Revisiting My Lists

When I began blogging last year I did a lot of work offline to figure out my goals. This was partly because I wanted to get to the point quickly but also because I wanted to create a community. I suspected that beginning by treating the blog like a diary wouldn’t be the way to go. I don’t regret the decision as my first few posts get straight to the heart of what I wanted to do and have served as great touch points over the last year.

Since then, I have grown in confidence and have become much more open in sharing my journey. When looking at creating another cohesive list to help guide my decisions I decided to look at my posts over this past year.

It’s been an exciting year where I have met so many wonderful, inspiring people and I’ve given myself the opportunity to live an intentional life. Part of the joy of blogging is being able to better keep track of the lessons I’ve learnt while continuing to learn from all those who comment on my blog or post on their own. In that spirit here are a list of posts in which I focused on goals or tactics to help me be the person I’d like:

My vision for myself:

How to get to where I want to go

Healthy Lifestyle

Working on consumption

While ML & I will continue to work on our lists together these posts will also give me a great overview of the person I am aiming to be and help me ensure that my What Matters to Me II list reflects my hopes and dreams for myself over the past year.

Do you review your previous  posts? What’s the most interesting thing that you find about doing that?

 

Mean Reds

I loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s and this quote struck me the first time I watched the movie:

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Fear makes me angry. So for me the mean reds are being afraid and then lashing out but not quite knowing why. This has made it hard to blog because a lot of my posts that I prepared came across as extremely whiny and highly self-absorbed. Not the sort of energy I want to be putting out into the universe.

Then ML and I had an argument before he went to work yesterday. Thank goodness for technology! We were able to continue our conversation over text, not being in front of each other allowed us to delete phrases that weren’t kind before they were even sent. Within 5 minutes we realized that we had both been shrugging off little things in the interest of being nice. Except we hadn’t really been shrugging them off. We had been allowing them to build up and make us both miserable.

Through our conversation we realized we were afraid of making the other unhappy. Which baffled us because we both went, “Have I been mean recently?” Nope. I suspect this more to do with our own anxieties rather than the other person.

So this morning a small change made a big difference. ML hadn’t slept well last night. Previously I would have tried to tiptoe around him then get upset when I was running late for work and he hadn’t helped, in spite of the fact that he asked if I needed help and I said no because I was being nice. This morning, I let him sleep a bit longer but instead of letting him have coffee in bed I asked him to help me prepare breakfast while I did the dishes. Though we both woke a bit later we not only got everything done but I got to work on time. A huge difference from me doing all the things we can work on together and only waking him when I need him to move quickly and then shouting requests at him through the bathroom door as I get ready.

Instead we were a team. Not surprisingly he was happy to get out of bed and help. It turns out my ‘kindness’ was actually stressing him out and making him not feel useful but he thought it was working for me so didn’t want to ruin my plan.

The outcome of our conversation is that we need to focus on being partners again. Turns out we’re both suffering from the mean reds and the only way to combat them is to work on our self awareness and tell the other person what we need.

I’ve taken up walking and I hesitated to invite ML as he exercises and walking isn’t his favourite past time since he’s on his feet most of the day. Rather I’ll invite friends to go with me. It was only as a result of our argument that I found out he likes walking with me as it gives him a chance to say things he wouldn’t necessarily share otherwise. We have a date tonight and I’m looking forward to getting my steps in while just chatting with the person I love.

What do you do when you get the mean reds?

Image from here

Vacation Lessons

I’m so glad I took last week with ML. Filling up the emotional bank account with good stuff has definitely been great.

ML and I  have different interests and due to our work schedules we often take separate vacations. When we do take vacation together we often have big plans: renovations, road trips, etc. It was nice to spend time together yet apart.

We did things together but also enjoyed our own interests in different rooms. It was a bit of a relief to find out we could do it without one of us feeling neglected.

It was a great lesson! Here are a few more to help me maintain my calm:

  • Reinstitute morning tea with Bunny. The one on one cuddles does us both a world of good
  • I’ve got loads of things that relax me; aim to do more than binge watch Netflix with ML on an evening
  • The doodling helped me in a way that lists don’t… Maybe add it to my work format
  • I’m going to keep up the doodling journal but maybe adjust it to weekly “bank deposits” rather than the daily ones I’ve been posting

Here’s to a great week back at work!

