Sweaters…and World Peace

Welcome to the new year!  So far it has been wonderfully joyful.  Snow or no snow (the shovelling saga continues), my sister and I had booked last Saturday for a trek to the mall and a day of shopping.  For those of you who do not enjoy this kind of expedition let me explain why women love going to a mall and can spend hours (oh yes, literally hours), wandering from store to store and carrying a smorgasbord of bags with treasures home.

First, I do sympathize with those of you who find clothes shopping a mundane task.  This chore is even more cumbersome during the winter months when you need to slough off boots (perhaps even long underwear) while you try on pants or dresses.  Even when taking shirts on and off over your head, there is that wondrous crackle of electricity from static in the air.  Ah…the trials and tribulations of winter shopping.  Besides having to deal with those health hazards, there is also the desire to own new things while keeping your bank account from weeping with loss.  And finally, with all the winter sales in full force there is the challenge of finding clothes in your size and/or finding the desired colour.  Stores themselves become a grandiose mess and it’s almost impossible to find what you like.  If you do, there are the lineups for the fitting rooms and then the subsequent queues at the checkout.  All this wasted time!  For what?  Ah…this is where those of you who dislike to shop misunderstand the seek and hunt of this magnanimous adventure.

Shopping is comparable to a hunting expedition.  You hunt for a convenient parking spot.  You hunt for the great end of season deals.  You hunt for that unique item that others will envy you for.  Sure you might have to peek through racks of unkempt clothing, but it’s like being a hungry cat in the jungle, peering through foliage in order to seek out your prey.  Once you pounce on that coveted piece, your insatiable appetite will wane exponentially.  Even better, you will hear cherubs singing songs of praise as you not only discover that one-of-a-kind item, but happily realize it’s your size.  Now add to that eureka moment the final trifecta:  that article of clothing is now 70% off the regular retail price!  Oh yes, shopping CAN make you this deliriously happy!

Back to Saturday.  Whilst perusing in one boutique (a place I dare not venture into unless it is the January-end-of-winter sale or the September-end-of-summer sale), I nonchalantly bumped into a rack that hollered (figuratively speaking) “up to 70% off“.  Wha-what?  I had just spent 15 minutes scouring through an impossibly tight rack of slacks with not a pair of pants to my liking or my fitting.  Here it was, this rack of glory, like a beacon in the night, and it held upon it’s metal arms shirts and sweaters of MY unique colour preference; orange.  Then I spied it.  A fluffy orange sweater.  Not only was there only ONE left, but it was my size!  Not only did it FIT perfectly upon my being, but it would meld nicely with its relatives in my closet.  Not only did I have all that going for me, but it  was 70% off!  HUZZAH!  I bagged one!  At least I almost had.

The lineup at the checkout was quite long and appeared steadfastly immovable.  My sister, intrigued with my unique shopping whims, waited patiently with me.  We didn’t move for a couple of minutes.  I remarked that if we did not move at least halfway closer toward the front within 15 minutes then my purchase was not meant to be.  Golden Rules of Shopping; rule #5.  We stood.  We waited.  Time ran out.  I put my “winning” sweater on a nearby rack and we walked away.  It was not meant to be.  My sister was shocked.  She had been willing to wait, but I explained to her my policy and would not be swayed.  Onward and upward.  To the second floor!

As we finished our sale-shopping spree, our stomachs began speaking (grumbling really) and we turned around and headed back from whence we came.  We passed the boutique…almost.  I nonchalantly glanced inside.  The queue was much shorter now.  A cashier had been added into the foray.  I wondered aloud if my prized sweater was where I had abandoned it.  GASP!  It was!  A sign from the shopping gods!  I snatched MY fuzzy, bright, orange sweater and we proceeded to the back of the line.  After several minutes I proceeded triumphantly to the cashier and purchased MY new sweater.  I paid…wait for it…$7.00 (+ taxes) for a sweater!  BOOYAH!

My shopping expeditions are contagious!  Even my sister, one who does not usually enjoy such treks, had a wonderful time!  The hunt leading to the actual purchasing of items can make us so happy and make us feel good.  It’s what good shopping trips are all about.  It is a trip!  Some people use drugs and alcohol!  I have retail therapy!

