Tuesday 29 April 2014

Perfection...To Be or Not To Be?

I feel as though I walk through my life in a constant state of urgency. There are always things to do, meals to prepare, laundry to be done and work to finish. Slip in the occasional hour or two to jot down some creative words and about five to sleep, you have an inkling to what my days are like. Maneuvering through the 24 hour period is usually without incident but this past week has been the week from hell. If the day was only three hours longer, so much more could get accomplished.

People tell me I should simplify, pare down the must do’s and need to do’s and focus on what is really important. If I followed that wonderful piece of advice, I would put a big NO on my front door, turn off all electronic devices, drop the kids off at a relative’s place and disappear for an unknown amount of time. I felt the stress this week and the fear of not being able to get it all done.  And that is the part that gets to me – NOT GETTING IT ALL DONE.  How can Super Mom, that perfect ray of sunshine that radiates love and joy to one and all, not check off all the things on her to do list?

I could feel the angst and frustration build up within me and I tried to breathe deep and exhale. That doesn’t always work. How could it?  It didn’t change the fact that I had to run the kids to their activities, get groceries done, do some laundry and put the final touches on two stories I was submitting for a writing contest.

A friend insisted that delegation of duties (she sounds like an army sergeant) was needed.  The kids could take on some tasks. So I tried. That lasted for ten minutes. After I carefully explained what needed to be done, I was met with, “Ok Mom, I will”.  Only they didn’t. So I gently reminded them again of their tasks at hand, reinforcing that it was so super wonderful that they were helping out (deep breath in and exhale here – they didn’t note the sarcasm in my tone).  And off they went, muttering something under their breath that I don’t want to know…EVER.  Things were moving along tickety boo until I went to check on them.

Enter, Super Mom, the perfectionist. Of course, they were doing it all wrong. The beds were not neatly made with pyjamas tucked under pillows. The folded laundry was just tossed into drawers and closets. I could feel my breath quicken and of course, I felt compelled to fix it all. How could I let it be less than perfect?

The kids watched as I pulled back the blankets on the bed in a fit. They looked at me as though I was a lunatic. What was I doing? I sat on the now unmade bed. I was teaching my kids to get all worked up over the small, insignificant things. Who cared if hospital corners were missing and that the t-shirts were mixed in with the socks? They were helping me and in one full swoop of pulling back the bed sheets I had undone all their effort.

And then it hit me.  The lesson I should be teaching my kids.

Sometimes getting close is perfection enough. It’s the effort that counts.

Talk to me! Is being good enough the new perfect in today's crazy world? How do you deal with juggling everything on your plate?

Thursday 17 April 2014

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

In one of my recent post's, Adam's Rib, I ended it by saying "I am in love with ME". While I have been sharing details of this journey of falling back in love with me through my stories, I have never really thanked the people who have taught me the lessons that brought me to this point.
As I mentioned in my post, Happy Valentine's Day, Now Get Out, watching my two friends say "I do" prompted me to realize I deserved better than what I had allowed my life to become.  SF and KB are a couple I still watch in awe. They compliment each other so wonderfully and not because of all the years they have spent together. There is a genuine understanding and respect between them that I see everyday. It does exist and I know that I can find it when I see them weave their life together. So, thank you to them.
To the Brazilian beauty who taught me that I am my own brand and if I don't take care of me no one else will, I raise my glass. You opened my eyes and made me realize I needed to take care of myself. It's okay to splurge every once in a while on something nice for me. My life is not all about the kids. I am a woman who deserves a special treat now and then. You opened my eyes to see that I am worth the investment.
My Scottish lovely, you taught me life was all about change and that if anyone could embrace it, I could. You pushed me and prodded me to rise to the next level when I was learning a new career. You were tough and demanding and made me cry but you taught me everything I needed to know about achieving success through hard work and determination. Through examples of your own, you showed me I am capable of anything I put my mind too and should never settle for sloppy seconds. You never let me say "I can't".

To the two men who recently have told me they find me intriguing and fascinating. Thank you for that. Thank you for finding that nugget of gold inside me that makes you want to dig some more and get to know me. It is nice to know that new people I meet find me interesting and want to get to know more. We so often hide ourselves in our life, afraid to venture out and see what is outside our doorstep. When we hide, we forget how awesome we are and when you finally jump off the stoop, WOW! 

