cripsy13

Musings, mutterings from the misguided.


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SELF INDULGENCE

Happy New Year!

So…how many of you made New Year’s Resolutions – hands up!  Right…now, how many of you are still following them?  Oh…yes, well, that’s to be expected.

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Every year, I vow to lose weight, drink less, do more, get out with friends, be more organized…the list goes on.  Most years I make it until about mid-January and then slowly everything starts to weaken…and I’m back to where I started, angry at myself for failing and then I wind up making things twice as hard for myself because if I’ve failed, I’m going to do it with a vengeance.

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Which ultimately means I eat too much, drink too much, slob out on the couch, ignore everyone and find myself looking for my bankcard at the bottom of my purse (because there is no way in HELL I’ll have put it back where it should go).

Bah.

Just prior to Christmas, I had a (as my father would have put it) a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with my landlord.  I’ve been wanting to purchase my condo for a long time, but kept putting off attacking the mountain of personal debt I’ve accumulated in about the past 9 years.  She’s given me until the middle of the year to prove that I AM working on it and if she’s happy with the results, she will bend over backwards to assist me with the purchase – WAY above and beyond what a normal landlord would ever do.  Our meeting was extremely intense; not since my father died have I had such a conversation about my debt and my addiction to self indulgence.

Which started after my dad died.  I just put that together.  Interesting.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my dad was everything – dad, best friend, mentor – I admit, I was definitely daddy’s girl.  He did everything for me – got the oil changed in my car, bailed me out of stupid monetary decisions – the stuff most dads do.  I never panicked – or paid much attention to things, because I knew dad always had my back.  I’m embarrassed to admit that he helped me out financially WAY too many times.

My dad died suddenly in February 2005.  It hit me like a fucking sledgehammer.  If you were to ask me what the rest of the year looked like, I can’t tell you because I was in a complete fog.  My sister and I had to start caring for our extremely needy mother, who made our lives a living hell.  I had lost my dad, my best friend and my support.  My safety net, as it were.

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That’s when things started getting ugly.  I started drinking too much, spending too much – EVERYTHING was too much.  I didn’t care, nor did I think of the ramifications of my actions.  It made me feel better.  It stopped the hurt.  I started spending like I had an unlimited trunk full of cash.  I didn’t buy big things; it was the little things – $40 here for a new shirt, $25 here for groceries and I’m not even going to get into how much I’ve spent on wine over the years (that in itself is embarrassing).  Maxed out more credit cards than I can count.  Managed to get myself back on track by paying them off, only to get myself back into trouble – time and time again.

I just didn’t care…I didn’t stop to think that all those little purchases added up to one big, hefty bill.  Oh, I made payments regularly and was always very conscious about doing that, but it was all peripheral; it never entered into my mind that I was paying 13%, 15% or 17% and throwing a few hundred at it each month wasn’t getting me anywhere.  I was managing it and I didn’t have debt collectors after me and it was all good.  Carry on!

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After my mother died in 2010, there was a small inheritance left to me and I used most of it to pay off debt.  Yay!  A credit card with a zero balance!  Whoo!  I can start spending again!

Just before Christmas I got extremely sick and have only just started feeling marginally human again.  I had a lot of time to just sit and ponder things…when one day, I had what I like to call – a jelly donut moment.  A jelly donut moment is when you stick your finger in the middle of the donut and watch everything ooze out the sides and top.  Basically – my psyche started oozing, but with that came clarity – a sense of calmness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

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I realized that for the past 9 years, I’ve been obsessively self indulgent.  I bought things because I wanted them RIGHT NOW and I drank too much because it made me forget all of my problems – but, I deserved it – didn’t I?

No.  Well, maybe.  My point is that all of the money I’ve spent, all of the wine I’ve drunk didn’t replace my dad – it only created a different dependency.  A dependency on being self indulgent.  ‘Poor me, I’ve had a bad day, I should go look at shoes.’

So, tucked at home in my jammies on New Year’s Eve, with some cold medicine and Netflix – I made a different resolution.  This is the year that I become less self indulgent.  I’m going to take care of myself by eating better, getting a bit more exercise and by not drinking.  I’m going to think before I spend.  Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be absolutely 100% ‘perfect’ – but what it means for me, is that those moments of self indulgence are going to be the exception, rather than the rule.  Because I deserve it – don’t I?


