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.

30 cows, 28 chicken.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Wayne Dyer

30 cows, 28 chicken. How many didn’t? The answer is 10.

The answer doesn’t make sense does it? Or… maybe it does. Maybe if you look at it a different way. Maybe if your perspective alters just a little it will change how you read the question. Read it again. Look at it again. Try and see it from another point of view.

We all get stuck in our ways. Our opinions. We read things that support our opinion and call it research. We find news articles or documentaries or (insert eye roll here) social media rants to support that opinion. And then we tell other people that don’t have that same opinion that they are wrong. Because their opinion does not support what you have set out to find. What you believe is your truth. Even though they have done that same truth searching. That same ‘fact checking’ only from a different perspective.

They read the joke differently than you did.

30 cows, 20 ate chicken. How many didn’t? The answer is 10. (I know, it’s a stupid joke but maybe it gets the point across)

We all read things differently. We put emphasis on words or change their meaning (or spelling) to hear what we want to hear. We all do it. It’s our nature. And that’s okay. It’s not bad, it’s just your interpretation of what is happening around you. And now you see how easy it is to instigate confusion or misdirection with one simple word. My real point is that you don’t get to judge someone else for their interpretation. You are not Judge Judy.

So read your sentence however you want to. That’s your choice. If your note happy, rewrite your own sentence. Leave everyone else’s alone. Life’s too short to criticize anyone else’s reading skills.

It’s also to short for stupid jokes so my sincerest apologies.

P.S. Thanks for the stupid joke Les.

A TV show review.

There is a new Netflix show out right now that seems to be all the rage. It is called Maid and is based on a memoir written by Stephanie Land. It is getting a lot of recognition on social media… a lot of talk around the water cooler… a lot of praise. If you haven’t heard of it, let me give you a quick synopsis.

It is a story about a young woman who leaves her emotionally abusive spouse and the challenges she faces in the aftermath. A lot of people told me that maybe I shouldn’t watch it. Concerned that I would become ‘triggered’ by it. Well, if you know me, you know that is just issuing a challenge. So, of course I watched it.

And did I get triggered? No. I found it an incredibly interesting story and one that I could pick apart and dissect based on my own experiences. Especially in the beginning. In truth, I felt a little disconnected from the story. Mostly due to the differences in our situations.

The character in this show has a 2 year old daughter. She also has no job. She has no loyal friends or reliable family to turn to. She has only the car she leaves with in the middle of the night and a small amount of cash in her bank account. Which dwindles very quickly. She has nothing but a need to get away and a desire to remove her daughter from a toxic situation.

This was not me. I was very fortunate to have a job. A place to run to. And no dependent child to feed or shelter. I had it easier. I had a head start.

So for the first half of this series, I could not relate but I could feel for this character. My heart broke for this character and the hardships she endured trying to find her way in a broken system that does not have enough resources to help someone in need. After all, as she states, there are no bruises. No police reports. No physical or recorded evidence of abuse.

And then half way through the series something happened. I’m not going to tell you what and ruin it. That would be rude of me. But let me say this. The first half was about her struggling with the system. Walking through the logistics of finding a job, shelter, childcare and all the other things that a lot of us take for granted on a daily basis. The second half was about the emotional struggle.

Bam. Now I’m in it. Now I get it. This is the part that no one talks about. No one understands. This is the part you can’t explain to anyone because once again… there are no bruises. No police reports. No proof.

It is only a feeling that is inside of you. A state of mind that no one but you can truly understand. A level of crazy that is instilled in you. Doubting yourself every day. Wondering if you imagined it. If you made it up. If you are the crazy one. This is something that people need to see and hear and feel. But they can’t. Because it is inside you.

This show did not trigger me. Not in the least. It did however make me want to go climb to the top of a mountain with this character and feel the freedom of getting out all over again. Feel that feeling of independence. Strength. Courage. And sanity. Glorious beautiful sanity.

The only criticism I can offer – because this is a TV show review – is that the story was too brief. To condensed. Because reality is, getting out does not happen that quickly. It takes way longer. Way more fails. Way more missteps and wrong directions. But you just simply can’t cover that in 10 shows. So I get it. This is TV after all or at least a story adapted for TV. A condensed and marketable version of this woman’s reality.

So if you watch this show, know that there is so much more to cover. So much more awareness that needs to be out there so that maybe these systems can be less broken. So that maybe help for someone who is without a job, money or a home can have more hope. Feel safe. Feel sane. Have that head start that I had.

