Category Archives: Uncategorized

going outside your comfort zone

It’s easy in life to get into a routine and keep within that place of ease, where you know exactly what to expect. You can anticipate situations and outcomes and be prepared for them. But what happens when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you?  When life changes suddenly?

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that this has happened to me. Divorce is a rug being ripped out from underneath you and then falling through a hole in the floor under that rug.  

There is a lesson here that I have learned, and continues to be reinforced often. Life is more exciting and interesting (but sometimes frustrating) when you live outside that comfortable life. Five years ago, I would not have done what I have done today. 

Living outside my comfort zone has helped me to grow as an individual. It has helped me discover my independence and has even created an urge within me to continue to do things I would not have considered before. 

Don’t let life pass you by, wishing you had done things.

Do the things. Live. Enjoy. Life outside your bubble is going to give you greater satisfaction, and perhaps you too will discover a little something about yourself that you never knew either. 

lazy summer days

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?

Wrong.

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.

reasons, seasons, lifetimes

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.

what do we really need?

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.

adding karma to your kindness bucket

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.

the future of dietary recommendations?

I have enjoyed my Sunday ritual of sitting at my computer and writing my weekly blog.  To those of you who follow along weekly, and for those who have popped in today or once in a while, I want to thank you for joining me.

Recently, the Canadian government released a draft of the new version of Canada’s Food Guide.  I was interested to read that under the Guiding Principle 1, there has been a shift from “meat and alternatives” to “protein-rich foods – especially plant-based sources of protein”.

Now, those who know me well would tell you that while I have a predominantly plant-based diet, with the odd bit of seafood and a little cheese once in a while, I do not force my diet or opinions on anyone.  I do believe that everyone is free to choose for themselves, and the same is true for my children.  My older son is the same as I am in his choices.  We have plant-based milk to enjoy.  I like soy milk in my coffee, and he is crazy about coconut milk.  Conversely, my younger son still enjoys dairy milk, and so I buy that for him to consume.

What the current draft of the dietary recommendations has done for me is reinforce what I have been doing.  It will also help to bring along a shift in the thoughts of the general public.  Plant-based diets are highly nutritious, providing all the essential components needed, particularly when it is a diet with a variety of different plant foods.

I know there are some people out there (my ex-husband for one) who would say that you need to eat meat in order to gain the proteins and amino acids required for a healthy body.  I am not going to argue anyone’s opinion.  But I do encourage people to do the research for themselves and choose the diet that meets their needs.  There is no one perfect diet for every person.  We are all individuals with individual needs.

For myself, and for the positive environmental impact that these changes will produce, I am quite excited to see Canada taking the bold step forward so far with these recommendations.  While it is still in a draft form and there are many changes that could still take place, I am proud to see that the steps are being taken to recognize how plant-based nutrition is advisable for the majority of people.  I would like to congratulate the Government of Canada for taking these steps, and I hope to see this movement expand beyond borders and move into other countries to create a global movement.

simpler times

Heritage locations that showcase how life used to be lived can be a great reminder of just how far we have come.  It’s also a reminder of how much simpler life used to be.  People didn’t have computers, smart phones, or even robotics to help do their jobs.  They used good old muscle power.

I spent the day at one of these such sites this week.  I like to visit places like this alone and truly immerse myself in the sense of what it was truly like at that time.  Why?  Because I hope that the reminder will help me to appreciate what we have now.  Also, to remind me that we don’t need everything we have in this modern life we live.  It helps reinforce my minimalistic lifestyle and appreciate what I have and use daily even more.

We live a good life.  We don’t plow the fields with a horse drawn plow anymore.  Most of us don’t even have a need to grow our own food, so if we do, it is more of a hobby than a necessity.  Imagine the wonder that our ancestors would have had if they were told that growing food would become a hobby!

We are beyond fortunate.  We are spoiled with having immediate gratification.  Taking time to remember this perspective is grounding.  I am grateful for the reminder.

it’s ok to be alone

Everyone walks a different path.  Some people have a need to be in a partnership, and others tend to go from relationship to relationship searching for whatever it is that they need.  Then there are the other people who seem to do well on their own.  These are interesting people.  They depend on themselves and are content to be alone.

