Tag Archives: Comfort zone

Dear Diary: A Year in Review

– Contributed by Wee C

My grandfather was a member of an old-school club. He was a diary-keeper. I’m not sure how many years he kept a diary, but I’d hazard to guess it was a practice he engaged in for nearly all of his adult life. They always looked the same – small, black, with the words ONE-YEAR DIARY pressed in gold or silver lettering on the front. He kept it beside his rocking chair in the living room; the same place he read the paper, visited with guests, and caught up on his daily rest. And I suspect all three of those things were what filled the pages. Day after day. Year after year.

The habit was one that I both admired and found baffling. I adored the simplicity of chronicling the day’s activities and the historical reference it provided. And, in fact, it’s a habit I’ve tried to form myself over the years. But I could never quite understand what he found to write about every single day; a fact which was the single stumbling block to my disgraceful, and ultimately non-existent, diary-keeping habits.

The desire to write about the evolution of life has, however, remained with me. I have never lost the intrinsic need to capture life in words, like a child catching a firefly in a jar in the hopes that its light will never burn out. For many reasons, in blogging I found the tool that allowed me to both express myself and to keep a journal of where life has taken me, what I have learned, and perhaps more importantly, what’s left to learn.

Today marks one year since my first blog post on this blog. April 24, 2010 was a milestone for me. Not because of what I wrote, but because of the journey I began and my ability to reflect on that journey today. Today, looking back through posts from the past year, I’m thankful to have adopted my grandfather’s habit of chronicling life. My methods would seem highly unorthodox and far-too-revealing for him, but the ability to reflect would no-doubt be appreciated.

After reviewing my old posts, what is abundantly clear is that worrying, fretting, working myself to death, and being all-too-high strung is so Wee C circa 2010. I read my posts from early last year and want to both hug this poor, tragic girl and give her a good shake. Gosh darn it, who was that girl? I was so busy buzzing about trying to impress the bosses, keep peace in the household, and ensure everyone (read: every.single.person.in.the.entire.world) loved me, that I completely lost myself in the process. It is so clear to me now just how inevitable a near-fatal crash was.

How was I scared to play Black Jack at the casino? Or why was staying at the party such a huge accomplishment? Going to the strip club seems like such a small hurdle now, but at one time it was one of life’s biggest milestones. And stopping long enough to meditate for ONE MEASLY HOUR seemed like I had accomplished a feat as significant as climbing to the top of Everest. In every one of these blog posts, I read the words and remember the feelings, but I simply do not know that girl any longer. She is someone I knew extraordinarily well, admired sufficiently and never, ever loved enough.

As the year progressed and I completed 30 Things, my marriage began to change and that brought a whole new perspective to how I viewed my life, my relationships and myself. In December I wrote a letter to myself five years into the future. I cried as I re-read it today. Only four months later and I’m dumbfounded by just how accurately I saw my life, despite the dark cloud of confusion hanging over it. I wrote to myself about a peace that was yet to come. Today, not five years from now, I am beginning to find it.

While today marks the one-year anniversary of my first blog post, it also marks the first holiday in 11 years that I did not celebrate with my one-time husband and that part of my dear and beloved family. Today was a series of deep breaths, each one carrying me forward to the next. It was also a day of reflection and gratitude. Wee C circa 2010 could never have made it through today with as much composure as the current version did. Keeping a “journal” helped me to see, and celebrate, that, giving me a life flotation to make it through the day.

My grandfather has been gone for several years, but it seems there are some lessons that are learned well after the original lesson has been taught. As an old farmer, he understood that keeping a diary of significant happenings allowed you to better prepare for the future. He understood that you can never get here without having been there first. Today, I finally learned what he taught me.

The five reasons we should pay it forward

-Contributed by Big L

I guess it’s hard for people who are so used to things the way they are – even if they’re bad – to change. ‘Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses.  – from Pay It Forward

Pay it forward; a concept I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

To me, it’s not just about receiving and giving acts of kindness (although that’s nice), it’s about sharing your insights and struggles so other people can reflect on and benefit from what you’ve experienced. It’s about not giving up or shutting up. Because like the quote says, when you do, you’re not the only one who loses.

