The Phone Call…Part I

My parents are…unique.  Yes, that’s a good and ambiguous word to describe them.  My mom and dad depart from Canada every year in the spring and do not return to Canada until fall has begun.  Where are they?  They have a humble mansion-like home in Croatia.  So, what is a good daughter to do in order to keep in touch with her parents?   Why, she phones them regularly to ensure that all is well and that they are having a happy-go-lucky life.  Well, that is what a daughter with non-unique parents would do.  Me?  There is a bit of a process to ensure I can keep my sanity intact.

Whilst in Croatia, my folks reside a mere 15 minute drive from the grandiose city of Split.  My father is an avid vegetable / fruit gardener and bee keeper.  My mother is right there by his side.  Not willingly.  It’s kind of a wifely self-imposed prison sentence I think.  She prefers to cook and bake.  Sadly, there is only so much baking you can do if everyone around you is on a diet or diabetic.  This is the Croatian village life.  I felt this was important to mention so that you could more clearly understand my need to mentally prepare myself for … the phone call.

It’s Sunday in Canada.  Morning has passed.  It is now 2 pm.  I debate on whether it’s a good day to call.  Am I feeling happy?  Am I feeling energetic?  Could I handle a barrage of negativity?  Can I be supportive?  If my questions result in a sum of 3 out of 4 then it’s NOT a good day to call.  If I’m super-hyped and feeling supremely happy, then I take a few deep yoga breaths and dial the number.  I close my eyes and mentally prepare myself.  I never know what type of conversation I might be subjected to.

A typical phone call would start as follows:

[phone ringing.  Mom picks up]  Hello?

Me:  Hello.  How are you?

Mom: OOOOOOH!  It’s you! (in a piercing, ear-splitting voice).  Is everything ok?  Is there something new?  Why are you calling?

Yes, every single conversation begins this way.  Her highest hope is that there is some life changing news that she can share with everyone in the village and/or the rest of Croatia.  This standard call can then morph into one of the following sub-conversations.

MORBID.  With my parents, being part of the elder generation, there is a good chance that there was a funeral, or few, that they had to attend.  My mother provides me with the obligatory synopsis of the deceased’s life, what illness they ailed from, and how lucky that they no longer need to live in pain and suffering.  Her voice is sad and verges on tears.  From funerals she might proceed to discussion of the poor surviving family members, especially if someone else is ill.  In most cases, I have no idea who these people are.  I am obliged to listen intently and ask NO questions.  Questions only lead to attacks of my person and “how can you not remember them?!”  DEFINITELY no questions.

ONE-SIDED.  This is always an interesting one.  After the “anything new?” question, she will go on a diatribe about…almost anything!  It could be a person or people, or a group of people.  It could touch on the government and its uselessness.  Which government?  Why…any government!  They are all crooks.  It could segue to taxes and the exorbitant price of food.  Maybe the weather is uncooperative.  Too much rain.  Not enough rain.  Too much sun.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too many bugs.  From bugs to things bugging her like her aching back and sore legs.  Why is it one-sided?  I could say something, but she doesn’t hear me.  I have actually put her on hold, picked up my other line for about a minute, gone back to her and there has been no pause in conversation on her end.  She hadn’t even realized I had put her on hold.  These are the days that I don’t mention anything on my end.  She either won’t hear me, and if she does, she won’t remember it.

THE LITANY:  This type has some of the elements of ONE-SIDED, but is mostly a regular list of complaints, usually dealing with the unbearable actions of my father.  It would include, working long hours in the field, the amount of food he consumes, his argumentative behaviour, his self-righteousness, his loud voice, his deafness, and lastly, his method of breathing.  Yes, my father does not breathe as a regular human should.  Don’t ask me to explain, I don’t hear it the way she does.

HAPPY:  This is my most cherished type of phone conversation.  I find this one usually occurs if I haven’t called in over a month.  My mother is happy that I had called.  She is happy that I am healthy.  She is happy that everyone is doing well.  She is happy with her life.  The torrential rainstorm is no longer a scourge, but a great nurturer of the vegetables.  The sweltering heat of the sun is helping everything grow better.  My father is an amazing person.  He is so helpful and kind.  She just can’t do anything without him.  She has visited with family…or better yet, family came to visit her and she cooked and baked and everyone loved it!  They had so much fun!  Yes, this is my all time favourite exchange.  It is also usually the shortest one.  There is only so much good news and “happy” thoughts one can sustain.

As you may have noticed, I have only mentioned my mother in all these phone conversations.  This is due to two facts:  1)  My mother likes answering the phone or 2) My father has answered the phone, said “Hello [blah, blah for 2 seconds]” and then “here’s your mother.”

And….everyone together now…deep breath in…exhale…

Prepare yourself for:  The Phone Call – Part II.

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody cares…

I’m getting closer to my 50’s.  Yes, I refer to actual my age.  Many women prefer to lie about their age.  I am happy to be alive and well (health-wise) and LOVE telling people how old I am.  Why?  I don’t see why I should be shy or ashamed.  My real life eye wrinkles prove that I am a happy person because they are proof that I smile a lot.  The blue veins in my legs are a showcase of days when I gained waaaaay too much weight.  My whole body presents a story of my life.  To be honest, my absolute favourite parts of my body are: 1) my super-huge toothy smile and  2) my kaka-brown cow-eyes.  Why do I bring these items up?

