Your Resolutions Can Kiss My Tushie

I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions lately. Not sure why ;). I haven’t had a resolution for some time. Seriously, I let every year go by with the thought of what’s the point? Most resolutions never see the light of day or make it out of the month of January. I am much better at just starting new habits whenever and then finding ways of sticking too them. I feel the same way about gifts. I’d rather send a surprise gift out of the blue than one done out of obligation to a specific date. Besides I can’t really say “lose weight” or workout, those aren’t resolutions to me, those are a way of life. So usually the New Year is rung in without so much as a how do you do or any fan fare whatsoever. But this year I stumbled on an interesting project that I think is not only a great way to start, and with any luck continue, the year, but it falls in line with being happy and having a better life.

I read about the 365 Grateful project. What is that you say? Well it was a project started some years ago by a woman who wasn’t feeling all that fulfilled or happy. When she looked at her life she had all the things she hoped for and frankly a pretty good life, but she just felt sad and like something was missing, like life should be/could be better. Hm… does that sound like anyone we know and love? Yeah, I just lumped you into people who love me :) You’re welcome. So she started a project of writing down something she was grateful for everyday. Now we have all heard of gratitude journals and how powerful they can be, I’ve even tried to start one once upon a long time ago, but what she did next is really what intrigued me. She made it a picture gallery of the things she was grateful for. I loved this idea for two reasons, one I love photography and two it really forced her to look at every moment of the day in order to identify which one to take a photograph of. So instead of reflecting at the end which moment she was grateful for or what thing, she was forced to be aware of EVERYTHING all day long. Imagine if you were considering gratitude all day long everyday? What would that look like?

I will tell you, you’d be grateful for running water in your home because so many in the world don’t have this. You’d be grateful for working  heat when its 4 degrees outside because people die of being cold. You’d be greatful for your husband sweeping you up for a silly impromptu dance that made you late but also made your morning. You’d be grateful for a song from your youth that makes you dance and be a complete fool at the Costco gas station just to make your family, and apparently loads of other drivers smile. Hey, it’s only day 6 so I can’t say it has changed my life yet, but what I can say is I am more aware than ever of how truly wonderful this life is, and it’s only been 6 days. What might I feel by December 31, 2014??? I’m excited and terrified to know.

So the woman in the project ended up finding something she had been searching for all along. She found happiness. And guess what? It was happiness derived from everything she ALREADY had. What you say?? how is that possible?? Didn’t she have to lose 10 pounds or get a raise or win the lotto? Um.. no. She hadn’t made any resolution except to notice what she already had. I mean how hard is that? You already have it! All you have to do is notice it. You don’t have to set aside 40 min to run or stop eating that candy bar. You don’t have to call your mother or even clean your bathroom. All you have to do is open your eyes and notice the zillion ways your life isn’t so bad; like indoor plumbing. Who’s with me? Let’s give a big shout out to indoor plumbing. I mean without indoor plumbing you wouldn’t have to clean your bathroom, but I’ll take that over peeing outside any day. (I get cold fright and it takes forever to start the flow which results in me being extra cold and hopping which results in me getting pee on myself, which usually results in one or more people laughing at me. So go indoor potty!)

Anyway, I am not setting a resolution because I do much better with challenges. So I am challenging myself to find something to be grateful of everyday. Every single day. 1 Picture of something or one line to say, this is what I am grateful for. Because I highly suspect that with a running tally of awesome things to go by that at some point I will being to see the happiness just like the original woman who started the project did. I am in love with this idea. It isn’t about depriving yourself of something or setting yourself up for failure. It is all about awareness and engagement and joining in your life. No longer just going through the motions until you reach the conclusion. No longer skimming the day and just getting a gist, but truly really feeling, experiencing, loving, every single day.

I have a good life. That is just the thing. I have a great husband (he isn’t perfect, but he is way better than average), I have amazing children who say hysterical things and hold my hand and tell me they want to keep me. I have a house I love even if it is small, I have dogs that are obedient(mostly), loving(when not killing rabbits), and snuggly (when clean). I have a good job that demands little of me. I have the opportunity to work from home, so I see my children all day. I have family and friends who love me. But I am still not quite there. I can’t put my finger on it. I’m not depressed, but I’m not feeling 100% either. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. And I suspect some of you have been there, or are right there right now even. This woman named Hailey Bartholomew was there, she sat right where I am (figuratively of course) and she made it to the other side, happier, more in love, and feeling great. So if a random cool lady in Australia can do it, so can a random cool lady in Colorado. Though frankly speaking, she did get to do in Australia which I argue gives her a leg up. So I resolve to make it to Australia this year… damn it! I said no resolutions! :)

Jan1- I got my first mommy bling today. Hand made by Xaven. Eat your heart out Pandora charms and Silpada; you ain’t got nothing on the fine craftsmanship of my 3 year old. I am grateful for “real” jewelry and presents from the heart.mom bling

Jan2-Dog kisses. Do I need to explain?

