Nostalgia

45720_471277241336_5554157_n

Nostalgia has been hitting me hard lately, and not in ways you would think. Lots of people take trips down memory lane and experience happy fond memories to the point of thinking those times were better and its a shame everything has changed. But I am not so sure.

I follow Ryan Lawless on Youtube. He is a coach both for sports and life. I know him from Edmonton’s running community and have always found him wise. He now has a biweekly vlog that challenges me. His perspective is sometimes the same as mine but like me, he questions everything. His vlog about nostalgia felt like a punch in the gut. He said… well a lot of things, but what stands out for me is this “nostalgia has purpose”.

I have memories that give me a sick feeling. I want to forget but for some reason, I can’t. They play over and over unless I practice mindfulness or distract myself with something. Everyone has these memories. The kind that pops into your head until you squeeze your eyes shut and change focus. A lot of my memories circle around bullies, but a lot circle around fun vacations and holidays. The fun ones are classed as nostalgia.

nos·tal·gia
/näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/
noun
  1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Lately, people from my past have been popping up into my life flooding it with nostalgia.

  • An old friend and I went for drinks. We were in the trenches as young mothers. We helped each other through everything. We will get together more frequently now but at the time it was almost daily and I loved every minute of it.
  • A co-worker from back in the day when we felt like we were the only people who weren’t crazy. When I saw her at the farmers market, we gazed into each other’s eyes and embraced for a long time. Her hug was giving, not taking. I love those kinds of hugs. I fondly remember her because, without her, I would have been lost.
  • A friend I have known since we were three and lived in Sherwood Park. We pop in and out of each other’s lives every few years. We joked about not seeing each other until we are in the same senior’s home in the future. She was always a lovely human, kind and thoughtful.

I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking over the nostalgic moments. There is something healing in all of the memories. From overcoming bullies to remembering how good things felt. I think I agree with Ryan’s assessment of nostalgia having a purpose. While it’s fun to trip down memory lane, it is better to see how far you’ve come.

 

 

Joy

IMG_3951

I met a wise woman this summer and she looked at me for a long moment. Silence hung between us as I waited for her to speak. I could tell she was thinking. It took a moment longer then she said, “Have you forgotten how to play? I think you need more joy in your life.”

Normally I get defensive, or maybe I used to get defensive. Maybe a bit of both because no one likes to hear how badly they are performing as a human. But in this case, I knew she was correct. I have spent lots of time recovering from different things.

  • Heartbreak
  • Depression
  • Disappointment
  • Rejection

You get the point. Recovering takes time. It now called ‘Growth’, either way, you can forget what fun and joy look like while you are experiencing growth. I used to laugh way more than I do now. I wanted to do that more.

She asked me what did I like to do when I was young. What did I do for fun? I thought about this for a long time and then made a list.

  • Ride
  • Music
  • Read
  • Create
  • Dance

Ride:  I dissected my list. What was it about riding my bike I liked? Not the bike. But it was able to take me places farther than my feet could carry me in a day. I lived in Sherwood Park and would ride my bike into the city every weekend to explore the river valley and I would always buy a frozen lemonade.

Music: I was in high school and I directed a children’s choir for the church. It ws the only way you could get me to go to church, that and the chance to see that cute guy sitting with his family in the third row. I belonged to a jazz choir and was often singled out for my voice. I belonged to a basement band – the 80’s version of a garage band. We performed for ourselves and played a lot of Journey and Led Zeplin – weird mix but we found it challenging and fun. I expressed all my emotions through the piano. All of them. I loved growing up with a piano.

Read: Who wants to go to bed when you can visit New York or London or Australia? I wanted to read about girls like I was, smart, adventurous and always getting in and out of scrapes. Now I like to read about women like me, smart, adventurous and always getting into and out of scrapes.

Create: I drew a lot, I mean A LOT. My dad would often show my work to people and I was always asked to draw something for someone. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a cleanup artist for Disney. I could create amazing things out of lego and build a four-story mansion from two sticks, seven blankets and three cushions. If I needed a backdrop for my imagination, out came the paper and pencil.

Dance: I never took lessons. But turn on the record player and I was a prima ballerina or Broadway star. I had the BEST jazz hands since Gwen Verdon. I could Step in Time with Bert and Mary.

