A belated happy new year.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Oprah Winfrey

I used to be one of those people that couldn’t wait for a year to be over. The end of a crappy year, so I could start a new one. Something better that I hoped was waiting just around the corner.

Then one year, I got tired of waiting for that something better. Tired of having one crappy year after another. Because the problem was not with the crappy year. The problem was with me. I WAS a crappy year.

As we begin 2023, and as with the beginning of each new year, I see posts and comments about ‘Good-bye 2022… Good riddance 2022… Thanks for nothing 2022…’ etc… etc…

Do you really think 2023 is going to magically be a better year? Is there a guarantee that I am not aware that states there will be no natural disasters or world crises? And was there really nothing good about 2022?

Seriously. Nothing?

Come on. If you honestly can’t think of anything, you just aren’t trying. And yes, you have officially become the crappy year. Just like I was.

Now I get that there are circumstances that qualify as being labeled as crappy. Illness or death. Job loss. Divorce. Fires. Floods. The list is, unfortunately, long. Too long. And we have all experienced items on that list to some degree or another. For some of us, to a degree, that is just plain unfair and, quite frankly, bullshit. But no matter what or where or who brought you to an item on that list, there was also something good. Find it.

A sunny day. A puppy. A good joke. A great cheeseburger. A found quarter. This list is, fortunately, also long. Equally, and possibly, hopefully, longer. And no, I am not asking you to blow rays of sunshine out of a unicorn’s ass (see the post from April 5, 2020), but I am asking you to find one thing to be grateful for today. Just one tiny little thing.

So stop shitting on 2022.

Find the good. Find the sun. Find the puppy. Go. Find. It.

Happy 2023 is depending on you.

Fat, drunk, and broke.

Don’t let people make you feel guilty when you are the only one following all of the rules.”

G.R. Smith

A few weeks ago, I double-booked myself. I had to make a choice of which date to keep and which one to disappoint. It was a difficult choice as both dates were with friends I enjoyed spending time with. But the truth was, there was one that I would have preferred. Yet, I chose the other one.

One of the friends I canceled on questioned my choice and asked why I would not do what I wanted to do? Was I feeling obligated to the other person, and why? Was it guilt?

I had made the chosen date first, so I did feel obligated. And I also felt some guilt because I had not been spending as much time with this person lately. So, I chose it because I thought it was the right thing to do.

In a perfect world, we always do what we want with no apologies or regrets. I think we should all live our lives this way. But it is not a perfect world. The hard truth is that doing what we want to do all the time is not always reality. Not always practical. And that is okay. If I did what I wanted to do all the time, well… Like the catchy title, I would be fat, drunk, and broke.

I can’t eat a chocolate cake every day like I would like to. I can’t drink a bottle of my favorite wine every night like I would like to. I can’t go on a vacation or buy a new Gucci bag every month. None of those things are practical or healthy for me. And sometimes, making the right choice can be hard, but doing the right thing always benefits someone, including me.

I had a great time on that chosen date with that fantastic friend I don’t spend enough time with anymore. And I didn’t feel guilty for making it. So I guess I did end up doing what I wanted to do. No guilt. No obligation. Just happy because it was right.

So go babysit your grandkids because it is the right thing to do. Go to the gym because it is the right thing to do. Cancel lunch because it is the right thing to do. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel obligated. And… (this is important)… don’t let others put those feelings in your head. Feel proud because you rocked that choice.

Signed,

Healthy, sober, and not rich, but not broke either 🙂

Thank you, me.

“Be thankful for every new challenge. Each will give you more strength, wisdom and character.”

Kristen Butler

Happy Thanksgiving. A day to pause and be thankful for all that we have. All that we are blessed with. I’ll start.

  • I am thankful to have an incredible family who supports me and loves me no matter what.
  • I am thankful for nature and the ability to enjoy all that it has to offer.
  • I am thankful to have an amazing partner who shares my happiness and encourages me to go after everything life offers.
  • I am thankful for incredible friends who make life so much more fun.
  • I am thankful for a thriving business and my passion for writing and painting.

Wait…

Who do I thank for all these things that make my life and heart so full?

