But, what if I’m just not brave?

Excuse the mess, I’m emptying my head today. I both love and hate the internet. It has been a blessing and a curse in my life. It has been a way to access information at lightening speed, to re-connect with old friends and make new ones, shop without the hassle of line ups at checkout, no waiting in line to be served. And it has been a way to be constantly reminded of my shortcomings, my faults, my flaws and failures.

Unless you are a responsible internet user (which, clearly I am not) and avoid all social media, check only your children’s school website, the weather network, do your banking, book your family vacations and surf the New York Times, then you may have also noticed what I am about to describe.

Memes. Inspirational quotes. Motivational quotes. Little ‘pick-me-ups’ reminding you to be strong, brave, honest, courageous, take no shit and do no harm, embrace your beauty and live your best life abound online.

Just a small sampling of the well-meaning, yet soul crushing encouragement found in three minutes on the 'net.

Just a small sampling of the well-meaning, yet soul crushing encouragement found in three minutes on the ‘net.

Well, fuck me. I don’t feel brave. I don’t feel strong, courageous or unstoppable. I feel powerless, scared, cowardly and small. Not every day, but I feel that way far more often than I feel like I have the world by the nose. And on those grey days, I don’t feel brave. I feel like I’m watching my life slip away one day at a time while I desperately grasp for any and every shred of happiness, contentment, peace, love and good from wherever I can.

A shitty day that ends with my four youngest kids all piled on, cuddled up to and all around me on the couch keeps me moving forward, safely protected and encased in their love, secure in the knowledge that their need for me to keep moving forward, and in my love, resolve and fierce instincts to shield them from the shit the world has to offer will save me. A great day that ends with a simple misunderstanding, a careless word, a cutting remark, indifference or disinterest sends me spiralling downward and desperate to find something good and real to hold on to because failing my children is not an option, so it follows that my falling completely apart is not an option either. But still I don’t feel brave.

I hide away from ugly truths. I shy away from unpleasant situations and other people’s feelings. I shield myself from others truths and opinions about my character. I hide away from facing being wrong and wronged. I hide away from true confrontation and change. I hide away from my own feelings of sadness, guilt and regret. Because I don’t feel brave. One day at a time, one day at a time, like an addict, I tell myself this ten times a day, when the panic starts to set in that I’m losing my life and not living up to my dreams, goals and what I once believed to be my potential. I don’t feel brave.

I look at my children. All five so different from the next. All five so perfectly imperfect and so absolutely possessing the unlimited potential to live the lives they dream of living. But how can they, without a role model, without a strong example to follow, without really knowing or learning how to dream, set goals and make their lives happen? How do I help them to be brave and really go after what they want, to be their best, authentic selves, when I’m so uncertain? So stuck?

I’m not brave because I raise children. I’m not brave because I get out of bed every morning. I’m not brave because I leave the house looking more homeless than chic. I’m not brave because I’ll happily eat chocolate for breakfast. I’m not brave for having experienced child birth once and going back for more, nor am I brave for numerous E.R. visits, breast-feeding in public, hospital stays with sick children or parent-teacher nights. Those things are all LIFE. Regular family life. And while I am not minimizing their validity or the importance of some of those things in my life, not one of those facts or events earns me the label or achievement of being brave in my life.

And, perhaps it is merely that I am stuck in a rut. Attributable to nothing more than my status as a human being rather to that of my being a woman, wife, or mother. I could well be experiencing a mid-life situation (not a crisis, I’m not that much of a drama queen, come now). I am not menopausal and hot flashing left and right, I am not buying a cute sports car or heading off to get a ‘mommy makeover’ at the cosmetic surgery centre, but I am questioning my life, my contribution, the true value I bring, my goals and my future.

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Yeah, I get that. Helpful. Thanks, internet. You asshole.

And I still really, really do not feel brave.

On remembering 2015 and welcoming 2016

My 2015 was not a bad year. It wasn’t a fantastic year and at times it felt as bad as it could get, but it never was. It could have always gotten worse. Luckily for me, it levelled out and did not drag me down completely. I admit to spending some time hiding from the world, from my kids, from my life. In 2016 I aim to hide a little less and draw courage from the areas of my life which give me the strength and the resolve to continue to march forward into whatever battles I face.

