The Shift

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I am feeling a shift. I feel better than I have in a decade. I am excited about things I haven’t been enthusiastic for in years.

I think it is because I have meditated for 700 consecutive days and the payoff is finally happening. When I say ‘payoff’ I mean that zen optimism those yogis promise you. I am beginning to feel it.

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I want to decorate the Christmas tree. I haven’t been excited to that in forever. Last year, that time I died (my daughter calls it that. I was sick and in the hospital with organ failure. No adults around except my 19-year-old daughter and she stepped up. She nurtured me back to health and I love her more than I thought remotely possible.) I sat in a chair looking at things as if I saw them for the first time. There was a shift of consciousness.  I became aware of things I had no idea about. Some things were validated and somethings just plain ol’ felt good.

I got out of bed this morning and baked cookies. For those of you who knew me as a young mother, I was a baker. I baked everything from scratch including bread. I canned vegetables I grew in my garden, I made dinners from real food not processed or packaged, I picked fruit and made jam. I sewed things including enough quilts for my family never to be cold again. I made Halloween costumes from scratch. I painted, I sketched, I played the piano, and I sang. I read everything I could get my hands on and I loved to spend my days with my children. We would play, explore, learn and try new things. I did all those things. Then one day it stopped.

I became more tired. I made friends with the wrong kind of people. I fell into a depression cycle. I had to go back to work. I worked on a team filled with assholes. Seriously – some of the cruellest people you would ever meet. It is a dark time I don’t think about anymore.

About a month ago, I began to feel the third shift. The second one was ‘that time I died’.

I work with one person who makes me remember how creativity is supposed to feel. Feeling that good at work is fun. There is no other way to describe it. I felt this way at work once before. It was on a team my very first year teaching. I was naive enough to think teamwork would always feel this way. HA! Not so, it took 30 years to find that synergy again. Then I found my ‘people’ at work. One person who we can chat about anything from cooking to books and everything in between.

I continued to meditate every day because I loved the peace and calming feeling after my sessions. If I have a bad day or a few days, I continue to meditate. The sour feeling comes and goes quickly. In the old days it would last forever, now its done in a few hours or a day at the longest. I have learned to lean into feelings. Allow them to come, I experience them rather than stuff them down and then I am happy again. Meditation has truly changed me.

I have baked for three consecutive weeks. Strange since I hadn’t made cookies in a year and that was only because I made them for my son as a Christmas gift. It was one of the few things he asked for. I bought a new rolling pin. An embossed pin that will make pretty cookies. I have planned out my Christmas baking list. The last time I made one of those I was living in my old house.

I am writing again. I have submitted short stories for publication at different magazines and I entered the CBC Reads prize. I am working on my 4th book. Maybe this will be the one I publish? Its currently in edits. It is a long process to get a finished product.

I am planning out vacations again. I want to visit my parents when they travel to the states. Just me and them. No kids, no siblings and no husband. Just me and my mom and dad. I don’t often get them all to myself. As the eldest child, I had to share them with everyone. Not this time. I want to have a memory of just the three of us.

I am reading again. I used to read 50 books a year. This year I am only at 25 for the year. But I read because I want to not because I think I should.

I plan things so my children will want to spend time with me. We went for dinner Friday night and I love how they make me laugh. We rented a cabin in the mountains a month ago and went hiking to some waterfalls we had never seen before. Sometimes we just watch Doctor Who or the Good Place together. Yesterday we all sat on my new king bed chatting with my mom who is in England today.

Since my meditaion journey began, I now believe in signs or nudges. That flash of impulse that compels you to try something or go somewhere. Do it. I like to believe its the universe showing me the right direction. Out of the blue 10 minutes ago, I received a link to this from an old friend. She saw it and thought of me, so she felt she should send it. Its what I needed to see today. With the added benefit of knowing someone you care about is thinking about you. Thanks, Chicken Hawk!

I have been looking up old bloggers that I used to read. They had stopped writing or a long time and now they are back at it again. It feels like the perfect introvert reunion. Visiting with old friends without having to have a face to face conversation!

I am making dinners again! With the hubs retired, I have been lucky enough to come home to dinner ready for me after work. Lately, on weekends, I feel like cooking. Today I am making soup. A big pot of chowder and some fresh biscuits to go along with it.

This shift is feeling good. Meditation is a big part of that but so is staying in the moment and focusing on good things. I often wish people a Happy Birthday with a ‘Do all the fun things’ as an add-on. But you want to know something? Always do all the fun things and your day will be much better for it.

 

 

 

2017: The Epic 50th Year

If you sat me down a year ago and asked me where I thought I might be December 29, 2017, I would not have guessed this. I think that is the biggest takeaway from this year is not knowing what is around the corner is normal and can have wonderful surprises.

I felt the sting of betrayal, the exhaustion of health issues, the joy of appreciation, the pride of ability and the excitement of exploration.