Interestingly enough, I continue to do all those things – although I haven’t built a fort since I was a teacher. I expect to have to teach my future grandbabies how to do that and I am up for the challenge. What I think I lost was the ability to be present while experiencing the things that I find fun. So I did a little experiment.

I made an effort to be in the moment, not check my phone for a text, not think about work or some argument I got into about politics, not worry about the next thing. Just simply be in the moment. I do this in meditation, so why couldn’t I do this in play? I read about art being a form of meditation and prayer, but people take prayer very seriously. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be serious? Maybe it was meant to be fun and engaging!

IMG_3791

The first thing I did was go exploring. I do this all the time as you the reader knows, but I did it without thinking about a blog post. Or a photo for my Instagram. I did it without thinking about any conversations I had. It was hard to change that mindset at first but I have now been meditating for 1,015 consecutive days. I have a pretty good handle on being in the moment during meditation and I knew I could apply it to playtime. I explored in the woods and in the city. I found cool and new things in all those places. I took photos because it brings me joy to compose a photo and look at it later. If a blog post or Instagram photo came out of it, fine, but that was not the intention.

Then next thing I did was sign up to join a choir. I had some issues with the choir director and looked at the time commitment and decided it sounded like work not fun. The piano is used exclusively by my daughter and I don’t really feel like learning all over again. But I do have the most amazing music collection. AND I know all the words to every song. Instead of playing podcasts in the car, I turned on music a few more times a week. I sang songs that made me feel. 

Read: I read about 50 books a year. Still doing it! But… I read about 25 books about marketing and leadership this year. Obviously, this was for work and not pleasure. I realized I hadn’t been reading for fun in a while. I went to the library and signed up for a card and learned how to use the apps to get ebooks and audiobooks. I downloaded Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – she is one of the most beautiful writers I have ever come across – and became OBSESSED with Albie and Franny. I still think of them even though I know they are fictional characters. I am now listening to The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, it’s no Red Tent, but Linda Lavin is a delight to listen to. I have a couple of books I am reading one by Martha Beck, Elizabeth Gilbert and one by Rob Schwartz. Each book is in a different room in the house so when I have a moment, I crack it open. This afternoon I plan to get cozy with Martha and maybe finish the last half of the book.

I haven’t drawn or painted in a very long time, but I doodle during staff meetings. I write 6 out of seven days a week and I will still play lego – I have a box of women in science and Doctor Who lego that I like to play with when I sit at my desk. I have a nifty kaleidoscope that I look through and I often pull out my spirograph set. I create at work and right now I am in planning and creation mode so I have lots of opportunities to flex the creative gene.

IMG_3879

Dancing isn’t as prolific as when I was a child but I will shoulder dance or bop my head around to music. It feels good.

After being intentional with all the things I found fun as a child and still do today, something fairly amazing has begun to happen. I am happy more. Simple. I went to see Downton Abbey and was absolutely giddy. I cooked all day for a mock Thanksgiving dinner before my parents went back to Europe and I loved it. I explored the public art in my community and was thrilled there was so much of it!

IMG_4034

I think the moral of the joy story is to be present in what you do and joy will find you.

 

 

Release

Capture

I was poking around a bookshop on 124 street one day in July. Plans for my week were about to change, and I knew it even though no one had said a word yet. There was an electric charge in the air. I took myself to the bookstore and out for coffee as I do when I want some alone time but still want to be around people. I know it’s a weird trait I have. I like being alone but in a crowded room. As I was browsing, a woman came up to me and said – “This is going to seem strange, but I am supposed to give you this.” Then she walked away.

I have come to embrace strange and exotic messages coming from unusual sources. It has become a thing, and I no longer find it odd. The Universe is always speaking to you.

The woman handed me a book by Caroline Myss. I looked her in the eye and said thank you. As I often do, I asked a question in my head: What would you have me know? I randomly opened the book to a page and read: Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness. I said, “Thank you” and took a photo of the quote, closed the book and put it away. I promptly forgot about the quote until this morning when I ran across it again in an Instagram story from a person I follow who lives in Atlanta. Then I saw it again from my yoga Nidra Teacher in Venice Beach. I was looking for a particular image for a work thing, and I saw the photo from the book I took the quote. Okay universe, I hear you loud and clear.

