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

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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.

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The Search

 

img_3824I have been wandering around all week in search of something. I suppose if I really think about it, I have been searching for a while. I can’t put my finger on it, I can’t tell you what I am searching for, I only know I don’t have it.

People drift in and out of my life, as do people come and go from yours. I have been deliberate with goodbyes and cautious of hellos. I crave that connection from that one person who gets me, understands me inside and out. Who is empathetic and vulnerable and allows me to be vulnerable back. The person who I can ‘click’ with. I crave this person I haven’t met yet. Its been a while since I felt that way about a friend.

I remember back when I was three and my best friend was Tanya. We lived in a townhouse complex with a stand of trees across the tiny parking lot. We spent every waking hour together and ran through the trees like our hair was on fire. Our imagination was what we built our days with. We were our own superheroes and saved humanity every single day from peril. When I turned six we moved to Canada’s Arctic and I lived on the shores of Great Slave Lake. I didn’t find that connection I was seeking like I had when I was 3. I was one of a handful of white kids with the First Nation kids outnumbering us. You’d think this would mean I would experience oppression but no, These kids looked downcast at us and not speak out of fear or something else. Upon 45 years of reflection, I now know they didn’t see me as an equal, they felt inferior.

When I moved back to Alberta, I lived in a community that was white. This was the opposite experience I had from my life in the Arctic. I hadn’t met a good friend or someone I found reliable. People were fine but loneliness was deep. The internal dialogue pounded my brain with “I am ugly, I am stupid, I am unworthy”. When you think that way, people treat you that way. When people treat you that way, you think that way. It is an unending cycle.

As I progressed into junior high and high school, I found a few people who were closer to what I was looking for. My internal dialogue had not changed but I kept it hidden and forged ahead anyway. The pressure to succeed or meet the expectations of my surroundings were great as they are with everyone. Eventually, I pulled away from these people too.

As an adult, I found a couple of people who I could be vulnerable and real with for brief moments. Events happen and suddenly people are scared, hurt or angry and no longer want to be connected. Sometimes it’s onesided. Sometimes them, sometimes me.

So here I am in my early 50’s living a life that isn’t much different from my childhood. People still think they can say things to change me to be what suits them. Hurtful and angry things then wonder why I pull away. It changes dynamics and others ask for proof these people did these things. I wonder if they consider how it must feel to be me. Empathy is the missing ingredient. Everyone is caught up in self. The ego dominates life choices. I can clearly see why they said and did those things. I understand and forgive where it needs to happen. Forgiveness does not mean allowing it to continue. It just means I accept the past could not have been different. REM Had it right with Everybody hurts….sometimes.

Accepting.

Lashing out is the road I used to take. Now I just accept and turn away. It is not easy but it feels better. I don’t live with anger anymore. Meditation changed me. I meditated in 1994 after I left my first husband. It helped tremendously but for some reason, I stopped. Now, I have meditated for 952 consecutive days. I began in the fall of 2016 because the anger and hurt were so intense I had nowhere to put it. I began meditating a couple days a week. It soon became a beautiful way to begin my day. I sat in silence trying to wrangle my thoughts. I would ask myself questions and answers would come. I would ask for direction and it would come. I soon craved a daily practice so I accepted a challenge to meditate every day for a year. I didn’t know where it would take me but I knew I didn’t want to be angry and hateful anymore. I began waking up earlier so I could sit in silence. I began to see this as self-care. Something I deserved to do for myself. Once 365 days passed, I knew I could never stop.

The faces behind the anger began to fade. The reasons I was angry in the first place didn’t disappear but they became insignificant. I changed. Great learnings happened. But I still find myself searching for something. I will let you know when I find it.

 

Everybody Hurts
When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life
Well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on)
(Hold on) if you feel like letting go (hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
Well, hang on
‘Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts
Don’t throw your hand
Oh, no
Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone
No, no, no, you’re not alone
If you’re on your own
In this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
To hang on
Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts
You are not alone

Practice

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To get better at anything, you have to practice. The consistency of practice was never something I embraced. When I was learning piano, I would sightread. When I sat for a test, I relied on my memory. I had skills that would save me and get me by. My mom always said, if you put just a little effort into it, imagine how great you could be? I was thinking, why be great when lazy was easy?

