On Being a Firefighter’s Wife, Part IV

This entry will not be as heavy or serious as the previous 3 On Being a Firefighter’s Wife. It is just something that’s been on my mind lately – In all honesty, it has to do with me more than my husband.

The realization I’ve had is that he has been a firefighter for a few years now. His shift has not changed. During their shift cycle, there are still two weekends where he has to work one or two days. On one of those weekends, he is gone all Friday and all Sunday. On the other one of those weekends, he is gone all Saturday.

The Saturday one I can take. Sometimes, we get invited out to social events with friends and he can not be there. Over all, though, I’ve adjusted to that. Plus, when he comes home to us Sunday morning, for a full brunch and some type of outdoor outing, it’s a great feeling! I can not describe it. It’s just… wonderful! To have him home with us safe and sound.

It’s like a cheesy feel-good family movie. I’m up early to greet him, then when he comes through the door, our dog nearly pounced towards the door, barking and whining as he wonders why it’s taking so long for daddy to come in, our daughter wakes up to give her dad a sleepy hug…

And the small things that makes life happy starts to work its magic… the smell of freshly made coffee from freshly ground up beans, eggs & bacon sizzling in the frying pan (or whatever we’re creating for brunch that day) – Both the smell and sound infuses into this Sunday morning bliss.

Then, that weekend where he works on a Friday and Sunday comes along. It’s not that it’s just 2 days of the weekend. There’s just this bit of empty feeling I get when he is not home with us after a long week of work – I can not celebrate that crazy end of the week with my best friend. Nor do I have him around Sunday… the last bit of peace before the daily grind hits us again.

This empty feeling I get is worse now that my work load and responsibility is so heavy. It’s always been there, though. From the start of his career. I know it sounds so trivial but I thought I would be use to it by now.

And it surprises me that I’m still getting that bluesy feeling when I don’t have him at the start and end of a weekend because I’m such an independent person. I’ve never had any issues doing things on my own – In fact, to this day, I love being on my own from time to time. I continue to leave early weekend mornings when he is home, to get a manicure or pedicure, every now and then – Just to be on my own for small doses at a time. Or reading at a coffee shop – for an hour or so. I never am the type of person that needs to have some one with me when I go out and do or see things. When I’m on a business trip, sometimes, I am on my own for dinner and in the evenings. There’s nothing I love more than to dine somewhere and explore afterwards, completely on my own.

Yes – these Sundays when he is not around. I still am not really getting use to it – And I’m not sure if this feeling will ever go away, either.

Getting back on track…

I’ve become a person I don’t identify with anymore.

It can happen so easily. And it doesn’t happen overnight. But one night is all it takes for one to wake up the next morning and think, Who are you? Where are your boundaries? How did everything spin out of control?

For me, it has been 1.5 yrs since I’ve felt more like me.

A lot has happened in the last 1.5 years. Without going into too much finite details I will say some key points:

  • Whatever depression I had experienced two years ago, which lead me to therapy, has pretty much been kept at bay. Not to say it’s not lurking in the shadows waiting for the right opportunity to pounce out at me, but from my cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, I’m still able to exercise myself back on to a straight path anytime I feel like I’m being sucked back in to the darkness. More importantly, I no longer have suicidal thoughts!
  • Regardless of whatever shitty people or shitty things people have done to me, I’m still pretty confident in who I am, which is something I completely lost 2-3 years ago.
  • While this past year has been the most challenging, I am still feeling blessed with what I do have in life.

The issue is that I have this extreme want to excel my career.

On the one hand, it’s been quite obvious the vast number of skills and management responsibilities I have seen over just the past 6 months alone come to being. I am doing things that I know is what will launch my career further down its path.

On the other hand, I have lost that balance. I am sometimes a workaholic, working overtime and like this weekend, spending a few of my free hours each Saturday and Sunday to catch up on a workload which I will always be behind in.

I am a very accountable person. But not just because I have been given a lot to be responsible over, but it is in my nature to do what I can to not fail. I take great accountability in everything that I do. It is both a strength and a weakness.

What I want to do for myself in 2016 is to know when to stop, know when I need to just let go of work and spend some peaceful time, while at the same time, being efficient with my productivity at work.

The challenge with the former – even when I’m not working, I’m thinking about work.

The challenge with the latter – my new manager (a.k.a. NM), is not one to allow me to be efficient. New manager is all over the place with projects. I am not the only one who has observed this. All my close co-workers have pointed this out upon meeting NM for the first time. NM is everywhere, is what they will say.

