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.

 

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.

 

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.

Can I take a 50% completion rate as a win? Pretty please?

I have a list. On that list there are 36 things that I MUST do this week. Please note, that today is THURSDAY. This means that I have, essentially, one day left to finish my list (and probably save the world, as yes, my list is that important).

As of this precise moment in time, I have completed 18 items on my list. Using my superior fourth grade math skills, that means that I have completed roughly 50% of my list. Or, in layman terms, for those of you not as math-savvy as I clearly am, by completing 18 items on my list of 36 means that I’m well and truly fecked and destined fail to reach my goal of completion.

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So, on that happy note, I’ll sign off for now, dry the tears that now stain my list, and see what I can pull off in the next 30’ish hours (I must admit though that cleaning the kitty litter will likely not make the cut, but meh, it’s not like I use it). Honestly, this week has been a bit of a write-off. Between Trump being elected and all that means for both sides of the border, and my own habitual failures at life, things are looking pretty bloody bleak at the moment.

There’s still time for me to save the world with my super hero-esque like list completion, but please don’t bet the farm it. I think I feel a migraine coming on.

~A.

It’s time to change my relationship with food. Ugh.

Coming out of a three-day long headache, I was met with the realization that I have some changes to make and for once, they are not to my personality. No. It’s time to come up with a fitness/diet/don’t-be-such-a-slug plan so that I never again have to endure the embarrassment and pain of hearing one of my kids tell me that I look like I ‘have a baby in there’ while patting my un-pregnant stomach (which, for the record, is big but does not protrude or hang down, is NOWHERE near my lady garden or knees and is still not bigger than my boobs. TMI? I don’t care. It needed to be cleared up in order to proceed).

Aside from sparing myself from the mortifying truth of looking pregnant while not actually being pregnant, I do actually want to live for a very, very long time (I’m a glutton for punishment, go figure). And it would seem that I have children who, like it or not, need me and will continue to need me well into adulthood. Not because I’m planning to raise them to be incompetent nincompoops but rather that despite what my teenage-self thought, we always need our parents around. Even when they drive us crazy. Even when we want to throttle them. Even when we move away and don’t see them every day. We need them and we need to know that they are okay. So, it’s my job to live as healthy a life as possible so that my kids know that I’m okay and will be there for them — whether to drive them crazy or help them out of a jam.

It was this line of thinking that lead me to figure out that what I need to do is break up with  my shitty eating habits and find a new way to relate to food that will not end up killing me as soon. And that lead me to think that my best bet may be to start eating the way I feed my smalls. Which lead to thinking that the very best idea would probably be to just eat exactly what I feed one of them in a day. Since none of them drink pop (and I’ve been known to hurt a Diet Pepsi or two during the course of a day), they all eat breakfast every morning, the majority of their snacks are fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and popcorn, I would,  by my estimation, lose weight (way fewer calories) and I would be healthier (by default even as they eat very little to no sugar, sweets or over-processed food on a normal day).

But can I do that? Could this be a real thing that I could do? I mean, has the answer to feeling better, looking better, having more energy and managing my weight been right here the whole time and I’ve been too blinded by fads, popular advice and other people’s opinions to see it? ????

I feed my smalls a very healthy diet (my eldest son is making his own food choices and those are outside of my control – ugh)????. As a family, we do sometimes order pizza. We do sometimes eat fast food. But the majority of the time, my kids eat real food, prepared by me using ingredients that I carefully choose. Their school lunches are not packaged in a factory or found in the frozen food aisle and almost never contain ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Their dinners almost always are 80% vegetables, and yes, they eat meat, but not in obnoxious, artery clogging amounts.

So, then question becomes, why has it not occurred to me to feed myself this well?

I suppose that I hide behind being an adult (and yes, I am using that term very loosely. The chronological definition really). I hide behind the excuse that my body is already “contaminated” from years of sugar, sweeteners, fat and chemicals. I hide behind the science that shows that detox diets just do not work. I hide away from the truth that I use food to self-sooth and manage my emotions. I use food to mask my feelings, to help me to feel happy when I can, confirm for myself that I’m no good when I need to and  entertain me when I’m bored. ????

I use food for everything except what it’s meant for, which is to keep me alive and my brain and body functioning and strong. Like my kids are and I hope continue to be. So, I’m going to take the next few days to wrap my head around this, iron out the kinks, figure out the rules and get myself mentally prepared to eat like a seven-year-old with a  killer metabolism and a strong attachment to raw fruit and vegetables.

