a promise is a promise is a promise

It is incredibly easy to make a promise. It can be made flippantly in order to deflect someone else’s concern or to avoid an argument. It can also be made in earnest because we feel so deeply moved to change and we know that it is the right thing to do. My promise to Youngest Cabbage had me floundering somewhere in the middle. While I did make the promise flippantly at first, I did know that it was the right thing to do. The challenge was going to be how to put the promise into action as well as how to keep it once I started it.

I began by telling myself that I could indeed do this; I could indeed try something new each and every day. I used a mantra of self-affirmation “I can do this! I will do this! I am woman, hear me roar!” In my mind I was jumping up and down with all the fanfare of a cheerleader minus the short skirt and pompoms. I quickly grabbed a pen and paper and began to jot down new things I could try.Something new cartoon

  • Learn to meditate
  • Yoga
  • Reconnect with friends
  • Travel Europe
  • Learn to say hello in ten different languages
  • Smarten up
  • Be the person my dog thinks I am
  • Exercise
  • Eat better
  • Stop swearing
  • Sign up for a class, what it would be I do not know
  • Consult a psychic
  • Belly dance

(By now Julie Andrew was singing in my head, “Climb every mountain, Search high and low, Follow every highway, Every path you know” from The Sound of Music and I felt like my head was going to explode.)

While my ideas were clearly all over the place, I felt fairly good because I had, at least, begun a “Try Something New List”. It also meant that I had moved one step closer to putting my promise into action. Things were looking good on paper but I quickly realized I was facing some challenges:

(1) I live in a small rural community where the possibilities of trying something new are limited and not readily available

(2) I have limited energy due to chronic health conditions, particularly challenges associated with living with multiple sclerosis

(3) I have limited financial resources

But I was certainly not going to let these factors deter me. It only meant that I was going to have to think outside the box, be creative and resourceful, motivated and determined. I also did not want to be one of those promise makers who embraces the promise with gusto at first but loses momentum after a while. Knowing myself and my history (isn’t it Dr. Phil who says ‘the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour’?), I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to stay on task. Since I did not want Dr. Phil’s voice going off inside my head saying “I told you so”, I decided I had better call in the recruits.

It only made sense that, in order to remain true to my promise and to elicit some ideas, I would enlist the help of the other cabbages in my patch. Every one of my fellow cabbages thought it was an awesome idea and were grateful that Youngest Cabbage had roped me into such a promise. They were quick to chime in with their thoughts and suggestions. I told them what my limitations were and what parameters they needed to work within – the something new had to be within reason, legal and not cost much financially. The most I would be able to swing is $100 every now and then.

This was a strategic move on my part. My cabbages would not only hold me to task on this promise (you know who you are) but I also knew they would provide me with much needed support, fodder, and ammunition for this blog.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Make a bucket list (this appeals to me because it is similar to a ‘to do’ list and would keep me focused and organized — plus I like checking things off.)
  • Wine making (hiccup)
  • New haircut/hair colour (scary)
  • Write something every day (doable and manageable)
  • Tie a cherry stem with my tongue (not sure if I possess such a talent but I guess I will find out)
  • Join a book club (this appeals to me very much – are any available online?)
  • Shooters (hiccup x 2)
  • Karaoke (hence the shooters)
  • Take a photo a day (it would encourage me to get out of the house more)
  • Write a random address and see if they write back (with my luck the address would belong to an axe murderer)

Even Sauerkraut had some suggestions:

  • Learn to drive a standard (not sure the jeep would survive this)
  • Learn to pump my own gas (why I have not learned this, I do not know)
  • Learn to check my oil (clearly car maintenance is on his mind)
  • Go an entire day with his being right (he included ‘no back talk’ as a requisite and, while he may have had me there for a minute, he blew it with the ‘back talk’ part, so, no)

Middle Cabbage thought I should try these:

  • Drink a cup of coffee (ooooh, yuck)
  • Pee standing up for a week (really?)
  • Marijuana (for medicinal purposes, I am sure)

So there you have it. A promise is a promise is a promise and I intend to keep it because I am no longer floundering in the middle. I have put my fear to the wayside …. Plus I have the best and most supportive cabbages in my patch. What could go wrong?