True, I did not get to choose my family, nor am I in any way responsible for what nature provides, so I am thankful to God or the Universe, or whoever the higher power that you believe in is.

But the rest? I won’t apologize for saying I earned them. Not deserved, but earned. (There is a difference.) Am I grateful? Yes. But what I am most grateful for is the strength and resilience that I have lived my life with every day. The determination to learn from my mistakes. The self-awareness to know when I could do better. And the courage to face the fear of failure or heartbreak.

I left a steady paycheck to start a business and take a chance on myself. To grow and succeed at a level beyond that job.

I recovered from heartbreak to try again (and again), knowing that there was someone out there that would not only share my happy, but bring it to a whole other level. My knight in shining armor.

I set boundaries with people and risked losing friends to surround myself with a second, chosen family, who make me laugh and fill my days with positive energy.

We are accountable for all of our choices. I have said it before, and I will say it over and over again. You get to choose! Choose your friends. Choose your career. Choose your loved one(s).

So what am I thankful for? I am thankful that each time I tried and failed, I got back up and tried again. I am thankful that, by not giving up, I created this life for myself. I chose to be happy. I hope the same for you and everyone else out there.

Be thankful. Don’t give up. Choose wisely. Choose happy.

May you be strong, courageous, and blessed today and every day throughout the coming year. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Trigger happy.

“One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you are going through now, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.”

unknown

So in a previous post, I talked about a TV show about emotional abuse and how I was lovingly warned against watching it out of concern for it to ‘trigger’ me. It really got me thinking about triggers. So here’s my follow-up…

I fear that we are overusing a few terms like ‘triggered.’ More and more often, I hear people talk about being triggered. Anxiety. Depression. Trauma. These are all valid and concerning things. And one of the more positive things the past few years have brought is mental health awareness. Which is great. It needs to be talked about and brought to the surface.

And maybe I am way off base when I say ‘overusing’, but I am getting a little sick of hearing about getting ‘triggered’. And before you get all huffy on me, let me first say that there are a lot of people suffering from trauma and PTSD that legitimately and tragically get triggered. It is a horrible thing and can affect your ability to live a happy and successful life. It’s brutal and unforgiving so please don’t think I am brushing this off. I am not.

But for the past few years I have noticed something. Suddenly I seem to be hearing about everyone’s anxiety every time I turn around. Or how something triggered them. And how they just had to ‘take a break’ for awhile. How they were realizing that an incident on their second birthday with brother Johnny throwing their cake on the ground was causing them to get fat. (I’m making that one up so don’t start asking me who has a brother named Johnny).

My concern is this. Is this taking away the validity of the young girl who has a mental breakdown almost every morning because going to school is just too scary for her, causing eating disorders and serious physical health problems? It is taking away from the guy who can’t or won’t go to sleep at night because he knows the nightmares from trauma are waiting for him, and the lack of sleep and fear is causing him to sink into a depression with suicidal tendencies?

I could go on and on and on and on… mental health is a real issue. PTSD is a real issue. Anxiety, depression, and yes, triggers… real issues. But to what extent? How debilitating are they? Are you fighting through them or using them? Be honest.

I have suffered trauma. I went through 24 years of being in a toxic situation. And I recovered from it. But not because I sat at home and let it win. I pushed through it so I could become part of the solution. Not the problem. I know it is not easy. BELIEVE me, I know. I’ve had that morning where I couldn’t get out of bed. I hit my low. But I eventually got out of bed because, more than anything, I wanted to win.

I never used my trauma as an excuse to not face a challenge. I never used it to get attention or cause drama. It was a part of me but not something I would ever allow to hold me back. And now, I live a happy, full, thoughtful life free from anxiety and triggers because I created that. I want that for everyone.

I know this can be a sensitive subject, but I am writing this because I think people with real issues are being thrown into an overpopulated pool and getting even more lost. And the more lost they get, the further away they are from the help they need.

So, if you can, please don’t use your triggers as an excuse. Use them as a strength. Think about how you can overcome them and be stronger. Climb out. Get out of the overpopulated pool and give others, that can’t overcome them on their own, more room to be thrown a life preserver.