Here are five reasons why I believe we should pay it forward more often:

1.) There is positive meaning to be found in even the most uncomfortable things we experience. I know, easy to say when my life is bountiful and easy right? But things like sick pets, outlook-altering experiences, and hard lessons definitely count – and I’ve had those recently. Anything that upsets the balance and order in your world in a big way, counts. Those things can be uncomfortable, yucky, scary, and even devastating. But I believe there are always benefits within them. They always make us better for the next time and they give us the gift of having overcome adversity, learned something new, and solved a problem.

In other words, there is always a nugget of insight; something we’ll carry with us beyond the negative stuff we felt while we were in the thick of it.

2.)  We all possess the power of communication. Again, easy for me to say because I’m a professional communicator, right? But when things happen to me – lessons are learned, hardships are endured, mistakes are made, perspectives are altered – I can’t help but pause and think “Hmmm. What is the lesson here? How can I help make the world (or at least my world) a little better through this experience?” You don’t need to work in public relations to ask yourself that. We all have the ability to speak, write or express ourselves in some way. That’s a big, powerful tool.

3.) As a society, we share a lot of sentiments. Despite how alone we might feel when going through something icky, the truth is there is someone – and probably many, many people – who can relate. Sure, the exact circumstances of the death, sickness, break up, job loss, failure, or change will be unique. But the self-talk, thoughts and emotions associated with it are most likely not. Sadness, worry, fear, disappointment, regret, uncertainty, and anger? They’re a common human condition. When we’re in those places, very rarely are we actually alone.

4.) Life is a continuum. In other words, where I am in life – physically, emotionally, mentally – is not where everyone else is. Even if someone had the same experience as me at the same time, I may have moved through it faster or differently than they have. I may have discovered something they overlooked. Therefore, they could probably benefit from what I learned along the way. Certainly the people who end up in that place after me could benefit from my experience.

Think about it:

You’re visiting a new city. You check your map and notice there are multiple routes to get from your hotel to the restaurant you want to try. Because you don’t know the area, wouldn’t it make sense to ask a local for the best way to get there? If they know about traffic, construction, one way streets, or sketchy neighbourhoods, don’t you want to know? You could figure it out on your own, most definitely, but you’d appreciate their insight, yes?

I rest my case.

5.) Sometimes, it’s not about you (or me). Sometimes, really bad things happen to really good people. Sometimes, we get the short end of the stick. Have you ever wondered if sometimes, we’re dealt a shitty hand so that we can teach or save someone else in the process? I have. I’ve wondered whether untimely death, critical illness, divorce, and hardship have happened to people I know so that they can lead the way for others. For me, or for someone in their family, or maybe for an anonymous person who reads their blog post or overhears their conversation at Starbucks.

So far, my thought process ends there. But as I reflect on the life lessons happening within me and around me right now, I can’t help but wonder: how can we all do a better job of paying it forward?

Grateful for Gratitude

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve been avoiding this blog. I’ve been avoiding writing this post. I’ve been avoiding you all. Even now, I’d really rather hold down the delete button and close the cover on my laptop. In fact, I can feel the chills of stress and anxiety setting in. But, alas, the time has come to soldier on.

You see, life hasn’t been all roses and sunshine lately. In fact, it’s been pretty damned hard. And while I’m not ready to get into the dirty details, suffice it to say that my world has been turned upside down, on top of its head, drowning in a bath of freezing cold water. And, truthfully, I’d rather be curled up by my fireplace with a cup of hot tea and a blanket, thank you very much.

Oh, I knew it had to come some day. Life had been all-too-perfect prior to this. I’ve always said that everyone’s ride will hit a detour some time. Just so happens that now is my time. I wasn’t sure what scenario would lead me here, but I always wondered how I would react, what I would do, when my time came. I imagined myself curled up in bed, balls of tissues practically suffocating me, my oversized hoodie swallowing me up, the blinds drawn into severe darkness. Visions of straight jackets also appeared once or twice. And while I do love a good crisp white blouse, that did feel a titch dramatic.

Truth is, that’s not what happened at all. Ok, well it’s sort of what happened…I haven’t exactly behaved like tears are a precious commodity. But it is true what they say (all those wise people – you know, like Winston Churchill and Voltaire), it is in times of adversity that we find our greatest strength. In my case, it’s where I’m finding my true self.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve seen more of myself than I have in a decade. It’s not for any other reason than that I’m exposed and vulnerable and feeling quite naked (good thing all this stress has resulted in a 10-pound weight loss). I’ve found a strength that I thought had left me a long time ago. But, perhaps most importantly, I’ve found my way back to gratitude. A place that feels so much like home, but one that I had forgotten to visit for far too long.

