Tag Archives: life hacks

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,

Well I never thought I’d be quoting the Spice Girls, but it is a catchy little phrase don’t you think?

What do I really, really want? Well the easy, somewhat entertaining and glib answer is Viggo on a horse, or to win the lottery, to have six pack abs, for my hair to calm, the-fuck, down, for hunky firemen to come to my bidding,  a really good massage, a clean house, my own studio with a ocean view….

Okay, how about a life? A life would be good. A life where I get to do things for myself and put all those grand plans of mine into action. A life where I don’t bounce from one crisis to another. A life that has some security, financial and emotional.

and Viggo on a horse – of course

What I want is something safe, and strong and solid. I want a shoulder that I can put my head on when this crazy life of mine is out of control. I don’t want to be rescued, not really (although… firemen….) I do want something that feels safe.

ImageI feel like a Matryoshka Doll. Layer after layer of a hard wooden, brightly painted shell each covering another inside it with a firm, smooth and solid layer. The biggest with a smile permanently painted on. Life gets difficult? Snap! On goes another smooth, hard, smiling outer layer. People are unkind? Pop, pop on goes a couple of smiling layers. When I’m alone, and rarely even then, that I think about taking off a layer or two, looking at the small doll at the center.

“Beauty comes in many forms–and there is no form more beautiful than you. Just exactly as you are, this minute, right now, without changing a thing…you are beautiful. Beautiful enough to take God’s breath away. You do believe this, don’t you? Oh, you must. You must. How can I believe in my beauty if you don’t believe in yours?” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Isn’t that great? I need to have it tattooed on my forearm.

Oh god, I’m rambling.

I grew up learning to gauge other’s emotions and adjust my behaviour accordingly. I hid my own feelings for so long I hardly recognize them. I was told, and believed, that no matter what I did, whatever path I would follow I would never be acceptable. I could twist, conform and mold myself to make others like me, but really, it would never work, and eventually people would reject me. I wore masks, layer after layer of hard, resilient masks, all nesting over another. What I wanted, who I was, what I was passionate about disappeared under the layers.

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” ~ Jim Morrison

Inside. Way inside there is that little doll, but the light is dimmed from all the other layers and it’s difficult to see, to feel what she really wants. It’s easier to retreat inside, to not do the work needed to live without the safe, nesting layers. It’s never convenient to do this, there are always more reasons to stay where you are, to stay within the boundaries and roles that have been assigned to you.

Despite this. Despite the layers we all wear, and the roles we all are assigned, despite all of this, we are only meant to be ourselves, that’s all. We, in theory, have the ability to release the pain, to remove the masks and to look into the darker parts of ourselves.

Those who will not slip beneath the surface of the well of grief,
turning downward through its dark waters
to a place we cannot breathe.

Will never know the secret water
from which we drink, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness, glimmering–
the small, round coins
thrown away by those who wished for something else

– David Whyte

We have been raised to ignore the dark parts of ourselves, the parts about us we don’t like, the parts that we would like to pretend don’t exist. We want the world to see only what is good in us, only the bright shiny outer layer. Except that’s only part of us. The dark and hidden parts, the shattered and broken parts, the really ugly and shameful parts are as important as the bright, shiny and happy parts. Perhaps more important. If you’ve never suffered, you can’t know empathy. A broken heart is more open, feels more, is better able to love.

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”   – Leonard Cohen

So what do I want? The same as everyone else, I suppose. I want to be happy, to be free from suffering. How likely is this? That depends I suppose on how attached I get to certain desires (cough! Viggo! horse!!), and how open I am to accept and appreciate what I already have. So in the end, I’m okay if Viggo doesn’t show up on horseback, and the firemen don’t show up shirtless looking to rescue me. Well.. mostly okay. I think actually I’m okay with where I am right now. I may even like myself a little more, and maybe I’ll take off a couple of those Matryoshka Doll layers and get to know better the not so shiny and slightly cracked and broken parts of myself, because that is where the light gets in.

adventures in dating

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I decided to start dating. Actually dating. First time at it (save for 2 absolute disaster blind dates) since the 80’s.

What am I thinking?