Just something to think about.

If not now, then when?

“Be fearless in trying new things, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, since being afraid can challenge you to go to the next level.”

Rita Wilson

This past weekend, I attended a writers’ festival. The Wine Country Writers’ Festival, to be precise, if you were wondering. I had no idea what to expect or what I would get out of it, but I figured, what the heck. Let’s see what it is all about.

Within the workshops, I was able to participate in a blue pencil. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. Neither did I. I had never even heard the term blue pencil before. But I signed up for it because I figured, if I am going to do this, then I should do this. By the way, a blue pencil is a brief and helpful critique of your work.

I also signed up for the opportunity to pitch with a publishing company. I was pretty nervous as it was another first for me. It was the last thing on my agenda for the weekend, and I was pretty ramped up. I had big dreams about the results of this pitch. Not hopes, but dreams.

I didn’t ‘hope’ the publisher would pick me up because I knew my book was not ready. But I did ‘dream’ that they would be in awe of my story and gushing with praise and encouragement. You know, the dream that we all secretly dream of, involving us becoming famous and renowned. The dream of us accepting our award or having a crowd hang onto our every word. Or maybe that’s just me – hey, dream big, right?

But. They didn’t gush. They had good, positive feedback, but it was pretty much the same thing I had heard in my blue pencil. I left feeling slightly disappointed even though I told myself repeatedly that I could not expect to be an overnight sensation. Again, I knew my book was not ready and that this was a long learning process for me. I have no prior writing experience and no formal writing education. I am new at this, and I am green. That’s just a fact.

But it doesn’t stop me from doing it. So. I shook that little girl disappointment off, and I straightened my shoulders, took a deep breath, and remembered why I came to the festival in the first place.

It wasn’t to become an overnight sensation. It wasn’t to win an award. It was to spend a weekend in a room full of like-minded individuals and learn a thing or two. And I did. I learned so much. Most importantly, I learned that I have more work to do. And that it was totally okay. I have more direction. I have more insight. I have a plan of action on what to do next. A plan to make my book the best book I can make it.

I could have skipped this festival because I knew I wasn’t ready to be published. I could have skipped it because I have anxiety about being in a room full of people I don’t know. And I could have skipped it because I had never done a pitch for a publisher before and had no idea what I was doing. I could have skipped it for all of those reasons. But I didn’t.

I knew the only way I would know how to do those things was to do them. Experience them with no expectations. To not be afraid of the possibility that I will be the only one in the room that doesn’t know what I am doing.

Just go and do and learn. No expectations. No fear. Because if not now, then when?

Today is the day. Go try.

My biggest competitor.

“Competition is healthy. It makes you work harder and strive for more and try to find that extra one or two percent in your game that you could possibly improve.”

Bernhard Langer

Do you compare yourself to others? I do. And when I feel I fall short of someone else in whatever it is they are superior to me, I focus on having what they have. And if or when I do (mostly if), I find someone else to compare myself to. It’s a never-ending battle that I mostly lose.

So why do I do this? Why do I always want Beth’s house or Matt’s car? Why do I want my butt to look as good as Jen’s? Or my waist to be as skinny as Kate’s? Does this sound familiar? (these are fictional people, so, no… I am not talking about you).

I am asking myself today: Why do we always want what everyone else has? Why are we constantly comparing ourselves to others and not just focusing on what we need today? Let me tell you, it is a race without a finish line.

Instead of looking at others, I am trying to look at myself. Not today, but yesterday. And that is the new measuring stick I am trying to use. Am I better today than I was yesterday? Did I screw something up yesterday and do a better job of it today? Maybe I gorged myself on buttered popcorn or drank too much wine yesterday, and I am not proud of it. Perhaps yesterday was not a productive day because I was just too damn lazy to think of new ways to market my business. Maybe I just wasn’t my best self.

But today is a new day.

Today I am going to try to do one thing better. Because yesterday’s me can always find something to improve upon. One thing I can do better. And if yesterday was a great day, I can just try to repeat it and practice consistency. A consistent day of, a good day, is still a better day.

