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Inspiration Where & When You Least Expect It

"It'll come along when you least expect it. Work on you and it will work itself out." ~Tony Gaskins~
“It’ll come along when you least expect it. Work on you and it will work itself out.”
~Tony Gaskins~

Today someone I have never met in person left a message on my voicemail that absolutely made my day.

They were thanking me for one of my blog posts. Apparently we all like to feel like we’re not alone out here in the vast cosmos of, “Whiners, losers, potheads and boozers”, as my musician friend Dean would croon. In plainspeak, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who are good. G.O.O.D. Good as in they care about how they show up in the world every day.

When I most needed a little reassurance, it came by way of this very kind phone call. Thank you.

Another person who began their relationship with me on the wrong foot has turned into a mentor of sorts. Younger, male, and seemingly aloof, he took time out of his day to encourage my latest fitness project; getting my big ol’ hiney into my summer skirts.

Yet again, a make-work project became the cause of me rooting through my black-tie-appropriate dresses, and finding out that, TA-DAH!!! I’ve lost enough winter fluff to fit into a dress that made me look like a large black silk sausage at Christmas time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still need loving support and encouragement. For instance gentlemen, St. Patty’s day is coming gentlemen, and a lovely bouquet and bottle of Irish whiskey would not go unacknowledged should they magically appear on my desk Tuesday morning. You know, just in case you have a yen to spoil me a bit. But I digress…

I have Irish blood pumping through my very strong and determined veins, and I will not let a few feel-good moments distract me from my mission; continuing on in the world confident and determined to carry my own personal brand of excellence wherever I roam.  Even if it’s just to the gym or out on the trail. But you know me don’t you darlings? I will carry it much, much further than that.

Keep your chin up out there folks. You are fabulous. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

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Personal Leadership & The Leaders Who Lack It

wolfbreathThere is nothing worse than a person with power who lacks leadership. Take, for instance, most world leaders today. Most are egomaniacs with a side of masochism. Et voila! Welcome to the modern world of faster, more and who gives a damn.

This is your call to action. Each day we wake up and participate in the false global economy, and dawdle off to our nine-to-five so we can pay our bills, we have a choice. We can silently let the world and all of the unfairness in it go by, or we can choose to act in a way that honours our human instinct ( I do believe it’s an instinct) and follows the golden rule. In other words, we can be selfish wahoos, or individual leaders standing up for what’s right.

There have been times in my life when I’ve come home from school or work, ready to throw in the towel.

I have what I believe to be reasonable standards when it comes to how I treat other people, and how I expect to be treated. I expect to be treated with respect, and like to do the same to the people I encounter on a daily basis.  I do my best not to complain, gripe, gossip or bring negativity to the room when I enter it. After all, isn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t make your gut clench with anxiety or reach for a tissue? Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, we are in situations with ‘leaders’ who have about as much couth as a coyote in a henhouse. The ability to lead has very little to do with experience, education or seniority. It has to do with personal philosophy, spiritual cultivation, and knowing oneself. Now expecting those qualities from someone, my darlings, is having high expectations.

As I’ve aged (and yes, leaders with no leadership ability is exactly the type of thing that ages me), and matured, I’ve come to realize that trying to change, explain to, or negotiate with a person in power who lacks leadership is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s like wearing mascara to the steam bath. It just gets messy and ugly in a hurry.

The issue becomes not whether you can change someone else, it becomes how well you are able to know yourself, and control your own reactions. I had two great pieces of advice given to me when I was a teenager chomping at the bit of independence; first of all, you don’t go anywhere if you don’t step forward, secondly, and I quote, “Sweetie, there will always be assholes.”  I grew up in the country, this wasn’t really considered cursing, it was just a matter of fact.

If you too find yourself spending time brooding over someone who consistently and more frequently displays a lack of true leadership, don’t do anything. The reality is, you need to do and say nothing. You need to buck up, carry on, and not let anyone rock the firm foundation of who you are or what you stand for. You do not need to argue, rant, run or cry. When it comes to jobs and relationships, give it a thorough analysis, because wherever you go, an idiot will be there. I’m not saying stay in an abusive situation, but try not to take it personally.

Eventually, you do learn that it really isn’t you, it’s them, and oh my, how they must suffer living in such misery.

By doing nothing, not reacting, or buying the kind of crazy that leadership-lacking-leaders are selling, you create this little zone of discomfort. It’s in that zone, when leaders cannot affect your own control over yourself, that they get a little woozy. You see, they thrive off your discomfort, and when you cut that little supply of nourishing misery off, they starve.  If none of their bullying tactics work,  it may prompt a little self-reflection. Don’t bet on it though. Just bet on yourself, and don’t forget sweetie, “…there will always be assholes.” Don’t let them recruit you.

