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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

I have seen an abundance of articles lately, that ask people to classify themselves as either cat people or dog people. It got me thinking, as I sit here surrounded by my very favourite furry friends who happen to be one cat and one dog, which one am I? How do I define myself?

The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got. In my opinion, these are two very different animals, who bring very different things to the table. Is this not like telling someone: “you can like either apples or bananas, but you CANNOT like both”.

Why not?

I love my cat for his quiet, wise companionship. He has an old soul; a wise soul. He sits with me, puring quietly and calmly, and doesn’t ask for anything in return except my company, near him. He just wants me, as I am, to be with him. It is very comforting, and very good to feel loved just for me, as me – no expectations or demands.

I love my dog for his unwavering, unconditional love and energy. He is a bundle of joy and laughter, at all hours of the day and night. He asks only that I love him, and in return, he loves me and shows me in a million and one ways that I am his whole world. It is an unbelievably fulfilling feeling of being not only wanted but truly needed by another living, breathing thing.

I love both of my animals, for who they are, and the joy they bring me in their own way. I would never expect my cat to run to the back door when I get home, to ask to go for a walk, or to act as though he hasn’t seen me in years when I step out of a five minute shower. I would never expect my dog to lie completely still, not needing any attention at all, just being present with me, in my moment, with a wise and calming sense of stillness, and of things being as they should in a singular place and time.

I would not give up even an ounce of either of their personalities, their needs, or what they bring to my life, for a second, just to be able to classify myself as a cat person ordog person. I am a love person; a pet person; a quadruped person… An animal person.

And that is just fine by me.

 

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I read an article a few days ago that piqued my interest (click here to read the article in full). In short, the article talks about how the ‘modern man’ is supposed to be many things to their partner and should avoid some specific pitfalls if they are to keep their wife and their marriage in good shape.

The ‘rule’ that I have the challenge with is #1: “Providing the basics for your family”. It talks about a man working overtime shifts, or keeping his mouth shut if he don’t like his boss so he keeps his job. I disagree with this definition of ‘providing’ for a partner in a relationship.

I am in a wonderful relationship; my husband and I both work very hard at different things and towards different passions, to provide a home for each other and lifestyle that we enjoy together. We make different amounts of salary – but to me, that is the very least of being a provider.

To me, a provider is someone who loves me, when I don’t love myself. Someone who makes me smile, when I’m down. Someone who carries me, when I’m too tired to carry myself. The job or the money is only a single, very unimportant part of all of this – someone who works long hours to ‘bring home the bacon’ is NOT a provider unless they do all the other things that their partner needs them to do along the way.

The idea of a provider within a relationship should also be targeted towards both parties within a relationship, not just the ‘modern day man’. The last time I checked, a marriage and a relationship is a two-way street. Both partners need to be committed to success if the relationship is going to work. Both people need to be invested to keep the relationship, the spark, the trust, and the commitment alive to make it through the good times and the bad.

So how do you define a provider? To me, to be a partner in a committed relationship is, at it’s very basest level, what it means to provide for the person you are with. The technicalities of what that provision looks like will vary in every relationship and to every couple out there, but think about your definition of providing for your partner the next time you work late hours, take on extra shifts, or abandon your partner for the sake or ‘providing’ for them.

What are you really providing? Is it really what they need? Providing isn’t ‘providing‘ if it’s not good for the relationship.

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Re-learning How To Read

I am, believe it or not, re-learning how to read. Not because I cannot read; but because I’ve been so busy being busy, and running as fast as my little long legs can carry me, that I’ve forgotten what it means to slow down and take time to read printed words on a paper page, and to absorb them, value them, and consider the thoughts and ideas behind them for myself and in my own space.

In our lives, we are inundated with snippets of information, fast facts, and 140 characters of meaninglessness coming at us from every direction, 24 hours a day. Many of us have lost the ability to slow down and connect with meaningful thoughts and ideas around us. Thanks to social media, we can’t get away from the information on the super highway known as ‘the Internet’. And while this affords us an unbelievable amount of access to information, it has degraded our ability to slow down and think for ourselves around what is true and what is worth our time.

I started my goal of re-learning how to read in January of this year. It was hard! I sat down, grabbed a book, and began flipping through it before I even realized that I was doing. I was treating it like a blog feed; jumping through it to get to the next detail. I felt like the story wasn’t moving fast enough for what I was accustomed to; the pages weren’t jumping out at me like text on a Facebook page or Twitter account. It was almost like I had a nervous tick for the first few weeks when I started to read; I could barely stand myself to sit still and read a story that crawled along, developing mysterious imagery through my imagination using beautifully written poetry and prose.

So what am I learning as I learn to re-read? I’m learning that the ability to slow down is priceless and is one that I lost once and that I need to try hard not to lose again. I don’t know how many times I can force myself to re-learn to read before the damage is done and the ability to re-learn is lost.

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What’s It Really Worth?

I was at the bottle depot today, and as I watched our collection of wine bottles, pop cans, milk jugs, and liquor bottles go into the bins it suddenly occurred to me: we had spent hundreds of dollars on all of the materials that I had brought back to be recycled, and I was only going to get about $20 dollars back out of the entire deal.

Wow. So what’s it all worth?

What else do we have in our lives that we spend hundreds of dollars on, or even thousands of hours on, only to realize that at the end of the day, it wasn’t worth what we put in?

At the end of our lives, we will not wish that our tombstones would read:

Here lies Adriana, who worked 60 hours a week and never missed a deadline, and had a beautiful collection of silk scarves!

Instead, we hope that our tombstones will read something more along the lines of:

Here lies Adriana, who always took time for her friends and family, and who never said no to anyone who needed her help.

So the next time you just have to have that oh-so expensive thing instead of spending your money on a donation that could really make a difference to someone less fortunate, or the next time you burn the midnight oil on something that won’t be remembered in five years from now while your friends and family gather and wish that you were there – ask yourself…

What’s it really worth?

And make sure whatever it is will be worth it, in the end.

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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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I’ll Be Happy When…

Sometimes, it takes something exceptionally sad for us to sit up and take notice of the happiness around us. And for me, something like that happened today. Today, Mr. Robin Williams, incredible actor, Oscar winner, hilarious stand up comic, generous philanthropist, husband, father, and (in my opinion) theatrical visionary, passed away. His loss is one that will be felt across our world, I’m certain, in a variety of ways. But for me, it’s one that I feel very deeply, and it has given me pause on this 11th day of August, 2014.

Mr. Williams was ‘one of those people’, whose station in life some of us contemplate and even yearn after. From the outside, an uneducated bystander such as myself would have believed that he had it all. Fame, fortune, family, and the respect of his peers and his industry – and yet, in a swift turn of fate on a single and otherwise unremarkable day, he is believed to have taken his own life when his life simply became too much for him to bear. How very tragic. How completely incomprehensible. And how firm of a reminder this should be to us all.

How many of us have ever said “I’ll be happy when…” and filled in those blanks with musings about our perfect job, our perfect mate, or our perfect bank account. And yet here is someone who seemingly had many if not all of those things, and yet it was not enough. In his darkest hour, it was still not enough. 

If Mr. Williams’ passing can be seen as a good thing in any light, let it be seen as a reminder to all of us all not to wait on being happy and not to expect that happiness is tied to anything or anyone other than ourselves. 

Be happy now. With what you have, where you are.
And cherish your life, where it is, for what it is.
Because one life is all any of us will get.
It should be enough.
It needs to be enough. 

Rest in Peace, Mr. Williams, and may God bless your family in this tragic time.

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