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Monday, November 28, 2011

Clean Up, Purge, End of the Year Feeling

So, there was quite a mess to clean up after the recent holidays.  I spent today vacuuming, dusting, mopping, doing laundry, organizing, stripping (the bed), sweating, and hurting.  I didn't even make a dent.  There is still so much I can do and want to do but my body said, "Nooooo..."

It's funny but when I was a young mother of young children and staying at home I had so much energy.  Every day I paid special attention to make sure chores were done.  Bathrooms were cleaned once a week.  Laundry was done twice a week.  Linens were changed more frequently.  Things just seemed a little brighter.  Now that I am an older stay-at-home mom with older children I just can't do as much.  My enthusiasm is lackluster and my energy is easily depleted.  I am at the point (as evidenced by the blog post) to resort to announcing all my accomplishments for the day just to give myself a pat on the back and justification for putting my body through this torture.

Okay, so now that I got that off my chest...I must divulge this strange feeling that I get at this time of the year.  It is difficult to explain but I will try my best.  I envision the monthly calendar as a clock.  Visualize, if you can, that January would be 12:00, the symbol of a new beginning.  February would be 1:00, and so on.  Every year as we approach December I get this feeling within the pit of my stomach that time is running out and I am at the end of a cycle.  I think about all of the resolutions or goals that I set at the beginning of the year and whether or not I've achieved them.  I think about all of the things that occurred during the year and if they are open-ended how to resolve them, quickly.

On the bright side, and more importantly, I see past the darkness of the closing of one year and look toward the shining light and blossoming opportunity of a new, fresh year.  A year that is unscathed and virginal.  A year that holds promise for opportunities to jump over hurdles, cross the finish line, and fulfill my dreams.  A new year signifies a new beginning for me.  It offers hope and a second chance.  It is a step in the light of positivity.

So, for the next couple of weeks while I wallow in the shades of darkness and December, closing the chapter on another year of some successes and some failures, I'm able to overcome the challenges and see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I will give myself another shot.  Another mulligan.  An act of redemption at the prospect of rebirth.  I will fulfill my December duties to the best of my ability so that I may enter the new year with a new attitude and positive perspective.

December is a time to revisit the events of the past year.  It is a time to do the accounting of receipts, obligations, and compensation in preparation for paying the piper on April 15th.   I can selfishly become introspective as I evaluate my progression as a human being.  I take the time to envision what will make me happy and content.  I see my surroundings in a critical light and note changes that would benefit the energy of our family.  Call it a feng shui inventory of sorts.  Most importantly, I invest the time in myself.  I try to figure out the formula for what will give me inner peace and joy.

When I solve the equation, I'll let you know.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Don't Like Holidays

Something about holidays, most things about holidays, I don't like.  When it comes down to it, it all seems so fake. It's bad enough that you have the Hallmark holidays like Mother's Day and Father's Day where the main beneficiary is business and commerce.

We just got bullied by the food and grocery stores who, with at least a month of preparation and media-hype before the big day, took advantage of our emotional baggage and family obligations and 'made' us spend way too much and eat like gluttons on Thanksgiving.

Now we are less than one month from the mother of all holidays, Christmas.  This year I am staging a mini-revolt.  I am not going to piss away $40 on a Christmas tree.  In fact, I will not put one up this year.  I did not venture to the stores and malls on Black Friday.  And, in the end, I will put a cap on the spending per person in my immediate family; about $30 per person.  This will include a $25 gift card to Target and maybe some cologne or shower gel from AVON.  Very cheap.  Very practical.  The reality is...WE DON'T NEED ANYTHING!  And, besides, we don't have the money to be throwing here and there on nonsense.  Luckily the boys are old enough where they pretty much have every thing they need and are content with what the holiday will consist of.  I already gave them fair warning.

I've never been one to go all out with the holiday decorating.  I can't understand the folks who spend the day after Thanksgiving adorning their homes with lights and picking up their Christmas tree.  Seems as bit extravagant and useless to me.  Now, I'm not entirely a Scrooge.  I will admire the pretty lights when I drive around town during this time of year.  But, I never understood those people who have the manger, lights on the house and every tree in the front yard, and an inflatable snowman, Santa, and Rudolph taking up space on their lawn.  A bit of overkill if you ask me.

While I was growing up, we did have lights on our house and maybe on one of the evergreen trees in our front yard.  We would always have a fresh wreath with a plump red bow hanging on the front door.  I can remember most Christmases with a fresh tree.  We would hang the lights, put on the decorations, and either finish the tree off with some tinsel or spray it with fake snow.  Most times the decorating went off without a hitch but as we got older it was more of a chore and a dreaded event as our family grew more depressed and further apart.

I think I've done okay as a parent in making holidays positive but I never went overboard.  And, maybe I feel a little guilty about this.  But, again, the whole exercise seems fake to me and I'm just not about fake.  I want my kids to have enough of a positive outlook on the holidays so they can share and make their own traditions with their families when the time comes.  I realize that I am falling short on making the holidays 'spectacular'.  It is so hard for me to get in the mood to celebrate.  But, it doesn't mean I love my family any less.

