Making the Most of the Worst

No more papers, no more books! No more teachers snotty looks! 

Actually none of my teachers gave me snotty looks. And although one term has come to an end, another term has begun so technically I should be singing NEW papers, NEW books, NEW teachers…this term will be very different however. Goodbye campus and hello internship! Oh and it is my FINAL TERM (insert happy dance here)!! I do enjoy school and I love learning but I am looking forward to becoming an actual practitioner. From now until I am officially graduated I  have the opportunity to pretend to be a practitioner – thank goodness because I’m tired of lecture halls, seminar rooms, and campus life in general and ready to get some practical experience.

This post isn’t supposed to be about my boring academic adventure though, it’s a celebration because after a long absence, I’m back! It has been months since I’ve posted but today I’m reappearing and I can proudly say that today I am a stronger version of me than I was before.

My absence was partly due to an overwhelming course-load at school but mostly due to an unfortunate, frustrating, emotional roller coaster ride of an attempt at a custody agreement between myself and my son’s father. It has been, to date, the hardest experience of my life. The worst. Not only have I been struggling emotionally but the ordeal has even made me physically ill – it’s amazing how interconnected our bodies are! However, it has also been such a learning experience for me. Not only have I learned so much about our legal system in Ontario/Canada, I’ve learned a great deal about myself. I’ve learned so much about my strengths and my weaknesses (yes there are a few!). I’ve also learned about what I contribute to situations, how I sometimes unintentionally make them worse, how I sometimes try to over-control things, and how I often foolishly see good in people when good sometimes does not exist. Although this situation is far from over and no agreement has been made, I do believe/hope the worst is behind me. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection on the entire experience and am realizing that through the many sleepless nights, the stress and worry, the frustration and tears, and the anger, I have grown and changed significantly. I see things, all things in life, through a different lens now. I believe the experience has made me a better person, a better mother, and also made me much more self-aware. Through all this, I feel even more motivated to continue along my path in life, to pursue my personal goals, and to provide the absolute best for my children because they deserve nothing less.

So there’s the happy ending to a downright awful situation, this almost sounds like a Project Optimism post! It isn’t a Monday but I’m counting it anyway, sometimes we have to bend the rules a little! 

PROJECT OPTIMISM is about having HOPE even when things appear impossible, it is about finding that silver lining regardless of how teeny tiny it may be, it’s about focusing on those little joys and letting them all add up and fill your cup.

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If you aren’t familiar with Project Optimism check out the uplifting posts by other’s, there’s an entire page of participating bloggers listed here  who are sure to help you turn your frowns upside down, even if just for a moment.

*If this isn’t quite enough optimism for you, be sure to sneak a peek at my past week’s posts. Find them all stored neat & tidy under Project Optimism in my drop down Category menu to the right.*  

Project Optimism: Looking Back to Get Ahead

Sometimes I get a little down and blue – and I highly doubt I’m the only one! Life throws us fastballs and curve balls, and I don’t even like baseball to begin with! Anyway, I find that sometimes I lose myself, lose my focus, lose my motivation, and hit a wall. I often find myself thinking like such a drama queen, thinking that things will never get better, never change, or I’ll never get to where I want to be.

Funny thing is, I know I’ve been in that place before, many, many times before! In times like this a little reflection on where I’ve come from helps me to reset and stop being such a drama queen. Here’s a little glimpse into my past, and what has gotten me to my present:

At the age of 21 I was the mother of two with no real direction in life. Aside from the day-to-day have-to’s, I really didn’t know where I was going. When my son was born, 2008, I finally realized enough was enough! It was time to make some serious changes in my life because what I now knew what that it wasn’t just my life anymore. Each and every one of my actions had (and will continue to have) a direct consequence and impact on someone else’s life. This was my motivation. I was finally strong enough to follow my heart and listen to my head.

2009 was a big year for us! I did something I never thought I’d be able to do, I ended the awful relationship I was in. It was extremely hard but I finally felt free! I also started college! This was very exciting for me since I had never been a real keener for school before, heck I wasn’t even a high school graduate at this point! But the courses I did have met the requirements of the program and so began my academic adventure!