What I am thinking:

  1. I have spent decades taking care of other people.
  2. I have put other people’s needs before my own my entire life.
  3. My life is never going to say, hey, you take some time for yourself now, we’ll all be fine. I’m going to have to take that time for myself.
  4. I’m not getting any younger.
  5. I’m a lot of fun.

Last week I joined an online dating site. I wrote a fairly irreverent and silly description of myself which included references to Monty Python, Shakespeare, The Princess Bride and a semi-naughty poem. I posted the insanely flattering professional photo of me that makes me look like a movie star. I also posted photos of me after a Warrior Dash, in a yoga class, messing around with my kids, and a couple of my feet in interesting places to make me look worldly and slightly mysterious. Then I started looking at the men the site suggested.

I am new at this, but I do have a few suggestion for men on the site:

  1. Don’t say you’re athletic and toned if you’re not – seems obvious, but…
  2. Those pictures of you holding the big fish you caught, all ten of them? Yeah, not a real turn on.
  3. Posing with various weapons? Ditto.
  4. Shots of you with animals you have killed? Double Ditto. (or I might not be your demographic)
  5. I’m very flattered you think I’m hot, but maybe there could be a few more things you could mention in your note to me?
  6. The picture with your ex where you’ve blurred out her face? Not so endearing. Get a friend to snap a picture of just you with your phone.
  7. Selfies in the bathroom – just don’t, I’m not ready to see your toilet yet.
  8. I realize you love your dog/cat/kid/kids but no more than a couple of pictures of them, they’re not why I’m here. (also your dog who died last year? why would you put up that one?)
  9. Why are you wearing sunglasses in all your pictures? Where you burned by acid?
  10. Why are you wearing baseball caps in all your pictures? Do you have hair or not, just let me know one way or another, I can deal with it, really.
  11.  That’s a very nice sportscar / motorcycle / sports utility vehicle, but maybe you could save all those manly photos for the guys who would probably be very impressed by them (again, I may not be your demographic).
  12. Spell check, spell check, spell check. No, really, it’s important.
  13. Don’t send me your address, I’m not going to come over to your house, even if you offer me presents.
  14. Try to write something that doesn’t involve the words soulmate, sunset, long walks, holding hands, sensitive, loving, or true love (unless you’re quoting the Princess Bride, and then bonus points).

In spite of this list I have met several wonderful men. No soul mates, but I wasn’t looking for one.  Something about dating in my 50th year has given me a freedom I never had before. If  I like someone, I’ll have a coffee with them, if I don’t, I won’t. I chat with who I like, and don’t take it personally if someone decides not to see me. It has turned into great fun. I had a much better face and body in my  20s, but my 49 year old mind is a much happier and much more secure one.

Onto to week 2 and more adventures.

Gratitute, bah, humbug!

Scan.BMPGratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
John Milton

It’s American Thanksgiving today and for the entire month of November I have been surrounded by ‘Gratitude’. People have posted everyday about what they are thankful for on Facebook and Twitter. There was a gratitude challenge at my yoga studio. Just about everyday people offered the ‘intention of gratitude’ as a focus for their yoga practice.

So much damn Gratitude. I hated it all. I removed all of the ‘Gratitude challenge statements’ from my timeline, I stopped following people on Twitter, and I never, not even once, made a ‘I’m so grateful for…’ statement, on social media or in real life.

Why am I so Ebeneezer about this? Why am I not stating daily how grateful I am for the thousands of blessings in my life? Why am I not all dewy eyed about other people’s Gratitude?

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.

Henry Van Dyke

 

To live your life with constant gratitude is a profoundly spiritual way to live. To be continually humbled by the innumerable blessings in your life, and to share them and to live to help others is one of the best aspirations we can have. To remain grateful in times of sorrow, heartbreak and frustration is the way to live through these difficulties with grace and equanimity.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  John F. Kennedy

And there’s part of my problem with being ‘Grateful’ in November. It’s like children being well behaved in December for Santa. It’s a show. It’s fake. It’s not real. It’s pretending to be something for a short while. Making gratitude statements in November cheapens and trivializes gratitude. It’s not something that we list in November up to Thanksgiving and then drop on Black Friday and start shopping. Living in gratitude is how we should be living every moment of everyday. If you are reading this blog you are one of the most fortunate people on this planet. You can read, you have access to a computer, you very likely have more than enough food and somewhere safe to live. We take so much for granted. Our homes, our health, our safety. Everything is a gift. I love David Whytes poem about, well everything

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You 
©2003 Many Rivers Press

To be grateful for the soap dish, for the window latch, for the pots is to acknowledge you are part of something bigger, so much bigger and grander than yourself. That you are not alone, but part of the greater community, that the world is open to you and that everything is waiting for you.