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LET THERE BE LIGHT!

When I was a kid, I LOVED winter.  Playing in the snow with my friends, tobogganing, ice skating…having the neighbourhood Great Dane pull us down the street with our slip sliders firmly attached to our winter boots.  Getting all ready to go outside and realizing I had to pee…really, the fun never ended.

Wait, yes it did.  I now hate, loathe, detest and despise winter.  Which, coming from someone who lives in Canada, is pretty funny.

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Snow.  Ice.  -40.  It all contributes to my hatred of winter.  But all of those things pale in comparison to the darkness that envelops us for 4 – 5 months out of the year.

As someone who has suffered from depression most of my adult life, the darkness of the winter months turns me into a hormonal, weepy, angry slug.  I have no energy.  I eat too much.  I drink too much.  The littlest things can set me off – the big things seem overwhelming.  All I want to do is curl up into a ball, pull the covers over my head and wait for April to roll around.  It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? 

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects a person during the same season each year. If you get depressed in the winter but feel much better in spring and summer, you may have SAD.

Anyone can get SAD, but it is more common in:

  • People who live in areas where winter days are very short or there are big changes in the amount of daylight in different seasons.
  • Women.
  • People between the ages of 15 and 55. The risk of getting SAD for the first time goes down as you age.
  • People who have a close relative with SAD.

What causes SAD?

Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. Lack of light may upset your sleep-wake cycle and other circadian rhythms. And it may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin that affects mood.

What are the symptoms?

If you have SAD, you may:

  • Feel sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.
  • Lose interest in your usual activities.
  • Eat more and crave carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta.
  • Gain weight.
  • Sleep more and feel drowsy during the daytime.

Symptoms come and go at about the same time each year. For most people with SAD, symptoms start in September or October and end in April or May (information courtesy of WebMD)

My symptoms started this past week – moody, weepy, tired – drinking and eating too much…and it’s very frustrating, because I KNOW what it is, yet I don’t seem to be able to put a stop to it – it’s sort of like having PMS for 4 entire months – it’s hard enough for me, but the people around me must be just THRILLED (insert apology to all, here).

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Work is especially delightful this time of year, because I find it very difficult to be around people and in my job, most days are spent with large groups of them and for the most part, all I want to do is poke each and every one of them in the eye.  Not because they’ve done anything wrong – I just don’t like people this time of year.

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It’s gonna be a long winter, folks.


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Here yesterday; Gone today…

The end.  Finito.  That’s all, Folks!

You see – I am the end of the line – family wise.  My dad was the only boy (he had two sisters) and I was supposed to be a boy (oops, sorry about the not having a penis thing).  It’s something that’s bothered me for many years, ever since I realized (and, was informed) that I am indeed, it.

About five years ago, I became very interested in tracing my family tree.  Now, my dad’s side has been traced back to Adam (we’re a bunch of drunken, Scottish heathens) – but my mom’s side – well, that’s a whole different ball of wax.

My mother never told me (or anyone, for that matter) much about her family.  My grandfather died about 5 months before I was born, and based on what my sister and dad have told me about him, he was quite the character and I’m very sad that I never got the chance to meet him.  He came from Russia in 1913 to join the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  He fought in France, lived through Vimy and was wounded a few days later at (in?) Arleaux Loop.  He was sent to a military hospital in England, where he married his nurse and they returned to Canada.

That’s about all I’ve got.  My mother adored her father and didn’t have much use for her mother (who, according to my mother, was evil and batshit crazy…hmm…the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree on that one).

So, armed with that information, I started digging.  I came across some information in an old family photo album that actually listed all of my grandmother’s brothers and sisters.  Aha!  But the person I was most interested in was my grandfather.

On and off, over the past few years, I’ve done some research, even managed to get copies of his attestation papers from Veterans’ Affairs.  Reading them was just fascinating!  It detailed his military history, his health, what happened when he was wounded – every little detail was meticulously kept.  Except for the town in Russia he was born in.  The name he had listed doesn’t exist, nor did it ever exist.  I tried a million different variations, asked around to some of my eastern European friends – I just couldn’t get anywhere, so I sort of let it lie.