Promise into action:  1

Floundering:  0

to post or not to post, that was the question

Already I am trying too hard.  I have spent the past several days fretting over what the first entry of my blog should be.  While I have a whole hodgepodge of misadventures, blunders, and anecdotes to draw from, I find myself staring at the page wondering what to write about.  Family and friends have been consulted and asked what it is they think I should write about.  I have read other people’s blogs hoping that an idea will spring forth from the computer screen and light a creative spark.  But, nothing, absolutely nothing comes to mind.  With each passing moment, I feel the all too familiar wave of anxiety begin to well up because I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT and now I have gone and told people that I am writing a blog and they are expecting something wonderful, fantastic, witty and insightful, but I do not know what to write about, and, oh, my word, this was the worst idea ever. Or so I tell myself.

It is easier to tell myself that I do not know what to write about than it is to admit the truth:  I am afraid. I am afraid of being perceived as foolish, insignificant, vulnerable, and, well, not good enough. I am also deathly afraid of being rejected; the reasons for this better left for another time, another blog.

So why write a blog which by its very public nature puts me ‘out there’ and has the potential of setting me up for all of things I fear the most:  rejection, criticism, vulnerability? Because I made a promise to someone I love, a promise which involves stepping outside my comfort zone with a conscientious effort to try something new every day.

Back in November, Youngest Cabbage (Y.C.) came home from university for a surprise twenty-four hour visit.  He was somewhat philosophical during this visit and it was obvious that he was trying his best to talk to me about something.  Naturally, I assumed it was university, co-op job hunting or his life related.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that, saints preserve us, what he wanted to talk about was, well, me.  Double take, back the bus up or start the car, I wasn’t sure which one I should do.

The conversation went something like this:

Y.C.:  “Hey, Mom. How are things?”

Me:  “Pretty good, thanks for asking.”

Y.C.:  “Really (sarcastic tone)?  You don’t seem all that good.”

Me:  “I’m fine.  I just have a lot on my plate right now.”  This is my usual response to all me-related questions.

Y.C.:  “Well, before I go back to school, I want you to promise me something.”

Me:  “Sure.  Name it.  What would like?”

Y.C.:  “I want you to promise that you will try something new every day.”

What the hell?  Why would I do that?  I had taken the bait, hook, line and sinker and was now committed to something big before knowing what it was I was committing to.  Man, oh, man, this was bad. I had gotten myself into yet another pickle and I was back pedaling as to how I could get myself out of it.

The long and the short of it is that, even though I thought I had everyone fooled, this mathematical genius of a child (who has gone through his entire twenty-one years of his life being teased by his older brothers for having his head stuck up in the clouds) hit the nail right on the head:  his mother was slipping into the mundane and she was struggling with something far deeper than she was willing to admit or could even articulate.

But Y.C. knew.  Before Y.C. left for an eighth month co-op placement back in December of 2011, I was attentive, bubbly and talkative.  When he returned, I was distracted, quiet and pensive.  By November not much had changed so Y.C. bravely crossed over into dangerous territory; he talked to me about me.

So here it goes.  I am posting my first entry despite my fear of rejection, despite my fear of being told it is a stupid idea, and despite my fear of being laughed at or told that my efforts are not good enough. I am exposing my vulnerability in the hopes of escaping the mundane and also in the hopes of showing others that, while we all experience periods of vulnerability and insecurity, it is only when we face our fears and step outside our comfort zone can we truly begin to shine.

AND, equally, if not more importantly, I am posting my first entry because I made a promise to someone I love.  Thank you, Y.C., I owe you one.

Something new:  1

Fear:  0