I am inspired by a friend from my childhood. We are facebook friends now. We never chat on the phone, nor do we meet up when in each other’s town. I am not outgoing in my personal life and keeping great friendships takes an effort or practice. Neither of which I am all that interested in. This friend of mine is a writer. She has a desire to be a published author. Just like me. We have many things in common still and as long as I can remember I have admired her. She introduced me to music genres that were foreign to me. She taught me about sports the way I hadn’t learned before and she understands politics in a way that resonates with me. For all of these things, she made an effort to work at or at the very least, she put in enough effort to make it look like an effort. I know how that works. Do just enough to do well.

My friend from Junior High has begun blogging again. Not for me, not for you but for her. She is writing with the intent to improve her skill. I stopped blogging in a way that was meaningful to me because someone said it bothered them. So I stopped and just documented things I saw. In doing so I lost a piece of me. I use writing as a tool to sort out my thoughts and ideas. It helps me understand what I am thinking before I realize what it running through my mind.

Friday night I spoke on the phone with one of my very best friends. I learned some new things about his life and learned some new things about mine. I thought about some of the new things and found myself angry at the circumstances. Angry in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. This triggered other things in me and before I knew it, I was angry at a lot of ridiculous things. I texted him and asked rhetorically, “what is wrong with me today?” and he gave me a wonderful piece of advice. He said, “no idea. Breathe in, breathe out, and ask yourself why should what she does ruin one minute out of your day?”

Good point friend. Why indeed? She isn’t thinking about me at all. This is usually the advice I give people. It’s not often I need it given to me. But that is why friends are important. I have a few who will speak to me in a frank and honest manner. I suppose that is why I love them. I asked the universe for a friend who I could have deep and meaningful conversations with. I was given three. One I travel with. One I drink wine with. One I read with. I know I can call them when I need them and they will always be brutally honest with me.

During this time in history when the world is angry all the time. Places I used to go for fun are now frustrating and hurtful. It is comforting to know I have people who have my back and will talk me down from the ledge when I need it. I will continue to nurture those relationships, but more importantly, I need to write. I need to get my thoughts out. I need to continue to improve. Practice until it is easy and then practice some more because I need to do this for me.

You can expect this to be a different space. This is, after all, my blog.

The epic 50th year comes to an end

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So many people fear 50. I chose to see it as a major milestone and embrace it. I made my epic 50th year about embracing adventure. As with all things that sit before you in the future, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I had to face every day by leaning in, purging what didn’t work for me and be present in the moment. None of these things happened overnight, but they all happened. I am turning 51 on Thursday. Let me share what happened this year. If you are interested, I will be exploring these points in great detail over at my other space Still Life, it isn’t for everyone. But it might be for you.

 

  1. Embrace Change.

At the age of 49, I was desperate for change. I knew I didn’t like where I was. I felt mired in grey matter and desperately needed sunshine. I was called on my birthday and was asked to come in for a job interview. I said yes. 5 days later I interviewed. 14 days after the interview I had a job offer. 30 days after the phone call, I was sitting at my new desk completely overwhelmed trying to navigate my new job with very little direction because my employer also wanted change but wasn’t really sure what that needed to look like. 11 months later, we are still collaborating and planning for the future. It’s exciting, inspiring and exhausting.  For the first time in my career, I feel respected and valued. Never underestimate that. It has opened my world up to infinite possibilities and that feels amazing. Being valued means different things to different people. For me, it means, have someone listen to you, respect your ideas even if they are not going to work, ask for your input and is kind and supportive.

2. Take time to value yourself.

I made a promise to myself 609 days ago.  I promised myself I would take the time to meditate every day because when I did, I was calmer, kinder and felt peaceful. I sat on my chair for 609 days and sat in silence. It wasn’t easy, I have a voice that reminds me I am not enough. I had a boyfriend who validated this message. I wasn’t thin, pretty, smart, skilled…enough. He didn’t choose me so it also validated I wasn’t enough.  I heard this message echoed in ‘friends’, family, colleagues, strangers and me. I sat for 609 days repeating my Sankalpa, it began with ‘I am happy’. Once I felt happy after months of repeating my mantra, I changed it to ‘I am enough’ as I learned I was enough I changed it to ‘I am forgiving’ because I needed to forgive myself before I could forgive others. This year I am grateful. I learned to love me, let go of outer expectations and focus on my life’s purpose. Not someone else’s. So it may feel like I abandoned you and in some ways I did. You’ll be okay.