During my time at college I learned a great deal about myself and my vision for my future. I faced many walls and challenges – and often felt like I couldn’t do it! But I kept on trucking and took each experience as a new lesson learned. At the same time as going to college full time, I also took some high school courses on the side. I was determined to graduate from high school before college – and I did! June 2010 was the first time I had graduated from anything since elementary school! I then graduated from college at the top of my class in May 2011. Rather than graduation being an ending for me, I knew that was just the beginning.

Turned out my academic adventure would also include attending University. Similar to college, there have been many obstacles in my way. The cost of daycare and increased cost of living in the city has almost been enough to break my bank! Even more frustrating are the courses that are required for my degree but are only offered at night. In a new city, no family, no friends, and no support network, this was clearly impossible. I have since learned that if you want something badly enough – and you’re paying for it! – nothing is impossible.

My time at university is wrapping up. Once again I’m astonished at myself. I set a goal and I’ve almost complete it regardless of what stood in my way. This is how I know that whatever challenges I face from here on out won’t matter because I can (and will!) persevere!

Some days I feel like I can take on anything, some days defeat me but it all makes up who I am
and shapes who I will become.

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Spread some joy and share your optimism with others by getting in on Project Optimism!! There is so much joy-sharing going on there’s a page full of it! The Best Life has posted an entire page of fabulous blogs all getting in on the action, sharing some of their joys, turning their frowns upside down, and seeing the bright side of their Mondays! Join in the fun, it’s easy:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mylifeisthebestlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!

Happy Monday :)  

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*If this isn’t quite enough optimism for you, be sure to check out that page I mentioned which is full of others joy or sneak a peek at my past week’s posts. Find them all stored neat & tidy under Project Optimism in my drop down Category menu to the right.*  

Project Optimism: Time

Have you ever felt like there’s just not enough time in a day? I’m sure we all have – and if you haven’t please tell me your secret!

Most of my days are over far too quickly. I haven’t ever enough time to do everything I need to do from school work to house cleaning to showering regularly! And then there’s the things I want to do, I never seem to find the time to squeeze all this in! The books I want to read to the kids, the fitness routine that never seems to fit into my schedule, or the wonderful places I long to travel to. Nope, just never enough time!

Seems like the perfect solution to most my life’s problems is right there – more time! But would more time actually make me happy?

Really, when you stop and think about it, no one has more or less, we all have the same amount of time. This was a jaw dropping revelation for me – actually it was more of a “duh, why didn’t I think of that?” moment!

We all have the same amount of time. 24 hours in each day and how we spend that time is our choosing! I understand each person has their own unique obligations and responsibilities that tend to shape how they spend their time but when it all boils down, we all have the same amount of time.

I keep repeating this fact, mostly to drill it into my own head! I’ve got the same amount of time as everyone else, how I choose to spend my time makes up my days and determines what gets done and what doesn’t.

With two busy kids I’ve got the pleasure of raising on my own, hockey & gymnastics practices, midterms already upon me, difficult seminar courses with copious amounts of required reading, and all those other things I want to do, time isn’t really difficult to fill. This is me recognizing that there’s always the perfect amount of time in each and every day and that I’ve got the ability to fill it how I so choose.

Which brings me to my next point, how I choose to spend my time. All too often I get caught up in the “have to’s” and “need to’s” and let’s not forget the, “gotta get done’s.” So many times all those “want to’s” are completely forgotten and pushed aside. If I pay attention to them I feel guilty, selfish, and like a bad mother. Why do the dishes have to be done before I enjoy a delicious, warm cup of tea? The world will not end even though I often think it will. Now I don’t think we should all run off and do whatever we want to do without any regard for our obligations and responsibilities. What I think is that for me personally (and for many MANY others/mothers I know!) there is never enough focus on what we want to do and far too much focus on what we need to do. I say let us find some balance!

This past weekend, with the kids off visiting at their Dad’s, I decided to get away. I loaded up the car with some of my favourite people and escaped to a wintry resort for a weekend of falling snowboarding! It was AMAZING! A full 48 hours of doing what I wanted to do! I put midterms and papers out of my mind, forgot about the piles of laundry at home, dumped my dog off on my fabulous father and off I went. Now here’s Monday and I’m sore recharged and ready to conquer this week!

