Tag Archives: experiences

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.

2017….

Happy new year to all.  It has been one year since I began my intention to write a blog entry once a week.  I have managed to successfully complete my personal challenge.  I am pleased with myself for having met this challenge, but also, as I read through my entries, I recall things that happened throughout the year and the reasons why I wrote the entries that I did.  Some were happy, some were sad, and some were reflective.  All of them are helping me to grow as a person.

I will continue on with my journey, and maintain my once a week blog entries.  Thank you to those who have decided to follow me.  This project was done in private, mostly away from my personal life.  I believe only two people I know and love are even aware of my blog.  For me, this means that I can write what I choose without fear of reprisal in my personal and day to day life.  For if I decide to write my personal opinion on something that perhaps is not the expected opinion from my colleagues, friends, or family, this now creates tension where tension does not belong.  This goes against what many may believe should be, but I prefer my online presence to be more about my thoughts and feelings, as personal or as raw as they may be at the time I put them to words.  I prefer to not need to defend myself as when I am face to face with others, these things may not be at the surface nor applicable to the personal situation I deal with.

We have heard that online, people tend to be bullies moreso than in real life simply because things that are said in text are easier to say than those words being said directly to someone’s face.  I believe this to be true.  I also believe the other side of the coin.  I believe that it is easier to type in one’s feelings and emotions, to be as honest with oneself in text than it is to say these things aloud.  It does not mean that these raw feelings are hurtful to others, but perhaps to oneself.  Perhaps it is easier to be vulnerable if staring at a screen instead of the eyes of the one who has hurt you.

Either way, thank you for sharing my journey this year.  I wish you all a year of love and success in all that you do.  I wish you joy instead of pain, love in place of hate, confidence not fear.  I wish you the best of you.

Namaste

 

the holiday spirit

I have noticed that in removing the pressure of gifting, I have found space for enjoyment of the holiday season.  I have discovered there is time for social gatherings and enjoying the company of my loved ones.  I have removed the pressures of creating the perfect holiday setting with the decorations and lights and the tens of thousands of calories in baking that I certainly do not need to eat, but would if left to my own devices.

I have found joy in spontaneity and planned outings.  I have frozen my toes just to spend two hours with a small circle of friends as we enjoyed the subzero temperature outdoor concert on the CP Holiday Train.  We have those memories to share.  Of finding a new restaurant and a wonderful new ginger cider.  Of bonding and sharing.  Of quality time without expectations.

I have five holiday parties planned just by my colleagues and employers…departmental, multidepartmental, corporate, family, and our own small staff.  These things do not pressure me this year because all those other stressful components of the holidays are now gone.

Don’t misunderstand me, please.  I do have some decorations up and I adore them.  I have bought presents for my children.  I have asked for them to please stop worrying that they cannot find a way to buy me a gift.  I asked for them to create with what they have if they want to give, but that they themselves are the greatest gift I have or could ever get.  I will bake cookies, but just two kinds and it will be a labor of love to be enjoyed with my children, not one where I scoot them out of the kitchen because they are underfoot.

The holidays are about people and joining together.  Enjoying each other and giving back to the community and those in need.  It’s supposed to last year long, but we all know that people tend to give more at the holidays than they do year round.

This year, I am truly enjoying the holiday season more than I have since being a young child and having all my extended family nearby for that wonderful multitable, multifamily Christmas dinner.  That is what remains in my memories.  It isn’t the gifts I was given.  It was the people that I was with.

it’s not personal, it’s just business

Listening in on a conversation amongst “professional” photographers, I have to say I have been quite discouraged.  And when I say “professional”, read that with air quotes.  As in, people who charge others for the pictures they take, however, there is no membership within photography guilds, associations, or even any certificates from courses taken from reputable sources.  So not professional by any standard.

However, as I listened in to this conversation, one individual was complaining that a client was cancelling their wedding, giving all vendors nearly six months notice, claiming that the reason was a serious illness for a close family member.  The discussion became less about the client’s amount of notice, but whether the individual should or should not return the client’s deposit.  It became about whether the client was lying about the reason or not.  And I discovered as I listened in on this conversation that there was absolutely no compassion to be found amongst these individuals.

