Tag Archives: inspiration

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. 

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.

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.

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.

rediscovering passions

Everyday life sometimes gets between us and our dreams.  We work to pay the bills but there is oftentimes an underlying passion that sits there.  An unrealized dream.

Sometimes things happen in our lives to make us remember these things.  They send us down a path where we face them again and again, re-sparking that passion that was lingering with a slow burn under the layers of drudgery that is daily life.

When that happens, we are almost forced to listen.  We see it there, hazy like waking from a slumber, where it is all but forgotten.  That is when you know you need to pay attention to those dreams.  To determine how you can make those dreams a reality.  To set goals to achieve what it is you’ve always wanted.  Don’t back down now.  Something out there is calling to you.

You live this life once.  Don’t let your opportunities pass you by.  Find your way.  Find your happiness.  Because when you do, you won’t have regrets at the end of your days.  Live your dream.

spring

Spring is here, relatively speaking.  There is still snow melting, but the days are longer, and the sun is feeling warmer as it peeks through my windows.  It’s a time for regeneration.  Spring cleaning has already begun in my house, although I find it rather unfair to call it spring cleaning since I attempt a deep clean every season, and often get ahead of myself when I am waiting for spring to arrive.

Spring is that time of year where I feel like second chances are possible.  Perhaps it is a time to rekindle a friendship that didn’t weather through the winter very well.  Or it can be a time to reinvent my style at home, redecorate or rearrange the furniture.  Maybe a time to reinvent myself just a little bit.

Spring brings me happiness.  I love the green grasses that start peeking out.  My first tulips that seem to be in a hurry to show their faces to the world.  I love the Easter feel of renewal; the pastel colors and fresh beginnings.  I love that the bikes can come out of storage and wake up from their sleepy six months of snow inhibiting activity.  There are more people out walking their dogs, and you can see neighbors that have been hibernating for months just as we have.

In just a few short days, April will be here.  With April brings a concentrated writing camp that I am looking forward to participating in.  This is just another piece of my personal growth, and I am very much looking forward to it.  It is one more way I plan to grow this year.  I hope you will enjoy your spring as much as I intend to enjoy mine, and I hope you find ways to grow yourself.

do more of what you love

I have had a week where I was able to spend time doing the things I enjoy.  There were still things that needed to get done, like take the little ones to school and make dinner, but I did these things in a way that I preferred.

We walked to school, which is a convenient 5 minute walk.  We brought the dog both ways.  We didn’t need to use before and after school care this week, and that made a huge difference in how much time we had to do things together and the free time they had without having homework or meal time.  Our days suddenly gained a lot of time.

We made meals that were fun and delicious with organic whole foods that were deliciously vegetarian.  Dinner became a joy instead of a chore.

It’s amazing how the simple things take on more enjoyment when you have time.  Less stuff means less to clean.  Less to own means less to owe.  This gives way to freedom.  The less you need to work to pay the bills for the stuff you need to clean.  Seems pretty straightforward, no?  With less, you can do more of what you love.

an ordinary girl

Is there such a thing as just an ordinary girl?  As I observed the women’s marches that had occurred yesterday and viewed the posts in social media, I realized just how diverse we are.  So what is ordinary anyway?  I feel like there is some 1950s-eque stereotype that is attached to the words ordinary girl.  You know, the type who has the house clean, dinner ready, and standing at the door waiting for her dear husband with pipe and slippers in hand.

Those days are gone.

What I see now is everything but ordinary.  I see women working as welders and carpenters.  Artists, doctors, dentists, marine biologists, paleontologists, corrections officers.  I see body builders and make up artists.

The only common thread I see is that we are all different.  We all dance to the beat of our own drummers.  I believe the ordinary girl is no longer.  We are all uniquely individual, and I think it’s wonderful.  We are all strong in our own right, just as it should be.

value human interaction

I have been reminded lately of the importance of human interaction.  In this, I mean how important it is to have contact with others.  Physical contact, verbal communication, or whatever it is that satisfies that personal need.  We all need to be valued in some way.  To be appreciated.  To be wanted.

To be loved.

Remember those who play a role in your life, no matter how small.  Thank the person holding the door open for you as you enter the mall to buy those last minute gifts.  Smile at the lonely woman sitting and looking out her window as you walk to collect your children from school.  Give a compliment to a stranger for no other reason but to spread a little joy to the life of another.

In this world of smart phone abuse, I watch as people walk down the street and hallways with their faces buried in screens.  People no longer notice those around them.  I feel the isolation of technology affecting society, and I urge everyone to be part of the resistance here.  Let’s not forget our humanity and our human interaction.

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.