Tag Archives: life hack

Weathering

me with quote

Weathering

Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,

happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well

that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among the lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.

–Fleur Adcock

I love this poem, and one day I hope to have that time among the lakes.

Perhaps even more now that I am weathering. My hair is going grey, my waist thickened, and my face, while never pretty, is showing the years in various lines and wrinkles.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.

That’s me. Never the attractive, pretty, or sought after one. I’m at peace with being somewhat plain (except for the unruly hair), there are worse things, much worse things. Perhaps I’ll be the type of woman who looks fabulous at 70, but a life of being average looking, a life of more than a few difficulties has given me some insights.

  • Eat the damn cake, because you know, it’s cake.
  • Hug people and tell them they matter, because people do matter, and often need to reminded of this.
  • Hold on to what you love. Let go of what hurts you. Seems easy enough. Still working on this one.
  • There are no knights in shining armor, you have to rescue yourself. I used to dream of being rescued, of someone loving me like Neruda wrote in his poems, now I’m okay with reading his poetry to myself, and taking care of myself.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business, so try not to care so much about that. Still working on this one too.
  • Every day alive is a gift, don’t waste it. It’s been 14 years and 2 days since my friend Cathy died. My friend with three kids the same ages as mine. Every year I get with my kids is icing, is precious. Every spring, every holiday, every damn day. I try not to forget this.
  • There is such a thing as a free lunch. Sometimes you get the lunch, and sometimes you give someone the lunch. That’s how life works.
  • Kindness, it really is the new black. It goes with everything.
  • When things get uncomfortable, try not to reach for the first, or second, or third distraction. When you feel rotten, feel rotten, don’t wallow, but don’t push it down and pretend it doesn’t exist. Lean into it, and when you’re ready let it go. Lean on your friends, and let them lean on you. It’s how we all get by, with a little help from our friends.

It’s not a huge amount of knowledge, but it’s what’s I’ve got right now. I think maybe if I had had an easier time of it, if I was ever seen as beautiful, or wealthy or any number of things, that I might not have had my ego kicked into the dirt enough times to soften it, to soften me, to weather me. This is a good thing I tell myself when I look in the mirror and see every single year on my face, around my waist, on my belly and on my thighs, and I then I channel Anne Lamott as best I can

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
― Anne Lamott

So, another year older, and I’m still walking and breathing. I’m happy, most of the time, and grateful, so very grateful for what I do have.