About a month ago, my sister gave me a bag of documents.  It was everything that was in my dad’s safety deposit box – she’d had it for some time, but had only recently come across it.  For me, it was like Christmas.  I found my mother’s birth certificate – and on it – was the REAL name of the town my Grandfather was born in!  Turns out that it’s now considered a part of Belarus (I guess that sort of makes me a Belorussian – I think we’re very good at shot put in the Olympics, if I remember correctly 🙂 ).  I also found out that my mother had Grade 12 piano (never heard her play a note in her life).  I even found copies of her high school report cards – she was a pretty smart cookie; dad on the other hand – erm, not so much.  It had my dad’s military records, a few photos and even a letter written to my grandfather from 1904.

In this bag, was a link to the family I never knew, never got to know and brought to light who my parents were before they were my parents.

My mother was HOT, I mean SMOKIN’ HOT!  And my dad was no slouch himself.  I learned through some reading and from my sister that she was a talented artist (again, I never knew of this). She was a real shit disturber during her Air Force days, and spent most of her time on her hands and knees, scrubbing airplane hangars with a toothbrush.  The pictures I have of her as a young woman shows a free spirit, full of fun and life and mischief.  Dad was the same way – some of his Air Force stories had me rolling with laughter (some of the crap he was allowed to get away with in the 1950’s is considerably different than what they can get away with today!)

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I’m sad that I never got to know my parents beyond them being ‘mom and dad’.  I did a little bit with my dad, but my mom remained tight lipped until the day she died.  It’s only now that I’m learning to appreciate who they were as people, as a young man and woman in the 40’s and 50’s.  Why they were the way they were – what happened to my mother to turn her into an old, manipulative and excessively codependent woman?  Why didn’t she share her life with us, her family?  Was my dad truly happy?  Did he live a good life and was he able to achieve some of his dreams?

While I’m writing this post for me – it’s mostly for all of you who might still be lucky enough to have your parents with you.  Learn from them.  Ask questions – not kid to parent questions – adult to adult questions.  Ask about their past, their dreams and what some of the best parts of their lives have been.  Would they have lived life differently?  Do they have any regrets?  Encourage them to tell stories about crazy Aunt Helen, about their first kiss – even their first job.  Get to know them as people; you’ll be pleasantly surprised about the things you learn – after all, they’re human too.


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About a month ago, I met with the psychiatrist in my Weight Wise program; a lovely woman named Margaret.  Determining my mental health (or lack thereof) is a crucial part of deciding whether or not this program is for me.

Margaret was wonderful.  She was easy to open up to and asked what I considered to be very relevant questions.  I told her my tales of being overweight since I was a kid, how I use food for comfort, the usual things.  It was very refreshing to speak to someone about my weight who wasn’t telling me that I need to eat more vegetables.  Who understood that my weight issues stem from my BRAIN and not necessarily what I put into my mouth (I should also explain that I have a number of physical issues that contribute to my obesity; not the other way around and it makes it twice as hard to lose weight).

I told her the regular ‘as a kid, I didn’t get (insert emotion here) and therefore I turned to (insert vice here).’  And, that as an adult, I still find great comfort in a bowl of potato chips while reading a book just before I go to bed.

I’ve since seen my case worker, who is also fabulous and she has asked me to track my food/exercise intake so that she can take a look at it the next time I see her.  I grudgingly agreed to do so – why grudgingly?  Because I’ve been down this road before and it’s not ended well.  I become obsessive over every single calorie.  It turns into a full time job just remembering to log that extra teaspoon of ketchup.  If I go over my calorie count for the day, I consider it a huge failure and I get very upset. Putting it in writing means that I have to commit myself to something and that’s not my strong point.  Like an ex boyfriend said to me years ago – “you want a commitment?  I can’t even commit to owning a goldfish.”

So, as of last Monday, I’ve been writing down what I’ve eaten.  Now, I don’t know what exactly is happening in my head these days, but to be blunt – I’m a pig.  I can’t stop eating.  I don’t care what I eat, what I drink or how much.  I liken it to a Roman feast (sans roasted peacock or stuffed door mouse).  Even during my worst times, I wasn’t eating like this.