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3. Health is more important than you think, listen to your body.

Last December I had a trip planned to go to New York City. I was excited about it. In November when I sat quietly with myself I began to feel like I shouldn’t go. It began with a friend’s reaction. I started to feel sick in the pit of my stomach thinking about this trip. I cancelled the trip and immediately felt better. I learned that intuition is my greatest ally. One week later, I was in the hospital. My daughter calls it the time I died. In many ways, I did die. It was a life changing experience. I experienced an awaking. I will talk more about that experience over on my blog Still Life: Finding Peace in Chaos. But I had ignored my body until I couldn’t. Listen to yourself. Don’t let yourself down.

4. Nurture your circle

I was incredibly ill for months. I was home from work for six weeks. If I had gone to New York, I would have died. I didn’t have anyone there to help me. I would have been alone in my hotel room with cleaning staff finding my body. I spent months having tests, hanging out in doctors offices. Learning about my health and understanding what is normal and what is not. I finally have my health sorted and back on track. I feel better than I have in 20 years. Health is important. I sat in the hospital with my daughter and went through the list of people she should call if things became too much for her to manage. I have 8 people in my circle of trust and 3 were all vacationing in Europe at the time. Two others in my circle, my children, were living with me taking care of me at a time in their life when they should be focused on friends, school and fun. The other three were close by and I knew if I needed them, they would be there. Interestingly enough, my circle consists exclusively of family. I love them fiercely.

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5. Purge

I went through a phase where I wanted to know what it felt like to be in a close-knit circle of friends. I never really experienced that. I had one or two friends that I sort of felt close to when I was a kid. But I never really felt like people got me. As an adult, I wanted to experience that. I made the mistake of picking people who were fun but also had fun at other people’s expense. They were fairly focused on themselves and took from me at every turn with the exception of one. He treated me well until he didn’t. It was stressful. I didn’t know if I was speaking to the good guy or the bad guy. My values didn’t align with anything these people did for fun. Because values were misaligned, I was hurt in ways I never expected. It distroyed me. I sat for a long time asking ‘What do I need to learn from this’. I received my answer. I learned about the true meaning of friendship. I went through a purge that rid me of toxic people. I purged things. I gave away truck-loads of things. I burned things to exorcise the demons. I purged my schedule. If I didn’t see value in it, I didn’t do it. Saying good-bye and NO were the greatest gift I gave to myself.

6. Friends

I have a circle of trust – family. They come first in my life always. I have a few friends who I would do ANYTHING for. There are family and friends that do not hear from me very often anymore. My health took centre stage this year. Some people in my life are emotional vampires. As an introvert, I need alone time to recharge. Emotional vampires literally sucked the life out me. While I was recovering, there were people who kept taking from me and never once asked how I was doing. I thought about this for a while. Why do I keep nurturing this relationship? I reach-out and if the time is not convenient to them, they would swear at me, or blow me off. You would think by the age of 50 I would understand that a friend is loyal, trustworthy, KIND and dependable to the extent they are capable of. I made a list of people who I thought fit those attributes, I have two and with a new friend I made recently it may bump up to three. Friends never want to feel like they are an inconvenience. I hope I have never made my friends feel that way. Please be frank with me if I have, it was never my intent. I am at the point in my life where I need a best friend. I want honesty, loyalty, kindness, as their values. I want someone with the same interests as me. I want someone who loves deep, meaningful conversation about life, spirituality, books, and experiences. But most importantly, I want a friend who I can call up and say, ‘Something just happened, I need you.’ And they say “Yes” or they say, “I am doing this right now….I am going to call in in 15/30/4 hours so I can give you my undivided attention.” That person exists. I just haven’t found them yet or I haven’t recognized them.