Have we lost our humanity for the sake of the almighty dollar?  Was that few hundred dollars worth it when likely the date can be filled with another potential client?  Where did our compassion go, and if it’s gone, should we really be working in a field where we work with people as our clients and as our subjects?  Perhaps some inward reflection would be a good idea for situations like this.

I do not want to be like these people.  I do not want to lose my compassion for my fellow humans.  To feel that the money is worth more than the stress the client is undergoing.  I am not a professional photographer.  My photography is purely for enjoyment, and perhaps this is why I feel differently than these others.  Its times like these where I feel I need to disconnect from these types of photographers.  But don’t worry, it isn’t personal if it’s just business…

living a good life

This has been a challenge of a week.  It’s been a week of pondering, and of considering the words spoken to me merely seven days ago, although it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

My father has cancer.  The big C.

Huge deal right?  Well, my mother had cancer also.  She spent a couple years in treatment, and her follow up appointments have all been positive, showing no signs of new growth.  All positive.  She’s not without her health issues, and the scare we had in summer thankfully was not a malignant tumor but still dangerous in its own right.  But I digress.

The words my father spoke left me feeling oddly at ease, even though we still do not know all the details of the severity or chances of survival.  I’ve had a good life.  I have no regrets.  I have done in my life what I aimed to.

Nobody likes to consider life without their loved ones.  I am not the exception.  My father came back into my life once my marriage fell apart.  My ex kept me from having a relationship with my family, so once he was out of the picture, they were there, waiting all those 20 years for me to come back to my senses.  I feel like I have just gotten my father back, so of course I have considered life without him once again.  I’m not ready for him to go.

My father explained some things to me, and I understand completely.  He is not afraid of death, and for the record, nor am I.  I do not believe it to be the end of our existence.  He has lived the life of his choosing.  He has done all the things he has wanted to do, he has no regrets in this life.  He has lived a good life, by his standards.  He was never rich in monetary ways, but that never mattered to him.  He was rich in much better standards.  He has a family he loves dearly.  He has friends who are family of his choosing that he loves equally as much.  He gives from the depth of his heart and would give what he had if it meant someone else could use it more.  Don’t get me wrong, my father is not a saint.  He is human, and in that, he has made mistakes.  He has made some choices that were less than desirable.  But in that, he is 100% human and we all know there is no one living on earth that is perfect by any stretch.

So I considered the words he spoke.  All week, and likely still will.  I know that he will fight for his life should he need to, but if it is meant for him to leave our realm in any short time frame, he will have no regrets.  He will not weep for the things he had not yet done.  He does live a good life that will be celebrated whenever that time comes.  But I still pray that time is not too soon.

me without you

If you pay attention, there seems to be consistencies in life.  Things that repeat, or certain days or times that seem to be relevant.  Perhaps this hasn’t happened to you, or perhaps you just haven’t noticed it?  I have.

November 12 has been a recurring important day in my life.  Some for small reasons, and others are more monumental.  The biggest one in my life is that it is the anniversary of my breaking free of my marriage.  Yesterday was my four year me-anniversary.  As I reflected back on how far I have come in those four years, I do believe all the hurt and pain, all the problems and fear that went along with it was worth it.  Breaking free from an unhealthy relationship, a controlling relationship, a manipulative relationship was the absolute best thing I have done for myself and my children.

I saw that in those four years, I have stood on my own two feet.  I have found my voice and learned how to use it.  I have stood up for what I believe in, learned to give in a little to the things that matter less.  I have learned that it is not just ok to show affection and emotion, but that it is the only way I want to live my life.  I am unapologetic in how I live, for it is my life, not yours.  I have bought a house but more importantly, built a home with love where my family can feel safe without judgement.  I have grown a family beyond blood that includes all kinds of friends and furfriends.  In those four years, I have learned to explore, to take the next step, to not let my fears restrict me, and to live on the cusp of my discomfort and continue on because this is how we grow.  I have learned to say no when I need to, and to say yes when I want to.  I have indulged myself and grown a passion.  I have let go of the things I thought I needed to be without regret.  I have learned that it is ok to have my own style and that the only one I need to please is me.

