Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right… But Three Lefts Do

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my ‘bucket list’ for 2012.

When I wrote it back in January, I really struggled to come up with 25 solid things.  In fact, after about 15 I struggled.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have things that I wanted to do, it was more a matter of wording it in a way that I could make it stick… all year.

But I’ve gone over that list time and time again and you know what I noticed more than anything?  The word ‘buy’.  You see… buying for me isn’t difficult.  In fact, I rather take after my dad in the fact that I’m an impulse buyer.  The people that set up endcaps and clearance sections love me, because I can come up with a justification to buy a lot of things.  I wouldn’t say everything… but if I really want something, I’ll find a way to convince myself that I need it.

But you know what is actually DIFFICULT for me?  Saving.  HA.  No, it’s not difficult… it’s a joke.  I am by no means a saver.  My younger brother… that boy stashes more money than Leo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can.  Okay, maybe not… but suffice it to say, he’s the saver in the family… while I am most definitely a spender.

So, looking at all of these things on my bucket list that have to do with spending money… I can’t help but ask myself, how am I stretching myself with any of these things?

The truth is, I’m really not.  None of them are intentionally put there to help me become a better person.  They’re frivolous, and while it’s not necessarily a bad thing to spend money on things, is it really a GOOD thing to spend money on things?  Things that I don’t need?

In fact- 1/5 of all of the things on my list have the words “buy” or “purchase” or “spend” in them.  One fifth.  20%.  And on top of that, another 6 items on the list involve unnecessarily spending money.  That’s almost half of everything on my list.  There’s something wrong with this picture.

I think I’m beginning to realize the person that I used to be.  I think I’m beginning to see who she really was…. and I don’t really like her all that much.  She spends way too much time worrying about herself.  She claimed to care for other people, but when it came right down to it, the most important thing was always herself.

I always let myself get in the way of things.  I let myself get in the way of my own happiness.

I can recall, in vivid detail, the day I knew that my relationship with HandyMan was over.  It was Thanksgiving weekend.  We had had a nightmare of a time figuring out whose family we were going to spend the weekend with.  We had gone back and forth several times.  In the end, he said it would really mean a lot to him and his family if I would spend Thanksgiving with them at their house.  So I drove out there and spent the day with them.  Handyman was always very different than me.  But that was a good thing.  He loved being outdoors.  Camping, hiking, fishing, geocaching, cross country skiing.  You name it- if it was outside he was there.

Me, on the other hand… am not an outdoorsy kind of girl.  It’s not that I hate being outside.  It’s just that if I had my preference, I’d rather be somewhere that I won’t get sunburned or eaten alive by mosquitos or alligators or covered in poison ivy.

There’s a lot of variables in the outside world.  And a lot of dirt.  This girl is not a big fan of dirt.  High heels and sparkles yes- dirt… not so much.

Anyway- Thanksgiving weekend 2011 was really really warm in New England, and on Black Friday (instead of the usual shopping trip I take in the morning with my mom) HandyMan and I went for a hike.  And this was not just any hike… this was a 3 mile up hill both ways kind of a hike.  Not the normal nature walk that I consider ‘hiking’.  For the first mile and a half, I actually did okay.  I’m really not in good shape, but we kept the pace slow and I stopped only when completely necessary for a breath or a drink of water.  Otherwise, I forced myself to keep pace.

Let me preface this next part by saying that not only am I not a major fan of the outdoors, I’m also incredibly clumsy.  Half the time, all I need is a light breeze and I’ll manage to trip over something… or nothing.  At one point in the hike we veered off the main path to follow a smaller one down to a waterfall.  There was a long set of incredibly steep stairs that led down to the spot where you could see the falls, and it didn’t take long before I crashed down on my backside.  I was pretty sure that I had at the very least bruised my tail bone, and everything from that point on hurt like the Dickens.  A few stray tears had managed to escape before I bit them back, but otherwise I forced myself to stay calm.  People fell when hiking… it was the nature of the beast.

