Five Things I’m Forgiving Myself For

It’s the weekend, so I’m writing another Forgiveness Friday post. Once again I’m thinking about forgiveness. Today, specifically, I’m forgiving myself for a few things that have been nagging at me. You can find my other posts on forgiveness by checking out the Forgiveness Friday tag.

As I said, today I’m thinking about forgiving myself. It’s not the first time I’ve written about the importance of letting go of your own shortcomings. Today, specifically, I’m forgiving myself for five little things that have been weighing on me, and causing me to castigate myself, but that aren’t really a big deal in the long run. Here’s to learning to forgive yourself and embrace your imperfection.

I’m Forgiving Myself For …

1. Leaving the kids’ toys outside in the rain, because I haven’t been able to muster up the energy to bring them inside to dry off.

2. The fact that I put lemon peels in vodka to make limoncello three years ago, and haven’t touched the jar it’s all in since. (I actually thought it was only two years ago until I visited the recipe page and saw my comment from 2011.)

3. My failure to start studying for my final exams as far in advance as I should have. I also forgive myself for taking the time to write this post instead of studying for my final exams.

4. The fact I haven’t tried any of the recipes from Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxic-Free Recipes yet, in order to share my experiences with you. I will do it soon, I swear.

forgiveness friday book

5. My vacuuming delinquency. I literally cannot remember the last time I vacuumed the whole house. It’s been at least three weeks, but probably more. And I have kids, and a cat, and all that jazz. But you know what? On my deathbed I’m pretty sure I won’t wish I’d spent more time vacuuming.

What about you – are there any things you’d like to forgive yourself for?

What I Learned in March 2014

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthIt’s April already! Where does the time go? Once again I am, in fact, overdue for my monthly review. I didn’t want to let it go, however, because monthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions.

Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. Or this time, perhaps you can share some less-than-recent revelations that occurred over the past year. Either way, we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in March – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned Last Month

1. I re-discovered the joy of seeing those first sprouts poke through the soil.

what i leanred last month

2. I learned the injustice of rain during Spring Break, and a gorgeous first day back at school.

3. I found out that you could drink maple sap … and it’s actually not bad. Much better than coconut water, in my book.

what i learned last month maple water

4. I re-discovered the process of letting go that is writing and submitting a term paper.

5. I found joy in raising my own Mason bees.

mason bees what i learned last month

6. I learned that when teaching your child their first song on the recorder, you become well and truly tired of hearing that song long before your child tires of playing that song.

7. I painted the playroom, and re-discovered just how much prep work is involved in that. Luckily, the result is worth it.

what i learned last month

8. I learned, yet again, that I cannot be trusted around a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs. Not even a little.

9. I discovered that cooking and cleaning is much more pleasant when listening to a podcast. You would think I would know this, having recorded 80+ podcasts of my own, but it was a revelation.

what i learned last month podcast

10. I went for a world record in the number of times in a row I can turn on a kettle and then completely forget about it until the water is too cool for tea. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in March? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

Owning Your Anger

It’s been over a month since I published a Forgiveness Friday post, but I haven’t forgotten about this series. Once again I’m thinking about forgiveness. You can find my other posts on forgiveness by checking out the Forgiveness Friday tag.

I am (very, very slowly) making my way through Forgiveness Is a Choice by Robert D. Enright. One of the things that he talked about at the beginning of the book is the need to recognize your anger. His assertion is that many of us are carrying a lot of anger around, which we don’t acknowledge. As long as we remain in denial about our feelings, we can’t really forgive. Instead, we excuse others’ behaviour or use a variety of coping mechanisms, but none of them actually resolve the issue.

forgiveness friday angerI certainly don’t think of myself as an angry person. I am generally cheerful to others, I don’t yell or swear at strangers (even in traffic), I work hard to remain calm and present with my kids, and so on. As I read Enright’s words, though, which included many examples, I found myself re-thinking my anger. When someone does something I don’t like, my usual M.O. is to feel briefly annoyed, and then to excuse their behaviour and move on. I try not to let that annoyance get to me. When you add up all the little annoyance, though, it comes to something much bigger. Also, words like irritated, annoyed and pissed are actually synonyms for angry. I just happen to not like the word angry, because it carries negative connotations. When someone is annoyed we often assume they’re justified. When someone is angry we’re more likely to think badly of them.

What happens when you don’t acknowledge your anger or allow yourself to feel it? You can’t really deal with it and offer forgiveness. If I’m not able to recognize what I’m feeling – regardless of what I’m feeling – I can’t work through my emotions and handle them in productive ways. Anger, especially, can lead to other problems if it isn’t handled. Freud classically said that depression is anger turned inwards. When unacknowledged anger leads to depression or anxiety or what-have-you, we try to deal with the depression or anxiety or what-have-you, but we never get to the root cause. Then we can never truly experience forgiveness and move on in productive ways.