Last week I posted a review of my 2015 goals with some mixed results. I have fired that drummer. He was shit. I am now working on my 2016 goals and choosing a new drummer to march beside while taking 2016 on with all the determination and conscious decision-making skills that I afford the process of mowing through a cheesecake. All I can say is, look out 2016, I’m coming for you.

In 2016, I am not going to focus on being skinny, rich, famous or super organized. I am not going to blow my brains out trying to be the craftiest mum, the greatest baker, the tastiest cook or the most obsessive cleaner. I am going to focus my energy on being a better ‘me’ than I was in 2015. I am going to focus my energy not on being able to do everything by myself but rather on encouraging more team work within my family, more interaction and less distraction. I am going to focus my energy on nurturing and developing my talents and passions. I am going to write more, learn and play more music, read more books, play more games and give more of myself to the people in my life while still keeping enough back to feed my soul and grow as a complete person, not merely a shell through which energy flows to feed the needs of others. I am going to stop fighting off my natural sideways inclinations, filter-less blurting speech patterns and bouts of crazy and make them work for me instead. I’m never going to be ‘normal’ but I think that finally, to me, this no longer means that I am totally defective and must turn myself in knots to conform to everyone else. I am beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, I am going to be good just being me. Wombat-shit crazy and all. But just in case I’m wrong, I am still reserving my rights to become a unicorn instead. ????

But, before all of that New Year goodness begins, I need to get this house cleaned up. I cannot stand starting a new year with a messy house. I have stuff to toss, stuff to donate, stuff to sell and stuff to stash. And I’m pretty sure that now that Christmas is over that it is time to get my eating back on track (I felt just fine without meat or dairy, but somehow the holiday season made revert to old habits and it’s proven to me that my old habits were not the best thing for me), so I should make sure that I don’t have any contraband in the house. If I do, I ought to make it disappear in some non-wasteful, environmentally conscious, earth friendly way before midnight ????.

So, on that note, Happy New Year! I hope that you have whatever day you want to have on this last day of 2015 and make 2016 all that you want and need it to be (but still be prepared for the shit, because life is messy, and according to those awful Always Discreet commercials, pee happens – ugh ????. Advertisers. But that’s a post for another day).

~A.????

 

 

10 things that I think are pretty bitchin’ about being 40-something

If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I usually lean towards complain-y lists that focus on all of the things that are wrong with me and my world. I tend to write about my “struggle” (over-used word alert!) to keep my head above water and to stay on task while trying to improve, enhance and enrich my life and the lives of those who surround me and for whom I am responsible.

With that truth in mind, I have consciously decided to think about things that I usually make conscious decisions to NOT think about, like my age or my weight, or my hair, future aspirations and goals and to commit to think about them with an open mind and not with knee-jerk negative or self-defeating ideas. And it’s been an uncomfortable experience to say the least. And although I was sure that Oprah was full of shit when she aired her 40th birthday show and had her 40-something friends on to talk about how great 40 was, I’m beginning to see some of the beauty of our 40’s. So, sorry for doubting you Oprah. I should have known better.

Here are a few things about being in my 40’s that I am discovering are totally righteous:

1. I’m not in my teens anymore. My hormones are raging, my skin is being a vindictive prick, my boobs aren’t behaving and all I want to eat is junk food and chocolate. Ugh. Shit. Maybe I am in my teens again. Now, where my hairspray, scrunchies and leg warmers at?

2. I can appreciate time so much more now. I spent so much of my life before 40 waiting on or wishing for some  future day when this or that or the other would happen. I think I missed out on really savouring some experiences that I should slowed down for rather than being so busy rushing forward. I have gained some much needed perspective and can now slow down and really see and take in the wonder of NOW.

3. I have great car insurance coverage and rates. I’ve totally become Kathy Bates (minus the red sun visor) in 1991’s ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ so look out younger, cuter, faster, perkier girls, ’cause I could go all Towanda on you in a Walmart parking lot and my insurance wouldn’t even breath hard. (If you don’t get the reference, here’s the clip, but the whole movie is worth your time to watch).

4. I’m still young enough to believe that I have another 50 good years left to accomplish all that I want to accomplish, so I’m not in a panic to get it all done RIGHT NOW. I have lots of time to raise my babies, learn new things, spend time with the people I love and stay up too late reading, writing, or goofing off. BUT, on the flip side, being in my 40’s also grants me the wisdom of how quickly those 50 years can fly by, so I’ll not be wasteful and take them for granted.