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7. Purpose

I found my purpose. I found my life’s mission. The universe takes you there without you seeing it and then it hits you over the head with a brick and says – can you see it yet? I see it. In every situation I have ever been in, I have been in a position to help people by raising them up. This is my purpose. I have a unique skill that searches for the quality in someone that is special. I point it out to them and then I teach them to use it to the best of their ability. Typically it only takes kind words or encouragement to inspire someone into action. As a child, I was told I was too sensitive. Being sensitive IS NOT A BAD THING! It’s amazing. I am empathic. I can feel what others are feeling. I can see things from other people’s perspective. This is my gift and it helps me fulfil my life’s purpose. I have set this as an intention to use in every aspect of my life including work. As a species, we can do better. It is my mission to spread kindness. I am not doing this every day because people can be cruel and it wounds me then I get crabby and angry. But I try to be this every day. Try. I am getting better at it.

8. Adventure

I want to experience things. What I mean is, I want to watch/read/learn/do things. I did things this year I haven’t done before. I stood in the ocean and felt it. I mean really felt it and I was overcome by emotion and sobbed my heart out. I explored Alberta’s prairie and appreciated it for what it was, and didn’t criticize it for being something it wasn’t. Prairies aren’t trying to be mountains. So I enjoyed them for being prairies. I read book genres I hadn’t explored before. I was correct in knowing I don’t need to read frightening books. Now I know for sure. I took the time to learn about First Nations Art, I always enjoyed it but now I have learned its purpose. I took big risks because no one is going to do it for you. I learned more about myself by doing this than by wishing someone would do it for me. I subscribed to a Broadway streaming channel because I love theatre and I have reconciled with myself that I am not going to New York or London to see these plays in person. I want to see them now not some day. This has brought me a surprising amount of joy. I love my city. I want other people to see what I see. I explore it and photograph it. I try different experiences and festivals. I have been all over the world and if you said to me, ‘Robyn, you can no longer travel where do you want to live out the rest of your days?’ I would answer ‘Edmonton…just let me live a bit closer to the valley’.

Happy Birthday to me. We had one hell of a year.

Grow up already

 

I was told by a former friend who broke up with me this year that I must be really immature. Wait…what?

I have friends who I spend time with ages ranging from 18-94. I always looked at that as a strength. I could fit in and have fun with people from all cross sections of life. According to this guy, it was a weakness and I should be spending time with people my own age. I guess that meant sad, drunk, middle-agers were off my list. I still think I would be considered middle age because 48 + 48 = 96. My great Grandmother lived until she was 99. Both my grandmothers are 94 and 89 respectively, chances are if all goes well, I will live at least that long.

I don’t want to restrict my friendships to those who are only 48. Have you met many 48 year olds? Some are dead boring. It is a slim demographic to choose from and gone are the days that I have anything in common with friends from high school other than we went to school together and have common memories. I cannot build a deep connection on age.

I build deep connections on commonalities.

doctor-who-river-series-8There is a side of me that is tremendously geeky. I love superheroes, science fiction and obscure pop culture. I particularly embrace the bad-ass female heroes like Black Widow, Jessica Jones, River Song and Electra. These women are strong, smart and have relationships that enhance their being, not because they need one in their life.

There is a side of me that loves Hockey. I love the smell of a puck, the coolness of the rink and the sound of the thwack when the stick hits the puck. It excites me and it depresses me. I admire fan loyalty, be true to your team! and I enjoy the energy of the crowd. The commonality of cheering for a team is one of camaraderie that is lost in other areas of my life. I love being on a winning or losing side, because we are in it together.

There is a side of me that practices the Tao of Muppets. It isn’t a mainstream religion or Kermit-two1occult practice but it teaches humanity. Every single movie, tv episode, short or ad portrays The Muppets as a group of beings who embrace the difference in others. In fact, that is what makes individuals unique. Muppets are not haters or racists they are peaceful and loving. I appreciate this attitude. I want to surround myself with others who embrace this attitude as well. Not all 48 year olds do, but lots of Millennials do. I admire that quality. I want friends who don’t try to poke holes in people who announce their sexual orientation. Who understand that trauma is just that, trauma and people who have had traumatic experiences don’t need to have someone picking at their scabs. I want to be with people who understand that Women’s Issues are hard to understand if you are a White Privileged Male. Empathy is good, criticism feels crappy. Acceptance is preferred.