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2017 had me exploring more of my surroundings that I had not seen before. I crossed the new bridge in Terwillegar, tasted some of the best coffee in the city, saw a sea star clinging to rocks in the ocean, visited 4 National Parks, started a new job, had meaningful and grownup conversations with my brother, was visited by death,  read the most exquisite words and dumped the worst books that I could not get through. I learned that success is not a dollar value or a title and now I feel sad for people who do. I learned fighting for victims is possibly the most important work I do. (my children and I have talked about the world and where it is headed. History is a great learning lesson and we are doomed to repeat it. I said, “I am the kind of person who will hide people to keep them safe”. They both responded with, “so are we.” I felt great pride know their values are set.)

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I learned spending free time on things I don’t like is wasting my life. If I read a book that is terrible, I close it. If I taste something not worth the calories, I don’t finish it. I don’t hug people I don’t like. I make an effort to spend time with people who mean something to me. I take 30 minutes each day for meditation, it is more important than work. Work in a place that aligns with your values, it is not my life but I spend a lot of time there so having it fit with me is important. Loyalty is precious, don’t abuse it and only give where deserved.

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I gave up things that no longer matter or bring me joy, the NHL was the first to go. I still do not drink pop of any kind and gave up aspartame 31 months ago and all carbonated beverages are going. That includes beer so it is leaving my pallet this year. Participating in events that I dread or resent, not going to happen this year.

I learned it is okay to let goals go. I worked with a young gal (Emily) who had a long time life goal of becoming a doctor. One day she realized he had everything she wanted and being a Doctor was not part of her story any longer. She had the courage to say, its okay to let that goal go. She picked a new one and changed her life. We celebrated by taking a lovely walk in Mill Creek. I admire her and have learned more from her than most people in my life. She is a beautiful human. I cry just thinking about how powerful her belief in herself is. I made big changes because I was inspired by her, Thank you Emily <3.

I achieved every goal I set out for myself in 2017:

I meditated every day. As of today, I have meditated 383 consecutive days for a total of 170 hours and 52 minutes. I credit this to be the single most important thing I did for myself and it brought significant change. Sitting with yourself in silence for 30 minutes every day is the best gift you can give yourself.

  • I am calmer
  • I let go of things that are not important
  • I can see what is important and meaningful to me
  • I smile more
  • Things (purchased items) no longer have meaning
  • I appreciate people are doing the best they can with the knowledge and tools they have

I set a goal to read 35 books, I read 43 and likely will have read 44 by New Year’s Eve.

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The best book I read this year was by Elizabeth Strout, Anything is Possible. My favorite book of all time is My name is Lucy Barton by the same author. Lucy visits Anything is Possible and it was like catching up with an old friend. It is my favorite for personal reasons and how it made me feel when I could relate to the story.

I did something epic for my 50th Birthday. I had intended to visit New York City. It was a long time goal but circumstances had me changing my mind. Instead, I went to Tofino and it was the best vacation I have had in 50 years. I consider myself to be well traveled. This vacation was valuable.

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I went on as many adventures with my pal Captain as I could. As my health improves, I suspect we will go on even greater adventures together. I hope to bring him to Vancouver in the spring so he can visit the ocean and bark at harbor seals.

I fought for friendship and let other friends go. This falls into the “I know what is important” category. I chose kindness and learned fun can also be kind.

I supported my children unconditionally. I refuse to squash my children’s dreams. I will not warn them of peril or talk them into doing something they will hate. When they say to me, “I want to do/try/experience…” I say okay. I ask what their plan is and then I ask if they need help from me. I am watching them become amazing humans and living the life I wish I had the courage to live at their age. Happily, I have that courage now.

I made epic mistakes too. I asked for advice when I wasn’t ready to hear it. Actually, I thought I would get positive and uplifting support. I didn’t. It pushed me back into darkness. I am working on getting that sparkle back. I did learn who I can trust and who I need to hold at arm’s length.

I learned family is pretty damn important. But not all family are your people. Family can mean friends too. My parents and my children are my people. I have 7 friends who are my people. You know who you are, if you are thinking” am I her people?” you probably are if I eat breakfast with you, drink wine/coffee with you or talk/text to you on the phone.

So what will 2018 bring? I have no idea. I have decided to just let things happen and be the observer of my life. I will not manipulate circumstance to make things the way I think I should have them. I have set goals because I do not want to be a sloth, life doesn’t happen by sitting on the sofa, adventure is out there!

2018 Goals:

  1. Meditate for 30 minutes daily.
    • I created a nice little spot in my room to help with consistency. I journal about it on a blog I have created. It helps me see the progress/change I am experiencing. If you are interested in following it, contact me and I can give you the address or FB page. I am keeping trolls out.
  2. Write daily.
    • As with any practice, a daily occurrence is important. I will either blog/journal or work on my book.
  3. Protect Privacy.
    • Trolls feed on personal knowledge. I am sharing my privacy with important people.
  4. Be kind
    • I will ask myself every night as I review my day, “Where could I have done better?” Did I say something that was unkind? Could I have helped someone? We don’t get better without self-reflection, this will be my learnings.