It isn’t more time that solves my problems but instead how I choose to spend my time. A little “me” time makes me better able to handle the sometimes overwhelming amounts of responsibilities I’ve got on my plate. How do you manage to stay sane and get everything done?

project-optimismSpread some joy and share your optimism with others by getting in on Project Optimism!! There is so much joy-sharing going on there’s a page full of it! The Best Life has posted an entire page of fabulous blogs all getting in on the action, sharing some of their joys, turning their frowns upside down, and seeing the bright side of their Mondays! Join in the fun, it’s easy:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mylifeisthebestlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!

Happy Monday 🙂 

*If this isn’t quite enough optimism for you, be sure to check out that page I mentioned which is full of others joy or sneak a peek at my past week’s posts. Find them all stored neat & tidy under Project Optimism in my drop down Category menu to the right.*  

 

Happy Monday: Project Optimism

As I typed that title I realized, I actually mean it! In general I hate Mondays. I am definitely one of ‘those’ people who complains and groans and uses the day of the week as an excuse for the entire day’s failures. Today had it’s fill of failures.

It all started during those cold, quiet, still hours of the morning. I, freezing cold and wishing I was still in bed, jumped into the shower hoping the warmth would somehow wash away the usual Monday blues before the day even really started. I very quickly realized I was not alone in the shower – an 8 legged friend decided to join me! I hate spiders! Rather than scream or panic I decided to make him a deal. I told him (literally) that if he didn’t move I’d spare his life and share my shower and in approximately 12 minutes we’d each go our separate ways and hopefully never mingle again. I ended up spending the entire 12 minutes staring at him – my eyes still sting from the suds! What a way to start a Monday…

It really didn’t get much better from there what with the overnight dumping of snow turned freezing rain, kids who hate Mondays as much as I do, and absolutely no empty parking spots at school – does no one stay home when the roads are slick?! Slipping and sliding my way to my first class started out fun, but alas, the fun always ends once someone gets hurt. Falling didn’t hurt my butt nearly as much as it hurt my ego, but hurt nonetheless.

By now it’s nearing noon and I’m in full blown I hate Mondays mode. Here is when I grab a coffee and open my lap top searching for a little break from it all, an escape. Here is when I realize that not only is it Monday, but it is MONDAY! It’s Project Optimism day! Sorry moody Mondays, but with there’s a new Monday in town and I like him!

Funny how random people out there somewhere in the internet can basically say, “Let’s all be optimistic on Mondays” and that can change my day! Rather than wallow in a pitiful Monday I grabbed it by the horns and steered in the direction of my choosing! I even shared in the Project Optimism love myself, turning my closed doors into life lessons.

I kept this attitude up and by the time my school day was done and my munchkins and I were home I was in a completely different mind set – and it spread! One kid offered to do the dishes all by herself (I looked the other way and ignored crusty porridge left on the breakfast bowls!) while the other gave me a hand making what ended up being a delicious dinner – chicken breast with steamed kale & green collards with garlic, peppers, and onions! And then to top it all off we made (for the first time ever) cauliflower crusted garlic & cheese breadsticks!!! How can Monday not be great with all that combo?!

It just goes to show that there is truth in the age old saying, “A smile is contagious.”

Photo from, “20 Days Toward Happiness and Health”
http://draggarwal.org/2012/06/

If you’re interested in spreading OPTIMISM, here’s what you need to do:
  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mylifeisthebestlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over to The Best Life, and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you, because that’s what it’s all about. Kindness is contagious!

Hitting Bumps

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The bumps in the road make life fun

I don’t know exactly who said this but I’ve definitely hit a bump or two in my days. For the most part I’m grateful for the bumps. Sure, they aren’t exactly pleasant at the time but they always provide an opportunity for learning, growth, and shifts in perspective. For the most part I’ve been able to buckle up and ride them out, safely making it to the other side with lessons learned.

Lately I’ve felt a lot more than merely bumps in the road, it’s more like a large, getting-nowhere, circular, bumpy, knot!

