Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Boring Blog About New Beginnings... Kind Of

I have been planning for weeks, a end of the year blog about starting fresh and new and about all of the things I have learned this past year.  I was going to write about the fact that tomorrow is the first day of the new year as well as a new moon.  A fresh start for everyone and everything.  Then I woke up at 5:30 this morning and started over thinking things, the way that I do, and decided to scrap that idea.

I feel like any day can be a new start.  I understand that starting at the beginning is a good idea.  But what about the middle?  Or three quarters of the way through?  I think that the most important lesson I learned in 2013 is that you can start new at any time.  You don't have to wait for something significant to happen. You don't have to wait for a certain date.  Your "new year" can start any day that you want it to.

Don't wait to change your life. You can change it any day you want.  Even right smack dab in the middle.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Don't Stress About What You Can't Control

I've started doling out advice to people that are stressed.  Don't stress about what you can't control.  A sage piece of advice, almost wisdom like.  I sound like someone who should be calm and cool and collected.  If only I could listen to my own advice.

Control.  It's one of those words that instantly makes me feel more calm.  I like to be in control.  I like to have a plan.  And I hate it when shit is up in the air.  No really, H-A-T-E it.

I spent all of last week in a sleepless, pain filled state.  The level of control that I felt last week was zero.  It's amazing how well a human can hold it together when they have no choice.  I made it through Christmas and worked on Thursday but by the end of the day my back and shoulder hurt so bad that I couldn't breathe, sit in my chair or move my right arm very well.  Add to that the fact that I hadn't slept in almost a week due to my back and shoulder pain and I was miserable.  So I stayed home on Friday, slept for most of the day, and then got up Saturday and went to the beach.

Ah, the beach.  It's amazing how a short road trip and the smell and sound of the ocean can instantly make everything feel better.  By the time I was done eating dinner on Saturday night I could move my arm again, and breathe okay too.

There is also something about the beach that brings clarity.  X2 used to tell me that going to the beach always allowed me to have an epiphany of some kind or another.  I don't know if that's caused by the beach just being "my place" or if it's the act of removing myself from my life and my situations that causes the epiphany, but it's something.  It happens to me every time.

This time the epiphany was: DON'T STRESS ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN'T CONTROL!!!  Yep, really, that was it.  I can only control myself and the reactions that I have to the things happening around me.  I can't control other people, or their reactions and actions.  I can only control me.  Oddly enough, as someone who is obsessed with control I have a tendency to overlook what I can control and only focus on what I can't. Which is a glass half empty way to look at thing and goes against every positive change that I have been trying to make for the last seven months.

So today, as I'm back at my desk at not only the end of the month, but also the end of the year my goal is to remember to follow my own advice.  To make sure that by the end of the day I haven't stressed myself out to the point that my arm doesn't work again, because although it's better it still isn't perfect and it wouldn't take much to get back to the point where I can't breathe or sit.  To make sure that I remember that the only thing I really have control of is myself, and there's no point in stressing about the things you can't control. Ever.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things I Don't Feel Like Doing Today - Moving

I am exhausted.  And it's not just post holiday exhaustion, although I'm sure that's a contributing factor.  It is the exhaustion that come from not sleeping for five nights in a row.  I guess that's an exaggeration.  I'm sleeping. In a tossing and turning, half asleep, can't get rid of my shoulder and back pain kind of way. The half asleep, half awake kind of sleep that leads to weird dreams and being more tired in the morning than you would have been if you and just decided to stay awake all night. 

It's weird to me the way that sleep works.  I can go weeks, even months, getting the best sleep ever. Falling asleep right away, staying asleep all night, waking up feeling like I am rested.  And then suddenly, out of the blue, it just stops for no good reason.  I'm sure that there are reasons.  The main one right now is the pain in my back and shoulder.  My right arm barely even works. Ibuprofen isn't touching the pain and the muscle relaxers aren't working.  

That's another thing that's weird to me.  My shoulder and back haven't hurt since October.  I went two amazing months pain free for the most part.  Then one stupid Saturday morning I wake up and my arm doesn't work again.  What kind of sense does that make?  None.  Not only that but it makes even less sense that I can't make it stop hurting.  What is the catalyst here?  Stress? Maybe. My bed? Maybe. Sitting at my desk? Maybe. 