5. I may not look as good as I did in my twenties (by some people’s standards), my waist may be is thicker and my skin may be is looser, but since I never appreciated just how smokin’ hot I was back then anyway, I have to say that I prefer the version of ‘me’ that I am now. I’m comfortable in my skin (if not my jeans – yay yoga pants!), and I’m ok with my imperfections, the changes in my skin, body and looks. I don’t need to create an allusion of artificial youth to feel good about myself as a person or a woman. I have a 21-year-old son and four other children. Do I really need to look like I’m still 30? Nope.

Me. So cute. I know it now. But back then, I was 20 years old. About to become someone's mama and so insecure about the size of my dress that I forgot to worry about the size of my heart. I know better now (and I'm still so frickin' cute, but you'll just have to trust me on that because my selfie stick is in the shop *smirk*).

Me. In the early ’90’s being so cute. I know it now. But back then, I was 20 years old. About to become someone’s mama and so insecure about the size of my dress that I forgot to worry about the size of my heart. I know better now (except I’m still so frickin’ cute, but you’ll just have to trust me on that because my selfie stick is in the shop *smirk*).

6. I can be honest with myself and others about my mistakes. In my teens and twenties and into my thirties, I had to be perfect – real or imagined. I kept myself under intense pressure to a) not make mistakes b) not appear to make mistakes and c) not admit to making mistakes. And it was depressing, exhausting and inauthentic as fuck. I’m so much more comfortable and happier now that I allow myself mistakes, allow myself to own and admit my mistakes, apologize for my mistakes, learn from my mistakes and move on from my mistakes. When I didn’t or couldn’t own my mistakes, they held me hostage. Now in my forties, I’m mostly free from that brand of self-inflicted psychological warfare.

7. The realization that so many things just don’t matter has been beyond liberating. As a child, teenager and young adult, I was a social butterfly. I had many friends and was always embroiled in someone’s drama. Usually in the role of advisor or voice-of-reason and not an integral player in the drama, it nevertheless wore me down and made my soul tired and jaded. So many of the situations that we afforded countless hours of our lives to, just did not matter. They should have been cleared up, solved or walked away from within minutes and not revisited. But they were not. I gave the situations much too much attention and life energy, far more than they deserved. And now, I don’t. I let far more things go and I ‘own’ far fewer of other people’s issues. If asked, I will give my opinion or advice, but age (ha!) and experience have taught me that once I share my thoughts that it is then time for me to let it go and move on. This is a very liberating space to be in and one which I’m so glad that I figured out.

8. I’m really enjoying that it’s okay, and even maybe BETTER to be NICE, as Pollyanna as that sounds. Figuring out that I don’t have to be cutting or sarcastic in order to be funny or smart. I can be encouraging, positive and still be witty, clever and make others laugh. Self-deprecating humour is still one of my go-to schticks, but let’s face it. It’s funny, so why would I stop? But I have stopped taking the piss out of others quite so often and quite so brutally. I may poke a bit, here and there, but I no longer take it so far. I’ve learned when to stop before I hurt anyone’s feelings. And I’ve finally realized that it’s okay to just say nothing sometimes. Not for the sake of comedy (although a well-placed look can sometimes be funnier than any words) but rather because it’s better to be quiet than to be insincere, dishonest or hurtful. Not every thought in my head needs to be released into the universe and not every opinion that I have needs to be shared with another person to be valid. And perhaps I’m learning, now in my forties, that just because I may feel frustrated, tired, angry or put out about something, I do not the right nor have I been given free rein to flood my surroundings with negativity and darkness. There is great peace in keeping one’s own counsel at times. Sometimes, silence serves the greater good far better than the temporary and minor relief that follows releasing those vibes into the universe.

9. Just knowing that my life does not end when someone I meet doesn’t like me is a HUGE improvement in the quality of my life over that of my younger years. And the freedom I feel knowing that my life also does not end when my jeans refuse to fit. Nor does it end any those times that I cannot find my chapstick (or keys, purse, or flip flops). It just does not. I keep living, and more often than not, just as happily as before. This is in stark contrast to my life as a teenager when each of those things on their own were deal breakers, and had the power collectively to bring about a complete shutdown. Life was over; cue inconsolable angst. But now, in my forties, those frequent and common moments are barely a blip on my life radar and no longer hold a place on the ‘life is not worth living’ list. Whew!

