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Archive for March, 2011

I had an email today from a blog I follow and an email from a dear friend of mine very recently; both about the same idea.  They compelled me to write a post of my own.

I follow the Tiny Buddha on a daily basis. I don’t usually get stuck reading posts day after day about improving myself, but this one always seems to speak to me. The blog today was “On Who You Were Meant To Be” and from it comes the thought:

“But it’s up to us all individually to wake up every day and decide that those (our) intentions are what really matter.”

What a powerful thought.

And not too long ago, I got an email from a dear friend with a similar message, about  remembering that we are all envelopes containing a message. Each day, we wake up and ‘decide’ what type of message we want to be to those around us: A message of hope or of energy, or a message of gloom or sadness.

Both of these made me think about the idea of getting up ‘on the wrong side of the bed’. Some days, I feel like I was meant to have stayed in bed. I get up late, I spill my coffee, the commute to work is bad, the day drags, etc. But when I think back about those days, I think that it was actually me who started them off badly. I woke up, and instead of saying ‘I am grateful for this new day, and I’m going to look forward to whatever comes with it’ , I woke up and I said ‘I wish I was still asleep. I don’t want to get up. Oh brother. Well, it’s another day. Off I go.’

What a difference a thought can make. What a difference an attitude can make. I believe that if I start every day knowing that I got up on the only side of the bed there is, the right side of the bed, that my perception of things will be better, even if the ‘things’ that are a part of my day are not.

So I’m making an effort, to start every day on the right side of the bed… And make sure that that side, the right side, is the only side there is.

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“Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day” – Author Unknown

Lately, things have been a bit sticky in my world. Nothing catastrophic, mind you, but little things have made the everyday seem harder than it needs to be.  As a result, I spent much of my week grumbling along, wondering why things need to be so tough, so frustrating, so aggravating. And my ever so patient husband (wonderfully optimistic and positive man that he is) kept telling me that things are ok, could be worse, just a bump, we can make it through, etc. To which I grumbled a reply and felt gloomier still.

And then, I can across this quote. And, as a quote such as this one does,  it got me thinking. This may be one of the loudest truths  in life. Life will not be all fireworks, roses, sunshine, success, praise, and popularity. In fact, much of it is status quo, seemingly below-average, and mundane. BUT. There is a moment, in every single day, that is good. And it’s that moment that should be recognized and captured, and used as an everyday joy.

The what of that moment is up to each of us, and it many instances, it flies below the radar and is taken for granted. For example:

  • A hot cup of coffee in the morning
  • A smooth drive to work
  • A ‘hello’ nudge from a pet
  • A great lunch date during the day
  • A brand new pen
  • Homemade cookies in the afternoon
  • Catching your train on time
  • Your favorite song
  • A smile during dinner
  • Buds on a tree or a bloom on a flower
  • A great workout at the end of a day
  • Your favorite pyjama pants
  • A quiet cup of tea before bed

Most likely, it will be something so regular that it’s almost unnoticeable… But it just might be the “good” in your day.

So start noticing, enjoying, and savoring, no matter how little or how normal the moment might be. And remember that every day may not be good – hell, every day will not be good. BUT. There is something good in EVERY day.

Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day – Author Unknown

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Turning Down the Noise

I sometimes feel that life is too ‘loud’.  The ‘noise’ is all around me – stress, distractions, and other non-essentials that seem to happen when life goes about being life.

  • Sometimes, the noise is at work. Deadlines, meetings, contradicting thoughts and ideas, and shifting priorities all get in the way of a smooth flow and weekly progress.
  • Sometimes, the noise is at school. Pages and pages of readings, assignments, and exams can be too much to take, while still trying to balance a healthy work life and personal life.
  • Sometimes, the noise is in my personal space. Every day presents a hosts of new challenges and decisions, all requiring my time and energy. The number of daily commitments to myself and to others sometimes makes me feel a bit stretched thin. And my ever-present need to learn, grow, and still find and maintain my own identity (which itself is in question some days) can take a toll.

Life, unfortunately, does not have a volume button or a mute button. But what life does give us is a variety of ‘earphones’ we can use to either focus or filter the ‘noise’ and deal with it more appropriately, or to turn down the ‘noise’ when we need a break. There are a few ‘earphones’ that I use on a regular basis:

  • Running or yoga. I find exercise of almost any type to be an effective means of dampening the noise, if only for a few hours. The biggest upside is, once I’m done, I feel more refreshed and able to focus than I was before I started.
  • Music. When there is too much ‘noise’ in my head, I drown it out with a great song or album. This sometimes involves toe-tapping and even (bad) singing. But it works!
  • Writing. I think the ‘noise’ can get so loud because there is nowhere for it to go. So I give it an outlet – a pen and a piece of paper. I can actually feel the stress flowing out of my mind as I make to-do lists, re-organize priority lists, or jot down thoughts about who I am, where I want to be in my life, etc. Somehow, when all the thoughts have somewhere to go, they become muted.

Everyone has different ‘noise’ filters that work for them. I think it’s important to find at least one, because we have all been there… The “stop the world I want to get off” moment; or the moment where we sigh to ourselves and say “there are not enough hours in the day!”

Changing the world or the circumstances around us may not be an option… but turning down the noise is.

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I really love hockey. I enjoy the game and I like the competition between the teams. There is almost nothing better than a good pizza and some friends, sitting around and watching hockey. I used to play ringette as a younger version of myself, and I have known how to skate for as long as I can remember. But lately, it seems to me that the game that I and many others know and love is changing, and not for the better.