The thing is I don't have time to be tired and I don't have time for my arm not to work.  I have to be able to work and I have a whole  house that needs to be de-christmased. Since an elf drew all over the walls I have to wash them in order to de-christmas but my arm isn't going to let me do that right now.  What. The. Hell. Anyone want to grab a couple of magic erasers and help?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Even Though She Was a Grown Woman She Believed in Elves and Santa Claus.

Well, it's happened.  PJ's cousin now knows that Mom and Dad are Santa.  PJ told his cousin that if he believe's in Santa then he is real. I love that kid.  Anyway, I feel as if after Christmas I will no longer be able to pull the wool over his eyes and it may be time to tell him. 

Regardless, I realized today as I was running a couple of last minute Fred Meyer errands, that I may bitch and moan and go through pretty Grinchy moments throughout the Christmas season but I still believe in magic.  I always believe in magic and there isn't a whole lot better than the magic of Christmas.  It's all around in the smiles and the Merry Christmas' from people who are normally too busy looking at their phones to acknowledge other people. It's around us in the extra bits of patience and tolerance.  It's around us in the magic of giving and in the magic of gratitude. 

So, as we end this 2013 Christmas season I want to thank everyone for dealing with the bipolarness of my Christmas spirit.  I appreciate everyone who reads this blog and comments on it and gives me feedback. This outlet has been priceless.  

Happy Christmas to All and to All A Good Night!

Monday, December 23, 2013

You Don't Have to Control Your Thoughts. You Just Have to Stop Letting Them Control You.

A few months ago I wrote a blog titled Just Say Yes.  It was about how I liked to experience new things but I didn't because it took me out of my comfort zone and how I needed to figure out how to say yes more often. After finishing the book "My Year With Eleanor" this past weekend (which I mentioned in this blog about change), I realized that I haven't made any progress in saying yes more often. Which is disappointing.

This particular book was very inspirational, not in making large changes, like Veronica and I first talked about when I started reading it, but more inspirational in that it raised awareness.  Until I started this book I wasn't really aware of how often I don't do something just because it takes me outside of my comfort zone. Or how often I don't say something because I'm afraid of reactions or the ramifications of what I'm saying. How often the decisions that I make on a daily basis are based on fear.

I guess I also didn't really realize that I was making decisions based on fear.  Fear is a weird emotion.  I guess I never made the connection that a lot of my anxieties are caused by fear.  Not like the fear I have of crustaceans or spiders, but the fear that I have of the unknown.  I'm so rooted in routine that I easily get in a rut.  Then I can't wait to do something to help me get  out of that rut.  I feel like if I were able to get rid of some of my fears and anxieties I wouldn't feel stuck in a rut and I would feel like I was experiencing more of what life puts in front of me everyday. 

I've learned that my anxieties can be conquered.  My airport anxiety is a prime example.  I'm still not in love with airports, but I am in love with taking trips, therefore, I have had to come to terms with my fear of airports.  My biggest anxiety isn't even in the flying anymore, which is a HUGE step, it's in getting through security.  Accept what you can't change.  I can't not go through security so I just take a few deep breaths and suck it up. It used to be that if I had to fly I would spend days stressing about packing and flying.  Now I just make sure I have my headphones.  Getting on an airplane is no problem for me now.  It's the repetition that makes it all okay. When you have proven to yourself, repeatedly, that you can do something, each time you do it get's easier. 

So, I'm going to work on being conscientious of the decisions that I make daily based on whatever fear is driving the decision. I am going to start saying yes more often.  I am going to learn to ask for what I want and I'm going to stop keeping my mouth shut.  I'm going to make myself and Eleanor Roosevelt proud. I'm tired of anxiety and fear and so I'm going to do my darnedest to eliminate them from my life, and not use them as an excuse anymore. 

The first anxiety I should probably work on is the one I have of working out.  That will be necessary after the wine and food of Christmas...

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Only Thing That Would Make This Day Better Is If We Got Carded

It's weird to be in your 30's.  Especially when you kind of feel like you did stuff backwards.  I feel like I spent my 20's acting like I was in my 30's and now, at least so far, I have spent my 30's acting like I am in my 20's.  Granted a much more responsible 20's than most people, however still not 30 something.