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Doors that were opened have suddenly closed. Changes in my carefully laid out life plan have been made without my consent or control. Every recent flicker of hope has been quickly followed up by a smack in the face. The completion of my degree (which is basically my ticket into the “real” world) is proving to be trickier than I imagined.

I don’t do well when things are carefully organized and planned out. I’m not talking about having my kitchen’s junk drawer neatly organized, I’m talking about my life, my kids lives! For the past few years I’ve been happily following along on my ambitious journey, slowing ticking checks off my list and things going relatively according to plan. Of course there has been bumps and even some hard falls along the way but those are to be expected, and in retrospect, they’re now embraced. They have shaped and created me as I am today, and brought me to where I am today.

The recent weeks have been bumpy, to say the least. Perhaps explaining my lack of blogging…..but in times like these, something has to go! But, in honour of Project Optimism I’m using this experience as an opportunity for growth and personal improvement. It is a chance to practice being patient; an opportunity to look into avenues I didn’t even know existed; a chance to practice letting go and feel that it is OK to not be in control. I won’t lie, it sure isn’t easy for me, but I’m trying, and things already look a little brighter!

Today, my optimism is coming in the form of believing that everything happens for a reason! In the past I’ve had doors shut, felt smacks to the face, heck I even had 2 very large bumps that, 9-ish months later, ended up being the most beautiful little things I had/have ever known! There is reason behind the madness and one day it’ll be clear, until then, I guess I’ll just buckle up, enjoy the ride, and steer whenever I can!

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Let a little sunshine into your day today (even if it’s grey and freezing rain outside!). If you want to get in on Project Optimism, check out The Best Life or follow her instructions:

Project Optimism is passionate about wanting to spread the joy. Check out the blogs on our page to feel some love.

If you want in on this glorious action:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mylifeisthebestlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!
Project Optimism

Project Optimism

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I absolutely love the entire premise behind Project Optimism. This comes at such a perfect time for me what with my new-found quest for Happy Living, kudos to The Best Life and her partners for creating this joy sharing project!

I do think of myself as a fairly glass-half-full type person. I try to see the bright side and try to spread happiness wherever I go. To toot my own horn, I think I’m really good at it when it comes to other people’s lives! Is it just me or is it actually easier to see what everyone else has got going for them and what they’ve got to be thankful for? Not that I think everyone else has got everything going for them and I don’t, that’s not it at all. In my past internships I’ve had to work with some pretty amazing people who’ve been dealt some pretty crappy cards: patients who’ve acquired a traumatic brain injury, amputee patients, those with serious mental health issues, etc. In working with these people I’ve discovered that I’m skilled in facilitating optimism – but do I internalize it myself, in my own life contexts? Not so much.

To be quite frank, sometimes it is hard! Sometimes I just haven’t got it in me; the good is too hard to see through a layer of crap thrown at me; sometimes I’m just not feeling it, plain & simple! Sometimes I want to be miserable and lay in my pj’s with hot tea and snap at anyone/everyone who tries to cheer me up. Sometimes I don’t want cheer! 

When these Debbie Downer days are upon me I find it hopeless to try to force myself to see the silver-lining. Instead I try to take a step back and refocus; regroup my thoughts; rearrange my perspective. I find it helpful to analysis the good rather than dwell on the bad. Acknowledging the small stuff enables me to be hopeful for what is to come.

So here it is, the things that – within the past week – made me feel warm & fuzzy on the inside, made me tick, inspired me, challenged me, or just simply made me smile:

  • When a random stranger chases me out of the lecture hall, nearly tackling me to the floor, only to return my iPhone – which I hadn’t even realized fell out of my pocket! Thank you kind stranger! 
  • A hike that is good for the mind, body, and soul – and the dog!
  • Not just one bottle of red found on the shelf, but two!
  • A Friday night spent with one of those above mentioned bottles and a new ball of gorgeous blue-y/green-y yarn – my new hat is nearly done and is adorable & cozy! 
  • Booking my first trip away in over a year and a half: a snowboarding birthday getaway for the man in my life with two of our closest friends! Snowboarding, cross-country skiing, a loft, hot tub…..how could I not be optimistic when I’ve got this to look forward to! 
  • Dance parties with my kids to great Canadian singers!
  • Facebook posts that go like this:

