Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

November in pictures

Just when you have always thought that November is grey and dull, it proves you otherwise. And it did so in spectacular fashion! Looking through my pictures, I was struck by just how colourful this month has been, inside and outside. I also noticed that the majority of my pictures was taken with my phone this month, proving once again that cellphone cameras are one of the best inventions ever. There would be so many lost memories otherwise!

 Golden tree | Fog | Coziness | Fall walk photo tour
Rainbow | More colour | Grey, yet colourful fashion shoot | A few of my friends
Gumboots season is upon us | Lily on her coffee run | Spectacular sunset | More Goldeness
Black and white | Peacocks hanging out | Playtime
Sunday collage | Rotting earth is beautiful
Big sky country | Reflections | More colour
The open road | Cowboy country | Rainy day walks
Feather | The other side of farm life | Chicken legs
Winter morning | Lily flying (again) | Snow crystals in the air | Our Christmas tree is up!

There are 5 Lily pictures included again, just like last month. You have no idea the restraint this is costing me! It's a good thing my phone hasn't been hacked - the hackers would be disturbed by the amount of Corgi pictures on there. Just love that little Yoda-girl!

Happy First-day-of-the-last-month-of-the-year! Eeks!

xo Miriam 

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The opinion of others

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As long as I can remember, I have always had at least two "problems" in my life at any given time. I put problems in quotation marks because often, they weren't actual problems - more like nagging little troubles. Those troubles - frequently born from an over-active imagination and an inflated sense of my own importance -  were constant companions, often for months, until replaced by new, more pressing ones. They were seldom resolved, because they weren't actual problems that needed solving - just my own mind playing nasty tricks on me. 

The most recurring theme has been other people. I have worried about other people endlessly in my life: How they perceive me; if they talk about me behind my back;  do people generally think I'm a nice person? 
I was obsessed with these questions. I can remember as far back as grade one being worried about that. Being popular was what I wanted. I wanted to be the person everybody likes. The thought of someone not liking me was giving me anxiety - I didn't think I could stand it.   

Even as a teenager, I was never able to adopt a "I don't give a shit"-attitude. How much easier life would have been if I had! Instead, I somehow managed to be on the outskirts of several cliques, welcome with all of them, not really a part of any of them.  
I had two steady boyfriends (back-to-back, not simultaneously) since the age of 15, which gave me a much-needed sense of acceptance - if a boy liked me, surely I was likeable?

That house of cards came crushing down on me when I broke up with my second steady boyfriend at age 20. I did it for, what I believed, noble reasons: I liked him a lot, but got the sense that we wanted different things in life. How cliché, right?
For the first time in 5 years, I didn't have the validation that having a boyfriend had given me. Boy, did that ever mess me up. I had forgotten how much I relied on that emotional support - it was like having walked with a crutch for 5 years, and suddenly it was cruelly taken away from me. It felt like an amputation - I didn't feel whole.

The crux of the problem, of course, was a thorough lack of self esteem. Being uncomfortable with yourself is a terrible state of being. Making yourself dependent of the opinion of others is such a vulnerable place to be - if you need other people's approval to like yourself, you are in a constant state of fear.
Fear that the affection will be taken away when you misbehave. Fear of making mistakes, and paying the price in form of the loss of a friendship. Fear that you have to earn the privilege of being liked: by being funny, supportive, generous, outrageous. If friends borrowed money from me and forgot to pay me back, I would never ask them for it, because I didn't want them to think I was stingy. In grade 11, the boys in our class would often eat donair during lunch break, and then blow their garlicky breath into us girls's faces. I not only pretended not to mind, but one time went as far as taking one of the guy's gum from his mouth and popping it into mine (SO gross, right? What was I thinking??). All in the name of being one of the 'cool' girls.

During my twenties, some things changed a lot, others didn't. Once again in a solid relationship, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds. Finding my footing in a new country also helped tremendously. I hosted parties for 30 people without thinking too much about it, learnt to cook (somewhat), was a part-time mom to my stepdaughters. My body confidence grew as well - having shed those extra 25 college-pounds, I finally felt comfortable in my skin.

But one thing stubbornly remained the same: The opinion of others still had the power to make or break my day. I desperately wanted my stepkids to like me, and was terrified of messing up the relationship. Same applied to Richard's group of friends - it took me years to get over the nervousness that overcame me every time we would meet up with them.

Wanting to fit in led me to participate in things I didn't actually want to do. Small things, like going clubbing when I have hated clubs since the age of 23. And bigger things, like treating someone unkindly, just because a friend had a feud with her.
I assumed that's what you did for friendship. But it felt wrong. How much was I willing to do in the name of being liked? Was it really worth it?

The short answer is: no. What I have come to realize is that we have to be true to ourselves. We have to do what we feel is right. Nobody should sacrifice who they are for the sake of gaining the approval of others. At the end of the day, I want to feel good about what I have done that day, not ashamed. When I have made mistakes, I want them to be mine, not mistakes I have done because of someone else. I want to be comfortable in solitude, feeling at peace with myself, not awash in guilt.

This time of year, when darkness is winning over light, has always lent itself to reflection. In years past, those reflections were tinged with sadness, dark thoughts, and the ever-present feeling of guilt.

Over the last year, I have been on a mission to stop letting the opinion of others effect me so much. I came to the realization that I have no influence over people's attitude.
No matter what I do, there will always be people who disagree and dislike me.
Trying to please everybody is crazy!

And you know what?
Those "problems" I started this post out with have all but disappeared. Instead of chasing other people's approval, I am working on becoming a person I can be proud of.
While it is, and probably always will be, a work in progress, I gotta say: It's going pretty well.

How about you? Do you care what others think about you? Or are you able to just "shake it off"? 

Love, Miriam
  
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Friday, 28 November 2014

Style: Deck the halls

Or the front yard, to be exact. Rich surprised me with a Christmas tree for the front yard last week, and I finally put up the lights yesterday! I usually don't decorate the outside of the house, so this is a nice change. Having a lit up tree in front of your house is a German tradition, and it will be so nice being greeted by a twinkling tree this season! 

It also stopped raining for a bit yesterday, so I took the opportunity for a few outfit photos.


Dress: Otter Co-op several years ago (similar); tights: Old Navy; boots: The Shoe Company several years ago (similar); toque: ancient (similar)


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving in America, or a decent Thursday. 

TGIF! xo Miriam

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The ugly side of farm life

You all know that I quite enjoy living on a farm, right? I write about it often and have many pretty pictures to prove it.

But there is also another side to farm life. The side where you have to go outside in the rain, cold, and most of all: mud. Mud is everywhere! Our field is soggy, the pond has tripled in size, and gumboots have become a necessity once again. It is downright depressing. This is my least favourite time of the year, and I'm sure you will understand why - take a look:


This is how the field looked just 2 weeks ago. Times have changed.
You and me both, buddy.

xo Miriam


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