When Good People Do Bad Things…

When I was younger, my life was simple. I had a two dimensional view of the world. There was wrong and there was right. There was good and there was bad. It was easy. Swearing was bad. Alcohol was bad. Praying was good. Obeying your parents was good.  

Bad people did bad things and good people did good things. 

Where did I fit into all of this? Well, I didn’t drink alcohol. I did well in school. For the most part, I listened to my parents and I didn’t swear.

I was definitely “good”.

But as I got older, my views changed. I discovered that a glass of Merlot had its merits. As for swearing, well just refer to my post on potty-mouth mommy and it will be obvious where I stand in terms of that particular vice. I have made many choices that some might consider questionable and continue to do so despite the knowledge that perhaps, I may be veering away from my understanding of the “good” side.

My understanding of right and wrong has transformed into black, white and many shades of grey.

The woman I was in my 20’s with her rigid view of people and life would balk at the choices I make today.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a strong moral compass. I teach my children to be kind, loving, patient and tolerant and do my best to model this behavior. I am honest and loyal, sometimes to a fault. But I have made, and will continue to make, mistakes. I have always been my toughest critic, but now I want to give myself a break for not always living up to the standards I uphold for myself and for those around me. I want to be less judgmental, and more accepting of the flaws that we all have.

And as I continue to grow older, my views on right and wrong continue to evolve.   In practice, I meet patients with amazing stories. These people are faced with adversities and challenges, and they do their best to deal with whatever life throws at them, in the best way they can. Do I always agree with them? No. Do I always think they have made the right choice? Absolutely not.

I hear stories from family and friends and where the old me would have been quick to judge, quick to decide which side of right or wrong that person belonged to, the new me now seeks to understand the motivation behind the actions, and to understand the intention of the doer. By shifting my focus this way, I have come to appreciate the complexities of people and life in a way I never really did before.

And of course, I look at my own life. The lines between good and bad, right and wrong have blurred so much, that I would be a hypocrite to judge another. As I embarked on this journey to become the better person I want to be this year, I have been acutely aware of my shortcomings, and the shortcomings of the people around me. And this is what I have learned.

Good people do bad things for good reasons. Good people do bad things for bad reasons. But good people are still good people.

We all struggle. We all falter. But I have learned in the past several years, that we are all just trying to do our best with the curveballs, challenges and disappointments life throws at us.

It’s not about right and wrong, good or bad. It’s about having a heart, having a conscious and making peace with the factors that drive us to make our decisions without needing to label them or ourselves.

So as I continue this journey, I hope to continue to be more understanding of the people around me, and I hope that in turn, they will do the same for me.

 

 

My Inundated Inbox

It’s been a while since I provided an update regarding my habits.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t going well.  In fact, for the most part, the habits are firmly established.  In terms of my most recent habit, I learned over the last few weeks that although I won’t stop being a potty mouth completely, I can use my choice words more scarcely and interestingly, they have more effect that way!  I have also allowed myself to swear at the gym.  I wasn’t going to be able to overcome that.  I already owe my trainer over 10 teas so I think I need to get him a Starbucks gift card and accept defeat. But most importantly, I no longer use “bad” words in front of the children.  The boys were very disappointed that they weren’t able to catch me being a potty mouth-not even once.

The other habits are going well too.  I continue to brush my teeth before bed and I have maintained my water intake.  My cell phone usage is still under control-for the most part.  I have not returned to weighing myself daily or even weekly for that matter and I realized the other day, that I can’t remember the last time I ran around the house frantically searching for my keys or wallet.  Overall, I am much calmer with these new habits in place.  So it’s time to add another. 

The next change needs to be timed right.  I need to be able to put in a lot of time at the front end in order to get a grip on this aspect of my life that causes me significant stress.  It has to do with email. 

