Saturday, April 27, 2019

Writing is My Therapy

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." -Anaïs Nin.

My Childhood Home
Writing is definitely my therapy. I've written a few blog posts recently that were really therapeutic and cathartic. The one about menopause is definitely in the top 5. So is my #3yearplan and the one about staying in the pool and finishing the race. The one about building my own personal brand as a writer is a personal favorite.

Which leads me to this post today where I am trying to analyze myself and why I don't care about having a nice big clean house.

I grew up in this house in the picture in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It was two bedrooms for a long time until my parents added to it. I would say my mother was clean but not OCD clean. The house would get messy and then we would just clean up when it did. No big deal.  The house was not big and we didn't live in a nice neighborhood but it was home and I had loving, although strict, parents. I was happy there and I don't remember ever wishing that I lived in a big fancy house. Sure, I admired beautiful homes like anybody else but it wasn't a life goal to have one. My parents did a good job of always working on it, updating it, replacing the roof, etc.

When I got older and I bought my own house with my then husband I was excited. We found the house on the edge of a neighborhood I had admired for many years. In fact, my mother used to admire this neighborhood too. The homes aren't huge, they are all pre-war and many of them are bungalow or ranch style homes. At first I had grandiose ideas of what I wanted to do with my 1940's style house, with original hardwood floors, like any first time home buyer. But as the years went by and we didn't do anything I started to care less and less about it.  It's a four bedroom house and in the 17 years that I've lived here we only painted two rooms, one upstairs for my step-daughter when she lived here and one downstairs for the kid's nursery. Nothing else. What's worse, we never even fixed one of the upstairs bedrooms to use it. As you can imagine, 17 years have taken their toll on an already old house that has never been remodeled or kept up.

It's like I'm missing the gene that most people have, the one that gives them that desire to have a nice house. To make things even worse than my house being older and run down, I'm also messy. I tried to do research on why I don't really care about things like how my house looks and being messy. Most research says a messy house is a sign of depression, which I don't think I really have. It's also a sign of laziness, which, who am I kidding, is probably closer to the reason.

Then I found this article that states something I've often thought about myself but I don't really like to say aloud for fear of sounding arrogant or like I'm looking for an excuse. It says that "messy people aren't wrapped up in the status quo." Messy people are also more intellectual and like to spend time on reading and writing rather than cleaning. It feels like cleaning and keeping house is shallow and that our time can be better used doing something productive. This was a little bit of a consolation but I'm not 100% convinced that's the whole reason.

I also think about how much it would cost to really remodel this house correctly and the idea of putting myself in that kind of debt makes me sick. Then I get this dreaded feeling. Am I my father? My father never wanted to do anything that was going to put him and my mother in debt. To the point of making my mother angry and frustrated. When I was a little girl she wanted to buy a house in this neighborhood and he wouldn't have it. My sisters used to complain that he didn't believe in doing anything "normal" because "normal" people bought houses and had to make house payments.

However I know that I have to do something drastic soon. It has become a problem for me and something I want to overcome. It's something I struggle with and I've written about it in the past. I'm at a crossroads now. As part of my #3yearplan I need to decide what I'm going to do with this house. I receive weekly inquiries asking me if I'm interested in selling and I don't reply to any of them, even out of curiosity. I know that if I sell it can't be until after Seth has graduated from high school.

One thing that I have been wanting to do and I haven't done yet is to do an exercise of packing everything that means something to me into bins. Just the things that I would keep or want to save if my house was on fire . Everything else I will either give away or throw away. I feel like doing it that way would be so cleansing. And I feel like it would make it so much faster and easier to decide what I don't want to keep. I have seventeen years of accumulated junk.

The only question now is when? When am I going to start on this quest and I know the answer has to be SOON. I have to tackle it one room at a time so that I don't give myself an anxiety attack. I also have to approach it in the same manner that we approached packing up my father's house when he decided to rent it out.

So that is my goal as I head into summer. Pack up my house like it's about to sell or like it's on fire. I need to do something to clear my space and my head.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Staying in the Pool & Finishing the Race

I started listening to Brene Brown talks around 2012, a year after she made her now famous first TED Talk. I actually watched a second one that year called “Listening to Shame” first and then I went back to watch the first one. After that I read her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” and loved it, followed by “Daring Greatly.” I’ve been meaning to read the three books she’s published since then but life has gotten in the way. 

 I couldn't find a picture of me in my middle school swimsuit!

