On Marriage and Kids

I’ve been in a committed relationship for eight and a half years now. The thing I’ve noticed is that, for the majority of that relationship, I’ve been bombarded with two nagging questions: When are you getting married? and When are you having kids?

Here’s the thing: I hate being asked these questions. For those who are reading this and are guilty of asking these questions, it’s all right, you’re forgiven. Just read this and don’t ask again. Aside from family and a few close friends, I don’t feel like this information is any of anyone else’s business. The decision of when, or whether, to get married and have kids is a very personal one. I don’t owe anyone an explanation of what I’ve chosen for myself. But even though I hate being asked those questions, I’m going to answer them here, with the hope that maybe this will silence the inquires going forward.

The short answer: we have no plans to get married. “Living in sin”, if you will, works nicely for us. Paul confided in me years ago that he didn’t ever want to get married, and I chose to stay with him and I am choosing to respect how he feels. And anyway, since I was going through a divorce when I started dating him, I can hardly preach the everlasting qualities of a marriage myself. I know that a piece of paper does not define a relationship as good or bad. Admittedly, there are times that I do get sad knowing that Paul and I will never have the excitement of an engagement, or a  beautiful wedding, but I also know that both parties have to really want those things in order to make them special.

As for kids, I think I’ve always known that parenting is just not for me. I don’t hate kids, but I don’t have any desire whatsoever to have them, either. Some of my friends have kids that I absolutely adore, but I am not responsible for the full-time care of those kids. I have adorable, sweet, wonderful kitties that I am a mommy to, and parenting my fur babies is more than enough for me. I get very insulted when people ask me when I am having kids and then tell me, “Oh, you’ll change your mind!” when I say that I am not. As if they know my own mind better than I do.

I don’t mind sharing this information and don’t feel that it’s too invasive or anything like that. What crosses the line into invasive is what inevitably happens when I say these things: the person who asked the questions listens to my answers and then tries to change my mind. My decisions are my own and absolutely are not up for debate. Do people honestly believe that I haven’t thought these things through? These are choices I’ve put a lot of thought into, and I’m conducting my life in the manner that I see fit.

It also drives me crazy that so many people around me assume that a woman should be married and reproducing. Now that my sister lives with her boyfriend, she’s been getting the same line of questioning that I have, and it irritates her just as much as it does me. While I understand that more women opt for this path than not, times are changing and women have more choices now. There’s something incredibly comforting about waking up next to the man you love and knowing that he’s there with you because he chooses to be, and not because he hasn’t figured out how to stash the money for a lawyer just yet. Similarly, it’s nice to decide at the last minute to head out for dinner and a movie, because you have no kids that require a baby-sitter. I resent being expected to be married off so that I can start popping out offspring. And I resent people thinking they know better than me what lifestyle is best for me.

So, for those who were wondering – now you know where I stand on marriage and kids.There is a very good possibility that I may live the rest of my life unmarried, with no children (well, not entirely – I will always have fur babies). I’m fine with that prospect. Right now my current lifestyle is working perfectly well for me.

Savor the Joy

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” – Martha Washington

I believe that as human beings, sometimes we can fall into a pattern of behavior gradually, so that we do not realize the depths of our change until someone points it out to us. This happened to me recently, when in the span of just a few days, both a very good friend and a family member pointed out to me that I’d become easily irritated and that I was complaining a lot over silly things. Since one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to “stress less, smile more”, once I was (metaphorically) slapped in the face with my bad behavior, I was instantly motivated to change. I had to get over myself, fast.

Being a methodical and research-minded person, I downloaded The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. My hope was that it would be a good guide to figuring out what was lacking in my life, what was causing me to be so cross and disagreeable, and that it might offer me some direction in rectifying the issue before I drove my loved ones crazy (or, even worse, right out of my life). I started reading the book, and to my surprise I had a huge revelation by the end of the first chapter. The writer talks about how, on a  bus ride, she fully realized that she has a great life but wasn’t enjoying it. To say that I’ve been the same way is an understatement.

I have so much of what I’ve always wanted, and yet I have taken it for granted and not enjoyed it. While it’s good to be ambitious and want more, I know that it’s harmful to spend so much time focusing on what I do have that I completely forget to stop and appreciate all I do have. We’ve all heard the old saying about stopping and smelling the roses – isn’t it beyond time that I did just that?

I have a wonderful boyfriend and I love him with all my heart. Our schedules are complete opposites right now, and we don’t have any days off from work together. I miss him terribly. And yet, I come home from a long day at work, I find myself getting cranky with him instead of just enjoying my time with him.

Paul and I have been together off and on for nearly nine years. Back in 2006, we split up and I thought we would be out of each other’s lives forever. I missed him terribly, and the time spent apart just made me realize how important he was to me and how much I loved him. I vowed that if I ever got another chance at our relationship, that I would remember how I felt when he was gone and never take him for granted again. Happily, by the fall of 2007 we had gotten back together, and we’ve lived together this second time around for just over five years. I’ve learned that memories fade, and it’s not so fresh in my mind anymore just how much I missed Paul when he wasn’t a part of my life. Despite the fact that I should know better, that I should have learned, I still haven’t been treasuring my relationship with him as I should. Even though it’s not pleasant, I’ve forced myself over the last several days to think back to the time of our breakup, and to try and relive just how awful that was for me. And then when I go home to him at night, I am all that more grateful for the time together and just for who he is as a person.