Mr. S. my biggest cheerleader! Without you I would never have moved forward with my writing. I always had pen and paper in hand and it was only after sharing some of my words with you that I realized maybe I could do more with this. Family always supported and encouraged me but it was YOUR belief in me that gave me what I needed to take that step forward. I am eternally grateful. More than you will ever know.
JT you rock! You stood by my side and let me step outside the box to do something that was for ME, something that took courage and guts to do.  And I did and you talked me through it. Talk about empowering and fun!  Talk about exposing the heart and soul! I learned something about myself. Life happens when you live it. You helped me get there.

KBo you are my rock.  You never judge, you don't try to fix and you make a mean martini. You helped me focus on me which is what I needed to do. We all need that one person that keeps it real and doesn't let you accept defeat. Your strength is amazing and the energy that surrounds you is awesome. Like I said, MY rock.
Thing 1 and Thing 2, without you in my life, I would not have been so driven to create a home. You have taught me to look at the world through your eyes and slow down and that makes me happier than anything. Much of what I do, how I behave, is done to show you that anything is possible. You are my life and through you I continue to become the best ME I can be.
All these people and a whole slew more were the pillars along the road of my journey to now. In some way or another, they helped me take that next step forward.  None of them, not one, has ever made me stumble or fall. They picked me up, kissed my cuts and bruises, brushed off the dirt and pushed me forward. They made life seem possible again and taught me to look inward not outward for true happiness.  
There are so many more that I could thank that touch different parts of my life. 

And that is the point.

You carve the path of your life but it is the people along the sides that cheer you on that keep you moving. They are the people you live with, the people you play with, the people you work with, the community you build. Choose these people carefully. They should be positive and encouraging.  Keep all the naysayers and toxic people at arm's length. It is those people who thwart your growth and suck the energy right out of you.
So every once in a while, we should all take the time to thank the academy of people in our lives that help us be the best we can be.  

Talk to me! Who would you thank in your life for all their encouragement and support? 

Monday 14 April 2014

It Doesn't Matter Who You Were, It Is Who You Are Now

Last week I attended a mini high school reunion. About 15 women who once walked the halls of a north Toronto high school gathered around a few tables and shared all the goings on in our lives over the past couple of decades.
We grew up in a decade where shoulder pads, rock Hair Bands, Rubik’s Cube, boon boxes were all the rage. What girl didn’t want John Cusack to show up under their window holding one over his head a la Say Anything. It was our time to start learning about the person we wanted to become. We were acutely aware of everything that went on around us. And we did all this attending an all girl Catholic school in the city.
While some of us have run into one another here and there, there were a few I hadn't seen in years. I was a bit nervous responding to the Facebook invite. I remembered all the ladies attending but didn't really hang out with more than half of them. It wasn't because of any animosity or dislike. These ladies all fascinated me in my youth and still do to this day. You see, I was one of three girls from my elementary school who chose this school. Many of the other ladies had years of friendships that preceded the dreaded "grade 9" year and I felt like an outsider looking in.
My high school years were fun and the group of girls I hung out with were amazing. There was a comforting similarity among us. It was easier to spend time with someone who was a mirror image of yourself rather than learning how to befriend someone you felt was more cool, less cool, more intelligent, more adventurous, less silly than you were. That would take courage and it was already hard enough figuring out the familiar. Looking back, I wish I was brave enough to step out that comfort zone and venture across the hall and say hello. It was the unfamiliar that intrigued me and frightened me.
I always watched these girls in awe. They were fashionable and hip. They were adventurous and rebellious. And I yearned to be like them. As outgoing as I was, I carried fear and reservation within me. I remembering listening to their stories of fun and craziness and I envied the memories they were creating. Even listening to them share these same stories the other night, I felt that same old pang of envy. And although I had my own crazy stories to share, the age old adage "the grass is always greener" kept creeping up in my mind.
But looking around the table, I realized something. Our accomplishments and life stories were pretty freaking awesome. Motorcycles rides in Africa, moving overseas, travelling the globe, amazing jobs and fantastic moms. This is who we are. Each a part of the same fabric that our high school years started to weave so many years ago. Our roads were all so different yet here we were all together again. It didn’t matter that we weren’t all part of the same clique growing up. We are all part of the same clique now. The girls of yesterday had all become the same strong women of today.
I have to say thank you to technology and social media. It is only through this that I have been able to bring these women into my life and get to know them as adults, with no fear or envy. The night was filled with hilarious memories, great new stories, flipping through year books and learning about each other in new chapters of our lives. Gone are the kilts and stone walls. The school retreats are done and the only proms we have to look forward to are those of our children. Life is our school now and I can honestly say it's nice to have these women walk the halls with me.
So to all the Abbey ladies, our years up on the hill were memorable and fun but I look forward to the years ahead, where we can continue to share our stories and laugh until our bellies ache.
Talk to me! If you had the wisdom of today in your teenage years, what would you do differently?