25893709There is a side of me that thinks books are an opening into another realm. Quote literature and I am impressed, quote movies and I think you have a good memory but don’t expect me to follow your reference. I don’t work that way. I am a reader. I have read 20 book since January 1, 2016. That means I have not watched many movies or TV shows because I learn far more from reading than I do from watching. I think its great that you spend your free time doing what you like to do, I spend my free time reading because that is what I like to do. I love the way a line from a book will resonate with me and linger for years. I have a notebook filled with impactful quotes from books such as Steve Martin’s Shop Girl, David Leviathan’s Everyday, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth Strout’s My name is Lucy Barton. I will read these over and over because they resonate with me and make me feel as if I am not alone in my thoughts. There is another person out there who is the same. Because feeling like you belong somewhere is important. It helps give your life meaning and purpose.

IMG_0579There is a side to me that enjoys fine wine. Not to drink until I cannot think, but because the taste and craftsmanship is exquisite. Understanding the process of how it became to be. Learning how it enhances the food I eat. Appreciating the beauty that it is. Sharing wine in a meaningful way brings me closer to friends who appreciate it in the same way. The relaxing way a glass of wine can define an evening is delightful.

images-7There is a side of me that loves to visit the Art Gallery. Looking at the works of people who came before me who displayed their raw emotion on the canvas in from of me moves in a way that other genres just don’t. I can feel the emotion that went into so works and I am moved to tears by others. This brings a connection that has me thinking about lives and commonalities. How the past and future collide with sameness. I love meeting people in the galleries and discussing the works of artists. Other points of view are uplifting and poignant.

There is a side of me that understands the need to run. I love the feeling it gives and the Me an my angelside benefits. I love the familiar faces you see race after race. I love the openness of my lungs after running on a cool crisp or even cold day. I love spending my time with people talking about races and events they want to do or have done. I even understand why people need running teams and need to train with others. I do not prefer this, but I sure understand this. I love the independence of running. I have never enjoyed team sports. Get me alone on a path with my pup and let my mind run free. To me this is one of the best feelings and I miss it.

There is a side of me who thinks it is important to either work in a job that makes impactful changes on the world we live in or give of your free time do make a difference. Being kind, helping others and supporting people who need a hand up will change you life in ways you can not imagine. Working with like-minded individuals on a common goal is so rewarding when it sees the light. This feeds my soul.

There is a side of me who thinks Family First needs to be a way of life. My heart breaks for children and animals who have been neglected by adults in their life who cannot do better or choose not to do better. If I could I would round up all children and animals who need to feel the hug of a loving mom and move them to a farm and hug them all the time. So in an effort or do the best I can, I rescued my puppy. I volunteer my time to support children and families. I used to work with children and families who needed support, but PTSD is a real affliction when you work with trauma cases for years. For my well being I removed myself because I could no longer see myself. I need to feel strong before I can do more. So now I work in my hobby and I volunteer where society needs me. This is a better mental health fit for me.

Looking over my list of who I am, I can honestly say these areas are not exclusive to 48 year olds. I have diverse interests and because of this, I have a diverse range of friends. I hardly think this means I am immature, quite the opposite. I am not the square peg that fits into the square hole. You might not understand this yet, but you will eventually.

 

Yuge!

I was scrolling through my feed today and came across two very different posts from women friends of long ago whom I still admire greatly.

One has always been afraid of living huge (YUGE! with a Scottish dialect) and she has found herself taking risks and trying out new things in pursuit of her dreams and goals. I am excited for her. She has so much laid out in front of her that is ripe for the picking. The other has always lived huge, not afraid of risks and trying new things. She has had to pull back and cocoon her family. Nurture them and care for them at the expense of her goals. I love this about her. Her life is intertwined with her family, therefore she is holding them close.

Both women are strong, brilliant feminists.

I have been so inspired by both these women. They have embraced the fear and made positive choices because the need is greater than the fear.

I have been licking my wounds lately. There is something so peaceful about pulling back, reflecting and taking that quiet moment before moving forward.

Fear is a powerful deterrent.

Fear is a huge obstacle.

It is getting in my way of moving forward.

I am in the processes of figuring out some things, like if the current trajectory I am on is the best for me. There are things I really like about it but currently there are things I dislike about it more. So is it worthwhile still pursuing?

