Regrets? Not a one.

New Year 31

2012 Resolutions:

I must change.

I must remove all the excess. 

I must get rid of all the clutter.

I must eat healthier food.

I must exercise.

I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.

I must watch less TV.

I must be more active in my own life.  

Well, we are in the last few hours of 2012 and like millions of others, I feel a little tug to pause for reflection on the year that has been. I am not making any resolutions this new year, having decided that I am about as good as I am going to get (and hey, as a goddess, that is pretty damn good!)

At the turn of 2011 to 2012 I made the  resolutions listed above. How did I go? I blitzed it; of course not!

Well, I changed. Who doesn’t as they live through another year, notch up another year on the birthday totem? We also started a new life, a country life; and I gained permanent employment in a role that I always desired, but took the long route to achieve. Happiness off the scale has been my reward.

Excess? Well, it was a slow walk to a crashing crescendo on that one. Budget cutbacks achieved some trimming. Moving achieved even more (do I pack the shit, or do I toss the shit? After packing about a gazillion boxes that question becomes way easier.) The final cut to excess was achieved through a mind shift that minimalism brought me more joy and far less stress.

Yes, indeed moving got the toss out regime into high gear, and we managed to downsize to a smaller house, but it is still obvious that I need to cull more than a little bit more. It will happen, the die is cast. It has become a mindset and a need, and so clutter has been controlled as well.

Food? Well, I would have classed that a big fat F for failure until the last few weeks when I think I finally got the light bulb moment. After yet one more bout of diverticulitis, and a pretty severe one, I have really looked at my diet. I have suffered from diverticulitis for over fifteen years now, and I do not believe that my diet really plays a large part in my chronic condition, though I avoid certain things as a precaution; anyone who has suffered the pain of an attack would do the same.

For months I have been trying to cut back on sugar in my diet. Yes, I of the chocolate and jelly baby eating sweet tooth. As my children joke, “Mum thinks lollies are a food group!” I eliminated sugar from my one coffee a day at work – woohoo! To cut a long food saga short, in the last weeks of 2012 I just didn’t want to feel second rate anymore, I want to have more energy and so I really working on what I eat; and when it is something not so good, at least the portion size. So, maybe not an F, but more of a D+.

Reading, well the professional reading went up off the scale; so much to learn. I started a professional Scoop.It to curate the information and to share it with colleagues. Along the line I joined a bookclub that has forced me to read things out of my usual comfort genre (biography and memoir), but I didn’t cut out the television watching as much as I planned. Heck, there was that ongoing sideshow called the US Presidential Election and I just couldn’t drag myself away. Then to have it followed by the Fiscal Cliff, what a gift for a comedy lover!

Exercise came with the move to the country, where just walking to the mailbox is more than I used to walk in a week living in the city! Exercise also came with the arrival of a puppy named Augie Dog, who loves to play, well he loves to play all the time, and any game! He also lowered our stress to levels not experienced in years

And the last resolution; to be more active in my life? I am, I know I am. I am grateful for and I appreciate everyone in my life, and everything I have. My blessings are many and I try to embrace each moment. I even try to be nice, even though it goes against my natural inclinations, for I find nice exhausting; but I do try.

Life is rarely what we hope or wish, but all we can do is our best and try to be resilient. I have tried to ride the roller coaster and yet set my own path at the same time. Win some, lose some, for sure, but I try to stay true to myself, and try to stop others setting my life agenda. Life? I am in it.

happy drink

I’m a lost cause, go on without me. Save yourselves!

golden retriever medium

This is not Augie, I was too busy having an out of body experience to take his photo as well. Augie is, naturally, more handsome than this poor substitute.

I think this country living is having unexpected effects upon me. I have broken out in random niceness, and worse still I have, gawd I can’t believe I am writing this, but I fear I have become A DOG PERSON.

This morning, I was making toast for breakfast when I looked into Augie’s big brown sad eyes (do all golden retriever dogs have long sad faces or is it just our dog?) and popped another piece of bread into the toaster for him.

I also spread it with cholesterol lowering margarine.

And cut it into four neat squares before giving it to Augie.

DOG puppy-line

Now bring us some figgy pudding

dinner table

We are tumbling to the end of the year aren’t we? Today, we got to spend time with my niece and her family. It was a truly delightful day. Her three children are so warm, open, and so huggable.

Sister brought Mother Flamingo Dancer and we had the same struggles, but it was nice to see three generations of the family together for a few hours.  We had a sausage sizzle lunch with bratwurst sausages, potato salad and a couscous salad with beans,sweet potato and pumpkin (yum, even if I do say so myself!) and more delicious desserts until we all collapsed on the couches and stroked our full bellies. Gluttonous to the end!

Just as well the festive season is coming to an end, otherwise I know I will need to let my belt out a little, okay, a lot. What is it about Christmas that makes us consume so much? No matter how full our tummies it seems that if someone walks by offering any edible item we reach out for another treat, until we are beyond the point of comfort.

Tomorrow I will think about some exercise. Think about it, not do it. Some things in life shouldn’t be rushed…

silk purses and sow’s ears

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

Every day I wake up, stand at the bedroom window and look at the garden, the trees, and the hills beyond and feel so refreshed and optimistic. There is something about returning to one’s roots, in my case the country, and being close to nature that infuses the spirit with peace and serenity.

