Category Archives: single parenting

spirit of the season

This weekend, my youngest son and I went out for a while, just the two of us.  There is a local centre that has a few boutiques that was having a family fun day.  We decided to go and check it out.  We wandered around and looked at the fun garden pieces they had for sale, and looked at the delicious organic candies and cookies.  I offered to buy him a cookie so we could sit and enjoy the moment, but he opted not to.  He asked instead if we could go and find a present that he could gift to his brother for Christmas.  We decided to go to Indigo, but before shopping for his brother, we opted to sit and have a drink at Starbucks.  He loves the vanilla bean Frappuccino, so I ordered him one of those, and I bought one of their specialty holiday hot drinks for myself.  We sat and talked about the holidays and the excitement.  We watched people as they came and went.  He sipped from his straw as his feet dangled and swung while he sat in his chair.  I watched my youngest son as he showed pure happiness by just having some one on one time with me, his mother.

Families often do things together, but it is so important to give children one on one time with their parent too.  My older son gets his one on one time as we share our common passion of photography, but there was something magical about this time with the younger one.  He is still so full of holiday excitement, seeing the magic of the season.  I love the shimmer in his eyes as he talks about our traditions.  And the most wonderful part is that none of it involves receiving gifts.  It is all the other stuff: the holiday treats, the music, the friends that we gather with, and the special dinner that we decide collectively on having.

This was one of those moments where my heart swells with pride and love.  My son is growing up with love and compassion in his heart.  As he grows, he is thinking of others more and more.  He is becoming more like his older brother every day.  They both make me very proud.

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the best gift

Yesterday, I was out for breakfast with one of my newest, yet closest friends.  We have regular ‘dates’, but sometimes they get shifted around due to other schedules.  We are ok with it, and sometimes it allows us the opportunity to do something different and fun.  We missed our regular Friday night get-together because of a work Christmas party.  Instead, we opted for Saturday morning breakfast at a popular little restaurant in town.

We did our usual chatting, catching up on the last couple of weeks.  Then she stopped and noticed something about me.  She said how she can see me with short hair when we are older and showing more grey.  She commented on us still getting together when we are old friends.

Old friends.

The thought of having old friends has always been elusive to me.  I have been the type to move every twelve years or less, but knowing I will be here, in this location, for far longer it finally dawned on me: I can have old friends here.  I have never given myself permission to look that far ahead in relationships because none of them, except for my absolute best friend 2000km away, has ever lasted the distances.  Old friends.  Greying, aging, and still there for each other kind of old friends.

This innocent comment that I am sure she had no idea of its impact, was in fact, the best gift I could have been given.

the meditation of cleaning house

There is a certain sense of accomplishment that comes along with having a clean home.  I find there is pleasure not only in the final product, but also in the process.  I wouldn’t say I love to clean, but I do love when it is clean; but to get to that point, the action has to be taken.

I devote certain days to cleaning.  I do a seasonal deep cleaning, so like spring cleaning four times a year.  I love the freshness of this routine.  It helps me get to the areas that I may have forgotten or overlooked during my routine cleaning.  It is also that sense of accomplishment that rewards me every time I do it.  It also helps me to flush out the unwanted clutter that somehow always seems to make its way back into my spaces.

Yesterday was one of those seasonal deep cleaning days.  It was the three of us working away at it.  Ok, it was mostly me, and my older son was a great help, but the younger one did minimal work because he has been down with a hefty cold and lacking on energy.  Still, that feeling when you sit down, sore back and dried out hands from soapy water washes…that feeling is so rewarding.  Good, old fashioned manual labor.  It still has a place in our technologically driven world.

With a minimalist-style lifestyle, the seasonal cleaning sessions, as well as the weekly and daily I might add, they have become easier and shorter sessions.  They no longer take a week, or a weekend.  They take an afternoon, give or take.  Another reason why I adore this philosophy.  Now there is more time to do what I want, and I was able to sleep well last night knowing that the chore of house cleaning was completed.

minimalism and the holiday season

With November comes the prelude to the holiday season.  The buying season.  It makes me cringe thinking about it sometimes.  There is nothing that I need, except for a few renovations around my house.  My children have everything they need too.

The holiday season is that time of year where you feel that push…that obligation to buy things that really have no business coming into my home.  I do not need more kitschy knick knacks.  My kids don’t need more useless toys that they won’t play with.  And I certainly do not need to get deeper in debt for a holiday that seems more and more to be focused on spending money instead of time.