Who knows? May could end up being the month I finally shed my ????slug exterior and interior and graduate into something closer to an ant ????. Those things are stupid strong and able to do all kinds of smart shit. And if being an ant is out of reach, I’ll settle for finalizing my

But just in case I fail to metamorphosize, I’m keeping Pizzaville on speed dial. ????????

#SlugNoMore #WhatIfWeAllAteWhatWeFeedOurKids #WouldWeEatBetterOrWorse? #RaisingHealthyHumans #EatLocal #EatReal

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.

Six simple steps to take after you quit trolling and scrolling Facebook

Okay. So. We’re taking  break from Facebook (or Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram or whatever (anti-)social media floats your burrito.

Argh. So what now?

einsteinshow

Einstein says…

1: Put down your phone, tablet or close your laptop. Just turn that shit OFF.

2: Look up, find a window and peak outside.

3: It’s fucking GORGEOUS out there. Snow, sun, rain, whatever. It’s ALIVE. Space for days and, depending on where you live and the window you’ve found to peer out of real PEOPLE to look at, meet, talk to, insult or ignore. Your choice. For reals.

4: Now, look around your home. Do other people live there? How are they doing? Is there anything you could do that would help them out, take out the garbage, shovel the snow, lend an (undistracted) ear to listen about their day? Once you’ve figured out who the other living beings are in your domicile, take a few minutes to re-acquaint yourself with their 3D versions, instead of the 2D digital versions you’ve become accustomed to ‘following’ or ‘liking.’ Practice looking each of them in the eye and smiling at them. It will be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but it’s like riding a bike, you’ll survive.

5: Now that you’ve discovered the other humans in your home, look around at your walls, furnishings, bookcases and the like. Any hints there as to what hobbies or interests used to hold your attention before the social media bug crawled under your skin and infected your soul? Are there real books, printed on paper collecting dust on shelves? Are there piles of Star Wars figures, abandoned mid-sort, just begging to be cleaned up and displayed? Maybe you have a tote or twelve of wool and yarn waiting to be needle-worked into swanky penis-warmers or those adorable areola showing breast-feeding beanie caps for newborns? No? Well, whatever you have, there is something REAL and TANGIBLE waiting for  you to rediscover your passion for it. So go and REDISCOVER it. Go now. I’ll wait.

6. Hi again. Okay, so now that you have turned off your devices, looked around the world, checked out the other life forms in your immediate physical vicinity, re-acquainted yourself with your home environment and rediscovered your hobbies, check this out: You can do this EVERYDAY. That’s right! It’s the original wash, rinse and repeat sequence. Instead of the time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like, you can experience REAL people, conversations, adventures, laughter and drama EVERY SINGLE DAY, if you choose to. By not opening that app, typing in that URL or responding to that notification, you are CHOOSING a life free from the chains of a shallow, spirit-damaging, depression-causing, false drama inducing VIRTUAL world for the depth of real world living.

Congratulations, you win ????

❤️
~A

 

 

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.????

 

 

So, I marched to my own drummer, except it turns out that my drummer is an asshole with no sense of rhythm. Go figure, right?

Almost two weeks into 2015 I published a post listing my goals for the year. You can read that post here. This year, instead of a December wrap-up, I’m going to wrap up the year by reviewing my stated goals and reporting back honestly how badly I failed on them. I haven’t read them over before writing this post, so we’ll just go through them together and be surprised when I actually don’t come up short on each and every goal, ‘k?

2015 Goals:

1) Eat less chocolate. FAIL. Until around November when I gave up all animal products, including dairy. But Christmas came and I fell onto that turkey like a depraved lunatic, forgetting all about my vows of being a kinder, gentler me. Animal products and I had a torrid affair once again, but it’s over now. I’ve sent them packing. But overall, the less chocolate thing? Didn’t pan out so well.

2) Drink some water. I did this! I totally drank some water in 2015.

3) Join a gym for six months and don’t lie to yourself or others about going. FAIL. I did join the gym. And I did go. A little bit. But not enough to make it worth my time, money or humiliation. So I did not renew after the six month period. And I think I’m okay with it for now.

4) Smile. I think I did fairly well on this one. At least I hope that I did. I’ll ask my kids tomorrow. They pull no punches and will tell me the god-awful truth.

5) Compliment other people more. DONE! I think I was much better in 2015 about complementing people (sincerely) more often that I had been previously.