Thanks so much for all your tips and encouragement!

Vacation:The beginning

I’ve found if I don’t make a list I’ll come to the end of a day (or vacation) and think, “I’ve done nothing! I’ve wasted it!”

To combat this I’ve begun this vacation by doodling my activities. Anything with a little clock sketch is an appointment of some kind.

I was at a conference Saturday so this really reflects Saturday night and all day Sunday.

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Budget update: Not off to a great start since I overspent by $110 as of Saturday. $30 was on fast food and the other $70 was on hair stuff (2 hair colours, deep conditioner, fake bangs, and bright pink extensions).

No regrets on the fast food as it was a treat to kick off the vacation and has kept me fed for nearly 2 days.The hair stuff is all experimental. The bangs are too light and the extensions need to be played with. Even if it’s a complete waste my mum and I are going to hang out on Wednesday to dye my hair and play with the extensions so I’m not feeling too badly about it. Also if I’m conservative for the rest of the month the damage shouldn’t be too great.

Today has been great and I’m feeling fairly relaxed.

How’s your Monday been?

 

Vacation Plans!

So next week is the big week: a week of vacation!

Since I’ve been feeling fairly anxious my therapist recommended that I do a strange thing and relax this vacation and work on finding my balance again. Being me I began to worry that I wouldn’t know how to relax. I fall into the trap of feeling like I should be doing something if I’m too relaxed. I’m a list maker so I did what I do best and made a list of things to help me relax.

In the spirit of vacation, it’s not a true list it’s a selection of ideas that I can choose to do if the spirit moves me:

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The little green box on the bottom is the ‘have to’ list. Notice how small it is? This way I can’t add stuff to it.

I’ve got to admit that I was also a bit afraid that a week vacation may be an excuse to blow the budget but all the relaxing things are free. The only cost I can see is some additional eating out as ML and I want to do a pizza/pj day with each other and maybe go out for dinner.

Our plan is to have  easy to make food and a selection of snacks so we’re not worrying about menu planning or dishes.

If you had a week with a prescription to relax, what would it look like?

 

Anxiety Rears It’s Head

I’ve previously written about my anxiety on this blog and a in a bit more detail here. In the last few weeks my panic has been climbing in all aspects of my life. I visited my therapist and we worked on a plan for my next few weeks.

Since I know I’m not alone I thought I’ll share some of the things that I’m going to be doing to build my resilience.

Take vacation

Really take it next week! Relax rather than fill my days with to-do items. I realized that I am nervous about not having plans so I’m going to create a list of fun ideas for me to pick from rather than my usual list of should do.

Make having fun…fun

I’ve been scheduling fun which has been a bit stressful. For example I was attending a local craft night but it meant rushing home, changing out of my work clothes, eating quickly, getting to the event in the nick of time, HAVING FUN, rushing out to pick up ML, heading home to sleep. Doesn’t sound very fun does it?

Her recommendation was that I work with my moods and lifestyle.

Language!

I make fun plans with the best intentions. Tonight I’m heading out to dinner with friends and I’ve been looking forward to it. Last night I realized that the time I recommended we meet doesn’t actually work easily, it means that ML and I will need to do some creative juggling to ensure we both get where we need to go today.

Once I realized this I began getting stressed and began thinking things like: “How stupid to not realize that I should have booked it later or suggested another date!” or “This afternoon is going to be so busy I won’t get anytime to take care of stuff for tomorrow.” Notice how that language doesn’t sound like I want to see my friends?

Once I caught these thoughts I have worked to put some positive ones out instead:

  • ML is super easygoing about this, I should listen to him and not worry about juggling.
  • All I have to do for tomorrow is select my clothing as tomorrow’s lunch is taken care of.
  • It’s going to be fantastic to see them! I can’t wait to catch up

Emotional Bank Account

This is the big overarching thing and what’s gotten me in trouble. The idea is that our emotional resources are finite. I’ve been worried about finances, family, work and friends as well as feeling busy and rushed. As you can see my attempts to refill with ‘fun’ hasn’t quite panned out.