Men can brag about bagging a deer.   I can counter that with bagging a sweater (wrapped neatly in tissue paper and placed in a chic paper bag.  A lovely,  bright, orange, fuzzy sweater.  A sweater that is functionally warm and yet coquettishly comfortable, not to mention its exuberantly cheerful colour.  Those around me will naturally brighten and lead happier lives.  Children will flock to me due to my fuzzy teddy-bearness.  Yes, my latest $7.00 purchase might even lead to world peace!

….and the angels could be heard, not far off in the distance, singing their praises…

On Your Mark, Get Set…JUMP!

Every fall season seems like a new beginning, at least to me it does.  Many people tend to disagree with me as the natural and most popular rebirth season is spring.  You know, the whole winter thaw, new flowers bloom, trees start to get their leaves, the birds come back from winter hiatus. Although the season after summer has its own life beginning and life changing intrigues, please ponder the following.

A four-year old child.  This child has been at home or at a daycare.  Turning four means that they are going to big people school, a.k.a. kindergarten.  School all day.  There are activity tables that can be comprised of any of the following:  drawing, painting, water, crayons.  There are dolls so they can play house or doctor or whatever else pops into their little four-year old minds.  There is a teacher.  There are other kids who will be playing with them and calling them “friend”.  There are crafts that they will do with their teacher.  Scary?  A little.  It’s different from the usual.  Exciting and a little overwhelming, but they are ready to jump in.

Transition again from kindergarten to grade one.  Very different.  Your own desk and projects to do.  There is this thing called homework.  There will be tests.  Will you still have your kindergarten friends in your class or will there be new people?  Ready, set…jump in.

Let’s go higher up….grade 8.  Last year of middle school.  After this year there is a progression to high school.  What will your last year be like?  You are a senior…in middle school anyway.

Minor Niner.  Welcome to high school.  Quite a traumatic experience as there will be many new students and many of your old friends won’t be in your classes this year.  There are semesters and many more tests and challenges; especially the desire to fit in.  This will all be recorded in the yearbook.  What courses should you take?  Where will go after high school?  University?  College?  A trade?  A job?  Again, many decisions.  Life through school is very nerve-wracking.  It’s determining who you are.  Many people will be there in the shaping and moulding of your life.   You won’t realize it at the time, but looking back, you will see who and what influenced your life.

Now, let’s say you didn’t finish high school.  Where did your life take you?  Did you go into the workforce?  Did you travel?  Did you move out on your own from the house you grew up in?  What made you take a leap of faith and move into the direction you moved?

It’s fall again.  The older I get, the more I want to take more time for myself and my dreams.  I believe I am in the fall of my life.  There are brilliant explosions of colours (my desires) running through my mind.  There are changes I want in my life.  There are things I was always afraid to do because I thought I would be criticized or laughed at.  It doesn’t matter anymore.  Now, it’s my opinion of myself and my self-love that will make me succeed.  Fear of failure?

Failure now has a new definition. To me the definition of failure means that I didn’t try something new as opposed to trying and not having it end up perfectly.  Perfection is quite subjective.  Depends on who is looking at it.

In the fall of my life I have decided to take a job that would put me much farther from home.  It’s a position I have some knowledge about, but there will be much new learning.  Excited?  Absolutely.  Scared?   Strangely, not really.  I am totally confident in my ability to learn.  I know that I can do anything.  There is no fear of failure.  Is that a bad thing?  I am not sure.  I know when I used to perform on stage the nervousness before was part and parcel of a good, confident performance.  Over confidence usually meant something would go wrong.  Is that the same with jobs?  Perhaps.  I am not afraid to ask for help.  Pride is the only thing that could hurt me.  I like my new vision of life and all that change can hold for me.  The need to try new things is exhilarating instead of frightening.  I am happy to have swallowed my dreaded fear of failure.

I am certain that with change there will be hurtful experiences in my life.  Daring to try new things, even if it means failure, proves that I  have stepped outside my comfort zone and into the realm of the adventurous.  My desire to learn and experience new things is keeping my life exciting and exhilarating and that is how I believe life should be lived.