The year I turned 20 I got pregnant. At 21 I was married with a baby and a mortgage.  There isn't anything much more adult.  I truly missed out on my 20's.  I didn't go to college. I didn't spend a lot of time wondering what I was going to do for a career.  I went from job to job, being a mom and a wife for a couple of years. Then I had a quarter life crisis, was divorced by 25, remarried at 26, spent a few more years being a wife and mom and then I turned 30 and decided to get divorced again.

In the 10 years that I was supposed to be figuring out who I was I managed to figure out who I wasn't.  I also crammed a lifetime worth of experiences, that 30 and 40 year old people have, all into my 20's.  This has made an interesting start to my 30's.

There are days that I feel like I should rename this blog Random Ramblings of a OLD AS HELL Rachel. There are other days when I feel like I'm in my 20's working my way through unmarried life.  Honestly, one of the biggest benefits to being divorced is getting to have days off just for you because your ex has your kid. That sounds kind of selfish, but when you spend your 20's acting 30 there is room to be a little selfish, just so you can make up for lost time.

On the days I feel super old I feel every single experience that I have had in the last 31 years.  I feel too old to wear sparkles, too old for my nose ring, too old to be starting over again.  I feel every inch of the responsible adult. On those days, I sometimes feel too old to get out of bed.

The days I don't feel my age are few and far between. They are also a bit confusing.  I feel guilt associated with closing down the bar or spending all day in bed.  I feel guilt about being happy that I get to have a couple of days to do whatever I want, without a child around.  There is also a little bit of weirdness in that a lot of my friends are now in their 30's, doing the things that I did in my 20's.

I wouldn't trade most of the last 11 years for anything.  Everything happens for a reason.  I always knew I was older than my actual years said I was.  It's just part of my personality.  At this point I just wish that I could feel younger more often.  I wish that I could shake the stereotypes and social expectations of being in my 30's. I wish that all of the positivity that I have been trying to accept, embrace and project would also help me feel younger. I'm much too young to feel this damn old. I've spent a lot of time trying to come to terms with who and what I am this year.  Maybe next year I should spend a lot of time trying to remember that age is nothing but a number and you're only as old as you feel. 

Side note: If you are in a position to card people you should. It makes my day every time.  If you get carded don't get huffy, be happy that the person carding you thinks that you look or act young enough that they need to ask for I.D. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Excuse Me While I Disapear For a Bit

It's begun.  The annual "get me the hell out of here" feeling.  It's earlier this year than last year.  That may have something to do with the fact that I spent this year going someplace else every-other-month.  February was Michigan, Vegas in April and August, California in October.  Now we're at the end of December and it's been two months since I left the Portland/Metro area and I'm going crazy.

I think that every year this has a lot to do with the omnipresent clouds and fog.  They make me antsy.  Plus the more I travel the more I want to travel.  I've always wanted to travel, I have just never really felt like it was a good option for me. Now that I have become more accustomed to plane travel, and it doesn't bother me as much as it used to, I could get on a plane once a month and go someplace else and be really happy. I am at the point that I wouldn't have to figure out how to take four people with me, or even one for that matter, although I'm sure PJ would rather I take him with me than leave him here.  

I have spent every weekend for the last month or so thinking I should just drive to the beach.  The beach always makes me feel like I've gotten away.  Even Oregon beaches, where there are still clouds all winter long. I then veto the idea of going to the beach because really, what am I going to do when I get there? Sit in my car and look at the ocean?  Yes.  That's exactly what I would do.  However, there are the challenges that getting over the pass presents at this time of year.  It's dark, and typically rainy, which means I can't see to drive very well.  So even though that quick hour and a half drive would make me feel better, it's probably pretty dangerous.

I am at the point where I get three weeks of vacation a year.  I feel like that should mean that I should get to plan a couple of pretty decent vacations.  And maybe I just need to get on it. I'm sure that I could plan something exciting.  I should have a new passport by February, which means technically I could leave the US for the first time in 13 years.

Even without getting to go someplace I've never been before the beach is really close, the water will be on at the family cabin in a few months and depending on where I decide to go gas could be cheaper than a plane ticket. There is an end in sight.