I should point out that I’m not an expert here, I’m just laying things out as I understand them. And I can see why unacknowledged anger can cause problems.

Since reading about the need to acknowledge your anger as a first step to forgiveness, I’ve been trying to recognize those feelings of annoyance, irritation and so on. I have to admit, it’s a little scary. I’m afraid of becoming an angry person. I’m afraid that I’m being self-indulgent and cultivating a victim mentality. Women, especially, are discouraged from expressing anger. Overcoming all of that fear and conditioning is uncomfortable, to say the least. However, so far, I can tell you that recognizing my anger and actually facing up to it hasn’t led me to wallow in it, to act out aggressively, or even to feel angrier. It’s paradoxical, but when I can say to myself, “I’m really angry right now,” I actually feel less angry overall.

I still have a lot of work to do. Recognizing your anger is only a preliminary step to actually dealing with your anger and offering forgiveness. For now, at least I feel like I’m on the right track.

My Happiness List: March 2014 Edition

I blogged my last personal happiness list some six months ago in September, before I embarked on my new adventures in post-secondary education. I’m feeling like it’s time to re-visit it, and remind myself about the things that are going well in my life. Who couldn’t use a little hit of positivity once in a while? There’s all kinds of research to show that it’s very good for you. Plus, it’s just plain fun.

Let’s get the joy party started, shall we?

happiness list garlic gardening>

My Happy List

  1. Spring! It’s in the air! I’ve seen daffodils and ladybugs, and I’ve planted radishes and spinach and kale.
  2. Really good chocolate. Always.
  3. Herbal tea. My current faves are bergamot sage, and mint licorice.
  4. My education class, which is making me think in the best way, and which I’m enjoying a lot. I’m taking this as a good sign because I’m going back to school to study education.
  5. New purple tights.
  6. The way my son is learning to read, picking out words from signs and posters when we’re out and about.
  7. My daughter’s extreme enthusiasm over her spring break theatre camp. This tickles me pink, because my husband and I became high school sweethearts when we were both cast in the same school play.
  8. Once Upon a Time is back on TV. I heart Once Upon a Time.
  9. I’m keeping mason bees this year, and I’ll be putting them out soon, which is exciting.
  10. Regular acupuncture appointments.
  11. Knowing that my husband is always on my side.
  12. VSCO Cam. I am totally smitten with this app. It’s made me fall in love with iPhone photography all over again.
  13. Poached eggs and avocado for breakfast.
  14. The semester is almost over, which means semester break is almost here. Yes, the papers and exams and so on are hard, but it means the end is near!
  15. Living within easy walking distance of my kids school. I feel so lucky.
  16. Family support as I head back to school.

What about you – what’s on your happy list right now? I’d love to hear!

Random Bits and Pieces

Every day I add write a blog post to my to-do list, and every day I don’t get around to it. Then every day I feel sad about it. Today, I have no brilliant ideas, and the writing muse has gone on hiatus. Being back at school, reading textbooks and academic articles, and writing papers for class, is using up most of my brain power. I’ll come clean and confess that when I’m not reading for school, I’m re-reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Right now, the poor writing quality and extremely easy-to-follow narrative is comforting. I’m looking for something that isn’t challenging, and it definitely isn’t.

Early this week we got a letter confirming that our contractor was no longer in creditor protection, but now officially bankrupt. Our names were on an attached document with more than 180 others, detailing a debt of over $2 million. The amount they quoted as being owed to us was low, however, so it’s definitely possible that the contractor was in the hole by more. It’s erupted into something of a story locally, and my husband was on the news talking about it on Tuesday. I was at class when the reporter stopped by. There was good news today, though – it looks like the bank that arranged all the home improvement loans is going to try to make good.

random bits and piecesThere are more bright spots, too – lots of them. The weather has been lovely this week. So lovely, in fact, that I planted spinach and radishes. I bought a mason bee kit a couple of months ago and the cocoons are currently in my fridge hibernating. I’m hoping to put those out soon, and I’m excited about that. I’m planning to finally paint the sunroom in my kitchen (the one part of my renovation that was mostly finished) this weekend. My kids are awesome. I bought a new organic wine today. I have new purple tights. Things aren’t so bad.

You would think that I would be at my wits’ end right now, but I’m actually not. Truthfully, I think I was more stressed out a couple of months ago. Right now there’s just so much going on that I honestly don’t have much time to worry. Also, I’ve started getting acupuncture to help me with my oh-so-delightful monthly mood swings, and I’m loving it. I’m not sure whether it’s the needles themselves, or the fact that while they’re in I get to lie in a lovely, warm, quiet, dark room that smells good and listen to music all by myself for 20 minutes, but going each week has been really positive. I’m a fan, and knowing that I have that to look forward to is helping to smooth out the rough edges. Plus my improved energy circulation, I am sure.

