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.

Things and Stuff

Cluttered-House

I read an article on Facebook today that discussed how Millennials are telling their Boomer parents to keep their crappy stuff as they downsize.

Damn, I needed to say that. I have a giant oak dinning table in my basement.

Apparently, the two very different generation’s values are in different places. The younger generation wants to spend their money on experiences while their parents want stuff.

Me, being a child of a boomer yet old enough to fall on the tail end of boomer-dom, although technically I am a Gen-xer, I fall somewhere in between. I have a lot of toys. I love my lego, my T.A.R.D.I.S, and my Vinylmation. I have Muppets and Doctors. Yet, I would give them all up for a chance to travel on a regular basis.

According to people I know, I travel a ton. I am always going somewhere, while this is true to a degree, I do not travel near the amount I would like to. My parents are in China, and my daughter is in Europe. My plans for the rest of the year are The Rocky Mountains, a road trip down the Pacific Coast, and a fall trip to a Wine and dine Festival in Florida. Not too shabby since I have already been to Florida this year. I am happiest when I am planning to travel or actually traveling.

This leaves me with a problem.

I have a giant house I do not want. I do not want to be saddled with the stuff that surrounds me. Most of it is cast offs from others…somehow I end up with it because no one knows what to do with it. I have a suitcase filled with electric massage things from the 70’s. Why? An uncle moved into a nursing home and somehow my home has his things in it. I have a sectional from the 50’s that was my grandmothers. If I had the money to spare, I would recover it because it is currently gold velvet… not my choice but I would rather fly to New York to than spend the cash on fabric. So I suppose it IS my choice.

We are looking at downsizing.

Sure my kids still live with me and will for a while yet. But does that mean I need to live in the burbs? I hate it here. It is FAR from my playground. I love to run in the river valley and need that sense of urban/nature uniqueness. I do not like the cookie cutter sameness of my neighbourhood.

Why did I choose it?

Good Question.

I think partly because it was expected. My husband is older and has generational values of a boomer. Home in the burbs, 2 cars, and family heirlooms. I agreed because for a long time I didn’t know what I wanted or I went along with the idea because it is what one did.

I picked this house because it was the best compromise. It was not my dream home.

My dream home is a 3 bedroom condo on the 11th floor of a high-rise overlooking Vancouver/New York or some other coastal Urban city. Is that the dream my family shares? Hells no.

So what does one do when you live in a shoe? Good Question.

Does anyone want my Royal Dalton China I never use? Or how about the Scrapbook room full of tools and papers? or how about the bins of toys my children do not want to part with? I have a basketball hoop and an Air Hockey table, then there is the Christmas decorations  that I never want to put up again or the Halloween decorations that people keep giving me. I HATE HALLOWEEN! STOP GIVING ME STUFF!

I kind of want to sell everything, but then I think, I should just give it away. I wish I had a home filled with things I wanted rather than things that I accepted because I didn’t really want anything anyways… or I lacked the cash because Id rather travel.

At any rate, the next time you come to my house and you see something you love. Take it. Everything is up for grabs expect my toys, my art and dog.

2015: The year of the big purge.

With Great Failure comes Great Learning

Bansky-Flower-Brick-Thrower.

I am ready to say good-bye to 2014. It has been not as difficult as I think it was but it has been challenging both physically and emotionaly. I have not been able to finish any race healthy. Not one, not even a 5km distance. This frustrates me beyond words and I have learned more about self-love, self-kindness and patience in a single year than I have learned over my lifetime.

Rise-of-Banksy

Emotionally it was strange not to have to juggle school and life. But I learned about work and life in ways that I had never experienced before. My new job taught me more about empathy and compassion than one might think…especially since I was a teacher of young children with special needs and circumstances that was unbelievable to most – yet all true. The job I have now is not my ‘dream job’ because I have no idea what that means anymore. I like lots of thing about it, hate lots of things about it, but mostly it keeps me busy, validates that I am great at some things and not so great at others and work for a gentleman who in all respects has taught me more about empathy, compassion and self then any other human I have worked for.

banksy-la

I have worked for some people who were just mean, some who worried endlessly over what others thought of them, they failed to do the right thing, some who were ambivalent and some whose values clashed with mine so severely…I had to leave.

