Posts Tagged With: Happiness

Consistency redefined.

A few days ago I blogged about being the most inconsistent person in the universe.

I said I was okay with that….  but I’m reconsidering.

I think that I have always seen the word “consistent” to mean something good, but always as something that I couldn’t achieve.  I happen to be, for better or worse, a person of extremes.  I go all in, then I lose interest and drop completely out.  I have done this with fitness, with hobbies, with topics that interest me, with TV shows… you name it.  However, I have always seen consistency as meaning that once you decide to do something you just do it.  And you don’t stop.

I have a good friend whom I have always considered to be the most consistent person I have ever met.  She decides she is going to do something, and she just does it.  And I watch in awe.  I’ve seen her do this with running, with education, with photography…

Project 365, if you aren’t aware of it, is a photography project where you take a photo a day for a year.  She started this project with me a while back, I dropped out after a few months, and she’s finishing up her THIRD YEAR!!!  She took one look at that concept and said, “Project 365?  Ha!!  Try project 1095!!  Bwahahaha!!”.

I’m not kidding when I say that I am absolutely in awe of this type of consistency.  She’s amazing.

However, I think that I have always seen this as THE definition of consistency.  And I have always paled in comparison.  And since I see consistency as good, and I see this as the definition of consistency, I see my approach towards things as a failure.  I failed at Project 365, just like I fail at other things in my life.  Like I failed at fitness, because as soon as my schedule wouldn’t allow for my current level of activity, I used it as an excuse to give up altogether.  Because when I attempted to document my year by taking a photo a day, I got angry and gave up when I missed just one photo.

I’m okay with being inconsistent when consistency has such a strict definition.  That’s just not me.  It’s not how I operate.  And it’s okay to admit your weaknesses, so I’m cool with that.  But I don’t think consistency necessarily has to have such a strict definition.

Instead of just accepting that I am “inconsistent”, I think I’m going to try and redefine the word “consistent”.  I’m going to start viewing the term in a much broader context.

Instead of believing that I am a failure at photographically documenting my year by taking “a photo a day”, I’m going to accept that documenting my year might not require exactly 365 photos.  If I end the year with 200 that give a clear and honest picture of my year…  well…  that’s good enough.

I don’t normally make New Years Resolutions, but I think this year I am going to try and be more “consistent”…  just using the new definition, that’s all.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The person you don’t call

I have had a lot of friends, and I have lost a lot of friends.  Friends come and go, it’s just a fact of life.  Someone once told me that relationships are funny things…  sometimes they just fall apart.  People change, grow in different directions, lose touch.

Sometimes relationships end in emotionally violent ways.  I’ve had my fair share of those endings…  and then some.

Some friendships just sort of drift off into nothing, with no rhyme or reason, they just disappear.  One day you find yourself wondering, “what happened to so-and-so?”  That’s happened to me as well… at least a couple times.

Through all of these friendships, though, one thing has been a constant in my life.

I am the person you don’t call.

You don’t check up on me.  You don’t pop in and post a “Hey, how are you?” on my Facebook wall.  I don’t find messages from you in my email inbox.  You don’t text me.

What little contact between us that you actually initiate…  most, if not all, of it seems pretty shallow.

A Christmas card that makes me feel like I am just a name in your address book.

A “Happy Birthday” post on my wall when we all know that Facebook reminded you.

Phone calls only when you think I might be able to do something for you.  Like you need to fly somewhere and you think I might be able to get you a cheap ticket…  that’s a pretty common one.

There are a few exceptions to this.  I have one long term relationship that consists of almost no real contact between us but is strong enough to withstand the distance, and a relatively new relationship that has grown very close very quickly and consists of regular contact.  And, of course, I have to mention my husband…  someone who contacts me multiple times a day, every day, and even though I sometimes get irritated when his phone calls constantly interrupt my reading, TV shows, and/or blog post writing…  I love him that much more for calling all the time anyway.

But for the most part, no matter how I try and build friendships, it almost always comes down to this…  I put in a lot of effort until I tire of it…  then I sit back and wait to see if you will reach out to me… and then it all just falls apart.  Because you never reach out to me.  So when I stop reaching out to you, there just isn’t anything left to keep it going.

I think that I have often put more into relationships than was necessary or appropriate, and I think that I often have much higher expectations of others than I should, and I think that, sometimes, I want more from people than they are able to give.  It has taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t do these things.  It’s taken me so long to figure out that I should not expect anything from anyone and I should just allow relationships to follow whatever path they are destined to follow without getting too wrapped up in them.  Without asking much.  Without expecting anything.

But, on the other hand, if everyone took this stand offish approach, how would any relationship ever progress anywhere??

