No filters.

“It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”

Anthony Hopkins

I think we all strive for perfection. In some form or another. And I plead guilty to this without hesitation. I am guilty of this to a fault. Some would call it being competitive. And yup. Guilty again. But as with all of the components of my character, I am working on it. I am working harder every day to accept imperfect. Expect nothing and accept everything.

That doesn’t mean I stop trying to get better at things. I still work at being a better writer. A better artist. A better person. I will continue to work hard at my physical and mental health. All of these things are important to me. Essential to my goal of being perfectly imperfect.

I am guilty of wanting to be the best. I am guilty of wanting to have the best hair and the perfect physique. I am guilty of wanting to have the nicer car and the cleanest home. I struggle to not give in to false appearances. To not use a filter on my selfies. To portray an image that simply isn’t me. Please don’t think I am judging anyone for having or doing these things. I am not. I respect everyone’s choices that are made for their own happiness and well being. This is just my choice for me.

A choice I make because it is the best way for me to love myself for me. To accept myself for all my imperfections and flaws. I did not love myself for a long time. I found everything wrong and nothing right. I focused only on an inconvenient blemish or a soft cushy muffin top hanging out of my jeans. I did not focus on my bright smile or my kind heart. On my many qualities that make me someone to be proud of. Instead I felt shame. Shame to be imperfect.

I am working hard to overcome this. I have learned that the only opinion that really matters is mine. That what everyone else thinks of me is simply none of my business. If I love myself, then that is enough. I am enough. And I am enough. And what is most remarkable about this discovery is that the people that have stayed or entered into my life with this new self-love are people that want to share that love. Not take it away.

So this is me. No filters. No glamour. No smoke and mirrors. I am imperfect. And I am beautiful.

Cows and Donkeys.

So I recently took some time to do a long overdue road trip to my hometown in Saskatchewan. I was lucky enough to be raised in this beautiful prairie landscape. I had an amazing childhood exploring the blanketed golden fields and basking under the vast and unending skies that once belonged to me. Or that was how it felt. That it was all for me and me alone. That is how the wide open prairies can make you feel. No noise. No chaos. No weight.

So as I ventured out on my road trip, I reflected. I gripped the steering wheel with both hands as I passed a highway sign ripped in two from the beautiful breeze that is often passing through the prairies. I amused myself by counting the cows along the highway… wait… is that a donkey? That’s new. Okay. Still. I drive. And I appreciate. And I reflect.

I did not always feel that way about the prairies. Like any restless young individual, I wanted out. I wanted the noise. And the chaos. And the weight. I had a thirst for more. I was tired of the vast nothingness. I stopped noticing the endless skies and all the stars that lived there. I focused solely on the boredom that only a young unappreciative brat could focus on. And the cold. And the wind. And the mosquitos. Ugh. Blech. Blah. (Okay still don’t like that stuff)

So I left. I left and I quenched my thirst. Life was not easy as you know but I did learn and I explored and I ventured. And sometimes it was good. Bud sadly, I lost my roots. I was pulled away without realizing what was happening. I was disconnected from what I knew and what would always be there for me. I was blocked from what was my foundation. And I got lost. Someone led me away and I got lost.

It took me a lot of courage and strength to find my way back. And when I did, I vowed I would never break those roots again. As is only the way of a solid foundation, it is always there waiting for you. Waiting to replant the roots and nurture them so they can grow once again. Deeper and stronger than they were before.

Although this is no longer my current home (and I do love my current home), this is and will always be home to a piece of my heart. The people and the landscape house my roots and water and feed them regularly. So I drive. And I appreciate. And I reflect. And my heart is full.

This is all for me and me alone. And the donkey. I can share.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Scars and forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is for you – not the other person. It’s something you do inside yourself that you feel in your body and heart that releases you from your past and frees you to live life fully.”

Barbara J Hunt

My healing process has been slow. I have taken my time. A reason why my process took so long is because of my stubbornness to admit that I have wounds. Chin up. Shoulders back. Move forward. I. Am. Fine.

I have discovered the hard way that to heal your wounds is to admit that they exist. You can’t tend to your wounds until you look at them. Be curious about them. Poke at them and see if they bleed. Then let them. That’s how they clot. And the clot is what closes them. And when they close, they heal.

But they will leave their marks. The scars will always be there and that is not a bad thing. The scars are what remind us that we have weathered a storm. We have the strength to weather another storm. They will remind us that we are who we are because we were once wounded and we healed. They will also remind us to forgive.

