Day 96

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As I get near the end of my 100 day challenge I’m contemplating whether or not I can classify it as a success.

Did I purge something every one of those days? Did I go for a walk every single day? Have I blogged about my experiences 100 times?

The answer to the first question is yes. I have managed, in a conscious and considering way, to rid myself of something every day. I’m amazed at that. Because purging is not easy. That I have learned.  It makes you look long and hard at yourself and where you’ve gotten to in your life.

A big – no, huge – catalyst in this exercise has been my impending 60th birthday. Add to that the death of my father and the conditions were perfect for some kind of reflective action.

There have been times over these past 96 days that I have been achingly sad, uncontrollably angry, incomprehensibly furious, deliriously happy, boisterous with joy, as well as completely ambivalent about myself, my life and what I’m trying to accomplish.

Whatever I was feeling I forced myself to consider why. In doing that I was able to see that I was carrying a lot of old baggage, stuff that should have been relegated to the trash heap long ago.

I just finished reading a Stephen King short story called The Road Virus Heads North. It’s your typical SK offering – darkly funny, horrific,  and yet, somehow, representative of the reality of life. Weirdly, I think that the ‘virus’ in the story is very much like the bad stuff we carry around with us. Eventually, it’s going to get us, unless we get rid of it. Or, better yet, never pick it up.

Sometimes, like the poor sap in SK’s story, it’s not so easy to get rid of the crap that follows us. You can give up and let it get you, or you can face it and send it packing. It might take more than one attempt, and it may mean accepting some uncomfortable truths about yourself, but, if you want free of it bad enough, you can be.

Am I completely purged of all the garbage I’ve toted around for 50-some-odd years? No. But I have rid myself of a lot of it. Purging, I’ve also learned, is a life-long chore. The good thing is it gets easier the more you do it.

Now, for my other two questions.

I did not walk every day. But I gave it a good try. There weren’t many days that I missed. When the wind chills were in the minus 40’s, when we were busy with company, and once or twice when I simply didn’t want to.

Walking is one of my favourite things to do. I love the feeling of my body moving and covering ground confidently and surely. It’s my time to think and work things out. (See above.)

Currently, I have a steps goal set on my phone of 7000 steps/day. It’s pretty conservative and I generally walk quite a bit more than that; checking on that goal at the end of the day always amazes me. Did I really walk that much? Where did I go and what did I accomplish? It’s a great reminder that I was engaged, that I did something. It also keeps me committed to my weight-loss goals. If i don’t get those steps in, the weight won’t come off. And, if I don’t keep moving, the weight I have lost will creep back on. That ain’t happening.

Finally, I’m at number three. I have definitely not written/ blogged 100 times.

Writing was something I had all but given up on. When I started this I was almost embarrassed to start. It had been so long since I’d tried to write anything. But the moment I sat down to start I knew – this is what I’m made for.

I may not be a successful author, I may not write the stuff that the world sees, but I write. And, I love it. It’s my form of expression, it’s my vehicle, it’s my voice.

100 is just a number. It was a great way to get myself motivated. Whether I’ve blogged 100 times or 10 times,  it’s me, writing.

 

Day 68 and the purge continues

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As I said in my last post I was having a great time looking after my grandkids for a week. Well, the week ended on Saturday. It was a busy one and I’m so thankful I had that opportunity.

Busy as last week was I still managed to get some purging done at home.

I tackled the old sewing basket. This we inherited from Tim’s mother. It’s a good, sturdy one and it holds a lot. Over the years I’ve stuffed it so full of notions and sewing stuff that it had become next to impossible to find anything in it.

You know all the buttons, snaps and clasps that come attached to any new piece of clothing you buy? Jammed in there. Along with spool after spool of thread, sewing needles still with the thread in them, straight pins, safety pins, iron on patches, zippers and elastic. There was a large mason jar full of buttons – that Tim’s mom had collected. (My button collection is stored elsewhere.)