To add more to the idea that the Universe is always speaking to you – Caroline Myss randomly showed up in various social media feeds, and until this summer, she was never on my radar before. I listened to her lecture from when she was in New Brunswick and loved how it added a new perspective to my thoughts and ideas. I shared it out – not that I think anyone actually listened, I share more for me so I can go back to it and look again.

I watched another video yesterday, and the speaker Jerry Hicks said he was living in stress and trying to please everyone, trying to help everyone, things were falling apart. And finally, he said out loud, “I am done. I can’t do this anymore.” He said it more as a prayer than as an act of defiance. He said once he released it, he felt immediate joy.

The underlying message I finally understood after the Universe had been pounding me over the head with it is, Let Go. I always thought it was acceptance, but I was wrong. Letting go is part of forgiveness. Oprah says, “Forgiveness is letting go of the idea that things could have been different.” One day last fall, I said I am done. I expected to feel guilty, but I didn’t. in its place I felt peace. PEACE! Do you know how amazing that felt? I loved the peaceful feeling so much I wrote “I am meant to live in peace” on my arm so often people thought I had a new tattoo. I posted it to my wall at work — a regular reminder of a beautiful way to live.

IMG_4052

One day this summer I said to no one in particular, “I AM SO DONE.” I also said this to a few people, but it was intended for me. I thought I needed to accept, get along, bend, change all in an effort to please and help everyone. But I don’t. How they live their lives and treat people is on them. How I react to it is on me. I have been mired down, and I just can’t live that way anymore. I do know it isn’t an all or nothing type of response. I have just released me from expectations. I let it go. The side benefit is joy is creeping into unexpected areas of my life. Its as if there is only a finite amount of room and now that I have released it… I am free.

Thank you, Universe.

 

Listen

Day two of my Staycation had me exploring Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona. When I was in my 20’s, I worked and played in Old Strathcona. It still is a place that I love to explore but I don’t get here very often anymore because to unwind I tend to head into the forest. It energizes me. Occasionally I need to be around people and that’s when I grab a friend or famjam member and head to Whyte Ave.

We popped into shops, bought books from Wee Book Inn and a tiny plant from The Little Plant Shop. We ate the best ice cream on the planet at Made By Marcus, saw cool and interesting things at the Plaid Giraffe and headed towards Chapters before it leaves the neighbourhood.

Along the way we spotted this sign:

IMG_3928

I was intrigued.

There were two people, one male and one female, sitting back to back with chairs in front of them. The female had a gentleman sitting in her chair and he was talking to her. Her partner looked at me and offered me a chair. Not one to miss an opportunity to try something new, I sat opposite him. He began to explain that he was there to listen to anything I had to say. He promised a safe environment where no one would know what we talked about unless I confessed a murder or something else that was criminal because he would have to report that. But other than that he encouraged me to talk to him about anything. My companion stood beside me and I asked them to leave because I wanted some private time with the listening man.

I looked into his eyes and felt compassion. He smiled and asked me what I wanted to talk about. So I began to tell him how angry and hurt I was over a situation I have been living with and I didn’t know what to do with the feelings. He asked questions that made me think and draw out the conversation. For the first time in a long while, I felt like someone was invested and interested in what I had to say. But me being me, I quickly turned the tables and began asking him questions about why he was doing this and to tell me his story because I am also a listener. He began telling me his story and then as if he could hear the sound of a needle scratching a record, he said “Whoa whoa whoa…You are supposed to be talking and I am the listener.”

I smiled because I am good at gaining other people’s confidences and getting them to talk about themselves. I explained, “This is what I do. I get people to talk so I don’t have to talk about myself.”

Listener: Why do you think that is?

Me: Easy question, it keeps me safe.

We continued the conversation and he had me thinking about my role in my relationships. It takes two to have a conversation. Equal parts sharing and equal parts listening. I do feel as if I trusted the wrong people and maybe that shouldn’t stop me from trusting completely. Not everyone can be who I need them to be, but I do need to accept who they are. I often feel like I take things too seriously when I should be practicing the social norm of How are you, I am fine type of conversation. But I detest small talk. I’d rather jump right into the conversation. I test people to see if they are loyal, trustworthy and kind. When they blow me off, I get my answer. I haven’t found the loyalty I am looking for. With people I am close with, I haven’t shared enough.

