Category Archives: Weekly Posts

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.

the ultimate rollercoaster ride

There are days where I have so many topics that I want to write about, and there are others where I sit at my computer with white page syndrome. I have nothing. Nothing wants to come out. Nothing wants to be told. Nothing is tearing at the seams, dying to be sent out to the world.

Today, there is much that I could tell you. So many things have happened this week. It’s been a week of trials. Of endings and of beginnings. It has been a week of reconnections and of goodbyes. Tears and smiles.

But at the end, sitting here on a Sunday morning with my coffee and keyboard, it has been a week ending in peace.

There are times where that roller coaster of life takes you up and down at immeasurable speed. It can flip you upside down when you’re not prepared for it, and it can take you through corners where you feel like you just might fall off the rails. But at the end, it always gently coasts you to a stop at the end of the ride.

That has been my week this week. Sometimes it feels like the whole month or maybe the year has been that way. Maybe life in general is a roller coaster ride. What it does for me is it helps me to reset. It helps me to see that even if at one moment, I am in that seat, upside down and hanging onto the harness for dear life, that it will come back to being right side up, and I will gently roll back to the point where I need to be before the ride starts all over again.

chasing dreams

We all have desires that we hope to fulfill.  Perhaps it is a particular end goal, like finishing a graduate degree, or maybe it’s one that continues to evolve as time goes on.  Sometimes that dream gets modified as we grow and realize that the particular dream we had no longer suits us.

Over the last few months I have taken steps to work towards realizing my own dreams.  There are many of them actually.  Some of them are lumped together, and others stand alone.

Sometimes it takes courage and a leap of faith to take the next step.  That is something I discovered.  Sometimes it takes an external event that makes you realize you’re wasting time.  Other times it might be that internal fear of failure that stops you from realizing your dreams.  Don’t let it.  Life is too short to keep putting your dreams on the back burner.

You only regret the things you didn’t do.  You’ll live with the what-ifs and never know if you would have been a great success.  Or if you found a way that didn’t work, because if you tried, there is no such thing as failure.

So, dream, yes by all means.  Keep dreaming.  But then take that dream and one step at a time, turn that dream into your reality.  What will you see when you look back after you did?

perspective

A few days ago, I met a friend for a long overdue visit.  I have been in awe of this woman since the day we met almost nine years ago.  I adore her.  We gave each other the Cole’s notes version of what has happened in our lives since our last get together, and I think every single time she tells me what she’s been up to, she continues to amaze me.  She inspires me to be a better person simply by being who she is.  She is the woman I most admire, hands down.  It isn’t because she has won the Nobel prize, or has a triple PhD.  It’s because she is completely and entirely comfortable in her own skin.  She is confident, composed, calm.  Not only that, she inspires the same in others without having any expectations other than to just be the best version of yourself that you can be, because that is what she is also trying to do.

As we sat and talked, the topic of trees came up.  Without the context, it may seem irrelevant to speak of trees, so just trust me that it had great weight in the conversation.  Two days prior, we had a storm that downed many trees in the area.  One happened to be in my neighbor’s front yard that fell into my house.  It caused some relatively minor damage and certainly an ounce of inconvenience since I could not access my front entrance very well, and had to walk around my garage to make it to my house, but nothing unmanageable.  That night, after coming home from my regular Wednesday night meeting and coffee with fellow photographers, the sun was still out and the weather shifted to become a rather welcoming late evening.  I decided to take the dog for a walk and assess the damage to the neighborhood.  Walking down residential streets and the trails, the sounds of chainsaws echoed throughout the community as neighbors cleaned the fallen trees and branches in their yards.

After our walk, I came up to the tree laying heavily on my front steps and took a good close look at her.  She was beautiful.  Even though the blooms had not been ready to open, I examined the clusters of buds on the tree top; the ones too high to be able to see when she was standing tall.  But here, she was at eye level in all her beauty.  I grabbed my camera because I felt compelled to capture this glimpse of her life before it was taken away forever.  At this point, the sun was starting to set above the rooftops.  I realized how beautiful the sunset was in behind the tree, and in several shots I was able to capture that as well.

