Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Don't Feel Bad

Well I survived Christmas, in case you were wondering… Earlier this week I made that comment to an acquaintance and got this response “If you feel relieved when it’s over, you’re doing it wrong”. (We’re still talking about Christmas, right?) While that sounds like it should be true, I don’t agree. I just spent the last six weeks trying to figure out what would make my loved ones happiest. I made lists (checked them more than twice), asked sneaky questions, bought gifts, hid gifts, wrapped gifts, wrote cards, etc all in an effort to show the people who are special to me just how much I care about them. It’s fun, rewarding and exhausting. When the last gifts were unwrapped on Christmas morning, I secretly let out a huge exhale of “ohthankgoodnessit’sover”. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and I think it’s totally okay because it shows I’ve put a lot of thought and emotion into the efforts I made for my loved ones and isn’t that a big part of what this whole thing is about?
            And so with Christmas behind me and only three days remaining in 2011, I am now focusing my energy on determining what my New Year’s resolutions will be. When I was in my early 20’s, I made long lists of resolutions each year, vowing to perform all sorts of miraculous change but I usually got frustrated and gave up by February. Now I always make at least one and I’ve found that the fewer there are, the more likely I am to remember and follow through. It's important to me to make resolutions because it helps me set a tone for the new year and have something to strive for and look forward to. It also helps to remind me that all things do pass and I always have the ability to change. My only resolution for 2011 was to be less reactive and I’ve made a lot of progress but I think it will be an ongoing journey for me.
            I still haven’t decided exactly what my 2012 resolutions will be but I know that I’m unhappy with how much clutter there is in my house and with the way I talk/feel about people who I find frustrating. I need to take the next few days to reflect on these issues and decide what kind of change I want to make and how to go about doing it. I’m excited to have this blog as a tool for stating my goals and holding myself accountable. I’m also hoping to hear from my friends/readers about any resolutions and progress.
            So here’s to a few days of reflection on an eventful year that’s coming to a close and an exciting new one that’s about to begin!

Monday, December 19, 2011

FaceBook Vs Reality

           Last week I deleted two of my FaceBook friends. That was a big deal for me. I don’t do it very often, mostly because I don’t accept someone that I don’t actually know or remember. These two gals had histories of making comments I didn’t approve of, one was political and the other personal. That might sound petty and in fact one of them sent me a private message telling me that deleting her was immature, but it made me wonder why is it considered immature and what is an acceptable  alternative?
            I’ve been giving this some thought for months now as I’ve pondered these women’s comments, along with those of my other FaceBook friends. I can’t think of any other social setting where someone stands up in front of all of their friends/family/acquaintances and randomly says something like “Anyone who voted for Obama is an f-ing idiot”. Sure, you might say that to people whom you know share your views but probably not to a group including many people who likely did vote for him (Because he’s the president, which means he received the majority of the vote. Maybe some people don’t understand that). In day to day life, if someone said the things they post on FaceBook there would be repercussions, the greatest being people would not continue to listen to the rantings if they didn’t agree with them.
            I really believe that FaceBook is changing our social norms to a certain extent. The person I deleted was upset by it but honestly we’re not really friends. This is someone I went to middle school with and can’t remember interacting with past 8th grade, not to mention the fact that I moved away from that school after our sophomore year of high school. I can’t tell you anything about her other than her name and of course her political opinions. This is not someone I would interact with in my day to day life. If I did and she said the things to me that she posts on FaceBook, I would choose not to interact with her anymore, which is the same as deleting her. That’s just what you do. I don’t understand what an acceptable alternative would be. Sure, I could argue with her or ignore her but neither one of them seem productive to me.
            I’m not saying I won’t remain FaceBook friends with someone who has different opinions than I do. Just like in real life I have plenty of actual friends with varying views on life. I don’t mind that at all and I appreciate being able to have legitimate discussions about valid issues. And it's not just political issues that bother me. What I don’t care for is being called names or being angered by someone who obviously doesn’t know or care about the opinions or feelings of their audience. Likewise to the “friend”who makes mean comments about my photos or posts. I wouldn’t tolerate that to my face and I’m not going to put up with it on my FaceBook. What I'd like to see is an "acceptable" way to unfriend people. Maybe a little message that goes out that says "Perhaps you need to re-evaluate the way you act and/or treat people". Or maybe I need to figure out a way to nicely say that in real life too...

Friday, December 9, 2011

What are we looking for?