Growing up in an environment of European descent was not easy.  There were many ways that you could be deemed unacceptable in regular society.  For example, I was diagnosed as near-sighted when I was 8 years old.  I remember going for the eye test and hoping that I wouldn’t “fail” the test because my parents would be disappointed. In the end, it was determined that I needed glasses.  I was actually ecstatic and elated and super pumped!  I even recall my eyeglass case…it was orange and there was the fuzzy head of a teddy bear on it.  I felt special.  That lasted for two days until I returned to school.  I was the only “four-eyes” in my class.  Yes…I could finally read everything on the chalkboard at the front of the room, but I was also a “loser”.  This eyeglass thing didn’t get any easier in other public domains.

My visual impairment made friendships awkward too.  My mother told me that I should not wear my glasses in public.  Why?  Wearing glasses at my young age meant I was somehow disabled.  Silly?  Absolutely, but at the time I believed my mother because she was my parent and she knew best.  At least that is what I was led to believe.

We would go to church every Sunday.  I would take my glasses off before entering.  Going up for communion was about following others so being visually impaired was no big deal.  The problem I encountered was when people thought I was ignoring them.   They would wave to me and I could really only see blobs of colours.  I appeared to be looking right at them, and yet, I myself could not actually see them.

For those who were forward, they would ask me why I ignored them and I’d make up some excuse (not mentioning the glasses).  For those who did not inquire, I became known as a very high and mighty, self-absorbed snob.  I found this out from friends after the fact.  Why do I bring this up?

It seems that our daily lives are always being judged.  Nowadays, they might even be recorded.  You never know when someone will be holding a “smart phone” ready to video or photograph whatever you are doing.  It seems that people are more concerned about recording the next “viral” video instead of thinking about how this could affect a person’s life.  In the end, I wonder…who cares?

No one really cares.  No one really cares about your life or what you are living.   No one really cares if you are happy, sad, disgruntled, ecstatic, etc.  That was generalizing, but in truth, if you are super happy, most people don’t want to share your happy news.  Why?  Most people are focusing on hardships and don’t want to hear about how good your life is.  “Misery loves company” and most would rather share woes.  Our society deals with sarcasm and belittling others to make themselves feel better.  Does this sound like a harsh judgement?  Perhaps, but oftentimes it seems that people would rather rally around those with problems than with those who are having a fantastically great life.

Perhaps I am just noticing this more often than I used to.  It could also be that I have decided to find what is good in my life instead of focusing on what I am missing.  This shift in vision took me a good two years to finally accomplish.  Why?  It’s not as easy as you think.  Here are some examples:

You wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is:  “Crap I have to get up and go to work.”  I would wake up, take a deep breath (which I can happily do) and literally tell myself to think of something positive.  So, I would say, “Wow!  I am so happy to wake up and breathe and enjoy another day of life!”  Corny?  When you start it, it does feel weird, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  How do you re-program your thinking to be positive instead of negative?  It’s a conscious effort of changing what you are thinking.

  • Awwwww, it’s raining again! – NEGATIVE
  • Yay!  The flowers will grow and bloom; my garden will grow! – POSITIVE

Challenge!  Write down your negative thoughts and then try to find the positive.

  • My car is a piece of junk…becomes…I am grateful to have a vehicle to drive.
  • I hate my job…becomes…I have a way to pay my bills and this is only a stepping stone to my new and better job.

You can do it!  You can find something good!  (If you get stuck…look at pictures of puppies and kittens, or any other baby animal.  You can’t be grumpy after that!)   While you are on this journey of discovery and appreciation don’t think about what others are saying about you or thinking about you because you know what?  Nobody cares!

To Be or Not To Be…Alone

I remember hearing about people who were trying to “find themselves”.   Mostly it was people criticizing other people and I, as a child, did not know what it meant.  In our day it meant you were escaping responsibility.  Fast forward years later and I finally understand what that means.  Some of you may have already done this, purposely or accidentally, but for those of you who have not yet reached the precipice, I shall try to explain this phenomenon.

I do not claim to know the answers.  I believe life is a constant journey.  There are so many things we experience and live through.  Things we thought were super stressful in our teens seemed like blessings in our twenties.  Stuff we thought was tough in our twenties became insignificant in our thirties.  I am getting closer to my fifties and am appreciating the desire for people to support one another and fight for equality.  I watch and summarize it as:  One generation wanting peace and love for everyone.

If everyone finally looked around and said, “Hey…you’re ok!” we could all work, live, and be happy together.  However, the most important thing is loving yourself.  Every religion tells you that and many of us choose to ignore it because it seems selfish.  I was raised hearing this:   Love your neighbour as yourself.  For some reason, most of us, or all of us, missed the memo.  Love yourself?   YES!  It sounds so strange, but once you start living it (yup, through “finding yourself”) it’s amazing how much better all your relationships become after that.