Hurrah for me!

On your mark…get set…jump in!

 

Pork and Beans and the Prized Nugget

Schools of thought.  I myself have been on both sides of the fence depending on my age and/or necessity to explain or justify what I’m doing.  Sometimes my own thoughts just don’t seem as intelligent or convincing enough so why not borrow from the tried and true?

Too many chefs spoil the broth OR many hands make light work

Absence makes the heart grow fonder OR out of sight, out of mind

The pen is mightier than the sword OR actions speak louder than words

I could go on, but you get the idea.  What got me pondering and processing proverbs?   This weekend was one that I had been happily anticipating for a few days.  Social calendar full, beautiful weather, and Wiseguy not working.  Trifecta! Perfection!  Or so we thought.

Earlier in the week I had learned that a lovely lady had passed away.  She was only 51.   (Yes, for you youngins in your 20s that’s old, but we middle agers find that to be baby status to old age).  It came suddenly and unexpectedly in the form of a heart attack.  After some tears and hugs and grieving at the funeral home I again began to look forward to my happy weekend plans and enjoy life again.   Three days later another life jolt.  Another beautiful,  young woman in her 50s had passed away.  A kind and happy person who enjoyed life and made others feel happy, comfortable when you were around her.  The question you can’t help but ask is why?

When the week was done, I looked in my rearview mirror of wisdom to try and decipher what it all meant.  Death is shocking.  There’s anger and guilt and fear and mostly denial.  Death is so final.  Death is also illuminating.  My thoughts and beliefs on death have changed many times over the years.  Maybe that’s where the wisdom kicks in, or maybe, I find more comfort in disbelieving what I had learned before.  If this was your last day on earth how would you feel and what would you do?

What about life itself?  Is there a purpose?  Is there a meaning to our lives?  We wonder how we really fit in.  We promise to take time for ourselves.  We see family at funerals and PROMISE to call and visit because the mortality punching bag hit us hard.  And then, we go back to “life“.  Work.  Pay bills.  Buy necessities.  Maybe a few days vacation.  Is that life?

As I age (gracefully, of course) I look more at children and their approach to life.  Take a 3 year old and watch them get upset when they don’t get what they want.  Tears.  Tantrums. They know.        They deserve more.  Why do we adults accept that we can’t have better?

Each person derives a message upon hearing about the death of a loved one.  Each person goes through the stages of denial and guilt and anger to final acceptance.  It’s an emotional journey that can either leave you emotionally drained and looking consistently at the sadness and unfairness in life or it will lead you to finding a new sign or life message leading you to a happier more fulfilled life.  Which side of the proverb are you on?

I am trying to find positivity in the negative.  I believe that this is a sign to live life to the fullest.  When asking why people have to die and leave us, I remind myself that we don’t know how long we have here on earth and that we do need to take time to have fun.  We assume that we will wake up the next day. I am starting to rethink my life.  I am in the baby stages of redefining the living of my life by actually making myself follow my dreams to their realization.  No more giving up for fear of failure.  I will be grateful for that first deep breath in the morning because I know I am alive and my surrounding world is full of adventures that I need to explore.  I will let myself float in the pool of happiness around me.  I will love myself and share that love with others.  I will live and love and know that when my time comes I will be grateful for this thing called “life”.

Pork and Beans.  (Stay with me here, all will be explained.)  I think it is the simplest explanation to my conundrum.  Have you ever had a can of pork and beans? I remember reading the label and thinking there would be numerous chunks of bacon with the beans.  Can opened and contents extracted.  Hmmmm, one little wee piece of bacon and MILLIONS of beans.  This can of beans was like our weekend (told you I’d explain it).  Our disheveled weekend plans became a blessing in disguise.  You will have many experiences in life that all seem the same and monotonous, like the beans and one prized “nugget” of pork experience.   That one nugget, that one day, when everyone’s life coincides in togetherness and love is as large as the full moon.  It’s magical.  Wiseguy and I did get to spend time with people we love.  We did to get to appreciate and feel good about life with the people who are still with us.

