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!)

My friend Fred.

“Fearless is not the absence of fear. Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you.”

Taylor Swift

Is there any such thing as being fearless?

Over and over I have heard people make a comment about others appearing to be fearless. “I wish I could be more like them, they are not afraid of anything…”. I have even heard the comment directed at me. And I can tell you honestly that nothing could be further from the truth.

So that poses the question for me… Is there any such thing as fearless? Do fearless people exist? Or… do those brave, accomplished souls we envy just treat their fear differently?

Let me share with you how I deal with fear. What role does it play in my life because fear exists for me every single day? It is always present. Riding alongside me wherever I go. Afraid I don’t have enough knowledge to do my job correctly. Afraid I am not talented enough to commission the next painting. Afraid to go on a first date… or a second, for that matter. Afraid to publish my book.

I am afraid of almost everything and anything, but fear is not my enemy. The only enemy is me IF I let that fear rule me. IF I let that fear stop me. I have accepted fear as a part of my everyday life. I have stopped waiting for it to go away to move on because I have learned throughout my anxiety-riddled days that fear will never go away. So the only way I would do the things I wanted to do was to take fear along with me. Hold its hand as I walk. Pack it up in my backpack and lug it around with me. Tie it up in a bow and wear it fashionably around my neck.

My fear comes with me everywhere. It has become my constant companion and I now welcome it. Now when I sense fear, I feel like I am on the right track. Challenging myself. Pushing myself. Fear is my motivator. It is my friend… I think I’ll name it Fred.

So Fred… where are we going today? Let’s kick some ass shall we?

The laws of division.

The Law of Division observes that over time, a category tends to divide and become two or more categories.

How much time does that division take?

It seems to be that two years is sufficient in some cases. A category, let’s say humans, tending to divide into two or more categories, let’s say the anti and the pro. Oh… and the ‘I’m sick of talking about it’ (my category, by the way).

Yet here I am. I have done a pretty good job of refraining from using this blog as a platform to voice any opinions on the current pandemic situation. But. I am not really breaking my ‘no comment on the pandemic’ rule as I am not actually commenting on the pandemic.

I don’t think we can even call it the pandemic situation anymore. The pandemic, to me, no longer seems to be the main issue. The division seems to have taken front seat.

So I am ready to comment on what is happening to our way of life. Friendships ruined. Divorce lawyers thriving. Good people making questionable decisions. And bad people… well, making even worse decisions. In our quest to be heard, to encourage change, to be brave we have lost something. Respect. And an open mind.

We are forgetting that every decision we make affects someone else. Maybe one person, maybe an entire neighborhood. Regardless of the number, chances are someone out there is reacting to our action. And although we may be acting out of valor, our action may be having a negative effect and we just aren’t seeing it.

Why? Here’s my thoughts.

We are assuming that the freedom we feel we are losing is the same freedom that our neighbor is losing. It isn’t. Our circumstances are not the same and we are not the same. We are all each and every one of us beautiful individuals that put value into our own individual freedoms. And just because one is more important to me does not mean it is equally important to you. It does not make me more than you and it does not make me less than you. But it does make us both human.

So weather you are honking a horn or safely staying in your home, you are fighting for a freedom that is important to you. Remember that. Stop judging. Stop trying to convince another to value your freedom over theirs. We have all lost something. ALL of us. Our ‘some’ things just happen to be different things.

We are all individually beautiful individuals. We are all important. Our freedoms are all important.

P.S. If you think I am supporting one side or the other with this post, please read it again and imagine yourself in the other category. Does the message stay the same? It is my intent that it does.

Go easy on me.

Title sound familiar? It probably does unless you haven’t turned on a radio in the past month. The new song from Adele has been played over and over and over again. It is a beautiful song and I love hearing it. Who doesn’t love listening to Adele.

Today I found myself listening a little closer to the lyrics. Picking out each word from her beautiful melodic lilting voice and finding meaning in them.