Here’s my closing… this post isn’t just a TV show review. This is a plug. A request. A little ask from me to you to consider giving this broken and struggling system a little helping hand. There are Domestic Violence shelters everywhere. Help them out with a little donation. It doesn’t have to be money either. Used clothing, children’s items, non-perishable food, your time. Anything and everything helps. It’s a worthy one and one that your friend, sister or even your brother (yes men are victims of this too) may one day need.

Just something to think about… thanks.

The second fire.

“You don’t always have to be holding up the walls. Sometimes the walls are there for you to lean on.”

Me

At first I didn’t want to write this because I had already written a post about a fire. But then… Then my neighbors garage burnt to the ground and once again, I was inspired to write about a fire.

Once again, within a few short months of each other, a fire hit close to home. This one only 2 doors down. This time I could feel the heat on my cheeks as I stood inside my back entry watching the flames engulf a garage. Listening as the small but frequent explosions cut through our backyards as what I can imagine were chemicals and fuels igniting like a burst of caps from a toy gun. A very loud toy gun.

I watched as the fire trucks arrived. One by one. 3 trucks in total. I watched the firefighters from those trucks do their jobs diligently, efficiently and fearlessly. I watched the flames being reduced to smoke and steam through their efforts. And as the flames disappeared, I saw what the fire had left behind.

Burnt skeletal remains of 2 x 4 framed walls that were once holding up a roof. Charred rubble of unrecognizable motor bikes and cars and other items that typically fill up a garage. The siding on the backs of both of my neighbors houses melted. A camper with part of the side torn off. A shed half missing. 2 more cars with their sides melted…

And the 3 large trees that span the length of 2 back yards and end at my eavestrough. The 3 large trees that reached to where a garage once stood. The 3 large trees that were singed, shrinking back from the inferno that threatened their own lives. But it didn’t. The trees, though badly singed, survived. The trees that I looked at knowing that if they would have lost the battle with the fire, so too would have the homes. Very likely my home included.

But they didn’t and my home stands untouched. My home, my yard, my property. All untouched. All unscathed.

In the short time since the fire was conquered, I have wondered what would have happened if the trees would have went up. What would I have done. And tonight as I was able to sit quietly with my thoughts I wondered if my own positive energy and strength were enough to keep my walls standing. Unharmed. If I alone am enough to keep my life balanced and whole.

This thought wasn’t sitting well.

All I could see in my mind is my walls, my home, scarred from a fire that was not in my control. Not in my power to stop. No matter how strong I put my mind too it. I could not stop it. Then it dawned on me.

It is not in my power to protect my home. It is in my home’s power to protect me. And it did. Brilliantly. For a rare moment in my life, I realized that I don’t always have to be the strong one. I don’t always have to be protecting someone or something. I don’t have to fix it. I don’t have to control it. I don’t have to… I just don’t have to.

Sometimes it is really nice to let go and be protected. From someone or something… it doesn’t matter. My house is not an inanimate object. It is animate. And it is my home. And it is here to protect me and be strong for me and hold me up when I can’t hold myself up. And it is okay to sometimes, maybe a lot of times, have a need to be held up. To be protected.

It is my home and it is strong and powerful and beautiful. I take care of it so it can take care of me. That’s how it’s supposed to work right?

I think I like that. This thought sits well.

The green monster.

“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.”

Unknown

Jealousy is a funny thing. We all suffer from it I think. We just don’t admit it.

It comes in different forms. And it is not always what we think it is. The obvious state of jealousy that comes in the form of mistrusting a spouse or partner. Or wanting what others have. A better car. A better boat. A better house…

For me it comes in the form of others successes. Accomplishments. I read about a social media star who has just published a book and the green monster creeps in. I tell myself she only got published because she’s a social media star. It can’t actually be a good book. It’s probably just fluff. And she’s so pretty, which is mostly filters and photoshop, which isn’t real but she will probably sell her book because she is pretty and kinda fake.

I know… so rude right? Truth bomb… I’m a bit of an asshole sometimes.

The bottom line is, I see others succeeding and I am jealous. Jealous because I have not yet reached my goals. Because I am not where I want to be in my career, my finances, or my relationships. I see others and I either find a reason why they are doing it wrong or I find a reason why it is easier for them than it is for me.

All of it bullshit. All of it based on jealousy. All of it my own insecurities of not being good enough. Smart enough. Driven enough.

But that is just my own green monster that lives in my head. I am just plain and simply jealous of others who are further ahead than me. Wishing I was further ahead… wishing things would just fall into my lap and poof! I am living my dream life.