One of the reasons I bring this is up is because I believe in the power of love.  I believe in the power of positive thinking.  I believe that everything will be good in your life as long as you believe it will be ok.  How did I get here?  I finally debated about “to be or not to be…” alone.  That led me to decide that I needed time to be alone, to “find myself”.  Why?  I needed to think about what my thoughts were.  Negative?  Positive?  How did I view my surroundings?

I realized that most of my life was about helping others.  I needed the approval and praise of others to feel my self-worth.  Yup, that’s where the needed “alone time” came in.  Spend time with yourself and your thoughts and find out how you feel about yourself and how you can improve on your self-love.

DON’T SAY:

  • It’s impossible and I can’t do this!

YOU CAN!

  • It’s too hard!

YOU ARE STRONG!  YOU HAVE THE POWER!

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  DO NOT LISTEN OR BELIEVE IN WHAT “APPEARS” REAL.  WE DO HAVE INNER POWERS AND STRENGTH AS LONG AS WE SAY:  “I CAN DO THIS!”

As children we were excited about everything.  Dandelions were roses to us!  Mud was extravagant!  Butterflies were miracles!  Sadly, along the way to adulthood, we were told to believe in hard facts, not fiction.  This is why I love children.  They are still so pure and  non-judgemental.  They can see the beauty in everyday life.  I dare you to try and wake up everyday and say I LOVE MY LIFE!  Most often, we DO forget to see all the good we have.  We have this idea that we need more “stuff” in order to make us happy.  Bigger houses, better cars, expensive clothing, etc.

Have you ever stopped to actually say, “Wow…I actually have so many wonderful things in my life.”  No.  And why not?  I think it’s because once we get something that we believe will make us happier, we realize it didn’t, so then we have to start looking for something else that will make us happy.

Which brings me right back to be being alone or not being alone.  If you really love yourself, you can look in a mirror and actually think you are wonderful.  If you love yourself then no one can bring you down.  That self-love provides such a glorious barrier to all the negative in the world.  If someone belittles you (which many workplaces or families do), it won’t matter.  If you love yourself, you can actually start loving others.  You will see that everyone is here to have fun!  It’s not all about work and getting things.  It’s about getting excited and trying new stuff.  (Like axe throwing…very excited about doing that!)  It’s about knowing that you can wish for things and believing they can happen.  If you love yourself, you will find more beauty in everything around you.  The trees will seem greener, the flowers will seem brighter, the birds will sound happier.  (Hmmm, maybe this is how people on drugs feel.  lol!)

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Is this being selfish?  Absolutely YES!  But if everyone was doing it, this would be such a magical world!  For those of you who meditate or do yoga or take long baths…kudos to you!  You know that by healing yourself with happiness and love you can, not only survive in this bizarre world, but you will thrive.  You will start enjoying life and living as you did when you were a child.  Find that happy place again.  You won’t regret it.

DEDICATION:  For those of you who are accustomed to my fantastically humorous ways, I wanted to let you know that I have someone, whom I love so much, and who needs added love and support for a “dis-ease” she has.  I know she will survive and thrive because she is a happy, loving, beautiful person, and she is making her own reality using love and positive focus.  Most importantly, she knows she is not alone and will never be alone.

P.S.  To my beautiful Sarmie, love conquers all.  You are beautiful, you are loving, you are…above all…greatly LOVED!  NEVER EVER FORGET IT!

 

 

 

Is it really “child torture”?

I was once asked why I torture children.  Whoa!  Let me explain.

A four-year old wanted to play make-believe with me.  No problemo!  I am always in for some fun and games.  Well, she started off by saying that we would be playing tea party.  “YOU can be a princess and I’LL be a princess…” at which point I interrupted her (as children are apt to do when we adults speak).

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“I don’t want to play tea party,” I said calmly.  “Let’s play something else”.  Child torture?  I think not.

When I play with children, I love getting their minds working.  I love challenging them.  I want to see and hear what they will think of next.  Honestly, they are brilliant!  There are things that we, as adults, can teach them.  However, their minds, at the young age, have a world focus that is so pure and genuine.  It’s a mind that we adults used to have, but then had reprogrammed along the way to adulthood.  As we went to school we were taught to think a certain way.  We were taught about past beliefs and were not only encouraged, but forced to think that same way.  I recall, as a child, I needed some form of escape.  I think this is what got me reading at a young age.   It was something to release me from reality.

Reading is a great escape.  A good author can have you leave this reality and enter another world using only your mind’s eye.  This is often the reason why I prefer reading the books instead of seeing their counterpart movie versions.  Movies cannot recreate what I have beautifully conceived and visualized in my mind.  This is also one reason why I love the Harry Potter series so much.

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This wonderful woman (J.K. Rowling) has written stories that children are enthusiastic about.  They WANT to read.  Youngsters and many adults (me included) love them!  The stories are exciting, but also sometimes scary.  There are good people and evil people.  These stories, although taking place in a magical world, incorporate everything going on in our muggle…ahem…human world.  Think about it.  J.K. