Sunday, 17 February 2013

A Different Kind of Valentine

Day 192
173 Days Remaining

Wow, the days are flying by!  I had a Valentine's Day post in mind that I wanted to work on for the 14th, but it's that time of year again, with midterms and exhaustion and whatever else comes with it (plus some difficult things that have been going on), that I just have not had opportunity - or energy - to write.  Now here it is the 17th, and I'm three days late with a Valentine post.  Good thing I'm not in a relationship or the poor guy would have been kept waiting!

Regardless, Valentine's Day is really a bit of a non-issue for me, this year at least.  It's nice not to have expectations about anything, although I was very pleased to get text messages from several friends wishing me a Happy V-Day (I had to laugh when one friend sent me a text saying "I hope this day does not sadden you"...while I'm sure it was well-meant, it came across as slightly pitying).  I celebrated "Singles Awareness Day" - recognizing the fact that being single is awesome and that not everyone needs to be in a relationship to be happy.  In fact, I am a lot happier being single on Valentine's Day than I have been in the past while in a relationship and feeling forgotten.

That being said, Valentine's Day - the modern celebration, at least, if not strictly in its origins - is about love, being loved, and appreciating those you care about.  I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the people I love, some who mean more and are more important than a boyfriend would at this point in my life.

#1. My children.  I have two boys and a girl, who are fast growing up and away from me.  My older son, in fact, has surpassed me in height within this past year and now towers over me at around six foot two inches.  He is an emotional boy who has the capacity to feel so very deeply, which, combined with teenage hormones, can be difficult for him.  My heart aches when he goes through tough times, especially when he won't let anyone near.  Having struggled with my own emotional issues, I want so badly to reach out to him and make everything better for him, but all I can do is keep loving him unconditionally - which I could never stop doing - and pray that he will be stronger due to these minor hardships.  He is funny, a talented artist, and when he puts his mind to it, a hard worker and great with younger kids.  He is an amazing basketball player and creates music videos on the computer that astound me.

My daughter is graduating from high school this year, and is really one of the best teenagers I know - she's sure of herself and what she believes in, strong in faith and moral conviction, beautiful inside and out, smart, and caring toward her friends and those less fortunate.  We haven't had the best of relationships since her dad and I split up, but she will forever be my little girl and I am so very proud of who she is becoming.  On occasion we make that connection that is so very rare and special, and I see a glimpse of the funny little one who loved her mother oh so very much.  I live for those moments of connection with my girl.  She's been hurt by our separation, and I wish there were ways I could take some things back so that she could always feel secure and know that I love her more than anything.  She made me a mother and when I first held her in my arms, I started becoming the person that God wants me to be.  I`ve struggled haphazardly in that journey from there to here, but even when she no longer let me hold her in my arms, I never stopped holding her in my heart.

My younger son is still the joy and light of my life, but I can feel as he grows older that he is moving away from me.  He still stands in front of the congregation at church and holds my hand as we sing on the worship team together, but he no longer wants nighttime cuddles before bed or will want to sit as close to me.  He`s still so loving and fun, but those moments of preteen belligerence are starting.  Having gone through this with the older two, I grasp whatever moments I can with him before our short time together is done and he moves into those difficult teen years.  He is funny and smart, and so very caring.  I still have an impact on him these days, and you can bet I`m aware of it more than I ever was when my older two were his age!  He`s my last baby.  I will mourn our closeness later, so I had best take advantage of it while I can.

#2. My family.  I have never been closer to my mother, my sister and her husband and children, my dad and my half-sister's family in Alberta.  I didn't appreciate them as much when I was younger, but every time I get a chance to spend time with the family I have in town, it's comforting and encouraging.  My mom is my go-to person whenever something is wrong or difficult, and she is the best listener - and not only that, but somehow she always knows the right thing to say!  Maybe it's simply because she had to parent me (and I was not the easiest teen to deal with!), but whenever I'm having a hard time with the kids and not knowing where to go next, her advice is spot on.  I haven't had the chance to sit and have tea with my mommy lately...I am feeling a distinct need to.
My sister is married with two small children, and I see our places in life now reversed.  When she was a university student, I was the one with little ones, and now here I am in school while she is dealing with all those things that go along with having babies and toddlers!  We are closer than we've ever been, and even though it's busy when we get together, we still always manage to have meaningful and thoughtful conversations.  Twice a year - on our birthdays - we manage to get out for a girls' pedicure or massage or getaway up-Island, and that time is precious to both of us.  Her two kids are the most beautiful things on the planet, and I love to steal one or the other of them on occasion and enjoy that time that I miss having with my own kids now that they're so big.  Hopefully, it allows my sis a chance to relax, too.

#3. My friends.  I challenge anyone: I have THE BEST friends in the world.  Some of these are LouLou, Stoney, Stringer, Shorty, and my old pal Dent...they are amazing and give me so much love and help when I need it.  LouLou and I have been friends for over sixteen years, and Stoney and I have known each other for about five years, and now that I have introduced the two of them to each other and we go to prayer counseling together, it's a group that is so strong in faith and encouragement.  We've all gone through our own individual difficulties and continue to struggle, but having these two friends in my life gives me so much joy and hope no matter what the circumstance.  I hope to give to each of them just a little bit of what they give to me.