But when I stop and think about it… maybe I am living my dream life? Maybe the process of getting to where I want to be is the dream life I need. Each moment it’s own success story. Each loss and each win a step to be proud of. And when I think about it, I have accomplished a shit ton – yes, that is a technical term – of goals in my life. I may not be done with them yet but so what? Who set the deadline? No one else. Just me.

So when I hear of someone who has reached goals that I haven’t, I have learned to cheer them on – or at least I try too. If I can, I ask questions about how they did it. What they would do differently. How was the experience and how incredibly exited I am for them.

I silence my own insecurities and shut my green monster up.

And you know what? Turns out that feels pretty good.

Silencing the green monster is freeing. Ignore it’s ugliness and your motivation will increase. Your attitude will be more positive. Your life just plain happier. Stop begrudging others their accomplishments just because you aren’t there yet.

You will be in your own time and on your own terms. Without your green monster.

And PS to the social media star who just published a book, congratulations! I wish you all the successes you dream of… keep going after it sista!

Why wouldn’t a guy.

“Don’t look back and ask, why? Look ahead and ask, why not?

Neil Patel

There is a saying in my family… it started with a podcast called the Monday Nooner that my brother-in-law listens to. In the podcast they consistently ask the question ‘why wouldn’t a guy (or girl to be politically correct and all)?’ And so we have adopted this saying. After all, why wouldn’t a guy?

It is a great question. One I try to live by. Instead of always asking the question why would I… ask why wouldn’t I? Try it. Practice it. It will give you a complete change of attitude I promise.

We consistently try to fit ourselves into these boxes that social norms tell us we need to fit into. We carry burdens and weights that stress us out and leave us feeling empty. Depleted. Tired. But we keep trying to make it work. Constantly sacrificing our own needs for those of others. Doing what everyone else expects us to do. And why?

Well why indeed. Who is forcing you? Who is making your rules. Who is the boss of you?

It’s not that simple. Yes I know. And your right, it’s not. We have children to take care of. Bills to pay. Responsibilities. We are needed in 17 different directions at 17 different times of the day.

But is that really necessary?

Here’s a little exercise. Each time you ‘have’ to do something, ask yourself why. There is no wrong answer to this question. It is just simply being truthful and honest with yourself. Just yourself. No one else. It’s just you. So ask and answer but be real.

Let’s use a simple example… Why can’t you go for lunch with a friend when you know you should be cleaning up the yard? What will the neighbors think if the yard is messy for one more day? One more week? And how much do you really care what the neighbors think?

And if you answer this honestly and your answer is that you care more about what the neighbors think than having lunch with that friend… well, that’s okay too. Clean up the yard and good for you. But if you really would rather go for lunch… then go. Be the boss of you and your own thoughts. Make your own choices. Control your own actions. Enjoy your life on your terms and not anyone else’s.

Now take it a step further. Challenge yourself. Take a risk. Step out of that box and give something new a try. Stop doing what everyone else wants you, expects you, to do and start asking yourself…

Why wouldn’t a guy?

P.S. Thanks for inspiring this Les. I know you have been waiting to be in one of my blogs… now you are. I wrote it for you because, well… why wouldn’t a guy 🙂

The return to the Inn.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”

Lao Tzu

I spent this past weekend at a place that had some beautiful memories. I was hesitant to go as I was not sure how I would feel. But as always, facing hard things helps us move past them. Move forward. And so I went back to the Inn.

I knew it was time. Time to create new memories. Time to accept that life doesn’t always give you what you think you want. And there is always a reason for it even if you can’t see it. Trust that the reason is there. Trust you are on a path to better.

Memories are a funny thing. They shape us but that shape will depend on how we treat those memories. There are happy memories, sad memories, tragic memories… they are a part of our lives. Make us who we are or more importantly… more accurately… who we chose to be. They do not define us.

Memories are something that are only ever meant to be in the past. They are never meant to live with us in the present. Or the future. They are things that happened. We can carry them with us and hold them tight. Filling our emotional space to capacity. But they are not meant to be held. They are meant to be let go. To give them freedom to live in their own space.

Those memories I have from that Inn were ones that I did not want to let go. I wanted to hold them tight. But the further away time took me from that place, the more those memories started to suffocate me. Prevent me from moving forward and living freely.

Hanging on to those memories was only preventing me from making new ones. Filling up a space inside of me that needed to be free. Free to receive ideas and possibilities. Free to explore and learn. We think that letting those memories go, loosening our grip on them, means we are discarding them like they didn’t matter. Forgetting them. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We can never forget them. We should never forget them.