YOU LEARN

by: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Do not let a leader who lacks personal leadership spoil your day. As the great Jimmy Buffett once sung, “…breathe in, breathe out, move on…”

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Joy, Fear & Life As We Know It

bethemselvesandwinLife can be pretty crappy sometimes. It can be pretty freaking amazing too.

Having just had an absolutely amazing, rejuvenating holiday, I came back to the same house, the same job, and the same-old-same-old-everything. It was at best anti-climactic, and at worst depressing as hell.

But I knew this would happen. It always does. The reset-button on life gets hit during my holidays, and when I come back to the cold, earlier-than-jesus-wakes-up-alarm-clock, dissatisfaction and depression take up residence like Gertrude Stein hosting a salon. It’s here to stay until someone comes up with a brilliant idea which usually takes blood, sweat and tears to execute and bring into being.

Life and everything about it can either be wonderful or awful. It is a matter of perspective and practice. As pithy as it sounds, the vast majority of the time, it’s a choice. Most of the time attitude has more to do with how we perceive elements in our life; relationships, career, personal development.

The workplace seems to be a grand microcosm of our little places in the vast universe. There are always people who are positive, and people who see the glass as perpetually less than half full. I’ve always believed that the people who are positive just have a different processing mechanism, not that they are naïve to what’s going on around them. They have chosen a rose-tinted lens through which to see the world.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for stupidity”, I’ve said more than once.  Even as adults in our secluded career worlds, it’s the survival-of-the-fittest mentality that often slithers beneath the politically correct surface. The idea of personal leadership is important to my work ethic, and sometimes, like when I get back from a vacation, I need to remind myself of that. I need to remind myself that I have a choice about life, and although I’m just beginning to lay the mental groundwork for some changes, I have to be in the moment here and now.befuckingbrave

Why not smile? Life is now. As in: right now. This very moment as I type on my old keyboard, sip coffee out of one of my favourite mugs, and feel slightly guilty that my house is in disarray again. Check that – always. Life is happening right now. This one precious life.

Perhaps my dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety have all been popping in to remind me that fear is a great trickster. Anticipating change and new life-stages is scary and inspiring all at once.

Distraction is the go-to emotion when silence, and fear meet in our psyche. Stillness is difficult and painful. That’s why we often go out and buy something bright to spruce up the house, have a lusty fling, drink too much wine or lash out with negativity and sarcasm.

Stillness helps, and so do good friends who meet with us for talks that include everything from sex to manicures.  It is a fine balance this wearing of rose-coloured glasses. If yours have slipped off like mine have, maybe you just need a really great friend to help you pick them up, dust them off, and put them back on your beautiful face.

 

 

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Customer Service: The Art of Joy

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Goose. Yep. That was the message delivered from the ‘Animal Spirit Guides’ deck that was gifted to me this past Christmas.

Goose? When I think of a goose, I think of the absurd waddling they do, their plump bodies, and the way that they disguise their natural survival instincts with the appearance of total oblivion to anything other than pooping on paved park paths and wandering in circles.

This was my first week back to reality after two weeks of holiday time, away from the office, social media, housework, parenting, and anything else that required attire more formal than a bathing suit.

Having been a good-girl, I came home with some extra spending money, and decided that I could afford to treat myself to a dress that I saw while visiting The Bitter End. So, I ordered it. What ensued has been a miserable experience with HiHo Clothing’s Customer Service department, and an even more frustrating time with UPS. Lessons learned; just buy the damn dress, use FedEx, buy local.

What does this experience have to do with the Goose totem? Well, frist of all, I thought of the saying, ‘Silly
Goose’, which in my wee little girl brain means a doddering woman who is naive, and weak. Drawing the Goose totem also meant just taking an inward glance at my own attitude. A return to ‘real life’ always means kicking into high professional, domestic, and everything-else high-gear. In short, it sucked.

But why?” I asked myself over and over. Why did it feel so icky to be back to a life that I had created for myself? I love my job. I love my kid. I don’t live in a castle, but I also don’t have to shovel my own snow or mow my own grass, so it all evens out.

Satisfaction. That’s what I think it boils down to. I am very rarely satisfied with what I have, and continually strive to be better, to have more, to do more. What a lunatic!