Needless to say it needed to be cleaned up. It took me an afternoon, but I did it. I chucked most of the elastic – because it wasn’t elasticky anymore, and I rounded up all the loose needles, de-threaded them and stuck them back in one of the three packages I found.

Then I had to unpackage all those buttons. All those tiny little plastic bags they were in bothered me.  First, what a waste of plastic and second, they were hard to get open.

Back in the day extra buttons were tacked to the inside of a garment – on a hem or a seam – a far more efficient and useful method. I’d think this way of providing that extra button or snap would be cheaper for the manufacturer. And it would save a helluva lot of time for the wearer when they needed to find that matching button. ‘Cause there it would be, right on the garment! Sometimes, old ideas are best.

This week is another busy one.  We have company coming and I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do to get ready.  A leaky shower head to fix, window frames to paint and coat hooks to put up. It seems like there’s always something.

I find myself wishing that all the things I needed to get done were already done. That I could spend an entire day writing or baking or reading or walking. Anything but attending to what has to be done. Because when I do any of the former I’m left feeling guilty that I didn’t accomplish any of the latter.

My goal today is to turn that feeling of guilt into a feeling of accomplishment. I’ll get what I need to done and then I’ll focus on what I want.

 

 

Day 61

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The tree that had the light – unfortunately my skills couldn’t capture it – but it was there!

I’m a lucky grandma. I get to spend a week with my grandbabies. Their parents are off for a little R&R.

So I’m spending these few days getting to know them all just a little better. They’re growing up so fast and becoming such interesting people. I love how their personalities just shine through; they’re not babies anymore. It’s great having real conversations with them and  getting small glimpses of the adults they’ll one day become.

Of course, realizing that they’re getting older reminds me that I am, too. Sigh. I don’t have the energy I did when they were small and when it’s bedtime for them, its bedtime for me.

I like that I get this mini opportunity to grand-parent. The joy of preparing meals for them and sitting down together to eat and talk and laugh. Asking them how school was and did they learn anything interesting. The answer is the same one their father gave me: no. Just doing small things for them that I hope will make them smile. It’s such a joy.

I have always been very conscious of time. The limit of it, the way it is expended in each and every heartbeat and I’ve tried as hard as I can to make sure the time I’ve been given is not wasted.

Lately, and I know this has a lot to do with my father’s passing and my impending 60th birthday, I’ve been doing a lot of wondering about how I’ve spent my time.

When I look back I see the mistakes I made, and I truly regret them. But then, I look at my grandchildren and I see how everything I’ve done has led to them. And for that I have no regret.

The sun is shining today, making the frost in the trees sparkle. At breakfast, my grandsons were talking about it. The youngest told his brother “look at that tree, the top is like a light,” with the wonder only an eight-year old can have.  His brother, who is two years older, scoffed and replied, not unkindly, “it’s not a light, it’s just the sun shining on the frost.” The youngest took a bite of cereal and then very calmly and firmly said, “It’s light. And it’s sparkly.”

I’m so glad I was there to hear them. It’s always the small things.

Day 54 – and I’m feeling like I’ve cheated

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When I set out on this endeavour my goal was to write about purging every day for 100 days. I haven’t met that goal, and now I’m past the midway point.

So, how do I address this?  Do I make excuses, recount the partial successes,  or simply say: such is life?

To be honest, I’m happy with what I have accomplished. I’ve got myself back into a habit of writing and because of that am actually considering getting back into other forms of writing. (I haven’t started – but I’m doing some serious thinking.)

The original point of my little project was to see what I could purge from my life that was weighing me down and holding me back. Clogging the arteries, so to speak.

I’ve done a fair bit of that, and it’s been mainly the metaphysical sort. I’m feeling better – stronger, more confident, content in my own skin – for the first time in a long, long time.

Oh, there are days when I need to remind myself to tend my own garden, to leave others’ alone; days when I have to work at being happy and remind myself I’m not responsible for someone else’s happiness; and there have been days that I’ve struggled to get through simply because no matter what I did it wasn’t going to be enough.  That day.

