Taking time for mental health is something often forgotten. While many separate mental and physical health, they are closely linked in my opinion. When something is weighing heavily upon us and we have difficulty dealing with it yet still continue to go about our daily lives, we end up with mental trauma and anguish.
Taking time to ensure we have good mental health is equally as important as making sure our bodies are healthy. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, or anything that is making your quality of life less than ideal, please visit a medical professional. Please do not wait until it goes too far.
If you see a loved one suffering, do not avoid them. Engage them and offer your support. People need to know they are cared for. You might be the one thing that shows them that life is still worth living.
When Gilmore Girls ran from 2000 to 2007, I didn’t pay much attention to the show. At that particular point in my life, I couldn’t relate. I was still married at that point and working overtime consistently. Then had my sons, and I still could not relate because I had sons, not a daughter; I had a husband, although it often felt like I was parenting and running the household all alone.
I have watched the series a couple of times since my divorce. I find that I can now relate to the characters much more now than I could when it first came out. There are a few aspects of the show that I find appealing.
I have five reasons outlined here:
I like that Lorelai is a strong, independent single mother. She stands up for herself and her daughter. She does not back down when she feels that she is justified. I like this tenacity, and it gives me strength when I don’t feel like I have the fight left in me any longer.
I appreciate that Lorelai can be alone comfortably, but that she is not bitter towards men, and still has the hope that somewhere out there, she will find the right one. That goes without saying that the right one was before her the whole time, but she needed to figure that out for herself, and she did. Sometimes we all need that opportunity to find things out in our own way instead of being told by someone else.
I admire that she has been successful in her own right. She worked her way up to managing the Independence Inn, worked herself through college, then embarked upon an entrepreneurial venture with her best friend, Sookie. This shows tenacity in character, one that I hope I can also demonstrate. I know this is a make believe story, and that many do not work this way in real life, but sometimes we need to believe the story to give us the courage to carry forward.
I acknowledge that the story shows conflict between Lorelai and her parents. This is realistic as we all have some sort of conflict to contend with. It may not be to the extreme that this make-believe family endures, but it is symbolic nonetheless.
I adore the bonding between Lorelai and her daughter, Rory. This is incredibly important to me as I hope that as my sons continue to grow and develop, that we will also have a bond as strong as the one portrayed between Lorelai and Rory.
When I need motivation to carry forward with the things that are weighing me down in my real life, I find that this show gives me courage to continue on. I gain strength from the idea that I am not alone in the world of single parenting. I recognize that I should not close the doors to potential romantic relationships, but at the same time, continue on as I would without the thought of needing a partner. Every time I watch an episode, it provides me with a little something that I am in need of, and for that I am grateful.
What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Does it mean success in respect to financial gain? Success in a career? A happy family?
Perhaps the definition is different for everyone. We are all driven by different desires and needs. Some feel the need to have a prominent career and work long hours. This may give a sense of fulfillment to that individual, and if it does, that is great. None of us are made the same.
Growing up, we are conditioned from an early age to think about what we want to be when we grow up. How you will make your living is supposed to be the biggest part of being an adult, and we tend to get lost in this concept. We are defined by our jobs. By our titles. When we meet new people, that is inevitably one question that comes up early in the conversation…so, what do you do…and of course we rattle off what we do to make ends meet.
But we are so much more than that. We are not just our jobs. What is it that you will reflect back on and see that your life had meaning? Will you look back and say wow, I made a lot of money and be happy with that? Or will you say wow, I made a lot of money, but I never had time with my loved ones or to do the things I had always wanted to do?
Millenials coming into the workforce have the idea that their time off is equally as important as the time they spend at work. They appear to value their personal time more than GenXers do. At least here in North America…Europeans have had a different philosophy for many years, one to be admired I believe.
A meaningful life to me means that I have left this world better than I found it. That I have touched the lives and hearts of others in even a small way. I find that I can do that in my career, but I also spend my personal time to do more of that. I enjoy my family time and give myself to my children with all my heart. I enjoy my time with my friends, and do what I can to make their happiness a priority too; because when they are happy, so am I. I volunteer. I have my own groups that I belong to that bring me joy as well.
I don’t want to feel that I have spent all my time at work without putting in at least equal the effort to make the rest of my life matter as well. How do you make your life meaningful? Is there something special that you do? Please comment if you would like to share.
Vacations are wonderful. You plan and prepare for the trip, decide which sights you want to see and when. You plan every day to be a full as possible so you can fit everything in to your limited time, because if you don’t, you won’t have a chance to do all the things you wanted to do.
