Nice Matters: A Shout-Out of Gratitude

peonyToday I’ve written a bit about mean, so let’s shake that crappy mojo. I’m going to  write about something more important; nice (aka kindness).

Kindness matters. It’s part of that grace thing that I’ve been trying master for a few years.  We get it right sometimes, and we get it wrong sometimes, but what matters is that we strive to get better at it.

It’s good for us. Just as good as a healthy diet, or eight hours of sleep. Nice makes our bodies happy and our spirits calm.

Lately there has been a lot of nice in my life. My ‘crazy’ family and friends have been generous in their support of my son’s flight from the nest. He as been encouraged, supported, and cheered on. As a mother, there is nothing better than knowing your child is thriving and that they have a solid support network or friends, mentors, coaches and family. Thank you for being nice.

I’m taking a little longer to adjust to the transition. I tear up daily, and am struggling with the transition of being totally dedicated to my kiddo to being totally dedicated, but from a distance. My friends have been kind and gentle and supportive. Thank you for being nice.

I have flooded my social media feed with proud mom moments and not once has anyone told me how annoying it is. Thank you for being nice.

This is a challenging transition year for me, once again wondering where I will live, work and mom from in a year. In advance to my friends and family; thank you for being nice.

 

 

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Empty Coffee Cans & Gas Tanks – The Small Costs of Living With Intention

 

empty_coffee_pot_blasphemy_in_the_morning_mugsThis morning I opened the top of the coffee container to find that someone had used all of my flavoured coffee while I was on vacation. In 2013, all of my delicious half-caf vanilla flavoured coffee would still have been there.

And without my current employment, I  also wouldn’t have been able to afford a little escape to worship the sun near the equator. So, I guess I’ll take the near-empty coffee can, thank you very much.

Without an awesome kiddo, I also could not have taken a break. I mean, how many parents feel comfortable leaving their kid home, with access to the car?

I am truly blessed.

Three years ago during my annual June life review (yah, I do it in June, don’t ask why…that’s another story for another time), I decided that there were a few things out of order in my life, and I set an intention to work toward them. One of them being a coffee-addicted-partner who leaves just enough of my favourite coffee for four cups and a kid who has such a busy social and sports schedule that he needs the car most nights. Good damn thing they’re both cute.

Lately I’ve been waking up with a health concern on my mind. First thoughts being hopeful; is it gone? No. Is it any better?

Health was at the top of my 2013 list, and I’ve been pushing my own self-care aside like most women do when they are juggling parenting, work and relationships. It’s evident that I need to adjust my priorities. It’s also evident that I can.

What I mean is, my life is pretty darn good right now (knock on wood).

So, if you are like me; A ‘Type A’ working mother with a creative streak, life can often seem overwhelming and time extremely limited to work on all of the clever projects that cultivate vital energy in us.

Just take a moment to let the piles of paper remain where they are. Take a deep breath and sit your ass down with a cup of tea. Count your blessings. If you don’t have that many, begin to think about what you need and how to get there. Live with intention despite being pulled in a million directions; resist distraction and carve out the time you need to apply for a new job, create a relationship with a loving partner, take a walk…

And be sure to be thankful for the near-empty coffee can and empty tank of gas. It’s all a matter of perspective.

 

Sunday Meditation: Every Day Ritual

takecomfortI wake up this morning of my own accord. There is no alarm clock, just time to be me.

But there is ritual in this nothingness, this casual waking and being.

I pad to the kitchen, stumble over my own feet, turn the patio blinds, come back to the enveloping embrace of my still-warm, duvet mountain of a bed and send up a prayer that I’ve come to realize I’ve been saying, in my own way, at my own speed, for many years. It is a prayer of gratitude.

And then my mind turns to wonder…this morning it’s about a lunch date with a an old flame, the pros and cons of moving, how much I’m looking forward to sprucing up my little corner of the world….

Wonder, the butler to her majesty; Curiosity.

Eventually I pour  coffee, a lot of coffee,  into one of my  oversized mugs that was gifted from friends, open the window over my writing desk, and sit down at the keyboard. My feline mentor scrambles onto the desk,past the plant that I barely manage to keep alive, and paws at the lace curtain until I lift it up, and place it over his head like a wedding veil. We both look out to the painting mother nature has created over night and breathe in the cool, fresh, morning air. .

