Category Archives: single parenting

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. 

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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. 

it’s ok to be alone

Everyone walks a different path.  Some people have a need to be in a partnership, and others tend to go from relationship to relationship searching for whatever it is that they need.  Then there are the other people who seem to do well on their own.  These are interesting people.  They depend on themselves and are content to be alone.

This doesn’t mean they don’t have friends or want to go out and have a good time.  They just don’t have a need to be in a relationship to define themselves or feel complete.  I admire this quality.  And as time goes on, I feel that I fit into this group more and more.  I find I need to weigh the pros and cons of relationships with being single every time someone tries to set me up, or I am asked out on a date.  For the last few years, the single me continues to win.

I used to be afraid of growing old and dying alone.  I don’t fear that any longer.  It seems to me that once you get to know yourself truly as just you without outside influences, it becomes easier to live your life as a single person.

Will I stay single forever?  I don’t have the answer to that, but I know that for now, it feels right to be alone, and that it is perfectly ok.

authenticity

Be your authentic self.  Buzz words.  Everyone is saying things like this it seems these days.  But what does it truly mean?

I’m sure we all have our own take on what it means to be authentic.  But without spending time alone with yourself, how do you truly know if you are your own true authentic self, or if you are picking up on pieces of stronger personalities?  How do you know you aren’t just being what you are expected to be?

In this world, being authentic is hard.  There are expectations out there.  Go to University.  Get a high paying job.  Get married, have a family.  Don’t get divorced.  But where in all this does it fit to be truly authentic?

It doesn’t.

I have lived that life.  I was who everyone wanted me to be.  I did the education, I had great aspirations and hopes for a career.  I had the six figures.  I had the marriage and the family.  And all the illusions I had to maintain to keep up that façade.  I was miserable.

I got separated.  Parts of the false me started to fall away.  I opened up about the horrors of my relationship and people were shocked and stunned by what I had kept hidden.  But this is part of my story.  The true me.  I looked at my life and realized I wasn’t happy in that career.  I wasn’t truly interested in doing research or the other things I needed to do in order to be successful in that world.  I dropped it.  And I can tell you, it felt good.  It was a burden lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t realize I was carrying around.

I started exploring who I felt I was.  It was a redefining period of time.  I explored things that made be happy.  I sat.  I meditated.  I did yoga.  I went and spent time with just myself.  I was lost for over two decades, but somewhere in the silence, I found me.

Not everyone likes the me I am today, and I am ok with that.  I have been passed up for opportunities that I am more than qualified for simply because I no longer follow the corporate rules, and that is ok.  I forgive the people and the situation.  I thank the Universe for the experience and go forward knowing that I am exactly where I need to be, because where I am, is where I am accepted for who I truly am.  I am welcomed and encouraged to be my own authentic version of myself.  It has turned out better than anything I have ever expected or imagined.

That feels better than all those goals I had been chasing.  I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy pieces of that time because there are many parts that I loved and would do again.  But knowing now what it is to be fully me, I will not sacrifice my authenticity for any of the chairpersons, department heads or managers that think they have control over my fate.  They don’t control anything.  I am free.

And I am very happily and authentically me.

we all experience a little sadness

We all get into a funk from time to time, don’t we?  I did this week.  I had some changes occur in my life and I know I wasn’t responding to them in the most positive way.  I knew they were coming, it wasn’t as if I was blindsided.  I knew.  I was just…sad.  Sad for the changes because it wasn’t what I was wanting or looking for or even hoping on.

But it happened anyway.

Sometimes change can be difficult, particularly when we do not embrace it.  It is ok.  We are all allowed to be a little sad, or a little depressed, or in that funk.  I think the most important thing to remember is that when we do, we should acknowledge those feelings.  Let them be present.  Sit with them for a while, then let them pass on their merry way.  Without sadness, we do not know happiness.  Without the storm, we can’t recognize the calm.

Don’t be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened.  Who said that?  Dr. Seuss perhaps. It is a good mantra.  I will try to not be sad that it is over.  I am smiling because it happened.  I am pleased to have experienced it all and created the connections I did.  Some things are in our lives for a purpose, no matter how short the period is.  They are all significant in creating us who we are.

Onwards and upwards.

quality time

I value quality time with those I love.  Spending time together is worth more than any store bought gift, in my opinion.

This weekend was one of those weekends where we didn’t have anything pressing to do.  Being a long weekend on top of it, we decided rather last minute to take a trip to the zoo.  Since it is a three hour drive each way, we made sure to get up nice and early.  We packed up the cameras, water bottles and music for the drive and away we went.  We always stop for coffee and breakfast before leaving town.  It’s just what we do.  The kids eat while I drive, and I have my caffeine fix.  Sometimes they fall asleep on the drive, sometimes we all sing along to whatever song is playing.  Sometimes they read.  It’s always enjoyable no matter what.

I’ve come to crave these little day trips.  The adventure of getting away, of taking a trip unplanned.  Just drop everything and go.  Sometimes these are solo trips if the kids are not home that week, but I love the ones where they come along the most.  It’s good quality time well spent.  On top of that, my eldest had a chance to continue developing his photography skills in a different setting.  He’s getting very good at it, and I am very proud of him.  But there’s something to be said for getting away from home for just a little while.  A change of scenery.  A little excitement.  Spending time outdoors, and believe me, we were out there walking around and enjoying the sun and the setting for a good five hours at least.  These are the little things that they will remember as they grow into adults.  These are the things I will remember as they grow up and move on to live their own lives.  I will know that they will have those happy memories to draw upon.  They will have that influence for how they might like to live their lives, and should they have children, to do what they enjoyed as kids for their own.

Quality time.  I read somewhere that you have 18 summers with your children before they are grown.  This is what I’m doing with my 18.