Thankfully Saturday is Winter Solstice. Which means the days are going to start getting longer.  That always helps.  But what would help more is a horizon line and the sound of the ocean.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Then There's the Family That You Choose

It's getting toward the end of the year and I feel like as we get closer to 2014 I need to talk about the things and people that made huge differences in my life this year.  After last weeks  post about the non-tangible gifts that I have received from my family I thought that I would take the opportunity today to talk about the people who have become new additions to my family. 

New additions typically means "oh, someone had a baby".  Nope. Not this time.  This time the new additions are the people who have become such good friends that it's like they are family.  It's the family that you choose.  I still consider my first ex-husband and his family to be my family.  I have a couple of friends, Lindsay and Mi'Cole, that I think of as family.  They may as well be.  This year I lost an entire family, that mess was obviously never "family" to begin with.  But what I gained makes up for that loss in spades.   

It's kinda funny how fast Veronica became like family.  I'm sure I would have made it through these past six months without her but I wouldn't have had nearly as much fun.  Veronica is my voice of reason. She is the first person to tell me to CTFD.  Veronica is one of the most honest people I know and she has taught me the art of sharing my feelings and not holding crap in.  This blog can be attributed to Veronica as can my new found status as a cat woman.  She get's my crazy, not very many people do. I get her crazy too.  We need each other.  She is definitely family that I got to choose.  Or  maybe I didn't... we chose each other.  

I also feel like I gained family in Josh's mom and dad, Chris and Steve.  The thing is they have always been kinda like family.  When you have known someone since you were 13 it's pretty much inevitable.  I feel like I have a second set of parents.  I get a second mom who looks out for me and a second protective dad. The level of support that I have received from them this year is awesome.  And I feel like that support would have been given regardless of if I was dating their son or not.  That's the biggest thing I think, support being given because someone genuinely likes and cares about you, and not because they are obligated to. 

Then there is Josh.  Another person who has kinda always been like family.  One that you don't see and don't talk to for years but when you do nothing has changed and the feelings you had before are still there. Everything could go to hell in a hand basket tomorrow and I would still consider him family for the gifts he has given me this year. He has helped me realize a lot about myself, the most important is that I am who I am, and someone who loves me is going to love that person. There is no reason to try and be anyone else.  The knowledge that you should be accepted exactly how you are is a gift that can never be matched, repaid or taken away. It certainly isn't a something that I will ever forget.  

You expect the people who share your DNA to love you. They don't have a choice. The people who don't share your DNA, the one's who choose to love and support you, even though they don't have to, those are the one's that become family. The ability to choose is a powerful thing. And the people that choose you, and that you choose, help you become more powerful.  Just like the support of a family is supposed to. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Weather Outside is Frightful but the Wine is so Delightful

I started this holiday season with a super good attitude.  After my blog at the beginning of October complaining about how much I hated the holidays I did a complete 180 and changed my attitude a month later in this blog. Unfortunately, with one week to go, I may have gone the other 180 degrees and I'm right back where I started in October.

I feel like this is mostly my own fault.  I just can't seem to get into it.  I decided not to get a Christmas tree because Zap drew one on the living room wall, so that's good enough.  Plus PJ and I are staying at Mom and Dad's on Christmas Eve so there really is no reason to have a tree.  We won't be home.

I decided I wasn't going to bake a bunch of stuff because it was expensive and time consuming.

We didn't go to PIR because it was icy and then PJ went with his dad.

I didn't go downtown Portland to see the Christmas tree and now it feels like it's too late and there will be a million people down there every night until New Years.

The only thing that I have left to do that may improve my Christmas attitude is watch White Christmas while wrapping presents.  The problem is that if I do that tonight I'm worried that the Christmas spirit will desert me again by Christmas.  So I'm saving it for a few days.

I'm just ready for it to be over now.  One more week to go.  One more week of thinking about stockings and food and wrapping presents.  One more week of annoying Christmas music and pretending to be happy when you call out Merry Christmas to everyone on the planet. One more week of the clutter of Christmas decorations all over my house and crowding my office.  One more week of eating the stuff in the back of the cupboard because I refuse to deal with all of the people that are at the grocery store 24/7 at this time of year.