Moral:  There will be sad times in your life.  Cry, be sad, hurt, grieve.  It’s a process.  Then move on.  Change your way of life.  Stop living with the simple monotonous beans of life.  Go searching and experiencing numerous and exciting prized pork nuggets. (My analogies, you must agree, are not conventional but then, neither am I.)

For those who have lost loved ones, I understand, I feel your loss, and can only give momma hugs. Words cannot heal what you have lost, but the good memories to follow will.  XOXOXO

 

 

 

 

 

Fear of Trying…

Nope, that’s not a typo.  There are so many people in the world that have a fear of “flying” but over the years I have discovered that I am one of those people who has a fear of “trying”.

It started way back in childhood.  The need to have straight A’s in school to impress my mother.  I studied and worked hard to impress my teachers.  Oh, I was a doozie.  I remember actually making research projects of my own to give to my teachers.  Yup…need for attention was way high!  As I got older, it didn’t change much.  My identity was based on what other people thought of me.  If they liked me, then I liked me.  A hard way to get around in life.  The thought of being mocked or laughed at took over my life and not in a good way.

I never signed up for any school sports.  I might look stupid if I missed catching a ball.  My team mates would be mad if I didn’t run fast enough in relay races.  Playday…that should’ve been a fun day.  It would mix children from all different grades and create teams.  There would be all kinds of games like dress up or shoe toss and you would compete against other teams.  Fun right?  My fear of trying led to such nervousness that I would screw up so many simple games.  The year our team won 3rd place I was so excited!  I ran home to show my mom and got, “How come you didn’t get first place?”  Devastating.

Today’s thought isn’t about pity.  It isn’t about relieving sad parts of childhood.  It’s more about looking back to see how much I have grown as a person and how I finally managed to quash my fear of trying.

My first defense mechanism was humour.  If I tripped going up some stairs or something I would laugh at myself first.  Beat everyone to the punch.  That helped a lot.  It’s no fun making fun of someone if they are already making fun of themselves right?

Next, self-confidence.  That was a hard one.  When I realized it was most important that I impress myself instead of others it really helped me out a lot.  Funny thing is that this self-awareness was not something I had realized on my own.  It was when I started dating Wiseguy that I began a very interesting journey to self-awareness and confidence.  It was strange having someone say to me, “do what you think is right” when it came to family situations.  I didn’t know what was right.  Right to me meant making everyone else happy and not caring about how felt.  So, with lots of talking and analyzing he helped me figure out how that really worked.

Even trying new things.  I wanted to take a writing course.  He said go ahead.  I was averaging 94%.  When it came time to submit a story for my final exam guess what happened?  Yup, fear of trying popped up again.  What if they didn’t like my story?  What if I failed the exam?  What if … what if…and that was it.  Never got my certificate.  Wiseguy didn’t harass me or bug me about it.  I guess he realized it was going to be quite a journey for me.

Wiseguy would take me to new places, new restaurants.  We would drive someplace where he had never been before.  It was all about leaving the comfort zone.  That fear of failure or looking stupid in front of others would almost cripple me sometimes. Example:  I would never order food in a restaurant that I would not eat easily with a fork and knife or spoon.  Spaghetti?  Never…what if the noodle suddenly slapped me in the face?  Chicken wings…so messy.  Soup…I might slurp it.  Wiseguy hung in there and year after year I would get better. He would tease me about ordering the same thing so he would dare me to try something new.  My Fear of Trying became the Year of Trying.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times that my stomach gets so queasy from fear and it takes me a bit of self talk to get me to realize that life is about trying new things.  Failure isn’t necessarily a bad things.  You learn so much from errors if you take the time to step back.

I have been asked to emcee a very important upcoming event.  When first asked I got that wonderful, sickening, stomach tightening feeling.  My brain began racing with the usual What ifs.  Then the miracle happened as it nowadays normally does.  The excitement of trying something new, like Wiseguy had taught me, was worth diving head first into the pool of life.  I am sooooo excited and looking back, I can’t imagine why I would’ve turned down such a wonderful honour from someone whom I love so much.

My wish to everyone today, grab that one little fear of trying that you have.  Shake hands with it, wish it well on its new journey OUT of your life.  Make this your Year of Trying.    ♥