I guess the big question is why?  Why am I feeling so out of control?  I’ve also been feeling very angry lately (I’ve actually had the same dream of chewing my mother’s face off several times over the past few weeks – let me tell ya, that certainly needs some analyzing).  I’m irritable.  I’m belligerent.  I’m mad at everyone for no good reason.  I’ve even apologized to my body for treating it so badly.

I’m existing blindly, without thinking, without feeling.  Because if I stop to think about the challenge ahead of me, I might just fall apart.  Or even worse – fail.

I found this in an article sent to me this week:  Sense of Failure – Many people can stake their happiness on the achievement of a specific goal, such as achieving exam results, earning a certain amount of money, or progressing a certain distance in their career. If for some reason they do not achieve this goal, they may believe they have failed in some way. This sense of failure can increase the likelihood of experiencing depression (http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk).

Interesting.  If there is one thing I hate more than anything else in the world, it is failing at something.  My mother had the Homer Simpson parenting manual, which states “If it’s too hard to do, don’t bother.”  So, when I did try something and failed, I either got the ‘told you so’ or the ‘it’s not worth it’ speech.  That’s sort of been my subconscious motto since I was a kid.  I’ve only recently come to understand it.

Basically, I’M what’s holding me back.  In as much as I want someone to come and fix this for me, it ain’t gonna happen.  I have a lot of people supporting me and want to see me succeed – but I can’t seem to find that support for myself.  If a friend is trying to accomplish something, I’m the first one in with my pom-poms and bullhorn cheering them on, but when it comes to cheering myself on, I’m sadly lacking in the pom-pom department.

Hmm.  Maybe it’s time to try a different cheer?

 

 

 


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Well, my 46th birthday came and went with very little fanfare. I spent some time with friends and family and it was all very nice, indeed.  But, I did something a bit different this year. You see, last year, I started taking on a ‘fear a year’ – where I would do something completely out of my comfort zone.  

I have many, MANY things that would take me out of my comfort zone.  The list is endless.

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I am very fortunate to work next door to our Provincial Museum.  Over the years, I’ve gotten to know my neighbours very well, to the point where I can come and go freely within the building.  It’s a pretty nifty place, filled with history, exhibits of all kinds and…a Bug Room.

Yes, a Bug Room.  An enchanted place where you can see live and in person, bugs of all shapes and sizes – everything from stick insects to a mammoth bird eating spider.

Maybe enchanted wasn’t quite the word I was looking for.  Hmmm…let’s go with terrifying instead.  Yes, that’s better.

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You can literally hear them scuttling about, you can watch cockroaches crawl over each other and you can even view a millipede (this one looks like it’s on steroids).  But the worst thing?  The spiders.  All different kinds, shapes and sizes.

I hate spiders.  Hated ’em since I was a kid.  I remember once when I was little, playing in the basement, I saw a spider (which at the time – to me – was the size of a football), so I started screaming ‘SPIDER!  SPIDER!  SPIDER!’ at which point my mother came running down the stairs with a bucket of water – she thought I’d been yelling ‘FIRE!’

Now, as a grown woman of 46, I can still scream like a little girl when I find one in my house.  I’d never kill one; in fact – I would scoop it up into a glass and toss it over my balcony (which is 12 storeys up, so I’m not sure if they ever make it or not).  Those little black ones that run across your ceiling like Ben Johnson with the shits – I HATE those!

(You might have an inkling where I’m going with this).

I mustered up the courage to contact the guy who runs the Bug Room, Pete.  I explained why and what I wanted to do and he was more than happy to accommodate my request.

So, at exactly 3:00 pm on my birthday, I made my way over to the museum – shaky, a bit queasy – but kind of excited at the same time.  I met Pete in the bug lab, where they grow all of the bugs – imagine the Smithsonian Institute – but with containers of insects – row upon row of them.  I made it in the front door and just sort of stopped.  I’d been in there before, but this time it was different.  I was gonna do it.  YES, I WAS…

I WAS GONNA HOLD A TARANTULA.

