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Sunday, December 04, 2011

December Reflections: No More Garden of Shame.

I go through phases where I feel positively ravenous for more learning, more creativity, and more activity than time and energy seems to allow. Then I become immobilized and overwhelmed, because I have perfectionist tendencies that end up defeating me before I begin. I often just give up before I've started. At other times, I will start with a bang, only to fizzle out. I'm still beating myself up for what I call "my Garden of Shame”.1 Now, to be fair, we'd only just moved into a new rental house in February of this year, so starting a new garden (as an absolute beginner) was quite ambitious. Additionally, we were decompressing from a cross-country move a few months previously, as well as reeling from Warren's unexpected unemployment, not to mention acrimonious court shenanigans over the Christmas holidays involving my ex-husband and his impulsive and ill-advised plans to relocate both of my kids from Qualicum Beach to Fort McMurray within weeks of our relocation from Montreal to Victoria. 2

Factor in as well that I had a new (and unreasonably stressful) job, and subsequently had to find a new gig while Warren adjusted to his own newly-found employment. We shivered through a few weeks without any heat in the house in February, and Warren and I didn't have a proper bed. We couldn't afford a kitchen table or chairs until well into Spring. We planned our extremely bare-bones wedding for August 1, which we were were not willing to put off any longer. We'd been engaged since 2008, and some sort of crisis was always coming up to put our wedding plans off for another year. 

2011 was not easy, but we got through it and finally feel that we can actually exhale.

I'm thankful to have relatively steady work – and, even if the pay is not quite enough to do anything but live paycheque-to-paycheque, I've been there long enough to now have benefits. I'm learning a lot, have good relationships with my managers, colleagues and authors, and am in an environment that's harmonious with my interests and goals. Warren, laid off since September, is building his freelance editing and copywriting career. He is already is making at least as much – and increasingly more - than when he was working for someone else. And he's doing something that he's perfectly suited to.

It was too much of a whirlwind last year to do a December reflection of any real consequence, to take stock of the year we'd just been through, and to look forward to the future. But things look better – much better, now, in fact. Warren and I feel hopeful about our shared interests and complimentary vocations. My son is having a fantastic time living in Victoria and is thriving in his first year of high school. My daughter has a room of her own here in our house, and I love that she considers her time here as “coming home”, kind of like a visiting college student. While she's in Victoria, she's got a flexible part-time job at Cabin 12, with some terrific experience and mentoring opportunities that she's enthusiastic about. We have new friendships that we're slowly and steadily building on and look forward to investing in for the years to come. 

Things are genuinely good. My inspiration, interests, and levels of curiosity are increasingly ravenous, and that's a good sign. I'm taking the month of December to create a more focused strategy for learning, creating, and growing in 2012, and I'm sketching out plans to cultivate health, education, friendships, and innovation in the months to come.

1 The piece of land in the backyard that I didn't nurture after Warren broke the ground and I planted the seeds.

2 Leah and Daniel had been living with Warren and I in Montreal since 2008 (after my separation and divorce in 2005). After a time, the kids wanted very much to move back out out West to be with their father - and to get away from the language politics, harsh weather, and urban landscape. They'd had to adjust to a lot in the last handful of years with their parents breaking up and relocating, so Warren and I thought it best if we'd move to where they'd flourish. Within 72 hours of our arrival here, I was meeting with a court mediator to find a way to stop my kids from being taken to the Alberta Tar Sands. My daughter chose to go with her father to Alberta, and my son chose to move to Victoria with us in February 2011. Leah has since returned to Vancouver Island as of September 2011, stays with us here in Victoria every second weekend and on holidays, and spends the rest of her time in Qualicum Beach with a Home Stay family while she completes her final year of high school.