Jealousy


Its funny how quickly envy can turn into anger. And anger can turn into defeat or feelings of inadequacy. I am not a materialistic person. I do not enjoy shopping or get a high off buying something new. I don’t feel the need to decorate my house or coordinate my curtains with just the right throw pillow. I’m not even sure why people own throw pillows (no one ever throws them) or have that beautiful room in their homes no one is allowed to sit in. But for some reason, when I see these things on Facebook, I get all knotted up inside and I get angry and begin to wonder what I did so wrong in life that I don’t have these things that I don’t even want.

Why? Honestly, I’m not just saying this, I don’t want those things. I want a happy, healthy family. I want boys who play in the mud and laugh all the time. I want just enough to not do without but not so much I forget to appreciate the small things. I want loving relationships and understanding friends. I want love and beautiful memories. So why do I care when someone else acquires and boasts about things I couldn’t care less about? Why does it needle me when I see granite counter tops or crown molding peeking in the corner of a boastful picture of a new mixer or a loveseat that “makes a room”?

I grew up in a house with shag carpet, and it wasn’t the 60s when shag was in. We had olive green appliances with a stove that didn’t work so well. Everything in our house was outdated by at least 20 years and there was never a plan or money to change that. We had a couch that was threadbare, hand-me-down dressers, and the latest and greatest of nothing. I didn’t care and never felt embarrassed until I was 15 and a terrible boy made fun of my house and asked why everything in it was so old. Ouch.

I made a vow that in my home, in my future, I’d have the nicest stuff. I’d play the game just right, go to school, get a degree, get the good job with the great benefits, grow with a company, find the right man, invest in my future, and have this amazing awesome house with a beautiful modern kitchen, gleaming appliances, and the perfect décor all situated on a beautiful piece of property in at least 3000 square feet. When I was a grown up, it would all be mine.

So I did play the game and jump through the hoops designed to reach that destination. However, somewhere along the way the game changed, or maybe the prizes did, because it became far more important to just be happy, satisfied with life and living. Welcoming living creatures into my space and finding bliss in my job. I didn’t care so much about the dream as I did about life and I never did attain the things I thought were important. I’ve owned 4 homes and not one has had a wood beam ceiling or an A frame living room.

I live in a small house, with 80s blue carpet and those awful hollow doors that never last and buffer no noise, ever. I have plastic showers and kitchen outlets that never work. I have windows that leak like a sieve (on the plus side we will never die from carbon monoxide poisoning), shingles that hang a little off, and a couch that is quickly showing its age.

Sometimes I feel bad, like I missed the boat or haven’t amounted to much. I look at the photos others post and I wonder why I don’t have the big beautiful house made of stone and large weather tight windows. I feel bad that one day someone might point out to my kids that their home is less than because it is small and missing wainscoting and marble. That their second hand clothes aren’t cool and their used toys are just little bit wonky. I imagine that one day they will feel like I did, set on finding and having the “better” life. I just hope they realize that a better life has little to do with things, and everything to do with living.

So yes, I sometimes feel a pang of jealousy for the things I don’t even really want. But I think it is less because I want them and more because I promised myself I would have them. A self who was too young to know what true happiness was, too silly to understand what it really meant to “have arrived”.

All to often we get down because we let the lives of others influence our feelings. We get caught in the cycle of being “not as good as” or “wish I had that”. We forget about what we do have and what really is important. I think becoming an adult is about realizing what it really means to have it all.

I have 1300 sq feet filled with enough laughter to fill a space three times that size. I have a couch that is perfect for practicing headstands and summersaults or spilling food and having accidents. I have love that brightens every room in a way no new and modern fixture ever could. I have carpet that doesn’t inhibit play but invites it, all the muddy paws, globs of play doh, tire tracks, and drops of paint are welcome here. I have land that sprawls, where adventure waits uninhibited by danger or strangers. I have dogs that get to dig, chase, and play without a landscape care in the world, their furry faces covered in dirt and smiles. I have food to feed us, water to quench us, and a cozy pellet stove to keep us warm and dry.