There are changes I can make at work, too. I have a stressful job, and I’ve been working long hours to stay ahead. The thing I’ve forgotten to consider, is how badly I wanted this job and how lucky I am to have it. When I moved to Washington from California, I was beyond burned out with being a call center employee. I hated being on the phones all day long, taking call after call. I hated the mandatory overtime, the erratic schedules, the sales pressure. Then, in July 2010, I was offered a six-month offline project and took it enthusiastically. I worked very hard to prove myself, and caught the attention of my current boss, who offered me the position I am so fortunate to have now. My schedule is consistent, and I’m given a lot of flexibility.I imagine myself from a few years ago, working in the call center, and I imagine how elated my former self would be to know that there was something better on the horizon for her. And I know she would bludgeon me with a shoe if she knew that I complained about any aspect of my life. “This is what I dream of!” she’d shout at me (my younger self was a shouter). “How can you waste time being unhappy over little things when your big picture is so, so good?” And she would be right. I’ve been ungrateful. I have everything she wanted and I need to remember that.

There are a ton of other things in my life right now that I am so happy for – amazing family and friends, and my happy healthy kitties. I’ve found hobbies like Zumba that I’m passionate about and enjoy, and that keep me fit and feeling fabulous. And of course I have a warm home, good food to eat, my every need (and most wants) cared for.

So, more or less, my newfound mission in life is to savor the joy of the moment, to look around me and truly embrace all that I have, all the dreams that have come true. Because when I sit down and really let the gratitude wash over me, I have nothing at all to complain about, and everything to rejoice about.

 

 

 

Fun Friday Fashion!

I’m not a fashion blogger, and normally I don’t write about what I wear because I don’t consider myself to be all that stylish…and I’m certainly not a trendsetter. I work in an environment that requires professional dress, so my outfits usually consist of dress slacks and a sweater in the wintertime. But when I read my friend Kate’s post Menswear Inspired, I decided  to give the look a try.

I built my outfit around a red blazer that I’d gotten years ago to wear with a skirt to my sister’s high school graduation. I’d kept the blazer, in spite of the fact that I’d never worn it again after that day. For the menswear inspired look, I decided to pair the blazer with a lacy cream-colored top and skinny jeans. I finished off the look with a pair of cherry-printed flats. I kept my jewelry minimal and opted for a pair of dangly earrings. Here’s how the look turned out:

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Interestingly, though I bought the blazer in 2005 and the lacy shirt in 2012, both are designed by Wrapper. My flats are Melrose Ave, and they are old…I bought them from Mervyn’s before it went out of business.

This outfit was definitely out of my style comfort zone, and I was pleased with the good feedback I got and with how comfy the outfit was! I also liked that I was able to put together a brand new look with pieces I already had in my closet instead of going out and buying all new clothes (not that I don’t enjoy getting new clothes, because I definitely do!).

 

Racing to Beat the Winter Blahs

Soooo….it’s been crickets around here lately. I’ve been pretty bad about updating my blog. I’ve been in a funk and haven’t really been doing much besides working and studying for school, so I haven’t had a lot to write about. I did reach one of my 2013 goals when I became a licensed Zumba instructor a couple weeks ago (check out my friend Kate’s blog post about the day here), and I’m proud of that and excited at the prospect of teaching a class and sharing an experience that has changed my life. Besides that, I haven’t been doing much and I’ve been in a less-than-sunny mood. Winter, I blame you.

This weekend, I decided I was tired of being such a grouch and was ready to snap myself out of it. I began the weekend by participating with some friends in the Valentine’s Day Dash, a 5k race around Green Lake in Seattle. We got up early and got a great parking space in a lot across the street from the start line, and didn’t have to wait in line at all to pick up our race packets. Because it was a Valentine’s race, when we registered we designated whether we were Single or Taken, and our relationship status was printed on our race number. Here’s mine:

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It was a cold, cloudy morning, but no rain was falling. We walked around for awhile, looking at the different booths that had been set up and the costumes of the fellow racers. People get really into these holiday-themed races and there were lots of racers that were dressed up. I saw tons of girls in frilly tutus, and a man dressed like a Hershey kiss (I have no clue how he was able to run in that outfit). One woman had glued Conversation Hearts to the back of her shirt to spell out I Luv U, and even had some of the candies stuck into her hair.

The race began at 9:30. I tried to stay with my friends, but since there was such a crowd of people we got separated and I was left to run on my own. I didn’t mind though, I had music on my iPhone and I trotted along, enjoying the view of the lake as I ran. I’m not a runner by nature, and for the most part when I do run it’s on the treadmill. Running around Green Lake was a nice change of scenery for me. Even though it was cold out, I warmed up quickly once I got moving, and the air was clear and crisp. My music was upbeat, and as I passed the Mile 2 marker I realized that I was setting a decent (well, for me anyway) pace and that I didn’t feel at all like dying.

My official race time was 33:31. That wasn’t all that fast, considering the fastest girl came in at 16:59…I don’t think I could ever run a 5k that fast. But  I’m pleased with my time and I think it was pretty awesome, coming from a girl who couldn’t even run the first lap of the mile in high school without walking.

It’s amazing how much getting out and going for a run cheered me up and made me feel better about life. After the race I went home and took a shower, then treated myself to a pedicure and some shopping. I truly feel rejuvenated. I’m hoping that my winter blahs are now gone for good.

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