Thursday 10 April 2014

Peeing with the Bathroom Door Open

The early days of any relationship are filled with wonder and intrigue. The honeymoon phase. The part of the relationship where we learn about the other. The time when we make sure our best always shines through first. It is the time where we hide all our perceived imperfections and make sure all conversations are polite and the “je ne sais quoi” keeps each other interested.
Whether it is a blossoming romantic relationship or a growing new friendship, we always put our best foot forward, to draw that person in, to make them want to spend time with you and get to know you better. We keep the interest growing by keeping the mystery ALIVE.
We don’t burp or pass gas. We don’t sweat. We don’t spit. And we most certainly don’t pee with the bathroom door open.
But alas, a perfect world we do not live in. There comes a time when we can say that “the honeymoon is over”. It is the time when we realize that mystery consumes too much time to keep up. That one moment when something “accidentally” slips and opens the flood gate for all other mysterious behaviour to come flooding out. 
Recently, a close friend had surgery and I contacted him to see how he was.  His reply was what I expected since the surgery was a few days before. I knew that he would be uncomfortable and irritable. Men and pain don’t often mix well. What I didn’t expect, and I am not sure if it was the Percocet influence, was his comment, “if I could shit, I would feel a hell of a lot better.” It was then that I knew that the line had been crossed.  The mystery was gone. Our friendship had crossed that line.  We could no longer go back to the days before where mystery prevailed. I now had very clear mental images in my mind.  
The funny thing is that this crossing of the line, this destruction of mystery, brought with it a new level to our friendship. I knew he was comfortable with me after he shared his frustration with constipation.
While mystery keeps interest at the beginning, it is only once it is gone that you know your relationship has transcended to a new more intimate level, a level where being at your finest isn’t a requirement or necessity. It is when you realize that not only can you be with them at their best but you can also be with them at their worst.

So for every man that reclines back in his sofa and lets one go on a Friday night when watching t.v. and for every woman that refuses to shave her legs during the winter months, just remember, in this humble gal’s opinion, that sometimes it really is better to pee with the door closed.

Talk to me! How do you keep the mystery alive in your relationships?

Monday 7 April 2014

Adam's Rib

If there is something that I have learned in my journey so far it’s that happiness, true happiness has to come from within. It has to flourish inside, fed by your attitude and outlook of all the nuances that surround you.  It doesn’t come from consuming yourself with thoughts of “if only”. Too many times people get caught up in these words, “if only I had money”, “if only I had a partner”, “if only I didn’t have to work so hard”. 

If only sucks.
And it sucks more when people thrust it upon you.

The other day an acquaintance alluded to the fact I would be happier if I found a man to love. I took offense to that. I gently reminded him that I AM happy and counted off all the reasons why:
v  I have two beautiful children who give me joy everyday
v  I live in a home that I created
v  I have wonderful family and friends that I surround myself with
v  I have a job I love
v  I feel good about all my accomplishments
v  I feel even better about all my possibilities

And the list went on. 

But not anywhere on that list was an “if only I had a man then my life would be perfect”.

My life is perfect. It took a few obstacles and challenges along the way to make me realize that the sun does shine every day and that I was happy with myself. How could I expect to share a life with a partner or my children or my friends and family if I wasn’t completely and honestly happy with ME?

Some say Eve was created from Adam's rib but does that mean her happiness is embedded within him? A man doesn’t have to breathe life into a woman to make her feel worthwhile. Does this person think that a woman is not complete unless there is a man to complete the equation? 

I am complete. I am happy. I am strong.

And while I have a tremendous amount of love to give and share, having a man in my life won’t change these.

I must admit that the postulation that my future state of happiness was contingent upon falling in love made me happier. Why? Because I realized that even if this would never be actualized I was happy. 

I am in love with ME.
Talk to me! Have you ever felt that if you could just reach that one thing or meet that one person life would be better?