Brother: Name that tune sister – “We all wanna be big, big stars”
Sister: “But we don’t know why”
Me: “And we don’t know how”

  • The tune was Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows – one of mine & my sisters favourite bands and just one more reason why I love my crazy family!
  • Being called into a kid’s bedroom after bedtime, feeling frustrated & annoyed, “why won’t they just shut up & go to sleep?!” is exactly what’s going through my head until I hear this, “I just wanted one more hug goodnight.” And then through the wall the other kid (not to be left out) requests an extra kiss. No Debbie Downer can survive moments like this!

Happy Monday everyone! Find something that makes you happy, take your good & make it better, share & spread your joy, join the optimism party – it’s what all the cool kids are doing today!! 

The BEST Monday

Who knew a Monday could be so fantastic?!! Especially the Monday we all (in this household) go back to school! A new term, a new year, a new week, new beginnings!

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A friend from my home town has started a fresh page in her life. She’s taken on a challenge to eat healthier, exercise more, and create change in her life. She isn’t a gym rat or body builder, she is just a regular, everyday mother of two (adorable!) kids who has decided to grab life by the horns and make it what she wants it to be! Her enthusiasm and passion has definitely motivated me this past week! She’s the reason I worked out today! She’s created a new blog too!! Today’s post: taking the lemons life throws at you and making lemonade! Sure, it’s been said by many before but she says it so well! I strongly urge you all to check out her blog, Change Starts Here, for a dose of motivation & inspiration!

But that’s not all the awesomeness that happened today!!

Was it ever a great day in the blogosphere! Yet another new beginning over at a blog I absolutely love: The Best Life. She has collaborated with others to start Project Optimism and I am so in! What better day of the week than a Monday to force yourself to be happy and optimistic! Jump on over to her blog and grab yourself a badge for your sidebar – join the movement and be happy!

There was even more awesomeness in my day….

The rest of the awesomeness of today will have to be shared in the form of bullet points – remember, I said school is back in and I’ve already got a ridiculously long To Do list to dive into!! So here’s a few last tid bits of why today was the best Monday:

  • Kids woke up without a fuss for their first day back to school and were ready so quickly we had enough time to walk to school! Of course we took our favourite pooch with us and she absolutely loved the romp through the woods her & I had on the way home. We took the long way and enjoyed the scenery!
  • NEW BOOKS! This one really excites me!! Partly because I found most of my textbooks used therefore easing the dent in my bank account but mostly because they’re NEW BOOKS! It is so exciting having new books (even if they’re textbooks!). I love opening the cover for the first time, it’s like entering a whole new world full of possibilities and opportunities and things to learn! Turning the pages for the first time is like nothing else.
  • A Social Psychology course I’m taking requires me to do at least one book report or up to three reports. The books sound brilliant and I’ve already ordered them all from the local library (take that over-priced University bookstore!). I even got one of the books in audio version for all the long drives I do! I love new books!
  • Yoga is back! That’s right, my daily yoga is back in full force! On top of my own yoga routine this morning I even enjoyed a yoga session with my daughter – who just can’t understand why I am not able to do inversions or put my knees behind my head! She is amazingly flexible and loves yoga. It is a great way for her to burn off some of her endless energy and thanks to YouTube we’ve got an endless amount of videos to follow along with!

The grand finale to my wonderful day was something I haven’t done in ages! It incorporated some of the things I love most in this world:

  • My kids
  • Movement and physical activity
  • No rules, no right or wrong way of doing it
  • No judgements or criticisms
  • An added element of Canadian-ism….

Take this song, press repeat, insert myself & my munchkins, and what do you get….dance party! It is absolutely impossible to NOT be in a fantastic mood after spending 17 blissful minutes bouncing & bopping to this fantastic song by an amazing Canadian artist!

Hope your Monday’s were just as swell as mine! Now I’m off to burying my nose in one of those new books and sip on a vanilla cinnamon herbal tea – seriously this day just keeps getting better & better!!