This is my ritual. Every writer has one, and this is mine.

This morning, as I clock-watch and know that my time in front of the keyboard at my little window is short, I am grateful for my simple ritual. It grounds me just enough for inspiration to take root.

It grounds me just enough to turn anxiety into excitement, fear into courage, and sadness into a fading memory.

Giving Yourself the Moments

pandaplay

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all we ever have.” ~Eckhart Tolle~

Simultaneously I was voice-dialing my mumster and buckling my seatbelt when I was caught up in a moment.

Not a moment of city-driving-get-the-hell-outta-my-way. It was a moment of, “Ahhhhh…..” As in; big sigh of relief. Big sigh of, “I feel like I’m starting to pull myself together“.

After a long day, feet-throbbing, and 5:00 a.m. starts, I felt good. Satisfied, content, like maybe, just maybe I was ok.

As you all know, life has a way of knocking us around, and shaking our confidence. It also has a way of forcing you to surrender when the only fight you have left in you whispers, “I give up,” and then rolls over, gives your broken heart the finger, pulls the blankie over its’ head and goes to sleep.

Tonight, tired but happy, I gave myself the moment.

I let myself be grateful for just being where I was, simply in the moment. Grateful that I had a mumster to call, a kiddo to go home to, and especially that I have enough courage to keep moving forward.

We can only ever be certain of change, that our emotions can carry us to the most dark, frightening depths of the human condition and the loftiest heights of elation.

When we are in the moment; not anxious of the future or analyzing the past, we realize that it’s ok. We’re ok. Life is ok; As it is. Nothing less and nothing more.

It’s the Little Things

mabye it's caffeineSomeone recently suggested that yours truly was depressed. I insisted this was nonsense, and that it was surely just my  anxiety-overdrive that was making me more crazy than usual.

For ‘Type A’ personalities, anxiety is like being on alien-strength caffeine pills. My mind zips around like an Italian in a German sports car, making random stops and leaving a wake of unfinished business.

Believe you me, I don’t need someone pointing it out to me, I know. I live it darling, Anxiety and I are old friends. We relate intimately on a profanity-using-first-name basis.

The sad part is, it annoys the crap out of my loved ones. My constant; are you sure? Are you double sure? Are you triple super sure?, not only annoys the shit out of me, but I’m sure it makes them want to want to shove a gin and tonic down my throat, complete with an entire lime wedged at the opening of my trachea for good measure.

I think this is genetic, stemming from my maternal side. My granny used to ask you if you wanted something umpteen times, and when she finally heard the last no she could handle (being a giver can be so unsatisfying), she would respond by saying, “Well, suffer then!”. I think that was the Methodist in her. Thank the good lord that’s not genetic.

theastonishinglightWhen I get really anxious, and really aware of it, my twisted imagination kicks in, I fumble in the fog of my mind back to my meditation practice, and grasp at any cute little inspirational saying just to keep my thoughts from turning into a stomach-churning carnival ride from hell.

Today I decided to take stock of all of the things I’m grateful for, besides the biggies (my kiddo, my partner, my friends). I decided to be grateful for little things and to list them so that maybe it would help someone in the blogosphere remember to be grateful for little things to.

Here goes…

I’m grateful for;

  1. The gentleman at the fitness centre who was gracious enough to obey my panting request to turn on the air conditioning.
  2. That a book I wanted was actually on the shelf at the library when I went in.
  3. Ria Mae for an awesome song to distract my whirling thoughts as I drove back to the office from a meeting.
  4. That I only owed $2.35 for cancelling a gym membership that I never use…and that I finally remembered to cancel it.
  5. Remembering to put barrettes in my bag so that I could tame my humidity-loving-ringlets when I arrived at the office.
  6. Crazytown’s Lemonface for dragging my chubby buns through the last five minutes of my run.absolutelylovely
  7. Ok, I gotta go for the big ones; my partner my cousin and my besties L and the Amazing C for taking time to talk when they’ve got a plate full of life themselves.
  8. My blender and protein powder for being an easy dinner when I was feeling too meh, to cook for lonely little ole’ me.
  9. Letters to write to people I care about.
  10. The scent of my true love’s pillow.

