Monday, September 24, 2012

Taking Back a Life

My mind is blown!

(Guy in the back with your smart ass 'statement of the obvious' comment ...sit down.)

When we started out on this journey to get a grip on reality, right our course and take back control of our very out of control lives, I promised myself that I was not going to disguise our move, our decision or our rational. That if anybody asked I would be honest with them and say; "We've been living far too long in a life we thought we were supposed to want, struggling to acquire, preserve and maintain the things and activities that we came to believe represented a successful life. We traded the life we were dreaming of for a life others were dreaming for us. Yes we can do it, but we don't want to anymore.

When you say that out loud to someone you get one of two reactions.

Reaction #1 I'm sorry.
Okay the words "I'm sorry never escape the lips but there is a look in their eyes that portrays their concern for your 'need' to move. You can read their embarrassment for you (these people also whisper when retelling your plight to others) and yes some of these people we hold relation to by blood. If that doesn't say it all about the state of now; family that would be more willing to see you struggle with a facade than take charge of your happiness and your future. Despite the twisted reaction of the "I'm Sorry" group it is a relatively small contingent of people with this general reaction.

The vast majority of reactors fall into...

Category #2 'You too?'
This is where my mind gets blown (again, guy in the back...) We've plodded along in this life for so long now, struggled through, making ends meet and tying knots, so focused on keeping our heads above water that we failed to notice the people around us who are living the exact same life. I never wanted to be one to say that we were the type 'keeping up with the Jones" but you know what...we are all Jones. I am astounded by the stories of families drowning in debt, maintaining the style but missing the life. The more I talk the more I hear back from people who have resigned themselves to the knowledge that they will never be out from under their burdens. It is completely amazing the reality people are willing to share when you are open with them about your own struggles. People who I believed to have it all together are buying groceries on credit, revolving payday loans, charging their lives and putting their paychecks back on to their cards so there is room to charge the next week. Families are tanking out overdraft protection, maxing lines of credit, and securing ridiculously high interest personal loans knowing that spending and having today can be easily consolidated tomorrow. You can see the pain on a person's face when they open up about their struggles and their stress, it breaks my heart. Worse still is knowing that there is always more iceberg under the water than you see on the surface.

I leave these conversations knowing that I could return in ten years and their stories will not be different, we could keep our own story alive indefinitely focusing on the 'stuff'. That is a scary reality.

I look at the big picture and I can't help but think "how crazy is this?" How completely disillusioned are we with what matters in life? Are we really a better, happier society for having two new cars in the driveway, our kids dressed in the latest fashion and a FB status updates that says 'gone to Mexico'? Are our kids happier with the newest phones, tablets and running shoes? Should it not break our hearts that they probably have a very vivid understanding of the financial pressure these things place on a family but that they accept that it is a fair trade off? What futures are we setting them up for? We've reached record levels of anxiety and depression today largely fueled, I fear, by our need to keep up and have it all. People drink from coffee mugs that cleverly state "money can't buy happiness" but we try anyway. I wonder who we are trying to impress.

By trying to do the best for our families we are missing out on the best of them.

These last few months have ranked right up there in my top ten 'scary events of all times'. They have also landed on the 'best decision ever' list. There is excitement in taking control, fresh starts and taking concrete step towards the life we've always wanted. Even if to some it looks like we are trading it all in for a lesser life, you have no idea just how much bigger of a life we are creating!

I only wish one thing, and that is that we could take more people with us. I wish I could encourage  people to let go of the life they think they are supposed to want in favour of the life that is waiting for them.

Gratitude today that if you look into your heart, study it and answer it's questions you find the answers for your life. Gratitude that if you are lucky there are people strong enough and who believe in you enough to help, support, go along for the ride and help carry a couch.