The bottom line is the message that we are trying to get through to each other at the holidays:  love and family.  It's not about presents or cards or how much money we spend (or don't spend).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Releasing the Bug

I should be sleeping right now.  But I am not.

The husband got up early today (5:15 a.m.) to get the kid ready for school.  I should be sleeping in when it's his turn, but here I sit in front of the computer.  Even with a migraine (I took Excedrin) and no tea or vittles I still feel compelled to expunge what has been weighing on my mind for the past week.  You see, it is in my best interest to do this.

It has been a week since NANOWRIMO began and I started my challenge.  I completed two chapters of my novel so far.  But, then I stopped.  I haven't been able to write since last Thursday.  You see, I made a mistake. A huge mistake.

On the evening of day one when I finished my first chapter I was so excited to share it with the people close to me.  The folks I love and trust.  I shared it with my son, as I usually share my writing accomplishments.  His reaction was genuine and filled with encouragement.  I then chose to show it to my other biggest supporter, my mother.  But, before I did that I showed it to my Aunt; big mistake.

My Aunt had been visiting for a couple of weeks and she was there, in the same room.  I should have went with my first instinct and waited until she left town.  (By the way, I totally dislike 'should haves').  But, I was so proud of myself that I actually sat down and began writing and taking my participation in NANWRIMO seriously this year.  Here comes another should have...I should have realized that based on my Aunt's reaction (or lack thereof) to all my previously composed essays and poems that sharing this important, pivotal piece may leave me unsatisfied (again).  I learned a hard lesson, never ignore your instinct, damn it!

During my Aunt's visit I thought it would be a great idea to catch her up on all my blog posts and what I've been going through and feeling the past year or more.  I feel like my writing has been a therapeutic vehicle for me and helped me release the negativity of my past and propelled me to move on and concentrate on the positive in my life.  I thought my Aunt would get a better understanding (and appreciation) for why I am the way I am and almost forgive me for my shortcomings.  Way too much to expect I finally realize.

After keeping my blue binder of writings for a couple of days and while handing it back to me the most she said was, "I liked your piece on Pepa."  That was it.  Not, "Hey, you're a pretty good writer" (I would have settled for even that); not even "Now I understand you a little better".  Just nothing. No feedback good or bad.  I would even have settled for 'bad' feedback.  Just something, damn it.  But, all I got was nothing.  I came to realize that my Aunt is a lousy communicator.  She will never tell you how she really feels.  She will never tell you what she thinks.  Instead, she'll just make a comment on the weather.  Neutral and safe.

After day one I was really excited about my progress.  I had actually spent time exploring the depths of my soul and divulging my childhood experiences.  I was proud at how well I captured a pivotal point in my life.  I wanted to share it with the people I love.  I decided to give her a second chance.  To see if maybe this piece of writing would trigger some emotion.  To see if it would warrant a measurable comment.  The only thing I got was, "Why are you writing about dead people?!"  Are you kidding me?  She just doesn't get it.  At that point I realized my Aunt is not worthy of sharing my work.  I will not get the support I need.  There is no encouragement to be found in that lot.  That lot is vacant.  Such a huge disappointment!

The next day I emailed my mother to explain my frustration with the response I received the previous evening.  Luckily for me, she explained her reaction and made me feel that the fact that I hit a nerve with my mother and captured the details accurately was incentive enough for me to proceed.  Wisely, she offered that I should forget involving my Aunt in my initial audience of first-draft critics.  This was enough salve on my wound to move on and on day two I was able to produce chapter two.

But, as in most things that bother me, my Aunt's reaction (or lack thereof) festered in my brain for the next couple of days until this morning.  This morning I realized that in order for me to get back to the task at hand (participating in NANWRIMO) I must purge my disappointment and sadness about my unfulfilled expectations about my Aunt.  I think I just hit the tip of the iceberg but I've chipped away at it enough for me to begin chapter three.  No doubt, there will be more blog posts about my Aunt in the future.  I just don't see how I can justify the time spent on her right now when I have better things to do, like write. 

If I am not worthy of constructive criticism then she is not worthy of me putting my dreams on hold and pouting about how disappointed I am.  I must get over it and move on.  Forget her.

Things I have learned from this recent experience:

1.  You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
2.  The only opinion that matters is your own.
3.  Having expectations sometimes lead to disappointment.
4.  Don't ask unless you are willing to hear the truth.
5.  Unconditional love comes from those closest to you.
6.  Your most trusted and honest critic is yourself.
7.  Don't ignore your intuition; it is usually correct.
8.  Family can be disappointing.
9.  Not everyone will be your cheerleader.
10.In the end, the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.

Now that I have purged my system of what has been bugging me I am free to continue my journey.

And, I shall wish myself, "Good Luck!"