Of the End of my Beginning

It’s been bothering me a little bit as to why I haven’t been able to blog much in recent months. I haven’t had much to say.

I’ve been contemplating and percolating.

I think, that this period of recovery, healing, self-discovery and growth has come to a natural conclusion. I have reached the end of my beginning.

This blog has served its purpose. It allowed me to put my swirling thoughts down and feel like I’ve been heard. It’s allowed me to explore ideas. It’s allowed me to learn to open up and share vulnerabilities and struggles in a relatively ‘safe’ place.

I know that documenting my journey these last 3 or so years has helped me. I know that it has also helped others.

It has not been an easy road.

I’ve learned things about myself that I didn’t particularly like. I’ve learned about parts of my nature and character that had been buried by circumstance over my lifetime. I’ve learned where my boundaries are, and where my guards are. I have hurt people in the process of this learning, and that is something I deeply regret. I have also learned to forgive myself, to be content, to be patient. I have become self-aware.

As well as the pain, I have to say that I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve managed to grow from being ridiculously incapable of talking to female strangers and rejecting myself on their behalf (to save them the time and effort of doing so themselves) to being able to interact like a normal person. I’ve been on dates that were complete disasters and on dates that were amazing. I’ve learned to cook. I’ve developed an appreciation for wine. I still haven’t managed to get to the snow and learn to snowboard (It’s been 4 years since I defined that as an intention) which is now beyond a frustration and is more of an embarrassment. Maybe this is the year!

I have pretty much removed a lifetime of conditioning around being someone that other people thought I should be and acting as other people thought I should act. Of course, the downside of this is that there are many people who were in my life who now aren’t. There is some regret perhaps, but if they return, they’ll meet someone who is stronger and better for the absence.

So what next for me? There are still areas to work on.

I know that emotionally I keep people at arms-length. Even friends and family. I am aware that I’ve probably done this my entire life. When did I learn that I needed to do this? How did I learn that I needed to do this? What were the reasons?

What do I need to do about it now that I’m aware of it? What can I do about it now that I’m aware of it?

I know that I have ring-fenced my post-marriage life from people that I think would be impacted by it. Most especially my kids. Their well-being is paramount. However, as they’re growing up quickly, it’ll soon be a question of whether I am over-thinking everything to protect kids that have already adjusted to their new reality. They know that they have a Dad that loves them and is as present as he can be. That’s enough isn’t it?

I’m now coming to a place where I can start to map out a longer future vision for me. I have been focussed this year on achieving some specific goals around health, business, and personal finances. I now need to set some specific goals around living, being emotionally unguarded, being even more open and vulnerable. Taking risks with my heart.

I still have personal constraints in place. But what could my life be if I remove them? What kind of person would I be? What kind of person could I be?

These constraints are weakening.

I am nearly free.

This is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure.

So, thank you for reading this and sharing an aspect of my life with me. 40odd is done. However, as I have opinions and stories about pretty much everything on this planet, a new blog shall rise. Of this, I have no doubt.

– S

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So it’s June. I’m just now managing to Blog after a few months of really having nothing to say.

My latest birthday has come and gone (actually, it was a super-fun birthday!). The weather has turned (I’ve observed that Aucklanders are freaking out). I’ve suffered through my first man-cold of the season. (Note: man-cold is serious business. Don’t believe me? It’s on the internet so it must be true).

It’s been a tough 6 months.

I’m tired. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

I’ve discovered that there are limits to my presence and availability. I’m able to focus on work, and putting my kids first. But others are missing out.

There are days where I’m spent by 9pm.

There are days where I just have no time or energy to give to others . To interact.

I don’t actually like this, but it’s my reality at the moment. I’ve set certain goals I need to achieve before I can shift my attention elsewhere. Thankfully, those goals get closer to completion each month, and I can see an end-point.

It’s not all doom and gloom though.

My kids are well. They’re happy and healthy and making great strides at school. This is the most important thing to me in the great scheme of things.

Business is going well. There are always things that irritate and distract slightly, but overall it’s working out.

My health is actually good. Being able to spend time at the gym has helped greatly. I actually look forward to my workouts (this is something I never thought I’d say!). I’ve seen mental improvement as well as physical. So the great BodyTech experiment of 2013 has been absolutely worthwhile.

I think I need a holiday.

And soon.

– S

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Of Quality Time

This week has been fantastic.

After four years, my ex and the mother of my children has enough confidence (in me?) to travel overseas (China, in fact) and trust me to be house-Dad with our kids.

This is actually huge. It’s been two years in the making and she finally has made it to a place where it can happen.

So, from Monday this week, I’ve been based on the other side of Auckland from where I live.

I have been responsible for the weekly routine. Feeding the kids. Motivating the kids to get ready for school in a timely fashion. Preparing school lunches. Making sure they have all the accessories required for the day – be it for PE, Touch Rugby tournaments, Ice-Skating classes, or gymnastics classes. Dropping them off and not kissing/hugging/shaking hands with them because ‘That’s NOT cool, Dad’. (sigh). Then at the other end of the day, collecting them at the correct time to run them to aforementioned classes.