I like to think my posts make others just a wee bit jealous. After all I am human and what are humans without competition? I like to think people see our goofy smiles and our trampoline living room and they think secretly to themselves “I wish I was that brave or that lucky”. Brave and lucky enough to live a life full of the important things and not just things; full of life, laughter, love, silliness, mistakes, failures, strength, and togetherness. I like to think they look at my home and see the time I wasn’t watching and two little boys went crazy with the chalk, or the time I had to watch tv from the floor because there were too many dogs on the couch. I hope they see a daddy playing dodge ball inside on a snowy day not worrying about knocking over lamps and décor because we don’t have any of either. I hope they see little boys screaming with excited terror running from balls and hiding in cabinets kept empty on purpose for just such a reprieve.

When I post something I hope it makes everyone out of their mind insanely jealous. Not because they don’t have what I have, or their countertops aren’t as stained as mine, but because everyone should have such a family, everyone should want such joy. Not because they own the right things or have the latest gadget, but because they have loved well and found that the only value in life is sharing yours with loving living creatures, not the perfect wall color that looks good with that chair.

I think the world would be better, and people would be happier if our posts were less about what we have gotten and more about who we love. I wish I saw more about moments of bliss and contentment and less about new cars and shoes. I wish I knew more about my friend’s partners, their children, their guinea pigs than I did about their boats, vacations, and jobs. I wish everyone understood what was worth boasting about. What was worth being jealous over. What was worth giving time and effort to.

So while you may not understand from pictures why none of my glasses match, why my towels have holes in them, or why all my pictures hang just a little bit crooked from too many stray dodge balls, there is no way you can spend real time in my home without understanding, no wishing, that your home was just like mine.

This week I am feeling very grateful for the living things in my life that add spice, humor, love, and beauty to my every moment. Words I cannot buy, gestures that can’t be coordinated, and moments that are never staged. This is my life, and it is a good one. Not despite the things I never achieved or acquired, but because of the things I never achieved or acquired. I am lucky to have been such a failure. I am glad I stumbled and fell just enough times to crash into the perfect storm of colossal mistakes that led to and created this family in this moment.

Are you happy? Is your life filled with the beauty of things and items only money can buy? Or is it filled with people and life that bring you joy and create happiness? I challenge you to play in that room no one ever goes in, spill milk on that rug that cost a fortune, and leave dog hair on your pants when you leave the house. I challenge you to walk away from the things you think matter and embrace the things that really do. If it grows, if it breathes, if it lifts its face up to the sky and smiles, then it is the right thing.

What I am reading: Information on wind turbines, solar panels, and on demand hot water heaters. Thinking about cost, the environment, and of zombie apocalypse or nuclear fallout situations. Maybe I need to read about fall out shelters, or at least tornado shelters.

What I am listening to: Babylon by David Gray

What I am watching: I just binge watched Jericho, it aired from 2006-07. I hate that it ended on a cliffhanger and while it wasn’t the world’s best acting it did remind me that it is such a shame our current tv line up is driven by the watching habits of a populace that thinks Honey Boo boo is good television. Sadly, that means we lose good shows like this one that make you think and have diverse subplots. I guess it just proves television is not the thinking man’s medium.

Now moment: Being asked for one more hug eight times as I try to leave a room from a little boy trying to avoid bed time in the cutest, most effective way possible.

Gratitude: Things I am grateful for

consignment sales

tax refunds

sand box toys

dog kisses

healing eyes

perfect haircuts on the run

hugs from my husband

friends becoming patent agents (selfishly can’t wait to file needless patent)

possible new jobs that are truly exciting

opportunities for happiness

basil pesto

dishwashers

options

spiderman shoes that light up

monster truck toys for $4

Friends who “get it”

donut pans (review to follow)

 

 

Mirror Mirror, Or Candace

Sometimes it takes a good friend coming all the way from Florida to fix what’s broken. Or more exact sometimes it takes someone just spending time and holding up a mirror for you to see the beauty right before your eyes.

