Monthly Archives: February 2014

February = Love Month (not that kind, read on…)

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I was thinking of Jasmine, and how she reprimanded Jabbar about cleaning his room the other day and I wondered how Camille was doing with her painting, and also if Christine would ever find close friends (she is kind of controlling… more than me even). I took a deep breath and realized I had actually been feeling closer to my favorite TV show characters than with my real- life neighbor Dena and old freinds Katy and Delia lately. Wow- I am very gullible, and out of touch with reality!

I am stopping just short of pathetic because I know I am not alone in this tendency. Why mess with real people when I can sit for 4 hours on Netflix and watch Christine try to make a new friend over wine and sushi?
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Relationships = Relating

If I/we want to have more than 2-dimensional depth, I/we need to put some elbow grease in to it. So- here are the new habits I am adding for the Love month of relating better and loving better.
1. Hug kids twice each daily
2. Call or speak face to face to reach out daily to friends
3. Keep trying to have empathy for annoying (but real!) people. My real- life neighbor Dena talks too much about her toddler. If she tells me one more time about how she won’t wash plastics in her dishwasher due to carcinogen risk to toddler, she won’t let her kid eat hot dogs because of the nitrates, or that every Saturday morning they eat fresh fruit and homemade french toast together, I could scream… And don’t get me started on my retired parents who seem to gloat on a weekly basis about how much free time and extra cash they have on hand to buy new cars for themselves. (I know, I know, I should pray for them. I am trying…)
4. I will strive for a 4:1 compliments to criticism with kids and loved ones every day.

These are lofty. Really huge. I will keep on trying though I know some days I will crave my pretend friends over real life.

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Optimism is True Moral Courage

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Optimism is true moral courage.
-Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE FRGS (/ˈʃækəltən/; 15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration…Upon his death, he was lauded in the press, but was thereafter largely forgotten, while the heroic reputation of his rival Scott was sustained for many decades. Later in the 20th century, Shackleton was “rediscovered”, and rapidly became a cult figure, a role model for leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described by polar historian Stephanie Barczewski as “incredible” (Wikipedia 2/23/14).

“…Leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described… as incredible.”

There you have it. A gold star for you for getting out of bed each morning believing that this day you can do it, again, yet, more. You are leading and keeping your team together. Today you will keep on doing it, making your and your children’s lives better than before. And, you will do it with optimism.

Sir Ernest is correct. Sometimes it is tough to be optimistic. But we do it anyway.

PS- Alanon has a slogan “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

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… Next Week

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I had lots of arguments with myself over those proclamations I made last week. Mostly they occurred at 5 am when I didn’t want to get out of bed. It ended up great though. I ran 7 out of 9 days, which is lots better than half-sleeping, stewing, and procrastinating for 7 of 9 mornings during my run time, which just makes me feel anxious and pissy by 11 am. I finished laundry early enough in the week that I only had one load left by Saturday, so I actually got to play a little this weekend with my kids and with friends! And, I wrote almost as much as I ran, which is a 10 fold improvement. I was LOTS happier too. When we make time for the things in our lives that give us joy, and pay attention to priorities, the work we have to do feels much less like drudgery.

I am not hitting all of my goals, but the point is I’m much closer to being in mental shape for the challenges of single parenting. We are not on a cake-walk; this takes stamina and fortitude, among a zillion other things. I’m much closer to paying off all of my debt, hugging my kids daily, blogging good stuff, having clean socks and underwear, and reaching out to others than before I made those big goals.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
-Harriet Tubman

Hmmm, that quote is humbling… I’m not freeing slaves on the underground railroad. I’m not making big social statements that will impact entire generations to come. I’m not going to be remembered in 100 years. But I am doing really important work- raising kids is the most important work I will do with my life. I am changing the world, starting with 2 teenagers. I broke the abuse cycle by raising them without their dad. I am changing the world, actually. Think about it– you are too!! You may have saved your kids from something or someone. You are teaching them to live differently than you grew up. You are changing your family tree too… We need to make lofty goals, dream big, and do our best job possible.

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Resolution to Resolve, Evolve, Revolve

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Bit by bit, getting better.
Slowly evolving a new habit.
My resolutions have to be an every day thing.  Otherwise, I debate myself. “Is this the day I run? I think Tuesday is better. Not today.” Then Tuesday I wake up and think “Tuesday is a terrible day to run. I like Wednesday”. I spendt my entire running window debating if 3 or 5 days is better. So, I resolve now to pick quick easy daily resolutions to help me be happier:
1. I run every day
2. I do laundry every day
3. I spend 15 minutes every day writing

Revolve: each trip around the sun, I seem to come back to the same issues, balance and self-discipline.

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If I resolve to these daily, then my energy is spent DOING them, and getting on with my life, rather than brain calisthenics trying to get out of my chores…

Single Parents And Dating

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dating priority

Yep, a rough one! But I am here to tell you that it is so worth it!!!

I have had and lost more relationships than I want to count. But when I finally decided to put on my big girl pants and state that my children are my priority up front, early on, the man responded with “Of course, I respect you for that”. What a relief, I had a huge boulder lifted from my shoulders, because I knew I could follow my priorities rather than his. In previous relationships, I really had thought that I needed to focus on pleasing the man, on being who he wanted me to be, rather than who I wanted to be… Hmmm, pretty messed up, huh?

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Picking Obsession/Memories Carefully

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I can act a little obsessed about getting stuff done… It can be annoying. You might too. I call it “focus” instead, to give us the benefit of the doubt.

Have you ever wondered if we can manipulate our memories so that we remember the joy, the warm hugs, the children running into our arms, the dinner time laughter and warm conversations, the vacation inside jokes, the hilarious off-the-cuff remarks teenagers make when they first wake up… rather than the bounced check frantic days, the verbal knife in your heart the teenager slammed in to place during the argument over curfews, the “OMG, I cannot cook another dinner” hours the sobbing breakup days…

Because I/we (obsess)focus anyway, I propose that we (obsess)focus purposefully to embed in our memories some awesome stuff going on. Did your child show any inclination to do as they were asked this week? Did they ask for advice? Did they spend enough time outside the bathroom to share a conversation about the future? Those are victories in my house that I want to remember joyfully and feel content about.
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I tend to live on a list. That attitude pushes me to focus on the items uncompleted- I like crossing things off. I am productive. But that list-brain also means I am usually focused on what is undone or lacking. Rather than the good stuff like “Hey- he made orange juice for the whole family today rather than just himself- woo hoo!”

What if we purposely focus NOT on what is next on the list, or what conversation topic we need to address (sex, alcohol, porn, drugs, sleep, balance, nutrition, homework… they each trade days on my brain). What if, as we drive around picking up, dropping off, loading laundry, walking to the printer at work we focus on the nutrition choices he made last night when he foraged at midnight; how appreciative she was about the extra ride I gave her yesterday; his warm hug before bed; how she got up on Sunday morning and after a brief conversation with her cat, started directly into her homework?

How will that change our memories of these last parenting days? What we focus on, is what we remember. Also- what we focus on is what we see more of.

*Today while I do dishes, sweep the floor, fold laundry, and generally cross items off the list, rather than elevating that list-brain, I will focus on the moments in the last 24 that were victorious- the little loving gestures, conversations, and intimacies that we are sharing.
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