the sum total of my wisdom, thus far

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
― Socrates

  • Your ego will fuck you over,  worse than any person or situation ever could
  • A quiet morning with a good cup of coffee is worth getting up early forcappuccino_hearts
  • Sunshine is a beautiful gift too often taken for granted
  • Your feet are really important,  take good care of them
  • Every day that you are alive is a gift,  try to remember that
  • Love is unconditional,  liking is another story
  • Be kind,  to everyone, period,  really, this is THE thing that will see all of us through our short time on this planet
  • We live on a planet first, countries later, and lastly homes, try to behave accordingly
  • Feed people,  care for them,  not just on holidays,  every single daydownload (2)
  • Smile. Make eye contact when you do it. Do it a lot, everyone will feel better
  • Show up and do what needs to be done,  do more than needs to be done.  Do this every day
  • It’s best if you don’t get everything you want
  • Keep moving, your body, or mind, your soul at whatever speed is your own,  stagnation is death
  • Carry others when they cannot carry themselves
  • Do good,  not for any reward or recognition, but because that is why we are alive and on this planet
  • Look around you, the world is full of beauty and of gifts that you are not noticing
  • Listen to people,  turn off your own running monologue and just listen
  • Dance, whatever dancing is to you. Open your spirit and enjoy yourself
  • Listen to music you love, everyday,  it will feed your soul
  • Be alone and be quiet.
  • Everyday work on loving the person you are right now, not the person you want to or wish to be. Love yourself,  right now, grow from there
  • Forgive yourself,  forgive everyone else, for your own sanity
  • No one thinks they are the bad guy, everyone, EVERYONE is doing the best they canwpid-20130826_1705540_1.jpg
  • Let yourself love an animal, let yourself love something that will die before you.
  • Let your heart get broken, over and over againindex
  • Stay open and vulnerable,  even when it hurts,  especially when it hurts, this will open you to the beauty of the world
  • Fight for those who cannot,  lend them your heart, your voice, your strength and your love. One day someone will stand and fight for you
  • Speak your mind with love
  • Laugh!! Everyday, many times. Your sense of humour will keep you sane. Never take yourself or your life too seriously to laugh at. Laughter keeps the importance of things in perspective.
  • Surround yourself with people who love and value you. Stay away from those who do not, they will suck the joy out of your life, don’t give them the opportunity.
  • Do others the honour of seeing your real self, your scars, your warts,  your self loathing and your unspeakable beauty10592840_10206139425545919_5843121347137963057_n
  • Love and honour something greater than yourself
  • The world is not here for your entertainment,  you are here to do some good in whatever form you can manage
  • People will not behave as you like, this has nothing to do with you
  • What other people think of you is none of your business
  • Resist absolutes, judgements and black vs white,  and good vs bad thinking, it’s lazy and will not serve you
  • A person’s skin colour, gender, sexual identity,  social status has absolutely NOTHING to do with their value as a person
  • Be mindful of your own biases
    Everything begins with your thoughts, your actions, values and character all grow from your thoughts,  make them worthwhile
  • Change happens, always, get used to it
  • You will change,  this is a very good thing, try not to fight it too muchme with quote
  • Read. Read. Read.  Read everything you can, you are blessed to be able to read and to have so much available to read,  do not ever stop reading, it will make you a better person
  • Be passionate about something, live your life in a way that expresses this passion
  • You will get hurt,  you will suffer in your life, this is not optional.  Use it to make yourself kinder,  softer,  more empathetic so you can be there for the next person who is suffering.  Don’t let your hurts make you hard and bitter.
  • Get out of your comfort zone, regularly,  this is where you learn and where you grow
  • Make mistakes and spend your time learning from from them instead of beating yourself up over them. Mistakes aren’t optional,  what you do with them is up to you
  • Nothing’s good or bad that thinking makes it so, decide how you want to think and then do it
  • Practice moderation,  and then truly enjoy the things you love
  • What a persSAMSUNGon says and does says everything about them and has nothing to do with you
  • Remember always you are precious beyond all measure and loved no matter what.

be fucking brave

So this. I’m10592840_10206139425545919_5843121347137963057_n riding my own personal crazy train right now. One of my own making, from the full steam ahead steam engine that burns red hot, fiery coal 24/7, through car after car full of personal baggage of all shapes, sizes, weights and colours, to the caboose that can only look back and wonder what, the fuck, was I thinking?

Aside: I did quit that job, and I LOVE the job I have now, the rest, it’s a work in progress.

This quote, and a few dear friends are  currently what is holding me together. Also, quite a bit of chocolate, and singing to very loud music in the car, off key, every single time I drive. I’m not kidding, tonight is was Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. This guy does it better. Yesterday it was Eurythmics, Smiths, and R.E.M. all day. 

I used to think that when I turned 20 two major things would happen. 1. I’d be given the ‘adult handbook’,  and 2. my skin would clear up. You know the handbook that  ALL the grown ups had. The one that gave you the answers to life. No more teenage and young adult angst for me, I would finally have the ansewers, and then BOOM, I would figure life out and become a happy, well adjusted financially secure adult. Apparently there is no such book. You can imagine my disappointment at having to figure things out for myself, and don’t even talk to me about my skin. Honestly, how does anybody figure anything out? I am a hot mess with passable hair on a good day, and on a bad, I shove it into a pony tail.