We made it down to the falls, and then had to trudge all the way back up the horribly kept stairs back onto the main path.  We had just passed the mile 2 out of 3 marker when I shut down.  I stopped smiling.  I stopped holding his hand.  I didn’t acknowledge half the things he said or pointed out.  For all intents and purposes, I gave up.  I let myself break down and all the while, the voice in my head kept rolling over and over “this is it… this is the end.  This is when he finds out who you really are and is done with you.  This is where your heart breaks.  This is the spot right here.  You can’t go any further.  You can’t finish.  You can’t do it.”

It was a steady stream of constant nagging in my head.  Telling me I wasn’t good enough.  Telling me that he deserved so much more than me.  My stomach was in knots and my chest burned with the pain that it was ending.  That was the moment that I knew.

And of course, I did what any emotionally unstable, insecure girl would do… I picked a fight.  I stopped walking.  My voice was quiet and laden with all of the hurt and insecurities that I could no longer keep at bay.

“What are you doing with me?” I asked.

He stopped walking a few paces ahead of me and turned and looked at me curiously.  His nose twitched in that adorable and awkward way it always did when he wasn’t thinking about it.  He asked me what I was talking about.  He said we were taking a walk together.  (I tried not to scoff at the casual way he said ‘walk’ when it was obviously more of a vigorous workout for me than it was for him).

I repeated my question.  “What are you doing with me?”  I felt I should explain.  “This- out here.  What is this?”

He eyed me carefully.  He took a step toward me and I retreated.  I could feel the tears welling and I knew that if he touched me at all I would lose it.  I was angry at myself for getting so worked up.  I was angry at him for suggesting the stupid hike in the first place because I didn’t want to disappoint him by saying no.  I knew it wasn’t worth it, but the words came spilling out before I could stop them.

“You don’t deserve this,” I said, still catching my breath.  “You deserve someone who can stinking keep up with you on a hike through the woods!  So what is THIS?!”

I was frustrated.  I was physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted.  The tears were brimming over and spilling out now, before I could stop them.  We took a seat on a nearby bench so that I could calm down and catch my breath.  He was quiet for a long time.  I always liked that about HandyMan.  He always knew when I needed to talk and when I just needed someone to sit with me, to put a reassuring arm around me, and just wait.  Our silences were never awkward.  Never filled with all of the things that we couldn’t bring ourselves to say.  But this silence- this one was brimming with all of MY fears from all of the previous months.  All of the times I felt like he deserved better than me.  All of the moments I wondered if it would finally be the end of my intense fairy tale happiness.  This silence was different.

And after a while, after I had calmed down he made me look him in the eyes.  He told me that he loved me.  He told me that the fact that we were different was a good thing.  We could bring out differences in each other.  Our unique personalities could be celebrated in our relationship because we complimented each other.  And for the first time ever, I thought maybe he was right.  Maybe the fact that he was strong and analytical would compliment my sensitive emotions.  Maybe he would teach me more about being self sufficient and I would show him how to slow down and smell the roses.  I began to see our differences in a new light.

And unfortunately so did he.

It’s kind of interesting to me that only 2 weeks after that conversation, he broke up with me because we ‘were too different’.  He told me that he thought we would come to resent one another.  That our differences would ultimately come between us and drive us apart.

I can’t say that I blame him.  After all- it was me that planted that seed in his head to begin with.

But that brings me back to my original question.  About the girl that I was and the girl that I want to be.  Planting that seed of doubt in his head- it did nothing but hurt us both.  It hurt him.  It hurt me.  It hurt our relationship.  It DOWNGRADED our relationship.  I basically told him to stop having pity on me because that’s how I viewed our relationship.  Come to think of it, ever since Voldemort, that’s how I’ve viewed everything that could have ever even potentially been a relationship.  If I don’t value myself, how can I expect anyone else to?  Wow.  Did you read that right?  Did I read that right?

How in heaven’s name can I expect anyone else to place any value at all in me, if they see how little I value myself?  What’s to keep them from treating me like dirt, if they see that’s how I see myself?

It’s in everything that I do.  The way I act, the way I look, the way I talk.  I’ve always been self-deprecating by nature, but it’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to anyone in my future.

I’ve never felt worth it.

There. I said it.

It’s out there for everyone to see.

