwing herself out the window and lived 26 more years, to the ripe age of 50 (Handsome and his devilish ways died at age 28). Magnificent Mags (as I’ve come to think of her), died after a splinter of glass became embedded in her foot which in turn made her foot gangrenous. While awaiting amputation surgery, she was overdosed on opium, which had been administered as a painkiller prior to surgery. Well. It certainly killed her pain, now didn’t it? Fucking narcotics. R.I.P. Magnificent Maggie.

Well, I am emotionally exhausted now, so with luck (and a wee bit of ADHD medication), I should be able to wrap this series up in the next post and maybe, just maybe, gain some insight and closure on my own quest for that elusive ice (which, incidentily is also slang for meth, so to be clear, I am not looking for meth, I just want a big diamond). Fucking narcotics always ruin everything.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 1 of 3

This is a trilogy of posts looking at the history of engagement rings and what they really mean.

Getting married? Want to get married? Already married?

I was. I kind of did. Then I really did. Then I did and so I remain.

I got married without an engagement ring. Honestly, I never really thought that I would get married, I knew that I would have children, but marriage? It was a foreign concept to me. That said, I always knew that if I did one day get married, it would involve a HUGE dazzler on my finger. I never pictured myself in a big white dress and having a huge wedding, attended by people I barely knew, but of the ring, I was certain. And aside from my natural obsession and attraction to shiny things, I always just wanted a seriously big diamond ring. And like so many other people, I felt that a beautiful, sparkly rock on my finger would let other people know at a glance that;

1) I was loved and desired (and therefore worthy of their attention);

2) that I was worth A LOT as a person (because a bad or worthless person surely would not have such a beautiful ring? *insert eye roll here*);

3) that I was special enough for someone to spend a whack of cash (at least two MONTH of his salary, right?) on to gift me something so coveted and valuable; and

4) That I was finally pretty enough, smart enough, sexy enough, funny enough, just plain GOOD enough and someone amazing had sealed his promise to love me unconditionally forever by putting his money where his mouth was and I had the 1.5+Ct VVS1 or better, white gold/platinum, 3+ total carat weight knuckle duster to prove it.

Now, I don’t need you to tell me that this kind of thinking is some seriously twisted shit. I can read. I get it.

I have been married over a decade now, and there is no engagement ring in sight. We had a small, perfect ceremony (we eloped locally) and I would not have changed a thing (except perhaps to extend an invitation to our respective parents). Even so, it has always nagged at me that I do not have an engagement ring, that I lack that one, seemingly very important cultural symbol of love. What does it mean? Does it mean that I was not (am not) special enough or worth enough to deserve the very splashy and public declaration of love that only an expensive, flashy ring screams? It has bothered me so much so that over the years, I have started various savings funds to purchase my ‘dream ring’ for myself. But those funds always end up being needed for the family, so I use them happily and start again.

Recently though, I’ve been thinking – is my internal struggle over having an engagement ring about me, for my ego or well-being or it is for the benefit of others? Would it enhance my life or would it merely give me the false belief that other people will perceive me to be a ‘better’ or ‘more worthy’ person? Would it make marriage easier, would it make any difference in the day-to-day realities of being married? Would it mean that my husband loved me more or better than he did before the ring?

And the answer is, I just do not know. But I do know that I want to learn and understand how the engagement ring became such ‘a thing’ and how it came to represent of love and the worth of a woman within our society. Because if I can understand those things, then maybe I can get honest about the origins of my motivation and determination to have one of my very own.

The next two blog posts in this mini-series will explore some of the history behind the engagement ring ritual and try to sort out fact from fiction and meander through through centuries-old relationship drama (spoiler alert: not a hell of a lot has changed in the past 600 years). And by the end of it all, I hope to have a better idea of what I am really searching for and if it can really be found at the top of a band of gold.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Are you kidding me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Every now and then, I get a wake up call that serves to show me that what I had always suspected is true. Sometimes it’s an accidental wake up. Other times, I go looking for it. And sometimes, it’s forced upon me after willfully hiding from it forever.

It’s no secret that I have a long-standing fear and avoidance relationship with having my picture taken. I can sometimes take one of myself, and if I do, I’m usually surrounded (read: protected) by my children, but generally, as soon as someone wants to take my picture, or there is a video recording being taped, my anxiety begins to rise and I start looking for a way OUT. I could spend an entire post psychoanalyzing WHY I’m photo-adverse, but that’s not the point of this post, so I’ll leave that for another angst-filled day.