Let me simply proclaim this. I have been blessed. I am blessed. I will continue to be blessed. My life is rich with blessings. What’s so remarkable to me is the intensity of this feeling at a time when it feels that so much has been taken away. Instead of feeling empty and drained, most days, I’m feeling full. Like a pig feeding at the trough, full. Would I like to get back what I lost? I can’t say yes to that quickly enough. I’d say it a million times over if it would help. But in losing something so big, what I’ve learned is that we can’t ignore what we currently have…today. Not what we wish we had yesterday, not what we long for tomorrow. If I sit here and pine for what I had or what I want, I’m not honouring the love I am currently receiving from friends and family on what seems like an hourly basis. And that love is beyond profound and overwhelmingly generous.

And so, even in the deepest void my life has ever experienced, the water fills in, rises and spills over. It’s here that I realize just how grateful I am for gratitude.

December Maintenance: An Empty Tree

Mine and hubby’s lives? They’ve been pretty darned blessed. We both grew up in families that took incredible care of us, never wanting for anything (well, except a pony…but I’m still holding out for that), always donning the latest fashions (well, save for the skinny jeans, of course), and always with a car sitting in the yard waiting for us to drive (and, dare I say, a gas card to fuel it with). Indeed, at a very early age, we understood all-to-well what it was like “to have”.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not talking gobs of stuff: diamonds, multiple cars, caviar or our own personal collections of Louis Vuitton. We weren’t that kind of privileged (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). We were simply well taken care of. Comfortable. Cozy, even.

And truthfully, I never thought much of it until we got out on our own and realized that our standards were high. Damn high. Like, who do we think we are, high. Combine these high standards with upwardly mobile careers, making increasingly more money every year, and we were just fanning the fire. One that would eventually suck us right into the white, hot centre.

For a long time, we lived our lives fancying about, enjoying all that comfort. Dinner parties complete with legs of lamb, endless wine and new plates and cutlery (things had to match, you know). Lovely throw pillows, smelly candles and soaps, chef’s-quality pots and pans, 3,000 jackets (each), and a few European adventures thrown in. It wasn’t an extravagant life, but it sure was a wee bit excessive. We likely could have done with a few less candles and a few more pieces of chicken (skin on and bone in, even). We were wasteful. We didn’t need all that stuff, but we sure did like to have it.

I make it sound as if all this is in the past. Let me be the first to own up to the fact that we’re not totally reformed. We still misbehave from time to time. But life caught up with us. Careers changed (and restarted), the burden of a mortgage crept in, and, well, other debt also found its way into our lives. I’m quite certain no one told me I’d pay for my wedding for the following 10 years. Consider yourself warned. Basically, we became like everyone else. Grown ups, accountable for grown up-like things. Nothing particularly different from anyone else. Just grown ups.

In response, we’ve had to reform our lives…to grown up lives. At first, we fought it. It somehow felt unfair, like a child who had a big bag of candy and the mean bully took it away. Then we (read: I) got depressed. Wasn’t I working my behind off to be able to do more, accumulate more, eat more (and better), get more? More, more more. And, then, I got determined. Determined that I would beat debt and reclaim my life. Insert the world’s evil laugh here. Wee C, that’s simply not how it works.

But recently, I’ve realized that amidst that journey, I’ve changed. We’ve changed. See, we cut back. A lot. And we didn’t die. Our lives didn’t become less meaningful or less fulfilling. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Yes, folks, it’s a Christmas miracle. In spending less, I suddenly feel like we have more. The burden of always needing something is a significant one. I don’t care whether it’s the fanciest shampoo or a new Coach purse, when you’re in the mindset of acquiring, you always need something. Break that habit, and you suddenly find that your “needs” are a lot less than what you think.

And, so, my December maintenance comes in the form of doing less. Well, spending less. Our normal Christmas? You got it, it was excessive. Multiple gifts of all shapes and sizes under the tree, stockings stuffed full, and a fridge bulging at the seams. This year? We’ve committed to simply enjoying the season, with the gifts to ourselves being a stress-free, less-is-more kind of holiday. For the first time in my adult life (and in my relationship with hubby), we’re simply filling stockings. No additional gifts under the tree, just socks filled with goodies. Now, to be perfectly transparent, there will be a few indulgent items in those socks, but it won’t look like Santa’s sleigh tipped over as he passed over our house.