Exactly this.

Exactly this.

10. I have always had a fair-to-good appreciation for my parental units, I usually liked them and I always loved and admired them. They have, in my estimation, been good parents to me. But as is true in so many other areas of my life, my appreciation has changed now that I am older. Today I can recognize all they did for me and how good my childhood was, largely due to their unending efforts. And no, it was not all sunshine and lollipops in our family. I got in trouble. I talked back, broke curfew, got grounded, lost privileges and was generally an asshole to them during much my adolescence, but they did what parents are supposed to do and they loved me anyway. They supported, encouraged and believed in me, even when I was a jerk, an emotional basket case, or an ill-tempered pain in the ass. Often times I was all three of these beauties at once.

When I think of my parents, I still think of them as being in their 30’s (which I admit is weird since I’m not even in my 30’s anymore). In my mind’s eye they are frozen in time and remain young, healthy, strong superheroes who can rescue my stupid ass from whatever trouble I get it into. Every now and then, something happens to remind me that I may not get to have them forever and I try to be brave and philosophical when those thoughts enter my consciousness. I mean, I am a parent as well, so I like to think that I can relate to parental issues from both sides, but as desperate as I was twenty years ago to NOT be treated like a child and to assert my independence as an adult, I now realize just how much I need and value knowing that to my parents, I will always be a child and they will always have those fierce parental instincts to love, encourage and protect me.

Family trip to California, long before I turned into an asshole but either way, my parents never shied away from travelling with me and showing me that there was so much more to the world than our own backyard. Just one of the very many parenting 'wins' before 'winning' was a thing.

A family trip to California, long before I turned into an asshole but either way, my parents never shied away from travelling with me and showing me that there was so much more to the world than our own backyard. Just one of the very many parenting ‘wins’ before ‘winning’ was a thing.

When I was in my twenties, forty was OLD. Like one-foot-in-the-grave, just waiting to die, old. Now that I’m in my forties, I’m almost embarrassed by how stupid I was in my twenties. Luckily, I’m getting all this shit figured out while I’m still so young and able to benefit from these lessons and live the next 50-odd years a little bit smarter, kinder, and gentler. Although, I imagine that I will still remain mostly unbalanced and prone to moments of assholio outbursts.

You’re welcome.

P.S.  If you’ve not yet ‘Liked’ The Keswick Blog on Facebook or ‘Followed’ along on Twitter or Instagram or even checked out The Keswick Blog on Pinterest, then you’re missing out on the more frequent micro-blogging that happens when time or circumstances do not allow for a full-blown blog entry – a.k.a. almost daily 🙂  Come and join me!
 

 

Here are a few things that I know to be true of me

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In my life of seemingly never-ending existential questions, quandaries and crises and my ongoing efforts to sort through them all, I have decided to share a few things that I know to be true of me.

1. I was created and am here to do good things. To make a difference, to have an impact, to leave the world a better place for having been here, for at least one person, for however long I am allowed to stay.

2. I was born into the family I grew up in and found, then created the family I now have to help the other members feel happier, safer, or less alone. To help them to laugh and feel loved and to navigate our world with the knowledge that someone ALWAYS has their back. No matter what, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, no matter what they think, say or feel about me at any particular moment in time. If we were family once, then we are family still. If we choose to be family, that’s what we remain.

3. I was born blessed with a highly emotional and creative spirit and nature. With the DNA sources that co-mingled to conceive me, there was really no avoiding this outcome. But this does not mean that I was born devoid of intelligence, logic or rational thought. Quite the opposite is true of me although it does partially mean that I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m scared, lonely, overwhelmed or proud. And sometimes I cry without knowing why I am crying. I also laugh, big and loud, sometimes it’s unstoppable and uncontrollable, sometimes it involves snorting and a serious lack of oxygen. And sometimes I laugh without knowing why. I’m comfortable with solitude and my own company, am able to go long stretches without feeling the need to say a word, content in my own sparkly little world and at the same time I also enjoy socializing with others and can talk non-stop at frightful speeds for prolonged periods of time when the mood strikes. I favour the ridiculous, absurd and witty in life and art. I appreciate a dry, cutting wit and banter. I feel all emotions so very, very deeply that as an adult, I have taught myself to ‘shut everything off’ just to survive at times, rather than turning those feelings into music, writing or another creative outlet. Rather than letting all of that energy serve any of my greater purposes, I have contorted it into something useless, draining and misshapen. Rather than stand up and own that this is how and who I am and this is what I want to do or say or make or be, I apologize for myself and the way that I am. I hide and I apologize for being me. I apologize. Without end. To others and myself. But no more, not any longer. Not for that.