No, the point of this post is to say “what the fuck, guys?!? Why didn’t any of you tell me that I have gotten THIS far out of control and that I’m walking around looking like a frumpy, middle-aged, worn down and tired out sack of shit?” But that was too long for the title, so I’m just putting it out there now.

Seeing myself on video, without the protective shield of my children was painful, embarrassing, uncomfortable and just plain, UGH. The fact that the video was for a school assignment made it just that much more UGH because I had to share it with other, SIGHTED people

But, you know me (or, if you don’t, you’ll quickly learn that) I’m not one to hold a grudge (ha!), so I’m just going to take it from here and start turning this ship around. No more complacency in my own gluttony and sloth. No more convincing myself that I can eat “just one slice/square/cookie/tub of ice cream.” I can’t. My willpower and self-control is not that highly evolved yet and it is time that I take ownership of that fact and stop being a victim of circumstance and emotions.

So, that said, I’m also a realist in a  lot of ways. I know that the best way for me to fail is to completely swear off sugar, white flour, junk food, pizza, and desserts forever. So I’m not doing that. I’m going to take a more mindful approach to food and what my purpose is in eating whatever it is that I’m about to stuff into  my gob. I have found that more often than not, if I stop and really think about what I’m eating, why I’m eating it and what effect eating it will have on my health, both physical and mental, I can easily resist the urge.

When I was younger, my weight struggles were about vanity and appearances. Now that I’m older, my weight issues are about health and mortality and being fully present for my family. You see, I have this goal to live to be at least 106-years-old and to share a beautiful, triple-layered chocolate cake frosted with pink vanilla buttercream with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and I am painfully aware that it is going to to take more than a wish and a prayer to get there. It’s going to take mindful, willful, determined effort, and only I can make it happen.

I am a mindless eater. Awareness is half the battle. The other half of the battle will be choosing to switch my modus operandi from mindless to mindful and I’m calling today day one. And I may call tomorrow day one as well. And I may call every day from here on out day one, because as long as I’m trying, I’m not failing. As long as I’m trying, there is hope. As long as I’m trying, I will, eventually, figure out my way through even the hardest of obstacles.

Yes, for some of us, even stairs are an obstacle.

 

Suck a what? And how long have I been trapped in a minivan?

So, on Friday, Mr. K.B. took a day off work to get some things done that he has been needing to get done, and also to hang out with me (because who wouldn’t want to hang out with me, right?). Now, remember, we’re married and have four kids living in our house. This means that opportunities for us to hang out together by ourselves (that may be an oxymoron?) come around about as often as that Super Moon deal that we missed last year.

Anyway, so we were out and about town in his car and I was telling him how I didn’t really know how to use his Sirius radio set up, so when I was driving his car earlier that day, I just pushed the one button and left it at that. He started to show me how easy it was to use both the preset channels and to just scan for a station. Then, to demonstrate, he spun the knob and landed on a random station. When the signal caught up to the channel, this is what we heard:

“suck a dick, suck a dick, suck a, suck a, suck a dick…”

and then I was like, what conversation was this fella having that preceded these lyrics? Because if it was anything other than this:

dude is definitely NOT going to get his dick sucked.

I’m no prude or anything, but may I ask just exactly HOW LONG I been being held hostage in a minivan full of kids? When did music change this much? I mean, just yesterday, the kids and I were happily listening to the 2017 Grammy Nominee CD that we borrowed from the library and I was feeling all “up-to-date” and “current” and then today, I find out I have NO IDEA what the hell is going on out there. Here I was, upset that my kids are already being exposed to gangster rap in elementary school, while I should have just been thankful that they’re not walking around the house singing “suck a dick.”

Fuck.

So, two things come from this impromptu music lesson. 1) I’m keeping my head, heart and ears firmly planted in music pre-2000, and 2) It will be another decade or longer before I am morally able to join the ranks of satellite radio subscribers.

They represent me perfectly. The princess and the basket case. C’est moi.

Note: I was going to Google it and try to post a link, but then I thought – with all of the ad targeting bullshit do I really want paid ads showing up for me on Amazon, Facebook, or anywhere else that are encouraging me to suck a dick? Probably not. I’m still annoyed that everywhere I go online I see ads for hemorrhoid cream (you ask Google ONE question about something you heard about models using Preparation H as an under-eye cream and you’re marked for life. Take my word for it, just accept the wrinkles).

Nope. Just don’t do it.

And that’s how my life went from PG to XXX in one turn of a radio dial.