I think I’ve always been really honest here, about my feelings and my life so that I can make a better life or maybe let others know they aren’t alone. I have always said I know my life is good. I have many things I have always wanted and my present looks much like I used to envision my future to be. I can’t complain and I think for the most part I don’t. But I am honest that something seems broken and life is harder day to day than it should be. And recently I have felt like I am detached and just plodding along doing the bare minimum to keep a family going.

But then Candace showed up. She was only here for two nights and three days; and according to my husband, he hasn’t heard me talk that much in the 7 years he has known me, I think he called me a school girl. But when Candace and I are together its like catching up on lost time with a sister. It is like there aren’t enough hours in the day to say what you haven’t said or to hear what you have been wanting to know. I don’t know why we don’t use the phone more, but nothing can replace the face to face.

I can’t really explain my bond to Candace and to relay our history would be to ignore her privacy so I won’t, but I will say the few days she spent here was like the nicest slap in the face. Because I haven’t really been appreciating what I have, I haven’t really been soaking up all the details. So watching Candace chase my boys and tickle them silly, or monitoring bath time and laughing like a goon at the mundane ordinary moments of my life it showed me that the things I take for granted, might just be the things I should appreciate the most.

While she was here I played a game with my son at least twice, I can’t remember doing that before. I drank a glass of wine while watching her make dinner, I haven’t done that since before babies. I remembered what it meant to just stop and love on a dog, just because.

Sure she asked me about my problems and we analyzed the details the way problem solvers do. I picked apart her worries and she picked apart mine. We didn’t really come to any great solutions or epiphanies, and I don’t think we needed to. It was less having her support and thoughtful ear, and more just having her. She was supportive, fun, silly, respectful, and adoring of my lot (four and two legged alike). All of it was great, and it got me thinking, all of it IS great.

Candace aside; of course I wish I could convince her to leave sunny Florida for the Colorado plains (ha! As if)but it isn’t Candace that makes life great, life just is great. It just took Candace hauling her cookies all this way to show me. To hold the mirror of my life up to my face and say “See? See all that wonderment?”

I’ve been sort of waiting and observing, sitting on the side for my moment to step back in and join this life. I can’t explain why I haven’t or why I wasn’t motivated enough to just do it. I can blame three illnesses in a row, or even a prolonged mystery illness as yet discovered, but at the end of the day none of it should have prevented me from tickling my boys till they couldn’t laugh any harder, or loving on my dogs more often, or occasionally enjoying a nice glass of wine.

I’m ready to step back in. It maybe baby steps at first, but I am ready to get this thing right. I have almost half a year left of this experiment online, and I think it is high time I use it wisely.

What I am listening to: What a difference a day makes by Tim Meyers

Now moment: My son offering his panda bear to Candace so she would have something of him to take home with her. There are no words for the shy way he brought it to her and offered it up like a gift to the gods. So selfless and thoughtful. Amazing! I thought he would be sad and regret it later, I almost didn’t let Candace take it home, but now he gets excited when she send him new pictures of what his panda is doing in sunny Florida without him. His face lights up everytime.

What I am reading: Nothing. Which is rare and random for me but somehow my mind has not been in the space for higher thinking which reading always leads to.

365 Gratitude:

The things I am grateful for

Lasik- In a word AMAZING

The Kindle

Almost potty trained two year old

Tax returns

A nice bottle of red

A friend who appreciates roasted garlic

Ridiculous tumble weeds covering the road and making me feel like a cowboy moving a herd of weeds home

Sleeping in

The phrase “Throwing people is not berry nice” shouted at full volume in a cartoon snowman’s defense (see Frozen); little boys are so sweet

Requests for “big hugs”

Long texts conversations with people who live too close not to see more often (yes, I am talking about you Dink)

A good game of Scrabble

65 degree days followed by snow

A friend who is doing by far a better job of the 365 gratitude than I am, but has kept me at least slightly honest (I love you Brit)