I do know far more about other people than they know about me. Listening man gave me lots to think about by just listening and asking the right kind of questions. I briefly fell in love with him while he listened and asked questions for clarity. It was a wonderful feeling to have someone be that …I don’t know the word….intense? Kind? Involved? Interested? Compassionate? Caring?

Me:  I am grateful you invited me to sit.

Listener: I am grateful you sat. I get as much from this as you do. Now, let’s circle back to your original story about your hurt and anger over that friend. What is it that you really want from them?

Me: <I thought about this for a minute or two.> I want them to say what they mean, be truthful and honest so it shows respect for me and my time. Show me that I am as important to them as they are to me. But what I really want is for everything to be different and that isn’t going to happen. I cannot change the past and turn it into something that never happened.

Me: I really appreciated this.

I reached in my purse and he was worried I was going to give him money.

Listener: NO NO NO, keep your money.

Me: Can I take a photo of your sign?

Him: Absolutely.

We shook hands and I stood to leave but I wanted to hug him. I thought about taking his photo but I knew his face would be etched into my memory forever. He was the kindest man, the type you suspect was an angel that came to chat with me because I needed it and he likely doesn’t exist in this realm.

I thought a lot about what he had to say and how he made me feel. I think that is the important part. He listened hard enough so I knew he cared and that made me feel special. I have been thinking about our conversation since.

As you go about your day or your week or the rest of the year when someone talks to you maybe you should listen. I mean really listen.

  1. Ask them questions so you can gain clarity. This helps them think you are interested.
  2. Don’t offer solutions, they just want an ear. If they want your opinion they will ask for it.
  3. Look them in the eye or gaze on their face. Check to see what they are looking at.
  4. Don’t make it about you. It’s not about you. It’s about them and how they feel. They aren’t thinking about you at that moment.

I haven’t been a good listener or a good friend lately. Listening isn’t as easy as you might think. But when you find that friend who is really good at it, hang onto them. They are a keeper.

 

Gratitude

As I sit here this morning with my coffee in my hands, I gaze out the window in my office that overlooks my back yard. The sky is blue, the leaves on the trees are shimmering in a light breeze and the flowers still look good considering the rain and hail they have endured this summer. One week left of what I consider summer. As an Edmonton gal, summer for me is only July and August. Even at that, it has been cooler than most people would like. I sat on my deck all day yesterday wrapped in a shawl and had a blanket over my legs. If I hadn’t been wearing shorts and a short sleeve tee, I am sure I would be fine, but its SUMMER damit and I was dressed in shorts. Even this morning, the back door is open to allow for fresh air as my pup sits and enjoys the summer’s end and its not warm.

Its been a hecken couple of weeks. Hecken is my daughter’s favourite swear word. I have taken to it fondly as well. The busiest two weeks of my summer of work things had me leaving work early on Friday and sleeping for four hours only to wake up to Fringe and then I slept for another twelve hours, ate some food and slept hard for another two. I worked hard for the last two weeks putting in all the hours the day had to offer. I still am sore and tired but I am no longer delirious and can actually spell my name: Robyn – see? It wasn’t a sure thing Friday morning.

Heading into those busy two weeks I was feeling as if I lost my best friend…I did. And I felt as if I would be alone for a really long time…I’m not. I had been meditating on loss for about a month. I was focusing on what I didn’t have instead of what I did have. I suppose grief does that for people. You look at what you don’t have rather than what you do have. I was grateful for my heavy workload because I was able to stay focused and in the moment. I was too busy to dwell on what was absent from my life. I knuckled down and got to work. I am incredibly grateful for having that at this time. What I didn’t expect was reconnecting with things at bringing me so much joy. Joy was the last thing I expected while feeling so low. I changed my meditation practice to gratitude and the most amazing things began to happen.