This doesn’t mean they don’t have friends or want to go out and have a good time.  They just don’t have a need to be in a relationship to define themselves or feel complete.  I admire this quality.  And as time goes on, I feel that I fit into this group more and more.  I find I need to weigh the pros and cons of relationships with being single every time someone tries to set me up, or I am asked out on a date.  For the last few years, the single me continues to win.

I used to be afraid of growing old and dying alone.  I don’t fear that any longer.  It seems to me that once you get to know yourself truly as just you without outside influences, it becomes easier to live your life as a single person.

Will I stay single forever?  I don’t have the answer to that, but I know that for now, it feels right to be alone, and that it is perfectly ok.

authenticity

Be your authentic self.  Buzz words.  Everyone is saying things like this it seems these days.  But what does it truly mean?

I’m sure we all have our own take on what it means to be authentic.  But without spending time alone with yourself, how do you truly know if you are your own true authentic self, or if you are picking up on pieces of stronger personalities?  How do you know you aren’t just being what you are expected to be?

In this world, being authentic is hard.  There are expectations out there.  Go to University.  Get a high paying job.  Get married, have a family.  Don’t get divorced.  But where in all this does it fit to be truly authentic?

It doesn’t.

I have lived that life.  I was who everyone wanted me to be.  I did the education, I had great aspirations and hopes for a career.  I had the six figures.  I had the marriage and the family.  And all the illusions I had to maintain to keep up that façade.  I was miserable.

I got separated.  Parts of the false me started to fall away.  I opened up about the horrors of my relationship and people were shocked and stunned by what I had kept hidden.  But this is part of my story.  The true me.  I looked at my life and realized I wasn’t happy in that career.  I wasn’t truly interested in doing research or the other things I needed to do in order to be successful in that world.  I dropped it.  And I can tell you, it felt good.  It was a burden lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t realize I was carrying around.

I started exploring who I felt I was.  It was a redefining period of time.  I explored things that made be happy.  I sat.  I meditated.  I did yoga.  I went and spent time with just myself.  I was lost for over two decades, but somewhere in the silence, I found me.

Not everyone likes the me I am today, and I am ok with that.  I have been passed up for opportunities that I am more than qualified for simply because I no longer follow the corporate rules, and that is ok.  I forgive the people and the situation.  I thank the Universe for the experience and go forward knowing that I am exactly where I need to be, because where I am, is where I am accepted for who I truly am.  I am welcomed and encouraged to be my own authentic version of myself.  It has turned out better than anything I have ever expected or imagined.

That feels better than all those goals I had been chasing.  I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy pieces of that time because there are many parts that I loved and would do again.  But knowing now what it is to be fully me, I will not sacrifice my authenticity for any of the chairpersons, department heads or managers that think they have control over my fate.  They don’t control anything.  I am free.

And I am very happily and authentically me.

we all experience a little sadness

We all get into a funk from time to time, don’t we?  I did this week.  I had some changes occur in my life and I know I wasn’t responding to them in the most positive way.  I knew they were coming, it wasn’t as if I was blindsided.  I knew.  I was just…sad.  Sad for the changes because it wasn’t what I was wanting or looking for or even hoping on.

But it happened anyway.

Sometimes change can be difficult, particularly when we do not embrace it.  It is ok.  We are all allowed to be a little sad, or a little depressed, or in that funk.  I think the most important thing to remember is that when we do, we should acknowledge those feelings.  Let them be present.  Sit with them for a while, then let them pass on their merry way.  Without sadness, we do not know happiness.  Without the storm, we can’t recognize the calm.

Don’t be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened.  Who said that?  Dr. Seuss perhaps. It is a good mantra.  I will try to not be sad that it is over.  I am smiling because it happened.  I am pleased to have experienced it all and created the connections I did.  Some things are in our lives for a purpose, no matter how short the period is.  They are all significant in creating us who we are.

Onwards and upwards.