I am digging in my heels this year.  Yes, we have preplanned gifts from my parents, and that will still happen.  But, I have already forewarned my children that there is a strict budget in place for Christmas spending, and I will not go beyond it this year.

The great thing is, they are old enough to understand that the less we buy, the more money we can save for vacations and adventures.  This appeals to them; well more so to one of them, but the other can be fairly easily convinced…

As a minimalist (in the making), I feel that I need to cultivate the principal of spending more time together over spending more money on each other.  I hope this will become a trend with my loved ones.  Life is expensive enough without having to keep up with the Jones’, or even the exes for that matter.  I hope that one gift I can give to my children is the understanding that the holidays are meant for spending together, and not for overspending on the budget.

mental health

Taking time for mental health is something often forgotten. While many separate mental and physical health, they are closely linked in my opinion. When something is weighing heavily upon us and we have difficulty dealing with it yet still continue to go about our daily lives, we end up with mental trauma and anguish. 

Taking time to ensure we have good mental health is equally as important as making sure our bodies are healthy. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, or anything that is making your quality of life less than ideal, please visit a medical professional. Please do not wait until it goes too far. 

If you see a loved one suffering, do not avoid them. Engage them and offer your support. People need to know they are cared for.  You might be the one thing that shows them that life is still worth living. 

gilmore girls and me

When Gilmore Girls ran from 2000 to 2007, I didn’t pay much attention to the show.  At that particular point in my life, I couldn’t relate.  I was still married at that point and working overtime consistently.  Then had my sons, and I still could not relate because I had sons, not a daughter; I had a husband, although it often felt like I was parenting and running the household all alone.

I have watched the series a couple of times since my divorce.  I find that I can now relate to the characters much more now than I could when it first came out.  There are a few aspects of the show that I find appealing.

I have five reasons outlined here:

I like that Lorelai is a strong, independent single mother.  She stands up for herself and her daughter.  She does not back down when she feels that she is justified.  I like this tenacity, and it gives me strength when I don’t feel like I have the fight left in me any longer.

I appreciate that Lorelai can be alone comfortably, but that she is not bitter towards men, and still has the hope that somewhere out there, she will find the right one.  That goes without saying that the right one was before her the whole time, but she needed to figure that out for herself, and she did.  Sometimes we all need that opportunity to find things out in our own way instead of being told by someone else.

I admire that she has been successful in her own right.  She worked her way up to managing the Independence Inn, worked herself through college, then embarked upon an entrepreneurial venture with her best friend, Sookie.  This shows tenacity in character, one that I hope I can also demonstrate.  I know this is a make believe story, and that many do not work this way in real life, but sometimes we need to believe the story to give us the courage to carry forward.

I acknowledge that the story shows conflict between Lorelai and her parents.  This is realistic as we all have some sort of conflict to contend with.  It may not be to the extreme that this make-believe family endures, but it is symbolic nonetheless.

I adore the bonding between Lorelai and her daughter, Rory.  This is incredibly important to me as I hope that as my sons continue to grow and develop, that we will also have a bond as strong as the one portrayed between Lorelai and Rory.

When I need motivation to carry forward with the things that are weighing me down in my real life, I find that this show gives me courage to continue on.  I gain strength from the idea that I am not alone in the world of single parenting.  I recognize that I should not close the doors to potential romantic relationships, but at the same time, continue on as I would without the thought of needing a partner.  Every time I watch an episode, it provides me with a little something that I am in need of, and for that I am grateful.

A meaningful life

What does it mean to live a meaningful life?  Does it mean success in respect to financial gain?  Success in a career?  A happy family?

Perhaps the definition is different for everyone.  We are all driven by different desires and needs.  Some feel the need to have a prominent career and work long hours.  This may give a sense of fulfillment to that individual, and if it does, that is great.  None of us are made the same.

Growing up, we are conditioned from an early age to think about what we want to be when we grow up.  How you will make your living is supposed to be the biggest part of being an adult, and we tend to get lost in this concept.  We are defined by our jobs.  By our titles.  When we meet new people, that is inevitably one question that comes up early in the conversation…so, what do you do…and of course we rattle off what we do to make ends meet.

But we are so much more than that.  We are not just our jobs.  What is it that you will reflect back on and see that your life had meaning?  Will you look back and say wow, I made a lot of money and be happy with that?  Or will you say wow, I made a lot of money, but I never had time with my loved ones or to do the things I had always wanted to do?

Millenials coming into the workforce have the idea that their time off is equally as important as the time they spend at work.  They appear to value their personal time more than GenXers do.  At least here in North America…Europeans have had a different philosophy for many years, one to be admired I believe.