4. I know to be true that I was born with the purpose of, specifically, being ‘Mum’ to the five lovelies who call me “Mummy.” Each one of them is the sole owner of a chunk of my heart – and no, not one chunk is bigger than the other. Not one of my children is truly like another and I like it that way. Each one of them drives me crazy at times. Makes me cry at times. Can make me laugh until my belly hurts or make me so frustrated that I can’t see straight. Each one of them can make me feel angrier than I ever imagined possible. Each one melts me with their absolute them-ness. Each one can bring out the almost rabid, fiercely protective mother instinct in me. Each one of them can break my heart with their tears, their strength, their spirit. Each one makes me feel prouder than I have ever felt of myself. Each one has the power to destroy me, entirely, either with their words or their actions. Without them, there is no ‘me.’ My challenge is to be able to wrap them all in my protective ‘mother bubble’ while still giving them the confidence and freedom to make their lives their own and fulfill their own individual paths and purposes.

5. I know that I may not have been born to be rich, famous, or beautiful. I think that I am okay with that. I’ve made peace with that probability and I am working every day on finding my contentment, my happiness, my peace within the life that I have and continue to build. I still dream big dreams, I still have a list longer than myself of things that I would like to accomplish before the world pulls my visitor visa and sends me packing, bagged and tagged onto my next adventure.

6. (Because 6 is my number) I know that I no longer know what my future holds and that maybe it has never ‘held’ anything. That maybe it has been up to me this whole time to MAKE my future and my life what I want it to be. This idea is not a new one, it is not an original one, but it is one that heard a million times will mean nothing until you find your way to it your own way. Fear, self-doubt, insecurity, uncertainty, and the opinions of others all delay arriving at this very real and true realization. Sometimes the delay is forever. The sooner and younger you are when you release this truth the better, but it is never too late to blaze your own path towards the life you want, the destiny you were meant for and the purpose(s) you have yet to fulfill. It is not a matter of not letting anyone or anything get in your way, it is a matter of getting out of your own way and achieving your potential without diminishing or reducing anyone else with whom you share even a moment during your journey.

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Reclaiming the me I lost or updating my OS?

Earlier today I read an article entitled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. It was excellent. It was thought-provoking, well written and unfortunately has sent me into a bit of a tailspin. Why? Because I don’t want to end up being that old lady fighting with a cashier over a .30 coupon because I have nothing else in my life worth giving a fuck about.

thesearemine

The article (you really should go and read it if you have not already) takes the time to differentiate between not giving a fuck and being indifferent. Which for me, was a useful use of time. Because I often find when I’m busy trying to not give a fuck about things that I force or feign indifference and that is counter-productive and soul crushing – to me and those around me. I’m not indifferent about things, but I have also not been brave or strong enough to give a fuck where it matters, opting instead to give a fuck about thousands of things that don’t count for shit.

Needless to say, in this, my life of one breakdown and breakthrough after another, I again feel like it’s time to take stock and make changes. Because as I’m coming to find out, it’s not about my diet, my weight, my wrinkles, my hair, my dry skin or if my floors are vacuumed and laundry folded. *I* am more than that. *I* am not here to make sure that I look right, act right, do the right things *for everyone else’s benefit at the expense of my life*

I’m not ok anymore with putting in time, trying to do everything right and follow all the rules and taking only the safest of chances. I am not ok with trying so hard to be accepted only to realize that I don’t actually have any control whatsoever over others’ acceptance of me and that people will accept or reject me in spite of my best intentions or efforts to ensure the outcome of my choosing. And I can’t own all this shit anymore.