That is the thing about goals. I feel the need to see them through, I hate quitting. But if it doesn’t feel right and is stressful, is it worthwhile? Will the feeling of accomplishment be worth it in the end when the people you are working with have a very different point of view? Will we meet the end goal in just a different way than we first thought? Maybe.

I miss living huge.

I have done so many amazing things and my last amazing thing put in a place where I have to pull back on the huge part. I ran out of money to do huge. By no means is money the part that gives a huge meaning to my life, it just really helped with checking off the bucket list items.

I think my problem is I do not have a goal in front of me that I feel like pursuing. That is a big deal. I have not lived with a goal in front of me for 6 years. I feel lost.

There was a time where physical goals were my focus. That has changed to some degree. I have been given the green light to pursue a 5km. Something I am not all that sure I care very much about other than it is important for my health to keep moving. I have lost my mojo towards it. I am sure it has something to do with the fear of the excruciating pressure that builds up in my brain when I do this. So for now, walking is lovely, but it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment.

Education was a huge goal for me. I still think I want to go further in pursuit of Women in Leadership. But that takes cash that I cannot ask my family for.  I can always go back. This one will wait for me. Universe…when you have some spare cash laying around, throw it my way so I can go to Royal Roads please.

Career goals. My career is on track, I quite like what I do and the people I work with. It doesn’t keep me up at night and it is diverse enough to keep me entertained without boredom. What more could someone ask for? Oh right, a raise…. A raise would help with my lack of cash issue. But as quality of life goes, it is pretty darn great.

Family goals. I finally feel like I can worry less about my children and let them figure out their stuff. My son complained to me that I was “too chill” and I let him be too independent when he wanted to be held closer. Well, sorry? I knew independence was best for him AND me in the long run, so that is what I did. We had major bumps along the road but he is standing on his own two feet currently. Sure I will catch him if he needs me too, but right now, it is sweet relief that he is well sorted and on his way. My daughter is not too far behind, she has goals laid out before her and is in hot pursuit of them. I worry about her much less than her brother because she also communicates very well and I know what is going on with her. She is golden.

House goals. My house is in need of some TLC. Paint, flooring, furniture and a roof. I will paint it this summer. Bring it back into its former glory. Then perhaps sell it, or not. I don’t want to live in the burbs. But I am not so sure I want to live in this city either. This is where I feel restless. I feel like I am in limbo and get resistance from other members of my family when I bring up the subject of moving.

Friendship goals. I started a book club because I am searching for intellectual conversation about fictional worlds and how they relate to the world around us. This is a good substitute for the Education I am wanting. I am also on the lookout for a book club of strangers – perhaps at my local bookshop. I want to discuss books, not participate in social events. I don’t want to get too close to more people, but I want to hear what they think. This may be a tall order. People in my experience tend to get emotional and social at these kinds of events. Emotional discourse fatigues me. I have “cleaned house” of the people who have me sitting in anger. I don’t want that for my life. I want peace. I want to stop hurting every time I go do something that is supposed to be fun.  Perhaps I am not cut out for lots of people in my life. I do prefer the company of silence. But I know I am self-destructive too. When something cuts to the quick, I am dump it and fast. Maybe I need more of the same rather than different. Finding people who share the same values as me is harder than I thought. I value Loyalty, Kindness, Respect and Honesty. I give these and expect them in return. I am shocked and disgusted with the political discourse in the United States. Why is being kind and respectful such a hard thing for people?

values

So this leaves me no closer with my want of HUGE. I feel like I am treading water trying to find land.

I think perhaps if I fill my life with structure the goals may manifest before me.

  • I will set aside Sunday Mornings for time with my writing. It is painful right now, I have got to the part where there is conflict and it makes me cry as I write it down. I think this is the best I have ever written so the emotional strife I am feeling is worth it.
  • I will set time aside on Saturdays to explore my world with my pup. I am a better human to live with when I ground myself in the parks of Edmonton. I will visit every River Valley Park this summer. Apparently there are 20, that is a good start. Maybe I will reinstate the traditional Family Picnic we used to do every Friday night.
  • One closet at a time. I need to simplify, I am going to purge one closet/cupboard/storage at a time until my world is free of clutter. This always makes me sleep better. I want to be minimalist where my family is not. Today I will tackle the space under the sink.

