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Archive for June, 2013

For those of you living in Calgary, or those of you with access to a news source of some kind, you know about the tragic circumstances that my lovely city, this beautiful province, and all of its people have been facing over the last 48 hours, with certainly more hardships to come. We are, in a word, waterlogged.

But I’d like to say that amongst the fear, the angst, the frustration, and the helplessness that we have all seen and experienced, to varying degrees, over the last two days, I am proud to read all the offers of volunteerism, donations, and well-wishing that are flooding social media tools and news stories. We as a city, a province, and in the coming days even as a country, have come together to get each other through.

It’s a beautiful thing. And it gives me hope.
Keep smiling, all. And keep up the good work.

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Maximum Capacity

Are you a busy bee? I am. I am one of those people who, self-admittedly, would rather be busy than bored. And typically, to me, bored means any time that I don’t have a to-do list a mile long. But here’s where things get interesting: I am slowly coming to terms with the idea that less is more, even to me, after a certain point.

Allow me to explain.

A typical week for me is spent working all day, playing ball at least twice, keeping a house and a yard inline, grocery shopping, doing laundry, blogging, working out when possible, cooking, and sometimes just for fun, I add in travel for work or teaching a technical writing course online at night. And let me be clear: I like it this way.

But here is the catch. I have a limit. And this limit isn’t one that I recognize easily, or even willingly. It usually takes me a crash of some magnitude to realize that it’s time to step back. I am in the middle of one of these crashes right now; so I thought putting my thoughts on ‘paper’ might help me recognize my state of being.

I am in the throes of my second brutal cold/flu of the year. Back to back I might add; I was only really well for about 5 days in between. And by my standards that is one sickness too many. I’m not immune, oh no. But usually I’m pretty resilient and can sometimes dodge the germs when I see ’em coming. Not this time. And I’ve been asking myself why. I think the answer may lie in what I’ve been up to lately; and it falls inline nicely with what I’m hoping to accomplish this month for my Harperness project. I am out of balance. Big time. And I’m ignoring what I need to do to get back on track because I don’t like to see it, or admit it – I’m overdone.

That’s right folks. The self-diagnosed superwoman has met her match. She’s done like dinner. Down for the count. Out like a light. (I could go on…) Whatever I want to call it, it’s time to admit that I’ve reached my maximum capacity and I need to step back.

So how do I get there? When I look at my todo list, I don’t see any obvious drops. I see things that I’ve got to do, said I’ll do, promised to do, should do, and want to do. So where do I let go? Here’s my latest pearl of enlightenment: it’s not the what that I need to let go of, it’s the when and the how.

Not everything needs to be done immediately and perfectly and by me alone. There are many things that can be done later, or dare I say it never (e.g. Wiping out the inside of every single one of my cabinets!) or if I can’t stand the idea of never, I can certainly space many todos out. There are more things I could ask for help with – I bet I’d be pleasantly surprised at how other people in my life do a lot of the things on my list. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if there is a lack of offers to help. But I need to stop turning down the offers for help. I need to stop needing to do and to control everything. And I need to stop caring so much about the how; the check mark next to the ‘done’ box needs to be enough.

Maximum capacity is usually a reminder to us, often an unpleasant one, that a shift is required. A shift towards balance. A shift towards our more human sides. And an understanding that we all have a maximum capacity that we’d all do well not to ignore.

So as a step in the right direction, I’m going to take off my Superwoman cape now, and go put my feet up. With my cat. And my orange juice. The dust bunnies can rule the world for one more day; and I’m sure the weeds will wait. That will be quite enough for today.

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The good news is – I’m still here. The bad news is that May is LONG gone, and June is half over. Where are the updates? I don’t have a good excuse; only to say that the past couple of months I haven’t even always been sure where I was, much less where my updates were. So better late than never, and here we go.

I am ashamed to admit that I had to look up what May stood for. It was, wait for it, boost energy. HA. Good one, Harper. In hindsight, which they always say is 20-20, I should have known better than to make that type of goal. What was I thinking? Regardless, safe to say that May was indeed a challenge for me. It involved lots of travel for work and teaching my second course with SFU. Both of which I enjoy; but both of which require more than 100% of me in their own ways.

Looking back, I think that the perspective I gained in April went out the window in the month of May, as I tried (unsuccessfully) to boost my energy by doing more, being more, seeing more, etc. I am self-admittedly one of these people who likes to be busy and involved in multiple things at once. But if there was one valuable thing I learned in May, it was that I have a line. Up to that line, the busier I am the more energy I feel. But once I cross that line, things go downhill in a hurry, and typically, my recovery time gets longer the thinner I’ve stretched myself. So lesson learned – be busy, but recognize the signs – and don’t be afraid to understand that, after a certain point, less really does become more.

Okay – enough retrospective. Since we are already halfway though June, I thought it only fair to tell you about my goal for the month, and give you a little update on how I think I’ve fared so far.

June’s goal is marriage. As in make mine better, stronger, more loving, more fulfilling, more everything. Which isn’t to say I’m not divinely happy with my husbee, because I am (and we are), but because, as I was saying to a friend of mine just last week, and as I have said on more than one occasion to many people, having a happy and successful marriage is a choice. Every day, my spouse and I choose to love each other. We choose to compromise in the face of challenges. We choose to listen and support each other no matter what the challenge. We choose to be each other’s everything. And most of all, we choose and vow, all over again, to fulfill all the promises we made to each other no matter how long ago.

I’m very happy to say that June is a success so far. And it has been easy and wonderful to see my marriage continue to grow and deepen, and to reap the rewards of my marriage every hour of every day, with a few small realizations and changes. I am truly blessed to be with the man I chose, who chose me, and that of course makes everything rosy. But I have found that, even on the challenging days, with a little more listening and a little less reacting, the balance between us is stronger than ever.

It helps me to remember these words: “every day is a gift, that’s why they all it the present”.

If today was my last day with my husband, would it be important who was right most often, who was ready first, who took out the garbage the most often, or who spent the most money on whom? No. None of those things would count. Instead, we would be glad for the hugs, the hand holdings, the winks, and the I love you’s. We would remember the dances in the kitchen, the laughs shared at the ball diamond, and the stories told in the car driving to and from work. So it’s important to me that I stop worrying about what doesn’t count and continue enjoying what does.

As they say, June came in like lion. And while I hope my life settles and it goes out like a lamb, I will have an update regardless when the calendar flips to July. So carry on, June. Carry on.

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