So do I need to eat to hide, hide to eat, dress up or down, have ‘the right’ stuff? Or can I just let it all go (no Elsa jokes, please – My Ms. Moon is obsessed with Frozen, like 90% of little girls and sings ‘Let it Go’ morning, noon, and night, but I really was using the phrase long before we all fell in love with Olaf and Sven) and stopping waiting for ‘the right time or place’ to happen before actually changing my future.

last fuck given Elsa

Can I just let all of that go, after carrying it with me for all of these years? Can I release the shame, the guilt, the uncertainty and self-hatred. Can I decide to stop giving a fuck about absolutely *everything* and just give a fuck about things that actually matter? Like myself, my family, my friends and my cat? Can I stop being worried all the time about failing or not being good enough (for who?!?) and can I start to just DO things that I WANT to do because they matter TO ME? Can I go to the gym just because I want to and not because I feel like I should, or because I’m too goddamned fat or because it’s what I would have done when I was younger? And can I eat a one-pound peanut butter cup without feeling like a fat, gluttonous pig and instead just not give a fuck and enjoy it and really, honestly just not care of someone, anyone, chooses to judge me for having eaten it?

It would seem, that for me, not giving a fuck (or giving too many fucks) and fear are conjoined and that what I need to do is 1) figure out how to stop being scared of everything (what if they don’t like me, what if I don’t get the job, what if my kid hates me, what if this person doesn’t love me, like me, need me or want me, what if I get fatter, what if the person I’m speaking with thinks that I’m stupid or irrelevant, what if no one cares about what I have to say, what if I embarrass myself, what if they give me that look, what if I’m WRONG?) and 2) how to button down those previously given fucks just start giving a fuck about only those things that matter the most to me and letting the other shit take care (or not) of itself.

Writing this post is actually painful. Because I’m admitting inner-sanctum shit that I never admit to – either to myself or others – but what is the point of writing bullshit? And since it’s just you and me here, I figure that this is as good a place as any to stop lying to myself and to stop being complacent in my self-built house of fear and self-deception.

Truth: I love my life. I love my family, both the one I came from and the one that I have created. I love writing, music, reading, photography, eating, sleeping, and being quiet. And sometimes I love being dorky and ridiculous and talk non-stop, about shit that matters and shit that doesn’t matter, and beyond that, I’ve suppressed myself for so long, out of fear, habit, or the beliefs of others, that I no longer really feel like know how to dream, big or small, let alone make my dreams become my reality. I have let myself down. I’m like a fatter, older, duller, diluted version of myself and I’m waking up now realizing that I really don’t want to live a half-lived life. I don’t want to waste time of things that don’t matter or won’t make a difference. I don’t want to exhaust myself, spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. No. I want to exhaust myself doing things that I love to do. And yes, I know what some of them are, but I know that there are so many other things that I have yet to discover. And I want to discover them – even if they fall outside of the ‘comfort zone’ that I have so carefully constructed around myself. 

Fucks – consider yourself on notice. Far fewer of you will be released by me into the universe. So the ones of you who are tossed out there, be ready to go hard because you’ll be working for all of those left behind.

And she gave no fucks

Marching to my own drummer, my New Year starts now

Technically, I was not a New Year’s baby. But since my birthday does fall within the first week of January, I’ve decided to give myself the liberty of celebrating New Year’s on the first and my birthday. All this means is that 1) I can gorge myself stupid on NYE and on my birthday; 2) I clean the house like mad on NYE to ring in everyone else’s New Year; and 3) I get almost an extra week to pull together my New Year’s Resolutions, Goals, Plans, etc. This last one pleases my inner-procrastinator very much. Yes, yes.

But now it’s time to get real. There are no more New Years’ for me to fudge with for almost another whole year. So, now that most of the Christmas chocolate is gone, my birthday cake has a mere sliver for each of us left, and my pants are so tight they are cutting me in half, it’s time to begin.

New Year’s Resolutions – The Keswick Blog way

1) Eat less chocolate.

2) Drink some water.

3) Join a gym for six months and don’t lie to yourself or others about going.

4) Smile. Just smile. Not in that creepy “I’m about to stuff you in my trunk” way but in that “I love my life and look forward to each and every moment” way.

5) Compliment other people more. I’ve gotten better over the years at this, but I really want to ramp it up this year. And no, not insincere, lying toe-jam compliments like “I like your socks” but genuine, from the heart ones. Even if it’s as simple as “I like the way you remembered to put the toilet seat down so my ass didn’t go in for a swim.” The fact that it’s a sincere thought makes it an improvement over past performance.