Which leads me to believe that the atrocious lack of customer service at HiHo and UPS is a result of people showing up do to a job, get a pay-cheque, and leave to get back to their real life. It also likely means that the employees likely don’t have a great working environment, but that’s just my opinion. Rarely do satisfied employees metaphorically flip you the bird by hanging up on you or not responding to email. Satisfied employees have time to address customer questions and respond in a way that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Newsflash; Your job is your real life. Those moments on the clock are about being yourself and being of service to others, whether it’s solving problems, creating something brilliant, or cleaning up a bathroom stall so we don’t all die of some poop-bacteria-related disease.

So, as I caution you against the exceptional lack of customer service which abounds, I also challenge you to take a little look inside and ask yourself if you too are being a customer service asshole (that’s French for being useless).

Watching myself transform into an uptight-bot within 24 hours of arriving back to my ‘real world’, I took the advice of the Goose. I slowed down, took a look around and marveled at just how far I’d come, and with that attitude, I carried on with my week, trying to be kind, at work, home, and everywhere else. Most importantly, I reminded myself that it’s ok to relax, breathe deeply and trust my own value.

Doing that doesn’t make me a weak, naïve woman. It makes me healthy, helpful, and energized.

So go on ladies, dare to be a goose. Dare to create a life you life with joy.

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That’s What Living Means To Me

vonnegut1As you read this, I’m perched somewhere out in the ocean, looking out on a perfect horizon.

Taking a break from every-day life has given me some much-needed perspective.

Too often we over think our feelings, and worry what others will think if we choose one path or another.

What I’ve learned so far is that those people who are critical are not your friends. Your friends are the ones who think you’re crazy, but stand on the side lines and cheer you on when the rest of the world thinks that you’ve gone mad, or at least off your meds.

vonnegut2Take chances. Fall in love; head over heels, madly in love. Trust your heart when it comes to loving, not your head, or the ‘should be’ angel on your shoulder.

Create, take chances, and try something new when you go to work. The world needs people who aren’t afraid to be human and who love waking up in the  morning.

The world needs more passionate lovers instead of people checking off a list of invisible boxes of what a relationship should look like, and what kind of material security it can buy in this world.

 

 

vonnegut3The world needs kindness and compassion and humour and joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wish for you today is that you find a moment or two to stop and listen to what your heart is telling you. Is it telling you to play it safe, or run for your life? Is it telling you to work harder at a relationship, or is it screaming, “Last call”?

Take a few minutes and listen to the silly man who makes a living doing what he loves for people who are happy he followed his dreams.

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Departures & Arrivals

"There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go." ~Tennessee Williams~
“There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go.”
~Tennessee Williams~

When I was a younger lady, I used to love spending time at the airport people watching. I was fascinated by where everyone was going and why. I loved to try to figure out  travel-companion relationships, and how people behaved while they were neither here nor there.

When you travel alone, airports offer a place to be in limbo.  Mothers and fathers try to impose order; naps, snacks, washroom rituals, but adults who travel on their own are a fascinating bunch to observe because they have no one else to be but themselves.

This morning at my spa appointment, I learned about my aesthetician coming to Canada as a refugee. It’s always fascinating to hear stories about how people came to be who they are, and what hard lessons they learned along the way. Outside of the waxing room, with my tootsies being pampered in a lovely, hot foot spa, and my shoulders being massaged, I relaxed into watching the movie that was playing.

Today I was almost tempted to ask for a manicure to go along with my pedicure so I could watch the ending. But I kinda had it figured out already, so I saved my twenty bucks for an airport breakfast tomorrow.

The movie was about a successful adult woman who woke  one morning as if just waking up from her 13th birthday party. It was a sweet story about reconnecting with her childhood sweetheart, and how the meaning of success gets twisted into something unrecognizable as we mature into adults.

Flashback to my 13 year old self. Where was I? Who was my best friend? What did I want out of life when I was 13?

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what we wanted when we’ve been through so much living and heartache. What we seem to forget as adults is that we need as much love and nurturing now as we did when we were those starry-eyed kids.

I think about how much I work to be ‘successful’, and how one-dimensional that word has become in our culture of glorifiying being busy and having ‘stuff’.

Success, I suppose, means being in the present, and realizing that today, this very moment, might blend in with other memories of living, but at some point, if we’re lucky, we will remember today as one of the best days of our life, from a time when we were younger, more energetic and still had our friends with us.

We depart relationships and life-roles to arrive at others, sometimes years later, without having realized how much time has passed, and who we have become.

As I find a quiet place at the gate, waiting for my connection, I think I may find my mind wandering to those ideas of success I once had, what success means to me now and how I might go about finding more balance between being nurtured and expending my emotional energy.

For a good number of sunsets over the tiny islands in the Caribbean Sea, I will be toasting my vitality, and what it means to live from the heart, with integrity and joy.

Bon voyage my friends! xo