Change is good

Change is good

It’s time for a change—to my blog, that is.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
Photo credit: freeimages.com

I miss writing on a more regular basis and particularly miss writing for me. I’ve been in a bit of a funk and realized that changing up my blog was something that could help. But what should I write about? Does anyone care what I have to say? Do I need a theme?

I first began blogging in 2011 when I was returning to college full-time. Sharing my fears, successes, struggles and head scratching moments became an outlet for me in the midst of exams, papers, juggling the kids’ activities and juggling housework. Then I joined the world of working moms and not only did I feel like I didn’t “have time” to blog, I felt like I didn’t have anything new to add. I was just another mom trying to figure it all out. Most nights, the last thing I wanted to do was get on a computer after being at one all day.

Over the last year, though, I have felt a pull to figure out how to fit in writing more for me. I’ve also felt like my outlook on life is changing as I get older and I’ve realized that being in my forties isn’t this depressing time filled with failing vision and sprouting chin hairs. Well, my vision has changed and I do check my chin regularly just in case, but my forties have been pretty damn fabulous so far. I’m making changes to make my forties good, though. I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t care what people think and don’t care if I’m just another blogger out there. I have thoughts to share and I hope people read them. I hope people want to read about how I’m making these changes and why I feel so good these days.

I plan to post more and figure out a fresh new design for this site. I’ll be focusing on the fabulous, so I will kind of have a theme. There’s too much negativity out there and I’d rather focus on the positive. A Facebook page for the blog might eventually be coming and I’ll be using #focusingonthefabulous on Instagram and Twitter—join me in sharing the fab and share with your friends!

Looking ahead…..

Looking ahead…..

Instead of looking back on 2016, a year that was busy for our family and definitely had its ups and downs, I want to look ahead to how I can make my 2017 better. Sure, some things are out of my control. Life happens and we can’t control it all, as much as we’d like to.

I’ve been inspired by a Facebook friend who chooses a word each year instead of making resolutions. She’s shared her words for a few years and I decided it’s a more positive way to go. I struggled to pick a word because there are so many things I want to accomplish this year. After much thought, I decided on DISCOVER. I was also inspired by a recent TED talk I saw on how to gain control of your free time. The point that stuck out the most to me is that sometimes there is a difference between “I don’t have time” and “It’s not a priority.”

So this year, I want to make certain things a priority in my life. I want to DISCOVER new places. I want to DISCOVER new books. I want to DISCOVER new things. I want to DISCOVER new ways to take care of me.

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Last week, while contemplating the new year, I made a quick list on my phone of things I want to do in 2017:

  • More yoga, meditation and exercise
  • Watch less TV. Seriously, it’s a time suck and hindering me doing other things.
  • More reading. I’ll have time for this if I watch less TV. Duh.
  • More fun times with friends
  • More date nights with my husband. We do get out—it’s great having older kids who can stay home for a few hours so we can spontaneously grab dinner together—but we don’t make it a priority and don’t plan to do different things.
  • Visit more new places, both local and further away.
  • Teach my kids to cook.
  • Spend more time outdoors (in nicer weather—this New Englander hates the cold, even though I’ve dealt with it all my life).
  • Blog more.

These were the first things that came to mind. I want to make some changes, prioritize my time differently and DISCOVER things I haven’t prioritized before. Maybe it’s the fact that 2016 brought my 40th birthday with it, but it’s time to start thinking differently. And writing more, even if no one else ever reads this blog. 🙂

Happy 2017! What changes are you planning to make?

 

What I’ve Learned During My Blogging Hiatus

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve published a blog post. I miss writing for me and really hope I can get back to blogging, but let’s back up a bit and you’ll see why I haven’t written.

2016 has been a busy  year.

I changed jobs last December, my husband’s role at his company changed in January and he started to travel much more, one of our dogs hurt his knee and later had surgery, our other dog wasn’t doing well in the spring and we had to put him down in July (one of the hardest things I’ve ever done), we’ve been doing home improvements to the house…..and I’ve barely felt that I’ve been able to take a deep breath all year.

Most of the time, this doesn’t feel interesting enough to write about. It’s life, right? It’s what families with two working parents and two middle school and high schoolers deal with on a regular basis. (Side note: how the heck is it that I have a child who’s in high school?) It’s carpooling and figuring out how get the kids where they need to be, fitting in all the errands and grocery trips and being thankful that there’s this wonderful thing called Amazon Prime to make at least some things easier.

In the midst of all of this craziness, I’ve had a hard time feeling like I’ve got it all together. I live by my calendar and have felt like I’ve been going a million miles an hour all year. It’s not a way I want to live. I like having downtime and over the last few weeks I’ve started to find ways to try to get some into every day.

Enter yoga and meditation. 

