Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is it just a symbol?

DH and I had a fight last night. What about? The significance of New Year's Eve and the start of the New Year. I know what you're thinking - what a ridiculous topic to fight about!
DH would not be home tonight for New Year's eve because he will be working. I wanted to have some quality time with him last night, so as to replace our time apart tonight. However, DH had a very busy day at work and running errands that he was tired. After dinner, he had to call our contractor to discuss some problems with the house renovations. He then had to discuss these issues with his father so that he can go over to the house and monitor the workers as we will not be able to do so.
When DH was finally free, I had dozed off. When I woke up about half an hour later, I felt really upset. The evening didn't turn out as I had hoped. I wanted an evening where both DH and I could sit on the sofa and reflect about how our year has been. It was not the best time to bring this up to DH but I did. He said that New Year's eve is just another day for him.It's no different than any other day. There's still work to be done, stresses of life to deal with and the problems that we have won't just go away with the clock striking 12 at midnight.

I told him that it meant a lot to me because I see it as a time to find release and to let all the pain, disappointments, anger and frustrations end with 2009 and to move into 2010 with a new and fresh outlook, filled with hope and joyous expectations.

To DH, New Year's eve and New Year's day are just symbols. Life goes on as per normal for him.

I agree now that what DH said made a lot of sense but given my agitated state of mind last night, I felt aggrieved that we had not spent a picturesque evening, talking about our recollection of the events of 2009 and our hopes and aspirations for 2010.

So, I went to bed, sulking and DH went to bed, irritated and frustrated with me.

This morning, I woke up calmer and somewhat embarrassed with the way I overreacted last night about this whole "New Year's eve, New Year's day" fuss. DH gave me a hug and a kiss in the kitchen before he left for work, wishing me "Happy New Year". I replied saying, "Why say it since it has no meaning for you?" He grinned and said, "It's important to you so I'm saying it."

After DH left for work, the words "new every morning" came to my mind and prompted me to look up this verse in the Bible.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23"

The author of the book of Lamentations was in a sorrowful state of mourning. Amazingly enough, these verses of hope and encouragement lie within this book. He doesn't tell us to ignore our pain and suffering and to just put on a happy face and cheer up. Rather, in a very realistic outlook, he told us not to give up hope but to remember the faithfulness of God. We are given a new chance in life every morning.

This means that we don't have to wait until next New Year's Eve to make resolutions to be a better person and to live a better life. We can resolve to do it every day!

True, as DH said, the end of 2009 will not make all our problems miraculously disappear. We will definitely still end up being hurt, angry and disappointed with each other and with the people and events around us. There will still be difficult times, sad moments and lonely periods.

However, with the start of every day, there is hope for something better. With each day, God gives us a treasured opportunity to live our best, to love and to learn from Him. This is a privilege we all have and it's not just restricted to December 31 or January 1 of every year.

On that note, a hopeful toast to everyone for a new beginning for every single day in 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Clutter and me

Today I stared at fear in the face and said, "I'm not afraid of you. I want you out of my house!" Fear looked back at me and laughed mockingly, "Well, let's see what you've got, little girl!"

That was the clutter in our storeroom talking to me. I didn't want to tackle clearing out the storeroom but unfortunately, time is not exactly on our side. Yes, we're only moving at the end of next month, provided that there are no more hiccups with the renovation works but I only have time to pack our things into boxes on some Fridays and weekends. It's difficult to pack during weekday evenings as that's the time we reconnect as a family, with Osh Osh telling us all about the things he did in school and DH and I catching up with each other after a long work day.

Back to my nemesis, Clutter. I was determined not to let it get the better of me. After all, what is Clutter? It's just stuff that we can't let go off. We let it sit in our homes and take up unnecessary space. Every now and again, it mocks us when we catch sight of it, saying, "I know you hate me but you can't bring yourself to get rid of me!"

Armed with plastic bags and boxes, I bravely entered our storeroom and started to weave my way through the messy pile. Some items were given the loving treatment i.e. wiped clean and stored in boxes to be brought over to our new placce. Other items were packed into boxes to be given away to Salvation Army. Th third category of stuff wasn't so lucky. They were ruthlessly placed into plastic bags and headed straight to the bin!

After a few long tiring hours, I was nearing the completion of my task. Clutter no longer had a hold on me. I am free! Or am I? As expected, Clutter wasn't going to give up that easily without a fight. Clutter knew my weakest point and went in for the kill. As I was packing baby items to be given away, Clutter whispered in my ear, "Are you sure you want to give these away? You may get pregnant next year. These could come in handy." I sat down on the floor, amidst the boxes, and started to cry. Should I hold on to these items, in the hope that I could use them again one day? Or should I just let go and give them away to someone else who is already expecting a child?