A couple years ago I just dropped the expectations.  Sometimes I still get offended or upset.  Then I remind myself that I am judging unfairly.  That this person meant no harm to me.  And I should accept people for who they are and for where they are in their life and in their relationships.  And I let it go…

If you are reading this and you actually know me, please don’t take this as a guilt trip.  Don’t take this as a cue to call me…  I am generally a quiet person who likes to spend time alone; sudden phone calls from everyone would just piss me off, quite frankly.  And I have to wonder if maybe…  just maybe… the fact that I like to just be alone sometimes is a vibe I am subconsciously giving off to others.  Maybe… just maybe…  I only want others to reach out to me because I am lacking self-esteem in certain areas and I am hoping for some sort of validation…  validation that needs to come from me, not you, anyway.

I’ll leave you with this…

Freeing myself from worrying about what other people are thinking in terms of my relationship to them has freed up some space in my mind to focus on other things… like where I am at with myself.

In the list of qualities that I am okay with vs. ones that I need to change?

I’m okay with being the person you don’t call.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The most inconsistent person in the universe.

It has been over a year since I have posted on this blog.

It has been a year and a half since I mentioned that others expected me to give up on blogging, and I vowed to continue.  Though, to my credit, I did end the blog by clarifying that there was no guarantee that I actually would…

It has also been a year and a half since I posted about how determined I was to work my way through the “Simple Living Manifesto”.  The 72 steps to a simpler life.  I completed step one: Create a list of the 4-5 things that are most important to you.  Not only have I made no progress on the rest of the manifesto’s 72 steps, but I have actually moved backwards on a few of the 4-5 important things I listed.

My health and fitness goals have resulted in a sixty pound weight gain.

I have taken less pictures of my family, a lot less, even though I stated I would be taking more.

Blogging??  I said that I would keep up with this blog?!?!  Ha!

Lately I have been struggling with the conflict between the person I am and the person I want to be.  Figuring out which qualities are ones that can be lived with vs. ones that really need to be changed isn’t easy.  I’ll probably have more on that later, but for now I have decided that being the most inconsistent person in the universe…

I’m okay with that.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Gifts & Foster Children

Angel Trees. Those trees you see every year around the holidays, covered with tags on which are written the names, ages, and wishlists of children in need.

You’ve seen them, right??   They can typically be found in the malls as well as at your local Walmart, Kmart, and various other department stores.

Name: Michael  

Age: 10  

Wish list: Skateboard, Xbox games, iPod…

For a number of years I bought gifts for the children on these trees.  I turned it into a family event.  I would take my children to the mall where we would carefully choose one or two children from the tree, then we would go shop for those children together.  I had this image in my head of these poor children who aren’t going to get anything for Christmas, and those children deserve a good Christmas.  What a simple thing I can do to put a smile on those kids faces.

My husband and I relied on charity once for Christmas.  I was shocked by the number of gifts they gave us for our children.  We felt like we had hit the jackpot, and we were incredibly grateful that so many people were willing to give of their time and money to help us out in our time of need.

When we reached the point when we could afford to give back, we did so.  Every year.

At this point I never thought to distinguish between a one-time need or temporary situation vs. more long-term situations.  I also never considered the difference between low-income families vs. children in foster care.

Recently I have been working for companies that do gift drives for foster children every year for the holidays.  They “sponsor” a foster child, and everyone in the office buys for that child.  Some organizations just buy gifts for an organization that passes them on to foster children.

Until recently I always tried to help out with these drives.

I’m going to express to you what is likely to be a very unpopular opinion on giving gifts to foster children.

I will start by saying that I believe that everyone should give in whatever way they feel is appropriate and in whatever way they can.  Whether that be by giving gifts for the holidays, as is so popular, or by giving money to, or volunteering your time at, these organizations that work with these children.

I do not criticize the manner in which people give, and I applaud any efforts that are put towards helping innocent children who have been affected by horrific circumstances beyond their own control in their lives.

Personally, my family has decided to no longer give gifts to foster children.

I think we all have this image in our heads of these poor children, and we have this desire to provide them with a wonderful Christmas.  It’s what we want for our own children, and it is wonderful to imagine the smile on their face when they open those gifts.  And these children most certainly deserve a wonderful Christmas, I’m not denying that.

However, these kids don’t *need* gifts.  These children need stability, they need people in their lives who truly care and want the best for them, they need adults to encourage them and increase their feeling of self-worth, they need to feel loved and valued and important.  They do not need an iPod, an xbox game, or a skateboard.

We can never know the particular circumstances of a child we give to, so the end result is entirely out of our control, which is why I say it’s still good to give even though I personally choose not to.  But, unfortunately, some of these children are showered with more gifts than you can possibly imagine.  And our own experience of Christmas, if we’ve never lived in foster care, is not adequate to process the potential end result of such a focus on materialistic things.  The excitement and satisfaction we experience when we open those longed for gifts while surrounded by loving and supportive family members, it’s nothing like the short lived satisfaction that those same gifts will bring to an overwhelmingly unhappy child who is searching for happiness and can only seem to find it in that iPod.