It’s true. How many times has NM double booked dates/months for clients where I would have to spend a considerable amount of my time trying to sort out on a calendar that is one of my key performance indicators? How many times has NM allocated time for meetings on new ideas NM wishes to push only for our VP to decline as it isn’t top of our priority for our company? Not bad ideas, mind you, but given our low resources and the long list of top priorities, said ideas are just not important enough to discuss right now. I spent half a day on my business trip discussing one of these “to-do” projects where there was so much more we needed to discuss first.

And finally, how many times has NM emailed me, stated a certain procedure which is new to me (as has been most of my job) and that we will discuss it together first, only to then get frustrated with me a week later for not working on that procedure? Yet I was instructed to wait on it until we’ve had a chance to discuss it. <- This has been the worst. Not just from NM’s poor lack of memory and proper management style, but just the demeaning approach put on me. The tone of voice can be abrasive and sometimes even shrill.

My challenge is to manage my NM and this will prove difficult.

My first task is to document all that I do for my projects, specially when there is inconsistency with NM’s work and/or communication (with documentation where possible followed by clarification. I will remain diplomatic but firm. If NM shows anger or frustration for how I decide to do my work, I will eventually need to take all my documentation and approach my VP for advice.

This tactic of mine is not to seek revenge or try to ruin NM’s career. It is simply has come to a point where if I do not do anything, the only person who will suffer is me.

I’ve had lengthy discussions with my husband about this and he continues to encourage me to remember that I deserve taking a break and to not let work own me.

Anyway – wish me luck. 2016 is not going to be easy but I am optimistic something good will come out of this.

 

The 80’s won’t leave me alone…

I really do have BOOM 97.3 to blame for this. Especially whenever they do an all 80’s long weekend.

I’ve always been an 80’s music girl. My go-to music when I want a bit of nostalgia would be:

  • The Smiths
  • New Order
  • The Cure
  • Depeche Mode
  • David Bowie (though classic Bowie also comes from the 80’s)
  • House Martins

Lately, it’s been more pop-80’s music. Top 40’s. You know, the cheesy stuff.

I’ve been craving for more Platinum Blond’s “Crying Over You” and “Situation Critical”. Or “Never Surrender” from Corey Hart. Even Bryan Adam’s “Summer of 69” has been on my mind.

Something in between the new wave/alternative and pop-dance cheese of this era would be “Take On Me” by A-Ha and of course, who can ever forget, “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds (popular also because of The Breakfast Club  – thank you, Mr. Hughes. RIP.)

The thing is, this latter list, I don’t have from my old CD collection.

[And yes, I still have a library of my old CDs. I would stop expanding this list but whenever my in-laws want to know what to get me for Christmas or my birthday, it’s a lot easier just to give them some music ideas. They don’t do the online ordering thing so CDs is what I get.]

I’m hoping to have some time over the Christmas holidays to do a bit of shopping to help build my pop-dance 80’s playlist.

Getting ready for Christmas

As rushed as I feel this time of the year, I do love it. I would start decorating right after Halloween but Doug thinks that’s too early – he believes first week of December but as I’m going on a business trip in a couple of weeks, I wanted the decorations up earlier. We compromised – last weekend in November. Just not the tree – live tree needs to go up about two weekends before Christmas. Plus the train and snow village under the tree. I wonder if one day, I’ll get my wish with a fake tree? Less messy, more humane (to trees, that is) and we can enjoy it longer.

Christmas decorationsHaving the decorations up soothes me, though. It makes me slow down when it seems impossible to do so. When I’m home, even if I’m working on my laptop until past 9 PM, I work in the dining room/living room surrounded by all the decorations. So I take mini-breaks to look around me and feel at peace.

It’s no wonder why I start reflecting this past year and how crazy it’s been. To say I’ve been on a roller coaster ride doesn’t even describe what’s been going on and I’ve come to accept that this might be the new normal for me.

A year ago, I found out I had diabetes. A year ago, I was suffering from anxiety and depression. A year ago, I thought about suicide every single day. I felt worthless, guilty and just wanted to end the pain I had no idea how to get rid of.

But then, a year ago, I re-discovered the true meaning of friendship and how the people who were there for me are those I’ll never forget and always be thankful for. A year ago, I was afraid of everything and while I’m still one big scared-y cat, I’m much stronger and have a better sense of why I am again. A year ago, I decided to make an appointment with my therapist.

