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Archive for January, 2011

Finished Business

I had an interesting conversation with my family this evening, surrounding death and the leaving of those we love behind. It really got me thinking about the idea of finished, or rather unfinished business. This ‘business’ ranges from an unpaid mortgage, to bucket list items not yet completed, to family or friend relationships left with things left undone or unsaid.

What if we all tried to live with as much finished business as possible? I don’t necessarily mean leaving no stone unturned… After all, we are not all going to have completed our bucket lists or paid off our houses by the ripe old ages of 30 (ish). But what about the more important things; the things that would really stay with us, or rather – with those we left behind, if we were to pass on?

Here are some pieces of finished business that I try to live by.

  • Never go to bed mad. Always settle an argument when it happens; don’t let it just sit and grow bigger, and don’t just push it away knowing that it will come back another day. Ultimately, the words spoken in anger will be the ones remembered when it is too late for new words to be said.
  • Don’t save your favorite clothes, dishes, or activities for ‘special occasions’. Take the time to celebrate the every day, the average day, the regular day. Those are the days that we have the most of and those are the ones that should be special.
  • Know that you are loved; and more importantly, give enough love freely and fully to know that those around you know they are loved. Use thank you’s, you’re welcomes, pleases, and smiles at every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you”.

If we could all live our lives with less unfinished business… Would we all be busier? No. Would we have less time for what we think is really important? Doubtful. But would we all be happier and maybe a little more settled in the face of adversity? I think so. And that alone, in my opinion, is a reward worth finishing our business for.

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Me & My Old Soul

Today was a beautiful day – although it didn’t go as planned. Mother Nature delivered a ton of snow, as I shovelled for the second time this morning, I realized I wouldn’t be leaving the house much today. I went out for a beautiful and exhilarating run in the snow, and then I took a look at my most recent set of to-dos. Believe it or not, polishing the silver tea set from my Grandmother was at the top of my list.

As I sat and polished, I got to thinking how funny it was that, while surrounded by technology (I sent a few text messages while polishing and was watching a favorite program on television), here I sat polishing age-old pieces of my family’s history… And how much fun I was having doing just that. Slowly, a thought I have experienced time and time again rolled back around into my brain: I have an old soul.

I often find myself (consciously or otherwise) rejecting the modern ideas of today’s world. I would rather watch a timeless Audrey Hepburn movie than sit through today’s latest box office hit. I love listening to music from The Temptations, The Beatles, and so on. I enjoy reading old books because of how the paper feels and how they smell. And I still believe in the importance of hard work, honesty, and personal integrity: three beliefs which often also seem somewhat outdated.

I am drawn to a simpler time. When people took time to get to know their neighbors. When a work day meant 9 to 5. When family time meant more than tv dinners once a week. And when who we were was measured by who we touched and who we helped in our lives, not by how big our bank accounts were or how much stuff we had. I was very fortunate to grow up in a family that taught me these values and traditions, and I still carry them with me wherever I go.  But I find that sometimes, my ‘old soul’ gets me in trouble. I resist the idea that overtime becomes normal time. I dislike the concept of materialism as a measure of who we are. And I wish that more people understood the values of a handshake, a kindly wave, or even a simple smile to the perfect stranger as you pass on the street.

This is not to say I am averse to evolution. I use my Blackberry as much as the next person. I have a Kindle reader that I use everyday on the train. And I sit here, typing a blog, to be posted on the Internet. Without evolution, we would not move forward, and I have a very strong appreciation for progress. But I wish that, as we moved forward, our humanity and the fundamental core of who we are didn’t have to move back (in my opinion) as a result.

I think I will always enjoy a good cup of tea, an old book, an honest exchange of a handshake, and polishing silver.

Me, and my old soul.

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Everyone has been envious of something, or someone, at some point in their life.  Whether it’s someone else’s relationships, friendships, or material possessions, there are always people who seem to have it ‘better’ than we do.

Where does envy come from? For me, envy comes from thinking that I don’t have it all; it comes from all the little demons that I deal with, in my ‘self’, every day. I am envious of things that seem important to me, for one reason or another, but are always just out of my reach. I wish I had them, and I envy those who do.

Envy is a very negative emotion. It makes me angry; angry that I don’t have those things and that I’m not like those people. It makes me sad; sad that I can never have those things and sad that I can’t make myself be more like those people. But if I turn envy upside down, it looks different.

  • For example, I envy someone’s material possessions. But when I look at my own life and I take inventory of all the beautiful things I have in my possession, I ask myself: Would I give any of them up? No. My possessions are my choice. If I wanted to have different possessions, I could.
  • I also envy some people’s popularity. But if I look at my own relationship, they are all deeply important and special to me. I would not change them for anything.
  • Lastly, I sometimes find myself jealous of other people’s circumstances in life. But in retrospect, it occurs to me that there is a certain sequence of life events that got them where they are, just as there is a certain sequence of events which lead me to where I am today. If I take a closer look, I find that I would not want their sequence. I have enjoyed mine, learned from mine, and I am continuing to grow within mine. And since I cannot have one without the other, it turns out that my life’s circumstance is just right; just for me.

To get over envy, turn it upside down. Recognize that your choices are your own. You made them knowing that they were what is best for you, in your life, and no one else’s. And remember that just as we are envious of others, you never know who might be envious of you. To others, your life may seem pretty great. And so it should to you, too. Live it — and love it. And the next time you feel envious, turn it upside down.