Pete is amazing.  He loves these creatures like they were his children.  He was thrilled to be able to help me overcome my fear (now, at this point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up, wet my pants or possibly just pass out).  Very gently, he took Rosie from her house and put her on his hand.  I stood about 10 feet back, just looking.  Then, I slowly made my way over and took a good look at her.  Yep, that is one big, hairy spider.  Looked at her for a couple more minutes.  Then, I very tentatively touched her.  OMGOMGOMGOMGITOUCHEDIT!  But, wait a minute.  That wasn’t so bad.  As a matter of fact, she’s kinda fuzzy.  Like a pipecleaner.  Pete then asked if I wanted to hold her and I drew in a deep breath, and said – sure.  Very slowly, Pete placed Rosie in my hand.  Watching her, each leg moved with exact precision as she adjusted to my hand.  She was so delicate in her movements!  She just sort of sat there, not moving much.  For about the first 30 seconds I stood there in shock…THERE IS A GIANT TARANTULA ON MY HAND.  Then I took a really good look at her.  She was sort of cute, in a giant, hairy spider sort of way.  And very light.  Then I smiled – this wasn’t so bad!  This was really cool!  She started to move a little bit, which for a millisecond threw me off, but then it was neat how she sort of tickled my palm with her movements.  I was smitten.

I held onto Rosie for about 10 minutes, looking at her with complete awe.  What an interesting creature.  Pete explained the misconception regarding tarantulas and how they’re much more afraid of us than we are of them.

I allowed Pete to put Rosie back into her house.  I was beaming from ear to ear – not only because I found her fascinating, but because I did something that in a million years, I never thought I’d be able to do.

I stepped out of my comfort zone in a big, BIG way.  I overcame a fear.  Now, I’m not about to start collecting spiders as pets, but in the future, I will look at them in a completely different way.  

Next year – ‘a fear a year’:  Gonna go on a date with a nice guy.  Of course, I have to find one, sedate him and brainwash him, but I think I’m up for the challenge 🙂

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MS. MANNERS

I am going to be one of those little old ladies, who sits on the front porch and screams at children to get off the lawn.  I will wear nasty sun dresses with rolled down knee high nylons with slippers.  My neighbours will tiptoe behind the hedges just in order to avoid me.  The mailman will fling the mail in my general direction and high tail it down the street.  Don’t even get me started on what I might do if I catch a cat in the yard attacking the birds.  I will give the finger to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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Well, except for the nasty sundresses and rolled down kneehighs, that’s pretty much me NOW.  I am a crotchety, old bag at the ripe old age of 45.

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I seriously thank the universe everyday for giving me websites to rant on.  I thank the idiots of the world, for giving me something to rant about.  In today’s world, it’s just too easy.  From the winners of the Darwin Awards – to embarrassing politicians – to stupid people in general, the news is a veritable wasteland of stupidity, ignorance and hideousness.

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Some of the biggest perpetrators, sadly, are the youth of today.  I remember when I was a kid and my parents would use the dreaded “when WE were kids, we did/didn’t do that!” – I also remember looking at them like they had two heads and thought they were nuts (okay, they were, but that’s neither here nor there).  But when did become acceptable to do some of the shit I see on a daily basis?  I’m talking regular, basic manners type things.  Like spitting.  I saw some kid spit on the floor in the middle of a mall.  Me, being the loud mouth I am, asked him to not do that and he called me a name that I won’t mention here.  What happened to respect?  Do people not teach their kids respect any more?  What happened to holding the door open for someone?  Please and thank you?  

What brings this all up is that I was out this past weekend, and ran into ALL of these situations.  These were people that were well old enough to know right from wrong.  I saw a kid running screaming around the grocery store while the parent sat there and talked on her cell phone.  I told the child to stop doing that, and the woman just looked at me with this blank stare on her face.  I had a big bag of stuff I was carrying out of a store and the kids in front of me just let the door slam in my face.  I was so angry, I shouted THANK YOU! and they turned around and looked at me and sneered.

 

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Now, I might be a crabby old bitch, but I still take the time to be nice to people.  To help little old ladies reach that jar of canned peaches on the top shelf.  To stop to let people in when traffic is bad.  To hold the door.  To say please and thank you.  It’s so easy to do – and takes such little effort and sometimes it’s that one kind gesture that can put a smile on the face of someone, who otherwise, might be having a shitty day.  