~A.

It’s Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ Day and It’s Okay to Struggle.

For the people struggling with metal illness and mental health issues on a daily basis, today is about creating a safe space for conversations to happen, to take mental health issues out of the dark, taboo places and insinuate them into the general population. To create awareness. To create empathy and understanding. To educate and attempt to eradicate some of the stigma that plagues any illness that is not physical in nature.

And I have a theory.

I believe that we all struggle with mental illness and mental health. Every single one of us. Depression, anxiety, addictions, narcissism, social dysfunction, phobias, compulsions, delusions, we all have something. Some of us battle daily. Some of us battle once in our lifetime. Some of us are triggered seasonally. And some of us completely unaware that we are suffering from an actual illness and think we’re just fine, but can’t explain why we do, think or say the things that we do. Not understanding why some things just keep on happening ‘to us.’ Some of us struggle our whole lives and some of us struggle with mental illness and health during various phases of our lives. The point is, no one gets out unscathed. This effects us all.

And that is okay.

It is okay not to be ‘perfect’ and have it all together, all the time. It is okay to need a little (or a lot) of help. It is okay to need medication, therapy, comfort, and to retreat to regroup. It is okay to not be strong all of the time and really, sometimes we are the strongest when we are the most vulnerable.

I am very aware of my imperfections, issues and struggles 365 days a year. The older I get, the more issues I realize that I have. And that is okay. We are all imperfect. We are all in this together. If I see you struggling, I will offer whatever help that I can. Be it an ear to listen, advice, chocolate, or, if we’re really good friends, help hiding the body.

My door (virtual) is always open (I’d keep my actual door open, but last time I left the screen unlocked a racoon walked into my kitchen and stole the cat food, so I keep things pretty Fort Knox’d now). If you’re feeling like you’re the only one who yelled at her kids, didn’t do mothering perfectly, fed her family whatever was around, screwed up at work, ate too much or too little, are overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on you – for your time, you attention, your affection, for your YOU – you are not alone.

My door is open. So for this Bell Let’s Talk Day, and everyday until the next one, Let’s Talk. 

#BellLetsTalk

Twelve months of new initiatives to save my soul and my sanity

Most of what I have blogged about so far this year are issues around personal, inner-spirit change. Mine, specifically. And this afternoon, as I was (very glamorously and fabulously) hanging up the wet laundry to dry (er, change that to frugally, perhaps?), a thought occurred to me. I have twelve complete months ahead of me and the number twelve is not overwhelming or too daunting, so that if I do just one new behaviour or make one different choice each month, if nothing else, I’ll be closer to reclaiming my soul and my sanity.

So, to start the year off right, I’ve decided that the emotional and mental energy that I use trying to convince other people that I mean what I say, that I am sincere in my compliments or kind observations is actually draining the life out of me.

So, I give. I am sitting this dance out.

For the next month, if I say something nice to someone, for example, “You look great!” or “You’re so funny” or “That slab of cake you’re eating really brings out the colour of your eyes.” and I get any response other than “Thank you!” or “Effin’ A!”  or some other positive and accepting response, I am not going to try again. I am not going to argue and try to convince the person that they look good, that they are funny or have the cakeiest looking eyes ever. Conversations will start to sound something like:

Me: You look so nice today!

Other: Yeah, sure. I’ve gained a ton of weight and my hair looks like shit.

Me: K.

or maybe like this:

Me: You are so funny! You make me laugh! *laughing*

Other: Yeah, but you don’t really think that I’m funny.

Me: K. You’re right. *no longer laughing*

And just maybe, if I have enough of these conversations, change will happen and I can start having these conversations:

Me: You look so nice today!

Other: Thank you!

Me: You’re welcome. I love it when you look so happy!

or even:

Me: You are so funny! You make me laugh! *laughing*

Other: Thank you! *looking pleased and also laughing*

It seems like such a small thing, but I feel like it would make a significant difference in my overall outlook and emotional wellbeing if I could just stop trying to make anyone believe me and accept the truth, as I see it, rather than just giving them the space to feel however they choose to feel. I can no longer own everyone else’s insecurities and issues. I have enough of my own.

And no, I’m not going to turn into a blistering, blustering, angry asshole (how is that for a colourful visual?). I am still going to offer sincere compliments and kind observations, but I am no longer going to do the “Noooooo, you are lovely! Yes, you ARE!” dance with people. I’m sitting this one out. If I say it, I mean it. If I meant to say that I thought you looked like ten pounds of chum in a five-pound sack, well, chances are I wouldn’t say anything at all. Because, while it shouldn’t be true, I do find that unfortunately, I am in fact, a complete failure as a liar. So simply dreadful, that I refuse to even try anymore.