I’m not sure if it’s because of Voldemort or my longstanding issue with my weight and image or some twisted combination of the two, but my self worth has been kind of slammed into the ground.  I think that’s why for so long I was so worried about finding a man.  It gave me a sense of purpose, a sense of being needed.  In some sick way, it gave me worth.

I think for me, a lot of the reason why I like to spend money is the same.  Spending money is an emotional charge for me.  It’s fun, it’s frivolous.  Buying something new… it gives me that same sick twisted sense of worth.  My closet is filled with clothes I never wear and gadgets I bought and never gave a second glance at.  And the shoes-  oh my goodness the shoes.

I’m not as bad as I once was with shoes… but it’s still a little ridiculous the sheer number of pairs of shoes that I have that I haven’t worn in years.  The pairs that I bought for a particular outfit and only wore once.  Or worse yet- still have the tags on.

But it seems to me, that if I want to shed that image of my past.  If I want to stop being the girl that gets in her own way.  If I want to stop being the girl who waits for everything to happen to her… the girl who steps out in the morning with a smile on her face and a sense of purpose, then I need to change my list.

I need to be less ‘spend’ focused and more ‘people’ focused.

Which is why my list is changing.  And here’s the new one:

1. Get and stay right with God.
2. Make time to exersize on a weekly basis.  (Baby steps here…)
3. Lose 25 lbs (This one is still important to me)
4. Take a roadtrip (Done last month.  woohoo!)
5. Take a class (I think I’ve decided on horseback riding lessons… I’ve always wanted to do that)
6. Do something for someone and not expect anything in return.
7. Have photos taken of me that I actually like (A good step to an improved self image)
8. Talk to a stranger, even if it makes me uncomfortable.
9. Finish writing my book
10. Build and Stick to a budget
11. Learn how to spend TIME wisely (coming in May… major cuts back on TV/computer time)
12. Volunteer (I’m working on getting in contact with someone at the local Habitat for Humanity to volunteer over the summer)
13. Show someone my finished product of my book.  (this one is scary!!!)
14. Invest in people and build better, stronger friendships.
15. Hand out compliments.  Every day tell someone something nice.
16. Host a ‘Girls Only’ night.
17. Dress up, just because.
18. Impress myself.  For once, just be in awe of something that I’ve accomplished.
19. Reward myself with something small for something that matters (like weight loss goals)
20. Be spontaneous.
21. Create.  Craft projects/DIY projects
22. Purge.  (Spring cleaning anyone?)
23. Yard Sales/Flea markets on the weekends (to coincide with #21)
24. Read. (2 books a month… this one, I’ve been pretty good with so far)
25. Take more pictures.

And I just went back and counted.  You know how many things involve spending money now?  3.  (Well 4 if you include the road trip which has already taken place.)  I want to start taking responsibility for my own life and start making the most of it.  And money does not dictate happiness.  If Voldemort taught me anything, it was that.  His family was the wealthiest, most screwed up, unhappy lot I have ever met.  And they had way more money than I would have ever known what to do with.

It’s interesting to see how far I’ve already come in just over 3 months.  How my viewpoint on what I want out of my year and out of my life have already drastically changed.  8 out of 25 things on that list changed in 3 months.  And often times I go days and even weeks without feeling like I need the approval of a man when it used to be an hourly struggle.

Here’s to the next 9 months of freedom.  The next 9 months of letting go and letting God.  I couldn’t be more excited to see what the next 270 days have in store.

Be brave my friends,

Hey, Soul Sister

In my day to day life, I tend to pride myself on being on time.  For job interviews I’m always 15 minutes early.  Doctors appointments are the same way.  I’m consistently in the parking lot at work 3 minutes before I’m supposed to be there.  I hate feeling like I have to rush anywhere to be on time.  And I REALLY hate being late.  I avoid it at all costs.

It should be no wonder then, that watching friends and family grow up, get engaged, married and start families while I am still single, has been difficult for me.  I always thought that my life would follow the same general course of events as my parents.  I would meet a guy in college, get married and have kids by the time I was in my mid twenties.  And now as I’m staring down the barrel of my 26th birthday and have only been in one (short) relationship in the last several years, I am met with mixed feelings.  Because despite being on this journey of finding myself I’ve often felt like I’m running late.  That my life isn’t where it is supposed to be.  And while it may be foolish to think that I am running out of time, my mind inevitably goes there with every wedding invitation or baby announcement that comes in the mail.