In those four years, I have found me.  So the only thing I can say to those who are currently at the start of their journey, or looking at ending a marriage is: I know where I was at and had no idea where the next step would lead me to, but looking back at the path I took, I have no regrets.  I survived as countless others have.  And at your four year you-anniversary, look back and see what it is you have been able to do for you.  You might be amazed to see that the person you are right now is not who you will be four years into your own story.

motivation to declutter

It takes making a mess in order to have things clean and tidy.  I know this, and perhaps sometimes that’s the deterrent to decluttering.  It’s already feeling like a mess, but I’m going to be making a bigger mess.

Keep the end product in mind though.  Decluttering and removing those unwanted, unloved, unneeded items will clear your space for those things you do want, love and need.  Removing those items that bring back hurtful memories and the past that you want and need to part with will also clear physical space for the joyful pieces, but more importantly, it removes the negative items from your head and heart, allowing you to move forward in your life.  One of the most liberating things I had done was finally removing my old wedding dress and wedding cake topper from my home.  Removing those key items from my house was in a way, permission to move forward with my life.  To say yes to my new path, and to be excited about it.

We all tend to collect stuff.  It’s a result of living in a consumer driven environment.  We end up with too much.  It becomes overwhelming.  We look at the mess, knowing we need to clean, but it becomes too much.  The mental work is exhausting.  Let’s put it off for another day…but that looming overhead creates mental clutter.

The mess you make today will serve you for tomorrow.  Don’t wait to get started.  The result is worth it.

life is lived in the mundane

I’ve pondered this statement all week. Life is lived in the mundane.  Such a simple statement that holds oh so much truth and wisdom.  Live is lived in the mundane!  We live our lives day by day.  Some constantly live in the past.  Others live in the future.  Who truly lives in the present?  My Buddhist side tells me to live in the present, to believe that it is important to be present and mindful in order to bring joy and happiness to our lives.

Life is lived in the mundane.

This is what it is to live in the present.  We should consider the daily joys of life.  The little things!  When we are constantly considering what went wrong in the past or how we could have changed our present if only we had done this, or hadn’t done that, we are not living in the present but rather living in the past.  When we are constantly looking forward to that next vacation or that next new adventure to get us out of the drudgery of daily life, we are not living in the present, but rather living in the future.  These things steal the joy from the now.

Life is lived in the mundane!

Consider today.  Consider where you are right now.  What joy is present in your life?  It doesn’t need to be expensive or dependent on anyone but yourself.  Find the joy in the now.  Life is lived day by day.  Be present in the mundane.  Find the precious in the every day.  Observe.  Ponder.  Watch the young and impressionable humans discover the beauty in a dandelion.  Relish those little conversations while stuck in traffic on your way to dance or soccer.  Breathe your lion breath in yoga practice today and really consider how wonderful it feels.  Meditate.  Dance.  Create.  Live.  Because one day you just might look back into the past to see that you never truly lived.

Live your life in the mundane.

 

 

transition and gratitude

Here we are.  I am now at the eight week mark, and said my goodbyes to the career that I have worked for so many years. Two decades worth.  While not a complete shift, but more of an alternate path within the same general field, this transition is welcome, so very welcome.  I have spent two months being grateful for the people I worked with and for the successful career I have had. Thankful for the opportunities and doors that have opened for this next chapter in my work life. Thankful for the friendships and opportunities that arose socially during the past eight years. 

Thankful. 

I don’t think I have been as thankful for so many people and events as I have been with this transition.  Or at least not as consciously. Perhaps it’s because this transition is so key in my life right now, or perhaps it is because I am more intimately connected with my life and my inner self to see how valuable all my experiences were and how truly valuable this new adventure is. 

It is a gift. 

I have said it for the past two months. I have been given a gift. It is not just being handed to me. I worked for this. I will continue to work for this and at it. I will continue to prove that I was the right choice for the position. That I am capable and confident. That I can do more than expected. I will continue to earn the position every day. 

And I will also continue to be grateful for my past experiences. For they have helped to shape my perspective and helped me to grow. They have provided the people in my tribe and given me the support I needed. They have shaped me. I am who I am because of my past. 

Thankful. Thankful. Thankful.