In With the New

I have really struggled this year, reflecting upon the past year and setting goals for this new one. No lie, this last year has been a tough one for me. I was all brave-like and heroic, espousing upon the positivity I found even in the time of a pandemic. And then, in April, not only did I crash and burn, I did so in epic proportion. It was a full-time job (on top of a full-time job) to maintain my physical and mental health. Now, those of you who suffer anxiety and depression like I do know that no amount of telling yourself “consider yourself lucky, other people are experiencing huge financial issues and death of loved ones or sickness themselves” made me feel better, in fact, telling myself this only made me feel guilty for feeling sorry for myself (yay for “Good Catholic Guilt” and honestly as I write this it sounds like I’m complaining which makes me feel guilty about complaining. Yesh).

Anywho, I’m better! Yay! But I’m fully aware that “better” ebbs and flows. 

That being said, I’ve rephrased “New Years Resolutions” to “Things I’m going to Work On,” and I thought I’d share them with you. 

There is only 2 this year:

1. Train and complete another ½ marathon in October.

2 . Reframe my thoughts and the things I say towards the positive. 

Does the second one seem silly, “Pie in the Sky” and a regurgitation of every wellness book on gratitude published over the last decade? Maybe so, but I’ve been practicing. And it’s been working. I feel better. I smile more. I hope I can keep it up. 

What “Things I’m Going to Work On” is on your list?

Have the happiest of Happy New Year! 

Purging in Purgatory

You know that place you sometimes go where you feel all itchy and unsettled inside. Like you don’t know if you should go out and run a mile

or just sit down on the floor in a puddle and try to cry?

You’re feeling something but you can’t quite name it? You’re not happy, you’re not sad, but somewhere in between and it’s definitely not content. You’re just feeling displaced and well,

feeling as though you’re visiting purgatory.

I visit the purgatory, in no way under my own volition, whenever get a little stressed or feel slightly out of control. And when I’m here, I feel the need to clean my house. To be the mistress of my domain. Participate in something, even if it’s something as insignificant as washing my kitchen floor, and feel as though I’ve facilitated change.

Accomplished something tangible.

Completed a task.

Success I can see.

When I linger in this purgatorial emotional space for a bit longer than usual, I start purging. But unlike Dante’s purgatory where time is spent purging sin, I purge articles and objects I’ve accumulated. I toss out plants that annoy me for needing more than water to survive. I pack up and donate clothing to the Salvation army (in one purging zeal, when I concluded that I had far too many black boots, I threw out several pairs, unintentionally including an expensive pair I had bought a month before…Now I’m a more discerning purger).

I will determine who, er I mean what will stay and what will stay within the walls of my sanctuary and what will go.

Today, frighteningly enough, I even tippy-toed my fingers through my three bookcases in an attempt to weed my library (almost two-hundred volumes) settling on only two that I could part with. So I must not be too far past the threshold of purgatory to feel compelled to part with my beloved books.

Fortunately (unfortunately?) I don’t visit this “purgatory” very often. At least not often enough to keep on top of a collection of shoes and magazines and club soda cans that accumulate at a rapid rate in my home.

But when I do, the mindless organizing

and tossing

and cleaning

takes my mind off the unsettledness inside and as an end result I have a spotless abode free of some clutter,

and a mind blessedly free of a bit of clutter as well

if only for a little while.

Contemplating Plato

“The life which is not examined is not worth living” – Plato

Plato has a point.

But examining your life can be a difficult thing. I know it is for me.

Self-examination, of the physical sense is especially traumatizing. I’ve found a grey hair. Ok I’ve found a multitude of grey hairs. And a couple of hairs in my eyebrows are doing some REALLY “interesting” things. Once in awhile, all of a sudden one hair will flip up, and I’ll catch a glimpse of myself looking something like my dad, or my Uncle Johnny. Also, I chipped my front tooth and didn’t realize it until one little grade four student I’m working with pointed it out to me. So I’ve been going around, living life unaware of a renegade LONG eyebrow hair that bizarrely springs outward and up, and a chipped tooth.

Oh, and a pimple.

On my chin.

That I will name if it sticks around longer than the three day’s it’s already been with me.

Note to self; check self out in the mirror a little more closely in the morning before leaving the house.

Now, if you can emotionally get through the physical examination, life is indeed worth living.

However, a mental examination of self is slightly more difficult.

Especially if you’re slightly neurotic

like me.

I can mull and stew and over think a minute scenario, a casual interaction, and a miniscule glance for hours and evenings and days. And 100% of the time I’ve over-reacted. I’m learning not to do this as much. Telling myself that worry is a useless emotion. This self talk helps. I’m a master worrier. Experts have told me so. Not that I take pride in the fact, but just knowing that this is indeed part of who I am makes it less scary. I own this trait. I’m beginning to control it and shape it and chip it away.

Doing so has definitely made life worth living.

Examining the goodness specific to my life is also worthwhile. I have the best of families. Loving and devoted parents, sisters who are the best of friends, nieces I love more than life itself and brother-in-laws that are supportive and have adopted me as a sister of their own (or so it seems to me). I am a teacher. I have taught the most amazing people. People who will indeed make the world a better place not just for the cliché of “being in it” but because they are students of CHANGE. They are smart and sensitive and innovative. It is comforting to know how wonderful our future leaders will be. Over all the years they have proven to be GOOD people who will do GOOD in the world. Simply and succinctly.

In examining all of these people in my life, they indeed make life worth living.

Little accessible things in life, that on the surface appear insignificant, but in reality absolutely contribute to a life worth living: the smell and taste of fresh coffee in the morning (bonus for the Baileys). Saturday’s Globe and Mail. A good, NEW, screams to be read, latest novel from my favourite writer. A DVD box set release of my favourite show. Fresh flowers. A glass of an amazing Cabernet Sauvignon. Belly laughs.

And to en-capture and embrace all of this worthiness , I live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I fall asleep to blazing red sunsets and wake up to the sound of chickadees. I can witness the northern lights and an intimidating lightning storm over the course of the same evening. I live a year with four distinct seasons. Spring is quintessentially spring with pussywillows and the hatching of mallard eggs. Summer has the smell of cut lawns and the greenery of trees and the swell of mosquitoes. Fall, glorious colours, the haunting cry of geese flying south and the emergence of deer and moose (sometime bear) out of the bush. And winter. Snow. Sub zero temperatures. Hoar Frost. All coming together in Christmas card charm.

Definitely a wonderful setting for the gradual unveiling of my life.

A life worth living.