One more week until I can go back to the generally positive person I am trying to be. Until then I'll just fake it for everyone around me.  And drink a lot of wine. Bah-humbug.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

I was talking to Veronica the other day about a book that she has read, and that I started reading after this conversation, "My Year With Eleanor". It's about a writer that loses her job, becomes fascinated with Eleanor Roosevelt and decides to spend a year doing something outside of her comfort zone, every day for a year.  While having this conversation Veronica tells me that it puts life and actions into some perspective and inspires change. I looked at her incredulously and said "Don't you think I've had enough change this year? I don't need anymore."

I started thinking about that statement.  It has been a year of some major changes. Seriously MAJOR changes.  But then I started thinking about the past few years.  Not a year has gone by without some major changes.  This year feels different because they were changes that were hard to make, for the most part, and there were a lot of them in quick succession.  Not all of the changes were stressful or bad but change in general is difficult.  As people we have a tendency (some of us more than others) to need to be in control. Change is something that we can't control.  We can only control how we react to the change.

Even changes that you have been waiting for and want more than anything are scary.  You never really know the impact of that change.  There is nothing worse then the "what if's" that come along with change and major life decisions.  Fear of the unknown, and fear of making the wrong decision, is to be expected. I know from experience that the ramifications of not making a decision can cause more stress and havoc than having made the decision in the first place.

The thing about change is that it is inevitable, people change, jobs change, locations change. There are little changes and big changes. Our reactions really are the only thing we can control.  Change is going come, whether we like it or not.  We can also only change ourselves and grow by changing the way we see things and the way we react to the world around us. I think that the key to being happy and successful is being open to change.  That sounds pretty weird coming from a control freak like me.  I guess I'm learning to control what I can, but if I can't control it then I need to just roll with it. And let me tell you, that realization is a HUGE change.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Is It Bad When Your Assistant Tells You To Order Decaf?


This has seriously been an awful week.  Each day has presented some new challenge or emotional crap to deal with.  This has been a week that has definitely put to test my positive attitude and my blood pressure.  It all started on Monday and progressed from there.  Each day adding some new shit onto the shit that I already had to deal with the day before.

The hardest thing about this week has been being an adult, in all sorts of ways.  Supporting my family, dealing with stupid ex-husband crap AND the worst; choosing when to keep my mouth shut and when I should say something.

Isn't that the biggest challenge we all face everyday?  Not just the weeks or the days that are hard.  Although on those days you notice how hard keeping your mouth shut is more than the other days.  On good days we all debate on how much to say, when to say it, how what we're saying is going to effect the person that we are saying it too, and in turn how that is going to effect us.  On bad days you wonder how much you can say without destroying your relationships and getting fired.

I have literally not sent three e-mails this week just because I didn't want to deal with the ramifications of what those e-mails said.  Even though the three people that should have gotten those e-mails need to hear what I have to say, whether they want to or not.  The responsible adult in me decided that it would be better to just delete the draft then send the e-mail.  The one e-mail I did send yesterday that needed to be sent, luckily was a work e-mail, and was promptly followed by a phone call from the recipient that started with:

"Oh my goodness, what happened? I'm driving and haven't read the e-mail yet but I call feel the anger emanating through the capital letters and exclamation points."

I have also not made multiple phone calls due to the fact that I can't proof read a phone call.  I guess that's one of the best things about communicating best through written words. When this is something you know about yourself you  just write an e-mail and proofread it until you know that you have it just perfect.  When you speak, the second you open your mouth you can't take any of that back. And when I'm mad and I speak, the vulgarity that comes out of my mouth causes situations to escalate quickly (especially when talking to ex-husbands).  Heck, I can't even get through a Monday morning without my staff keeping tally of how many times I drop the "F" bomb.

It's been a heck of a week.  Yesterday Ashley, my Assistant Manager, told me I needed to order decaf coffee when I left for Dutch Bros.  I must have been a little on edge.  I'm still on edge.  I can feel it.  But it's Friday, the weekend is going to be filled with friends and Christmas stuff and maybe after writing all this down I can just let it go. We'll see.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Awesome Kid President Obsession

I love Kid President.  I have a bit of an obsession.  What is better than a nine year old telling you to put down your phone and be a party?  Not a whole lot.  Or the same said nine year old telling you that you should give your friends corn dogs and tell them they are awesome?  That being said, what's better than the gift of a corn dog? 