Studies have been done that show that children are highly susceptible to being influenced by advertisements when they are unhappy.  Children who do not have a solid basis in life, who are not satisfied with their home life, their family, friends, school, etc., are much more likely to search for happiness elsewhere, and are much more likely to believe the TV commercials that tell them that happiness can be found in a Barbie Doll.  This can lead to materialism, a search for acceptance and status based on the clothes a person wears or the electronics they carry in their pockets.  This materialism may seem harmless in a child, and it may lead to a temporary happiness in an extremely difficult time, but it leads to a much less than satisfactory adult life.

I’m not a psychiatrist, and I don’t claim to have all the answers.  But if foster children are not unhappy with the foundation of their lives, I don’t know who else would better fit this description.

Yes, the kids deserve Christmas.  No, you can’t know what affect those presents will have on whatever child receives them.  Yes, giving is good.

So continue to give.  The children thank you.

I choose to help in different ways.

Please respect that.

If you are able to give in other ways, I encourage you to research the various ways you can make a real difference in the lives of these children.  Be a volunteer or a mentor.  Foster.  Adopt.  Or give financially to the organizations that contribute to this cause in ways other than just giving gifts.

Categories: Adoption, Children & Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Googling an old friend

I wasn’t feeling well for most of the day today.  So when I arrived home from work, I made myself a quick sandwich and headed straight for bed.

I read for a few minutes, then I fell asleep.

Woke up and read for a few minutes more, and fell asleep again…

Then I woke up again… and grabbed my laptop.

I did all my normal laptopy stuff, checked my email, checked my Facebook, commented on a few things, had a quick chat with my kid (yes, I Facebook chat with my kid from the next room)… then I just sat here in bed, still groggy and tired, feeling icky, and realized I just didn’t know what to do next.

Didn’t feel like checking the news.  Didn’t feel like blogging (at least at THAT moment I didn’t).

What to do… what to do…

So I looked up an old friend.  I don’t know what prompted me to do this, it was sort of a spur of the moment decision.  The friendship didn’t end well at all, she was particularly nasty to me, leaving me feeling used and abused, worthless, small.  And as much as I would like to be able to say that I am strong enough to just move on and not let it bother me, the truth is that it really does still bother me.

So I Googled her, and I found her blog.  And I read a few entries.  And what I found was what appeared to be a happy, confident, amazingly intelligent (to the point of being obviously somewhat arrogant), self-assured person with big dreams.

And as much as I would like to be able to say that I’m thrilled to find, through her online presence, that she is happy and doing well, that she is engaged and has had another child, that she is still in school and working on a graduate degree… the truth is, I’m ashamed to admit… part of me was hoping I would find a miserable wretch.

Why would I want that?  It’s a horrible thing to wish on another human being.  And I don’t really wish that, but in a way it would be nice.  Maybe I wish others had as hard of a time letting go of friendships as I do.  Maybe, just maybe, I was hoping that I would find some indication, however small, of the tiniest bit of guilt over what she did to me, even though I realize, of course, that if any such guilt exists, and it probably doesn’t, it would not be evident on her blog, especially not a few years later. Maybe I had hoped that her ability to so easily and cruelly dump on a supposed friend was a character flaw that would come back to haunt her down the road.

Actually, I think that’s it.  After she was so horrible to me I think I was hoping Karma would have bitten her in the behind.  There is a little voice in my head telling me that someone like that doesn’t deserve to be that happy, that successful.

So now I sit here, still not feeling well, still sleepy and in need of massive amounts of rest, but instead of sleeping I’m thinking of her.  I’m wishing ill on her while simultaneously kicking myself for thinking such horrible thoughts about a person who, despite how badly she may have treated me, deserves every bit of happiness and success she can find in this life.

I admire her for her strength and for her perseverance through the difficulties life has thrown at her.  Through young motherhood and a failed marriage, the adversity she faces in her communities for being an atheist in the bible belt, the stresses of trying to earn a graduate degree while caring for young children…  she is still plugging away and looking at the bright side of life.  She still has these big dreams and she’s going for it; I have a feeling she will let nothing get in her way.

Yet I am also very much aware that a quick Google search of a person isn’t going to give me the full story, and a person who seems, in their blog, to be happy, successful, driven, and optimistic, may actually be watching his or her life fall apart around them in reality.  Most people aren’t quite as honest online as I am.  So my looking to her blog for insight into her life is really quite ridiculous, and I am fully cognizant of that, so why do I let it bother me so?

I think I need to admit that I have identified in myself a character flaw.  Something that I need to work on.  An inability to move on when someone has treated me badly, an expectation that those who have hurt me so terribly will suffer themselves at some point for the pain they have inflicted, and a tendency to obsess over the past, to keep thinking back to those people and situations that have hurt me, and to try and make sense of them, make them *right* in some way, or find a way to feel vindicated.

We all have people in our past who have hurt us; I tend to have more than most, unfortunately.  Sometimes I think I would like to reach out to these people, see if a connection can be reestablished, heal those old wounds.  But I’m always met with fear that those wounds will be torn open again, rather than healed, and I’m not sure I can handle that.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.