Currently, I have an empty tree in my living room. There’s not a single thing wrapped and under it. A year ago, I would have been disheartened by this. Today, I’m joyful. My December maintenance represents much of what life has become for me: stripping things back and enjoying life without the gloss we so often want to put on it. Ok, so to be fair, I like me a bit of gloss. I always will. But I’m just trying to avoid living in a glass house. That somehow seems a dangerous situation.

I Want You To Know…

– Contributed by Wee C

Today, a woman I deeply admire bore it all. She wrote a blog post that is as honest and exposing as a blog post (or a conversation or a story) can be. A woman, who is an overachiever, who has demonstrated nothing but success and whose appearance is always impeccable was brave enough to tell the world that things are not always as they appear. She shared stories about real, legitimate anxiety attacks. She openly wondered how this could happen to HER; how she could be the girl leaving the doctor’s office with two mental health prescriptions in hand. And she admitted to being the lost girl who so many thought was found.

I can only imagine the feeling she experienced as she guided her mouse to the “Post” button on the draft page of her blog. The anticipation of knowing that sharing this blog post would be like standing naked in Times Square during rush hour traffic. You see, for those of us who blog, writing in draft format is liberating; it’s like a journal that’s under lock and key. But pressing “Post” is like leaving your diary wide open to the deepest, darkest page in the book.

“I’ve spent the majority of my 32 years being THAT girl. The one who has to have every moment of her day jam packed, planned and neatly lined up in front of her. The girl who cried her eyes out in a McDonald’s drive-thru because the plan was to go to Wendy’s. McDonald’s wasn’t the part of the plan and so, overwhelmed with anxiety and lack of control, she sobbed the whole way through her Quarter Pounder. True story. That was me.”

So why am I paying such homage to this woman, aside from the fact that she is more remarkable to me today than she was as her pristine, flawless former self? Because today was a big day in her world. Today she took a step that many of us would never be brave enough to take, let alone be self-aware enough to articulate. And because today was a big day in her world, it’s a big day in all of ours. Today, she took the pressure off those of use who know exactly what she means when she says: “But the truth is, I’m still losing myself on a daily basis. I’m over committed and I’m striving for perfection in each and every task on my to-do list.”

Perhaps most importantly, she implicitly said something that I believe more of us need to say to one another. To anyone who reads her post, she said: I want you to know. I believe that for all of us to be able to cope with the human condition, we need to tell one another what we feel, as ugly and unflattering and dark as it may seem. We need to let others know that they are not alone. We need to share our experiences so that we can learn and grow together. We need to talk openly and honestly and not be embarrassed by feelings and situations that no one (not one single one of us) is excluded from having (knowingly or not).

So, today, here’s what I want all of you to know:

  • Anxiety, depression, or even just the blues can happen to absolutely anyone, no matter how cheery you were as a kid, regardless of how many wonderful people you have in your life, no matter how perfect your home, job and family may or may not be. And, from personal experience, simply opening your mouth (and perhaps your mind) is the most profound experience you will have on the road to recovery, even if you just say it aloud to yourself.
  • Here’s the secret about perfectionism: it’s a completely and utterly unattainable goal. You will not reach it in this lifetime. Stop trying. Someone remind me of this when I wake up tomorrow, will you?
  • And, thirty-somethings of the future, I want you to know that your life will not be more fulfilled by over-filling your plates when you are 18, nor will you achieve greater successes by being a martyr for your job than you would if you lived a life of balance, and you certainly will not have a more full life by allowing stress to lead your life rather than peace. Yes, strive for excellence in what you do. Yes, work hard to be an accomplished individual. Yes, push beyond the status quo whenever you can. But do not prostitute your own life for the sake of being an overachieving workaholic. It will catch up with you, I can guarantee it.

And so, dear readers, over to you. What do you want the world to know? Please, share your wisdom. We all need it.

The Return of Mrs. Peppy Pants

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve spent nearly all of my life believing that things happen for a reason. Yes, I was the emphatically positive, glass half full, never let ’em get you down kinda girl. Like the Chumbawamba song acted out through interpretive dance. And, boy, was I committed. My naysaying friends would get a healthy (or obnoxious, if you were a glass half empty kind of person) dose of Mrs. Peppy Pants whenever they would complain or wallow in their own pre-pubescent or adolescent pool of self-pity. I always believed that if you just had a bit of faith, life would turn out as it was intended.

