Goodbye Winter, hello Spring

goodbye winter, hello spring lori welbourne jim hunt

I love the four seasons, and the one I look forward to the most is spring. With all its wonderful qualities, my anticipation of it intensifies since it directly follows winter. Yes, the snow is beautiful, but being cold isn’t my thing.

Thursday, March 20 is the first official day, and I’m looking forward to the fresh start. My husband laughs when I say stuff like that, because I’m constantly seeing fresh starts.

“The first of the new year, new month, new week, new moon,” he said. “Everything’s a fresh start with you.”

Not everything. But I’ll admit to resetting my start button quite frequently, and the first day of my favourite season provides an excellent reason to push it again.

Everything becomes so alive at this time of year. The sun shines longer, the flowers begin to bloom, the birds start to chirp and people seem to smile more than ever.

“They’re happy because they’re not too hot and they’re not too cold,” my ten-year-old daughter explained. “It’s the perfect amount of degrees in the spring.”

Well, it’s definitely the ideal temperature in my opinion, and the warmer weather inspires me to get outside. Even something as simple as a walk by the lake can be a glorious time to breathe in the fresh air and recharge my energy level.

“Are you setting any new season’s resolutions?” my friend asked me during a recent hike. New season’s resolutions? I’ve never heard of such a thing. But, sure. Why not? I’m always up for a little self review, and an organized date to clarify my goals is right up my alley. Especially after the challenging winter I just had.

Benefitting from the outdoors will be one of my intentions. Being an obsessive workaholic, I haven’t always been very good at living in the moment. Connecting with nature can help with that. Doing things I enjoy and spending time with people I love can help with that as well.

One of those people I love is my dad, yet spending time with him is difficult since we live a four hour drive from one another. Becoming more like him will continue to be one of my other goals, though. A natural optimist, his warm, colourful personality and sunny disposition actually reminds me of spring.

He would probably laugh at that comparison and make a joke about being no spring chicken, but he’s almost 67 and still acts like a big happy kid who’s just thrilled to be alive every day.

He’s a firm believer that happiness doesn’t come from having the best of everything, but making the best of everything we have, and for that reason, and others, he’s always been a fantastic role model. The older I become, the more I recognize that.

I can’t say I’m naturally like he is, but he’s one of the reasons I’ve been writing this column and discovering different ways to be more positive over the last five years.

Life can get messy, dark and painful at times, there’s just no escaping that. But as the old proverb says:  “No matter how long the winter - spring is sure to follow.”

And, now, here it comes, bringing all the joys of the season with it.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

The definition of a single parent

single parent lori welbourne

Does a person qualify to be called a single parent if their financial and time responsibilities are split in half with their ex?

That question came up recently, while I was having lunch with a couple of new friends – one who has her children every second week, and the other who has her kids full time, with no help at all, financially or otherwise.

“I’m so sick of people calling themselves a single parent when they have it so easy,” one said to the other with an irritated tone. “You’re not paying for everything on your own, like I’ve always had to do. And you have an entire week off, 26 times a year. I can’t even remember the last time I had a night to myself.”

Her outburst came after the other woman referred to herself as being a single mother.

The conversation immediately became so heated I felt like I was watching an aggressive tennis match, and hoping the ball wouldn’t fly off the court and hit me in the face. While it was an interesting topic of discussion, it was uncomfortable to be in the middle, considering the history, emotions and raised voices between the two ladies I was just getting to know.

A little time has passed since then, and the hurtful things that were said during the lunch have been worked out to the point that both of them were fine with me writing about it in a column. As long as I didn’t use their real names.

So, for no particular reason other than the fact that I used to call my Barbie dolls these names when I was younger, I will call them Jill and Kelly. People of my vintage might get that TV reference.

Jill’s issue, she said later, was a mixture of jealousy, self-pity and exhaustion. “I get where Kelly’s coming from now,” she said. “She’s single, because she’s no longer married, and she’s a parent. That’s not the same thing as being a ‘single parent’ the way I’ve always been and I’ve always thought of it, but I think I was hearing a complaining tone from her where there was none intended. I was internalizing for sure.”

Kelly gained a mutual understanding of Jill’s perspective as well.

“Her resentment made me defensive,” she said, explaining her angry reaction and why the discussion went sideways. “I wasn’t trying to say my situation was tougher than hers. I know it’s not even close. I have lots of ‘me-time’ and I appreciate that. But the fact remains – I’m a mother and I’m single – and I’m looking for a man.”

She laughed when she said that last part, but she was serious. In her mind, referring to herself as a single mom is more about getting dates than getting sympathy, and she makes no apologies for using the term.

And now that the two old friends have an understanding on their different definitions, apologies and explanations are no longer needed.