So, the next time I tell you that I like your face, do not tell me that I don’t. Do not ask me why I like your face and try to make me justify it. Do not try to make me convince you that I like your face. And do not try to convince me that I do not, in all actuality, like your face. Either, just accept that I like your face or I’ll accept your (baseless) assertion that I don’t. This dance of insecurity and neediness is no longer my jam.

Reclaiming my sanity, step one.

~A.

 

Conversations with kids thus far in 2017

As some of you know, Miranda and I just returned from an adventure at the hospital that included an over-night stay. While we were waiting for a room in the Hospital for Sick Kids E.R. Miranda announced to me, rather urgently, that she needed the bathroom. So, off we went, dragging the IV trolley beside us in search of a bathroom. We found one close by.

“Oh, wait a minute, honey. The seat is a mess” I told her once we were inside the little bathroom. She looked over her shoulder at the toilet, “Ugh! Who PEES like that?” she asked incredulously. Before I had the chance to answer, she spoke again, in a low voice while looking downward and slowly shaking her head. “Boys.” she said. “Boys pee like that” she sounded so mournful, so disappointed and just so defeated that I had to stifle a chuckle. She cut a comical, yet heartbreaking figure, all six-and-a-half years of her wearing nothing but dark grey cotton tights and 3/4 sleeve purple top, now cut up the side of the left arm to accommodate her temporary plaster cast, which was supporting her broken elbow.  Her other hand was incapacitated by the i.v. drip and sponge block the nurse had just finished setting up moments before. Her beautiful blonde hair a tangled mess of curls, hair elastics and sleep. And, as I hurried to clean up the seat for her, using the hospital one-ply and a prayer (honestly though – who does pee like that? And more importantly, who leaves it like that?), I had to agree with her, “yes baby, boys sometimes pee like that.” And, hoping that she would sense my solidarity and hear me telepathically, I thought “and sometimes, it’s just enough to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I hear ya, kiddo.”

**************************************************

And then this exchange just happened:

Paxton – Mummy, do you know what I’m really good at?

Me: Everything?

Paxton: Yes. But no. Really. I mean do you know what I’m really good at?

Me: What?

Paxton: I’m really good at sticking my head in a bucket of water and getting an apple.

Me: Bobbing for apples? That’s what you’re really good at?

Paxton: Yup! *beaming and proud as punch*

Me: … *with visions of a 50 year-old Pax living in my basement flashing through my mind*

Thank you, Mr. Einstein for this invaluable insight and truth. I am a believer.

Transition pains and birthday wishes

Lucky me. The New Year and my birthday conveniently occur with only five days between them. This means that I have barely the time it takes to eat a cheesecake before beginning (and failing at) New Year initiatives and deciding (and failing at) birthday initiatives. So, while earlier I blogged about my objectives for 2017, now I find myself trying to put words around more personal objectives and meanings as I pass into yet another (early) year of my 40’s.

It is my birthday on Friday, so the time to get this done is now as short as my skirts once were.

Turning 40 did not hurt. To be honest, it was painless because I did not (and do not) feel it. In my mind, I’m still the deranged, scattered, dippy teenage girl I was (except now I have a credit card, a car and a bunch of kids to drive around). Until now, I don’t think any age has really struck a chord with me. But this upcoming birthday has been bothering me, and I think that I have finally figured out why.

It is because this year, I feel very much like I am on the cusp of a brand new chapter and a whole new way of defining and living my life. And that is terrifying and exciting, devastating and energizing, mournful and celebratory, all at the same time (this may be a side effect of my basket case mental health status).

I have always prided myself on being smart and certain. Not muddled, not confused, not unsure. But muddled, confused and unsure is where I have been residing lately, during this ‘life’ changing of the guard, so to speak (and no, I’m not menopausal, thankyouverymuch).

This birthday is a milestone for me. It’s not a traditional milestone, it’s not 40, 45 or 50, but then, rarely in my life have I done things how and when I was supposed to. Chalk it up to a potent combination of the ‘nature and nurture’ forces from which I was created.

