voice inside my head

The voice inside my head, I should never listen to her.  The voice inside my head tells me things like what do you know, or who do you think you are? You’re just an imposter.  The voice inside my head is not kind.  She rarely has a kind thing to say about the things I am doing or the person I am.

There is another voice though.  The voice that I hear from outside of me.  The voice we rarely hear is our own when it has been recorded and played back.  The commentary from others who tell us that we do know what we are talking about and we are good at what we do.  This voice is not the one we listen to as much as we ought to though.

I recently had a task to record myself interviewing others.  The playback was astounding.  Who was that voice coming from?  Surely it wasn’t from me.  That voice sounds confident, put together, informed.  That voice sounds like someone who knows what she is doing.  No, it couldn’t be mine.  My voice doesn’t sound like that at all.  My voice doesn’t have the confidence of this one.  My voice sounds like a mouse, not like this one that I am hearing now.  So I played it again.  And again.  And again.

Those were my words.  I remember speaking them.  Those were my lips moving, forming the syllables, pushing the air through my lips and creating the sounds I hear.  How is it possible to sound one way in our own minds yet see and hear something so vastly different when it is on video?

Perhaps that inner voice doesn’t know what she is talking about after all.  Perhaps that negative and condescending inner voice should have a seat for a while and let that confident outer voice take over instead.

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Friday the 13th

Some people dread Friday the 13th.  We go to that place of fear, allowing our 2000 year old brains and instincts to send us back into survival mode.  If it has a potential to be bad or harmful, we allow ourselves to react to it that way unless we check ourselves and right our brains.

Friday the 13th is just another day.  But one Friday the 13th was a day I consider to be lucky – it was the one that gave my father a second chance.  That Friday the 13th, now four decades in the past, allowed my father to survive the explosion that must have taken a brigade of guardian angels to save his life.

I am forever grateful because without my Dad, I would not have felt that I should or could dream my dreams, or to take the steps to make those dreams my reality.  Friday the 13th is nothing for me to fear.  I choose to celebrate it because I have a lifetime of memories with him that I cherish.  I have a lifetime of lessons that he taught me that I hope I am able to pass on to my children and teach them as well.

My Friday the 13th is not filled with black cats, broken mirrors and ladders.  It is filled with angels, love and the joy of knowing what I could have lost but didn’t.

how do you eat an elephant

Sometimes I think my boyfriend is the perfect person.  Not only is he incredibly intelligent, witty and handsome, he also understands me in a way that nobody else does.  He knows how to reach me in ways that nobody else has.  He is a real gem.

A few days ago, we were talking on the phone and I was in a bit of a mood.  Not a bad mood, but a frustrated, overwhelmed kind of mood.  I was complaining about the work I had on my list to be done over holidays, and that I was feeling like there was just too much to do.  The work had piled up.  I was in overwhelm and didn’t want to deal with any of it at all.

He suggested that I start with what would make the greatest impact; what would I look at and see that I have made some strides.  My response was less than positive: all of it.  all of it needs to be done.  So he, in his way, let me be.  All right, I’ll let you get to it then.  And he ended the call.

He was right.  He’s always right.  He is analytical and reasoning, and it trumps my emotional and reactive behaviour.  So I listened.  What would make the biggest impact?  I figured it out and started there.

It felt good.

Physical work…my muscles hurt after I was finished, but I could see the changes.  It started me on the path to getting the list checked off.  The following days I continued with the momentum.  The whole list isn’t done yet, but it is well on its way.

I texted him after I had the first few hours of work done once I was feeling better about things.  His response?

How do you eat an elephant?

Of course.  Because he will never say I told you so.  He’s better than that.  He encourages me.  He supports me.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  How do you check off the list?  One job at a time.

And that is just what I am doing.

recharge

My well anticipated holiday time has finally arrived.  I look forward to holidays in August because it gives me the majority of the summer to look towards some well earned time off.  Our summer days here along the 53rd parallel are quite long, so to me it makes sense to take advantage of those long summer days to work hard and play hard.  Once summer solstice hits and the days start to shorten, it’s visibly noticeable come the middle of August.  Night starts to creep in at a decent hour, the evenings cool off, and the hint of autumn starts to whisper in the breeze.

The start of school is still a few weeks out, and I am ready for our adventures to begin.  There are always things planned to do.  This year, no major trips, but instead day adventures and a camping trip are on the docket.

Before all that though, a day of rest and relaxation is in order: a do-nothing day today.  A day to sip coffee and cuddle with the furry roommates, to read and write, to edit photographs.  To dream and plan.