Gratitude, Hope & Smiles are meant to be shared...Happy Monday...make this week count!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not Cut Out for the June Cleaver Life

My house sparkles, beds are made, dishes are washed, laundry is folded neatly and put away. There are no cobwebs or dust bunnies, no knicks in the baseboards, no leaking taps, loose toilet seats or 'junk' to be found under the kitchen sink. Towels match the paint that matches the tiles, that matches the flooring and makes it look like we planned it that way. Children's rooms are pristine and smell like fresh summer breezes and ocean mist not hockey bags and school lockers. I can look in the mirror and see me reflection not a week's worth of tooth brushing spittle. That refection, by the way, scared the begeebers out of me earlier this week. I've been so busy and intent on getting this house ready for sale that I clearly have let some things go, namely my eyebrows! (there's 45 minutes of my life I'm never going to get back)

Couple the house preparations with the first weeks of school, hockey tryouts and my 9-5....I am exhausted! and I feel deep sorrow for grown-ups everywhere who try to maintain this level of perfection on a daily basis. Who are you kidding? People are not meant to live under such expectations. My current pace is fuelled only by the knowledge that the situation bears no threat of permanence. It won't be long and we will be back to letting the grass grow and the laundry pile up. There will be toothpaste in the sink and shoes scattered at the front door. Kids will neglect to make their beds or put their dishes in the dishwasher and I will not read the riot act over their transgressions. We will leave the kitchen a mess in favour of walking for after dinner ice cream and I suspect that the dining room table will be slowly buried under 'stuff' again in no time.

For now the house is ready for the world to view, the For Sale sign adorns the front lawn and the open houses are in full swing. We spent a lot of extra time preparing and 'staging' the house in hopes that we will shave time off the selling end and return to normal sooner than later. Sooner, sooner, sooner please!!!! Before Mike gets attached to a clean, uncluttered home that smells like gardenias and Mr. Clean. Sooner please before I get ambushed in the mall by one of those emergency make-over teams. Sooner please before the novelty of bribing the kids with surprises of chocolate, stickers and movie tickets in recognition of their bed making, dishwasher using and general tidiness wears off. Sooner please before I turn into the loud mouthed woman in the grocery store checkout line spouting off about the customer the cashier ratio. I don't want to become that person, I can't become that person. Sooner please so that we can return to writing, motorcycle riding, movie watching, game playing, sitting on the deck with a glass of wine a grilled steak and some great friends time.

It will happen. In the meantime there is much gratitude today for the reminder that life is a thing to be enjoyed. That family life is a thing to be created not just lived. Gratitude for the reminder that in the pursuit of 'doing it all' a great many things get over-looked. Gratitude for the temporary nature of our circumstances and the co-operation of all parties involved as we create a life with more time and freedom for 'enjoying' it.

Gratitude, Hope & Smiles are meant to be shared, Have a great weekend!


Friday, September 7, 2012

A Parent's Job...


This is not my mess. I did not haul rod, reel, worms, tackle and fishing net out to the end of the dock. I did not bait the hook cast the line or get stuck in the weeds. It seems however that as soon as things got out of control and tangled up the expedition became my problem to solve...and I did. For the success of the adventure I cut the line, re-threaded the eyelets, re-rigged with tackle and sent my junior Izumie back to his post.

My kids bring me problems like this all of the time, they expect that when all else fails Mom can make things right (oh, the pressure) Sometimes I can fix things and sometimes I have to pass the problem sideways like a hot potato over to Dad. Occasionally we have to reach even further to solve a problem. In seventeen years it has become glaringly apparent that I could easily spend the rest of my life 'fixing' other people's problems, cleaning up other people's messes. As fulfilling as that sounds I also know that it is highly unlikely that I will live forever (despite my desire to do so) and that at some point these children will be going it alone. This thrills and terrifies me.

I have one hope...teach them to attempt their own solutions before running to me for help and if they do run to me for help teach them the solution. I forgot this when E first approached with monofiliment birds nest. Truthfully at that particular moment E's available time to learn a new skill far exceeded my patience to teach one. 

Gratitude today that I regained my parental heading when he came back a second time with an equipment malfunction. He didn't need me the third time.

"A Parent's to teach people not to need you anymore."

Gratitude, Hope & Smiles are meant to be shared...Happy Friday!