The Best of 2013

I’m not going to lie, 2013 kicked my proverbial ass in many ways. In other ways it was one of the most eye opening and life defining years of my life. Entering into motherhood three years prior had left me feeling like I’d lost myself. Losing my sister three years ago left me feeling broken.  I continued moving forward because that is what life is about, that is how you get unstuck from the muck and that is how you create the life you want, but in many ways it was just me going through the motions as opposed to me really living life. On the outside it looked like I was getting stuff done, sticking to a plan, on the inside it was like watching a movie and wishing it was over so I could sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, I love my husband, I love my life, but sometimes life knocks you down and makes other plans and you can stop and wallow in that shit or you can give it the middle finger and keep on moving even if you are injured (see that old intentional living I have been going on about for months).

2013 gave me a sick baby and doctors and hospitals and people I wish I had never had the need to meet, but am so grateful I did. It had my family discovering that Celiac Disease is actually a positive thing (when I consider the other potential options). It had me falling in love with my husband all over again by being lucky enough to watch him embrace his life as a responsible adult (something I think men struggle with). 2013 had me reach my pre baby weight but not my pre baby body (I still hope to shock and amaze you with before and after photos one day, maybe a 4 pack at 40 kind of thing by June??) but I learned my ability to be a dude is far more important than a flat stomach.  2013 saw my mother move to our property, my oldest learning how to be a good big brother, and my youngest potty training himself. 2013 let me reconnect with old friends, find my soul sister, and create laughter. But 2013 also brought me something else, this blog.

To some of you that may not even be note worthy. To me it has been a journey, and at times, an eye opening experience as I peruse all things in life looking for a better life, a happier life, a good way to live. By writing about my thoughts, by conveying what I have learned and all I have read I have not only learned much about me, I’ve learned so much about that better life. I am now able to turn off my mind when it tries to harm me with thoughts about my past or future, thoughts I cannot change and events I cannot alter. I have learned how to find happiness in this moment, how to let go of pain, how to manage my finances, how to talk to my husband, how to confront constructively, and how to love more completely. I have far more patience than I did when I started this journey and I can actually see the me I used to be before kids, before loss. There she is, looking at me in that mirror. There she is lounging surrounded by pups. There she is playing games with her kids. She didn’t disappear, she just got a little lost.

I spent a lot of time this year feeling defeated, scared, beaten down, broken, just utterly lost. I was frustrated that life wasn’t what I had been sold, that things could go horribly askew without my consent, and that so many people all over the place, every where I looked, were suffering. Then one day I sat down and I Googled happiness. I Googled, happy life. I Googled Zen. And it changed everything. Something so silly and ridiculous changed everything. So while we are better off financially than we were, our son thankfully does NOT have cancer, and our family life is full of laughter and peace, I know, I know in my heart and my head that I got to this place thru the journey of intentional decisions. Of choosing to shape my future so it would not be defined by my past. Of choosing the identity I wanted instead of the one I had fallen into.

While I think there is value in many of the posts from 2013 (I am bias after all), here are the most popular posts and those YOU found value in. May 2014 be a year where we all continue to make our own destinies and give the middle finger to anything that tries to stop us.

Things Dads Do- Apparently you all love videos, especially if it is a video of my husband doing questionable things with his children.

How to get laid more- Apparently you all love having sex too. I’m shocked by this one. :)

I help you all pick a deodorant- or at least I make you feel less alone picking a deodorant.

3 Songs- I got a lot of feedback on this one that it reminded people to remember what they love about their significant other. It went a way I didn’t expect when I wrote it, I’m glad you all took it another way. I was instantly more grateful.

You and Your Finances- This one made you all feel a little less alone. I know it made me feel less alone and it was the first step, a coming out if you will, that allowed us to get on the road to fixing our finances.

How to Kick Ass at the Gym- Speaks for itself.

and my favorite, not just because it is about me, but because writing it and really considering it,  opened my eyes and reminded me of who I am and why I like that person. About Wendy

Insurmountable Obstacles

Let me be honest for a moment, I made a goal this week, just like every other week since I started this journey in July. But by Tuesday it was clear the goal wasn’t going to happen. By Wednesday I had given up the dream of even writing about the goal, and this morning I gave up entirely and realized if I did manage to write about the goal then it would be like lying because I didn’t do it, I didn’t even start it, and I actually can’t even remember what it was. Ever have weeks like that?