I am one of those people with an overflowing inbox (over 2400 emails are currently in my inbox).  I can’t handle it.  Every time I login and see all those emails in my inbox, I feel a mild sense of anxiety.  I want to be one of those people who deals with email as it comes in.  Read it, reply to it, file it or delete it.  I don’t want weeks and weeks worth of email in my inbox causing me to panic that I have missed something important.  It gets to a point where it is so overwhelming that I start to feel like it is pointless to try to control it.  But I haven’t given up yet.

I decided that I am going to get a grip on my overflowing email during March Break.  I have some extra time to catch up on this as many of the boys’ activities are on hold and I won’t be commuting as often.  My plan is to clean out my inbox completely and then to allocate some time everyday or at least every other day to catch up on messages.  I have already started unsubscribing to many of the email newsletters and specials that inundate my inbox.  Every time I unsubscribe, I feel a little more in control.  It’s amazing how a small act can give such satisfaction. 

So hear I go.  Three weeks of reading, replying, filing or deleting.

 

 

Every Candle Counts…

Today I turn 39.  Every other year, birthdays have been bittersweet.  Another year older meant more wrinkles and even more grey hair.  But this year is different.  This year I am grateful to be celebrating another year.  Thankful for every new wrinkle and every grey hair because each wrinkle and grey hair measures giggles, squeals, smiles and inches in my children that weren’t there the year before.   They represent secrets with my husband and jokes with my brother, meals, laughter, tears and happiness with friends and family that never would have been experienced without growing a year older.

For some time now, I have tried to live my life with gratitude.  To count my blessings and be thankful for all that I have.  But never has that been truer than now.  This year, I am acutely aware of how precarious and unpredictable life can be.  Up until a few months ago, I stressed about normal things-contractors, deadlines, work, chores, kids and countless other mundane things.  Then, in November, my dear friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She is 35 years old.  She has a 1-year old daughter whose eyes will turn you to mush.  And now, she is fighting the fight of her life.  How does that happen?  How do you go from being healthy, the world at your feet to scheduling chemo and surgery in the matter of hours and days?

And then yesterday, I had a new patient come in.  She is 50 years old.  She has had a neurological disorder for 15 years.  The same one as me.  For 10 of those years, she was well.  She worked, she walked, she mothered.  Just like me. Then, in the past 4 years, her health deteriorated.  She can now barely walk or talk.  I looked at this patient and saw my potential future.  That could happen to me.

I think to myself, count your blessings and live in the present.  I have had another year of walking, exercising, working, loving, laughing and playing with the kids.   I try to focus on the positive and continue to be grateful.

But then there are moments when it’s hard to be grateful.  Moments like this afternoon, when I was driving home, thinking about getting the kids to music class and hoping my husband doesn’t forget the cake (more for the kids’ sake than for mine), when it hit me-I miss my mom.  My mother passed away when she was 56 and I was 29.  This is my 10th birthday without her.  There are times like today when I feel her absence so deeply that I can’t breathe.  The sorrow overwhelms me.  It happens at random times.  Sometimes it will be while I am cooking and I think of something she used to say, or sometimes it will be while I am running and I can picture her smile.  She pops into my mind without warning and every time, I am left feeling a tightness in my throat and tears in my eyes.  To this day I can’t speak of her for more than 2 minutes without crying.  I am crying as I type this.  I feel such sadness that she never got to see where life took me, that she never got to meet my boys and most especially, that my boys will never know the love of a doting grandmother.

But then I try to remind myself that this is what life is about.  Life is sweeter when you have experienced death.  Health is more precious when you have faced illness.  Love is greater when you have lost.  The highs are so much higher when you have spent time wallowing in the lows.

So this year, instead of grumbling about getting older, I am thrilled to be celebrating another year lived, another year of health, another year of mothering and another year of endless joy, abundant laughter and immense blessings.  This year, I am putting all 39 candles on my cake to symbolize how much I appreciate every single one of those years, the good ones and the bad.

Happy Birthday to me.

Image