I’ve been meditating with one of Andrew Johnson’s apps on my phone for more than a year. It helps me fall asleep. I was trying to go to yoga last spring at a local studio, but it got really hard to get there regularly. Between my kids’ schedules, the fact that the classes are across town and the fact that I don’t want to get home from yoga at almost 9 p.m., I stopped going. But I loved it and knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate a regular practice into my life. I discovered the Down Dog Yoga app after a Google search and I can do a 15-minute restorative practice before bed. It’s helped. I got an email about a sale so I could unlock all the member-only features, and the pricing was so good that I purchased the membership. I think I’ll like having it and will really be able to do more with it.

mindfulness-isnt-difficult-we-just-need-to-remember-to-do-it-sharon-salzbergI’ve also tried to practice mindfulness in hopes to be more focused and calmer. The Calm app has been on my phone for a while, but I’d only used it once. They offered a free trial of one of their most popular features last week and I had ten minutes at the end of a particularly busy day to try it and figured I had nothing to lose. I felt wonderful after I did it, so I’ve been trying to use the app after dinner if I can fit it in.

What I’ve learned through all of this is that I need strategies for me to ground me a bit and help me slow down. My favorite past time of going to get my nails done isn’t cutting it anymore, especially when I’m cramming an appointment into my lunch break. I need regular exercise, I need to breathe. I need to try to slow down when I can and mindfulness, whether through meditation or yoga, seems to help. And writing for me, something I haven’t taken the time to do in a long time, also feels good, so if you’ve made it this far in my attempted return to blogging, I thank you.

 

Yes, kids grow up too fast, but…..

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My Boston fans!

They can be a lot of fun when they are older.  My boys both have birthdays next month and my oldest will be 12 and my youngest will be 9.  I sometimes wonder where the time has gone, but they are at ages now that are fun.  They can joke, they are pretty self-sufficient (I haven’t wiped a bum in years) and they can enjoy things that my husband and I also enjoy—take, for instance, sports.

My kids are kind of obsessed with Boston sports.  It can be a great thing when a team is winning and it kind of stinks when they lose.  When my youngest cried when the Patriots lost the last Super Bowl in which they played, I was not happy.  But waking my kids up this morning to tell them that the Boston Bruins won last night after a big come back was awesome.  And it’s not just that they were happy that they won.  When my kids asked which team the Bruins will play in the next series and my husband told them, my oldest said, “That’s going to be tough for them” because they get it.  They understand the games a heck of a lot more than I do.  They can have conversations about the games with my husband and talk statistics and analysis.  I end up left out of these conversations because I really don’t understand this stuff at all, but that’s ok.

 

And it’s not just sports.  My youngest loves to talk about current events.  He loves to take in information and learn new things, so he loves to know what is going on in the world.  It’s amazing to listen to an 8-year-old’s perspective.

 

While it stinks to think of how quickly the years fly by, I love the young men my boys are becoming.  I love that they are taking life in and participating in it.  I love that they can team up with their dad and tease me.  I love listening to them have conversations with adults.  And my oldest might almost be as tall as I am, but both boys still make sure to give me a hug and a kiss before bed.  After all, they are still my boys.

 

Life doesn’t come with a GPS

Life requires figuring out the road ahead on your own, and there is often times internal “recalculating”.

You always need a back-up plan in life.  Things doesn’t always work out the way we expect them to work out.  Sometimes any bumps in the road are a result of our own choices, mistakes, whatever.  Other times, life is cruel and bad things happen to good people.

As a child, I always expected to finish high school and go to college, do well, get a good job ….you know the drill.  I never expected to not finish college right after high school.  I had no idea that the fairy-tale marriage I expected to have would end in my late husband’s death after the birth of our second child.  But I got through it because I quickly learned to trudge on through life.  I learned that we need to make the most of whatever is thrown our way in life, no matter what causes these bumps in the road.

I figured out a while ago that if I wanted to change certain things, I had to make the changes myself.  Instead of being disappointed in myself for not finishing school, I had to make finishing school a priority and not look back.  Sometimes not looking back is easier said than done, though.  I get that.

Other times, life is cruel and we are forced to figure out the next step, usually a step we never in a million years thought we’d be taking.  How we handle these steps says a lot about our inner spirit and teaches us a lot about ourselves.  I never thought I’d be able to handle what I went through.  So when I look at my schedule right now, one filled with multiple due dates for multiple major assignments, I cringe (and sometimes want to cry) and realize if I take it one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time, I can get through the remainder of this tough semester.

What prompted this post is the fact that a good friend of mine lost her husband last week. This friend is someone who was a huge help to me when I was widowed.  Her husband had been sick for almost 4 years and she’s been through a lot in that time.  She’s handled what life has thrown at her with a sense of grace that most of us will never possess.  She was thrown a monkey wrench in life like I was, and she will get through it because she’s strong.

I didn’t know I was strong.  I never believed that I’d get through what I went through.  I also never expected to not finish school when I was younger.  I honestly didn’t expect a lot of events of my younger days to happen, but as I have gotten older, I’ve learned that it’s important to be prepared as best we can for life’s unexpected events.

Life is constantly “recalculating”.