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.
There are times when all we truly need is a good friend by our side. It’s more than just that they are our friend. It’s the years of trust that have been built in that relationship. The good memories and the hard times somehow solidify the structure of the friendship that allow us to simply be in each other’s presence.
When we have those particularly challenging days, most of us have that go-to friend that we can count on. It is a treasured thing, to know that someone always has your back; that you matter to them just as much as they matter to you. That friend who you can tell all your darkness to and still be loved, or just sit nestled up to, alone with your thoughts yet cradled in their love and compassion.
Friendship has the power to heal hurt. There are no conditions present, no keeping score on who has done more for whom. There is love and compassion. There are good times and sadness, yet all of it gets shared equally within that friendship. Perhaps that is what keeps a friendship alive; the ability to be completely and vulnerably yourself in the presence of the other person without fear of the power of friendship being abused.
Perhaps the power of friendship is that you are accepted, completely for who and what you are, and the ability to give the same back.
Love comes in many forms. Romantic, platonic, family, pets, and any other version you can think of. Many things I do in my life now are the result of love. I tend to my children with motherly love to give them the safe place they need to grow into the amazing humans they are. I spend time with my friends and cultivate those relationships, being mindful to ensure they know that they are loved and appreciated. And pets, well…it’s nearly impossible to not show a pet they are loved in my household, especially when they so easily give that love right back to you.
Love is a necessity for growth, no matter who or where you are. Love is one of those undeniable components that change life from survival mode to allowing one to flourish. Just as humans need a certain amount of hugs to survive versus to thrive, this is just another version of showing our love for one another.
Growing up and well in through the two decades that I was married, I found saying the words I love you to be very forced and painful. It seemed as if I didn’t really know how to say those words and truly feel the meaning of them. I know there is a lot of psychology and background history there that really isn’t something I care to delve into, but there came a time when I was going through my divorce that I discovered what love really is, and I felt as if I had never truly allowed love into my heart until that point. The interesting part is that it wasn’t a romantic love that changed me; it was the love of my true friends who stood with me and helped me through the divorce. They were the ones who showed me what love is and how to embrace those around me. I listened and I learned. I paid attention to their actions and saw how easy it was for them to give a piece of themselves to me. Somehow my heart softened and I could feel real love for the first time. I realized that real love didn’t have to be painful; it didn’t have to hurt. Real love comes without consequence, constraints or ultimatums. Real love just is.
Now that I know how love actually feels, it is easy for me to give that love freely to those near me. I can say those words now and truly mean them, and I do. My friends and family hear them routinely, and assuredly, they come straight from my heart. Don’t underestimate what can happen in a year. These changes happened over the course of the last six years, and I am a completely different person today than I was then. I owe a good deal of that change to those who stood with me and those who cried with me, and I reciprocate the love that I received from those dear friends right back and without reservation.
As a spiritual person, holding space tends to be rather intuitive. I’ve done it for years without analyzing or recognizing what it truly is. Holding space for someone is one of the most giving things a person can do because it removes the ego and allows you to fully give of yourself to the person you are seeking to support.
For me, holding space takes many forms and has been a recurring theme in my relationships. I often hold space for my dearest friend miles away when she is in emotional distress, and she will do the same for me. Intention and energy are sent along with support and acceptance for whatever the other person is feeling or experiencing. Holding space provides safety for the person needing support. Sometimes it means the physical support of holding hands or an embrace; a kiss on the forehead to show they are loved as they are. It means being that sounding board to let the other speak freely without judgement on their words, actions, or emotions. It is the eye contact to allow the other to look deeper and find your soul reaching out to them.
Regardless of how the space is held, there is a common thread through it all; holding space is done selflessly. It is done purely to support the other person regardless of personal feelings, opinions, or even the presence of self. Holding space means giving all of yourself to that person for the time needed to support them and to allow the other person the freedom to be themselves completely, without the pressures or stresses to change those parts of themselves that are thought to be undesirable or needing change. Holding space allows them to feel that they can just be; that they are enough as they are. We are all perfectly imperfect, and exactly as we should be.
I spent the last two weeks preparing for, photographing, and editing images for a dear friend’s wedding. It wasn’t a fancy or expensive wedding, just an intimate affair with their children, close friends, and me as the photographer. It was one of the best kinds of weddings there are.
Romance has been the theme these past two weeks so it seems. I watched as she went through the elation of marrying the man that she loved back in the days of climbing trees and skinning knees to saying the emotional and heartfelt vows they wrote to each other. Life took them on different journeys; but thirty-some years later, they finally realized their youthful dreams of marrying each other. I was honoured to be part of their day in any capacity. I was even more honoured to be asked to capture their day for them.
Blended families can be a challenge; but they can also be an amazing new chapter in life. The man she brought into her child’s life is truly in love with her, and as I observed them as a whole over the weekend, I noticed things that perhaps only a photographer sees. I saw how he discreetly kept an eye on his young step-son while he continued on doing what he was doing. I saw how she included his adult daughters as if she had known them all her life, like lifelong friends. Most of all, I saw how he watched her. I saw how even though his exterior has been weathered from life, his eyes were soft. I saw how his eyes softened even more every time he looked at her. She didn’t notice most times because she was busy being a hostess to her family, but he always had the look in his eyes that showed his soul whenever he laid his eyes on her. There was no doubt that this man has always loved his bride, and I sense he wanted to take in every single moment of this day so that he would never forget it.
Love. The greatest of these truly is love.
Is happiness a choice, or is it something that simply is? Do we get to decide if we are happy or not? Are we just a victim of our surroundings?