I have 3 more goals that I will keep private – as part of #3’s goal. This makes me feel empowered.

I hope you also had a wonderful 2017 and learned many new things. Here is to continuing my epic 50th year and embracing the learnings that come with it.

Happy New Year my loyal readers!

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But I don’t want to watch TV Dad! I’m reading!

It happens every summer. A big blockbuster release. No, I am not talking movies, I am speaking of books! In past years its was the Twilight series, or the Harry Potter series, or even Peter and the Starcatcher series. This year the book with buzz amongst the teen set is Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins was released yesterday. It is the third part of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Could we wait for it to come out in paperback? No. How about for it to be available at the public library? Don’t make me laugh! We need to own it RIGHT NOW! Why? Because reading books over and over is part of the fun! (and because his friends are reading it too!) This is one indulgence that I permit my children. If they want a book, they may have it.

I would be the last mom on earth you would expect this type of behavior from. I never, and I mean NEVER buy my kids “stuff”. They get an allowance, or have jobs so therefore must make their own purchases and learn how to save and budget accordingly. But there is something about a book that makes me cave in.

I am a big believer in escape into reading. The pure pleasure from a great story is ecstasy for me. The very fact that my children desire a new book and start reading it in the car 3 minutes AFTER purchase thrills me like nothing else can. We have an extensive children’s library. We own everything from Goodnight moon (the very first story my young little minds heard at the age of 1) to every Ridley Pearson book written for the under 18 set. With every book in between.  There is no one happier than me – except maybe my dad – that I raised have readers! At this point you maybe wondering why this is an important part of my personal tourism.

Well for starters, you need to know that I don’t think I am a complete mess and need a total overhaul! I have some excellent qualities thank you very much! And books teach me things that I might never have learned, or taken me places that I have not seen yet, or gave me friends when I was lonely and in need of someone who understood the pain I was going through.

I remember the very first novel I ever read. I was in grade 4, age 9. I was laying on my bed reading an Archie Digest when dad walked into my room. He handed me a book and said I would like you to read this and then he left. Up until that point, my parents read to me every night. We would discuss the book. I would ask copious amounts of questions and all would,very patiently, be answered by my father. I couldn’t wait until the next night! So, you could imagine my disappointment when I had to read a book on my own. But what a GIFT I was given! Charlotte’s Web was the very first book I read on my own and I never looked back.

I have very strong memories associated with books I read as a child. Apples Every Day, by Grace Richardson was a gift from my mom. She thought books should be under every Christmas Tree, and I agree. This was a novel that she randomly picked up and thought I may enjoy it. I read it 20 times. I do that. If I love a book, I will reread it. Every time I will gain new insight or be comforted by the familiar setting. Judy Blume was an author who had a tremendous influence on me. I snapped up every one of her books. I remember Mrs. Erickson our librarian suggesting that maybe I branch out and try a new author. But I didn’t want to! Why should I? I loved her books! But again, another adult in my life was right and I met L.M. Montgomery. HOLY CRAP! Her books rocked my world! My Great Grandmother gave me the entire series. Her reasoning was she wanted for me to understand what Island life was like for her when she was a girl, and to understand that Canada has some pretty amazing authors. But with any author I like, I must read all that they publish. A sickness really. But I am not caring! After reading a great novel I mourn the characters for a while. I miss them. So when I found Maeve Binchy, she made all my dreams come true! She would throw in old characters into her other stories so I could visit with them for a while and see how they are doing. This made me very happy. I read Tara Road and Evening Class every year. They are like old friends.

However, like most people, I love to meet new friends too! I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. They make you think, feel or react. This year I met a person who when asked if he ever read a particular book, he replied, no I don’t like to read but I saw the movie, it’s the same thing. What the…?!?!?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? Poor fellow, I felt nothing but pity for him. He will never know the secret pleasure that a book will provide. To me books and people are major influences in my life. I can’t express to a book how much they have influenced me but I can with people.

So the next travel stop on my journey is New York. I am about to begin Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson. Recommended by a book club friend of mine. I want to visit New York but will happily read about it for now. I am sure I will be heavily influenced in someway, I always get something out of a book, even if I hate it. If you are a person who has been an influence or an inspiration in my life up until now, you can bet I will let you know and express a debt of thanks. Because that my blogger friends, is the next real stop in my journey. I am going to start telling people how much they mean to me. It feels like a risk, but is that not the point of my being a tourist in my own life?

In case you haven’t heard me say it, thank you for being an influence in my life. You inspire me to write this everyday, because you read it.