So who cares if someone has fancier things or better hair or whatever… Big whoop. This competition has only one runner in the race. Me. No one else is trying to get ahead in my lane. Hell… they are not even running on my track.

So today, I will run for me because this race is only about me and I get to choose my pace. I get to control my progress and kick ass. Or not, and lace up again tomorrow.

Either way, I win.

The Traffic Jam

“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

Leo Tolstoy

Heads up… I am going on a bit of a rant here but stick with me… I do get to my point eventually.

I live in West Kelowna. Now, if you know the Okanagan, we have a bridge connecting Kelowna and West Kelowna. That bridge takes on a lot of traffic, especially during our tourist season. Everyone blames our traffic problems on that bridge, but the problem is not with the bridge.

First off, one source of the bridge traffic is downtown Kelowna – it doesn’t matter how fast you get across the bridge if you stop at 5 red lights within 5 city blocks. It’s not rocket science as to why traffic is so bad.

But I digress…

The other source of the traffic problem is impatience. Now hear me out… There is a way to get around the bulk of the traffic going from West Kelowna to Kelowna. You can exit about 2 km before you get to the bridge and then merge back onto the highway right at the mouth of the bridge. Saves time, right?

WRONG

I have tested this theory twice. I picked a recognizable vehicle that I separated from at the exit, and both times, I beat the vehicle to the bridge. When I stayed on the highway, the vehicle that took the exit and merge route was still waiting to merge while I was clearing the bridge. I was faster.

What’s my point, you ask? I stayed in my lane, and I got to my destination faster. While sitting in that traffic this morning, I realized that this is something I have been learning in life. Stay the course and practice patience in the process.

All the important things I have in my life have taken time to build and strengthen. A great relationship takes time. A successful business takes time. A healthy body takes time. And none of those things will be accomplished faster by taking the exit and trying to merge back on later.

There is no pill you can take to get healthy faster. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that will get you to retirement more quickly. And no secret route will get you to your destination faster. If you keep on course, work hard, focus, and be wise, it’s all right in front of you.

Stay in your lane, my friends. You will get there.

Gravel roads and potholes.

“Life is like a highway, no matter what they say, the construction is never finished. There’s always gonna be bumps in the road and detours every now and then.”

Nishan Panwar

Do you ever feel like sometimes the path you chose is always the rougher one? The unpaved, rocky one? I do.

This is not self-pitying or a hard-knock life; woe is me post. I just somedays wonder why everything has to be complicated. Every time I think I finally get to coast for a little bit, I hit a pothole. Ugh. I’m not going to lie. Somedays, I think my shocks are wearing out.

But I persevere because what choice do I have? True, I could kick and scream or pound my fists. Or both. Lie down on the ground and cry like I am sure I used to do as a toddler. And possibly the odd time when I was a teenager. I’m not proud of that but hey… I was a teenager.

But now, I am a grown up. Whether I like it or not. And with maturity comes the responsibility to push forward and face the challenges that come our way. Deal with it. And find a way to smile through it. And if we really try, we can not only smile through it but laugh and learn and pat ourselves on the back through it.

But it makes me wonder. What if some of us were just built to hit the potholes and some of us were built to swerve around them? I mean, think about it. If we all managed to swerve around them, no one would know they are there. And then no one would flag them or fix them.

Everything happens for a reason. There is something to that. I believe in it even though admittedly I often struggle to figure out what that reason is. Like why do children have to suffer? Or any good person for that matter? Why do we lose loved ones in tragic and sudden accidents? Or watch loved ones suffer through a terminal disease? I will never know the answer to this and neither will you. But I do wonder if sometimes we are dealt challenges only we can handle. Or to teach us a lesson. Or to push us into being a leader for someone who is struggling to deal with their own battle. These are all valid points that are worth considering. And somehow considering them makes me feel a little better about this damn gravel road I can’t get off of.

So maybe I was meant to hit the potholes. Maybe I was meant to replace my shocks regularly. Someone has too. Why not me? I am under construction so why shouldn’t the road I’m traveling be as well.

I guess I should start investing in caution signs! 🙂

Saving babies.