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Like it or not, I now have 3 goals laid out before me. The meditative tasks of two of them will likely help me figure out how to live large once again. Pulling back and focusing on smaller pursuits may be just what I need after my large adventure of last year. It should help with the big obstacle of fear standing in my way. Thank you my friends for being such lovely inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

Chchchchanges

I have that David Bowie song in my head ….Chchchchchchanges….

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

 

As much as I hate to admit this, I will always be that girl who is seeking approval from everyone. Whether I get approval or not, I still seek it because I don’t feel like I ever get it.

When I hear people giving me support, I am not all convinced it is genuine. It doesn’t matter who it is from. If its from my mom – she says one thing, I hear another. I assume everyone is comparing me to the better/stronger/smarter/richer person they know. I worked with a man who gave me great advice about 10 years ago, he said “You have to take people at their word, take it at face value.”  Yes but – multiple meanings, undertones, knowing what people have said before in the past all add up and then you hear what they say so it becomes multi-faceted.

It gets tiring. It eats away at me.

I will never be someone else. As much as I want to or desire it because that means I am better/stronger/smarter and lets throw in prettier, that isn’t who I am. I am that same wounded little girl with terrible hair and mean friends, and when I say friends, I mean people who I would play with because I didn’t know anyone else.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Things have changed a bit this week.

I have struggled with change. I have wrote about it before. I told you about a crossroads that I am facing. I need to make some choices if I am going to move forward.

To do this I need to trust what people tell me is true. And quite frankly I just don’t. Lie to me on a regular basis and I am thinking you want me to be better/stronger/smarter/richer/prettier because you hide something from me. I assume it has to do with me ( because I have a huge ego and its always about me – I am rolling my eyes. I am super insecure and overconfident all at the same time) because as Miss Mimi says, “Lies take away people’s dignity.” I clearly am not important enough in your life to trust me with your truths. Therefore I am not better/stronger/smarter/richer/prettier.  I will never be as successful as my sister – not that it matters to me or her, although I do covet her deck and her red appliances. I will never be the top executive of the company I work for because  – who wants the headache? I will never be that gorgeous fit woman because it take time and effort to look like that and I have children, a job and interests that expand my brain, not my muscles. I know it is possible to have both, but then I give up time and my time is valuable to me. My body has never looked like that, so the work involved to get there is more than I am willing to put in.But it feels like I am expected to be that way.  I have to be enough at some point and if I am not I need to move on.

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There is something about me that has people I don’t know very well tell me things about people I care deeply about. I suspect these gossips do this for a couple of reasons. None of which is in my best interest. So I purged my friends list and blocked all of those who say things, truth or not, just to be hurtful. I don’t need that kind of negative stuff in my life, I can create enough of my own drama thank you very much. I finally got rid of the mean fake friends.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

The changes I made brought me to a strange peaceful centre. I have turned inward and focus on my immediate surroundings. I have slept through the night since I made this decision. That alone tells me I did the right thing. That Precarious Gait said something that resonates with me – [who are we kidding, she always speaks things that resonates with me. I wish she was my neighbour so I could pop into her kitchen and cry my eyes out and she would pour me a coffee and say – I know EXACTLY what you mean.] She said when you talk about something with out crying that means you have finally healed.

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Can I have an Amen?

I have stopped crying when I tell my story.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

Does that mean I have closed the door on that chapter of my life?

No, but the door has been renovated. It doesn’t have swing hinges on it anymore for easy access. There is a really nice doorbell you have to press. Then please speak clearly into the intercom so I can understand your intent before I let you in. I am much more careful with myself now. I can’t listen to my heart because its really stupid and my brain does not let me down …ever. I am being smart about my choices.

I need to be smart about work, friends, and choices. What I want and what is attainable is very different currently. I can no longer expect something because I want it to be true. I need to do the best with what I have and then maybe one day, it can be what I want. For now it is enough…just like me.

When it stops being enough, its time to move on.

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Changes have helped me lick my wounds. All the changes I have made in my life up until this moment have expanded my knowledge and have me looking at things with a new perspective. I regret nothing. I look at my daughter and wish I was more like her when I was her age, but I am more like her now that I am my age. She has taught me lots. Although people say the opposite is true.

At any rate, “Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man”

Or embrace the fact that I am Christmas Lights and not Flowers.