  1. Usually, in my line of work, you need to have a lot of plans in your back pocket anticipating failure or wrenches or bombs thrown into the mix. Sure we ended up going through plans A-H and maybe ended up with plan Q but it wasn’t stressful. It went very smoothly. There was an energy I didn’t expect. Everyone was happy, grateful and kind. It made everything worthwhile and I actually loved my job for the first time in 30 years. (I loved my first year of teaching – it went downhill from there). What do I think the difference was? Gratitude. I was never grateful for my job, my coworkers or any part of my work life. I was this time and my experience was a million times better than I ever expected. Every night as I tucked myself into bed I said, ‘Thank you”.  I was rewarded with more of the same.
  2. I continued to be grateful as the week progressed and I found myself in Southern Alberta. Everything that could go wrong from my hotel room being cancelled to not having resources to extend to those who required them. I even was detoured on my route a few times and none of this made sense. I was rewarded with not feeling angry and defeated. I even got the sense that all of these roadblocks were there to prevent something worse from happening. Who knows what that might have been. In the end, it all turned out better than imagined. I continued to say “Thank you” at the end of the day and as I opened my eyes in the morning, it was my first thought. Thank you altered my frame of mind and kept me calm. Sure it could have been better but it could have been much worse.
  3. I have been searching for someone or something for a while. I haven’t found it in the people I know. I can’t tell you what it is I am looking for because I don’t really know myself but I can tell you I will recognize when I do find it. I have been treating myself better and I have acknowledged that I deserve better than the way some people treat me. Sure they have reasons, but I still deserve better. I think I have finally broken the unending pattern of abuse I have lived with since ‘the dark times’. I kept attracting people who treated me the same way. This happened in my personal and professional life. I would end it and a new person or situation would pop up teaching me the same lesson. I finally recognized it as a pattern. I purged all those people and have left space for them if they want to change and be kinder. I don’t expect them to. I am grateful they were in my life. I learned a lot and let them go. As soon as I did that, two old friends resurfaced. They were always kind and loving but I don’t think I was a match for them. I am now. Gratitude amplified my vibration and now I feel connected to them. This makes me incredibly happy.
  4. I grew up with a sense that you have to do everything to be valued. Let me be clear, it was never told to me or expected of me, it was just something I saw and therefore placed those expectations upon myself. Do more, be more, ignore your health because you can do more when you aren’t sick. Fuck that. Being sick and nearly dying two Christmases ago taught me a valuable lesson. I matter, not my work, not how clean my house is, not how much I can get done in a day, not how little sleep I get so I can produce more, me – I matter. I am taking time after these past two weeks to sleep and rest and read and write. I am doing what I feel like, napping when my body needs it and only looking after myself at this time. Nothing matters if I am not around to enjoy it. When my well is full then I can do for others, but right now, I am replenishing the well and I am grateful for the time I have to do that.

I used to think gratitude was about being thankful for the things I have. My kids, my hubs, my home, my family, but I learned its more than that. It’s a feeling you live in. It the sun being in the sky every damn day, it’s the fresh air I breathe, its the clear taste of water, it’s having support, it’s giving when you can, its everything I touch and everything that touches me.  I am grateful for my new outlook.

IMG_2239

The Important Things

IMG_0178I have experienced a shift. Things that used to be important to me just aren’t any longer. I know people who talk about their bucket list in terms of things to buy or things to acquire. The bigger the house, the more expensive the car, the size of a diamond engagement ring – all really important to these people. I am not sure what it means to them. I did go through that phase. There was a list of things I want to own, certain jewelry I wanted to possess and when I had them, I didn’t feel better/stronger/smarter, I felt less than. Things didn’t fill my well like you hope it might.

When I spend time with people who are still in this phase or mentality, it makes me feel sad. As if I am wasting my time. I could be learning, doing experiencing or helping, but instead, I am watching and listening to values that are not reflected in me. I consciously spend less time in that environment because I never want to be like that again.

This takes me down a path of thinking about values. What do I value and what do I want? I have spent the last ten years thinking about what I don’t want. Now that I am 52, I don’t want to be around angry and mean people. I don’t want to condone abusive behaviour. I don’t want to waste money on stuff that has no purpose. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to see crimes against humanity and spend time with people who justify it. I just don’t.

What do I want? This was a harder list to come up with.