Yesterday and today I watched her new Netflix show, “The Call to Courage.” Wow! Just wow at everything that she says. She tells a story about her daughter and swimming near the end.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the story really spoke to me. 

I struggle with a lot of insecurities like so many of us do, whether we know we do or not. I want to strive for greatness in my life and I fall on my face again and again in certain areas, because life becomes too overwhelming and sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly handle everything. So I decide to concentrate on just one area and to do that one thing really well, whether it’s raising my kids or my career.

Listening to Brene’s Netflix show and this specific story about her daughter reminded me of one of my own stories and thinking about this I realized that sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit.
I joined the swim and track teams in the 8th grade. I had no business joining either one but I did it so I could have 7th period gym with all my cheerleader best friends and my friends on the swim team. I learned how to really swim by being on the swim team because I realized once I joined that I really didn’t know how to swim. It turned out competitive swimming is completely different from leisure swimming. Since I wasn’t the best swimmer or the fastest swimmer there was no way I could compete in any of the 50 meter events. So instead Coach Scerbo chose the 100 Freestyle for me. I was not excited about swimming 100 meters but I was glad I wasn’t doing the 200 Freestyle like my friend Serena. I practiced and practiced in our little pool at Hamilton Middle School. My coach even had us swim extra because she knew our pool was smaller.  Then came my first meet at a middle school with a regulation size pool and I almost died. I couldn’t finish the 100 meter event and when I saw that I’d been lapped and had lost anyway, I got out of the pool. This happened at least two more times. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed for being too slow and for quitting.

On the very last swim meet of the season I promised myself that I would finish no matter what.  I’ll never forget that feeling of finishing.  I didn’t care that I had been lapped and that people were waiting for me to finish. I was all alone in the pool just swimming the length. When I got out my legs felt like jello and Coach Scerbo hugged me. I’m sure the other coaches and swimmers wondered why she rewarding me for mediocrity. Because they didn’t know what Coach Scerbo and what my teammates knew. That I had given up every other time before this, that I was embarrassed at being last and quitting. When I finally finished that 100 meter event I’d met my own personal challenge. At fourteen I had learned a very important lesson, to not give up and to go back and to try again and again until I accomplished my goal. What seemed like a small thing to some, was a huge thing for me.

Why do I mention this experience? When you watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special you’ll know. I have to give myself more credit. I have to remember that I may quit sometimes but I always go back and try again. That's been the story of my life and it will be to the end. I'm about to be 50 years old. At this point I have less years left of life than what I have lived. I will make this time count. I will be that girl who stays in the pool and finishes. 

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Next Goal: 200 Rides by One Year

I've made a list of all the things I want to work on during my #3YearPlan. At the top of the list is to exercise regularly and to eat healthier because if I do those two things everything else will fall into place. I want to be healthy enough in three years to do anything I want with my life, including traveling, maybe even buying a travel trailer.

On August 11 it will be my one year anniversary since I did my very first ride. I take this date as a sign because it was exactly, to the very day, 6 months before my 49th birthday. Later I made it my goal to reach 100 rides by my birthday and I did. Now my new goal is #200ridesby1year! I want to have completed 200 rides by my one year anniversary.

My one year anniversary on August 11 will mark exactly 6 months until my 50th birthday on February 11  Once I accomplish the 200 rides goal I want to set a new goal to reach #300ridesby50.

First things first. I have to get motivated again!  I took a long break after I had my cardiac catheterization because the entry points were in my groin, on each side. But I got right back on after that break and I came back strong, completing my first goal. After that goal and my birthday trip to Las Vegas something happened to me. I became completely unmotivated, even when others told me I had motivated them and they bought a Peloton or were considering it. I hurt my left rotater cuff doing the weights but that shouldn't have kept me off the bike too but it did. I kept thinking I would just take a week or two off and then before I knew it that time became longer and longer. Well no more excuses. I'm back in the saddle again and on my way to 200 rides.

Now that the time has changed and I'm coming home when there's daylight I want to start walk/running again on alternate days. I want to make this a real lifestyle and I don't want to take long breaks in between. This has to become my life until I can't do it any more, because that day may come. We can never be certain of our life and we shouldn't take our health and what we can do right now for granted. I don't know what the future holds for me health-wise with my family's history.

I know I've said these words before but since I got the Peloton this has become more real and attainable because I know I can do it. The Peloton made me believe in exercise again and really changed my relationship with exercise. I know I've already said that but I will say it again. I've kept my weight down and I am very confident that it will just take a few rides to build back up to where I was.

So here's to 200 rides! Fellow Pelotoners, who is with me?