The road to happiness or finding a more Zen like state is certainly one that is bound to be riddled with obstacles. Some of those obstacles we provide ourselves and others just happen. Those we provide ourselves fall under the intentional living I’ve been talking about all this time. They are part of our failure at choosing our own path and choosing how we define ourselves and how we interact with the world. If you fail to make those choices the path will always be filled with obstacles that are arbitrarily placed there as a result of your lack of choice. Trust me, not choosing your path is the same as saying I chose a path someone else wants me to have. This isn’t a wise move because no one knows you like you, and others will either make false assumptions about your journey or they will selfishly want your journey to coincide with theirs. No matter what the world has in store for  you, you will always be far better off making your own choices, living intentionally, and following your passion regardless of what the world thinks of this or you.

Then there are the obstacles that just happen. Things we really have little control over and more or less come out of the blue; a traffic accident, a health issue, a money crisis. It is hard to plan for or choose the unexpected. It is hard to “know” what will just happen so you can prepare and make alternate plans. These obstacles can lead you down a path you don’t want to follow and one that strays ridiculously far form the path you were intentionally trying to stay on. It is sort of like hiking through the forest on a path you choose, only to stumble on a giant tree across your path. In order to get around this tree you have to veer off to the side and sometimes that can mean a detour far beyond what you originally thought or could plan for, and before  you know it you are lost and can’t even see the tree you were trying to get around much less the path you wanted to be on.

I have one of those such obstacles in my life, and thus far I have been unsuccessful at figuring out how to avoid it, and I have been unsuccessful at finding or choosing the path that results in it not reoccurring. These kinds of obstacles are the most trying and the most annoying because it can feel like no matter what your efforts are, no matter how well-intentioned you are, it will be for nothing and you will feel defeated once again (I swear the feeling of defeat can sometimes be worse than the stupid obstacle itself). I think there are all kinds of examples of this, and if you have been following my journey, and making it your own all these months, you have no doubt found yourself faced with an obstacle you just couldn’t get around. Something bound and determined to make sure your choices in life had little value and your intentional identity could just  suck it- for lack of a nicer way to say it.

This week my obstacle told me loud and clear in a very definitive manner that I could just SUCK IT. Whatever my plans were, my goals, my dreams for the week, whatever intentional mindful, now moments I was certain would happen, could all just go take a flying leap off the nearest cliff- and I don’t mean in the fun adrenaline rush kind of way. This obstacle has me thinking about my belief that intentionally choosing a life and path, as well as an identity, that I can find the better life I am looking for. This obstacle makes me wonder if there is a limit to self-help, a limit to positive thinking, a limit to making changes and taking action. Maybe there are just some obstacles that you can never get over, around, or through?

I haven’t made up my mind about all of this yet. I imagine, knowing me, it will be a work in progress because I hate the idea of not being in control. I dislike the thought that I can’t just make something right with hard work and determination. I’m not asking for a magic wand, or a super drug. I have no problem working hard to achieve results, but that’s just it, I have been working hard to overcome my obstacle. I haven’t been sitting around whining about it or begging for the little pill; most people who know me probably have never heard me even talk about it. I have been actively searching for answers, I have dramatically changed my life and my habits. I have adopted new methods of living and eating and moving, and still the damn thing won’t go away. It is exhausting trying to out run this obstacle, it is exhausting hiding this from the people I love, it is even more exhausting to tell them and be unable to explain it sufficiently for them to truly understand it, it is exhausting to feel like I have run out of options. There are no more changes or choices for me to make. There are no more brushes with genius to be had, I have exhausted all the possibilities and tools in my personal tool box and I have come up empty.

No doubt I am a better person for this journey. No doubt I am healthier and my family will be healthier as a result of my intentional choices derived from this obstacle. No doubt I am living a richer more purposeful life because of the thing I can’t move past. I won’t say it has been a blessing, it hasn’t and I’d happily remove it if I could, but it has influenced my journey in a way that I would not have gone otherwise. A way that likely led me to my husband, my children and everything else that is good in my life. Maybe I would have gotten here anyway, maybe not. But I can go back in time and see, with pristine clarity, how my obstacle led to my choices that put me on the path I was on when I met Jay. I may not have known it at the time, and it all clings together loosely with a general appearance of being unrelated, but in the end I can easily tie it all back to the same damn thing, the same damn problem I have had for 16 years. But this week was different.

This is the first week that I finally realized the impact this obstacle has on my every day life and how much it has changed me and how little credit I gave it as I tried to be brave and fight it, hide it, or ignore it. Sounds ridiculous, 16 years and I am just now putting the pieces together? Well, denial is a powerful and dangerous tool we all carry in our toolbox. Sometimes it can be useful, but more often than not it just brings destruction. I used my denial to create a barrier around the obstacle hoping to quarantine it; hoping that somehow, someway I could stop it from influencing my life or my behavior. It was a foolish thing to do, and that is what I realized this week. Denying the obstacle was stupid, failing to recognize that my efforts hadn’t changed it, was ridiculous. Trying to be brave and sort this out on my own is no longer working. Refusing to share it and being afraid of judgment is not working.