There is this little bubble of joy inside of me that I am not sure I have ever experienced before in my life. As Daughter1 commented on Christmas Day, “It is as though you all [Mr FD, Son and I] exhaled when you moved here.” She added that she had never realised how much we must have all hated living in the city until she saw how happy we are now. “It is though you all inhaled and held on tight all those years [10 years] and now you are breathing again”.

All the years of remaking myself – redundancy in 2008, retraining to become a teacher, starting a new career in education in 2009, searching for a full time permanent job until 2012, has been an adventure for sure. It has also been stressful and often uncertain, but the journey has brought me here and for that I can only be grateful. As I often write, we can’t help what happens to us, but we can help how we deal with it, and I like to think that I have tried to make the most of what has come my way.

So, in 2013 I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. After decades of trying to perfect myself, I think I know that I am about as perfect as I am going to get. I am what I am, and time to enjoy what I have and not waste precious time and energy. After all there is only one of me, and that is enough for the world, and me!

New Year No-resolutions (1)

life, love and everything

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It’s all a little bit over, isn’t it? Christmas, I mean. It hurled through the week like a train rattling down the line, and shot through faster than an express. I guess it always does.

Not that I am complaining, as we all know my capacity for niceness is severely limited and I can only be trusted in a social setting for a certain amount of time before I need to go and lie down somewhere quietly by myself.

We did have a lovely Christmas day. Mother Flamingo Dancer managed to stay with us until mid afternoon, when it was obvious that she was tired and needed to return to her care facility. She was fairly coherent in the morning, but once lunch arrived she started to hallucinate a little. I was sitting with her after lunch when she reached her hand out to me and asked me to help her “shut it”. Obviously she imagined that she was holding something, and kept asking me to help her close it, so I stroked her finger a couple times and told her it was now closed and she seemed happy with that. Later she held out her empty hand and asked me to give something to my sister, so I just pretended to take whatever it was from her hand, and reached over and handed it to my sister, who didn’t bat an eyelid as she continued her conversation. It all felt a little like when you play tea parties with little ones and drink imaginary tea and cakes.

There are funny moments though. Mum has developed two distinct behaviours. She either wants to give away things, or to take things. She developed a great liking to a little pair of Santa salt and pepper shakers that Daughter2 had found for me in Holland. On several occasions as we ate lunch she turned to my sister and instructed her to make sure she took them before she left. “I’ll take those when we go.”

Later she was picking at her blouse, trying to get the buttons off. She wanted to give them away. I said “But Mum, everyone will see your underwear!”

“That’s all right” said my once very prim mother.

“What if you’re not wearing your best underwear?” I joked in reply.

“No matter,” she returned, quite unconcerned.

Most times Mum appears to know me, but some times she asks for “the other one” and that means me. I guess my sister is the main support and I am the back up, the other one.

We are going to try one more Grandma Flamingo Dancer outing to our house on Saturday, when my niece, and her young family will join us for a late Christmas celebration. Mum adores the little people, so I hope she can find some enjoyment in the day. After this I think her visits will be limited as we have a great deal of difficulty getting Mum out of the car, and also to use the bathroom; so we will make the most of her time while we can.

Having two parents suffer from dementia, in two entirely different ways, does make me wonder what the future will hold for my siblings and I. It also makes me realise just how important living in the moment, and appreciating what I have, is.

AE-LiveInTheMoment

All Mum has now is the moment, and all we can do for her is make sure she feels our love and to preserve her dignity. Never does she ask about any of the contents of her house, and she no longer asks about her house. The care facility is now her house to her. The “stuff” that she hoarded and thought so important, the “good things” she kept unused for some special occasion are all now meaningless. It is a life lesson, well and truly. “Stuff” means nothing in life; love and family are everything. Everything.

a slow realisation that my role description doesn’t include providing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Christmas red 1

I love Christmas, I really do, but I find the constant demands for me to be nice and considerate so damn exhausting. 2012 has been an exhausting year anyway, what with starting at yet another new school as a teacher librarian (thankfully this is now a permanent gig and I no longer have to be new teacher in the staffroom) my Mum needing to go into care, Daughter2 moving to the other side of the country, and let us not forget (and who could anyway) selling out city house (and the Buyers from Hell) and moving to The Village and a starting a country life.

I really wanted this Christmas, our first in the Flamingo Dancer Nest on the Hill, to be a happy and memorable time, but it started to stress me out. The thing that tipped me over the edge was my gift wrapping struggles with a pair of scissors that were blunter than a round rock and a roll of sticky tape that made me realise that should the day ever arrive where I needed to tape plastic over all windows and doors to keep the poison gas out, I would have no hope of finding the end of the tape roll and so may as well just throw open the windows and doors and breath deep. I have never held up any hope of sharp paper folds on my gift packages anyway, but as I gnawed my way through the sticky tape it dawned on me that I didn’t have to create the perfect Christmas for everyone. I probably couldn’t no matter how I wore myself out.

No, it is not my role to gift everyone in my life, and especially those gathered around my table. the perfect Christmas; that was the job of each and every person present. We make our own Christmas good or not so good, okay, good or bad. We each have a role to play, and it is not up to any one individual,  to “make” Christmas for another. As a mother it has taken a very long time for me to reach that realisation, but better late than never, I have.

And you know what? I think this was one of the best Christmases I have ever experienced! I relaxed, threw away the quest for perfection and went with the flow. It was wonderful, and I think, that from the comments made by others, that they felt that way too. No more guilt, no more anxiety, and a whole lot more fun.

Be kind to yourself by giving yourself permission to fail, and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams. It also makes being nice a little less burdensome!