You want proof points? I got plenty. In fact, I’ve got a list as long as my arm. But here’s the key to all of this. You can’t be a control freak. The minute that I finally let go, settle in, and let life take its course without me having my grubby little paws all over every detail is the minute that the birds start to chirp, the sun rises over the horizon, a gentle breeze moves in and the sky turns all purply-pinky-orangy-blue. And the orchestra kicks in. And Ryan Reynolds comes along sweeps me off my feet, takes me to the…oh, wait, what?

All through my teens, this is just who I was. And I was so comfortable in who I was (not so much how I looked…tragic!), you’d have thought I was 80. Like an 80 year-old stuck in a 16 year-old’s body. The truth of this comment should not be lost on you.

And then I hit my 20s and everything changed. The birds all became screaming crows, the sun forgot to rise one morning, the gentle breeze turned into a freaking hurricane, and the sky was an angry black. Somehow Tori Amos became my theme music and Ry thought that Alanis was way more upbeat than me. I spent nearly a decade living my life in this new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable world. And yet, somehow I became terribly comfortable here. I had accepted that this is what happens when you get older. I assumed that all my naive and youthful jubilation was forever lost and this was “just how it was going to be”. I looked around and saw people who were older than me, at nearly every juncture in life, walking around like drones, going about their business, accepting that this was “just how it was going to be”. So I settled in.

And then 30 Things came along. No, it wasn’t like the Hallelujah chorus began to immediately play, but I’ll tell you, there sure has been a crescendo working itself up in my life. When I finished 30 Things, I feared that all the joy and elation I had been experiencing would subside. But here’s the incredible thing. Suddenly, once again, I’m seeing all kinds of signs that things happen for a reason, and that when you finally let go is the same time you actually lift the flood gates and the tide of good things come rushing in.

So what does that mean for me right now? I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a clue. What I can tell you, though, is that the conversations we’ve been having (we being me and Big L) and the like-minded people that have been finding their way into my life (well, really, my Google Reader) is feeling a bit like a storm surge. But not the dark and gloomy kind of surge…more like Noah’s Ark, wiping the land clean of garbage and replacing it with something a whole lot better. Let’s just hope my rebirth doesn’t take thousands of years. I’m 30, I don’t have that long.

PS – In the past week, I’ve come across some really wonderful like-minded blogs, a couple of which I believe you folks out there in reader-land would enjoy. Two of which are new The Quarterlife Quest and Doniree) and one we already post on our site, but I love it so much that I need to remind you to check it out (Stratejoy). Happy reading!

Opening the Kimono

– Contributed by Wee C

Growing up the daughter of an RCMP officer would lead you to believe that the odds of being well-adjusted and generally stable, with a surprisingly low desire to challenge authority, would be about as possible as Paris Hilton spawning the next Einstein. Police officers’ children, ministers’ kids…we’re all known to suffer the same plight in life: throw your respective parental unit’s career choice in their face, get arrested for drinking underage at 16, get pregnant (or impregnate someone) at 17 and leave home in a torrent fit at 18. A bit of a mass overgeneralization? Hardly. Which is why I’m sure you’ll stop everything you’re doing in shock when I tell you that I didn’t do any of those things. Really. Believe it.

No, I grew up as respectful of my parents as ANYONE I know. And I don’t know one soul who would argue that point. I can’t recall a single knock ’em down, drag ’em out fight with my parents. Oh, sure, there were a couple of tiffs, but nothing monumental or memorable. I can count on three fingers the number of times I disobeyed my parents – and they likely involved staying out an hour past curfew, not calling when I said I would, or sneaking down the road to play Barbies with the older girls. Send me to Juevi, I know. I didn’t drink, party or have sex in high school (or most of university for that matter). And I did my best nearly every hour of every day to behave in a manner that my parents would find acceptable and approve of…after all, Papa O had made it clear (not oppressively, just in his eternal wisdom) that my behaviour reflected on him, so act accordingly. I loved and respected him (ok, and feared just a little bit…have you heard a Mountie voice?!), and Mama O, too darned much to tarnish their personas.

