Tag Archives: reflections

glory of peace or glory of war

Yesterday was Remembrance Day here in Canada.  As a child, I would go to parade and watch as my father participated.  As an adult, I would attend out of honour and duty to those who have served the country and for those who lost their lives during war.  It has been ingrained in us that we should consider these people heroes, giving the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

I do not disagree.  They did give their lives fighting for what they believed in.  I will not take that away from anyone.

What troubles me is that I want peace in the world.  I know many people want peace in this world; yet we create things like movies, books, and yes, parades, to glorify war…all in the name of peace.  It feels like an oxymoron.  I am conflicted.

I, too, once considered a military career.  I had trained myself physically for the task, and I truly believed that this was a career path that made sense.  Life chose something different for me, and I believe there must have been some universal or divine intervention on that one because I do not know how I would have managed a career such as that with the inner turmoil I feel when it comes to war and fighting other humans.

So, how do we justify the wars and losses of life when we look at a world pining for peace?  How can we move forward when we constantly remind ourselves of the conflict that we could not overcome without mercilessly killing other humans?  Will our human race ever be able to rise above the seemingly ingrained desire to fight in order to create a harmonious planet?

I did shed tears yesterday, as I often do on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  I shed tears this year because I fear that we will never achieve that balance, globally.  Not so long as we have people who are willing and eager to eliminate others because they believe that their way is the right or only way.

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reframing

We all, at one point in time or another, have experienced something negative.  Something beyond our control that affected us in a less than positive way.  Perhaps it was the abrupt end to a relationship or being forced to move out of an apartment before you were ready.  Maybe you were released from a job that you were incredibly good at, and still cannot figure out why it happened.

These kinds of things can affect us in a negative way, sometimes leaving us to think that we did something wrong or were responsible for the event, and as such, we take responsibility for the consequences.

But what if we shifted our thinking?  What if we reframe those events to see that events can happen independent to us, even though they affect us?

Positive things can happen from negative points in our lives.  What if that relationship needed to end in order to see that there was a host of mental and emotional abuse involved, creating a harmful environment to you, but you just couldn’t see it until you were on the outside looking in?  What if that apartment that you loved was simply too expensive, but you found a smaller flat closer to work that allowed you to walk there, thereby allowing you to spend less on rent, not have to pay for public transportation, and increased your level of physical activity which not only results in a healthier you, but you also lose those couple of pounds that were troubling you, and you also have extra money in your pocket at the end of the month?  Or that job that you loved and were so good at, but you now realize how very toxic that office was that you now, in your new job, feel less stress because there is not the constant talking behind every one’s backs, and your new job has a superior support system where they can see your amazing skills and potential, but not only that, there is also an incredible benefit and pension package that goes along with your new position.

Some say that things happen for a reason.  Perhaps that is true.  Whether they do or the don’t is beside the point.  What we can work with is how we look to these scenarios.  We can choose to see the negative, never having closure as to why the people in that office were so hurtful to you and why you never received closure as to why you were let go.  But, we can also see that these negative things need to happen so that we can truly and honestly appreciate when something wonderful happens, without taking it for granted, assuming that all things will work out the same way.

Reframing our outlook changes how we view the world.  It can make us appreciate the good in our lives, even when there are terrible things happening in our 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

renewal

Spring is often a time of change.  With the changing seasons, the melting of the winter’s snow, many of us look to spring as a time of change and renewal.  A fresh beginning.  We have spring cleaning which revives our homes. The sun coming up earlier gives us more energy to tackle life’s challenges, and maybe even for us to set new goals and plan for achievements.

I know for me spring is all of those things.  I look towards the future and see what I might like to change.  I review my five year plan, my finances, and see if my goals are still in line with my personal outlook on life.  Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t.  When it’s not, I adjust the goals to match my current philosophy or state of mind.  Life events change how we view things.  We maybe realize that having that Mercedes isn’t as important as it once was.  Maybe we see the value of striking out on our own and creating that dream business.  Maybe we stick out our necks and try to publish that book that was a private labour of love.

Whatever spring may mean to you, I hope it is fruitful and joyous, as life is meant to be.