An Important Life Lesson

Hello, all.

It has been a spell since my last post. Life has been busy, as we have sold The Hex House and have been exploring all possible routes to take from here on. No final decision has been made at this point, and we are giving each reasonable option that arises careful contemplation and consideration. Wisdom is key, and we have watched others in the situation that we now find ourselves in make choices a little too quickly without using any, thus coming out further behind in life than they had been to begin with—something we have no desire to do. And truthfully, something I know that we won’t, because… that is just not who we are. Which brings me to the first Important Life Lesson that I have been thinking a lot about lately…

We Choose Who and What We Are.

There is no getting away from it, there is no getting around it, there is no room for excuses. I have in the past had the tendency to be a “bleeding heart” type of gal, feeling sorry for people who seemed unhappy and trying to pull them out of their misery or help them out of their situations which seemed to cause them such depression or pain. The funny thing is that ultimately most made no effort to change their lives at all in order to acquire any happiness. Most actually continued to make decisions and take actions that directly led to their supposed unhappiness and struggles, fully aware of what they were doing. We are who we choose to be. When I have been in shape it has been because I have chosen to eat properly and to make the time for regular exercise. When I have managed to read books regularly or complete paintings or write poetry, it has been because I have chosen to take the time to do so. I could lose my French by not using it, or make sure that I use it daily by having my e-mail and Facebook accounts set to French, by reading French books, by speaking French to my husband and children, and by being active in the francophone community on PEI. It is all a choice.

When I have been lonely it was because I did not make the concerted effort to reach out to others, either in person, via the internet, or even via phone calls or snail mail. It was my fault. I played the SAHM Card and the Baby Card, as I call them. I am not minimizing the difficulty that can come with the shock of going from independent working girl to caring for a child 24/7, but ultimately we do decide what we are going to do to help or change our own circumstances. There are always other mothers out there, even if we can only be in touch with them online or through occasional visits or phone calls. Those were a lifesaver to me. I have witnessed new moms head down Depression Road. Some are open to efforts made by mothers who have been there to connect with community and spend time together. Others choose (yes, I said “choose”) to remain in what becomes a comfortable unhappiness. It is sad. And there is nothing anyone else can do about it.

Debt is another choice. We choose how we spend our money. We choose whether or not we will spend money that we don’t actually have. We choose whether or not we will max out our credit cards. We choose to eat out regularly, or to stay home and cook meals from scratch. We choose whether or not we will buy the used car without all of the bells and whistles or go for the brand new one on a payment plan. For the first time in a long time, my husband is driving a brand new vehicle. It is a useful vehicle, in that in can carry construction materials and pull a trailer with a heavy load on it, two things required in his line of work. I am perfectly happy with my 2007 Pontiac Vibe that has roll down windows and lacks cruise control. It fits the remainder of our children and our dog (hatchback, big dog who loves to travel, Mom who loves dog like he’s the 8th baby—’nuff said). It gets me where I need to go. It is wonderful on gas. Clothing is bought from thrift stores, often when there’s a 50% off sale at the thrift store, or it is bought on clearance. It is bought AS NEEDED (mostly). It is passed down when children outgrow it if it is still in good condition. Buying a sweater for $40.00 when you can get it for $4.00 is a choice. I am not saying we are financial whizzes in any way whatsoever. We have made mistakes and have struggled. We have learned from those mistakes. We are careful. And there is a blessing that comes with not caring what others think of how we spend or do not spend our money: we get ahead instead of being sucked down through trying to keep up with the Joneses. The reality is, the Joneses probably owe more than what they actually have. The Joneses likely have a very heavy mortgage payment on their incredible house, work extra hours to pay for all of their children’s hockey and dance lessons, and could have everything taken away from them if illness, death, or loss of employment occurred.

Now, we can choose to live on less and live a dull, sad, boring downer of a life, or we can choose to live on less and become very resourceful so that we can live a rich and interesting life full of colour and opportunity for growth. One can grumble that their restaurant time has had to shift from a couple of times per week to perhaps once every two months or so, or one can learn how to cook a delicious meal from very basic ingredients, score some cool table linens and dinnerware at yard sales or thrift stores (I have a set of gorgeous antique plates that I got for less than $1 each and love to pull them out when people are over), and have friends and family over for a great evening together. We have lost the art of hospitality in our easy-access world of going out for dinner and a movie. I remember reading about how the actress Kelly Preston, before becoming rich and famous, would always base her choices on quality. It was a mindset. Because of that she moved forward in life. By quality I do not mean “expensive” — I think we all know at least one person who will spend inordinate amounts of cash on something simply because it is brand name, and that is not what I am referring to. I mean finding that cashmere sweater tucked away in the Salvation Army rack. I mean scoring that well-built who-knows-how-old solid dresser with a story at a yard sale instead of heading to The Brick for the latest style and a payment plan. You can consider yourself worthy of things of quality and be disciplined enough to only spend what you actually have on them. I find that the last few years we have been doing this more and more, and it makes a difference. I do not feel snobby when I say “No, I will not buy that, it is of poor quality and will not last”. I think it is an exercise of wisdom. And perhaps that has come with age.

I hate it when people think I am naturally thin. I am not, at all. My mother is a lovely thin petite lady who looks about 10 years younger than she is and still rocks a two piece in a very classy way. She is not naturally thin either. In fact, my mother struggled with weight for many years before finally joining Weight Watchers when my eldest son was a baby. My maternal grandmother was a very heavy lady with a lot of health problems.  But my mother is thin now because she chooses to be. She exercises self-discipline in her choices. She chooses to have one piece of cake instead of three. She indulges. She can indulge at times because the rest of the time she does not. I follow her example. I don’t want to have to go to Weight Watchers. Ever. Period. I don’t want to get to that point. A couple of years ago, I decided to stop working out, and just eat as much of whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. It took about three months for me to go from a size 4 to a barely-squeezing-into-my-pants size 12. Which is not big, but if I had kept it up I would have likely taken another three months to get up to a size 18 or so. I have the potential to be heavy on both sides of my family, so being thin is not “luck”, it is my choice. Period.

I have to end this post now. Time has flown as I have typed, edited, retyped… My son wants to show me how to use his MP3 player (go Mom), and I have to make some salsa. We are stormed in for the day. There might be a Part II to this at some point lol…

Have a great day, wherever you are. 🙂

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