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Learning To Be Me

As life ticks along with increasing speed, I find myself thinking (with alarming frequency) “I wish I was…”

  • A published author (this one hits close to home)
  • A better cook/baker
  • An accomplished musician
  • A yogi

Today, I took a GIANT step back, to make a point:

“The most important thing you need to learn how to be is YOURSELF. ” – Unknown (as seen on a t-shirt)

How much time do we spend in a day learning to be ourselves? Learning what makes us tick, what we like or don’t like, or what it is that sets us off or calms us down? If you are like me, not much time at all. Quite a small amount, really, when compared to how much time I spend learning to be something (or someone) else.

Lately, just for the heck of it, I’ve been learning how to be a more authentic version of myself. I already find myself more patient, less prone to physical injury, and more satisfied with where I am and what I’m doing in the here and now.  And although there are times when doing what I need isn’t possible (I simply cannot stay home and drink tea and eat chocolate all day long no matter how much my mind or body tells me it needs to do so!) I think that I can eventually become the most authentic, successful, and productive version of “me” that there is.

As with everything, it requires time, patience, and attendance to the subject matter at hand… Learning to be me.

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Going For It!

One of my new year’s un-resolutions was to sign-up for and run in a 10K race – my first race ever. I took a huge step towards that goal today and I registered for the Calgary Marathon 10K race on May 29th. Yikes!

For me, registration means two things:

1. No backing out. I’m registered – I’m in. That’s it. End of story.

2. Half my battle. I am a fan of procrastination. By avoiding registration, I could avoid training, committing, and planning… And it meant that I could say “I’m sick, tired, sore, too busy…” to get out of doing this race or any of the training along the way.

I am running this race for me, to say that “I did ” it. Registering brought me back to over four years ago, when I was about 50 pounds heavier, extremely sedentary, and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I didn’t exercise, I ate junk… and I blamed the world and the people around me for my issues. I have always LOVED to run – but when I was so heavy, I could not. Physically – I could not. I tried, and I got terrible shin splints which required an MRI, days off of work, and serious rehab.

Today, I don’t remember what it was that started me back on track. But I do remember, very well, the daily battle I fought (and the daily decisions I still make) to get back into shape; to be healthy; to get back to being me. I remember the love and support of those around me – the same love and support I know I can count on as I start to train for and run this race.

Most of all, I remember the countless times along the way that I said “I can’t do this… I can’t lose weight… I’ll never be fit again. I’ll never run again!” And yet, day by day, little by little… And here I am, getting ready for my first 10K!

I would be lying if I said that I don’t have any goals for the race. In a perfect world, I will run the whole distance in one hour (ish). However, in that same perfect world, I will finish the race, I will acknowledge what participating in the race mans to me, and I will be proud that I have made the full circle of being – back to being ME.

Maybe this will be the start of something bigger for me…I don’t know yet. But I am going for it!

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The Swing of Things

Have you ever heard the expression “the swing of things” ?

When I think of a swing, I think of a pendulum and its up and down motion. It has highs and lows, and as long as it’s balanced, it can go on for quite some time. When I think of the expression “the swing of things”, I think of how life goes when we aren’t quite paying attention. Going to work, coming home, dinner, chores, relationships, etc. The daily, somewhat mundane, day in and day out routines we all have. We ‘swing’ about on a daily basis, some days up higher than others, but continually in motion.

I like my “swing of things”.  I find it comforting – back and forth – not too fast, not too slow; just back…and…forth. Granted, not all of these things are good. There are down turns and up turns. Depending on my momentum, the down parts may take longer to get through or the good parts may seem to fly by. But, just as does a swing, the bad always ends and an upturn always comes back along.

I think of life in this way. We are all pendulums, swinging merrily away. Good things happen on our upswing. But eventually, even if it seems unfair or unwarranted, a down swing begins. And then, just when you think the sun might never shine again, out it comes… and here you come, back up again. Slowly but surely, here comes another upswing.

Knowing that there are ups and downs can help to balance you out. When I’m having good times, I try to remember and record those times, so I can hang onto them when things swing down. And when I’m down, I know that it cannot and will not last – before I know it, an upswing begins again.

So enjoy your swing. Fly high and free on the ups, and learn from and grow from the downs. But always try to enjoy the swing.

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Someone Else’s Underwear

Do you ever feel as though you are wearing someone else’s underwear? Do you ever feel so uncomfortable in your own skin? No matter what you do or say, how you wear your hair, your clothes, or the words you use, you are not you?

I call this ‘wearing someone else’s underwear’. I think this feeling stems from trying to be someone we are not.  Everywhere we look, we are told to change who we are, both superficially and fundamentally. In fact, as I sat on my couch earlier today, I noted the following television commercials:

  • Dye your hair
  • Whiten your teeth
  • Transform your skin
  • Lose weight
  • Etc…

Not to get too preachy here… but we are all unique and our uniqueness is so important.

Superficially speaking, we have randomly colored hair, lines on our faces, our teeth are not pearly white, and we are overweight or underweight by a ‘normal’ standard.

Fundamentally speaking, we all live, think, and feel differently. We love differently, hate differently, celebrate differently, learn differently, and mourn differently. Right down to our very grain of being.

When we take those unique and individual traits away… You could say that we would all be more ‘normal… But who really wants to be ‘normal’, anyways? Being unique makes us an integral part of the world’s fabric, and that fabric is what makes the world go around.

Think of all of the colors of the sunset, and the thousands of types of plants and animals that form the landscape around us. Those creatures are all part of the world’s fabric, too. We would never try to change, minimize, or ‘normalize’ that fabric… So why do we do it to ourselves?

Let’s keep ourselves, and our world, interesting. Let’s all stop wearing someone else’s underwear.

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