But I knew that there would be a tomorrow and that tomorrow could be good. If I wanted it to be.

I always wanted it to be.

I count that as A HUGE success of this little undertaking.

I’ve also rid myself and our home of some very unnecessary clutter. Doing this in two places hasn’t been easy, or even (sometimes) very noticeable, but the feeling of just letting things go has been very empowering.

The significant other and I have VERY different ideas about what should be purged and what shouldn’t, and that’s something else I’ve learned along the way – how to be flexible without compromising.

As we move ever closer to Spring and that sense of the world renewing itself I feel myself being pulled to do more, to start accomplishing, to work harder at attaining my goals. I have to remind myself – Spring is just a season. It will pass. Don’t get caught up in the rush of it.

I need to maintain my balance, keep going one day at a time. Spring will move towards Summer as it always does, then Fall will return to remind me that Winter is on its way.

100 days out of 365. I can do that.

My 43rd day of purging– sorta kinda

Physically here’s what I’ve gotten rid of over the past couple of days.

  • Old flyers for pizza and hamburger joints – these, aside from being out of date are not good for us to have around when we’re trying so hard to lose weight, eat healthier and get in shape. I’ll admit I was sorely tempted as I leafed longingly through them before tossing them – all that ooey, gooey cheesy goodness just flaunting itself in front of my tearfilled eyes.
  • A beer can, a beer bottle and numerous candy wrappers, chip bags and takeout coffee lids while out walking. Doing this makes Tim cringe – he thinks I’m going to contract some horrible disease or something. I’m wearing gloves, for Pete’s sake and I wash them when I get home. It’s not like I’m checking those bottles and cans for a little sip – sheesh!
  • Another pound. Losing weight is so much harder than it used to be. Still, a pound is a pound and I’m happy that my efforts are paying off. And I’m extra happy because Tim took me out for supper to The Keg for Valentine’s Day. I only ate half of everything I ordered, but it was still a LOT of calories. Mostly of the fat kind. I just keep channeling Oprah and her wheel barrow full of butter.

Now, for some other stuff I need to get rid of.

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The debate over changing Canada’s national anthem so that it’s gender-neutral. All I can say is:  How is this even an issue?

Political correctness and feminism. That’s how.

I think both of those causes are worthy and necessary. And a lot of really good changes to society have been advanced as a result of people championing them. Changing our anthem is not one of those.

As far as I’m concerned it’s petty, and specious. A small group of ‘concerned’ women who have deemed it their mission in life to exact a meaningless change to something that reflects who we are, and more importantly, speaks to our national pride. They say the lyrics exclude and deliberately fail to acknowledge that women have played as important a role in Canadian history as men.

Bullshit. It’s an anthem.  noun 1. A rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause. (Google on-line dictionary). In this case that group would be Canadians – all of them. Which I’m pretty damned sure when we all sing it at public events we’re including everyone who is a Canadian. Be they indigenous, immigrant, black, white, pink, purple or green. Whether they are gay, straight, queer or any derivation thereof possible. Whether they served as a soldier, a line cook, nurse, mother, father or field hand. If you’re Canadian this song is for you. And it should be left alone.

If some people feel the need to be offended by the use of ‘in all our sons’ command,’ then they should feel free to sing whatever word they wish to substitute whenever they sing the anthem – if they can get past their self-righteousness, that is.

We are, after all, a democracy, and we will support their right to do so. Because that’s what Canadians do.

Purgey, purgey, purge. Day 37

 

I’ve been busy getting back into the swing of things. Thank God I’m no longer working! I’d be completely useless. That’s not to say I haven’t been busy – I have – it’s just that I seem to require frequent rests in between chores.

My purging right now is focused on health and diet. Tim and I are both seriously over-weight and out of shape. On Monday we both started restricting calories, eating healthier and doing some form of exercise every day. This has not been a painless process.

Going from what was a very high-fat diet to one low in fat, high in protein, fibre and vegetables has taken some serious adjusting.