Jan3-Little boys with shy smiles covered in crumbs. I am grateful my children are healthy and silly.DSC_0170

Jan4-My husband pulling me into his arms and dancing with me. Yes it made us a little late, but I am grateful he still wants to dance for no reason at all.

Jan5-Little man slept in his big boy bed for the first time. I am grateful he is so easy with change. Not like his mother at all. I am also grateful for my other son telling me he wants to keep me and  he loves me as he strokes my hair and falls asleep. I may never find another romance as good as this one.DSC_0182

What I am reading: The Fault in Our Stars By John Green This book did not appeal to me when I read the description. it was on sale but I avoided it because I just thought it would be terrible. Then I saw a vlog post by the author about health care and decided that anyone who talks like that is probably a kick ass author. And you know what? He is. I can’t put it down. I mean I have a life already. Plus, I won’t lie, I think I have a crush on this man’s mind.

What Else I am reading: A book that was free on Kindle last week. I love free. Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, & Keep More of What You Make by Carrie Rocha

What I am listening to: Another is Waiting By Avett Brothers

Now moment: Seriously, it has to be just being a complete dork at the Costco dancing to “Lean on me” for my children, husband and random other gas pumpers. I haven’t been so silly since my sister died. It was ridiculous and my only regret is my husband didn’t film it.

Inspirations from the Ether: The 365 Grateful this is a video of the back story. Go ahead and be inspired. Otherwise at least see I am not crazy.

 

Christmas Outtakes

  Christmas 2007- Just me and my “boys”

I don’t have many family traditions when it comes to the holidays. Unless you count someone over doing it on a prescription medication while the rest of us act like there isn’t an elephant in the room to be a tradition, which I don’t. And since my sister died in 2010 I haven’t had the Christmas spirit the way I used to and I am still wondering if it will come back to me or not. In the mean time I have been faking my way through the holiday season, not really depressed, just not really feeling it either. I often wonder how many people are faking it and how many people are really filled with the spirit of Christmas and everything that goes with it. I’ll probably never know since people are pretty good at faking what they don’t actually feel.

I’m not  religious, but somehow this year I feel compelled to go to the Christmas night proceedings at the little church we used to go to when I was a kid. The last time I remember going there was with my sister when we were in our twenties. They handed out a copy of the Christmas story and apparently our copy was different than the pastor’s, so as he read the stories didn’t match up; I still don’t know why, but Carri and I could not stop laughing at how funny it was. There we stood, strangers in this congregation where only the pastor remembered our little kid faces, laughing and snorting behind our hands simply because the words didn’t match. Maybe the story was just a metaphor for the fact that we didn’t match either, and were completely out of place even if the church used to be our story. I don’t know if I want to go to feel closer to her, or to find something missing inside. I don’t believe in God, now more than ever, but I am drawn to the peace of strangers holding candles singing carols and reciting stories about a baby born in a manger. I don’t think my sister will be there, but I sort of hope that if I go I will see her covering her mouth with her hand snorting with laughter that the words don’t match. That would make it all worth while. I miss her.

But back to traditions. Now that I have little boys I want to create family traditions for the holidays. I want my kids to grow up remembering the things we did each year that made the holidays special, that hopefully they will pass on to their own kids. I would like the family time together to be about more than food and presents. I want them to look back and remember the events, the feelings, the love of traditions. My first Christmas with a baby was fine, but there were no traditions and I more or less phoned in the holiday. My sister had only been gone six months and I wasn’t coping well with her loss. I bought my son toys off the internet and I put up a tree, that was about it. I am grateful he was too young to know how little I accomplished, nor will he remember the lack of festive cheer or the tears I fought back most of the day.

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The second year I had just had my youngest and I was overwhelmed with two children and an out of work husband. We had just moved to Colorado from Virginia and while I tried to put in more effort that year it was about the same. I think we watched a few Christmas classics on TV and we made cookies to decorate with friends. That Christmas eve we spent with friends and it was the only time during the season I didn’t long for my sister, and it truly felt like a wonderful holiday. Last year was a repeat of the year before only I managed to buy presents on Black Friday and we skipped cookies. I felt weary and bad about not having the Christmas spirit, my kids were starting to figure out what Christmas was and how we should be acting.

