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

Know your limits.

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”

Richard Bach

Do you know your limits? I mean, do you really? If your answer is yes, I have another question. How do you know?

We all have limits but most of us don’t actually know what they are. We set them prematurely so that we can feel safe. Protected. We confuse our limits with our comfort zones and we let fear dictate what we can and cannot do without actually trying. We don’t even think about it. We just convince ourselves that it can’t be done. That we can’t do it. We set our boundaries and live within them.

Let’s define boundaries. Boundaries are a line that marks the limits of an area. For example, the limits we set with other people and which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us. These are good boundaries. Good limits.

Let’s look at another area. What are the limits you have set for yourself in regards to your career? Is that last promotion all you will ever need? Is your business doing everything you dreamed it could do? Or do you want more but your afraid to rock the boat… take a risk?

Limits are hard to find as we all know that when we push past them, we can get hurt. We can fail. And this applies to all areas of our lives. Our personal relationships, our careers, and most certainly our dreams.

Have you ever felt the sting of failure by pushing past your limits? If your answer is no, then the answer to that first question is also, irrevocably… no. You don’t know. You can’t possibly know your limits unless you have actually pushed past them. And that’s fine if you are okay with that. But at least be honest with yourself and answer the question truthfully. Accept that and live happily within that acceptance. There is nothing wrong with it.

But.

If you are not happy with it, change it. Find those limits. Challenge yourself to get that promotion or start your own business. Write a song and share it. Take a risk and fall in love. Fall down 50 times learning how to wake surf. Write a book.

It is only once you have pushed past your limits that you can define where those limits are or should be. Only when you have felt the hurt or disappointment of something not working out that you can know where the lines need to be drawn and the boundaries need to be placed. If you have always lived within them, you don’t know how far they can be pushed out. How far those boundaries can expand.

Let’s define boundaries again. A line that marks the limits of an area defined by the lessons you have learned through having the courage to try harder.

So know your real limits. Push that boundary.

Find it. Shove it. Create it.

Then do it again.

I found home.

Home
[hom] noun

a gathering place for family to join together in laughter. the one place you will always be surrounded by those who love you. a place or feeling of belonging.

I just returned from a road trip traipsing across the prairies with multiple stops in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It was rejuvenating. It was gratifying. It was exactly what I needed.

Recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about where I am at. Not just in life but geographically. I love where I live but I am fortunate to be at a place in my life where I have flexibility. It is never as easy as just picking up and putting down but there are always options if you want to look for them.

And so I decided to go on a road trip. My family is mostly in Saskatchewan and I was due for a good long post-pandemic visit. Plus my wonderfully young dad just turned 80. So what better reason to pack up the car and hit the road.

And hit the road I did. Stopping in old stomping grounds in Alberta. Reconnecting with friends who I have missed terribly. Seeing changes in a city I spent almost 20 years in and yet feeling like I never really left.

Then through the fields along the straight and flat Saskatchewan highways. The beautiful skies and gold canola keeping me company the whole way. Passing through little towns I have long forgotten about.

Spending time hiking, kayaking, boating, climbing (yes.. Saskatchewan has a hill), camping, and of course a little pool side chilling. And through each stop and each adventure, I took notice. I didn’t just look. I absorbed. I felt the sun. I felt the wind. I felt the heat and the chill. And of course… I felt a few mosquitos.

For years I have been so in love with the Okanagan that I never thought there was anyplace else to be. I became an Okanagan snob. Truly. I am an outdoor person so it is an obvious place for me. And I do still love it. I love every mountain, every lake, every ridiculously large spider that crawls near me.

But the past two weeks something unexpected happened. I fell in love with the prairies all over again. My snobby attitude took a hike and allowed me to see everything with an open mind. An open heart.

It caused me to really stop and think. I still don’t know where I want to be or when. My five year plan is and likely always will be unknown. No one can predict that far ahead. But I realized that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter where I am or where I go. I will find something to love. I will find beauty and peace and adventure. I will because I look for it and that is who I am.

And I did look for it. And here’s the biggest and most important take away… it doesn’t matter where because the surroundings are only a small part of the beauty that encompass us. Because the most beautiful thing of all that surrounds us is the people we are with. It is most striking in the smile of your mother. The arms of your father. The stories of your siblings. The laughter of your friends.

It doesn’t matter where you are standing. It only matters who you are standing there with. Home is not about where. It is about who.

For me, it doesn’t matter where I chose to go or where I will be in 5 years. Home is in a person, not a place. And I am so lucky to have so many homes.

Thank you to my many homes. You are my beautiful.

Every child matters.