This year will be the year that I finally lay to rest my belief that ‘one more baby’ is reasonable, possible and ‘right’. This year I lay to rest my belief that my life circle and purpose is incomplete without mothering one more child. This year I move forward knowing that I have five beautiful, healthy, wonderful(ly infuriating) children who depend on me to help their worlds make sense and who also need me to  love them, protect them, feed them (possibly the most important item on this list), and mother them. Alas, this is the year that I stop thinking of my body in terms of its function and ability to produce and directly sustain the life of another and start thinking of it more as the irreplaceable, important and worthy entity for the sake of MY survival. To sustain MY life. Because my survival matters too.

Change has never been my forte. I am a planner, perhaps a bit of a control freak (as much as hippy-dippy and control freak go together, that is). I’ve been told (more than once) that I do not shift gears very easily or quickly, and as much as I dislike the sound of that or what it feels like it means about me, I have to begrudgingly admit that it is a true statement. I like things done my way. On my schedule. And I’m not terribly good at trilling “plot twist” and moving on when presented with an unplanned-for idea or event. But I am working on it. My personal goal for this year is to be better at plot twists and plan changes. Oh, I’m not giving up my lists, but this year their role will shift from that of an unforgiving dictator to more of a gentle guide for my days.

I’m looking forward to my birthday this year. I’m looking forward to doing the work that I need to do on myself, to be a different, if not better, version of me. I am looking forward to figuring out who I am and how I fit into this world now that my baby years are behind me and my future is still wide open.

~A.

This is the year

So, in keeping with my modus operandi, this post was slated to be published on the last day of 2016 and it is now January 1, 2017. To state the obvious, it goes without saying that I failed to achieve my final writing goal of 2016. Procrastination rules supreme, you can take the girl out of lazy but you can’t take lazy out of the girl, and all that. Moving right along (because enough about me being a slug), I am placing a fair amount of pressure on myself to achieve certain goals in 2017. I’m not sure that I would or could call them resolutions, but they are very definitely (hashtag-less) goals. Despite my joking and propensity for self-deprecating humour, I actually did accomplish a fair amount in 2016. As always though, I am left feeling as though I let myself (and everyone else) down.

And no, not because I’m still on intimate terms with the extra 40 (or 50) pounds I’ve been in a complicated relationship with for the past five years. Not because I have STILL not written a novella, novel or even a really great blog post. Not because I remain a low-wage earner. Not even because my house is still in a state of renovation and disarray, with no end in sight. No. I am left, here at the end of 2016, feeling as though I have let myself down because I know better and yet consistently do not do better.

I know that I should exercise (walk, lift, yoga, whatever), and yet I do not. I know that I should give up chocolate, french fries, Diet Pepsi, chips, meat, refined white flour, sugar and sweeteners and yet I do not. I know that I should be going to bed earlier, getting more sleep, rising earlier and getting more done in a day, and yet, I do not. I know that I should be writing every single day  and pursuing other creative and artistic endeavours and yet, I do not. I know that I should be ever patient, calm and serene with my children, and yet, I am not. I know that I should get those paint cans shaken (again) and get to painting rooms where it makes sense to do so, and yet, I do not.

You see? I know better and yet I do mediocre. I make excuses for myself. I’ll tell myself that I have a  lot to do, I have a lot on my plate with running the house, raising the kids, being a wife and mother, with working more and more hours outside of the home. And of course it’s acceptable that I don’t make time for myself or time to pursue what makes my spirit sing, you can’t make what you don’t have. Of course it’s acceptable that I burn the candle at both ends so that nobody, myself included, has a chance of getting the best that I have to offer. Of course it’s acceptable to take on more and more and more and to not acknowledge how overwhelmed or unfulfilled or unhappy I may be as a result. Of course it is.

Not.

So this  year, this year of 2017, will be a kinder, gentler year for me. A more accepting and relaxed year. No, I’m not quitting my family, marriage or work (going from low to no-wage earner is not an option), but I am going to work on actually (rather than just thinking about) making myself more of a priority and giving myself the time, care and attention that I NEED in order to be happy, fulfilled, healthy, and truly able to do better in all areas and give more to all the people in my life. Because the more I deny myself, the more that I am denying the people around me, which is counter-intuitive to my ‘healer and helper’ nature (stop snickering! I am very nurturing when I’m not being pulled in twenty directions at once).

So, instead of a list of resolutions (a.k.a. promises that I have no real intention to keep), this year I’m going to say ‘yes’ more and ‘no’ less. To myself.

How about you? What are your plans for 2017? We all have the same 365 days, what we choose to do with them is what will make the difference between having a year that we enjoy and celebrate and having a year that we merely survive.

~A.