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This year I am no longer mired in loss and I finally feel like I have enough sleep and energy to dedicate to the holiday that little kids love so much. We have made our hand/Santa ornaments, we have visited old St. Nick, we’ve bought presents and watched Mr. Grinch and we have talked about the meaning of Christmas. I think this will be a Christmas I will want to remember, one I will be able to look back on and say that is when we started our traditions. That was the year we made our first paper chains for our tree (when we stuck them together with stickers because Vazer used all the tape), the year we left cookies and milk out for Santa, the year we toured lights on houses and drank cold cocoa. I think I will look back on this year with fond memories of my sister and our time together instead of grieving what I have lost and the times we will never get.

In the midst of all of this there is only one tradition I have done faithfully since 2006. Sure that was only 7 years ago, but it is my tradition and it had to start somewhere, sometime. Every year I take a family picture right around the Christmas holiday. It started as an attempt to create fabulous holiday postcards, but it has turned out to just be a wonderful way to show the passage of time. The introduction of new family and the passing of old family. I love these pictures and what they have come to show about me, my life, and the people and animals I am blessed to share it with.

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My family has always had dogs in it and it was always my hope to include them in the family photo. I have managed that every year but last year and I still look at that photo and it feels empty to me, fake and somehow not a good representation of “us”. We even took it outside hoping it would make two kids and 5 dogs easier to get a picture of all together. It wasn’t it was terrible. Mind you, every year has its challenges. You try to photograph a bunch of dogs in a confined space with nothing but a remote control and zero for them to focus on. It isn’t as easy as it sounds and I don’t think I make it sound easy. Dogs are not good at getting their photos taken on a good day. Now add a person moving around and nothing to look at and you have general pandemonium. It didn’t help when we introduced kids to the mix either.

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Every year I flip through the 2 dozen or so photos we have taken looking for the “best one”. But even the best one won’t be that good. Someone won’t be looking at the camera, or someone will be licking their privates or making a weird face. But that isn’t why we take the photos, it isn’t why I insist on it every year. These photos are the real “us”. My family uncensored, unedited, unsterilized by a commercial photographer. It just doesn’t get more real than my husband jokingly choking out the Rottie for not behaving, or me pushing a Swissy away from my face because his tongue is in the way of the shot. My exasperated look and my children running around with dogs chasing them is who we are. I love these pictures and the 30 minutes we spend taking them because we have low expectations of the results, and no matter what they are hilarious and meaningful.

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So while I may not remember if we made cookies one year or not, and my kids won’t remember most of the gifts they get, we all will remember the moment we tried to get our family picture. We all will remember the yelling at dogs, the treats flying, kids crying, dad laughing and mom getting flustered as she keeps looking at the shots and saying “just one more”. I’ve only been taking these photos for a short time, I look forward to the day when my whole wall will be covered in the honest picture of our holiday seasons.  I love that I can see myself go from single to engaged to pregnant to a mom to a mom of two and growing children. I love that my favorite dog Cody is in the beginning with Rutger and Harold, then Rutger passes and his nephew Backup takes his place, then Cody passes and my baby joins us. It is a cool thing to look back on, where we have been. It reminds me of where I get to go and how exciting this ride is going to be.

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Below is what we have so far. Enjoy! And may your holidays be filled with the love and laughter of your family and friends. You never know when will be your last picture with someone you love.

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The Week “Flu” By

A person can learn a lot about themselves when they have the flu. For instance I figured out that two days is about all I can really stand of delusional sweatiness without risking death in a shower. Or that choosing television shows to binge on Netflix should NOT include a show about the flu virus killing off most of the population. Bottom line is, even if the show is good, your dreams will not be. I also learned that nothing hurts the heart like hearing my babies sick in the next room and being too sick to take care of them. Maybe the greatest thing I learned is that next year I will be getting the flu vaccine, maybe the greatest, but not the most important. Here are the top things I learned while crying and chanting “Take care of my little bears” over and over in a delusional stupor certain I would succumb to my illness and die before seeing my boy’s next birthdays.