But we do need to create space to make new ones. New people, new places, new lessons. New happy.

Love and honor your memories by letting them go. Smile at them, love them, let them go… and go back to your Inn.

The fire.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Hellen Keller

We have had a troubling summer in the Okanagan to say the least. The busiest tourist season I have seen in 14 years. A backward slide in our Covid recovery. And then the fires.

All of this has been heavy on all of us. But we are making it through as we always do. These things are not necessarily in our control but how we react to them is. And so I have been doing my best to adjust and adapt and stay positive.

Until last night.

As I sat on a patio having an early dinner with a group of friends, a little puff of smoke over my left shoulder caught the eyes of my companions. Along with most of the patio, I turned around to observe this little puff grow. Grow until we witnessed bursts of bright orange flames reach towards the sky with the angry and aggressive attitude that only fire can express.

It was frightening to see how fast this little puff turned into a full blow forest fire located seemingly directly above the town of Peachland and the homes that lovingly dot its mountainside.

By the time I reached home, the fire had expanded to another dangerous and encompassing nightmare. The winds fueling it along with the others already existing and uncontained. I witnessed water bombers track through the sky like highway traffic flows on the TransCanada.

I watched from my back yard as the smoke and red sunset haze filled my vision. And my heart began to break. I fought back tears as I thought of the men and women already exhausted from a summer filled with the battle against mother nature and all her fury. I fought back tears as I thought of families packing up to leave their homes. I fought back tears as I packed my own bag for ‘just in case’.

And I fought back tears from my own exhaustion of trying to stay positive in a time where there just seems to be no end to a battle we didn’t start and we can’t seem to end.

This is a trying time for all of us. We may occasionally lose the battle of staying positive but we must never lose the battle of staying kind. Being there for each other in our exhaustion and sadness. Reaching out a hand through our own tears to comfort a neighbor next to us that is fighting back their own.

It’s okay to cry for these times. It’s okay to stumble and fall. We have each other to get through this with. So please just be kind. Stop trying to place blame. Stop bashing the tourists for not knowing what we know. Stop berating the health officials for doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. Stop being unkind and start being helpful. Start being the solution and not the problem.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Be patient.

And be strong… this too shall pass and we shall persevere.

The mid-life crisis crisis.

Ah the mid-life crisis. It’s been around forever. Experienced by so many. So what is this ‘crisis’?

We very easily reference this crisis when viewing a friend, family member or co-worker doing something out of their norm. Something no one expects of them. Whether it be leaving their partner, quitting a job, or maybe just buying that expensive and impractical sports car. We see this and we judge it. We tsk tsk it. And we label it a… ‘crisis’.

Personally, I don’t think that is fair. Is it a crisis to question where we are in life? To want something more or be hungry for adventure? To search for some excitement in a life where up until now, we may have been busy taking care of others and not ourselves?

In my opinion, this is not a ‘crisis’. It is an awakening. It is a realization that the best parts of our lives aren’t over yet. That we have so much more to do and see and conquer. It is an opportunity to face our fears. Take some risks. Live a little bit more and maybe fulfill a potential that we have long since forgotten about.

What we do when we come to this moment in our lives is not always the best choice. True. Buying a shiny red convertible that we can’t afford is not the right way to deal with it. If you can afford it, hey… no judgment here. Go for it. (And come pick me up for a road trip…) But it won’t fix what you are feeling. It won’t fill that void that you are feeling. It is only a temporary but happy little band aid that will eventually fall off and leave you looking once again for… something.

Instead, look a little deeper. Think about what is working and what is not. What is it that YOU need. Do you need to challenge your mind? Do you need to take better care of your health? Do you need to be more adventurous or learn something new?

The ‘crisis’ is that we don’t often look deep enough. It is that we make a rash decision and settle for that band aid and mistakenly think that it will solve our problems. We are an impatient species and have been trained to want everything now. A quick fix. A temporary happy.

Maybe if we just take our time and start looking at this as an awakening, it won’t be a crisis. Maybe if we realize that life is a journey right until the very last day and not just until we hit mid-life, maybe then we wouldn’t find ourselves in this crisis. But instead, find ourselves in a moment of wonder and excitement about what is up next. What is the beautiful next year or decade (or tomorrow) going to bring us?

It’s all in how you look at it. How you label it.

Do you want to have a crisis? Or do you want to have an awakening?

You chose.

“People may call what happens at midlife ‘a crisis,’ but it’s not. It’s an unraveling – a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re ‘supposed’ to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.”

Brene Brown
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