Wishing you peace in your mind and in your heart.

The Ice Queen is Melting

Image found at yahoo.ca  from www.museuma.com

Image found at yahoo.ca from http://www.museuma.com

I used to cry. A lot.

Over things that I don’t cry about any more.

Life has a great way of putting our troubles in perspective, especially when you specialize in other people’s troubles.  Oh, the irony.

As I mature, I despair far less and have cultivated a bit more grace. More and more I find tears come during tender moments.

The past week has lent itself to situations that span the scale of joy and pain; giddy anticipation, disappointment, loss, and reunions.

Tonight I said good-bye to  dear friends. Friends who have been such a big part of our life here, that I’m sure without their love and support, our lives would be much different. As a single parent with no family, they were my savior when my little boy needed care on days he was sick and I had to choose between going to work or losing my job.  Four years ago they moved to the East Coast, and this is the first visit we’ve had face-to-face since then.

I couldn’t stop the tears when I hugged my friend good-bye. We spent the entire day cozy and warm as we watched the snow storm outside.

When you get a chance to spend time with a kindred-spirit, a true friend, and then must say good-bye, as inevitably you do, it’s heartbreaking.

Unlike ‘the guy’ earlier this week who thinks I’m made of stone, my friends gets me. That’s what true friends do.  We know that despite the dignified way we may carry ourselves, that each of us needs someone to give us a hug and tell us it’s ok.

As I hugged my friend goodbye I was sad to see her go and still so grateful for the time we had together.  Tears don’t always mean sadness, sometimes they just acknowledge the bittersweetness of life; the gratitude for the love we have, and the reality that that too is fleeting.

There are a lot of things that I don’t know, but one thing I can testify to is that we  never really know when we’re saying good-bye for the last time.

During the past week, I have been so very grateful for my friendships, for the abundance in our lives and the security of our little home. I am blessed. Sometimes tears are a way of expressing gratitude. After all,  even the Ice Queen must melt a little bit to shine.

Things I’m (NOT) Thankful For

"Hope is when you suddenly realize that reality sucks." ~Unkown~

“Hope is when you suddenly realize that reality sucks.”
~Unkown~

Thanksgiving, yet another opportunity to celebrate a holiday in the shadow of dysfunction.

If holidays are not your most joyful time, don’t feel alone. You have plenty of good company.

If you’re all alone behind closed doors, getting by on contraband prescription drugs and booze just like ma and pa used to, you’re in good company. It’s not that people won’t admit it, it’s just that they don’t remember in the morning.

Having hosted a wonderful get-together with friends yesterday, I have the remainder of the weekend to my glorious self, and the myriad of closed cafes which otherwise occupy my solitary, hermit-like lifestyle.

Oh, don’t give me that bullshit darling, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Loosen your pretty little peter-pan collar my dumpling, and belly up to a true tale of what a lot of folks suffer through every time Hallmark rings their celebratory bells.

Don’t worry my delicate little forget-me-nots, I will, eventually move on to a list of things that I am thankful for. After all, gratitude is highly prized by the LuluLemon set, and being ungrateful is just so very out of vogue and (gasp) ugly.

So let’s get on with this ugliness, shall we?

The first thing I’m not thankful for is my gimpy left index finger which I almost cut off in my rushed attempt to get thanksgiving dinner on the table after a 65 hour work week.

Yah, not thankful for that, seeing as writing is my great passion and it’s causing me to make all kinds of typos, which, for the purpose of authenticity, I’m tempted not to correct for the remainder of this post so you might experience my typing-gimp pain right along with me.

The second thing I’m not thankful for is surviving a childhood of learned poor coping and communication skills without even a smidgen of a  psychiatric diagnosis, therefore having to continually draw on my own human reserves to get through every, stinking lonely night sans any type of ‘____onazepam’.

