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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mental Shifts

Grab some caffeine folks, this one's long!

The few weeks before heading to Vermont, I'd watched the snow falling there on a webcam, and I was sure we'd have a white Christmas.  Then a few days before we left, El Nino reared its head, and a melt was forecasted.  I was irritated and felt like "of course it's going to melt the day we get there because that's just how it goes for us."  My friends can tell you from stories, I don't necessarily share here, that sometimes we do have the worst luck with crap like that.  Kind of like how our last night at a hotel this trip was spent at what I think is the last smoking hotel in the country with 50 families of screaming, entitled children (and parents) for a sports competition,  One of the little forms of birth control, angels pulled the fire alarm at night and we had to evacuate.  We only stayed there to get sleep from a nine-hour drive, and we just looked at each other as we headed down the stairs and noted that "extreme purgatory" had begun.  This happens after very long vacations where a deity decides we need to be smacked hard back into reality.  Sorry, I got off track.

So yeah, I felt like our Christmas was "ruined," especially when the tree farm didn't have any trees we could cut in our size...only big ones across the field.  It did not compute as his English transformed to Swahili when it reached my ears.  Apparently, the Mr couldn't even look at me as the guy repeatedly explained to me why they were keeping people out of the fields because all he saw was this...

(via GIPHY)

I guess he thought repeating himself would make me comprehend it more.  All I could think was Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty screaming "smite me, Almighty smiter!!!"  We got an adequate precut tree, and as we went in to pay for it and I was stewing, I told myself.  "Do NOT be the reason this trip sucks!!  You found a tree in the size you want (the others would've been way too small), there is still snow on the ground, so maybe you can sled tonight before it's all gone.  The weather isn't just happening to you, millions of other people who adore white Christmases will have theirs "ruined" as well.  You know by past experience YOU will make or break this trip for the both of you so snap out of it."

I decorated the tree and house, and it took way longer than anticipated, so there was no time for sledding since it gets dark there at 4pm that time of year.  When I was done and exhausted, I suggested we go out for dinner.  It was free for us because between the kindness of two friends and my mom between birthdays and Christmas, I got almost $200 in gift cards that could be used all over the city.  The meal was good, but the service was awful.  I just focused on the fact we were by the fireplace all snuggly and enjoyed our meal.  The rain hit by the time we left and when we got back to the cabin, I said farewell to the snow I didn't get to play in.  The next morning, there was actually some snow left!  It had melted to a patchy mess over most of the city, but we were tucked on a spot that actually retained the most snow, at least on the hills that counted.  Because of the warmth, it was quite foggy all day and night to the point visibility was low so we stayed in that evening and watched Home Alone 2 after grabbing bbq chicken pizza for dinner.  As I was commenting on how ugly the curtains were and looking at them, I saw it move.  I said, "why did the curtain move in a way it would when there is an animal there?"  The Mr checked it out, and sure enough, a creature was stirring, and it was a mouse.  We knew there was an old mouse trap from the last time we were there and I baited the trap while the Mr set it and told Jerry to enjoy his last meal.  Normally, I would've been freaking out and bitching about why is this happening and generally making things more irritating than they already were but we baited the trap, it's all we could to bed.  The Mr said he heard the trap an hour later but checked in the morning and our issue was solved.  We found the spot it might've gotten in behind the cabin and closed it up with bricks and never had another visit from his brethren.  We got our white Christmas and do you know that when we went outside on the porch at midnight, the only snow cloud in sight was over our cabin.  I smiled at the heavens, and Grandma smiled back.

Christmas Day was a hard one because I had this idea of relaxation ensuing now that we didn't need to be anywhere and thought maybe we'd read a book or sled or something.  On a whim, we bought a 1000 piece puzzle of the town.  Don't do that.  It was maddening and given the Mr is very problem solving oriented, I knew he wouldn't want to stop even if I tried throwing in the towel a few times.  It's not until I got up and started making Christmas linner that he realized it was almost 1:30pm and when we were finished it was almost 2:30pm, and there were only 90 minutes of light left.  Totally could've gone sledding but instead, we both griped about how much time that puzzle sucked away from Christmas Day.  Later, I had a mini meltdown that was a long time coming about how Christmas honestly hasn't been the same since Grandma got sick and I'm chasing something I'll never have again and not sure how to establish a new normal.  It was good to get off my chest and to make up for me being a poop, I told the Mr to run to Redbox and rent The Predator.  Trust me, it was penance.  It was awful.

New Year's Eve was another test of my patience.  I felt the Mr. getting antsy in a crowded store, so I cut the visit short.  We headed to the grocery store because we had no formal plans for NYE other than watch the ball drop.  We had bad luck with appetizers in recent months, and the small grocery store was full of annoying people who were only making our moods more sour.  As I felt myself snapping, I knew I needed a bigger store to peruse, so we went a few miles up the road.  While I didn't feel like cooking that night, the only pizza shop in the area was closing at 5pm (WTH?) so baked rigatoni and garlic bread it was going to be.  I decided to light a fire in the wood burning fireplace in the kitchen, and that certainly lifted my mood.  I told the Mr. to go play video games because when he hovers, I get anxious.  I opened a bottle of spiced cherry wine I brought with us from Traverse City and the night seemed on track.  Then the ice storm hit.  We were fine because we were in for the night but the last 20 minutes of 2018 were spent scrambling to find a way to watch the ball drop because ice knocked out Dish Network.  YouTube streaming claimed it was live but it wasn't, we missed it by 10 seconds then gave a feigned "happy new year," blew our horns and marveled at the fact that 2018 couldn't resist one more kick to the teeth.  It was comical.