Remembering the 215 Indigenous Children that never made it home.

I am struggling to write this one. I want it to be perfect. My intent is not to offend anyone. I only want to encourage everyone think. To have compassion. And I want to keep the awareness of this story in peoples minds and hearts for as long as I can.

I read a book a few years back titled ‘Indian Horse’ by Richard Wagamese. It is a story about a native boy who survived the residential school he was forced to attend. It was my first knowledge that these residential schools even existed.

I was angry when I read this book. But just a little. Because I still didn’t understand the magnitude of it. It was in the past and there was nothing I could do about it now so basically, I could ignore it. And after all, it was just a book.

And I didn’t recall learning anything about these schools through my formal education so it was easy to put it out of my mind. I dawns on me now that it is possible I didn’t learn anything about them when I was in school because they were still open. That is how current this story is. And that is why I wanted to write this.

Because this is not hundreds of years ago. This was in my time.

I don’t view myself as a racist or prejudiced individual. I think of myself as not much different than anyone else around me so this is hard for me to admit but here it goes. The truth is, I am not innocent. I have been heard saying things like, “I didn’t take anybody’s land so why am I paying for it”… “None of this is my fault so why should it affect me”. My attitude was one of complete ignorance and indifference. And I am ashamed of it now.

Because recently, everything changed for me.

When they discovered the remains of 215 children buried at a Kamloops residential school last month my heart hurt. 215 CHILDREN. Children that were taken from their homes and forced to go to a school where they suffered and/or witnessed unthinkable abuse. A school that was in full operation until 1969 and as a day school until 1978.

1978. I was eight years old when it closed. Eight. These children could have been playing in a playground at my school. They could have been my playmates or my parents playmates.

This is not hundreds of years ago. This is in my time.

And I, like so many people I know, have had the ability to ignore any concern for the challenges that indigenous people face today. People that lived through and survived these abhorrent schools. People that lost loved ones in these schools. Lost their children.

These people suffered an incredible trauma and like any person that suffers from trauma, they learn to cope as best as they can. And sometimes that best is not so respectable. But why do we treat them differently than our own loved ones who may be using unrespectable coping methods to deal with trauma? Why do they not deserve our compassion just as much as a family member or a friend suffering from PTSD?

And why do we judge them so harshly? I have heard people ask what indigenous people have contributed to society? Well, what have you contributed? Really. And if you know someone close to you that suffers from trauma, PTSD, alcohol or substance abuse, or any other debilitating disease, ask yourself what have they contributed?

So I ask you please to stop and think about this a little bit more. Really think about this. This is not hundreds of years ago. This is now.

This is in my time. Your time. Our time.

We need to keep this story going. We need awareness. We need compassion. We need change.

A social dilemma.

“Interaction with others opens up new and exciting possibilities. Meeting people stimulates our minds, gives us energy, leads to more new encounters and infinitely expands our life and our world.”

Daisaku Ikeda

Let’s talk about the back to the office debate. I am noticing article after article about the positives and negatives of going back to the office environment. Poll after poll about who would prefer to continue working from home and who wouldn’t. Is productivity up or is it down. Do managers want to micro-manage or are they happy leading from a distance.

And then there is the anxiety. How many people are suffering from anxiety about going back to the office. Does going back support or hinder our mental health.

All good information. All good points.

But what I haven’t read about is the social aspect. It could be out there… I just haven’t seen it.

Pre-Global Pandemic, I had a lot of conversations with people about the younger generation growing up with social media and smart phones and consequently, a lack of live social interaction. These conversations always ended up with concern for a lack of social skills and ability to interact with others.

Have we forgotten how important this is? Are we suddenly not concerned about it?

I am not saying we all need to go back to working in an office. I am just saying that maybe we need to think further on this. And if productivity is up with working from home, does it come at a cost?

Last year I decided to leave my place of employment. A job where I had to go to an office daily. I now work from home permanently and I will honestly admit, it is hard. I have learned to make a point of ensuring I do not have 2 days in a row where I don’t leave the house. Whether it is for client appointments or dinner with friends or simply running to the grocery store.

I need people. I need social interaction. Now, I know I am an extrovert so it is important to me. But I truly believe it is important to everyone. I believe no matter how extroverted or introverted you are, we all need people.

We need to look people in the eyes and see them. Not through a screen but live and in person. We need to laugh with each other. Share with each other. Be with each other. And yes, even hug each other.

So maybe we will lose a little productivity standing around the water cooler talking about our latest Netflix binge but… maybe not. Maybe that water cooler time will energize us and fuel us to be more creative. More focused. More productive.

Just my two cents.

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