To forgive. Oh boy. That’s a big one. I ignored my wounds for a long time and by doing this, I also avoided having to forgive. I was angry that karma didn’t take immediate action and kick some serious ass. But she (or he) didn’t. She (or he) abandoned me. So I was left to watch someone who caused me so much pain, move on as if nothing happened and live a happy little life. I hated that. I couldn’t even think about forgiveness. I wanted revenge.

This year has taught me many things but one is that people are going to be who they are. You can’t change them. You can’t fix them and you can’t change them. Even when they cause others pain and even if they do pay for that pain. Nothing you do will change them. I have learned to accept people for who they are. All people. And through this, I have learned to forgive. To stop looking for karma. For revenge. Just forgive and let go.

Chin up. Shoulders back. Move forward. I have scars and I am not fine. I am great!

I am human and I am a good human. And I am great.

I forgot to keep singing.

“Singing connects the mind with the heart and the heart with the soul. So sing. I dare you.”

Neale Donald Walsch

I remember a time when I used to get in the car and turn on my favorite music and sing along at the top of my lungs. Like a superstar. I stopped doing that. I don’t even know when I stopped. I didn’t even realize I stopped. It just dawned on me one day that I did.

Why did I stop doing these things? When did I Iet things get so serious that I stopped doing the silly things that gave me so much pleasure. The simple things. The things that took no effort at all. I let my mind fill up with all the things that consumed me from day to day. And instead of singing, I thought. I planned. I organized. I stressed. Maybe it’s just me.

I think maybe we all tend to fill our lives with so much. Good bad and indifferent. But we fill up. Our days fly by and we check things off of our lists. Maybe some days we achieve great things. Reach a goal. Celebrate a victory. All good things. But when do we pause? When do we let ourselves be kids again? Be actors practicing our Oscar acceptance speech (yes I did that… so?). Musicians winning a Grammy. Play dress up. Whatever. When do we give ourselves permission to stop being adults and play again.

Yesterday I arrived at a weekend retreat on a beautiful beach. It is an hours drive from my home and when I got in the car, I opened the sunroof, I turned on the music and I sang. I sang for an hour. And it was amazing. I sang loud and bold. And it felt great. Now its your turn. Go jump in a puddle. Put your toes in the water on your lunch break. Laugh at nothing when your walking down the street. Who cares who’s looking or listening. Let them. What’s the worst that can happen. Hey – maybe they will join you. Maybe just maybe you will be driving home from work today and look at the car next to you at the red light and see someone singing. Or just playing the drums on their steering wheel ;).

Take a moment today to be silly. Take a moment to sing. Just sing. But make sure it’s off key. It’s way more fun when it’s off key.

Be a superstar.

Thanks CC for the inspiration on this one 🙂

And there was that funeral.

I was at a funeral last year.  I didn’t know Grant well but he was a good friend of my boss. So I went to show my support. I felt I needed to go but did so grudgingly.  I was even bitter about feeling I had to be there. Don’t get me wrong, I had met Grant a number of times and knew a lot about him and he was an amazing individual. But I don’t do well with funerals. Who does! I know! But I reeeaaalllyyy don’t do well. My anxiety hits an all time high. Especially when I don’t know the person well and really don’t feel I belong there. But I needed to go and I knew that. And I’m glad I went as I could see from my boss that it meant a great deal. I don’t always agree with him but the fact is he has been there for me. And would do anything for me and I know this. So I went.

So I finally get there, late.  Swearing because I had to park far away and because, well… I’m an asshole in this moment.  I’m standing in place outside the seating area just as the service is about to start and up on the screen I notice the dates of his life lived.  1971 – 2019. 1971. One year after I was born. I felt like I got slapped in the face.

The past few days, weeks, months prior to this I had been struggling with depression. Anger. Bitterness. And depression. And a whole big bash of a pity party on top of it. Here is a guy one year younger than me and he has built a successful business, coached and mentored countless kids in hockey, dedicated spare time to snow mobiles and lake life, and had a wife and child that loved him desperately. He had it all.  And then one day he contracted bacterial meningitis and the man everyone knew was gone.  It took 4 months for him to pass but he was gone that night. I had to park far away for a reason. This man was revered.

It made me stop and think. Funny but a funeral lifted my mood. Maybe that sounds bad. But it kicked me in the ass. It’ was time to stand the fuck up again. I think I had forgotten that for awhile. Yes, life is hard. Full of challenges but, I am here.  I am alive and I am capable of anything. I am here.

I walked away from that day feeling a new determination to succeed. To find my purpose and passion. And with that, my strengths and my weaknesses. I need to be weak so I can be strong. I need to be vulnerable so I can be trusting. I need to ask for help so I can help others. I was waiting for life to get easier. But it doesn’t. It never gets easier. It just gets more rewarding.

