summer holiday

Summer is more than half way finished now.  I am just at the start of my summer vacation; something I have been looking towards for quite a few weeks now.  We all need downtime.  Vacation doesn’t need to be the great family cross country adventure, although sometimes they are wonderful too.  We did the big vacation last year, and my boys still tell me it was the best vacation and greatest memory of their lives to date.

This year, it is more relaxed.  Spending time at home, exploring things to do in the neighbouring cities and here in our own, day trips to other locations, kayaking on the river and lakes, and the oh-so North American camping trip.  I know that many things will likely slip away in favour of simple relaxation, and I am ok with that.  More than ok, truth be told.  Holidays are meant for relaxation and recharging.  To let your mind be free is a truly precious thing.  It has already boosted my creativity and given me encouragement to continue on with projects that have been waiting on the sidelines to carry forward.  I still wake early and have the house to myself for hours before my young adolescents finally make their way from their beds in search of food.  This gives me time to write or develop my upcoming website, purge unnecessary items that seem to find their way into our lives and weigh us down, or sit and be still, enjoying the fruits that meditation brings.

Whatever it is that summer vacation brings for you, be sure to keep a bank of memories from it.  As I have said before, we only have 18 summers.  Make memories before they are grown.  Give your children the gift of fond childhood memories to look back on when they are grown up.

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miscommunication

Life isn’t perfect.  You aren’t perfect.  Neither are your partner, children, friends, or other family members.  Communication can be challenging.  What we say isn’t always what we mean.  Silence is misinterpreted.  Reading between the lines is a sure fire way to get the wrong idea.  Avoiding answering questions puts a dead stop on moving the conversation forward and can be rather damaging.

Why can’t we get it right?

We assume people know what we are thinking.  False.

We think we are articulating our thoughts effectively.  False.

We don’t ask for clarification, but instead wonder what the comment meant.  We make things up in our own minds and run with it, never knowing if that is the truth or not.

In this age of digital communication, so much is lost.  Intonation is gone and all that exists is a word on a screen.  Alright.  What does that mean?  Is is passive aggressive?  Is it sincere?  Your own frame of mind can take it however you are feeling at that moment.

A joke instead of an answer leads to more questions.  Why are we not being direct?  Is it because we don’t want to give the real answer?  What truths are we hiding behind that joke or emoji?  Why can’t we come out with what we actually mean?

Avoidance.  The desire for things to stay the same.  Not wanting to see where things will go if there is not a consensus of opinion.  Fear.  Frustration.  None of it is healthy.

In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange. ~Brennan Manning

Draining those we communicate with is unhealthy.  Be aware of how you communicate.  Be compassionate.  Be fair.  Be unassuming.  Be honest.

the aftermath of a sojourn

The wonderful part of having a chance to get away for just a little while is that it gives you the opportunity to dream of things that you might not normally consider.  When you are outside your usual environment, your brain seems to work differently.  You see things in a different light; experience things that are unusual.  They open up opportunities that wouldn’t normally be thought of in your day to day existence.

But what happens when you return home?

That euphoria lasts for a while.  The idealism of those dreams lingers.  Plans made seem plausible somehow still.  But after a day or two, they seem less and less likely to be plans that you will execute.  The hum drum of life carries on.  The workplace hadn’t changed during your escape, and come Monday morning, everything is just as it was when you left.  Bank accounts hadn’t magically multiplied in their figures, housework didn’t complete itself, car troubles didn’t cease to exist.

Reality creeps back in.  A little bit of depression hits.  News you don’t want to hear sits in your inbox.  Life carries on as if you never left.  Sometimes it makes you wonder if you actually left at all.  This is the difficult part of having a chance to get away for just that little bit.  All good things must come to an end.  Try to remember how it felt.  Try not to forget why you wanted to go in the first place.  Try to keep those dreams you dreamt while away alive somehow.

lessons learned from a weekend in the mountains

Living day to day isn’t much different than spending a long weekend hiking in the mountains; it’s just a matter of perspective. As I went along the trails, a few things had come to light for me.

1. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you should do today.

2. Be open minded. It gives you many more great experiences to share if you do.

3. Take your time. It’s ok to be slow; just keep moving upward.

4. Do or not do, there is no try. Thanks Yoda, it’s cliché, but at the same time holds much truth.

5. Sometimes it hurts. Keep going because it’s definitely worth it.

6. Every step forward is positive. Don’t lose momentum.

7. Savour every moment. They are all fleeting.

8. Find your happiness. There are meadows of happy little critters everywhere. Look for the one that brings you joy.

9. The accomplishment will only propel you forward. Never forget how good that first one felt.

10. The first summit is only the beginning.

Find your motivation and keep going.

stress management

Constructive use of stress energy has become a way that I manage stresses that I face.  When it happens to all come at once, it’s hard to face and can be overwhelming.  Stress from the workplace that combines with stress at home that gets complicated by stress from news of a tragic death in the family means that the stress takes on new heights.  It becomes more than one can typically manage.