So yes, I’m here. I’m alive. Lots of things are happening, and I’m doing my best to take it as it comes.

What about you – what’s new in your world?

What I Learned in February 2014

Strocel.com What I Learned Last MonthSo it turns out that it is not only March now, but March 5. Once again I am, in fact, overdue for my monthly review. I didn’t want to let it go, however, because monthly reviews are one of my favourite traditions.

Here’s how it works – every month I come up with some things I learned, and not always the easy way. Then, I ask you all to join in with some recent revelations of your own. Or this time, perhaps you can share some less-than-recent revelations that occurred over the past year. Either way, we all learn and grow and what-not. Or at least share a laugh at our own expense, because some of these lessons are both hard-fought and funny. Sound good?

So, without further ado, here is what I learned in February – or some of it, anyway.

What I Learned Last Month

1. When renovation work started (and then stopped) on my ensuite my husband and I spent two weeks sleeping in our family room. We re-discovered the joy of a bedroom door that closes when we decided we might as well move back upstairs while we try to resolve our home improvement fiasco.

what I learned last month home improvement monthly review

2. Speaking of that home improvement fiasco, I learned that I really should listen to my gut and ask more questions.

3. One of the bright spots of the month was re-discovering just how flipping cute kindergarten crafts are. How can I be sad when “thumb-body” loves me?

monthly review valentine's day

4. I became the mother of a nine-year-old.

5. My garlic told me that spring is coming … and hopefully, soon.

monthly reviews what i learned last month garlic gardening

6. I fell head-over-heels in love with VSCO Cam (and I have not been compensated in any way for that statement).

7. I learned that sometimes all the pretty makes up for having to drive up to campus for an early-morning class.

sfu what i learned last month monthly reviews

8. I felt very proud of myself for squeezing into my wedding dress … until I inhaled a little too deeply and ripped a seam.

9. I found the world’s most perfect flower pot for a tea lover such as myself.

what i learned last month monthly reviews plants flower pot tea cup

10. After repeated experiments I confirmed that yes, there is such a thing as too many gummy bears. I also confirmed that this knowledge won’t stop me from eating too many again on my next outing.

I’ve shared what I learned – what did you learn in February? Leave a comment and tell me! Or, if you’d like to play along by writing a review post of your own, link to it in the comments. And please feel free to grab the button from the top of this post.

Some Weeks Are Like That

I love Judith Viorst’s children’s classic, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The picture of the mother just looking down at the floor with no words left as Alexander destroys his father’s office slays me every single time. I think every parent can relate to the feeling of just being so done with the mayhem. And I think every person can relate to the idea that some days are like that … even in Australia.

My week is looking to be sort of like that.

Everything is coming to a head for me at school right now. I have a history paper due tomorrow, an education paper due on Monday, and a kinesiology midterm on Tuesday. It’s a whole lot of reading, writing and studying all at once. I’m having a hard time keeping up with anything else that I have to do, which is understandable. I’m trying to be understanding, and keep in mind that this will all be over very soon.

home improvementOn top of this, we’re in the middle of a home improvement fiasco. Last May we hired a company to do some renovations for us. There were a series of delays, but in late summer they came and did the first part of the work for us. Then there were another series of delays, but a week ago Monday they came and started the second part of the job. This part involved ripping out our master ensuite and closet. To prepare, my husband Jon and I moved our clothes into suitcases and our bed downstairs to our family room floor.

For two and a half days, they worked, and then they explained that their electrician had taken a sudden trip to Disneyland and we’d need to wait until Monday for him to show up. I wasn’t thrilled, but I didn’t overthink it. I agreed that we would connect again on tge following Monday. Come Monday morning when I hadn’t heard anything by about 11:30 I made a phone call. Later in the day my husband made a phone call. We didn’t hear back. Yesterday – Tuesday – I made some more phone calls. Finally I got an email, and it didn’t contain good news.

Our contractor announced that his business was entering ‘creditor protection’. As a result, he didn’t know when he’d be able to come and resume work on our house. Of course, this announcement only came after our closet, toilet, shower, sink and walls were removed.

So. Not. Good.

Now, on top of my school work, and everything else that comes with my daily life of working and parenting and what-have-you, my husband and I are dealing with this. We’re figuring it out, and we will be okay. We have excellent advice, in the form of experienced friends and family. All the same, it looks like we’ll be sleeping in our family room for the foreseeable future. It’s so fun being woken up at 3:00am by the cat using the litter box a few feet away.

I guess some weeks are like that. Even in Australia.

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