Then there is the restriction of alcohol to be considered.  . .

Even before our cruise with the all-inclusive drink package that came with it (which we took full advantage of, let me tell you) we were in the habit of having at least two drinks/day.

We had convinced ourselves that a couple of drinks a day wouldn’t hurt us – they were,  in fact, actually good for us. They helped us relax, they provided us with time to connect at the end of Tim’s work day, and, because we needed to believe there was some good in drinking every day we bought into some ‘research’ that said consuming one to two alcoholic drinks per day was shown to have numerous health benefits.

If we were running a marathon every day, maybe. All it did was help make us fatter, lazier and less interested in being healthy.

We have not completely sworn off booze. Oh, no! We like it – a lot – and we especially like consuming it when we socialize. It’s just our approach to it has changed. We will reserve the pleasures of imbibing for those special occasions when we’re with family or friends.

And we will not needlessly or purposely create ‘special’ occasions.

Exercise has been a challenge, too. It requires us to get up quite a bit earlier than we’ve become accustomed to. We each have a half hour routine we do in the morning. It’s a good way to start the day – grunting and groaning, huffing and puffing – but we definitely have more energy and a more positive attitude when we’re done.

Trying to fit some form of exercise in to our evenings is more of a challenge. So far this week we’re 0 for 3. We’ve decided that swimming would be a good choice. It’s just getting our carcasses to the pool that’s the problem. This morning, because we both slept in and missed our workout, we’re definitely committed to going. Maybe. Hopefully.

I’m proud of us, for recognizing that our lifestyle was seriously unhealthy and for choosing to make changes. Change is never easy, and I find that the older I get the easier it is to convince myself that it’s unnecessary and pointless.

Following the death of my father this attitude became constant and predominant. What was the point, I asked myself. If life could be taken from someone as big, strong and gregarious as our father, someone who did not drink to excess, someone who either walled, biked or golfed every day, then why should I concern myself with having a few drinks or doing nothing more strenuous than taking a stroll around the block now and again?

And then I thought of what dad’s reaction would have been to me thinking like that. He wouldn’t have chastised, judged or reprimanded. He would have simply given me that look that said “come on, Kathy Marie, you know better than that.” And then he would have probably said, “let’s go for a walk”.

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On the twelfth day of purging

The purge was pretty minimal today.

A pair of dollar store insoles. That’s what I get for trying to save a couple of bucks. I wasted them instead.

Something I know I need to purge myself of is weight. I am about 30 lbs overweight right now. I’ve gained this weight over the last couple of years. Somehow it just seemed to creep up on me and now, regardless of my efforts, I can’t get rid of it.

Wait a minute! Regardless of my efforts? My efforts have been pretty feeble if I’m going to be perfectly honest. Sure, I go out for a walk everyday – except today – it stayed around -33 all day and I just couldn’t convince myself that it was a good idea to go out in that kind of cold.

But I did do push-ups.  Five really hard push-ups. Tomorrow I’m aiming for six.

I’ve decided to add another 100 day challenge to my list. Push-ups. I think they’re like doing mini planks. Planks are good, so push-ups must be even better.

I really need to figure out a strategy for losing this weight, though. I know what I need to do to lose it. I need to find my will power again, and, I need to let go of this self- defeating notion that, just because I’m a few months away from being 60, I can eat what ever I want and exercise as little as I want.  Afterall, who’s gonna care?

Well, a bunch of people, I hope, but, most importantly, me.

 

Purge away – Day 8

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Because I’m up in Fort McMurray it’s a little hard for me to do any really meaningful or substantive purging. But I tried.

I got rid of last year’s calendars. And put up our new ones.

Last year’s calendars were full of birthdays, appointments, holidays and the usual stuff we write on calendars. I imagine yours are just like mine. I like to go back through them and see what we did over the previous 12 months before tossing them out. It’s a nice reminder of how we used our time.