What struck me most is how much beauty there was in the destruction that occurred mere hours before.  How this perfectly imperfect tree could still be so beautiful laying on her side, how the day could turn itself around from the hundred kilometer an hour winds and driving rains to the gorgeous burnt orange sunset I could see amongst her branches.

There is beauty despite the damage.

It seems somewhat like a metaphor that can be used in so many ways.  Many of us are like that tree or like that storm.  Perfectly imperfect, damaged but still with immeasurable beauty.  Perhaps it is in how you view your environment.  Some would surely say the tree was a nuisance, but I am glad that I took the time to thank Mother Nature for the gift she gave me, even if it was fleeting.

The tree is gone now, but I have some memories of her and some beautiful photographs with a story that needed telling.  I am grateful for my friend who saw the value of my story for many may not have understood what I was feeling.  I thank the Universe for her timely fashion in bringing us together when she did.  Long overdue, yet perfectly on time.

quality time

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.

mother’s day

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.

cultivating creativity

Creativity is a huge part of my world.  I see my world through the lens of a photographer, remember things with a writer’s pen, and dream with a painter’s brush.  My soul breathes creativity, and it warms my heart to know that my children have inherited that gene from me.  While it sometimes breeds frustration when we cannot achieve the product that we have dreamed of in our mind’s eye, the process is still very important.  As I watched my younger one crochet his own creations at the tender age of ten years old, he can see what he wants to create.  He has taken my guidance and moved beyond what I have given him and created more…turned it into his.

What comes with this territory is frustration, upset, sometimes a couple tears, but then it ends in pure joy.  The joy that you don’t get from buying an item, but one of soulful satisfaction for doing it yourself.  It may not be perfect.  It may not be the product envisioned, but it is a unique, one of a kind item that was created with love, determination, creativity, positive reinforcement, and joy.

what strength means

You could look at the literal word and think of bodybuilders or construction men or firefighters even.  That is simply physical strength though.  What about the other strengths out there?

Strength to me is determination and courage.  Strength is the struggling student who works a full time job, still makes it to classes and still completes all the requirements to graduate and move their life into a new plane.  Strength is the cancer survivor who stays positive during the surgeries, the radiation treatments and the chemotherapy while still being that positive beacon for her children and her husband.  Strength is the father going into that surgery knowing full well that he may not wake up from the anesthesia yet taking the chance because if he doesn’t, the cancer still wins.  Strength is the wife who stands by his side and supports him because that’s all she can do.

Strength is the child who stands up for his friend against the schoolyard bully, even though he fears being the next target.  Strength is the single mother who gets up and goes to work every day to a job that causes her pain, yet she goes anyway because that is what her children need her to do.  Strength is the woman who leaves an abuser before it goes too far.  Strength is the man suffering depression, but he still gets out of bed every day.

I see all these people around me.  Perhaps they do not see their strength, but others do.  Strength is all around us.  We all have our own battles.  Some are more visible than others.  Don’t judge others based on what you think you see, for their story is like an iceberg: you may see the tip poking out above the surface, but the rest of the story and reasons for who they are and why they do what they do are hidden underneath in the dark waters.

Have an open mind and an open heart.  Give acceptance and love.

simply you

The other day I went to visit my doctor.  As usual, he asked how I was doing and if I was seeing anyone.  My doctor likes to keep tabs on me since he knew the issues that occurred before and during the divorce.  He always asks how my children are coping as well.

Am I seeing anyone?  No, not really.  But do I want to be?  Well, that got me to thinking.  Then the next day I read a brief article on the benefits of being single.  That got me thinking even more.  There are a lot of benefits to being single.  You are the only one spending your income, so you choose where it goes.  You decide if you use a credit card for a high-cost item or if you decide to save up before purchasing it.  You decide how to pay off debt (like divorce debt), and how you allot your dollars.  You decide how to decorate your home.  Are you a minimalist or do you like to fill your home with things?  Your choice.  You decide if you want a pet, and if so, what kind?  Do you want to travel?  Where do you want to go?

Here’s the best one.  You become utterly and solely you.  When in a relationship, partners tend to pick up on certain pieces of the other partner’s personality.  Quirks, sayings, behaviours.  These things tend to blend.  The dominant personality tends to overshadow the less dominant personality.  You essentially become the same person.  However, when you choose a life of being single, you know that who you are is simply you.  And that is a good feeling.