“What people call themselves, for whatever reason, is a personal decision,” Jill concluded. “Look at you. You call yourself ‘married with children’ – like you’re Peg Bundy or something.”

It’s true. I do.

If I only had her hair.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Resetting for the new year

I am a night owl still trying to be an early bird. Lately, though, I haven’t been trying hard at all. 

Over the Christmas holidays I allowed myself to stay up late and sleep in more. Because I was sleeping in more I was exercising less, and because I was exercising less I started eating crap again. A couple weeks of that and I’m now geared up for a self-imposed intervention.

Feeling crummy is not unfamiliar territory to me. I’ve written a few times about my long struggling battle of the bulge and how directly related the food I eat affects the way I feel. What may be unfamiliar is the potentially speedier recovery from my fall off the proverbial wagon.

“You’re skinny,” my friend said when she learned of my junk food relapse. “You should allow yourself the occasional treat.”

First of all, I’ve only ever been skinny once and that was 15 years ago and only lasted about four days, but thank you.

Secondly, an occasional cupcake will do to me what an occasional hit of heroine will do to a druggie. I’d really rather not spend the year ahead jonesing for junk food like so many years past.

So how do I jump back on the wagon and reverse my last two weeks of destruction? By waking up early for starters.

“The early bird gets the worm,” my dad used to say when I was a sleepy-head teen. Fine with me, I’d think to myself, it can have the worm.

Eventually I took him less literally and gave his early morning strategy a try.

Initially I disliked exercising before the sun was up, but after awhile I found that if I didn’t get it over with right away, I wouldn’t do it at all. I also discovered that once I went to the trouble of working up a sweat at the start of my day, I’d be more likely to eat healthy and get to bed at a decent hour later on.

My plan now is to return to that great habit for at least two weeks to put myself back where I was and feeling good again.

If it sounds like I’m embarking on a new years resolution, that’s okay. I am.

I’ve always liked the fresh start of a new year, a new month or a new week to make goals for myself.  And I’m experienced enough at failing miserably that I won’t abandon my resolutions for long periods of time anymore. I now cut myself some slack and keep trying until I finally find some success with whatever it is I’m attempting to achieve.

Of course, rising with the sun isn’t the only solution. It’s doing what works for us as individuals and our willingness to persist that makes the difference.

My dad was right about the early bird getting the worm, but there’s another equally correct saying about how it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Personally, if I had to choose between a worm or cheese, I’d eat the latter. But I’d better compare their calorie counts before deciding for sure.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

 

A fresh start to a new year

Staring at a blank page before typing the first word for my column this week reminded me of what I love about New Years: a clean slate and a fresh start.

Okay, so the slate of life can’t be completely clean when we begin a new year, I know that. But it can be tidied up so the fresh start is stronger.

That’s where the beauty of resolution lists come in.  They help un-clutter our minds from all the things we want to do and organize them accordingly. Yet this is where ugliness can also occur when we fail with our lists, even those with only one thing on it.

I just filmed a parody about New Years resolutions where I dole out silly advice on how to keep them, but ironically, I take this time of year very seriously. My addiction to setting goals and trying to improve has me doing what most people want to do: get rid of my bad addictions and habits that are holding me back. But what’s going to happen if I don’t?

Our propensity as a society is to grumble about the pressures of New Years resolutions and surrender to the belief that we usually fail so why bother with them at all. Of course the alternative to that is to remember that it’s not perfection that delivers our dreams, it’s persistence.

So you’ve started smoking again or you’ve gone off your diet already – so what? Falling off the wagon is just part of life. Get up, dust yourself off and jump back on again.

Can you tell I’m writing this article more for me than for you? I should paint “Get back on the wagon” with a few exclamation marks on my wall to remind myself just how important that is.

Last spring I had the word “perseverance” tattooed on my forearm. I look at it often and it reminds me to keep going and stay the course. It also reminds me to pick a nicer font with a thinner needle and double check the spelling the next time I decide to mark my body with permanent ink.

2011 was a tough year for a lot of people I know, myself included. That old saying that we learn more from our failures than our successes has me believing I’m far wiser than I once was. But I’m ready to learn less and succeed more in the year 2012 and I wish that for all of you as well.

The other thing I was sadly reminded of this past year is how precious life is and how short it can be  – another reason not to beat ourselves up for failing to be perfect.

A quote I have displayed in my office says this: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Add in there: “and have fun while you do” and it’s the perfect quote.

Happy New Year and good luck with whatever goals you set and remember that our fresh starts can start at any moment we choose. As long as we’re living, there are no limits to how many times we can re-set our fresh start button.

To watch my parody on resolutions please visit LoriWelbourne.com to watch the video.