But perhaps most noteworthy is the number of secrets I haven’t kept from my parents. Mama O always told me that if I lied, she would find out. Every mother tells their kid that. But unlike every other kid, I BELIEVED MY MOTHER?! So, like a good doobie, I diligently told my mother nearly everyone of my deep dark secrets (because there were oh-so-many of them). But not begrudgingly or with disdain – although, I won’t lie, my guilt complex was often a less-than-altruistic motivator – but because I genuinely wanted to share my life with my parents. I wanted them to know when I had screwed up, because I wanted their advice about how to fix it. I wanted them to know when I had behaved outside of the lines, because I was scared to death someone else would tell them…and because being honest had always earned me a lot more privilege than lying ever did. I wanted to tell them because they’re the first people I always want to laugh at myself with, even if it is because of something they wouldn’t necessarily approve of. And because no matter what, I always knew that they would quickly forgive, nearly immediately forget, and always be proud, even in my stupidest of moments.

So it’s amazing to me that it took me nearly four months to tell them about this blog. On it, I’ve opened the kimono (figuratively and literally) on my life. I’ve shared with total and complete strangers, as well as some of my dearest friends, the most personal and exposing thoughts I’ve had. And I’ve literally transformed my life and found a passion outside of work that I didn’t know could even be found…at least not for me. And, yet, for some reason, I didn’t tell the two people that I’ve always told everything to. Not because I didn’t want to. Because that’s not true at all; I desperately wanted to tell them. But because I feared the embarrassment I would bring them. Not surprisingly, my parents are reasonably private folks; you don’t share many secrets or expose much of yourself to others when you’re in the RCMP or are a family member of someone who is…it’s a wee bit risky, really. I also feared that they would think I had become someone totally different; someone who goes to strip clubs, gambles, parties until all hours of the morning, and takes off all but their skivvies to have their picture taken. Oh, wait, what?

Here’s the wild thing about blogging. Sometimes people read your crazy foolishness. Sometimes they tell other people. And sometimes, when the world seems to be falling off its axis, people get really excited about what you’re writing and saying. Yeah, that seems to be happening with this little project that Big L and I have undertaken. So my nerves were getting a little testy as the risk of someone else telling my parents about my rendezvous with Mr. Ralph and his bevy of beauties, before I did.

So I spilled. I spilled in true Wee C form, standing in my parents’ kitchen, confessing everything I could as fast as I could get the words out of my mouth, rationalizing, explaining, and where necessary, apologizing, for every nuance of my behaviour and choices. Not that Mama O gave me any indication of being upset, but because I had made all kinds of possible responses up in my head. And, like always, none of my crazy made-up scenarios (you know, the one’s that you concoct in the mirror when you’re pretending to talk to the other person…) came true.

Instead, as Mama O has always done, she patiently asked questions in order to collect all the pieces of information. She neutrally digested. Warmly nodded. And then asked for the link. She was proud of me. That is unless I allowed someone to post my Boudoir photos publicly on the Internet. Probably wouldn’t be so proud then. She and Papa O have shared the link, told others and cheered me on. As always, they’ve fueled my fire.

Amazingly, I did 30 Things to change my life, but it wasn’t until I did the 31st that the change became real and authentic. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised…my Mama saw me with my kimono opened long before I even knew that you should be embarrassed by being that exposed.

A little less itchy (part two)

– Contributed by Wee C

Anyone who has ever worked with me, for me, alongside me will quickly tell you that closing off a project is not my forte. Oh, will you all be quiet? I can hear each and every one of you snickering from here.

But, really. Want a great idea conceived; something that’s never been done before or is a groovy solution to a problem that you can’t solve? I’m on it. Need someone to push an existing idea to the next level? Yup, I got that one, too. Work through the finer details so that everything is just so, done with lots of time to spare, and tied up in a pretty little bow? Have I told you how remarkable that Big L is? Give her a call…she can do everything I can do and way more. Unless you’re a future potential employer or an existing client. In which case, I’ll fake my way through just about anything, consider it done!

So, inevitably, the whole “project wrap” bit of 30 Things has assumed the all-too-familiar place at the back of my mind, buzzing around like a stupid house fly that can’t manage to find it’s way out, despite the double patio doors that are wide open to the great outdoors. And trust me, it’s not for lack of enthusiasm or passion. I’ve got plenty of that when it comes to this topic. No, it seems that my habit of procrastination was one of the few personal hangups I neglected to conquer with 30 Things. And so, despite an almost overwhelming eagerness to write this post, I didn’t. I’m sure few of you are shocked.