Christmas decorationsI mentioned yesterday about this past year being an eye-opener as far as friendships. Nothing bad happened last year with anyone. In fact, it has been the most peaceful year as far as relationships goes. Perhaps it’s because I’ve taken the passenger seat to most of my relationships. To those that give equal effort back, I still stay in touch with. To those that haven’t been equal (and we’re talking for years and years), I’ve stopped trying.

I’m not being passive-aggressive about this decision. I’m not trying to be spiteful or anything like that. I’ve just come to the conclusion that all this time, perhaps the friendship meant more to me than it did to them. It was nothing personal (or maybe it was – I’ll never know unless they actually come and talk to me about it). And so I stopped trying so hard because whenever I never felt I was getting anywhere and that the effort in the friendship was one-way, it hurt. I felt rejected. Being who I am, I don’t think I could ever NOT feel rejected in that type of scenario. And I realized I had to stop putting myself in that position of constantly feeling rejected if I didn’t want to fall into depression anymore. As it stands, it’s still a struggle to be happy – I still have to work at it – but at least I’m in a place where I’ve found some middle-ground.

So what of those fizzled-out friendships? I don’t know. Maybe one day, things will change. Maybe those friendships will be rekindled. I don’t know. And it’s not something I can be worried about.

Christmas decorationsWhat I do know is what I have now in the present. And the people who are here with me in the present. All I can do is continue giving back to those people who gave back to me so much a year ago. Who always gave to me, to our friendship.

What I do know is to just enjoy the present and not worry so much about the future. As depressing as it is to have diabetes, it has taught me that there are some things I simply can not control.

And so, I’m thankful for these Christmas decorations. Not just for the tranquility they provide me around the house but for reminding me to live in the present and to be thankful for all that I have.

Not our last camping trip of the season… if you can believe it!

With the lack of camping trips this season, my husband was getting pretty desperate. I admit I missed camping too but I can survive one year where we take a bit of a break from it.

Still, he pushed and pushed. And we fought about it as well. In the end, we came to a happy resolution by meeting in the middle.

He wanted to go somewhere about an hour away. I had no time to prep. So… we tried out this independent campground just 10 minutes away. It’s not a provincial park but had amazing hiking trails surrounding the campground.

All were happy and I’m glad we did it. It also gave us a chance to try dehydrated eggs (with grass-fed, hormone-free, anti-biotic free bison sausages).

deydrated eggsdehydraged eggs and bison sausagesNo, we weren’t aiming to create a gourmet meal here. There is hopes to do a portage/canoe trip where we’ll have to be somewhat creative with how we eat since we won’t have the opportunity to lug around a cooler. We’ve managed in the past – it’s do-able if we only go for two nights, preferably near the end of the summer when it’s not as hot.

The only problem is most of the dehydrated food packages is really high in either carbs or sugar. Which is exactly why our only option so far was to purchase these dehydrated eggs. The verdict? Edible but of course, no where near as good as actual eggs.🙂

hiking - wildflowershikingOf course, we made sure we went on a lovely hike. For the entire morning, it rained. Which was fine. We slept in and had a very late brunch in the trailer.

By the time the sky cleared, we were ready to stretch our legs. Plus, Hobbes needed to burn off some energy. We hiked for an hour – and got our fill of fresh air.

new toquecamping fashionWe were only semi-prepared for the cold. The forecast showed and even lower dip for the temperature that night. While we brought along a of of fleece tops and bottoms, we didn’t have anything for our heads or Chaeli’s hands.

So, we took a quick trip to Sails and took advantage of their 50% toque sale (we were only 15 minutes away from one of the locations).

There was a Dollarama next to it so we picked up some 3-in-1 gloves for Chaeli.

campfire steaksOne way I was convinced to go camping on such a cold, rushed weekend… witness the above photo. This picture does not do these steaks any justice. I bought these earlier that day at Whole Foods. Yes, I paid a mint for each. They are hormone and anti-biotic free. And about 2 inches thick!

I’ve had some pretty seriously good steaks in my life. But only a couple stand out. The one was on our last Princess Cruise when we paid cover charge to dine in the Crown Grill Restaurant. The second would have been the Tomahawks we bought as part of my dad’s Father’s Day gift.

These recent steaks would be amongst the top three. Every bite had an amazing flavour. Well worth the money.

hobbes the dogAnd yes, even Hobbes got some of Doug’s scraps with his dinner.

It was a nice little get-away, once again, in our little trailer. And as the title of this post suggests, it’s not our last camping trip. We’ll be needing more winter gear as we head up further north in a few weeks to camp by Georgian Bay. What? You say we’re crazy?

No, let me correct you. My husband is crazy. We’re just not very bright for letting him convince us to go along with his craziness.

campfire