Do you have those kinds of obstacles? Things you keep hidden and keep attacking alone? Things that keep coming back laughing at you? Things that you fear, not just because of the obstacle itself, but because of what it might mean or what others might think? How can we find true peace and contentment if we can’t kill the obstacles that influence us the most? I would love to hear what your obstacles are. I would love to hear your fight and what you have tried and succeeded or what failed miserably. Because I feel like I just recently opened my eyes and I can’t see enough fast enough. What are your seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Are they really? Have you exhausted all your options and possible choices? Please share. No really, please.

What I am reading: 3 different books because I can’t really stay focused this week. I highly doubt any of them are worth mentioning.

What I am listening to: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons

Inspirations from the ether: Dobermans never say die Must read/watch, and apparently, if you are a weeper, have a tissue handy. Someone has already called me a bitch for not warning her :) People can be terrible and cruel, and they can also be amazingly kind and generous.  

Now moment of the week: A 4 hour nap on Wednesday… don’t knock if you need it.

5 Ways Facebook is just like High School- For WOMEN

Seems like I’m reading a lot of studies and articles on the dangers and pitfalls of using social media and Facebook in particular. The studies sight everything from envy of other people’s posts to anguish over seeing an ex tagged in a photo, as being the reasons we all feel terrible after looking at our newsfeeds. Maybe this is why there are so many sarcastic “cards” and images floating out there as well- it breaks up all the behind your back bitching and bends it on its ear to in front of your face bitching, done with a smile and a wink so CLEARLY I wasn’t talking about you- oh so subtly not mentioned in the subtext.

I recently made the decision to limit my own Facebook time to see if it would affect me. One could argue I just took up another platform of social media by starting a blog, but I argue its different because I don’t have to hear about your trips to Europe or see your sprawling mansion but instead I get to indulge in one of my special happy places, writing. I removed the Facebook app from my phone thereby forcing me to go to extra steps to compulsively peruse the lives of others and I found that while I was willing and able of going through those steps my use did significantly decrease- and *gasp* I did in fact manage to live happily not knowing what someone else had for lunch. Interestingly enough, I also discovered that my absence seemed to bother others more than it bothered me and in some weird way- that only women can manage- I actually made enemies of some friends simply because I made a conscious choice to alter my life and pretty much everything in it. Who knew not hitting a like button compulsively like a lab rat could create such imaginary drama? Not this girl. So that was when I realized that Facebook is the new High school.

40 is the new 30 (thank god), Orange is the new black (I really must watch this show) and Facebook is the new High School. Here are the top 5 reasons that Facebook is just like high school:

1. Now you actually get to re-know the people you did know when you actually were in high school. So, not much has changed only now you only have to worry about how your hair looks in pictures and not for 7 whole periods. Being “friends” with people you knew in high school  really only has two purposes, one you missed them and wanted to rekindle some of that old high school juju, or two, you just wanted to stalk around with their permission and laugh at them in private because they got fat, still have a mullet, or married an ugly woman. I’ll be honest with you, and please don’t all my friends from high school get up in arms about this or you’ll just be proving my point, there is a reason people drift apart and don’t reconnect, and that reason is their friendship was based on nothing more than the common school or friends they shared. We are supposed to let go of the majority of these people. That is not to say they don’t have anything to offer to you now, it is just to say that just like the good old days IN high school, Facebook puts a bunch of people together that call themselves friends that ordinarily wouldn’t bother. I’m telling you, don’t believe me? Look at your friends list. How many are high school chums you don’t speak to, see or even have visible on your newsfeed? Yep, just like the halls of high school and as the bell rings we all post our best face on FB hoping someone will finely decide to like us or will feel badly that they don’t.

2. It doesn’t matter what you post, when you post it or why you posted it, invariably someone, somehow, for who knows what reason will decide that not only was your post about them, but it was the worst most hurtful betrayal of all time and they will cut you off, cut you out, or become passive aggressive toward you for no reason. (I imagine this blog post is going to do that too) Hm.. if that doesn’t sound like high school then maybe you didn’t go. I swear I could write a post about my son’s poop and there would be someone on my feed who’d get all up in arms that I was really insulting her on the down low and disguising it as a post about poop but it was REALLY a post about her new hair cut. Trust me it happens all the time, everyday on Facebook. And yes, it is only women who do this. Sorry ladies but I’ve never had a male friend stop talking to me because of a sound bite I post related to me lifting weights at the gym.