When I focused on the chorus it struck something in me.

Go easy on me, baby
I was still a child
Didn’t get the chance to
Feel the world around me
I had no time to choose
What I chose to do
So go easy on me

I looked up the meaning of the lyrics as Adele had intended them to be but like all works of art, it is open for interpretation. And here is mine.

For the past 6 years (today is the actual anniversary of my most courageous act of walking out of my home – which I just realized as I was writing this… anyhoo)… For the past 6 years I have dug deep to come to terms with the fact that I led myself into a life that was less than pleasant. Yes, there were strong influences around me but ultimately, I made the choice to go down that path. And because of that, I had someone very important in my life to forgive.

Me.

Go easy on me, baby, is a message to myself. For years I had a voice in my head that made me feel less than. Even after I was on my own, that voice continued to tell me that I needed to do better. Be better. Perfection. Nothing less. Make better choices, don’t make mistakes, don’t fall down. Don’t be sad, don’t wallow, don’t get angry. Don’t, don’t don’t. Be, be, be. It was exhausting.

So when I took special note of these lyrics, this is what I heard.

Go easy on me, baby
Forgive yourself
You were still a child
You didn’t have the chance
to make a better choice
It’s okay now
To forgive yourself

And I have forgiven myself. Today, on this noteworthy day, I was reminded of how far I have come. How whole and confident I have become. Reminded in the most beautifully soothing and precious way. Today, I am proud of who I am and all the flaws and crazy that come with me. We are all flawed and imperfect. And we are all worthy of forgiveness.

So go easy on me, baby. Go easy on you, baby.

Thank you Adele for this beautiful Freedom Anniversary gift… Damn, now I am going to cry every time I hear this song…

My book, my baby.

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

Last May I published a post about writing a book. I have had some people asking how it’s coming. So here is an update.

I am happy to announce the book is completed. Okay confession time. The book has been completed for months now. Like about 6 months to be honest. Finishing the book was an amazing feeling. A crazy accomplishment that I was immensely proud of. A holy shit moment where I sat back and said, ‘I just wrote a book… holy shit’.

And then I felt lost. I had nothing left to write. My baby was all grown up and my job was done. So now what?

Like a parent who’s baby really has grown up, we do feel a bit lost. Like we are no longer needed. But we are. We are never done. Maybe comparing writing a book to parenting a child is a little off… nothing is as difficult as raising a child. However for the sake of this blog I am going to use that analogy. So… we are never done. We are still needed. Sometimes for direction… a bit of advice… and sometimes to push them forward a little bit further. Like a book needs pushing forward.

But in this case, I had no idea how to do that. How to encourage this baby of mine to move forward. And so I procrastinated.

I re-wrote the book. I edited the book. I gave the book to some friends to read. Then I edited the book some more. I searched the world wide web on information on how to publish a book. I spoke to self-publishing companies. I looked up Literary Agents. I signed up for the Writer’s Union. I procrastinated all under the guise that it wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what the next step was and found everything too overwhelming. So I procrastinated day after day. Giving myself deadlines and ignoring them as they passed by.

The truth was, I wasn’t ready. I was afraid. Afraid I would be laughed at. Or even worse, completely ignored. That I wasn’t good enough to be a published author. Who was I kidding? I’d never written a book and I had no business thinking anyone would want to read it. There are millions of authors out there. Unpublished. And all of them better and more qualified than I. Or so I tell myself.

But then I reminded myself of a line I once heard listening to a Brené Brown podcast, ‘What’s worth doing even if I fail?’ The answer is this. This is worth doing.

This morning I submitted my manuscript to be professionally evaluated. It’s not off to the publisher yet but it’s the first step. Maybe they will laugh at me. Maybe they won’t. It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that I try. That’s all that ever matters. Try. And you just never know how far that baby’s going to go…

That baby might just grow up to be something great. Maybe not. Either way you will love that baby with your whole heart.

And all because you tried.

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