But during that vacation away, did you think to take a day to just relax? Maybe sleep in a little, or spend a lazy day exploring the forests or the beaches?
These vacation days create a lot of memories too. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe they create more memories than running from the art gallery to the science centre then to the zoo…you get the idea.
We did all of the planning. I had every day scheduled with where to go and what to see. In the end, what my children wanted to do won out. We peeled away one activity for another. We didn’t do all the things we had planned. We spent way more time sitting on the beach watching sunsets and looking for crabs instead of going to the sights that we had on the schedule. We took a morning and strolled through a forest and created a fairy home at the base of a giant redwood tree.
We created memories.
Yes, we did a lot of the scheduled stuff and hit the highlights. But in retrospect, the highlights really were about exploring nature that was new to them. About seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they discovered something they had never seen before. It was about their pure excitement and joy the first time they dipped their toes in the salty ocean water.
These are the things that will create the memories that they will remember for a lifetime.
Summer days are meant for doing a certain amount of nothing. It rarely seems the case these days, as I watch my friends and their children rushing to summer hockey camps, day camps, intensive swimming lessons, and a plethora of other activities to fill their summer days.
What happened to just having nothing to do? To the days of going to the park and playing, or reading? What happened to just being a kid?
This isn’t a popular perspective where I live, and I would wager it isn’t where you live either. These days, everyone needs to be scheduled to the hilt, because if you aren’t busy, you are wasting your time, right?
There is so much benefit in just allowing yourself time to be. Time to sit and just watch the day go by is so mentally therapeutic! Being busy does not equal being productive. This is something I have learned after years of having too much going on in my life. There is still too much going on, but I am still a work in progress too. I am officially on holidays for two weeks, and while my time clock may be stalled, work wise, my actions have not. I still have lists of things I wish to accomplish during my time off, but I know full well that there are too many lists and too little time. Where do I fit in time for me?
It’s ok to let the dust settle in the corners once in a while, or for the dishes to wait until morning. We all need to recharge our batteries once in a while so that we can function optimally. Don’t forget to take time out to relax and do nothing. There is so much value in just being.
It is important to me to remember that we all have our own journey that we must travel, but along the way, we have companions that enter and exit our lives. Their stay may be long or it may be brief. It helps me to think about the philosophy of a reason, a season, or a lifetime. We all have people who, when they left our lives, hurt us in some way. Others may have passed by quietly, perhaps relatively unknown, yet there is something to be learned from each and every one of them.
There are those who are there for a lifetime. These may be your siblings, parents, best friends, or even a romantic partner. These people are meant to be in your life long term. They can teach you many lessons, just as you can also teach them. These people grow with you, and they can be some of the most fulfilling relationships you will have.
There are the seasons as well. People who are there for as long as you need them, or as long as they need you. Once that passes, ways are parted and each goes along their journey separately. These types of relationships may end on happy notes, or perhaps not. Perhaps it was the first relationship after a divorce, where it taught you that you can move on and learn to love again. Perhaps it was a teacher that you had in school who taught lessons beyond the curriculum about life in general.
Those who are there for a reason may be simple or complex. Perhaps you are a service provider, and once the service is rendered, the individual goes on their way, perhaps never to cross paths again. But there are also other relationships that the reason keeps you connected with them for longer. These reasons are usually lessons to be learned, and the longer it takes to learn the lesson, the longer that person is connected to you. One of the lessons I had learned was to treat everyone with compassion for we do not know what happens in their personal lives. This comes from my experience of hiding things for over two decades. The realization that if I can hide many things from those around me on a daily basis, then it is also easy for others to hide similar, or even worse things too. We do not know all the intricacies that make a person behave how they do. Compassion is key. It took me longer to learn that lesson than expected, but along with that one, there were many other very valuable lessons that came from that twenty year reason. I use that example often as I consider how to manage my interactions with others. I believe that my compassion and empathy for others are directly relatable to the lesson I learned over those many years.
When you have someone who has exited your life perhaps unexpectedly, consider what purpose they had for you. What lesson was being taught to you for them to be there? What lesson did you learn after they were gone? Can you take that lesson and apply it to your life to make your life a more positive influence on those around you? Can you make someone else’s life a little bit better? Because to me, that is what this life is about…being a positive influence on the world around us.