It’s completely screwed up my routines. I’d like to say that I love that fact, ‘cos they’re my kids, but that wouldn’t be honest.

I’m absolutely fine with it, but I do like my schedule. I don’t enjoy trying to compress a days planning into fewer hours. Oh well. That’s entirely my problem!

One thing of great concern was Miss 7’s ponytail. I’ve never had the need to tie such a thing. People were most helpful. Sharing how-to’s on YouTube for example.

Miss 7 was not impressed and most certainly didn’t want to try this solution. I have a couple more days in which to entice her. I may use the withholding of chocolate tactic.

That being said, I am proud to announce that of the three Dad-assembled ponytail’s, NONE failed. Oh yes.

We have gotten through the week. Homework has been completed. Musical instrument practice has been completed. And there have been no tantrums (by either the kids or me).

I can’t say it’s given me a new respect for my ex. as I already have a great deal of respect for her and what she’s achieving with our children. However, I do have a great deal of respect for solo, working mothers who juggle the demands of their work with the demands of their kids and their kids schooling. It’s not an easy road by any means.

This has been a good experience.

And apparently my kids still love me. This is also good.

-S

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Of Health and Fitness, Planning and Execution

Every couple of years or thereabouts, I get a bee in my bonnet about doing something about my fitness. It usually involves excitedly starting regular walks or jogs, which I manage to maintain for say three or four weeks before discovering other more interesting things to do with my time. Vacuuming, for example.

A few years back I even joined a Jetts gym. Which was good for six months. And then, like most gym members, I propped up the business by paying my monthly fee and not attending.

What I learned about myself at that time, was that I absolutely need a Personal Trainer. Someone who helps me keep my focus when I’m there, and actually just tells me what to do.

Without that, it’s all mirrors and puffery.

Time passed.

This January 1st, I made a resolution around my health and fitness. And unlike previous years, I wrote it down and stuck it to the wall above my workstation. So I now look at it every day.

It’s all very well having the idea, but the key is the planning and execution. I did my research. I know myself quite well, so going to a traditional gym and hoping that I’d actually make the effort myself really wasn’t an option.

I took the plunge. I’ve joined BodyTech in Eden Terrace, Auckland. It’s in a completely different league to my previous gym experiences. The element of this gym that will work incredibly well for me is the assisted training programme. You have a PT each time you go. It’s part of the cost, and it’s going to be effective. It’s also designed for maximum effect over a minimal workout time – which is ideal for me.

I’m in my second week. I am still enjoying the enthusiasm of joining, so the next few weeks of establishing a routing will be crucial. However, I do seem to be viewing each workout with pleasure and expectation rather than fear and trepidation.

This is a good thing.

– S

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Of Decluttering

I have noticed something over the last 6 weeks.

From about September last year I have been decluttering. Both physically and emotionally.

I’ve had a lot of things hanging over me that were incomplete. Things that were holding on from a previous life. Things that consciously weren’t present in my thoughts, but sub-consciously were. Things that impact my Present.

There were files and paperwork that I never referred to or needed. Old video collections from the mid-late 1990’s (including some amazing Level 42 concerts). Clothing I haven’t worn for decades. A Hunters & Collectors black leather biker jacket from 1993. Sidenote: It totally failed to make me look cool.

I’ve closed my storage unit from a part of town where I was married and lived for 17 years and never quite got around to emptying.

I have a new one. New beginnings.

I’ve had a chance to reflect. To put emotional baggage to rest.

This decluttering has given me the strength and the courage to confront my family over issues of my marriage ending, lack of relationship, and their lack of acceptance of my reality (which they’ve been unable to reconcile their belief systems with). It has been nearly four years.

I have spent a bit of time with my family these last couple of weeks. I’ve noticed some interesting and somewhat disturbing dynamics that need addressing.

I have come to the realisation that around my family (siblings, not parents), I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel that they’d be there for me if everything fell over. The phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ simply doesn’t apply in my case.

It has been acknowledged by them that if I deemed someone important enough to introduce to them, that rather than being welcoming and accepting, it would be uncomfortable and awkward for everyone.

It was a very enlightening conversation.

Getting these things out in the open removes clutter. I now have clear options.

– S

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Of Resolutions – 2013

2013

I like to review the past year and compare outcomes with what I had resolved to achieve.

So, how did I go? Here’s the post from last year.

Physically: I didn’t manage to establish a fixed gym-based exercise routine. I do however now go for regular 5km walks. I’ve seen a weight-loss of approximately 2kg – so pretty much the status quo. That being said, my blood pressure is down, my back/shoulders/neck have been corrected thanks to a focussed chiropractic schedule and I’m not as tired as I was during the year.

Mentally: I achieved the increased reading and the meditation time. I didn’t do a course of study – mainly due to time constraints.