So today. Today, I am grateful. Today, I know I am part of something greater and more fundamental than myself. Today I am grateful to feel that love as the greatest gift that is bestowed upon me and one that I send back out to the world.

Archie Bunker, Wendell Berry and the Buddha

I’m recycling some posts because I think what what they say still needs to be heard.

I don’t when it will happen, but sometimes I get into my car, or arrive somewhere and I just sit. I don’t drive, I don’t get out of the car. I just sit and stare; sometimes I cry, sometimes I just sit and stare at the steering wheel.

Most of the time I think “I’ve got this”, but lately I know, at best, I’m keeping a stiff upper lip. I keep calm and carry on, because to admit you’re not okay invites inquires and I’m not always up to telling my story. This morning I thought I was, but then had to sit in my car for 10minutes waiting for the urge to put my head on the steering wheel and cry to pass.

 God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

the Courage to change the things I can, and

the Wisdom to know the difference

Carrol O’Conner did a Public Service Announcement after he lost his son to drug addiction. It was well before I had kids, but his face and voice stayed with me, and when I feel like giving up, backing down or running away I think about him and I keep going.

About his son he said:

 

“I should have spied on him. I should’ve taken away all his civil rights, spied on him, opened his mail, listened to telephone calls, everything.”
 “Nothing will give me any peace. I’ve lost a son. And I’ll go to my grave without any peace over that.”
“Get between your kid and drugs any way you can, if you want to save the kid’s life”
In his eyes, I see so much pain, remorse, grief, and also I see resolve and courage to make this statement in hopes that it would help. Help save someone’s child. And now it is helping with my own son. I hear it when I am so tired I want to give up, give up and run away, when I want to give into my own increasing cynicism and cut myself off emotionally. I hear it when I am sitting in my car, staring at the steering wheel and seeing nothing. When I don’t want to go into my own house because I am not up for the next conversation I must have. 
Damn you Mr. O’Conner, this fight is too hard. I want to give up. I want to stop deciding where to draw my line in the sand and then stay there no matter what happens. Drawing the lines are hard enough, standing firmly by them can tear you apart. Then I hear him again, and I get out of the car, I stand my ground and I don’t run away. One day at time.

Not everyday is hard. Some days I have my son back, and he’s goofy, loving, helpful, and kind, but I trust those days less now because I have learned that he lies best when he is being kind and sweet, when he looks me sincerely in the eye. I’ve learned not to drop my guard and think this is the turning point, now things will get better, because invariably I discover missing money, that the sincere face was there to manipulate and lie to me. This used to feel like a kick in the gut, a betrayal. Now, it’s part of my life, and that I’ve become used to it is the thing that makes me the saddest.

Here is where I must remember to hate the disease, not my son. Addiction is a disease and its symptoms really, really suck, but my son is still there, even when his disease has him by the throat. I must remember this, but sometimes I don’t and then I have to forgive myself for not being perfect.

I find peace where I can, like now while I write this, or in the times I sit in my car just counting my breaths staring at nothing. I meditate, do yoga and hapkido, I go to parent groups and talk to other parents like me. These things help, while I’m doing them, but in the end I still have to go home and stand by my line.

I love Wendell Berry’s poem, ‘The Peace of Wild Things’, and in nature is where I find the most peace. But even here I find my cynicism creeping in, and it is hard to remain peaceful for more than a moment.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 — Wendell Berry 

“if you want to see just how much control you really have, try raising teenagers, several at a time”– my tweet 

I’m not a very good Buddhist these days (good thing I have Unitarian Universalism to fall back on), being so affected by things outside of my control (ie EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE who isn’t me). I get to control my own thinking, not necessarily my first thought, and absolutely not my emotions, but what I choose to think after that is up to me. Suffering comes from attachments, from ego, from clinging to hopes and dreams and not living with what is in front of and within you right now.