The calendars we use these days are a lot different than the ones we used to have. We don’t just get the free ones anymore from the bank or the local Chinese food restaurant. (Though I do still take them. After all, they’re free!)

My DIL usually makes us one that features their family. That’s always my favorite.  This year I made my own calendar that has everyone’s birthdays, our holidays and other important dates pre-printed on it. Life is so much easier when I don’t have to try and remember everything.

Also this year, I made a calendar for my mom that has pictures from the last year of dad’s life.  Snapshots of some of the great moments of us all together one last time, some poignant shots of the two of them enjoying the little time they had left – decked out in their matching Maple Leaf’s pajamas, always a smile on their faces.

I like calendars. I like them not just for their practicality, but for the pictures,  as well – especially the ones of family. This year, the one from Lee’s Restaurant in Gibbons has pictures of animals on it. Who doesn’t like pictures of cute puppies and kittens, colorful birds and glittering fish?

The free calendar is a standard size with decent sized squares for jotting appointment times and birthday reminders in. The family calendar, however, is fantastic. It’s a big one, with lots of room for writing on it.  And seeing my grandkids’s smiling faces each day brings me immeasurable joy. Just no way to beat that combination of form and function.

I know this was a small act of purging today, and really, all I did was make room for replacements. But I figure not all purging has to be about making a permanent hole in the stuff we collect, sometimes it can be about opening up a little more space for possibilities.

 

Purge – Day 7

Today’s act of purging was to let go of anger. I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been experiencing random bouts of unexplainable anger.

Poor Tim. I’m usually taking it out on him. (Not that he doesn’t sometimes deserve it. Lol.)

We had to head back up to Fort Mac today. It’s only for a week, but leaving my home always makes me a little testy. I’ve been able to be home for about three weeks so leaving today was extra hard.

We didn’t leave at the time I had hoped to. That didn’t help. I had to kick Tim’s butt out of bed. That didn’t help. I had to start loading the car myself to get him away from the tv. That DEFINITELY didn’t help.

Once we were out the door I told him I’d drive the first leg. I thought if I just had something to focus on besides my anger I’d be ok. It helped. A little.

I think most of this anger comes from feeling like I have no control. Which puzzles me, because lately I’ve been taking all these steps towards regaining control. Purging is certainly helping.

The problem today, I think, is that I resented having to leave home, my grandkids, my comfort zone. I know there is so much more I need to take care of there, and now,  because we have to go to Ft. Mac, I won’t be able to get it done.

Sigh. And get over myself.

Because in a little over a week we are going on a two-week cruise of the Panama Canal.

So, once we got back to our home away from home and I got supper in the oven, I put on my boots and coat and hat and gloves and went for my walk. I told dad how angry I was feeling, how frustrated and upset I was. I heard him tell me that it was okay.

As I walked I kept talking, kept voicing everything I’d been feeling all day. Gradually I felt my shoulders loosening up, the knot in my stomach and chest letting go and my breathing become easier and slower.

As the afternoon darkened I felt calm for the first time all day. With a smile I turned and headed back to the apartment.

Day 6

Wow. Six days into the new year. Only six. It feels like more.

Today I got rid of a bunch of expectations. I mean, I really let shit go. Personal stuff, stuff that always makes me feel bad about myself. It’s time.

I went for my daily walk and as I’ve done every day since beginning I said good morning to my father. We began our route – the usual one I take. We head north from my house and then turn east. As I came upon my first corner the waxwings I mentioned the other day came swooping overhead. Hundreds of them. I smiled and continued on.

Suddenly they came flying low overhead and made to land in a couple of mountain ash trees on the opposite side of the street. They dove into the branches and then whoosh! out and up again. The sound of all those hundreds of wings pushing against the air made me gasp. They repeated this display twice more and I stood totally captivated. Then I heard the trilling sound of more coming to join them from behind me. As I turned this other flock swept low above me; if I had reached up I’m sure I could have touched them they were so close. All those tiny bodies making such a huge impression. What a gift that was.

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