Today is a day to recharge so that I can make the best use of my holiday time off, and to give my children the absolute best of me.

the b weekend

This weekend was one of the best I’ve experienced.  Nothing fancy, just time spent together with my boyfriend and a day trip.  We coined it the “B weekend”, and for good cause.

We spent Saturday travelling south to central Alberta to visit a brewery and a bird sanctuary.  We happened to notice a highway sign for another brewery that just happened to be along the way, so we detoured and spent a little time there.  My boyfriend enjoyed a flight of their craft beers and we talked to the staff to learn more about their operation.  It was an enjoyable experience.

Off to the bird sanctuary we went where we saw a duck with 16 ducklings in tow, purple martins feeding their young, barn swallows, American goldfinches, a few bunnies and ground squirrels milling about, and many other varieties of birds that I did not readily identify.  The weather was fantastic.  We had just missed a storm that went through, so the grass was still wet from the rain.  A couple hours went by like minutes.

Once we were finished at the sanctuary, we made our way to the second brewery.  Again, a flight of their craft beers, and an amazing craft root beer for myself, we enjoyed the sunset on the patio.  After lingering for some time enjoying the atmosphere, we made our way back home.

The next morning we went berry picking, and it was quite fruitful.  I baked a wonderful berry crumble for dessert with our fresh Saskatoon berries and served it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It was so good that my son and boyfriend both had second helpings!  After cleaning up from our late dinner, we took the dog for a walk.  We were greeted by the faint dancing of the aurora borealis; a fine closing to our “B weekend”.

I hope everyone is enjoying the August long weekend, and are creating some good memories, just as we have.

the kindness of others

The Golden Rule do unto others as you would have others do unto you came from the Scriptures from the Sermon on the Mount.  Religion set aside, this is true for all beings.  Treat people with kindness if you yourself would like to be treated kind.

I have doubted this often as my kindness has not always been met in like.  However, as a good human, I keep on with it because at the end of the day, if I am not kind, I am hurting myself more than I am hurting anyone else.  I know this.

Sometimes kindness means terminating a relationship that is not mutually beneficial.  Setting boundaries on what behaviours you will accept is kindness to the self.  It can also translate into kindness for the other person to understand that certain behaviours are not acceptable.  Whether or not those lessons are learned is up to the individual.  Check out today’s (July 28) entry in Marc Alain’s Happiness One Day At A Time.

Sometimes kindness comes from someone unexpected, as it did for me yesterday.  I had a neighbour come to my door after my sixth day in a row of work and provide me with a gift.  This gift brought me to tears.  He told me that he knows how hard I work as a single mother.  We do not socialize much as I tend to keep to my own, but he sees me.  He sees how I work hard and how I interact with my children.  He sees how much I love them, and that I am raising them well.  The gift he offered me was non-negotiable.  Believe me, I protested as it was so unexpected.  In the end, I accepted because this kindness came from a place of love.  It was rooted in the kindness in his heart.  As he talked, I tried to keep my composure; to keep my emotions in check, but I couldn’t.  I had a couple tears escape as he spoke.

They were happy tears but also ones of deep sadness, for if a stranger could see the love I have for my children, the goodness of my heart…why can’t those who used to love me see the same?

Alas, I will continue on.  Because kindness to others is good for my soul too.

perceptions

Life has varied realities.  Perceptions become our truth, so it is important that we are aware of what the realities are.  Do we perceive things in a negative way if we are in a poor frame of mind?  Of course we do.  Do we find the silver lining in problems when we are having a great day?  Sure.

It’s ok to have a bad day; to be depressed or upset about something.  It’s even ok for it to affect how we see things at that moment in time.  But with a critical eye and reflection, we may find that things were not exactly the way they appeared at that particular time.  These are good reasons to take time in responding to people when we don’t feel balanced.  Knee jerk reactions can cause us to say things that perhaps we don’t really mean (let’s face it…that employee stocking the produce didn’t need to be lashed out at for not having any cilantro, now did they?).  We can say things we regret, hurt people we care about, and even destroy relationships.

Take time to process your feelings.  Journal your day and find areas of gratitude to record, however small they may be.  Let your raw emotions out there and leave it on the page.  Have a warm cup of tea, burn incense or enjoy a bath with some calming aromatherapy blends.

Take care of yourself.

And remember: just because you’ve had a bad day doesn’t mean it’s a bad life.  Tomorrow is always a fresh new start.