Let’s work on making it the norm again.  I, for one, miss it.


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LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD…

As a kid who didn’t often get what I required emotionally, I turned to different sources of comfort – usually, food.  Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time.

I also have a very addictive personality.  I become addicted to something very quickly, with great intensity.  I’ve gone through addictions to food, to alcohol, to relationships – but the worst thing, frankly, is spending.

Now, I suspect I’m not the only one in the club.  Buying material things to fill an empty void is very common, especially amongst those of us who are depressed or suffering from some sort of other mental disorder.  Speaking for myself, I use these addictions to make myself ‘feel better’.  Who here hasn’t bought something ‘because I’m having a shitty day’?

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It’s very true, the saying that ‘the more you make, the more you spend’.  I am very lucky to work in a province where most people make a higher than national average wage.

So why am I still ‘financially challenged’?

Well, since I was old enough to hold down a job (I started working when I was 14), I spent my money.  Savings?  What savings?  Why do I need to save money?  Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.

Why?

Because, I buy things without thinking.  I want nice things.  I buy expensive clothes.  I have an expensive vehicle.  I spend a disgusting amount on rent, so I can live in a nice place.  But most of my debt comes from little things – dinner out, gas, groceries – things that don’t seem harmful, but when it comes time to pay off my credit card – GULP!  How the hell did I do that?  I look at my statement and am shocked by my blatant disregard for being fiscally responsible.

(I am going somewhere with this; trust me).

So, I have a nice vehicle, a lovely condo with a great view, nice clothes.  Yet, I’m still unhappy.  All that money I owe now (okay, a good percentage of it) was spent trying desperately to fill the void that I have felt.  To replace the sadness and loneliness I experience being on my own.  To make me feel better after a crappy day at work.  And – to show the world, that I am successful and happy and make lots of money and life is good.

Up until now.

I spent a week in my very favourite place on earth about two weeks ago.  For three days, I was in a secluded cabin on the ocean, with no technology – just me, some books and the sea.  I walked, I thought, I read, I cried, I slept and I dreamed.  It was, without a doubt the best three days I’ll spend all year.

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The last part of my vacation was spent with a very wonderful and dear friend.  She is lucky enough to live there and part of the reason for my going was to help her celebrate her 50th birthday (which we did, in style – I might add!)

My friend is one of those people who just calms the soul.  She’s funny, gentle, smart and is always at peace with herself and her surroundings.  She just ‘is’.  She’s never been one to fall for the ‘must have extensive amounts of material possessions’.  Up until this last visit, I always thought it a bit odd that they didn’t have a television or buy new things.  She gets most of her clothes from second hand shops and I’m pretty sure that nearly everything in her home (that she shares with her partner) was bought second hand.

And yet, she’s one of the truly deep down in her soul – happiest people I know.

What?  But she doesn’t have fancy things!  She doesn’t have a brand new vehicle!  She buys her clothes at Goodwill!  How can she possibly be happy?

Because what she has, comes from inside of her – not what she can buy.  She couldn’t give a rats ass about anything materialistic.

OH.  I GET IT.  Well, I’m starting to.

I knew as soon as came back home, that I needed to move to where my friend lives.  However, because of our ‘higher than the national average wages’ where I currently live, I’d have to take about a $15k to $20k cut in salary to do the same job there that I do here.

But I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.

For the first time in my life, since I can remember – I’d be willing to forego the expensive vehicle, the fancy clothes and the other crap that I’ve bought over the years – to live there.  I feel a sense of calm when I am by the sea.  My physical body feels like it loses about 15 years and I can walk for miles without hurting.  My emotional being feels free, light and joyful.  It is a place that I can truly be ‘me’ – without caring what anyone thinks of me.  I am whole.  I am good.  I am love.

So, my goal is to follow my dream and hopefully – in the next few years – find my way out there.  I’ll have to work hard to rid myself of the financial burden I carry – because not only does it make life difficult, it reminds me of all of the money I’ve spent over the years to make myself feel better.  And, it did – in those moments – but now, I’m trying (trying is going to be the operative word) to find happiness from within myself, not from a new pair of shoes.