The third thing I’m not thankful for is the shitty selection of movies on Sunday night television. Seriously Women’s Network, Sunday nights suck just as much as Friday and Saturday for single, middle-aged women. Don’t give me this how to decorate your home garbage. I want shirtless hunks wooing Sandra Bullock.

The fourth thing I’m not thankful for are invitations to dinner that come so very late that you know the host/hostess is banking on you not showing up, but having the politically correct right to say that they did invite you. Really? Don’t bother. Go choke on your butterball.

The fifth thing I’m not thankful for is having big boobs. That’s right, they get in the way, and manage to catch every single drip of contraband chocolate or ewey-goey goodness that you try to sneak. There’s nothing like having extra large ta-ta’s that scream, “I have food issues”.

Ok, that’s enough negativity. Let me move along to a list of the top ten things that I am thankful for during this glorious holiday;

1) Fat pants. Yes, elastic waste bands, and hell, why not, I’m gonna give a shout out to my non-underwire bra too. Thanks for sticking by me when everyone else is gone.

2) Fake Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Oh yah, comfort booze that’s affordable. They should just call it, O’Maybe’s….I’ll just drink the whole damn bottle.

3) That one relative who ‘gets me’. You know, the only other sane-insane person  you’re related to by consangquinity who doesn’t think you’re a raging, ignorant twat.

4) Honestly, I can’t come up with number four. Or five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten for that matter.

Frankly if you don’t like it, you can sod off like the rest of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude Schmatitude

tootsieJust steps from my laptop, ready to write this post about how annoying the recent trend of the ‘Gratitude Challenge’ is, I stumbled upon something sharp. When I bent down to look, it was a diamond and emerald pendant that I bought years ago while travelling with my best friend.  I was grateful that I had  found it before the cat or the vacuum.

And then my new-home-page popped up with reports of the first confirmed Ebola case in the U.S.A.  I was grateful that my loved ones aren’t in Texas, and to some extent, that I’d just placed two professional presentations on my desk about how I would need to be prepared for an Ebola outbreak here at home.

I work in a profession that was greatly impacted by the SARS epidemic, and know what it’s like to live in fear and be obligated to care for those affected.

So, writing a tongue-in-cheek post about gratitude-schmatitude seemed ironic because within 60 seconds I had felt deep gratitude not once, but twice.  It seemed somehow inappropriate to write a cynical post about gratitude, like I was mocking the universe.

But I do inappropriate so very well, and I believe we all need a break from the madness.

Universe, if you’re listening, I work and live from a place of deep gratitude every day. Please don’t feel that it’s necessary to teach me any lessons. Just have a laugh with the rest of us, and leave karma to do the serious work tonight.

My gratitude list for today;

1) That no one questions my need for coffee before anything else happens. Should there ever be questioning, there shall also be violence on the treacherous path to the coffee pot.

2) I found not one, not two, but three mini tootsie-roll candies in my dwindling candy dish today. Just enough chocolate to soothe the over-achieving, deadline striving, driven beast I pretend to be when I’m in my suit.

3) I put my undies on the right way today. Seriously. ‘Not a morning person,’ doesn’t even begin to tell my morning madness fairytale. When I wear pants instead of a skirt, I often make it half way to my car and then check to make sure I actually did put my pants on. I’m not kidding.

4) I bought the big bottle of wine Friday. The really big bottle.

5)  I don’t care any more. As in, I don’t give a rat’s ass. What I mean is, I take chances when it come to matters of the heart, and know that it’s better to have  been made a fool of in love than to have never made anything of it at all.

6) That I’m not married to or shacked up with a skirt chasing perv. Ew. My peers and I are too old for this to be cute. It’s just creepy.  Stop it. We have moustaches thicker than you do now. It’s gonna take more than words  for us not to devour you and spit you out like a teeny-tiny grape seed.

7) I’m also grateful for Sinead O’Connor lyrics that make me wonder if anyone could possibly ‘get‘ her like I do. You’d have to be a woman to get that.   Thanks Sinead for keeping it oh-so-real.

Wishing you o- so-much to be grateful for in this mad, mad world…xo

Friday Fifty: Suffering and Presence

crying-statueThis Friday fifty was inspired by my work in end-of-life care, and my own spiritual practice.