In my life, I believe we can choose to be happy. Yes, things happen in life that can be difficult, but when it comes down to it all, how we opt to deal with the things that have happened, its ultimately up to us whether we choose to remain sad or bitter about the events, or if we instead decide to still be happy.
Happiness is a much healthier option. I have seen people who seemingly have everything in life, yet they simply cannot be happy for themselves. Keep in mind, this is different from those exhibiting signs of depression, and I would not lump a mental health condition into the same category. I have also seen people who have had severely traumatic events happen in their lives who still chose to be grateful that they are still alive on this earth.
We all have days where the weight of the world brings us down. I try to remind myself that I am lucky to be where I am. I have gratitude for the friends and family I have, my living conditions, my job and my passions. I am grateful for having an able body which allows me to do things that others may not have the opportunity to do. This gratitude invariably leads me to happiness.
I look for the positives; for the good in the world. I avoid the news because happy news does not make money and therefore they do not play it. I cultivate my circle of friends to ones who reflect my inner light, and we bring each other up instead of drawing them down. I count my blessings.
Everyday, there is something new to be grateful for. Look for it and you will find happiness everywhere.
Friendship is something that can be taken for granted. For many people, they have always had friends surrounding them, and it is a blessing. Old, long-lasting friendships are truly a treasured thing for they have endured the test of time; a friendship that has grown and changed just as the people have. It can be rare to find these days. People tend to move with work opportunities and for the hopes of a different life. These decisions impact those friendships simply because distance is a difficult thing to endure.
New friendships are forged, and they become equally as important. They are based in what is relevant in their lives at the time they were brought together. The great thing about new friendships is that they all have the opportunity to turn into old friendships, given enough time. Neither one is more valuable than the other. They are all equally as important.
I am grateful for all the friendships in my life, both new and old. I look forward to these newer friendships growing and ageing along with me, and I truly hope they do. I do not ever wish to take any of my friendships for granted. For me, they are blooms in my garden of life. I want to cultivate them, removing the weeds, and feed the flowers.
I had a gentle reminder last night that it is important to celebrate the little things in life. Sitting here in my fourth decade of life, I think of things like birthdays as something that come and go. Do I make a big deal out of my kids’ birthdays? Yes, of course. Would I consider doing the same for my own? Absolutely not.
Last night, we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday. It was not a hallmark birthday, just a birthday. He invited a few of his closest friends and families, and we went bowling. The kids had a blast, and so did the adults! Afterwards, we went back to his place for cake and wine, and played couple games.
Why do we (or perhaps just I) not consider celebrating our own birthdays? Yes, there are many of them once we get to this stage of our lives, but why not celebrate them with youthful vigour? It certainly is one way to beat winter depression, and it created some fun and lasting memories along the way.
Lose a minute, not a life. I read these words five days a week as I drive to work. I see them because they are on a sign outside an elementary school that I pass by every day. I’ve read them, and they have made an impact on me.
Lose a minute, not a life. It seems so simple. Slow down, be patient. Pay attention. Why is this so difficult for people to do sometimes?
I have a story that needs to be told. It doesn’t have a tragic ending, although it could easily have been. Earlier this week, I was driving home. It had been a long day at work. I had just given a blood donation after my workday ended, and was finally making my way home. It was maybe a half past six in the evening on an early January Thursday. Living here in Canada though, it was already dark as it typically is in the sleepy months of winter. I was minutes away from my doorstep, and slowed to make my right handed turn into my neighbourhood as my turn signal clicked like a metronome. I had a large diesel truck behind me, clearly impatient for me to turn move out of his way. I had also noticed that there was a lady walking her beautiful dog across the street where I was turning, but slightly ahead. She did everything right; she was crossing the street in the designated crosswalk zone. She waited until it was safe, knowing I was turning. What she didn’t realize is that this driver behind me wasn’t able to see her. She couldn’t have known that he was going to be impatient and cut into the next lane to speed past me. I watched in horror as I sat in my car, unable to help her, as she had to run to escape this accelerating metal battering ram.
Her life was spared by a literal inch.
LOSE A MINUTE, NOT A LIFE screamed inside me. I was shaking, and can only imagine how she could have felt. I regret the inability to be able to report the licence plate. It happened too fast, it was too dark, and the plate was too dirty from winter roads. I regret that I did not turn around and check on her.
I made my way home, traumatized by what I had witnessed. I sat, head in my hands and cried. Why can’t everyone just lose a minute, not a life?
With each new year, I, like many others, use this time to reaffirm the things I am doing in my life. I use this time to evaluate what is working and what isn’t, and to decide if there is value in changing things.
I don’t necessarily like the term ‘resolution’ because to me that has a fairly negative connotation. I don’t need to change everything. But I do take this time of year to reflect on the past, and to help me see where I want my future to go. I evaluate my financial standings and make my goals. I evaluate these goals frequently through the year and celebrate when I achieve a personal victory. I refigure things when something unforeseen comes up. As I take down the Christmas tree, I reaffirm my commitment to minimalism, and give the house a good scrub to ring in the new year. I use my vision board to help me map out my personal goals and desires. Am I where I wanted to be? Is there anything I need to adjust to get there? How is that book coming along? Have I made my goal in my photography progress? Did I finish that course yet? If the answer isn’t yes, then why didn’t they match up? If they did, what are my next goals?
We sit here, on the last day of the year. There is much joy to be celebrated from 2017. There will also be much joy to come in 2018. With some planning and positive reinforcements, it will be a great year to come.