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Archive for January, 2015

Lately I find myself having conversations with other people, and with myself, about ‘having it’ or ‘keeping it’ together. It’s such an interesting expression, ‘having it all together’.

Do you remember when we were young enough not to worry about being a grown-up, but old enough to be impressed by the people around us who seemed to have it all? Those people, who seemed to have it all together all the time – the clean house, the great job, the balanced bank account, the home-cooked meals, the perfect haircut, etc. etc. – those were the ones we wanted to be like, the ones who ‘had it all together’.

Now that I’m a grown-up myself, I think that most days I do a pretty good job of keeping things together.  But there are some days, some weeks, and even some months, when I have a dirty house, a challenging job, a questionable bank account, Big Mac wrappers instead of home-cooked meals, and I haven’t even thought about having a haircut for months. I do not have it, any of it, together.

Those days hurt. I think – why bother? What is this all for? Why is this so hard? Why can’t I be one of the ones who have it all together?

Well, the truth is, because those ones don’t have it all together, every day, either. They just do a better job than the rest of us of faking it until we make it. They have just as many struggles as the rest of us, but they are kinder to themselves on those bad days, and they understand that tomorrow will be a new day and another chance to get it all together.

So the next time you feel like you do not have it all together, and might in fact never get it all together ever again (not likely, but a common fear!) – take yet another page out of those perfect people’s book – and be kind to yourself.

Allow yourself to not have it together. For days, for weeks, even for months. You are not allowed to stop trying to get there; but you are allowed to let yourself not be there every day, all day, and to be kind to yourself about it. Each day is a new day, another chance for you to try and ‘get it all together’. If you make it – great! Applaud yourself. If you don’t – that’s OK. Be kind to yourself about that, too.

It’s OK to say I don’t got it – and that it’s OK.

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A Ticket to Gratitude

Several weeks ago, my husband and I were at a family gathering in a residential neighbourhood. We parked our vehicle along the side of the road between two driveways, hopped out and waved to some family who had arrived at the same time as us, and went inside to enjoy a great get together.

A little over an hour later, we came out to our car to head home. And as we climbed into our vehicle, we realized that we had a ticket on our windshield. I got out, grabbed the ticket, and jumped back into the car. I unfolded the paper and giggled a little as I realized it was a parking ticket. Seriously?

My husband and I both laughed – we thought at first that it must be a prank. But as we read it a second and third time, we realized that it was in fact the real deal. The City had issued us a ticket. The ticket said that we had ‘blocked in’ a residential driveway.

I hopped out of our vehicle, feeling terrible that we had parked someone in! I needed to figure out which house deserved an apology. As I walked around our vehicle, slowly looking at the ground to see either footprints or tire tracks as a clue to whom we had ‘blocked in’ (it had been snowing that night, so it was easy to see who had come and who had gone while we had been inside) I slowly realized – there were no tire tracks or footprints leading to or from either driveway.

In other words – no one had tried to come or go; we had not blocked anyone in or out. But on this random Saturday night, we had annoyed a complete stranger enough for it to cost us almost $100.

As my husband and I drove away, uttering all the usual ‘this is ……’ expressions, I stopped to think. While I fully admit that we had been illegally parked within the letter of the law (we were not 1.5 meters away from the edge of each of the driveways that we had parked between), I realized that it must have really taken someone a lot of effort to be irritated enough to call the city on a Saturday night, and get a parking official out to their neighborhood to write us a ticket.

And the more I thought about this, the more I felt sad and sorry.

I felt sad for whoever it was who had such a terribly bad day that their only way to feel better was to punish total strangers who had done nothing wrong.

I felt sorry for whoever it was that had no other way to feel happiness or validation in their own life than to pick on the general world around them.

And then and there, I made a choice. Instead of continuing to feel wronged and to perpetuate the cycle of anger and irritation, I consciously chose instead to think a positive thought. A positive thought for the person who had ‘hurt’ my husband and I that night – that they would someday find a way to stop hurting others and start feeling happy in their own skin.

Today’s world is full of people who hurt, and who don’t know how to channel their hurt other than to hurt those around them. They feel so wronged by everything and everyone that the only way they can feel better is to purposefully punish the world right back.

Those of us who can stop this cycle need to do so – we need to afford these people our grace and our gratitude.

So the next time you get cut off in traffic even though you’ve had your turn signal on for blocks, or the next time you get shoved on the train by a stranger who is yelling loudly into their cell phone and doesn’t even give you a second look, be graceful. Remind yourself that you are the lucky one – you are the one whose life is going right and who doesn’t feel the need to wrong those around you to make it through your day.

And if someday, you get some sort of ticket like my husband and I did – use it a way to a place of grace in your own life – and be grateful that your life is your own.

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