I know how I react when this happens.  I can act before I have thought out my actions and speak without considering the impact of my words.  Sometimes its the irrational part of me that takes over, leading to added stress based upon my own actions.  I have learned this about myself and try to take steps to minimize it.

I have also learned that physical movement helps me deal with the stress.  Today, I took a long walk with my dog.  I talked to my soul sister; the one who knows me inside out.  I took on a new project that has been weighing on my mind and sitting on my to do list.  The physical work of manual labor takes away some stress and clears my mind to a point where I feel capable of managing it once again.  These are all therapies that help me when I feel out of control.

I’m not sure how I came to find this solution to my stress management.  I wonder what will be the solution when I finally have all my home renovations complete.  Perhaps I will need to take up a new hobby, maybe woodworking?

contentment

Being content with what you have in life is not an easy thing in the world we live in.  We are bombarded with advertisement, telling us that we need to buy this and that to make our lives better, or we need to travel here and there to get the most out of life.  What this does is rob us from being fully content with the life we currently live.  Living without that “fear of missing out” means turning off the noise of these merchants and looking at what makes you happy – not what these companies say should make you happy.

Contentment in my life comes from having affordable housing that provides the shelter my family and I need, my pets to love and cuddle, and the fulfilling relationships with those people I choose to spend my time with.  I am content with my daily walks with my dog, my bi-weekly date with one of my best friends, and the easy conversation with the man who is quickly becoming one of the most important people in my life.  There are, of course, other components to this, but these things are some of the most vital pieces that keep me happy.

Gratitude for what we have contributes to living a content life.  Appreciate all the good things that are present, and value the experience of the not so good things because it helps to truly see what blessings there are in life.  I hope to never lose sight of the truly important things that provide me with that sense of contentment that I have found.

the noise

There are times when the noise in the world is just too much to handle.  The stresses affect us all differently.  Some need to talk to others.  Some get angry.  Others cry, or crawl into their shell.  Or there can be a combination of things that happen.

Emotions are sometimes difficult to deal with.  What we feel isn’t easily explainable all the time.  Perhaps we can’t always understand it ourselves, especially when there is a perfect storm happening within us.  Eventually though, the storm passes.  The waves of emotion subside and the tears that fell like rain dry up.  The sun peeks through the clouds of despair and hope emerges once again.

Nothing lasts forever.  Everything is temporary.  Ride out the storm.  Be kind to yourself.  Be patient.  Let yourself feel what you need to feel without judgement or contempt.  Life is never easy, but it is worth it.

summer

Summer solstice has arrived.  With her, she brought beautiful sunshine and warmth.  Summer is easy to get lost in, with the luscious gardens teeming with fragrant blossoms and bountiful vegetable patches growing steadily day by day.  The days are long, lasting well into the wee evening hours when we are fortunate enough to witness the beautiful and colourful displays at sunset as they bid farewell to the daylight for just a few hours.

Summer, while it feels like it will never end, also seems to go by so fast.  Enjoy every moment as you live in the present.  Take the time to put your nose to a peony bloom and inhale its perfume.  Spend a lazy afternoon in a hammock with a book.  Take a walk through the forest trails and breathe in the oak and moss as you enjoy the cool shade from the canopy.  Sit patiently at the lakeside and wait for the dragonflies to come rest their weary wings as they visit for a moment.

Have gratitude for the gift of summer.  This present in this very moment is worth more than gold.  Savour the time spent in the here and now and store these precious memories for those cold winter days that will eventually be upon us.  But for now, right now, be present here with Mother Nature in all her summer glory.

following dreams

I’m one of those people who will think something to death before taking any action whatsoever. It’s both a blessing and a curse. There are times where it paralyzes me and I’m too caught up in the details to make a move. I overthink things that shouldn’t be overthought. I plan until the planning makes no sense.

And I worry.

What if this dream isn’t what I should follow? What if it fails? What if I fail? What if this dream isn’t what I really wanted to pursue after all?

Sometimes, we need to leave the planning and doubt behind and take that leap of faith forward. It’s not easy for people like me to do that very thing. Sometimes we like to get our toes wet first. And sometimes that is ok, so long as we propel ourselves forward.

So there is a dream here. It’s been planned to death for a couple of years now. Perhaps it’s time to put my toes in the water.

tears

Some things bring tears to your eyes. Not because they are sad, but because they are memories in the making. Tears of happiness or of joy but knowing that these moments will not last. Tears of trying to make the most of the time in the moment yet trying to freeze the emotion and feeling so that it can be felt again when that memory comes to mind in the future.

Tears come to my eyes often. I am an emotional creature. Tears are healing. They help to wipe the past hurts away; to open the doors to new and healthier experiences. Tears are therapeutic. To soothe and hug you when you need consoling.

But tears in these happy moments are the ones that remind me that these things—these moments, are the ones to remember and cherish, because they are the ones that I will want to remember in years to come. These are the moments that life was made up of. The growing years and the happiness that made for a good life.