Books & Movies, Personal

Taking Control and the Odd One Out

The last couple of years, well nineteen months, have been tough. Yet I’ve survived everything that has happened and I am sitting here today planning a future. I think that’s a good sign.

I am looking at the future and wondering what I want to do with my time. Sometimes I feel pressured to be someone I’m not. Sometimes I feel stressed because I want to be something I can’t reach. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Am I happy with the way things are? No. Can I change it? Yes.

I’m learning to put me first. It’s sounds easy and selfish, but it is neither of these things. We cannot control anything or anyone else. We can’t control how people think or act. We can’t control what people do or say. But we can control these aspects within ourselves. We can say “No!” to accepting other people’s rubbish and we can push the anger, hurt and/or whatever else we might feel away.

That’s what I’m learning to do.

odd-one-outAt the end of October 2006, I started reading Odd One Out by Monica McInerney. At the time, I only read the first three chapters and then November arrived and with it NaNoWriMo. Following quickly on its heels was family issues and then Christmas. In that time I didn’t read anything (book related).

I guess I should write something about Christmas Day. The three days leading up to Christmas fell nowhere near short of hectic. Gary and I cleaned and scrubbed everything inside and outside the house. We cleaned high, low and in between. We cleaned on, under and behind. Everything was washed in some way. We’ve never ever done spring cleaning like this before. In fact, we worked so hard and so long that I lost weight with all the exercise! Perfect timing really, because Christmas time is when we usually put the weight on.

Anyway, at midday on Christmas Day the family started to arrive. I had it all planned out in my head (I can’t help planning; it’s what I do best). I had warned Gary that if I said something needed to be done and he thought I was going about it all wrong, he should just humour me and do it anyway. And that’s exactly what he did. There were only 13 of us and the afternoon went quite well. No one, except Gary, saw my stress levels. Not that I felt stressed all day. It was only at that crucial time when all the food needed to be ready at the same time. At appropriate times, Gary walked up to me and calmly mumbled in my ear, “Settle down, you’re doing a marvellous job.” That is all I needed to calm down and carry on being a hostess, which is something I have never felt comfortable with.

At the end of the day everyone left with a pile of presents, a full belly and smiling faces. I certainly couldn’t ask for more than that. And we were left with a heap of food, because I had miscalculated, but hey it’s better to have too much than not enough. At least we won’t starve anytime soon.

On Boxing Day I woke up early and decided to sit in bed and read. I grabbed Odd One Out and reread chapter 3 (because, after eight weeks, I couldn’t really remember what was happening or anything much about the characters).

I read on and off during the day and that night I finished the entire book. That’s quite an achievement for me. Coincidently the theme of the story was parallel with my life, except for different reasons. I guess this meant I connected with the storyline and the characters. Hence I really enjoyed what I read.

Odd One Out is about a woman who is not in control of her own life. Born into a creative family, she was the only one who was non-creative and this made her feel inferior. Yet, she had qualities that her family didn’t have. With her brother’s help, she was pushed into the unknown and out of her comfort zone. She learned to deal with situations that she would never normally put herself in. She learned to stand up for herself and take her life into her own hands.

From reading this story, I learned that our future is not set in stone and we can change roads without abandoning who we really are. People may not always approve, but they will get used to the idea in the end. Mostly, I learned that we must do things because we want to do them and not because other people expect it of us or because we expect it of ourselves.

In 2008, I intend to take control of my life again. What are your intentions for the coming year?

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5 thoughts on “Taking Control and the Odd One Out”

  1. It sounds like you had a good time, despite the dinner pressures. Cooking a holiday dinner for a large family is a challenge that I can definitely relate to. 🙂

    Thanks for writing the review of that book. I think I’ll grab a copy of it.

    To answer your question, I’ve just written a post on that very subject.

  2. At the beginning of 2007 I hoped for a better year than the last. Well, it certainly didn’t become that, but then, I was waiting for it to happen. This year I plan for a better year but this time it will be me making it happen. If I want to write a best seller then I’m going to sit down and do it. If I want to lose weight then I’m going to start a diet to make it happen.

    Anything that I want to have happen this year is because I’ve taken the steps to make sure it does. 2008 will be far more satisfactory, and a year full of achievements! 🙂

  3. “Settle down, you’re doing a marvelous job.” what a good thing to say at a time like that. I might have to try that one.

    I don’t know what my intentions are for 2008. I’m not one to plan that far ahead. I’d like to do some writing, bet back into working out a bit, and hopefully paint some rooms in my house.

  4. Hey Karen,

    Long time, no see. I’ve been around but not really active. I’ve been busy hanging out with Bronwyn (a lot) but no she’s in Europe and I’ve forgotten what I spent my time doing before then.

    It sounds like Christmas went well for you. I can imagine you’d make a great host despite your stressing about it. You’ve always come across as someone that gets things done.

    I kind of learned what you’ve learned this year. I’ve moved from home and really found myself this year. I’m doing what I want and not tuning myself to any idea of what a normal person is.

    I’ll post my outlook for 2008 on my blog tonight.

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