Shorty is a new friend from school this year, and she is so much fun.  She's young - almost as young as my daughter - but we have somehow made such a connection that has stood through one semester and into this current one.  She is a Christian, so we have that in common, and so silly and ridiculous at times that our craziness just escalates.  Having grown up with seven siblings, though, she is also equipped with skills for resolving conflict of any sort - not that she and I have any! - and it gives her such a laid back, calm air when it's needed.  For some reason, I can study with Shorty like with no one else.  We can laugh our way through biology (and about seven cups of coffee and a dozen fudge muffins) and still come out the other side knowing and understanding more than we ever did.  (Speaking of which, we have a midterm on Wednesday...I had better give Shorty a call...)
Dent is a great friend I met back when I was an insurance broker and he was a client.  He is such a great friend and brings me coffee and chat - plus computer help - whenever I'm in need.  Many a time - especially during my "relationship" with HB - I have called Dent in the middle of the night bawling my face off, and he shakes off his sleep and is always there for me.  He would come running at 2 am if I needed him...and there have been times that I have.  He's been there for me with financial help, emotional help, tech help, and just plain fun over the past six years.

And Stringer...ah yes, Stringer.  Still in my life, although the way things ended between us back in 2009, I never would have expected that he would still be around, never mind that he would be so important to me.  Stringer and I have both come such a long way since we dated - well, let's face it: he was 21 years old, and I was an emotional wreck coming out of my marriage.  Now, here we are, both a lot more mature, and able to relate to each other in ways we just couldn't manage previously.  He encourages me through this dating hiatus, reminds me of things I may have forgotten, teaches me things that I would never have expected him to know, shows me the things in myself that are good and lovely, and enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his.  We are able to laugh together and cry together, depending on what's happening.  I'm amazed that he and I have reached this level of compatibility, and I don't take it for granted.

So, all in all, my Valentine's Day was full and complete with all these wonderful people in it.  How could I ever have sadness when I have such a great support network?  I hope you all feel the same way: that there are people you can count on no matter what...people who love you and accept you, will support you and tell you - in a gentle manner - when you're being stupid and you need to snap out of it, who will look to the future with you and help you forget the difficult parts of your past.  I don't know where I would be without them.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Year Half Empty, or Year Half Full?

Day 182
183 Days Remaining

When you're splitting a year directly in half - unless it's a leap year, which this year is not - it's hard to know where exactly the halfway point is.  365 days doesn't divide evenly, which is a source of annoyance to people with slight OCD tendencies, such as myself.  So, I'm choosing to take both today AND tomorrow as the halfway point in this 365-day journey, since there's no way to really know where exactly the moment of 182.5 days will take place (okay, yes, I'm sure there are ways to scientifically figure that out, but I'm not going to go that far with it!).  So, here we are, celebrating the halfway point of my year without dating.

Six months gone; six months left.  In some ways I feel as though this is yet another turning point; it's a way of marking another new beginning within this new beginning.  I can re-energize myself, much as I do when I'm on the treadmill and I get to the point of being halfway done - this new burst of energy comes over me and I feel like shouting "I can do this!  I can!"  Despite my "failures" and stumbles along the way, I have managed to make it this far, and I can definitively say that I have learned a lot in the past 182 days.  It's not really the fact of not dating that is changing me, but the fact that I have made the commitment to take the time to get to know myself and to work on revamping and overthrowing old habits, as well as creating new ones.  I feel a lot more in touch with myself, with my needs, and with God.  So far, a success.

So far during this yearlong hiatus I've examined my past relationships; made lists of what I want to do with my life and with myself; learned to how set some boundaries; reflected on my own shortcomings; and fallen back in love with myself and with my Lord.  I've created new habits and ventured forth with things that I have wanted to do for a long time and never allowed myself to.  I let go of the one thing - the one man - that was holding me back for too long, and I haven't missed him in the least.  I have found a new kind of freedom, and it excites me to think of what's ahead of me.  In the next six months, I plan to take a long-awaited and much-needed vacation on my own or with a dear friend; finish my first year of nursing school; continue my dance lessons and maybe even hit the dance floor a time or two; and drive down to Mexico with my church family to build houses for three families who are living in cardboard shacks roofed with plastic bags.  There is so much to look forward to! 

 Halfway.  It's already felt like such a long time, and I have to admit the months ahead seem daunting, but I will fill them with new revelations and I am sure I will come to know myself even more intimately.  I know I still need to work on my boundaries, my red-flag indicators, and staying strong with what I want for myself, but as lengthy as it seems when I envision that 183 days still ahead of me, it's also a relief that I still have that much more time to work toward really being who I am and cementing those ideas of what I want and don't want inside my head and my heart. 

Celebrating the halfway point today with a heart that's anything but half-full,