“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Well it seems I have some forced time on my hands this past week and so I find myself back at the keyboard to write. It’s a good thing… which brings me to my point.

Slowing down.

Like everything that appears in my life’s path, I grab it, study it, analyze it, dissect it and of course… overthink it. This surgery is no different. What lesson can I learn from this? What purpose is it serving in my life and what is it here to teach me. Hey, I did include overthink so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It dawned on me this morning as I set in to clean up my coffee remnants and put together my breakfast. Bracing myself for yet another simple task that the past week has been a little more difficult than normal. Taking more time than normal. I expected all of this and I was ready for it. But it exhausts me a bit more each day.

I am already eager to get back to my normal pace. The pace that sees me mule packing groceries into the house so I only have to make one trip. The pace that causes me to spill water all over my floor because when I fill up my water bottle from the painstakingly slow fridge dispenser, I can’t use two hands. Why would I? The other hand could be so much more useful washing an apple or putting away dishes. Just silliness, I say.

So when one of my limbs – my tools – breaks down, I have to slow down to compensate. I am no longer able to juggle a plate on a toe, a glass on a finger, a spatula on a hand and a bowl on a knee. It’s true. I am human and I have limits.

It’s horrible. Or is it?

Stopping at each move to plan carefully and ensure I don’t hurt myself is new to me. Being delicate. Being methodical. Purposeful. And realizing that at the end of the day, I will still get fed. Dogs will still get attention. Clients will still get their results. Contractors will still keep working. My social life will still exist.

At the end of the day, I am not saving babies. Everything will happen in it’s own time and at it’s own pace and no one will be ignored or deprived. And maybe, just maybe, it will get done better and stronger than it was before. Before I thought I was super woman.

Maybe slowing down is a really good lesson to be forced to learn. To prioritize. To place importance on things that deserve it and not so much on the things that don’t.

Slow down. Breathe. Think. Do.

The helpless independent.

“Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I just had surgery yesterday. I needed to get my bunions fixed. I hate even saying that! It makes me sound old and frail. I know that is silly but still… It’s my foot and I can be silly.

I have been putting it off for years. Originally had it scheduled for the fall of 2016 but chickened out at the last minute. I had just separated from my husband earlier that year and was finally getting my independence back and functioning as a happy healthy adult again. So I just wasn’t ready.

So early 2020 I decided to get myself back on the list. I couldn’t put it off any longer… but then ‘you know what’ happened and that list was a long wait. I finally got the call at the end of April and was scheduled in for May 13. Friday May 13. Why not? I’m not superstitious so it’s as good a time as any.

I was away visiting my brother when I got the call so by the time I got home, I had 10 days to prepare. Making lists and checking things twice. Scrambling to figure out how I was going to get around for the next 6 weeks plus with only one functioning foot.

I worked long hours to get completely caught up with my business. I cleaned my house and did my yard work. I rearranged my house to make things easier. I planned, I shopped, I moved things, I packed things… I got ready physically.

But mentally? Sheesh… that one was beyond a checklist.

I have written before about the importance of asking for help and how challenging this has been for me for a very long time. Most of my adult life being afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It is a skill I have been working hard at for the past 6 years, 4 months and 8 days to be exact. And I am now scheduled in for my final exam. A real life test.

And so far I am proud to report I am passing with flying colors. I have help enlisted around every corner. And all because I felt confident enough to to ask. I didn’t just let this date come without much mention. No, “I’m fine on my own”. Because I knew I wouldn’t be. I knew I needed help and I am accepting that I cannot do this on my own.

And now I am proving to myself (even though I have always known it deep down) that asking for help is not only courageous but proof that I am truly not alone. I never have been. I just had to stop being so scared to see it. To depend on someone else without the fear of being hurt. Does it make me nervous? A little, yes. But nerves are a part of life. Que Sera Sera.

I am not scared anymore. I am not alone anymore. I am helplessly independent. And loved. So loved.

Special thanks to T and S for being by my side. XOXO.

(And also to note that if you are first hearing about this please know that it does not mean you are any less special to me… I just haven’t had enough time to get to all the wonderful people in my life to keep you in the loop… still love you all!)

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