My ego took a hit last week. It was not pretty. I wasn’t so pretty, except for my hair, I had a good hair week, so it wasn’t all bad. I was just mostly bad. I may have got a little crazy, or as I like to say, super sized extra crispy crazy with side of hysterical hot sauce. Yep, I’m a grown up, and I still cannot figure this stuff out. My brain has this section I call the the hamster wheel section where all my crazy ideas spin faster and faster. I’m not allowed to go there without a friend.

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how do they know?

Fortunately, I have great friends. I spent tonight drinking pop, diet pop even… from a Wonder Woman glass, eating chocolates and watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a friend, and then confessed all my crazy thoughts and actions and, she still loves me and sent me home with cupcakes and a fortune cookie that said “Be willing to admit you may be wrong, you’re only human”. That’s love for ya.

But then begins a journey in my head

me with quote

The Irreconcilable Differences between Mind and Body had become so profound
they were heard in the Court of Judicium. The usual reserved Attendants
were appalled at the excess of emotion and were given to making small ‘tsk
tsk’ sounds behind handkerchiefs and fans whilst disapproving eyes squinted
down at the proceedings.

Mens Mentis represented Mind, Corpus represented Body.

Mens Mentis presented an extensive past history of failures to illustrate
the likelihood of the present endeavor ending in heartbreak and
humiliation. An impressive parade of witnesses came forward to give
evidence to support the case. One spoke of stretch marks, belly fat, and
sagging breasts, another of age and foolishness, and yet another spoke with
passion about the need for caution and restraint in all affairs..

klimt danaeCorpus, not to be out done presented extensive physical evidence, stomach
sitting too high in chest, heart becoming larger, beating more quickly and
thus increasing blood flow, of the increased occurrence of deep breaths
with extended exhales, the memory of skin on skin, and the presence of a
hopeful smile. All these events occurred despite the extensive evidence
presented by Mens Mentis, argued Corpus, and therefore must be given more
weight.

Mens Mentis moved to strike from the record any memories because they
occurred within the Mind and not the Body.

Corpus then moved to strike all memories of past failures because they did
not occur in the Body.

Both motions were overruled by the Most Honourable Judge Iudex, stating
that both motions included events that could not be solely related to
either Mind or Body, and thus where considered Joint Property.

The proceedings have been going on for weeks, at times it appeared the Mind
would prevail, but then events would occur and body of Body’s evidence
became increasingly stronger. Each time this happened, Mens Mentis would
argue that Body was incompetent to stand trail and should be removed and
placed in protective custody. The Most Honourable Judge Iudex has, so far,
overruled each of these objections, but the talk among the Attendants is
that with the passage of time and without fresh physical evidence
(memories, everyone knows, after a time become increasingly unreliable)
that the Judge will rule in favour of the Mind.

Meanwhile the jury continues to absorb the proceedings with passionless
expressions.

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(thanks Bilbo)

I just got home from a 3,368mile (5,420kms) drive (there and back again) from my home in Naperville, IL to Wolfville, NS. Two days driving there, one day stop-over, Two days driving back. About 54 hours driving time. It was the longest drive to and from school I have ever taken one of my kids on.

I spent the days leading up to the drive randomly being gripped in terror. I would suddenly feel the ground drop from under my feet and my stomach would leap into my throat, my heart would pound and I would want to cry. I felt certain that I was making a huge mistake, or at the very least doing absolutely everything wrong.