Business: I successfully established my business. I have achieved increased productivity. I have achieved greater networks. So, not bad!

Emotional: I still over-think everything – I suspect that is my nature. My guards were down during the year but are up at the close of 2012. I achieved sorting out things with my ex. in the areas needed. I’ve spent more time with my kids and have been able to give them more focus.

I didn’t travel this year due to having to be frugal (boooo!), I didn’t get to the South Island (booo!). I’ve made a start on Japanese cooking, and learning to make sauces. I did do a dinner party and I have smoked my first cigar (and I liked it)!

I’m going to give myself a solid B.

What then for 2013?

Physically: I really need to find a fat-burning exercise regimen that I enjoy. This is the hardest thing. Also, the desire to lose weight needs to be stronger than the desire to carry on as I am. This is key for me. But let’s put something in writing – By Dec 31, 2013, I want to be 82kg.

Mentally: I’ll continue with my reading and me-time. It’s working well. I’m not sure about a course of study, but I do have an interest in learning to speak and read Japanese. That’ll then be my resolution.

Business: Having got through year one, I will consolidate and plan for growth. I will continue to develop systems and processes and will continue to increase productivity.

Emotional: No sure where to go with this. I’m leaning towards making an effort to become more open and available and vulnerable with people who come into my life. This will be challenging.

Miscellaneous: Travel – I need to get to Europe to see my family again. There’s a wedding in Malaysia to attend. I would like to go to Thailand to research some much-needed dentistry. I need to be ‘out of Auckland’ more. Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin… all need to be visited more often. Cooking – I need to be more hospitable. So, dinner parties are going to happen.

And the key to achieving these resolutions? I will write them down, pin them to the wall. And plan to succeed.

So, what are you going to do?

– S

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Of Change and Brutal Self-Evaluation

The last few weeks have been challenging. And a little conflicted. My emotional guards are locked up good and tight.

I’ve learned that there is steel in my general easy-going nature. Steel which is only revealed when lines are badly crossed. I don’t particularly like this.

I’ve had to look at my responses and gauge if they’re appropriate given the circumstances or if they’re a reaction to things buried deep.

It’s fair to say that I have my failings and flaws. I also have my limits that some have pushed.

I’ve said it before that my absolute priority in life are my children and my relationship with them. What isn’t understood by most is the delicate balance being maintained. The difference between their lifestyle and acquired faith, and my lifestyle (and lost faith) means that it is only a matter of time before they come to the understanding that Dad is going to Hell. The time I have with them in a fortnight isn’t a lot, so I have to make the most of it to counter their developing belief systems and show them firsthand that they have alternatives.

I feel I started to compromise this a little. Bit by bit. I was starting to fit them around my calendar instead of fitting my calendar around them. No more.

Then there is my family world. Again, I’ve talked about this before. My connection to my adopted family is civil but not pervasive. I see my parents fortnightly for a few hours. And on special occasions. I see only one of my three siblings with any sort of regularity. For as long as I can remember the only personal information my family have is what I share with them and what is on Facebook. They don’t ask. They observe my happiness, and see how I’m doing with my kids. And that’s it. That is my interaction with them. We don’t often do family gatherings, dinners, BBQ’s etc. so details of our private lives, trials, successes, and new loves (that would be only in my case, as they’re all married and Christian) never come up in conversation.

I was married into a family that was close. So close that I lost ‘me’. As long as I fit into their expectations, everything was smooth. But ultimately, blood is thicker than water and that tight-knit family grouping really was quite destructive. This experience makes me a little wary of close families. I’m simply not that comfortable around them, nor do I need to be ‘adopted into a normal family to see what it’s like’.

I have blood family. In the UK. Who I don’t really know. I need to spend time connecting with them. This is important.

Then there are my relationships with friends and intimates. Someone suggested that I let people in, usually in the last part of the year, simply to counter a fear of being alone over Christmas. I hadn’t considered this, but on reflection I don’t think this is the case.

I rather suspect that the reality is that I don’t actually know what I want in terms of relationship. I had a long marriage (17+ years) so maybe I’m done with long term relationships? Perhaps. I do know that as my kids are central, I feel the need to fit relationships around them and their needs.

It is conceivable that I may need to put that part of life on hold until they reach 18. Or they come to the conclusion on their own terms that Dad needs someone. Some would suggest that I need to do what’s right by me and that they’ll adjust. Again, perhaps. What I do know is that I up-ended their world once, and yes, I do feel a degree of guilt about that, so I’m reluctant to unsettle them again now that things are working well.

So – here’s a work-list for the next months:

– Be more open, drop the emotional guards. Be more vulnerable. Take more risks.
– Be more hospitable. Have visitors. Learn to not isolate myself.
– Be more proactive with my adopted and blood family. Reconnect.
– Don’t let toxic people into my headspace and don’t speak ill of them.
– Focus on all the positives in life and don’t give mind to the negatives.

This shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

Eek.

– S

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