6) Read. Just read. DONE! I read actual books without pictures and not found in the juvenile section of the library. Woo hoo!

7) Crochet six things. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Crocheted ZERO items.

8) Blog, journal, write, write, write. I blogged. I micro-blogged. I journal wrote when I was offline and unplugged. But not nearly enough. Going a month at a time without doing much more than an occasional micro-blog post on Facebook or Instagram really is not good enough, but I’m giving myself a 4/10 on this goal.

9) Eat less chocolate. Nope. Still a FAIL, no matter where I put it on the list. I missed the mark on this one entirely. It’s almost like I did not understand the instructions.

10) Complete 12 30-day challenges. FAILED. Completely and utterly did not do this. I’m not sure if I forgot to or if I got sucked into a dark pit or if I just got overwhelmed and decided to concentrate on getting through the days intact, but I did not complete much more than my 30-day challenge to change my eating habits. I meant to keep that one going, but Christmas came and I’m a weak son of a bitch, so I caved. But, I’m thinking that I’ll likely toss this one back on the list for 2016. Because whatever else I am (and I am a whole lot of mess, let me tell you), a quitter I am not.

Huh. So there we have it. I’ll be back later this week or perhaps next week (am trying really hard to not make promises I cannot keep), with the 2016 goals or resolutions list, but I may need to scale it down some this time. Judging by my 2015 list, I seem to set goals that are a tad lofty and unattainable for my given skill-set or competency level. ????

How did you do on your 2015 goals? I’m sure you slayed them. Because your drummer is probably more like Ringo Starr rather than the tone-deaf, demented, one-armed sloth wannabe who’s been leading my parade lately.

The results of my 30-day spending freeze

Are not so much good. But I did learn some things over the past 30 days that have been helpful and I can use to re-evaluate my budget and spending.

I realized that the only way our family functions without accumulating debt is largely due to:

1) Mr. KB’s amazing talent of being able to fix anything and everything for a fraction of the price of hiring the job out or buying a new beebob;

2) My constant awareness and ability to plan for and predict future needs for our family and, for the most part, have provisions in place to cover these needs;

3) Stockpiling food and other consumables through price-matching, couponing and attention to detail (even though this means that I make the actual shopping trip(s) less about fun and more about function);

4) Ensuring that I maintain separate budget lines and accounts to cover most expenditures – both expected and unexpected, large and small. My one oversight, I have learned was not having a new-to-us car fund started to buy a replacement daily driver. Getting on this now so maybe when the need arises (as we expect it to in the near future), there will be some money available to help fund the purchase.

5) Our combined efforts to make purchasing decisions based on function and price/cost rather than impulse and glitter.

We are so fortunate that we can largely be a one-income household (because can you believe that no one is paying me to write? No, really. I can’t believe it either. Gaw.) Our combined contributions and talents make this possible and while we don’t pack up the family for a week in the Caribbean or Disneyland every winter, we do have family vacations, go to movies, go out for dinner, the kids participate in school pizza days, we hit at least one town fair a year, have swimming and dance lessons, take in a couple of big Rogers Centre events a year, and summers include cruise nights and beach days. And we do it all without racking up expensive, soul-crushing, consumer debt. We use credit cards for the points, gas discounts or other freebies and never carry a balance. If Murphy has been a particularly big bastard, I cut back in other areas to make up the difference without tapping into credit.

These past thirty days have not been the big money-saving adventure that I envisioned it would be. But, staying aware of our family spending and making sure that I’m creating balance, between saving and shopping has been useful. Did I follow all of my original parameters? No. I didn’t. When I find flip-flops for the kids at 75% off, spending 25% of the money now, rather than 100% of the money next summer just makes sense for the way our family and budget works.

Luckily though in terms of reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ I did quite well this past month. We tossed and donated a lot of clothing, household goods and toys. We still have more to go through, but we made a great start at it. Was I sad to say good-bye to some of the clothing that I’ve been hanging on to for ‘one day’? Yes, but the lightness I felt seeing my newly tidied closet and easily closing drawers more than made up for those sad feelings.

The next 30 days, I’m going to work on continuing to reduce our ‘stuff’ Broken or outgrown toys need to go, VHS tapes that no longer play need to go, outgrown clothing needs to go. With this many people in a house, hanging on to every single thing is not reasonable or plausible. I’m all for fame and fortune but the last place that I need to find that fame is on an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive” 🙁