And so, my feelings of running behind and missing out on life only add to the boy-crazy inherently in me and cause major problems.  My mind tells me that I’m behind, that my life was supposed to be different, things weren’t supposed to happen this way.  And I get frustrated and impatient and I want to make things happen before their time.

But none of this changes the fact that in 2010 the average age of women getting married was 26 years old.  Obviously there is something in today’s culture that is hinting at (or maybe shoving me towards) my desire to settle down.  And while that is a goal that I have for my future, I have decided that I am taking 2012 off.  I am not worrying about things like that.  My ‘break-up’ with boys is something that needs time to settle into my bones.  I have to learn to be okay with just being me down to the core.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction that I have gotten from people in my life since beginning this journey.  Because even though I officially ‘started’ it only 2 days ago, I have been thinking and praying over it for about a month now.  Everyone I have talked to has been amazingly supportive, but I have to admit- I was nervous about telling my parents.

On Saturday (New Years Eve) I went shopping with my mom.  I got in the car and looked at her and said “I have something I have to tell you.”  She got that nervous ‘uh oh’ look that I’m sure moms everywhere would recognize.  I explained to her (with a little crying) that I was tired of being this girl who measures her worth based on what guys think.  I told her about my reasons for wanting to do this and even though I knew she would support me in it, I was afraid to tell her.  The ‘always waiting’ girl inside me was scared to talk about it.  Because talking about it with Mom meant that it was real.  I could tell anyone else and it would just be an idea, but Mom made it tangible.  It went from being this far away ‘maybe’ of a thought to an actual plan, and that scared the crap out of me.

During the course of my conversation with my mom, she asked me one serious, thought provoking question.  “Why a year?”

I have actually thought long and hard about that question since she and I talked.  And here’s what I’ve come up with. A year is enough time to be a challenge, but also long enough to make it stick.  It would be easy for me to say “I’m taking a month off.”  Or even two months.  But would I really see the changes that I want to see in myself?  Will I really give myself the time I need to heal, to fix the broken pieces inside me and find a way back to the girl I could be?  I don’t think I would.

But a year… 12 months, 366 days.  It’s long enough to keep myself from making excuses (which I’m extremely good at).  It’s long enough to see a change in myself.  My goal isn’t to force myself away from guys.  In fact, my goal has very little to do with men at all.  On the contrary, it’s about learning to love myself.  Learning to BE myself BY myself FOR myself.  Men may come and go… but I’m stuck with myself for life.  If there is anyone in this world I need to learn to love, it’s me.

And so, this is my great unveiling of my ‘bucket list’ for the year.  Below is my list of 25 things that I want to accomplish before Dec 31, 2012.  And the accomplishments are just for me.  Through them, I hope to become the person I’m meant to be.  And I hope to discover just how much that girl can be loved.

  1. Get and stay right with God.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”
  2. Lose 25 lbs
  3. Get a tattoo
  4. Take a roadtrip
  5. Take a class (photography/cooking)
  6. Spend a day at the best spa you can afford
  7. Have photos taken of you that you actually like
  8. Evolve your look
  9. Finish story (I’ve been stuck in the middle of it for a year already)
  10. Build and stick to a budget
  11. Learn how to spend TIME wisely
  12. Volunteer
  13. Buy yourself flowers, just because
  14. Invest in a Little Black Dress
  15. Buy something frivolous and expensive that you LOVE wearing.
  16. Host a girls-only night
  17. Purchase a decent piece of furniture not previously owned by a family member
  18. Dress up just because
  19. Plan a summer concert tour- even if it’s just a short one
  20. Be spontaneous (day, weekend, who knows!)
  21. Create.  2 craft projects a month
  22. Purge.  Spring clean every room in the house.
  23. Yard Sale/Flea Markets on weekends.  Give old things new life.
  24. Read. 2-3 books/month
  25. Take pictures. Everywhere.

I’m not claiming it will be easy.  I’m not claiming it will always be fun (okay, the spa thing will be fun), but it is something that is necessary.  There’s a lot of year left and huge list of things to do!

Be brave,