Orphan Black, so stinking good, Thank you Kerri

Having someone “get” me

Good blood work for little men

Gluten free varieties

Checking-in

Checking in. Checking in can mean so much more than what the common usage implies. I’ve been what some may call checked out; checked out of life more or less for lack of a better way of putting it. Sure, I get up each morning and I eat breakfast, take care of my boys, the dogs, and work, but I am just going through the motions; step one, step two, step three and so on, putting one foot in front of the other so to speak. I have been finding it difficult to truly check in, to truly engage in what is happening around me. I’m here, but I’m not here, I’m participating but I am not a participant. I’m not sure the ruse is fooling anyone, but I keep thinking if I fake it long enough that maybe I will make it, back to being checked in that is.

I got sick in December, then again in January, and while I am not a fan of making excuses or blaming circumstances, I can’t seem to pinpoint what else has me in this slump. I’m not saying being sick did it, what I am saying is it is the only I can identify that might do this. I’m just not interested, in anything. When I try to figure out what the problem is I am lost, or if I consider what might motivate me to check back in I am also lost. So maybe the problem is feeling lost.

Whatever the reason, I must check back in. I don’t want to miss this life, or these moments just phoning it in. I want to wallow in and wiggle around in the moments that make life, good or bad. So that is the trick I guess, figuring out how to check back in when it feels so damn cozy and numb remaining checked out.

If I am to stay true to my manifesto of intentional living then I must intentionally sign back up and stop the negative self-talk that binds me. If I am to truly make the choices necessary to live happily, then I need to stop worrying about how I got this way, how I am going to reverse it, but instead focus on this moment, right now, just checking in for the moment.

This feels safe; I only have to do it for a moment. Just one moment, check-in check-out, or as my son would say easy peasy lemon squeezy. I don’t need to commit to tomorrow or next week, I don’t need to piece together the puzzle of yesterday, all I really have to do is one little moment. One step, two step, three step.

So this is my step for today, my checking in, if only for a moment. I committed to this blog in July, I committed to making this blog the place where I find the better way of living. The place where I share this journey with others so that maybe they can find their best life.  We all have set backs, moments where our best selves did not show up at the party. Maybe by writing this you will realize you are not alone, I am not alone. Checking out is possibly more common place than any one of us thought; especially, when we are checked out and isolated.

Special thanks to those that checked in on me, to those who gave up moments of their life to check on mine. I hope you know how wonderful you are and how much I appreciate your attention.

What I’m reading: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

What I’m watching: Girls, that Lena Dunham is truly inspiring.

What I’m listening to: Story of My Life, Embarrassed this is by One Direction, so good despite the boy band association.

Now moment: The two and four year old having an in depth conversation like adults about their grandma. It was almost enough to make me cry

365 grateful: I am way behind on my grateful days, simply behind. Ironically, had I been doing it like I planned maybe I wouldn’t have checked out for so long. So here is the breakdown as best I can remember.

Things I am grateful for:

My husband’s smile

IV Fluids

Breath right strips

My Veronica Mars co-pilot and all around show watching friend, yes, another shout out to you Kerri

Cadbury Egg season

Las Vegas

Daiquiris by the yard

A full night’s sleep

Remembering and honoring a special mentor and friend, Rob Grogan. I will miss you always, thank you for giving me the stones to write and supporting me in loss. You are truly irreplaceable. The world lost a valuable soul. Rest in Peace, and thank you for everything. Now you’ll get the best seats in the house for all those Yankee games.

Comfort food

My iPhone for allowing me continued access to an email account Microsoft foolishly locked for 30 days

Miss Cady at Gymboree for being my boy’s first real crush, if they continue with that caliber they will be alright

Fat snowflakes

A job offer, even if I did turn it down

Clean biopsy results

Baggy jeans that no longer fit

Monster Energy drinks

On demand TV

Little boy hugs

Getaways

Cozy pants

Emails that are better late than never when it comes to reconnecting