A meaningful life to me means that I have left this world better than I found it.  That I have touched the lives and hearts of others in even a small way.  I find that I can do that in my career, but I also spend my personal time to do more of that.  I enjoy my family time and give myself to my children with all my heart.  I enjoy my time with my friends, and do what I can to make their happiness a priority too; because when they are happy, so am I.  I volunteer.  I have my own groups that I belong to that bring me joy as well.

I don’t want to feel that I have spent all my time at work without putting in at least equal the effort to make the rest of my life matter as well.  How do you make your life meaningful?  Is there something special that you do? Please comment if you would like to share.

 

physical clutter affects everything

Clearing physical clutter is important.  It is important not just because it cleans the space you live in, but it cleans your mental space too.  Having stuff linger in your space affects many aspects of your life, whether you realize it or not.  It hangs over your head.  It’s one of those things that you think you will get to…eventually.  But when is that?  When does eventually come?

I had a garage full of waste.  I had a deck that needed work, and the debris ended up in my garage.  I didn’t think it through, I just knew that the deck needed to be fixed, and I would deal with the debris after the fact.  It was hidden in the garage, right where I should have been parking.  But for over two years, that clutter invaded my space and was constantly on my mind.  Not only that, I also had debris from some minor renovations I had done inside my home from up to four years ago.  It was sitting in my workroom in the basement and sitting on my mind, knowing full well that I needed to manage it at some point.

On an unrelated topic, but still relatable, I have a fantastic friend who pushes me to do things from time to time, in the best possible way.  He also needed to remove clutter, so we made a plan.  Yesterday, we were able to clear all that debris away for both of us.  We both have a clear space and that opens up mental space also.  I am able to park in my garage once again, and I have the ability to free up some of that mental space all that debris was taking up for something much better.

Sometimes we do not realize how much space and energy that physical clutter takes up in all facets of our lives.  If you consider one simple thing:  I had two winters of not being able to park in my garage.  That means two winters of wondering how much snow we received overnight, and expending energy to clear snow off my vehicle in order to get to work in the mornings.  Had I taken the time to remove that mess when it first was created, I could have spent those five to ten minutes every morning in a more relaxed way.

Clutter is a burden in many ways.  This long weekend is a perfect opportunity to tackle some of those burdens.  I have taken care of what was burdening me so that I can now appreciate the fruits of my labour.  I hope you can do the same.

taking time

Vacations are wonderful.  You plan and prepare for the trip, decide which sights you want to see and when.  You plan every day to be a full as possible so you can fit everything in to your limited time, because if you don’t, you won’t have a chance to do all the things you wanted to do.

But during that vacation away, did you think to take a day to just relax?  Maybe sleep in a little, or spend a lazy day exploring the forests or the beaches?

These vacation days create a lot of memories too. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe they create more memories than running from the art gallery to the science centre then to the zoo…you get the idea.

We did all of the planning.  I had every day scheduled with where to go and what to see.  In the end, what my children wanted to do won out.  We peeled away one activity for another.  We didn’t do all the things we had planned.  We spent way more time sitting on the beach watching sunsets and looking for crabs instead of going to the sights that we had on the schedule.  We took a morning and strolled through a forest and created a fairy home at the base of a giant redwood tree.

We created memories.

Yes, we did a lot of the scheduled stuff and hit the highlights.  But in retrospect, the highlights really were about exploring nature that was new to them.  About seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they discovered something they had never seen before.  It was about their pure excitement and joy the first time they dipped their toes in the salty ocean water.

These are the things that will create the memories that they will remember for a lifetime.

going outside your comfort zone

It’s easy in life to get into a routine and keep within that place of ease, where you know exactly what to expect. You can anticipate situations and outcomes and be prepared for them. But what happens when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you?  When life changes suddenly?

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that this has happened to me. Divorce is a rug being ripped out from underneath you and then falling through a hole in the floor under that rug.  

There is a lesson here that I have learned, and continues to be reinforced often. Life is more exciting and interesting (but sometimes frustrating) when you live outside that comfortable life. Five years ago, I would not have done what I have done today. 

Living outside my comfort zone has helped me to grow as an individual. It has helped me discover my independence and has even created an urge within me to continue to do things I would not have considered before. 

Don’t let life pass you by, wishing you had done things.

Do the things. Live. Enjoy. Life outside your bubble is going to give you greater satisfaction, and perhaps you too will discover a little something about yourself that you never knew either.