 At this point I would like to point out that the Buddha never had to raise teenagers, he became enlightened only after abandoning his wife and child. 

 I need a teacher who has managed to practice Buddhism AND live with children and teenagers, someone with a regular life. I can detach from my ego, recognize how my pride is making me envious, angry, resentful… piece of cake. Okay it took a long while and I’m still working on it, but try to detach with teenagers. When does parenting stop and enabling begin? How do my expectations of acceptable behaviour become attachment to future outcomes? How to I Be Here Now when there are forms to fill out, appointments to organize? How do I, or should I detach myself from my child’s self destructive behaviour?

 Being a parent is work, trying to be a good parent in difficult times is something the makes Atlas’ job look easy. Being a good enough parent is scary, joyful, funny, heartbreaking and utterly exhausting. It breaks your heart, but I think the only way to live with an open heart is by breaking it open, and that takes suffering, and pain, and that takes love, all the love you have. It isn’t pretty most of time, but it is worth it ( I hope….).

try a little tenderness

Twelve years ago today I was at work. My children were 8, 6 and 4 years old and were at school when a patient came into the office and told us someone had flown a plane into a World Trade Center building. The rest of the day unfolded in horrifying and heartbreaking images  It was a terrible day,

For many people it still is. A day full of pain, heartbreak and fear.  This article The Falling Man – Tom Junod – 9/11 Suicide Photograph – Esquire  is going around social media sites today. It is a very powerful photo and a very powerful article.

“They began jumping not long after the first plane hit the North Tower, not long after the fire started. They kept jumping until the tower fell. They jumped through windows already broken and then, later, through windows they broke themselves. They jumped to escape the smoke and the fire; they jumped when the ceilings fell and the floors collapsed; they jumped just to breathe once more before they died. They jumped continually, from all four sides of the building, and from all floors above and around the building’s fatal wound.”

It bears witness to the horror and heartbreak of that day. I think this is important and necessary that we have these images, and the stories that go with them, but I believe it is more important to be respectful of people’s emotions surrounding the events of September 11th. For some this is too much to look at. For some this hurt is still too raw, and these images are still too painful to look at.

They are important, they should never go away, but maybe it is still too soon. Years from now when my children are adults, when their children are adults and the events of September 11th are not a memory, but a story told to them, then the videos, and the photos will be crucial, they will make what happened real for those who never experienced it. They will bear witness in perhaps a similar way as artifacts from the Holocaust keep that from becoming just a story. These images will not, and should not ever go away, but who sees them and when should be a matter of choice. It has been suggested on one facebook page that not showing the image of the Falling Man is  “Political Correctness and it’s sniffling sanitation to protect people (keep them ignorant) who will not deal with truth and what needs to be done.” I don’t agree. I think when someone finds an imagine too painful to look at it indicates that they are not ignorant of the events, on the contrary, that the events are very real to them and still very painful. It is not the same as someone denying an event occurred or sanitizing how it did. It is very real people dealing with very real and powerful emotions.

I think we could all do well to treat each other with a little more tenderness, and a little more compassion, today and always. We’re all fighting our own battles and our own demons and absolutes and judgements do nothing but isolate and cause more pain. I may be wrong, I may be missing the point of absolutely everything. I may be naive and do not understand the nuances and implications of the situation. All of these things may be true, but in the end I believe it is more important to be kind than it is to be right, that people are more important that news. I believe that whenever possible I should be kind, and as the Dalai Lama says it is always possible.

“Try a little tenderness (that’s all you gotta do)
It’s not just sentimental, no, no, no
She has her grief and care, yeah yeah yeah
But the soft words, they are spoke so gentle, yeah
It makes it easier, easier to bear, yeah…”

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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.

Things I want my kids to know, and try to remember for myself too

20130613_090021_1Your 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 for

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 day

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 can

Let yourself love an animal, let yourself love something that will die before you.

Let your heart get broken, over and over again

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 beauty

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 much

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 person 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.