 

dealing with stress

We all live with a certain amount of stress in our lives.  Deadlines, pressures with work, school, home, social life…they all play a part in how we manage our stress.  Do we work until that deadline is met, or do we procrastinate until the ninth hour?  Do we talk about the things that are concerning us, or do we keep it hidden?  Do we have an effective outlet for these things, or does someone else’s needs always come first?  Do we go to the gym or the bar?

We all know there are healthy and not so healthy ways of dealing with our stressors.  Common sense would suggest facing it all head on, but the reality is that it isn’t always that easy.  Some things can’t be managed immediately, so that stress sits and lingers; building in intensity, waiting for someone to help us take our minds off of it.  Oftentimes, more stress is piled on top of what we already carry.  New stressors come from the apparent immediacy that has been introduced with texting and social media.  There once was a day where things would need to wait until you were back in the office, or until you saw that person face to face again; but with the information era upon us, we now have additional stress based on the fact that people expect a response immediately.  So what happens if you need time to ponder the answer to that question?  Or you need a little time to just be?  It isn’t greeted warmly.  Sometimes it’s hostility that greets you instead.  How do we respond?  How do we manage unrealistic expectations?  Should we announce if we decide to “take a break” from social media or electronic communication? Should we be expected to?

Perhaps the better question is, shouldn’t we be patient with one another?  Give people room to breathe, room to feel their own emotions, give them time to process what they are thinking or feeling without adding additional pressure?  Adding stress to another person’s load isn’t helpful, courteous, or supportive of their health.  Give space when needed, let them know you’re patient and can wait until they can respond.  Be respectful of personal space.  Some of us need more of it than others do.

there is beauty everywhere

Time can take its toll.  People can wear us down.  Stress can break us.  Life can be challenging.  I have taken a leave from my weekly entries for good cause, but in the past few weeks, I have felt the urge to begin sharing once again.

Yes, time can take its toll.  We can race the clock, or watch it seemingly tick in place as we wait for the workday to end.  Time can also go far too quickly when in the presence of someone who understands you almost as well as you understand yourself.  You look back and realize that days, weeks or even months have disappeared in the blink of an eye.

People can and do wear us down; however, the right people in your life will energize us and lift us higher than we have known before.  The key is to surround yourself with people who inspire you to be a better person every single day.

Stress can break us.  But, the Japanese have a term that seems fitting here: kintsukuroi, which means “to repair with gold”.  When we fill the cracks in ourselves caused by the stress of life, we become more beautiful because we are imperfect.  Acknowledge and embrace that which is part of us – the imperfect and broken pieces of us, so that others too can appreciate and enjoy the beauty that can come out of the stress we are put under.

Someone reminded me of a favourite quote of mine today: In a world where you can be anything, be kind.  We are all fighting our own battles with demons unknown to others.  Be someone’s light.  See their cracked shell in all its glory.  Be the reason someone’s day flew by.  Be a good human.  You may never know how much your actions may help another person to make it through one more day.

live in the present

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a colleague.  She gave me a valuable gift as I listened to her words.  Initially, she had approached me because she said I wasn’t looking as happy and chipper as I normally am.  She is used to seeing me with a smile on my face that, as she put it, lights up the room.  Now, she had not read me wrong in the least.  In fact, I wasn’t fooling anyone.  I thought I was hiding my emotions quite well, but clearly I wasn’t.  She wasn’t the only one who had asked me what was wrong either, so it wasn’t that she was so much more in tune with me than anyone else.

I have been struggling with some things.  I have been in pain, and still doing my best to carry on with my day to day activities.  I let her in on what was troubling me, in general terms.

Her response?

Live in the now.  How often have we gone about our busy days, and taken an orange and devoured it without even tasting it?  When was the last time you took that orange and examined the peel?  When you looked at each segment and its intricacy, when you actually tasted the sweetness of the fruit and enjoyed it?  Don’t worry about tomorrow and all the troubles it might bring.  Be here, with me, in the present.  Whatever tomorrow brings, you will handle it with grace.  So today, now, enjoy this moment.

These words were spoken to her years ago by a local monk, and they resonated so strongly that she was able to pass on these words of wisdom to me this week.  It was what I needed to hear.  She was right; and he was right before her.

Live in the now.  Take the present and live fully.  Tomorrow could bring a multitude of events that we have no control over, so why lose today to worry and dread when we can enjoy it.  Tomorrow will come in its due time.  And with it, we can handle whatever it brings.