“I’m not afraid of tears. Not like everyone else seems to be. The expression of human suffering causes panic; I must do something! What the world needs is more humanity, empathy, and to cultivate presence. Suffering is not’ bad’ or wrong. It is a rich experience from which to grow.”

It’s  Friday Fifty! I’ve linked through another blog above, but I believe that this Friday Fifty was inspired by the Scottish Trust’s Fifty Word Fiction Competition.

If you’d like to give Friday Fifty a spin, you must play by the rules as posted at  dans les pointes suture darlings.  You can leave your fifty in the comments box  or post it on your blog and link back to this post.

Twitter etiquette for Friday Fifty on Twitter, then don’t forget to use the hashtag #Friday50. Happy Writing!

10 Things to do When Life Sucks

“You know it’s a bad day when you put your bra on backwards and it fits better.”
~Anonymous~

Most days are wonderful. I’m happy, I enjoy my home and my work. I like my friends. And then, there are other days. I’m not happy. I’m stressed, my job stinks and my friends are selfish. You know – those days when the words ‘gratitude’ and ‘passion’ make you want to gag, bundle them up in a burlap sack and send them to the bottom of the river tied to a cinder block.  So, my darlings, I offer you a  list of ten things to do on those days when you  find your gratitude tank empty, and your passion gasping for air; 

1) Take off all your clothes, and have a nap. Naked. With ear plugs in. You’ll be shocked at how much you needed a rest, and what a solid sleep a la mode will do for perspective. Get up and dance. Naked.

2) Run.  After half a kilometer or two your shoulders will relax, your breathing will go from angry warrior to focussed tiger, and the world will be right again.

3)Go out. Visit someone. Do not hole up in your home alone and continue hating the world. Go knock on your friend’s door, sit down, have a brew (beer or tea), and catch up. Pretty soon you’ll either a) be enjoying your conversation or b) realize how much you like time by yourself and leave, thereby regaining that drained gratitude – feeling grateful you are alone again.

4) Drive. Get on the highway and just flipping drive – your favourite music blaring, and no one in the world to bother you. Once you feel like you’ve ‘gotten away’ you’ll be surprised at what treasures you find in places close to home that you’ve never visited before.

5) Walk a dog. Once, during a really, really crapola day at work. I stopped on my lunch hour and visited a shelter. I told them that I was interested in adopting a dog. I picked one, and took it for a walk. The dog loved it. I loved it, and best of all, no long-term commitment.

6)Shut the door and put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’. If someone comes to your office door and asks why you don’t want to be disturbed, instead of looking at them and saying , “Duh!”, just say, “I’m doing very important work in here.” Close the door again and continue your quiet, solitary, work.

7) Meditate. Set your little smart phone for 30 seconds three times a day. You’ll be shocked at how long the thirty seconds of breathing meditation seems,and how centered and calm you feel afterward. Combine this with #6.

8)Buy yourself a yummy bottle of your favourite vino or bubbly and arrange for a very adult, very sweaty rendezvous at the end of the day. Precede that by a long, hot soak and the bottle of bubbly. Voila – instant stress relief, AND if you play your cards right, you’ve had a complete full body massage thrown in for good measure.  AND, you done something kind  for someone else, and doing a good deed  is supposed to be a top mood booster.

9)Put on your comfies and watch a good old-fashioned tear jerker if you need to facilitate some pent-up tears ( I hadn’t cried since November, and the flood gates opened last week). This is a pressure valve, and you need to loosen it once in a while. A sappy movie can be just the right medicine. Be sure to have tissues on hand  because blowing your nose into toilet paper or napkins isn’t very soul-cleansing or girly.

10) Read a romance novel. Oh don’t give me that look! Harlequin is the top-selling publisher in the world. Our lives are full of demands, work, kids, family and some not-so-satisfying relationships with the opposite sex. You deserve a little romance, and if you don’t have romance, you deserve to keep the hope alive that one day, you will have a little just for yourself.

Stay cool ladies; read, drive, dance, be naked, make love….and remember, life may suck some days, and it’s ok to give it a huge lollipop when it does.