5389066712_63fcb7c8a1_z

Values are important to me. I have learned that compromising values means compromising self. I am worth too much to compromise self. I no longer struggle with what others think or assume. I could honestly care less – unless that person is someone I value. Then I step back and examine my actions.

I failed at that this year.

Skurktur-5

I stumbled upon the artwork of Banksy today and his urban art made me really think about my humanity in ways I haven’t explored before. I discovered that I’d rather be the kind human rather than the judgmental busybody. Flipping through Banksy’s art had me thinking about my dad and how he always said, “It never hurts to be kind and polite. You don’t have to agree with people, but kindness goes a long way.”

14-window-lovers

I discovered a truth this year that shook me to my core. I felt like a fool, I couldn’t believe the impact of the findings could devastate me the way they did. Over a period of many years I thought “IT” was true only to discover that I was duped. Had I know about ‘IT’ when it happened, my life would be very different today. I feel like I wasted so much of my life…if only I had known. If only….

So that left me with some choices. I immediately was angry, hurt and judgemental. When I think about it still, I get very angry. Letting it go has been incredibly difficult. One side of the story was easier for me to be empathetic towards than the other. But when I examined both very carefully, I realized I understood the why and was able to let the anger go and morph it into something akin to pity. How much easier it would have been to know the truth right from the beginning. Clearly this was Karma teaching me a life lesson.

banksy-lies-politics

I have distance myself from the incident. It clashes with values I have and if others don’t share them, then perhaps they weren’t the friends I first thought they were. I have worked hard at not judging. HARD. I never want to be that bitter old woman clicking her teeth because I have judged.

Because I like the human compassionate side of me more than the angry mean side of me, I reached out to one of those friends today.

images-2

I want her to know I understand her loneliness, I understand her need to feel desired and wanted. I understand her not feeling important. I also want her to know, she can do better. There are things she can do to change her life. She isn’t stuck where she is. The choices she made will not rescue her. He isn’t real. That is the fake him and he can’t be trusted.

I suppose that is why it hurt so much. I know the fake him and I guess don’t know the real him.

I learned a very hard lesson a few years ago about honesty and empathy. Empathy is the key. Putting yourself in other’s shoes becomes an impactful reason for honesty IF THESE PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU.

If they aren’t then the questions remain: Why do you stay? Why is everything a secret and for crying out loud, why are you lying?

The answer is simple.

You are afraid of hurting. You may be afraid of hurting yourself or the other person, but either way it makes you scared.

Simple truth.

If it has to be a secret, it is hurting someone.

As difficult as this year has been, my grinchy heart grew three sizes this year.

And what happened then–well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches–plus two.

grinch_heart_grew_two_sizes_tshirt

Cayman Islands or Glitter in the Air?

Have you ever?

Glitter in the air
Glitter in the air (Photo credit: chasezzz)

Yes or No?

What the freak are you talking about? Well… I spent my day chilling at Teachers Convention. This was the first time in Years that I have come away with thoughts that apply to me personally. Often it is stuff that I need to adapt for me or my classroom. Today the underlying message was values and what do YOU value. When it boils down to it, I value Trust, Kindness and Empathy. The interesting thing about these values is I have to compromise them often. One wouldn’t think so, but how I see Trust, Kindness and Empathy is not the same way others see it. Just like when I think of positive selftalk – other people think they are being positive…but it’s not the same to me.

One of these sessions was a slide show presentation with Pink’s Glitter in the Air playing in the background. I had never really stop to think about the lyrics until I saw pictures to go with each line. This gave me pause and nearly moved me to tears. Here I had spent a large part of my day distracting my thoughts by saying “Cancel that” in my head. When I say stuff in my head people can’t hear me…often. Where were my thoughts? Cayman Islands. Why? Lots of reasons and most of them you can guess. I tried to be present and by saying “Cancel That” to my thoughts, it became easier to focus. Listening to the lyrics made me think about what I had done or not done with my life. It made me think about compromising my values. Trust, Kindness and Empathy. Trust is one I have the hardest time adhering to. Trust and Honesty are close cousins. Honesty is harder for me than Trust. Lets be frank, everyone lies. Honesty is hard. These lyrics made look closely at my values. It made me think about wanting a Mulligan.