So this is for you Grant. I can do this. And I will do this.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

Japanese Proverb

Today I walked through a door.

“There is no paycheck that can equal the feeling of contentment that comes from being the person you are meant to be.”

Oprah Winfrey

Life does not wait for you to catch up. It moves and it grows. It continues relentlessly on its path. It is up to us to follow and maybe, just maybe, we can lead. If we work hard and accept that complacency is not an option, maybe we can control it. We can shape it into what we want it to be. What we need it to be. What we deserve it to be.

I left my job after 9 years. That is a long time. A long time of building relationships. Learning new skills and improving on old ones. A long time of showing up everyday and doing the best damn job I could do. And then one day I decided it was time to walk out that door. And my life’s path changed direction. But. It’s not slowing down. It’s still moving. And growing. So must I.

I am so incredibly excited to follow this new path. This fast moving, out of control life’s path. But not so out of control if you really thing of it. I moved the path. Me. I decided. I control that path. We all control our path. Sometimes we just don’t realize it. Sometimes it moves so fast all we can do is try to keep up. And those days are okay too.

Today, this is my path. Mine. And I will direct it and I will determine the speed and the grace at which it moves. I own my path and it will be a good path. A strong and sure path that invites guests to travel it with me. And I am so incredibly excited to have our paths join from time to time. So incredibly grateful that your path and my path bump into each other. For however long. I am grateful.

Life is full of challenges and I choose to walk into them. Face them. Look them in the eye. For me there is no longer any other way.

Today I walked through a door. It won’t be the last one.

Behind closed doors.

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

Charles Dickens

Mental health is hard. It is sneaky and it is consuming. And sometimes it is tragic. You do not always know when people are suffering. You may not have any idea. Because to truly know would be to be in a persons mind. In their heart. Behind their closed door.

Hopefully. You can make a different in the lives of your crew. Your people. Your inner circle. You can pay attention and see when someone is having a hard time and offer them a hand or a shoulder. We see the people close to us. We pay attention to the people close to us. Hopefully.

But we don’t always pay attention to the people that enter our lives every day. Sometimes only for a split second. Sometimes for 50 minutes at a time. Sometimes only once. Sometimes 5 times a week. These are the people we see but do not know. These are the people that sneak by us. Living their life while we live ours.

So think about this. Next time offer them a brighter smile. Ask them more questions about themselves. Notice them. See them. Pay more attention.

And think of this the next time you take your bad day out on some poor cashier.  Or server.  Think about this the next time you ignore someone who is trying to offer you a friendly smile or trying to get to know you.  Think about this too.  And don’t stop thinking about this.  

Be quick with a compliment.  Don’t just think that someone has beautiful eyes or a nice smile.  Tell them.  Use your voice.  Have you ever had a stranger come up to you and pay you an unexpected compliment?  I have.  It can make your day.  It can turn around a bad day.  It can make a difference.  It DOES make a difference. So use your voice.  And use it for good.  Use it to make a difference in someone’s day.  Someone’s life.  

You never know what is going on in someones mind. In their home. In their heart. Behind their door.

Think about this. Be thoughtful. Be generous. Open your door.

Rest In Peace GT. You are so very very missed.

And suddenly I realized I had potential.

“Don’t squander your potential living a life that amounts to far less than the one you are capable of living.”

Zero Dean

Okay so I stated a while back that I would elaborate on the project management job which became a turning point in my journey. I meant to post this sooner but… things kinda happen. Better late than never, so here it is.

I have worked many different assistant jobs in my adult life. Never staying at one place long enough to make anything of it. It didn’t matter if I liked a job or not. There were always issues. A co-worker was a little too friendly and the jealously set in. The hours occasionally went late or a night shift for inventory was required. A weekend out of town to facilitate a client event where infidelity was most certainly inevitable (in his words). There was always something that eventually gave me no other choice but to move on.

Then 14 years ago I had an opportunity to work as a project manager. I quit the latest assistant job and gave it a shot. After a huge learning curve and being thrown in way over my head, I figured it out. And go figure… I was good at it. No, I was great at it! I earned the respect of my employer as he knew I was picking up pieces that no one else was available to pick up. We developed a great working relationship. Had a great time working together too. I loved my new job. I was thriving. I looked forward to going to work every day. I felt like someone. I felt respected.

But when I got home, that feeling disappeared. My confidence was building. We were fighting all the time. For the first time I started to think about what life would be like without him. I was even close to leaving. I would tell him how much I loved my job and how good I was at it. I was even starting to make good money. It didn’t seem to matter. In his opinion, the job was taking up too much of my time and my boss only wanted to sleep with me. Eventually I wore down and agreed to quit. I was devastated.