Whether you watch hockey or not, the increase of so-called ‘headshots’ in recent games has become more and more evident. From the loss of Sydney Crosby after the Winter Classic game to the most recent hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadians, we are starting to see a trend of real injuries in the game. And I don’t like it.

This game used to be about skilled skating, speed, heads-up plays, and great teamwork. The kind of thing you still see at the World Junior Championships, for example. But now, the goonery in the NHL seems to be taking over. It’s such a shame. The great game of hockey deserves better. Not only for the fans who miss watching a great game, but for the players – who are real people, with real families, and real lives. Something has got to give… Something has got to change.

For the love of a great game.

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This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts on my blog. I have found that there are many great quotations out there. Some are over-used, some are barely used, some are misused. But they all tell a bit of a story, and I thought I’d start to share some of my favorites.

Today’s quote comes from Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 – August 17, 1935) – a prominent sociologist, writer, feminist, and lecturer for social reform.  Prior to coming across this quote, I had never heard of her. But this quote combines two of my favorite things (writing and living) and speaks volumes to me about something that I aspire to on an ongoing basis.

I find it all too easy to review life and say “Poor me. I’m over-tired, I’m … (insert whatever it is bothering me that particular week). My life is hard. But I can’t change it – it’s my lot. Poor me.”  Wake up, ME! This is not a productive approach!

  • It does not generate change or positive forward motion,
  • It does not incite reflection for making my own circumstances better,
  • And it certainly does not provide fuel to my inner fire that says “You know what? This is NOT my life. My life is what I make of it. I’m going to get up, dust myself off, and find a better way”.

Life doesn’t have to happen to us; we can choose to happen to life. I can choose to be active in my life, my choices, and my destiny. I can choose to take charge of my circumstances and my situation, and I can make my life into the life I want it to be. Granted, there are some things that are outside of my control. But my approach to those things are well within my control, and that is where the balance of my power lies.

So I choose not to let my life be a noun; not to simply be a composition of people, places, and things that come and go.

I choose to make my life into a verb – I choose to do life – LIVE life.  And I choose to be active, involved, and a part of what is going on around me. I always try to remember that…

“Life is a verb, not a noun.” – Charlotte Perkins Gillman

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The Beauty of a Run

Awhile ago, I posted about signing up for my first ever road race – a 10k on May 29th.  Two months into my training, I’ve learned a few very interesting things about running, and about myself.

I have always loved running. The better I get at it, the more freeing I find it. There is something beautiful about throwing on a pair of shoes and taking off. Running a very fluid activity (except on the days where I feel like a refrigerator with feet) and I find it very freeing. I can ‘run’ away from the stress, the confusion, the strain, and the burden of my day, and onto a path that has only the directions and timelines that I choose.

I’m also discovering that running is one of the few things I find unbelievably challenging and unspeakably rewarding at the same time. Almost every time I go for a run, something goes squirrely. My knees hurt a bit, my hips are tight, my lungs act up, or I get a stitch. And I think – oh, hell. Can’t I just have a run?! Please!! But I push it out, one way or another, and I always end up having a great run. What a feeling of accomplishment! I am learning where my boundaries are, but more importantly, where they are not.

I think the most important thing that I’ve learned so far, is how much I love to run with a friend. My sister, who is an incredible runner and athlete, and whom I’m proud to call my friend, is helping me train. Once a week we get together and we run. Hills, neighborhoods, stairs, river banks – we just go. On today’s run, we saw a horned owl in a tree and stopped running, right there on the spot, for about three minutes. We stood together watching the owl, while the owl watched us. It was beautiful.  And it was one of the best parts of my day.

To sum up, two months into running – it’s a beautiful thing. I love the way it feels to pound my feet into the pavement. I love the way I feel when I’ve run a distance I’ve never achieved before or a pace I thought was impossible a few weeks ago.

And most of all, I just love to run. Completely. Simply. I enjoy the beauty of a run.

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I am a reader. I always have been and I suspect I always will be. However, I find the latest trend towards the devaluing of paper books to be a bit sad.

Allow me to qualify this post – I am a fan of the e-reader (I have a Kindle) and I enjoy electronic fiction and short stories as much as the next person. But there is a large part of me that gets wonderfully lost in a paper reference book. It used to be that the purchase of such a book made me feel excited for the new learning levels I could reach and confident that I had invested in some good material. I was reminded today that this is no longer the case.

Depending on how you read and interpret the facts, books first appeared about 5,000 years ago. And here we are today, continuing to rely on this ancient source of information. Just today, I received a textbook I had purchased for the writing courses I’m taking, which was originally printed in 1980 and updated as a second edition in 1998. It felt good when it arrived, to touch the new pages and physically flip through the first few chapters. But as I was looking into the second book for this course, most recently updated in 1994, I couldn’t help but ask the question: Is this book too old to be valuable? The general consensus seems to be yes.

Everything is changing so fast these days. The advent of the Internet started this revolution and it seems to be getting faster and faster with each passing day. Unfortunately, books are the latest casualty to fall to this trend. Granted, it  depends a bit on the subject matter; but it seems as though no sooner are the words on the page and the book on the shelf that something has changed and a new edition is required. I guess that’s why more and more people are looking towards wikis (such as Wikipedia) as sources of up to date reference details – as online, collaborative resources, the information there is generally accurate and up to date. It is also constantly evolving because it’s online and easily updated & maintained.

I agree wholeheartedly that, for some things, information is changing too rapidly for a printed book to keep up. But I also believe there is something to be said for the physical reference book  – you don’t have to accept each word as the absolute truth, but that doesn’t mean its ideas and information are no longer valid.

And sadly, I am also a nostalgic fool who believes there will never be anything quite like a good, paper-bound book.

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