  1. I want to show kindness to people. It’s not always easy but I try my best.
  2. I want to support ethical businesses. Are they fundraising for white extremists? Are they providing a living wage to their employees? Are they abusing the environment?  I don’t know all the answers but when I learn that our values don’t match – I look elsewhere.
  3. I want to laugh. This is what feels best. We are living in dark times and I enjoy dark humour – but… It’s a big but. I never again want to hear or participate with someone making a joke at another person’s expense. Laughing at a person for what they are or how they look is never funny, nor is it reasonable to judge and roll their eyes because people prefer a pink Maserati or their shorts are really short. What people do and who they are should be respected. It goes back to kindness. This also applies to self-deprecating humour. Just because someone laughs at you doesn’t mean you should beat them to the punch. Your soul doesn’t know the difference. Be kind to yourself and laugh at real things that are funny.
  4. I want to experience nature things. The world is full of magical things. Some can be explained by science and some things science can’t explain yet. I want to experience those things. The vortex energy of Kamloops, Sedona and Mount Shasta sound cool. The midnight sun in the Yukon and Alaska – it was cool in the NWT, experiencing it as an aware adult is my net big thing. The strange tides of the Bay of Fundy. The lava flow of Big Island. The Blue Lagoon of Iceland. Ice Canyon walks in Jasper. Berry picking on the shores of Fraser River. I want to dip my toe in all the great lakes and watch a beaver build a dam.
  5. I want to experience man-made things that interest me. Sea Glass Beach in California. Judy Blume’s nonprofit book shop (NON-PROFIT! Why can’t all book shops be not for profit? Why can’t all stores be not for profit?) Writing-on-stone provincial park. Star Wars Galaxy Edge. Cavendish PEI. Souris PEI. I want to take the train from Vancouver to Halifax. I want to explore Ottawa and see Parliament Hill – I’ve seen the White House but never important places in my own country.
  6. I want to meet people and ask them their story. You can fall in love with anyone if they let understand them. I hope this will lead me to find my people. So far, I have not found many, only three and I live with them. I need to let people in more. I will see where this takes me.
  7. I want to learn new things, take classes, watch people who excel at their craft, listen to instructions and absorb all of it.
  8. I want to make food that is so delicious you’d think it was the nectar of the gods. My pies are close but my dinners are not.
  9. I want to sleep through the night and wake up without an alarm. I have done this a handful of times. It was delicious. The weight of worry sometimes impedes this. I am getting better at letting go.
  10. I want to experience being a grandma. I miss baby cuddles and the smell of baby heads. I miss little laughs and the surprised look of wonder. If I somehow miss out on that experience, I will take myself to the nearest place looking for grandmas to hang out with wee ones and read all the best books.
  11. I want to live in peace. I think we are all meant to. So let’s agree to disagree. Let’s look for good instead of judging the bad. Let’s spend time with people who celebrate good. Let’s lie less and truth tell more. Let’s be sensitive to people’s feelings and respect them. It’s okay to remove people from your life who bring conflict and don’t allow for peace. Don’t be deliberate with hate. Be deliberate with kindness. Look at who you surround yourself with. Everyone deserves peace.

Write More

dariusz-sankowski-56725-1024x768.jpg

I was listening to a podcast today on the healing power of journaling. I have to agree, there is something magical about engaging in a daily practice of writing. I am not talking about Dear Diary, The boy (YOU KNOW WHO!!!!) who sits in front of me in math class borrowed my pencil, I thought I would die. As a 13-year-old, this was important journaling. But as an adult, I find journaling to be very cathartic and informative in a different way.

I became a committed journaler the first time my heart was broken. I poured my anger, hopes and dreams onto pages and squirrelled them away, never to be seen by human eyes again. It was a way for me to let the flow of thoughts out of my head and onto a surface that I could read as an outsider. Sometimes those thoughts didn’t make sense, just random rambling feelings that needed to get out of my brain. More often than not, the words tumbled out and I would read them and be shocked about my thoughts of feelings. It was as if I wasn’t the author but had a young girl lived within who was writing profound thoughts. Reading it back helped me sort through thoughts and feelings in ways I didn’t know I needed.

