Tag Archives: inspiration

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.

the gift of joy

The old adage “‘Tis better to give than to receive” has been spoken so many times.  I feel like sometimes it has no meaning left anymore.  In this world of materialism, of keeping up with the Jones’ despite what it does to our bank accounts or stress levels knowing the financial strain it places on us just to keep up.  The world we live in wants more and more.  Gluttony abounds.

For so many years, I would go and buy presents for myself (including when I was still married because my ex couldn’t make any effort to do anything for anyone).  I would wrap them and place them under the tree.  On Christmas morning, as I unwrapped these gifts that were labelled as being from everyone else, I would pretend to be surprised by the gifts.

I am no longer doing this.  This year, I have been forthcoming with my children and told them that I do not need gifts under the tree.  You see, my sons, knowing that there is not a significant other in my life and knowing all my family lives far away, they realize that there is nobody who can take them out to buy me Christmas presents.  Their father? I think he would sooner see me dead than help them buy gifts and they know it all too well.  They don’t dare ask.

So this year, I have invited my boys to join me in choosing a senior from the community who is in need of items.  We went down to our local London Drugs and chose a card together off the tree.  They wanted to choose a man, so we did.  Many asked for essential items such as deodorant or razor blades.  Our senior did also, but he also needs a blanket and would like some socks and such.  We have gathered up the items requested, and added in some chocolates, tea, and handmade men’s slippers.  I am currently making a new hat for the gift also.  We will together write our holiday wishes into a Christmas card, and when finished, we will take the package back to the store where they will give the gift to our senior.

The other gift I am giving myself is the gift to another single parent.  Being in the position I am, I know how sometimes the holidays can be difficult without extended family nearby, and to do all the Christmas stuff yourself as a single parent.  I am gifting a photoshoot to a single parent (maybe two, dependent on time), who has no family nearby.  The photoshoot is for the parent and their family.  No strings attached.  No contracts.  No expectations for ordering images.  The photoshoot is going to be done because it feels good to give something to someone else without any expectations.  The parent will receive all the photos edited on a memory stick and they can be printed or not, shared or not.  Totally up to them.

This, to me, is what the holiday spirit is about.  It isn’t about how much you get.  It isn’t about how much you spend.  It isn’t about outdoing the other parent in a bidding war over the children’s love.  It’s about integrity, compassion, and caring for those in our lives and our communities.  Christmas is about loving one another regardless of race, creed, personal preference.  Christmas is about harmony.  Christmas is about joy.

I believe this will be my best Christmas yet.

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.