By taking a proper vacation, enjoying myself rather than rushing to and from ‘fun,’ and speaking kindly to myself my emotional account should move to the black.

I’ve slowly started this journey. This past weekend I ‘scheduled’ Sunday to be a fun day i.e. no chores! I spent the day watching movies, playing with Bunny, hanging out with ML and it was fantastic. Even when we did end up doing a few errands it was relaxing.

What do you do to relax?

 

 

 

 

My Descent into Debt

This isn’t a financial post, it’s an emotional one and I’ve decided to be a bit more honest about a big part of my journey and my descent into debt.

I had mentioned that my Lenten goal is to be kinder to myself and had hinted that I’ve moved away from the Catholic Church, though I clearly still feel a kinship to some of the traditions.

This was the final straw for me: I can’t get pregnant.

That’s what I now say. I say that rather than:

  • I realized that my desire to have children was deeply tied to my desire to do the right thing (the Pope made headlines when he declared that folks who choose not to have children are selfish)
    • How awful to realize in the middle of a therapy session that I was treating getting pregnant like an item to cross off my to-do list to please my religious community and parents!
  • I suffer from anxiety which made getting pregnant without the use of therapy and fetal friendly anti-anxiety medication impossible.
    • I don’t need medication on a regular basis to function, so it’s problematic to me to be told that I would greatly benefit by being medicated to get pregnant.
  • The tests that I endured to find out if my body was ‘working’ were horrendous and humiliating.
  • Trying to get pregnant was making me an awful person. I would sink into deep sadness every month but try to gear up for the next one. I was livid when friends mentioned they had gotten accidentally pregnant.
  • I stopped living (stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine, stopped eating anything remotely ‘bad’, stopped booking travel plans, didn’t pursue job opportunities that would be stressful) for 1.5 years because I wanted to get pregnant and was bombarded by messages that if I created the right environment I would be able to do this.

In Knowing your Truth I hinted about this part of my struggle when I mentioned: My debt  came slowly at first and then more quickly after a rather rough patch when I wanted to prove to people that I was alright.

You see, ML and I were saving for the baby we were sure we were going to have. I had begun purchasing toys and clothing (these were the items that pained me during KonMari ). We were also trying to live off one paycheck as best we could so that we would have a savings to purchase diapers, clothing, medication, etc.  Once we came to the decision as a couple that our way of life was really not working I sank into a depression. I was ashamed for what I saw as my failure. We told our parents who were hurt and thought:

  • if we just kept trying things would work out.
  • If we didn’t give in to fear we would be fine.
  • Our relationship was so great that children would only enhance it.

I was also eaten up with guilt as my parents are still very involved in the Church so all their friends have grandchildren. I had now robbed them of this joy in their golden years.

I was consumed by the thought, “How could we possibly have meaningful lives as individuals and as a couple if we didn’t have children?”

So how did I combat it? I overspent. What were we saving for if our future was in shambles?  It did come slowly as I stopped putting money into the child account and started buying fripperies but boy did it speed up when we started saying to each other, “We don’t have a child so we should be enjoying the lifestyle.”

We were hearing that we were selfish from lots of corners and do you know what selfish people do? They blow money on themselves! So yes, we’re going out every night we’re able. It was a way of telling ourselves that the life we were now faced with was better.

It’s not. It’s not better or worst, it’s just different. I say we but ML and I handled this heartbreak differently. I turned my rage inward, hating myself for not being able to do this basic thing that my body is designed for and having a mental illness, all the while spending money to prove to myself and others that we were fine.

That breakdown happened 4 years ago. I still struggle when my parents mention babies,  strangers tell me that I’m young and should get pregnant now,  friends suggest that our home is the perfect place to raise a child (yep it was bought and furnished with raising kids in mind), and well meaning folks tell me that having a child would complete our family.

There’s no tidy conclusion to this post. No words of wisdom or solace. It was about honesty as I was re-reading my blog and saw all the moments I hinted at this ‘dark secret’. It’s not the only reason we’re currently in debt but that emotional turmoil did play a huge role in our debt decline.