Before I had a chance to hand in my resignation, he got offered a transfer with his job. I was relieved as now at least I had a legitimate reason for quitting. For being a quitter. I felt like a coward. I felt weak and controlled. I felt deflated.

But. Now I knew I had potential. I knew that I could accomplish something that was hard. I knew what it felt like to be respected. This was a turning point in my journey because I discovered that I matter. That I could do whatever I set my mind to.

Suddenly I knew I had potential.

And I laughed and laughed.

“The human race has one really effective weapon – laughter.”

Mark Twain

Do you appreciate laughter? Really appreciate it? I hope you do and I hope you appreciate it until you pee. Honestly. There is nothing that can warm your soul or help heal your world like laughter. I know this is something you have heard a million times but… are you listening?

Life is hard. (As mentioned in my blog 2 posts ago.) So what. Laugh. That’s what. There are days when you can do nothing but cry and I have recently had one of those days. Actually two but who’s counting. But. Then it was over and the next day I found me some funny-ass friends and I laughed. And then I sat down and I thought about why I had cried. And I could rationally think about it. And analyze it. And do something about it. Fix it. And I could do all of those things because I took a pause and I laughed.

You can’t be serious all the time. You can’t be sad all the time. You can’t be mad all the time. You can’t laugh all the time either. So mix it up. But make sure you get some of that last one in there because it’s important. I don’t care what you have going on. I do but for the purpose of this post, I don’t. Things are going to happen. Bad things. But you get to chose what you do with them. Be miserable all the time and guess what. Shit gets worse. Promise.

Are you wallowing in self pity? Done that too! Do you think you have nothing to laugh at? Been there. But guess what? That’s baloney. Ever hear of You-tube? There is some funny shit on that. A dog talking about bacon. A toddler pleading his case to his mother, Linda. Ozzy man reviews. A Jim Gaffigan clip. It’s all funny. Oh! Robin Williams on golf! My all time favorite. Google it. I DARE you not to laugh.

Don’t let misery win. Don’t wallow. Don’t stay down.

I dare you to laugh (or at least snort a little).

Life is too short to be serious all the time. So, if you can’t laugh at yourself, call me… I’ll laugh at you.”

Unknown

Sorry, not sorry.

“If you walked away from someone who wasn’t treating you right or loving you like you deserve… that is power. Own it. You loved yourself right out of the life of someone who didn’t love you enough. It doesn’t get any more powerful than that.”

Mandy Hale

I’m sorry. Excuse me. Oh, I messed up. My apologies. My fault… I. am. sorry.

We all do it. Or at least a lot of people I know do. I certainly do. Apologize. Relentlessly. It’s like a reflex for me. Running late. I’m sorry. Didn’t get back to you right away. I’m sorry. I can’t go out with you tonight. I’m sorry. Apology after apology. Truth is I am sorry but you know what? I was running late because I am busy! I didn’t get back to you right away because I had 5 other people to connect with that had more urgent issues. I couldn’t go out with you tonight because I had already made other plans. OR, maybe I just needed a night off to be an introvert. So why am I so sorry? Trying to please everyone all of the time gets you absolutely no where except on a bumpy road to Stressville where the people are cranky and the food sucks.

Everyone has their own reasons for being overly apologetic but I honed my skill in my marriage. Everything always seemed to be my fault. I jumped on the apology wagon quickly so as to try to soften the verbal blows. The anger and the blame. The argument. I didn’t matter what the subject was. I was sorry.

And when I walked away, guess what I said. “I am sorry.”

Walking away from someone who is an important part of your life is extremely difficult. I say an important part but understand that my meaning of ‘important’ is not necessarily positive or negative. Important means they made an impact.

I have walked away from a few people these past years (in addition to that guy). Walked away because they have treated me with disrespect, with jealousy, with indifference. Some people covered them all. All of them have loved me in their own way. I don’t believe that any of them were out to hurt me. But I walked away. I walked away for me.

And I didn’t apologize.

I recently had to turn away from one of the people I love most in the world. I had to turn away because I could not help him. And I tried. Believe me I tried. I tried so hard it took a piece of me that I will never get back. This person is not a bad person. This person just does not see what he is doing to himself and to others. This person refuses to help himself. So I walked away. I walked away for me.

I walked away for me so that one day maybe I can help him when he is ready to be helped. So that I can be whole and strong and ready to help him.

Do you judge me? Go ahead. I walked away for me. Not for you. Not for them. For me. Because I got hurt. Because I was mistreated. So why would I apologize for doing what is right for me? You may not understand my reasons and you may not agree with me but that is your business and not mine.

I walked away from someone I love and it hurt. I walked away and I will not apologize.

I am not sorry.