I get angry at myself for remaining in situations that do not serve me, my marriage, my job, my home, okay, my life in general, but then I’ve always had that terror and painful certainty that pin me down. With any major, and most minor decisions I am generally quite certain I have, or I will make the worst possible choice, and that sitting and doing nothing is my safest option. I assume that everyone else on the planet, or at least my peers, or my betters (which is where I put most people), would be handling this, or have handled this so much better, or have, at the very least, been better organized about it (my disorganizational skills are legendary). Other people, I dangerously assume, have the support of a partner, of parent or if they’re insanely fortunate, parents,  or at least some close friends to reassure them they are making good choices. I have none of these and as a result am left with the really not nurturing voices in my own mixed up head. It’s a motley crew, the voices in my head. Part my mother (appearances are everything), my father (appearances are bullshit), my step-father (you’re utterly worthless, stupid and will make utterly worthless and stupid decisions unless you think and act as I do), ex-partners (I didn’t love you and I will leave you shortly so you better get that wall up to protect yourself), the occasional friend (hey, you’re awesome!  *but if they really  knew me they would get over that notion pretty quickly), and finally, in the back ground, usually jumping up and down like a far away but hyperactive 3 year old, is a  small fierce voice that is the part of me who hopes and tries for something better. That small voice is the one who talked me into the 50+ hour road trip, it’s the voice that took me scared shitless to surfing lessons, the one that had me running around London and later the Dominican Republic on my own while presenting this brave adventurous face to anyone looking. Inside I thought I was an idiot, and doing everything wrong.

So, my monster drive, that I still can’t decide was brave and meaningful or crazy and stupid, or maybe it was all of these. I can present a very believable case either way. It did allow me meaningful time with my daughter, to process her going onto this next important stage in her life, to honour what she has done, and to be present for part of the transition which was painful for us both. That was important and I’m very glad we had that time (not sure if we needed so many hours of that time, but that’s done now).  I brought several books to listen to, and was lost in stories for much of the drive. I drove past and through many landmarks of my life, in places I’ve lived and by people I have loved.  So many places, so many people, so many memories.

In the end, truth be told, it wasn’t really that brave a decision. I could not afford a plane ticket, my husband, who could afford one,  would not discuss it, so I did what I thought I had to to get my daughter to school. I could have pushed the issue, but decades of experience have taught me that I am on my own with this sort of thing and I rarely bother anymore. Now, of course, he is organizing for her to fly home for breaks and is the hero, where I am the one that took her on the never ending car ride. Part of the reason he is adored by both our families and I am not, that and he is a much better schmoozer than I am (to be honest I suck at schmoozing, alas…).

I try not to listen to the less than caring voices in my head. To focus on the little fierce one. I don’ t know if this is wise, or how much wisdom that voice has. In many ways it is a toddler with very basic and primordial needs, so I’m not sure if this is my Id jumping up at down, or at least my ego, but has kept me going when there was nothing else that would, and for that I’m grateful. It has kept me moving forward even when I am certain I will fail, it kept me driving all those hours, it help hold my my head up (even when I’m looking like a complete idiot), and it, usually, keeps me from curling up into a ball and giving up.

I think I need to be kinder to myself, maybe even forgive myself for not having this whole life thing figured out. Maybe even let the kind voice be heard among the rabble-rousers carrying on in my head. I think this is a rather poor ending to this blog, that I could have done better, but maybe this one will do.

kindness, pets, and kids, and the lessons they taught me

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.

Dalai Lama

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When I was about 10 we had a small mutt my mother had found in the alley behind the library where she worked. We called him Book. He was a street smart, funny. lovable small black mutt. He was my little brother’s and my first dog, and we adored him. One night when my mom and step father were out I had a terrible feeling in my stomach about Book. That night I played with him, rubbed his belly, and must have given him half a box of dog cookies. Nothing bad happened, and I went to bed. When my they got back, my step father drove the babysitter home. We think Book must have got out and tried to follow the car. My mother woke me early the next day after she spent a sleepless night worrying and we all went looking for him. We lived about three blocks from a main street, and on the far side of that street, laying on the grass beneath a tree we saw Book. I rushed to him, and reached out my hand to wake him, and only then when my fingers touched stiff cold fur did I realize he was dead.

We buried Book in the backyard under a bed of flowers, it was the only time I ever saw my step father cry. My mother said that some kind person must have picked Book up off the road after he had been hit, and laid him gently on the grass for us to find him. Tied up with the sadness of losing our dog was the thought that someone had been kind to him, and also to us by taking the time to stop, pick up his body and gently place in on the grass.