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands? Yes

Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air? I had to think about it but yes!

Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don’t care? Not until recently, now I can say yes!

Have you hated yourself for staring at the phone? You betcha!

Have you ever been touched so gently that you had to cry? Yes, even thinking about it still makes me cry.

Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside? Yes…did I regret it? Never.

Have you ever wished for an endless night? Yes…did it happen? Of course not…I still think about that night and still wish it lasted forever.

Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself, Will it ever get better than tonight?

There came a point where I stopped asking and wishing. How would you answer these questions? Maybe I shouldn’t stop asking and wishing or maybe I need to act. At any rate I need to ask myself Will it get better than tonight? Hmmm….if everyone is searching for that elusive happiness how do you know you have it when you find it? It was suggested today that happiness is a series of benchmarks along the way. I have had quite a few happy moments. Although it’s been a while since I have had one. I miss them.

I am grateful for what I have. I am smart about the choices I am making. Yet I still  feel like I am missing that special something. That magic formula that says DING! Now you can be happy! Intellectually, I know that isn’t possible. Today was a good start. I see the goal, now I need to achieve it with many little steps along the way. Just to figure out how…

Now what do I do?

Canada
Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)

Sometimes I hear words spouted from people’s mouths and think… wow you aren’t the person I thought you were.

I am struggling with cultural values lately. Maybe it has more to do with society’s lack of empathy for others. It is happening at work, with friends and at home.  It very possibly could be me and I am not seeing the whole picture, but suddenly I am feeling like a minority in the way I think. This has happened to me before when I lived in Yellowknife, North West Territories.

I was 6. I was in Mrs. Long’s grade one class. I believe we were the only grade only class but I could be mistaken…I was 6 afterall. I was often one of only a handful of kids who went to school regularly – The aboriginal population would take their children off to the bush and hunt for long periods of time. That left 4 of us in class some days. Me, Maria, Admira (who was MEAN and stole stuff) and Doug – he would eat all the crayons left out. I remember hearing the teachers (who were primarily white middle class from southern Canada) talk about the aboriginal kids and if only the parents would send their kids to school on a regular basis, what a difference it would make to their future…. hmmm would it?

I hear myself saying the same thing in my classroom. This child needs to come to school everyday, what a difference it would make!

Sure it would. They would be able to speak English, have that advantage when learning to read, absorb my values that I deem important. Yikes… Who am I to say what this child needs? I like to think my values are typically Canadian. Girls can grow up and own property, vote, have a say in their lives. Girls should be able to run and laugh without having to worry what the boys might think. It feels like I have to fight for women’s rights all over again when all those women who came before me did a decent job…clearly it wasn’t enough.

I sat in my quite living room with my family last night talking about traveling to Eastern Europe. We talked about visiting Auschwitz in Poland. I want my children to learn about cultural oppression and feel its wrath and wrongness. A comment came up about the horrible feeling going back to Germany. Wait a minute…what? I need to educate my family on the difference between Nazis and Germans. I am German. I did not contribute to the Holocaust. I am helping the fight against wrong doing but teaching what happened to my children. I hear phrases like, how could they do that? Who the Germans or the Nazis? We don’t know what they were thinking being in that position. We can only learn from it and not do it ourselves.

Here I am in the 21st century, starting to feel like I am losing my cultural heritage and feeling helpless because the laws and policies of today are allowing freedoms of others and forcing me to be sympathetic to them…yet no one is seeing that I need the same consideration. I feel like I am drowning in a sea of political correctness while the wolves are being crafty and taking advantage of the good natured Canadians. It makes me want to leave. But where do I go?

Karmic payback for thousands of years? OR do I just not get it?