6) Read. Just read. That’s all. Once one of my top five things to do everyday, this has fallen by the wayside after the chaos of my life.

7) Crochet six things. Real things though. Not Barbie hats and rhombus-shaped blankets.

8) Blog, journal, write, write, write. Another thing from my top five things to do everyday that has been woefully neglected. 2015 is the year of the pen!

9) Eat less chocolate. Needs to be repeated because, to be honest, I eat a lot of that irresistible, cocoa and sugar-laden legalized crack. And I need to cut back to being a social user and not a full-blown junkie.

10) Complete 12 30-day challenges. Be they house, self-care, kid, craft, food or art related. Start and complete 12 of them.  No excuses.

So, there it is. My ten 2015 wishes/goals/resolutions/declarations. I should update or revise monthly, but that would make eleven goals and I don’t want to risk falling into that overachiever category that often threatens to knock down my door.

What do you want for this year? Life isn’t getting longer. The days are flying by. Nobody is going to walk up to your door, knock politely and then hang a sign around your neck that says “All of your wishes came true while you were napping.” Nope. You need to figure out what you want, come up with a plan and GO!

One of my biggest fears is at the end of it all, I’ll realize that I lived my life hiding behind excuses, limitations, fear and indecision. If I never try, I’ll never achieve. This is true for us all.

Happy 2015 (she says, ten days late 😉 )!

 

This morning I sang in the shower

I have not sung in the shower in years until this morning. And man! Was I good! I was smokin’ hot*, belting out the hits. Maybe you’re familiar with some of them?

ψ ψ Warning: These are all audio links and the videos may start automatically. You’ve been warned!

Am I Blue? – Ethel Waters (1929) – YouTube – Start at around the 1:20 mark – no embeddable link allowed 🙁

Beautiful Dreamer – Bing Crosby (1950) – YouTube – my version is in a slightly higher register 😉

Separate Lives – Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin (1985) – YouTube

All I Wanna Do – Heart (1990) – YouTube – Rocked the first verse only, but what a song!

Looking at my on-the-fly song list, it becomes blatantly obvious that my taste in music knows no time/genre/artist limits. If there’s a song, and it speaks to me, that’s all that I need.

But the real point is that alone, in the shower, with only my three-year-old to hear, I felt free to let this random collection of songs out, free to let my voice soar, twang, crack and be heard. I felt my spirit open up just a little bit more than it was before and I could feel the happiness filling up the places that mundane once was. Singing to my kids, making up songs about anything and everything, replacing words with their names or favourite toys is fun, and I love doing it, but singing, to express and release emotion, to create a feeling of happiness within, well, I have missed that very much.

I am so grateful for the musical education provided to me by my parents, not only thru endless music lessons but also always filling my world with fabulous music they each loved (there was a lot of diversity in that alone!) and enduring music that I loved (and yes, they suffered through HOURS of Olivia Newton-John, because to me, in my early years, she was musical perfection to my awestruck ears).

Life gets busy and dishes and everyday things that have to get done take over. But I’m learning that it is equally important to nurture those things in our lives that bring us joy. Ain’t nobody ever died from leaving the dishes to sit for a day or two, but I do believe that people have died from having lost all of the passion and fire in their lives.

Whatever it is that brings YOU joy, makes you feel more alive, more capable, more powerful and useful – do it. Unless what does it for you involves jumping off the roof while wearing a bath towel as a cape. Don’t do that.

 

*smokin’ hot – all things being relative, that is. Clearly I was not transformed into a sultry Billie Holiday, or a rockin’ Janis Joplin, or even the ugly step-child of Ann or Nancy Wilson, but none of that matters, because the only audience I had this morning is still far too young to realize any of that yet. 😉

 

Life Lesson on strategic wishing

Lately, I’ve been doing a some serious thinking about life. Specifically how we (and by we, I mean people in general) get where we are, have what we have and do what we do. I have come to the following realization and think that I can sum it all up very simply with a ‘wishing’ example.

When I said that I wished to be 17 again, I was thinking more along the lines of the perky boobs and the smaller ass I once had. Not being strapped for cash, riddled with acne and the insecurities that accompanied it.

Lesson learned: Always be very specific when wishing for anything. Because in one form or another, you will to get your wish. Oh, and adult acne is an asshole. So really, two lessons learned (and shared). You’re welcome.

I mean, it is only 9:30 in the morning...