3. The popular kids are never going to think you are cool. It doesn’t matter how many photos you post of yourself doing cool things in exotic locations or how fabulous your life appears to be. Unless your last name is Kardashian, or you actually are the worlds most interesting man (after all it has never been his bad), I promise you those kids who dissed you in high school are now dissing you on Facebook. Please stop trying to make them like you. It is a waste of time and effort and odds are if you just lived a genuine life filled with activities and people who really care about you, you’ll be a lot  happier than you ever would have been if the popular people did in fact like you. So do yourself a favor and tell your 16 year old self its ok to have bad hair or be seen without makeup. Tell her she has value and move on. Its just embarrassing for those of us who are your real friends to watch the desperation happening.

4. You will invariably feel worse after logging in to Facebook than you ever felt before you bothered, just like going to high school. Somehow the hours outside of high school were always more enjoyable than the hours inside it. Inside you have to put up with an onslaught of images and words being thrown at you and many of them aren’t very nice. They make you feel like less or make you wish you were more, just like Facebook.. Even if you don’t think it is affecting you, trust me it is. Even just a really cool video my husband shows me of someone doing parcore (sp?)will ding me just a little bit (yes the little fat kid inside me still wants to be cool) because I will never be able to do that and it is so freaking cool. Or the dog video of the border collie doing a zillion amazing tricks making me feel like I’ve let my passion die or at least lost it somewhere because if I was a really cool person I could totally teach my dog how to do those things, after all I used to get paid to do that!. It may not be as obvious as, I wish my body looked like that or I wish I lived there, but it is still happening. It is the human condition to want to experience everything in life (or maybe that’s just me and the hubs) so seeing that others are experiencing something while I sit on my couch eating ice cream just thankful my kids were in bed before 9, makes my life seem dull by comparison. Of course I always forget that lots of people would kill to have a cool husband they actually still love and beautiful little boys like mine-that’s right eat your heart out suckas!

5. This one is probably the most significant one, and again, sorry ladies this is only you. Men really are the better sex- I’m sure I’ll regret ever saying those words. Facebook Is just like high school because you spend most of your time on it trying to unravel why someone is mad at you by becoming some kind of technical forensics sleuth and dissecting the entire history of Facebook. Hm… lets see, lets go back and find the last post she commented on, then lets see if I wrote a post that she might have thought was about her, hm, then lets see if one of our mutual friends wrote something she might have seen and decided was about her but that I somehow was involved even though I was changing a poopy diaper when that was posted. Wait, no here is a post from Tuesday that was posted right after I tried to call her . Wait was that the day I tried to call her? Was I mean in my message? Crap I wish I could hear the message again in case I accidentally had a mental break and instead of saying I miss you lets talk, I really said you fucking suck because you never call me. Wait when did she stop “Talking ” to me. Let me just check my timeline. But seriously my husband has never turned to me after looking at Facebook and said, you won’t believe this but so and so is totally mad at me and I have no idea why.

 

I suppose I could just delete my Facebook account, but I do think it has it’s uses. I have reconnected with old friends and found true soul mates of life on there. I have discovered things about people that make me love them so much it hurts. I have been graced with a collection of core FB friends that bolster me up when I am feeling blue, and not because I post some weird cryptic email about feeling unloved (pretty sure at least 5 people I know will think this is about them), because I don’t do that- Seriously, am I the only one who hears Carly Simon singing? I am terrible at keeping in contact with people just terrible, so Facebook has allowed me the opportunity to remain close to those that matter without having to become a different person to manage it. I am thankful family can see my boys grow up there and that I can see that others are just as lost as me. No, I think I’m on Facebook to stay, but that being said, I now plan to treat it just like I did high school.

Sometimes I’m there, sometimes I’m not. I do not derive my self-worth from anything that happens there. I do not judge my “friends” for what happens there. I do not stay friends with them just to make fun of them behind their backs. I do not assume any post is about me unless my name is actually called out in the post.  At the end of the day, I didn’t like high school the first time, there is no way I want to repeat it and certainly not by choice. I’m not sure why anyone would. I wish everyone on Facebook would do the same; but since it is just like high school it will likely remain largely what it is. A fake environment we all flock too hoping someone will like us and never understanding why they don’t as our insecurities rise as we base our value on how many likes we get.

PS. Um… Could you please like this blog on Facebook? Thanks, I would feel really cool and super special if you did. Better yet, share the post so others will like me, thereby increasing my total self-worth like a hundred fold! PLEEAASSEE!!!! Share and like :) -Tongue firmly planted in cheek, but in all seriousness, if you like it share it, no pressure.

And or those of you too young to get the Carly Simon reference….Yes, “you probably think this post is about you”