Late last night I was coming home with my daughter and we saw the body of tortoise shell cat on the road. We circled round and stopped just behind it. She looked like she had been a well loved pet. She looked like she had died instantly. We stood and looked at her silently, my car’s headlights illuminating her. After a moment I walked back to my car and got a small white gym towel from my yoga bag. I knelt down and wrapped her still warm and pliable body in it and carried her to a grassy area under a small tree. Her back legs and fluffy tail stuck out from the end of the towel and her fur stirred slightly in the wind. I placed my hand on her side and said how sorry I was she had died. We stood a moment more and got in the car and drove the rest of the way home.

Four years ago when our young, beautiful, and foolish dog Willow got out of the yard and was run over, many people stopped, someone called me and we rushed to spend our last moments with her before she died. Someone brought a blanket that they never saw again, another person brought a board for us to lift her shattered and dying body into our car. My daughter sobbed, held her face, and said her name over and over again. The driver of the car stood crying. Before we got in our car to rush Willow to the vet in some mad hope that she could be saved, I went to the driver and told him it was not his fault. She was a skittish dog, and very fast, and he could not have avoided her. I didn’t want him to carry any more grief and guilt than he was already going to. I don’t remember anyone from that day. I have never been able to thank them for stopping, for helping our dog and us when it was most needed.

We never knew who carried Book from the road that night almost forty years ago, but that act of kindness stayed with me. It helped me tell the driver it was not his fault; it is what guided me when I carried the cat from the road last night. One act of kindness decades old still touches me and through me touches the world. Such is the way of kindness.

Graham grade 3

I like sleep. I like it a lot. So waking up in the dark a full hour before I had to was not my favourite way to start the day. Waking up frightened, with a cold, hard pain in my chest even less so.

What kind of mother kicks her child out of the house? Don’t answer that. I have several excellent, well thought out answers lined up beside me right now. I don’t like any of them. In fact, I have been glaring at their calm, all-knowing, smug faces for several months now. It’s no good. I don’t like where I am now. Sorry, I really really fucking hate where I am now and the decisions I have to make. That sounds better. I have two more, very difficult months in front of me and I’m already so very tired.

I love my son.  I don’t always like the young man who lives with me now. The one who lies and steals, the one I have to keep things locked up around. My family has to keep things under lock and key and we’ve not done anything wrong. It’s exhausting, but how can I send him out?

He “ships out” on October 14th. My son, Canadian like the rest of us, has enrolled in the Untied States Marine Corps. Not a future I would have picked for him, but more and more it is looking like the only chance he has to straighten himself out. Now I’m in the somewhat ironic position of trying to keep him qualified so he can, in fact, go to boot camp. How did I get here??

Do I ruin his best hope by kicking him out? What’s fair? I have two other children who do not deserve this life in limbo lock down. We have all put our lives on hold for almost three years tying to help him, and for what??

The thought of putting him out makes me physically ill. It makes me cry. It makes my chest ache. But shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t this be really fucking hard? What does it say about you if it is not?

My oldest daughter leaves for school half a country away this month. I’m sad, proud, scared, happy and about fifty other emotions about it. I’m not forcing her out. She’s growing and leaving on her own, and while it’s not an easy transition, it is an expected one. One I can talk to empathetic friends about. Who do I talk to about my son? Where is the “What to Expect When” book with its handy check boxes and explanations of life changes and physical symptoms?? There’s no Worst Case Survival article on this. Alligator attacks and quick sand, but no steps to take to ensure you will survive sending your 18 year old son out of your home. If only all I needed to do was to stay calm and lie flat.

Maybe that is the point. There is no right way to do this. Maybe you’re not suppose  to be calm. This sort of thing is suppose to hurt like hell if you’re doing it right. Meanwhile the world goes on.

Wild Geese – Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles though the dessert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.