Tis the season for holiday get togethers. As I've stated before, I'm not exactly a "Christmas person". I enjoy many parts of Christmas, I enjoy the lights and decorations, I like giving and receiving gifts and I actually really like seeing Santas. One thing I don't like about Christmas time is the obligatory nature of it. ("How can you not love Christmas?!" everyone gasps) Not only are you expected to participate in holiday festivities, but it's understood that you want to and you love it. Everyone is so excited for the annual Christmas party. I think it's fine. I enjoy the good food and drinks and visiting with people I don't see very often. However I think I'm the only person who looks at it as several hours of torture delivered by pantyhose and high heels. If I could wear jeans and boots, I'd be much more excited.

Similarly, I'm looking forward to going out to cut down our Christmas tree this weekend but I'm not so excited about having an actual pine tree from the forest in my livingroom for the next three weeks. I'm really just terrified to see what my youngest cat will do to it. It's funny how a lot of things in life are like this; we love them and anticipate them but there's always a part that we dread. I've noticed this expecially with the seasons. All winter long we look forward to summer and then it's too hot so we look forward to fall. We haven't gotten much snowfall yet this year and I hear a lot of people complaining about it, until we get 20 inches and then that'll be too much.

Perhaps it's our nature as humans (or maybe just as Americans) to always be looking for that greener pasture. I know it's something I catch myself doing and try to discourage. So when I'm feeling overwhelmed by gift shopping or stressed about what to wear to the Christmas party, I try to remind myself how fortunate I am to have these "troubles". And there's no sense in looking for a greener pasture because it'll be snow covered til May!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just Look Forward

           I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing lately, in an attempt to be more organized.  Over the weekend,  I came across my old journals stashed away in a box. There are seven notebooks spanning the last 10 years of my life. I have kept these journals with me though all my moves and I’ve treasured them, but I have never ever read them after writing them.  I’ve never had any interest in rehashing my previous experiences and emotions. Last night I thumbed through a few of them, just checking to see how old they were. Of course I couldn’t help but skim a few passages. It was amazing to me how quickly I became emotional. What surprised me the most was that overwhelmingly I wrote about struggling with my anxiety, which is something I still deal with today.  I paged through a couple of them, then put the books away and moved on to the next box of stuff to sort through. Several minutes later, I found myself thinking “So 10 years ago I was feeling anxious and disorganized and wanting to work out more. …How is that different from now?” and I felt really bad.
            I know we all struggle with not being where we thought we’d be at any given point in life. If you had told me 10 years ago that at age 33 I’d be divorced and living in Montana, I would have argued with you like crazy. But I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and I know that everything I’ve experienced has led me to where and who I am today. Do I wish I had done some things differently? Of course! But I didn’t and there’s nothing I can do about that now. I have to remind myself of that on a regular basis.
            I am sure that if I read through more of my journals (which I have no intention of doing) I would see how different I am now and much I’ve grown. Honestly, I don’t know what the 23 year old me was expecting the 33 year old me to be like and I can’t even begin to imagine what life will bring in the next 10 years. What I do know is that I’m closer to my family than I was 10 years ago (physically and emotionally), I have a lot of fantastic people in my life who treat me well and love me,  I’ve learned a lot of cool things like how to ski and garden and shoot a gun, and I’ve raised some very wonderful pets who have improved my quality of life greatly. Sure, I guess I wish I made more money or drove a nicer car or traveled more…but would those things really make my life better? Probably not.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Nascar Santa taught me.

Earlier this week I was walking my dog in my neighborhood and I came across this

My first thought was just "What the H is that?!". The wind was blowing and this thing was hopping around a little bit. Even the dog was startled. My next thought was that I needed to take a photo to post on my FaceBook because it was ridiculously funny. I snapped my photo and kept walking but then it occurred to me that making fun of this thing seemed contrary to my recent efforts to keep my thoughts and intentions positive. I realized that this decoration probably brought someone a lot of joy. So then I wondered what brings me that much joy and would I ever put it in my front yard and expect my neighbors to look at it for six weeks? The best thing I could come up with is that I really love elephants, but I still wouldn't put an inflatable Santa riding an elephant in my yard.

It got me thinking about the things that make me happy on a daily basis. I know it's cliche, but it's definitely the little things in life that often bring us the most joy. I love wearing funny patterned socks, having silly ringtones on my phone and buying my dog silly toys. They're definitely minor things but there are days that looking down at my rooster socks, or seeing my dog carrying around a giant stuffed corn cob perks up my day and makes me smile. So the next time you see something that makes you wonder "Why the heck would anyone do that?", the answer is probably for joy.