I mean, it is only 9:30 in the morning…

It was exhausting always worrying about global humiliation. I’m on the road to recovery now though

**Spoiler Alert**

You are awesome.

**End of Spoiler Alert**

I have now reached the age when rumor has it that all of my past poor choices catch up with me and I begin to fall apart (did I really think that it was a good idea to NOT wear sunscreen, for real?).  I never believed it was a ‘real thing’ but slap my ass and call me a converted believer because it is all TRUE.

I wish that I could sit down with my 16 year-old self (after apologizing profusely to my parents for not believing them, and even, *gasp* laughing at their wisdom) and after giving some very concrete examples of the badness that would be coming my way (aches and pains, lines and dimples, jiggles, wiggles, lumps and bumps – the usual “your shit is falling apart, ‘yo ” happiness), kick the living holy hell out that know-it-all adolescent me (just for good measure, I have always been on the wrong side of stubborn) until I learned to appreciate

1) the gifts and talents that I had (have) and nurture those gifts;

2) who I was as a person, in relation to myself and others (am);

3) what I had (have) to offer and learned to stop worrying what people thought (think) about me because, as it turns out, they were (are) not thinking about me, they were (are) too busy thinking and worrying about themselves;

4) how I looked (look) and felt (feel) and;

5) the people in my life for who they were (are).

(Damn you, past/present tense rules!)

If I could go back and get my sixteen-year-old self to understand just those five things, how much different would I be today?  How different would my life be? Better?  Worse?  I have no idea.  At the end of the day, would I really change anything about where I am and what I have today?  NO.  Not for anything would I change where I am and what I have in my life today. But I would like to be healthier and have more energy so that I could better appreciate and enjoy all of my life blessings.

Fortunately for me, while my chronological age continues to climb at the required Mayan calendar intervals, my maturity age is learning-delayed, more accurately mildly retarded, so in reality I still have lots of some time to get myself on track and stop the decline.

So, seeing as my uber-slammin’ DeLorean and waste-powered flux capacitor are in the shop  future do not actually exist (and yes, my reference point are suck in the 80’s, thankyouverymuch), my sixteen-year-old self will so remain, frozen in time and blissful in her agonizing ignorance.

It turns out that the world isn’t watching me, the world doesn’t know who I am.  I am free to make mistakes, make a fool of myself, to say what I think, what I want, and to fuck some serious shit up and there will not be global and eternal repercussions.  What a freeing feeling to not live in fear of creating skeletons who could one day leap from the closet and sink your battleship.  What a truly liberating realization.  Knowing it now is almost as good as knowing it always.

A friend of mine from adolescence recently shared this on her Facebook wall and for some reason, for whatever reason, it spoke volumes to me.  So I’m sharing it with you just in case it speaks to you as well.

fucking awesome

Thanks for the reminder, P.B. 🙂
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I Wish I Had A Money Tree

Because if it grew the way my zucchini seems to, we would be so flush with money it would almost be embarrassing – but only almost.  I don’t think that I would actually be embarrassed at all.  I would be too busy making our family’s dreams (that involve money anyway) come true.  And I think that a Money Tree is a fair and reasonable wish, since I have not yet been given or found a Grace and Beauty Tree, a Big Boobs with a Tiny Waist Tree, a Babysitter Tree, or an Insanely Long Eyelashes Tree.

Deacon’s Zucchini Moustache. You can hardly even tell that it is him with this disguise. If we had a money tree, I could buy him some really top drawer disguises so the poor kid wouldn’t be using various veggies to create his ‘looks.’ Please send the Money Tree.

But when I was done all that dream fulfilling, I might slow down to be a little bit embarrassed.  But probably not.

Pax and the Great Zucchini – Just like James and The Giant Peach, except there are no bugs in ours and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t fly, and even though he looks like a character, I’m almost positive that he’s not an actual cartoon rendering. Good Lord, please just send that Money Tree, thanks.

Now, where can I find me a Money Tree that acts like this friggin’ zucchini plant does.  I promise if I get one, I’ll make money cookies, muffins, bread and patties for every one of you.  Pinky swear.

One half of M&M holding the zucchini beast. The other M was out running around in the backyard and could not be caught for a picture. We’ll rope him in next time though! Lasso lessons, anyone? Can’t you see that I really, really, need that Tree?!?