Monday, March 26, 2018

Back to Basics

Image courtesy of M Corp
Hi all! I hope everyone has been doing well. I've been a bit up and down lately but that's par for the course. I did have a huge upset last week though and that's the "inspiration" for this post.

A couple of weeks ago, my coolant temperature light came on while I was taking my youngest to a performance. We were right by the venue, so I parked and when we drove home, it didn't happen. In fact, it didn't happen for another two weeks. This time, however, it happened driving home and then again the following day. I stopped and added coolant. A week later (my car wasn't driven during that time), I took my car up to the mechanic who told me to make an appointment at another shop to have a dye test run on the system. Fast forward to Tuesday of the following week when the dye test showed that I had a badly blown head gasket. Cost to repair? $2000.

If you know me, you can only imagine my emotional and mental state after hearing that. Money and being without a car are major panic issues for me. I called my own mechanic and he said that I should scrap the car. It had 183k miles on it and it just wasn't worth the investment. While my brain agreed, the rest of me was freaking out. I have to have a car. You can't live where I do without one. The closest grocery store is at least 15 miles away.

After doing some research, the decision was made to replace the car. I sat in my HHR and I cried. I loved that car. I also get very emotionally attached to things like cars. I don't know why. It's just how I am. We spoke to the guy who owns the shop where I go for repairs and he said he had two cars available that he'd be willing to finance for me: a Dodge Caliber and a Chevy Aveo. I was interested in the Caliber and decided to go down and look at it. Just before I pulled out of the driveway, I got a phone call. They had taken the Caliber down to be washed and smoke came out of the dash. It was obviously no longer available. That left me with two choices: hope and pray that I could keep driving the HHR and not end up stranded on the side of the road somewhere or get the Aveo.

I now own the Aveo. I now own a car so far back in the dark ages of vehicle technology that the windows have hand cranks on them. There's no cruise control or electric locks. It is going back to basics.

It got me to thinking though. Maybe, at different points in our lives, we need to go back to basics. We get so wrapped up in so many things that it becomes overwhelming. Maybe if we stopped, took a few deep breathes, and went back to the basics of life, it would be better for us. Recently, I've started taking weekends to not work on work. I hang out with my kids and if they aren't here, I read a book (or two or three) or watch movies that I keep meaning to watch but "never have the time for." It isn't about neglecting anything, but about making sure that I have as much energy and gumption to handle the coming week as possible.

I hate the fact that basic has taken on the almost opposite meaning in today's culture. Listen, folks, I'm all about being basic right now and it has nothing to do with the latest Starbucks drink (though I do like to have a bit of adventure and try them out) or whatever else is mainstream at the moment. It's all about dialing it back, about not pushing myself to the breaking point, it's about taking care of me and taking care of mine.

Have you considered going back to basics at all? Let me know!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Saying Goodbye to the Past

For the past 2.5 days, I've been sitting in front of my laptop skimming, clicking and sighing. I've been clearing out the "everything else" folder in my one gmail account. It's been a task that I've been putting off for far longer than any one task should be put off for. Why? Well, multiple reasons:

1) I knew it would be tedious. Just like I struggle with hoarding tendencies in my non-digital life, I do with things like email. I knew there was a lot of emails in there and clicking on each little checkbox was going to be boring and take a lifetime.

2) This is just one of about four that need to have this done and I felt like if I did one, the next step would have to be moving on to another one.

3) I was afraid of what I would find in there. My past hasn't always been stellar and this account goes back to about February of 2006.  That's a lot of life. That's before my divorce. That's before I moved to New York and back to Michigan. Since it seems I never deleted anything, this made me anxious.

Still, I needed to do it and for whatever reason, I decided on Tuesday to start hacking my way through the 41,000+ emails that were in there. I created some new "folders" and dragged and dropped things. I deleted things, first by clicking 25 little boxes and then by clicking the select all after I'd moved anything I wanted. I got through about 21,000 on Tuesday. It felt pretty good but I could feel my anxiety rising. By last night, each new group of emails was a struggle. I was starting to see emails from or about people who I had once considered good friends who turned their backs on me. I saw Facebook notifications about friends who had died and their posts. Still, I pressed on and today was the hardest. So many emails were like that. I came across an email with the funeral arrangements for a friend, emails from people I love who no longer have time for me, and more. Still, I pressed on and right now, unless an email has come in, the "everything else" section of my account is empty. I still have to go through the "All Mail" section to clean out some things that didn't show everything from before June 2009 which didn't show up. It can wait for another day. I finished the task that I had set for myself.

It was hard. It was harder than I thought it would be. There were times where I'd just stare at a name in my inbox and re-live losing that person. I dealt with the pain of losing friends to death and to losing others to life. I'm glad that I waited until the time felt right and didn't force myself to do this when perhaps I wasn't strong enough to handle it. Now, it's done and while I feel a bit wrung out, I can put all of this behind me and move forward in my life because if nothing else, we should always be moving forward even if it's one tiny baby step at a time.

If you feel like you're ready to tackle something like this, I'd love to tell you what worked or at least helped me. Hopefully it will help you and help you to say goodbye to some not so great pieces of your past so that you can start to take another step forward:

1. Don't open each email. You may be tempted. Don't do it. Don't relive things to that level. Acknowledge it and delete it.

2. Batch delete. Save yourself some serious time and find all of the emails from a sender and if you don't need them, delete them all at once. I deleted over 1,000 from Facebook with a couple of clicks.

3. Be gentle with yourself. If you start to get overwhelmed, it's okay to take a break. It's okay to walk away from it for as long as you need to. I had to multiple times. Remember that during this, you are what matters.

....And always, no matter what, remember that you're not alone, no matter how many icky emails there might be in any account, someone loves you and you always have a place in this world.

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