There is something magical about flow. Cursive writing becomes butchered when I handwrite but is a very fluid way. The words become strung together and become a secret code that only I can read. This was helpful when my exhusband found my journals and was reading them. I worried about him ever finding the pages and then fearing his wrath. I vowed never to write anything down that you didn’t want anyone to read. Looking back I think I wanted him to read the entries. That is ultimately what helped with my transition. Words have a way of knowing what you need.

Editing your entries are unproductive. Write with a reckless abandon. You don’t have to know what you need to write about, it will just come. I find in these times I write what I need, not what I want. When I look over my thoughts, sometimes profound words of wisdom pop up and I highlight those words to be used in projects or write the words on my arms and legs for daily reminders that my soul knows me better than I know myself and it makes sense to listen to her. She has not steered me wrong yet. It is only when I listen to others that I get into trouble. Through journaling and meditation, I am learning to trust myself, my gut is never wrong. It leads me down roads that I have to travel. The reason may not be clear until later, but its always a good one.

As I have aged, I find I write more observation and how it makes me feel rather than judgements. I watch behaviour as if I am a therapist and then think about the why. I struggle with acceptance and values, morals and obligations. I just know what I want in my life and what I don’t. Journaling has taught me that. Through observation, I have also learned you are who you surround yourself with. I want to surround myself with nice people who treat vulnerable people with respect and protect them from harm. Simple, kind and honest people are who I seek out. Life is not that complicated.

I find I write more when I am sad or angry. When I am happy I am not that inspired and I will engage in photography instead. Photos capture my happy feelings in ways descriptive words cannot. But deep melancholy and soulful thoughts just flow from my pen when I am struggling with people and actions. I have written volumes of journal entries this year but I have also taken thousands of photos. Life is funny.

Writing it out helps you figure that out.

 

Guilty

I had a deep conversation about guilt that has me thinking about things from different perspectives.  My dad always asks me, “Why do you feel guilty?”

Good question Dad.

I grew up with expectations. When those expectations weren’t met, I then experienced guilt. Guilt is shrouded in shoulds. And when you don’t do something you should the guilt comes roaring in. But where do the shoulds come from?

Death, Sex and Money had an episode with Ellen Burnstein. She talked about shoulds and always gave herself a Shouldless day every month. Shoulds were her ego and brain telling her what needs to get done. Expectations placed on herself by herself after interpreting needs and expectation from the people in her circle. When she didn’t live up to those expectations then the guilt would creep in. That’s why Shouldless days were so decedent to her. An entire day free of expectations and shoulds. Sounds like heaven.

Okay, Ellen, that makes sense. The automatic response from me is to eliminate a life without expectations from others. Sounds like a dream except how am I going to keep my family afloat when I don’t meet my work expectations and obligations?  As much as retirement is my dream come true, I am not able to swing the no paycheck part yet. Quite frankly, I haven’t met many people who can do that yet. So work is a SHOULD. I should go to work and do my best so I can get paid. WWMRD? What would Mister Rogers Do? I think I will call it an obligation. I agreed to work every day and in exchange, I will receive a paycheck. No guilt, no should. Should is gone.

There is a situation where I think, “I should call this person”, but the strain and stress of it holds me back. I feel calmer and more at peace when I don’t. So why do I think this? Easy – expectations of society saying “Respect your elders.” Guilt appears. What if this person dies and I don’t make amends? Go away guilt, you have no idea how traumatic it is for me. Dear society, you haven’t experienced the same reality as me so – no, you don’t get a say. The telephone works both way. WWMRD? I think he would wish them well, not speak badly about them and be understanding of my fear. He would expect me to be kind but also be kind to myself because I matter too. So calling this person is a SHOULD. I should call this person but it always hurts me. I agree that I matter and do not have to feel obligated. Should is gone.

I have an ugly situation where I think things about a friend but I am not 100% sure they are true. I can just go by the results of several incidents and it feels true. I want to believe I am wrong.  Because of this, I think I should apologize. By doing that I let go of my boundaries that I worked so hard to build. In this case, I want to see actions not words. But I should let it flow under the bridge because they are going through a really tough time. Guilt appears. If I do that, nothing will ever change and the same thing will keep happening as it has for years. WWMRD? He would not harbour ill feelings and would say prayers and send love to this person. Let them know he loves them and is there for them when they have it figured out. He would remind me that I matter too and this isn’t okay for me. That is why I have boundaries. So apologizing is a SHOULD. I should call this person but I am not respected – ever. I am last on their list and the first person to be cut out. I agree with Mister Rogers, I matter and do not have to feel guilty or obligated. Should is gone.

