Over the years I have been writing and posting to my blog, I’ve had a goal which has guided my content. It is simple. I want the words to be fashioned in such a way so that the reader and the writer feel good at the end of the piece. This practice has been a therapy of sorts. In fact there is a term for this way of thinking.
The definition of pollyanna is – a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.
This does not mean I do not have negative thoughts or feelings. It just means that I do not feel a cathartic need to post them online. Like everyone, I am involved with all kinds of situations where life does not seem very happy. But all of that stuff involves other people. While my family and friends are very interested in my writing, they do not appreciate appearing as regular stars. For sure my husband and children do not. They are even strict about which kind of photos and videos I can use. I must get their approval. Yes, tough crowd I hang with.
The problem becomes that I appear to be curating my life to make it look exceedingly wonderful. In so doing, it can be perceived as a little unbelievable. As if, by some kind of miracle I am walking on water, a bit. For those who know me, this is not at all what is really going on. I mean, yes, I am only writing about the good stuff. The result is a carefully controlled view of only the best of my life. So, what to do about that?
I asked my husband if I can start airing all the dirty laundry? He said no. Hmmm. How to solve this problem then? His idea was to select some of the situations we have gone through over the past 9 months and give a commentary about how we overcame the challenges. This might be a long post, so tuck in. You were warned!
- We had barely arrived in Europe when we got word that our family pet had run away. Our beloved rescue cat – Lynch. He was the best cat I had ever owned, for sure. But, as male cats have been known to do, he wandered off when the living circumstances changed and was never seen again. We hope he has found a nice place to live, but also accept we may not see him again. This did not help us get into the groove of travel, but rather pulled our emotions back home.
- One day, in front of our apartment in Barcelona, a woman was found dead. We were living on the 3rd floor and there was another two floors above us. Did she jump? Was she pushed? How did she end up in a really contorted way in the concrete lane? We will never know. What we could overhear was all spoken in a foreign language. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead body and I’ll assume the same for my teenagers. I suppose this can happen in a big city when there are so many people living close together?
- I really struggled to adjust to life on the road in the fall, last year. I was doing all the same jobs for my family as I had done back home. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry. My husband wanted the kids to be left to their studies, so each day felt quite routine for me, largely filled with domestic responsibilities. The kicker of that was our kids had pretended to be keeping up with their studies. Instead, they were playing video games, chatting with friends, sleeping late and generally having a great time! We didn’t learn the truth of that until much later. By the end of our stay in Europe I decided that everyone had to play a role in food procurement and preparation as well as keeping our living spaces tidy. Laundry was a case by case situation. We eventually found a good rhythm.
- My Grandfather passed away last fall. It looked like I might fly home to attend his funeral. Instead the gravesite service was postponed until the end of June, when we will be back in Canada. That was hard. I only had the last visit with him in the summer and even then, I feared it would be the last time. I hope he knew how much I enjoyed all the time we spent together, particularly when I had just moved out on my own and he continually helped me fix my car.
- I’ve never been as scared as I was when my children both came down with Bali belly. We had been warned about this and I’ve suffered with something similar myself, but when you stand by helplessly watching your kids be so sick, it is heart breaking. I had to force myself to leave them to sleep and recover, after the doctor’s visit. But I had a hard time with a knot in my stomach the whole time they were ill. I kept wondering, what did I let them eat? How could I have prevented this?
- There were times over this year when we experienced profound homesickness. It would hit each of us at different times. Luckily it didn’t happen all at once or we might have decided to go home! The feelings were tough to overcome. It is hard to pinpoint what causes this general feeling of sadness. Adding to the mix was the missing cat and the fact that our house was rented out anyway. We could not really go home if we wanted to. We had to charge ahead. On those days, we each needed more TLC and a good nights rest. That always did the trick.
- I do not like making mistakes. And not organizing the kids birth certificates and then being denied boarding our flight to Cape Town, well that was a big one. Then we had a large change fee with the airline to pay. Luckily my friend who was loaning us her apartment in Hong Kong was away for a few more weeks. Until we had the birth certificates in our hands from Canada I barely slept. I was so worried about what might happen if we could not manage to get them. It was a ridiculous thing for me to obsess about, but when your mind gets really fearful like that, there is no reasoning.
- Accidentally driving through the township/settlement on our way back to the airport in Cape Town was the most frightened I have ever been in my whole life. I must have looked like it as well. We had heard so many warnings about not doing what we did, for the sake of our safety. I had that in the back of my mind, but I was even more heart-broken by seeing just how bad the living conditions were for all the people residing in that area. Those were super heavy emotions.
- Raising teenagers is hard enough, but when they give parents attitude, on a regular basis….well my teeth were grinding together often. I do not have any means to force my offspring into appropriate behaviour. Taking away their phones and computers when it is the middle of the night back home, means nothing. They could care less. We had to try a more mature approach. We have had a few big family meetings, getting everything out on the table and discussing our feelings, like grown-ups. This has been an adjustment for all of us, but has worked much better than being authoritarian parents. I think we are closer, as a family? Hopefully…
- For some reason travel days put my kids on edge. Getting through the airport, being where we should be, filling out forms, all of it makes them act really stressed out. They seem to feel the need to practically run to the boarding gate, leaving my husband and I behind. They talk to us in a really short and terse tone which is very strange. All of this is made worse if we have to get up early, have a long layover or are going through many time zones. So pretty much every time we fly, in other words. Not to mention that every time we leave the house for day trips or travel days, our teens refuse to bring snacks or water. So they are always taking ours. Sigh, you would think they would have learned by now? I guess when we are not with them, they will manage somehow?
That is a top 10 list of sorts. None of that stuff is really in order and there were loads more challenges. The villa in Bali where a cockroach crawled out from the bathroom drain comes to mind. Not to mention the apartment outside Rome where we took a look around and immediately left due to huge mold patches on the living room wall. My daughter has a firm bias against airbnb, due to some of these experiences. No matter how many nice places we have stayed in, she can only remember the few bad situations.
My hope is that we will all be more flexible in the future. Take the time to draw a deep breath. Stay calm and assess the situation at hand, whatever it is. Don’t over react. Stay out of judgement and fear. Be reasonable and kind, no matter if you think someone has not done the same. It is a long life and we only hurt ourselves if we lose our temper and fly off the handle. At least this is the behaviour I have tried to model this year. The common ground and the win-win solutions are extremely satisfying for everyone involved. This is the creative legacy I hope we can demonstrate once we get back to our old life at home.
#creaspatreat – Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com
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