Summing up a year of personal change is an almost insurmountable feat. Simply saying “I’m not who I used to be” isn’t accurate. In fact, in many ways I’m more who I used to be than I ever intended or wanted to become when I started out on this journey. Why wouldn’t I want that? Well, let’s see. At the time, I thought of myself as a no-fun, uptight, workaholic, worry-wart that was incapable of seizing the day and relaxing for more than five seconds. I took my BlackBerry on my honeymoon to Paris, for Pete’s sake…that about sums it up, doesn’t it? Bottom line: I was uncomfortable in my own skin, I was indulging in plenty of self-loathing, and I felt I had lost my way. No, I wasn’t ready to be committed or anything. But I certainly wasn’t loving life. And going the Dr. Phil route in search of a “better version of myself” made me want to gag. Gross me green, as the kids used to say (hey, I’m still working on the cool part).

On June 22, 2009, when I conceived 30 Things, the hopes and dreams I had of becoming someone totally different would almost have been Silver Screen, bring a tear-to-your-eye, worthy. I had visions of becoming like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or Jennifer Aniston as Rachael Green. I wanted to abandon everything that had contributed to making me as uncomfortable and uncertain as I had become. Oh, I had put up a good front. Few people would have known just how much being me made me want to scratch. But I was so itchy at that time, you’d have thought I had rolled in a field of poison ivy.

With 365+ days having passed since then, what’s remarkable to me is how true to me that I’ve become. I’m not a better version of me. I’m not a different version of me. I’m certainly not a worse version of me, nor am I me playing the role of someone else who is playing the role of someone else (a little Tropic Thunder reference just to demonstrate my increased cool factor…c’mon, it’s the only cultural reference I’ve got in my repertoire, cut me some slack!). I’m an authentic and comfortable version of me.

Do I still have hang ups and need to scratch from time to time? I hope so…I wouldn’t have anything to write about in future if I didn’t. But I no longer have a stomach that is turned in knots from dusk until dawn. I’ve learned to lighten the load (both professionally and personally) and I’m even learning to laugh at the occasional Family Guy reference. Ok, occasional might be generous…as might laugh…but I roll my eyes less when hubby watches it, surely that counts?

Perhaps most importantly to me is that I’ve gained control over my life. All those years of stressing and working like a maniac and needing to get every.single.last task done before I left work for the day (only to go home and scramble to get every.single.last task done at home) I thought I had control. Turns out, I was out of control. Control had control over me, if that makes any sense to anyone else.

Here’s the moral of the story. What I have come to believe is that you can change your life. Three years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression (a shock to some who know me personally, I’m sure). Two months before I started 30 Things I was seeing a psychologist on a routine basis. Today, I don’t even know what I would say if I had to see a therapist. Sure, I have normal human being twitches. But not the kind that keep me up at night and make me so desperate for a way out that I’m banging into every nearby wall in an effort to find an exit. So while 30 Things is over, I’ve learned that life is lived on a continuum, and there is only one beginning and one end. Everything else in between is merely stops on the journey in order to teach you what you need to get to the next destination. I’m working on planning my next trip now. I’m darned excited about this leg, too. Remember, I’m pretty good at coming up with some killer ideas.

PS – for those of you who have been dying with curiosity to learn what my last 30 Thing was, I’ll indulge you. There’s a great photographer in town by the name of Liam Hennessey (Applehead Studio Photography). Seems the latest thing for brave gals to do is a little thing called a boudoir photo shoot. I figured there would be no better way to go into 30. But don’t go looking for the photos. They’re under lock and key. And, girls, every woman should do this at least once. You’ll love yourself (and all your dimples, ripples, and rolls) more during that photo shoot than you ever thought possible.

It must be Armageddon ’cause this is risky business.

– Contributed by Wee C

OK, it must be Armageddon for me to do this. But, it’s a lazy Saturday and I’m apparently feeling uncharacteristically free-spirited, so here goes.

I’ve got 37 days and 10 things left to do to go into 30 with a bang. And I’m taking suggestions. YOUR suggestions. For what those 10 things could be. Because, frankly, what I’ve got left on my list of ideas are feeling a little lackluster. And because this whole plot was about getting me out of my comfort zone and doing things I wouldn’t normally do. And, for the record, asking for suggestions most certainly gets me out of my comfort zone because I’m going to need to do at least a couple of them in order to not be a complete idiot for asking in the first place. Hey, I was the girl who always, always, always chose “truth” when we played “truth or dare”.

A reasonable facsimile of me in my youth.

This is me making up for all those years.

So, come one, come all and let’s see what you’ve got. Insert a ginormous intake of air here.