  1. When your husband tells you he is sick you should not instantly doubt the severity of his illness or you might just get a taste.
  2. Heating pads are your friends.
  3. Survivors is an awesome show unless you don’t like cliff hangers because it ends on one AND was cancelled (you suck BBC). I will never know what happens… never.
  4. The world falls apart when moms get sick. Seriously, I was only out of it for 4 days and no one fed the fish, watered the plants (can you not see it dying?), or managed to keep the mail in one spot. Not to be morbid but I am seriously considering a “If I should die…” Book with just the high points of what I do in case someone has to fill my shoes. PS the fish are fine.
  5. Nothing tastes as good as gluten when you haven’t eaten in days. Seriously, gluten good.
  6. By day two of the flu you will be ready for an audition on The Walking Dead. You won’t even need to act. And yes, I might have eaten brains I was so lost.
  7. Work doesn’t care if you are sick, they will call you at home and see if you can do “just one thing” ah the hazards of working remotely, people assume you are always well enough to login.
  8. You will lose weight, but it won’t be the kind you want. Water weight and a little bit of muscle loss never made anyone look better. Seriously, I think I am part Sharpei, at least my middle part is. ;)

But in all seriousness. I hated being sick. I hated being away from my kids, my husband, my dogs, my life. I found out how much I really love this crazy life of mine. Sure I was just sleeping/sweating in my bedroom mere feet from the life I love, but I wasn’t able to participate, I wasn’t able to be included. And it killed. There is no other life than this one. The idea of wasting even a couple of days of it was repulsive. But it occurred to me, that some people waste their whole lives, and I’m not talking about being sick.

Some people are wasting their every day, their every moment. They are upset or angry or depressed that “things” aren’t what they wished for, wanted, or believe they deserve. So many people out there unable to appreciate what they have or work for what they want. So many people wasting life, their life, the only true thing they will ever have and they are just pissing it away, every day. What the hell people?

I don’t think I am wasting my life, I don’t think I have been unappreciative, but somehow being forced out of my life for a short time made me realize how much I really do love it. I love my little house and that I can see my kids pretty much no matter where I am standing. I’m thankful I don’t have to heat/clean/decorate a bigger home with more things. I love my husband and his silly sense of humor, even if he won’t hug me during illness and it was his cooties that got me sick. I love my little boys even though one of them thinks spitting is a sport he plans to take to Olympic levels and the other is never wearing any pants (totally bare tushie). I love my dogs, despite the dirt in my bed and the gas in my living room. I love my job and the flexibility it affords us and the money it provides to pay our bills and keep us fed. I love my friends who seem to know the exact moment I need a pick me up and have an uncanny ability to contact me out of the blue at the very moments I need them. I love the TV shows that can make me cry, the books that make me skimp on my chores to read them, the moments at the gym (even the bad ones that remind me how lucky I am to be able to work out). I love it all. I wouldn’t trade it, I wouldn’t ask for more.

So getting sick sucked. I haven’t been that sick in a long time (no my husband didn’t hug me that time either, though strangely he did say he would kiss me if he found me dead. Go figure.). I haven’t cried that much in a long time. I haven’t felt so useless and helpless and fragile and afraid in a long long time. It was just the flu. Just some dumb little virus, so small I can’t even see it. Just a dumb little virus that reminded me how fragile life is, how great my life is, and how lucky I am for all of it. I don’t often wax nostalgic for things in my past and I rarely talk about what I hope my future will bring (neither seems to bring happiness) but I think, at least I hope, that from now on I can see my present as clearly as I did in my flu induced haze. I can see everything I have at this moment that make my everything so amazing. So forgive me if I brag a little bit, but damn it, It really is a Wonderful Life.

What I am watching: Sons of Anarchy- Okay seriously, if the flu didn’t kill me the finale might have. Spoiler alert: don’t read on if you haven’t seen it yet. I wasn’t ready for that end. The next day I contacted my friend to discuss it I said did you see the finale? Her response: “Yeah WTF can you believe Jax is single now!” I love her so much. Someone dies with a carving fork to the cranium and her silver lining is the character is now single. lol. I’m traumatized for life, but alls good because she might be able to get it on with a fictional hottie. Kerry, you kill me. And thanks.

What else I’m watching: Survivors. Wow, BBC you always do good work. But why or why did you cancel this before I could find out what happens? 12 hours of my life and no closure. BBC you cancel too many shows. seriously you need to consider a website dedicated to what would have happened on all the shows you killed off too soon.

What I’m reading: Reading?!? Have you tried to read with the flu? I don’t think so. But I did find this. and this is how I get all the fellas, though my husband reports that this is NOT how I got him. Little does he know.

What I’m listening too: Head on by Man on man

What else I am listening to: Let go by RAC Does anyone else hear Morrissey? or maybe Yaz in this song??

For those of you who don’t know Yaz: Weridos. Only you

Now moment: My husband winning the employee of the year award. So proud. So proud. Yep, I almost cried, but luckily the only person who saw was the man giving him the award. Shhh Brian, don’t say a word.