I plucked up enough courage to stand up, wash my face and resumed packing those items in the boxes to be given away. I'm not giving up hope that one day, I may conceive a child. However, I don't want to spend my "here and now" waiting and holding on to things that are painful reminders, unable to let go. After all, these are just things. It's time to make a clean start.

Clutter was surprised. That wasn't an outcome it expected. It didn't have a fighting chance now and my mission was completed. I am now typing this while having a hot cup of tea, legs propped up on a footstool, feeling tired but with a sense of accomplishment.

A word of caution, both to myself and to others who intend to declutter. If you are not diligent and let your guard down, Clutter will return with a vengeance. So, always ask yourself if you need the item again within a year, whether it enriches your life or simplify your living. Be wary as Clutter can diguise itself as one of these items so be very honest with yourself when you ask these questions and have the resolute to act on your decisions.

I still have other siblings of Clutter lurking in the other rooms of our house. I will have to tackle them another day. If you don't hear from me again before Christmas, rest assured that I am ok. I will not let Clutter win!

God bless all of you! Have a joyous Christmas and a fulfilling start to the year ahead!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hey! Where did the line go??

This week has been interesting for me. I have been reminded on several occasions that boundaries in our relationships are undeniably important. I've also been reminded that I don't guard my boundaries well which has led to a number of complications and unnecessary stress. The lines around our personal space, both in the mental and emotional sphere are often blurred and sometimes, erased into non-existence.

My relationship with my inlaws has never been easy for me. I must admit that our communication has improved greatly over the past 2 years. There is also a better sense of understanding of each other's differences. Nevertheless, there are still times when things are sensitive, potentially bringing up all the unhappy sentiments from the past. I agree that they desire to be closer to us, in particular to Osh Osh and I am happy for them to develop their relationship with him. However, there are times when the three of us want to have family time alone. It's difficult to communicate that at times, short of telling them directly that we want some time alone. DH finds it hard being caught in the middle and I hate to be the "bad guy" to have to tell them that we need some space. This weekend, I had to do that and I felt really bad later. DH called his father that evening to clear the air. It's good that my relationship with my father in law is on a more solid ground now and he didn't take any offence to my directness. As a matter of fact, he apologised for not realising that we needed some space and for overstepping his boundaries. It's a delicate dance that we all have to learn and master. More often than not, I have clumsily and unintentionally stepped on their toes.

Another boundary issue was between our contractor and us. We have been nice and friendly, perhaps a bit too friendly, with our contractor that he has ended up taking us for granted. As a result, there has been mistakes in the renovation works as well as delays. We had a meeting with him yesterday evening. It wasn't an easy one. I was very stressed about it for the past few days leading to it but DH remained calm throughout. The outcome of the meeting was good. Yes, the completion of the works is delayed until end of January next year but we have made it clear that we will not tolerate any more neglect on his part. The lesson for me here is that we should always be careful not to mistake a professional relationship as friendship by being too trusting.

As we returned home late that night, Osh Osh was needy as he missed me. However, I had to rush as I needed to attend a teleconference by dialling in from home that night. I had less than half an hour to shower, grab a quick dinner and prepare for it. That was another boundary issue for me. The conflict of letting work eat into my family time. I had to fulfil my work obligations as that is what I am paid to do. That fact didn't help me though when I saw Osh Osh's eyes tear up when I told him, "Mummy has to lock herself in the room to make this phone call." He didn't say a word but kept looking at me pitifully. With a heavy heart, I walked away from him. I made it up to him once the call ended by reading 4 story books with him. Of course, he ended up sleeping later than his usual bedtime but he went to bed happy. I hate having to choose work over him and this is something that I have to continually grapple with.

Finally, there is one other boundary issue that hits even closer to home. This time, the only person involved is me. I let the boundaries of rational thought and practical advice overlap with my own irrational worries and fear. As a result of not protecting the mental boundaries in my head, I was unnecessarily stressed, lost sleep over the past few nights and had headaches. I had prayed about the situation but somehow, I didn't surrender it all to God. Looking back, worrying about it and fearing the worst wasn't worth it. All it resulted in was an increased number of gray hairs!

I have learnt that the boundary lines in our lives are to be vigilantly protected and respected. They are there to enable us to live a happy fulfilling life. If we let the lines blur into oblivion, our lives would be a mess. We would be tossed about by every obstacle and pulled in all different directions, not knowing where our centre of focus should be. The boundaries that we set in our relationships are not meant to make us into selfish people. On the contrary, when we know where we stand in our relationships, we feel more secure and are better equipped to fulfil the needs that each relationship demands of us. On that note, I intend to vigilantly protect my time with DH and Osh Osh when we are all home later this evening. I know Osh Osh will be thrilled!