I was fortunate enough over the past couple weeks to gain some perspective on the philosophy of minimalism. I spent the better part of a week away, cultivating relationships with family friends. During this time, I needed to choose what I would do with my down time in the evening. I brought a couple minor things…a tablet to continue with my writing, some kitchen cotton to crochet some dishcloths-a minimal mental task that keeps my hands busy when I’m feeling tired, and my aromatherapy studies.
During the course of the week I discovered a couple things: The space I was spending time with was peaceful with minimal items in the room. It simply allowed the mind to rest. I spent more time with people, interacting instead of spending time in front of distractions. The tablet never came out until everyone was settled into their beds. It was a good exercise in being present.
A valuable lesson came out of this experience for me. I discovered that even though I hold on to the ideals and philosophies of minimalism, I am still finding that there is a lot of stuff that lives with me in my house. After returning home, I looked at my house with a refreshed minimalism lens and began going through things to donate or discard as needed. It was quite satisfying to shred fifteen year old documents, and provide a new home for clothing items that were gently used, or not used at all. In the kon marie way, these items had served their purpose at the time, and now they needed to be thanked and sent on their way.
I still have a way to go, but it is a journey. I am still ever grateful for the experience to refresh my determination to live a simple life.
Doing things for others isn’t just a selfless act. It is a selfish act also.
I’m not referring to the you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours mentality. When we do things for others out of the goodness of our hearts, we receive gifts back in the form of good karma that we get to add to our buckets. This good karma comes back to us in a multitude of ways. Perhaps it is that unexpected settlement cheque that comes in the mail after a minor accident, or the person in the drive thru ahead of you who decided to pay it forward and covered the cost of your pick-me-up mid-afternoon latte.
Beyond that, we also also experience that whole neuroscience of giving part of ourselves to others. When we help others, we also help ourselves. We experience an increase in endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in our brains. Yes, science actually backs up being a good person. When we have a surge of endorphins, our bodies actually feel healthier. So there is the selfish part of it. When we help others, we are helping ourselves too.
The best part is, that helping others is contagious. Going back to the pay it forward idea in the drive thru, where I live, this has become a bit of a thing that goes on from time to time. Maybe it is the Canadian kindness mentality, maybe not. But, when this begins, it can often continue on for a dozen people or even more. This positive energy leads to more positive actions which means more goodness in our world.
So, keep adding karma to your kindness bucket. Let it grow and overflow. Because it’s good for the world around you, and it is very good for you too.
I value quality time with those I love. Spending time together is worth more than any store bought gift, in my opinion.
This weekend was one of those weekends where we didn’t have anything pressing to do. Being a long weekend on top of it, we decided rather last minute to take a trip to the zoo. Since it is a three hour drive each way, we made sure to get up nice and early. We packed up the cameras, water bottles and music for the drive and away we went. We always stop for coffee and breakfast before leaving town. It’s just what we do. The kids eat while I drive, and I have my caffeine fix. Sometimes they fall asleep on the drive, sometimes we all sing along to whatever song is playing. Sometimes they read. It’s always enjoyable no matter what.
I’ve come to crave these little day trips. The adventure of getting away, of taking a trip unplanned. Just drop everything and go. Sometimes these are solo trips if the kids are not home that week, but I love the ones where they come along the most. It’s good quality time well spent. On top of that, my eldest had a chance to continue developing his photography skills in a different setting. He’s getting very good at it, and I am very proud of him. But there’s something to be said for getting away from home for just a little while. A change of scenery. A little excitement. Spending time outdoors, and believe me, we were out there walking around and enjoying the sun and the setting for a good five hours at least. These are the little things that they will remember as they grow into adults. These are the things I will remember as they grow up and move on to live their own lives. I will know that they will have those happy memories to draw upon. They will have that influence for how they might like to live their lives, and should they have children, to do what they enjoyed as kids for their own.
Quality time. I read somewhere that you have 18 summers with your children before they are grown. This is what I’m doing with my 18.
Mothers, enjoy your children. While they are young, as they grow, and when they are adults. Every stage of development for your child is special. I don’t need to tell you that; you already know. Every stage my children have been at has been my favourite. Why? Because it’s where we are in the present.
Don’t wish for the past when they were young, or perhaps before they were born.
Don’t wait for the day they’re grown up and out of the house so you have peace and quiet or a clean home.
Be present. Enjoy what today gives you. It is the ultimate gift. Love your children no matter who, what, or where they are. Love yourself too.
Enjoy this day as if there are no others. Give thanks for the life around you. Be grateful for the ability to have them in your life for not every woman is as fortunate as you. Hug your children. Tell them that you love them. Mean it. Every day.