I chose New Years Day to do our session at the falconry because I 1) wanted to start off the new year doing something cool and 2) I wanted it to symbolize freedom and sending off 2018 which, to date, was the worst year of my life perhaps tying with the year my parents divorced.  The birds at the falconry are not captive, they choose to stay there.  When they fly from perch to perch or onto a power pole or the top of the barn, they can fly away and never be seen again.  They have free will.  The incentive of a fairly easy free meal and getting fawned over in bird speak after their session keeps them coming back.  It was windy that day to the point I checked to make sure our session was still on.  One thing the Mr and I always love is watching birds ride the thermals and winds with their wings outstretched and floating without a care in the world.  A few times, as the winds shifted mid-flight, so would she.  She did it with grace and ease.  As this bird looked me in the eyes and tilted her head, we made a connection. 

To her, maybe it meant "gimme more meat, wench," but to me, it was a lesson in learning to change with the winds.  It's a lesson I hope to keep in practice going forward because I can feel myself slipping back into old frustrations and I need to remember that feeling.

On our final night before we had to leave that home, which had an amazing few sled hills we couldn't use, we were forecast snow.  You know, that we couldn't enjoy.  I had us pack up to the point we only needed to throw our toiletries in the suitcase and throw on clothes.  I didn't want a stressful departure.  I seemed to wake on the hour from 2am on when I saw big fluffy flakes out of my window.  I wanted to cry.  By 6am, I surrendered the idea of sleep and turned on the floodlight outside to watch the snow until 7am and sulk.  I regretted not taking a hot soak in that big bathtub off the bedroom, and now I was going to miss it.  Why?  It's 6am, I'm up, the Mr is in another bedroom sleeping (he had hellacious bloody noses on the trip and didn't want to wake me if he had to get up in the night) so just do it.  And I did.  I sat in that just hotter than lukewarm bath since it went no hotter (don't even get me started), massaged my tight, crampy calves and watched the snow fall for 30 minutes.  The only thing that would've made it better was the lavender bath salts I bought, but they were in his room, and I wasn't going to wake him for that.  I got my stuff together and thought "well, now we can have a banana and watch the snow fall for a few hours.  Sucks that the Mr has the car packed up, I wish we could've gone sledding."

Eff that.

I told the Mr. I wasn't going to look back and say "I wish."  GG (God and Grandma) gave me snow, I'm playin' in it.  I got together the last of our food in the house (prosciutto, a little cheese and crackers, a banana and hot tea.)  I told the Mr we were sledding and a look of panic set in.  I said we had 2 hours until we needed to go, we were granted an extra hour checkout and we're using it to sled.  He got our space bags of sledding gear, and I told him to grab the heavy duty trash bags from the cans in the garage because even though we had floats, they were packed and trash bags go way faster.  I told him to set an alarm for an hour and off we went.  We forged a path and laughed like kids.  Snow sprayed up as we slid faster with each newly worn path and that was on the small hill.  The big hill was risky.  There was a "platform" of land at the bottom, but if you didn't jump off in time, you'd end up in the trees.  Our inner seven-year-olds didn't care.  The first run was a little wonky because you'd get flipped backward and couldn't see to jump off.  The second time, we had a worn path, and it went much faster with us laughing and screaming the whole time.  With the glaze of ice under the new snow, we knew a third run would be pushing it, so we hit the smaller hill four more times before calling it quits after 45 minutes.  I will never forget sledding those hills while the snow gently fell around us with white tipped pines and silence except for our gleeful squeals.  I would've missed that if I was busy with a pity party over why did this happen when we had to leave?  Who cares when it happened?  If it happened at all and you can take advantage of it, do it.

That's not how we've lived up to that point.  We were always thinking about the time, effort or hassle something might take and would talk ourselves out of it.  When we returned home, I was made aware of a Christmas day incident we missed (darn) that could be an excellent advert for HomeAway's holiday campaign this year.  They said they laughed thinking of what I would've said if I were there.  My response was empathetic to all involved, I was sorry their holiday was ruined, but as far as how I would react, we would've likely stood up, hugged everyone goodbye and left.  I am 99% certain that is not the response they anticipated because I received no response from that.  I know that 20 years ago, I would've screamed and yelled at the person for being an idiot then we all would've talked about them for an hour after they left.  I know that is still what my family expects from me even though I haven't acted that way in well over 10 years.  Maybe that response, which I know has been shared with others will allow people to see me in a different light.  Maybe it will make them look at how they react to people and that feeding the drama llamas gets you nowhere except more tangled in the web.

I don't know why or what the mental shifts were for me on this trip.  Whether it's guidance from a new angel up there or my age or a combination of both, but I hope it continues.

Have you made any mental shifts lately?

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  1. I am so proud of the way you handled the setbacks we had. We had an amazing trip and I will always remember it fondly and that is partially due to how we both took so much in stride and just took what God gave us and ran with it (or sledded with it).

  2. My biggest shift has been telling myself to take my hands off the wheel of certain things going on that are really not mine to fix. So every time I catch myself ruminating or trying to work on someone else's business, it's a quick mental reminder that that's not my place. So with a quick, "hands off, lady!" LOL I'm able to let go and say not today.


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