I often feel like there is so much negativity in the news, on social media and just in general in the world.  As a person who is striving to be more positive the inundation of negativity makes the goal of being a happier more positive person harder.  I think that the news should be required to have a "happy story of the day" segment so that everything they are showing isn't so negative all the time.  

Kid President is super positive. He always has something nice to say and he's not afraid to tell grown-ups to calm down and pay attention.  Seriously, I love this kid.  Go here to watch  "20 Things We Should Say More Often" and go here if you need a pep talk. 

And if you don't have time to watch a couple of videos right now, let a couple of Kid President quotes make your day just a little more awesome. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Family - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

This is the season of gift giving.  I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I'm going to get people for Christmas.  I'm really weird about gifts.  I feel like they need to mean something and not just be another item.  They either need to be useful or have some sort of sentimental value.  That requirement combined with my indecisiveness makes gift giving rather hard.

I started a new book last night of short stories about gifts that mothers give their daughters.  I'll admit, as much as I don't want any more kids, it always makes me a little bit sad that I won't ever have a daughter to be my best friend the way that my mom is my best friend.  That's neither here nor there, the point is, I started thinking about the gifts that I have received from family that aren't tangible things or are items that hold more sentimental value than anything else.

One actual thing that comes to mind specifically is my Grandma Kay's pie plates.  I'm not sure why they are so important to me but they are.  Almost more important than the actual pie plate is the fact that her name is scrawled on the bottom in her almost illegible, left handed handwriting.  I know that someday the permanent marker will wear off and her name won't be there anymore but I know that I'll always be able to see her name written on the bottom of those two white pie plates, even when it's gone.

My Grandpa Ernie's gift is always his hug.  He gives the best hugs I have ever been given.  My dad takes after him in that way but he still hasn't perfected the art of a Grandpa Ernie hug.  Grandpa's hugs go on forever and they are tight and solid and you just don't ever want to let go.  Those hugs are more important than any birthday check or wrapped gift at Christmas.  I love walking in to may parents house when I know that my grandparents are visiting to get that first hug from Grandpa.  It doesn't hurt anything that in addition to giving the best hugs ever Grandpa is hilarious.

Morgan, my brother, and I don't always get along great.  We get along a whole lot better the older we get. At some point, probably within the last year, we have developed a sense of camaraderie that we never had before.  I think that the most important gift that he gives me is the knowledge that I have backup in the face of the rest of the family, heck in the face of anyone.  We understand each other when no one else understands us.  We have the ability to gang up on people in such a way that makes them want to cover their ears, close their eyes and rock back and forth.  We typically only use our skills for good.  But we always know that we could go the evil route if we wanted to.

My parents have obviously given me the most important gifts of all.  Their unwavering support. Their unconditional love. The knowledge that it's okay to be weird and that different isn't bad.  They made sure that I knew growing up, and still know, that I can do anything I put my mind to. Dad gave me his love for numbers and his logical way of approaching situations, as long as emotion isn't involved.  Mom gave me her OCD and her sense of loyalty.

Obviously they have both given me so much more than that but I think the most important thing that I got from both of them is Magic.  It sounds weird but there has never been a time in my life where I didn't believe in magic.  Maybe not the cast a spell, dance under the moon naked and make something happen magic but other kinds.  The sense of magic on Christmas morning when the stockings are filled.  The magic of a quiet summer morning.  The fact that every time I see a crow watching me I think that it's helping dad make sure I'm okay.  The magic of love.

Love is magic and my parents is more magic then most.  They never gave up.  Obviously through 33 years there is going to be all kinds of ups and downs, trials and tribulations.  Probably more so the past four years than the prior 29.  But there they are; arguing, bickering, ignoring each other, supporting each other, taking care of each other and loving each other. Maybe that's why neither of my marriages worked.  They didn't have the magic that my parents taught me to expect.

So, even though we don't get to choose our families, I feel as though based on the gifts mine have given me, I got pretty lucky.