I suppose, in the end, all that matters is if I hold onto resentment and ill feelings. That is no way to live. Goodbye guilt, goodbye shoulds, I send you on your way and wish you well. Asking WWMRD always brings me peace. Thanks, Fred, you are one of the best helpers.

5b196c9f1a0000c704ce0e1d

 

Mister Roger and His Helpers

5b196c9f1a0000c704ce0e1d

Did you see the new trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood starring Tom Hanks? I did. I cried.

Did you see, Won’t you be my Neighbour? A documentary about Mister Rogers? I did. I cried.

I am surprised to see so many people happy and excited about this story and talk about Fred Rogers’ legacy. When I was a kid, people (adults and peers) called me a baby for watching it. I didn’t care. I watched it until I was 12. This was the first time I remember doing my own thing and not being influenced by others. I didn’t get influenced by people’s opinions until I was older, then I made the mistake of listening to people. That was stupid. I accepted really bad advice and it destroyed me. I have been working hard every day since to get me back.

When I was little, I mean LITTLE like three or four, my mom dropped me off at the childminders while she worked downstairs. I liked that I could see my mom whenever I wanted. I liked that I was free to go on imaginary adventures or go on errands with the adults looking after me. I liked having access to the red cookie tin in the cupboard. What I didn’t like was the teenager who was also there. He was mean. And by mean, I mean abusive. Verbally and emotionally, never physically. He called me stupid and ugly. He was angry all the time. He was scary. My brother and I were never rescued from him, we were told to ignore him, but what do little kids know about that? We learned to fight back. But those words of self-depreciation linger in the brain for decades. Mister Rogers rescued me.

PBS, channel 9 out of Spokane, played Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Zoom and Mister Rogers. I fell in love with Kermit the Frog and Super Grover, Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno, learned nifty facts and felt peaceful with Mister Rogers.

I cry thinking about how safe I felt with him and he was on TV – not even in the room. But the way he looked into the camera and directly at me, made me feel special. He told me I was special. He was deliberate with kindness and gentle words. I remember him talking about being scared and looking for helpers. When I was five and began kindergarten, I was able to go to my great grandmother’s home after school. She sat with me every day after school to hear about my day. She asked me questions to understand my story better. We had tea and digestive biscuits with cheese and sometimes peanut butter pirate cookies. But every time I was in her presence she would look me in the eye and make me feel special. The same way Mister Rogers did. Now I had two adults who told me I was special and I mattered. I can transport myself back into my ‘Little’ Gram’s kitchen in an instant. She had her spot at the large round table that no one ever sat in and I sat beside her. I can still smell Red Rose Tea steeping in the corning wear teapot. I remember looking out into the back yard and seeing the rusty old swing set. Later on, that window was covered up by a three-season addition and it made the kitchen dark, but it still felt the same.

Maya Angelou said once you forget the things people do but you always remember how they made you feel. Mister Rogers and Little Gram made me feel important and special. I think my Little Gram was one of Mister Rogers’ helpers.

Maya Angelou told Oprah once, “You will never know what your legacy is.” Mister Rogers’ knew he made a difference to children but the vast reach of his influence he never truly knew. If a little girl in a small town in Alberta was affected by him, imagine how far his reach was after decades of being on TV. I am sure it is infinite.

As an adult, I take the time to listen to kids and ask questions to understand the story better. I let people know they are special and they matter, especially to me. Knowing you matter is one thing, but knowing you matter to someone is extra special. I have become one of Mister Rogers’ Helpers. If you need me, I am here. If you are abusive, I wish you well and send you on your way because kindness matters.

Think about your words. You may think they are kind – but would you like them to be spoken to you? Kindness matters, it’s your legacy. You have no idea how many people you will touch that are influenced by your words. Thank you, Mister Rogers.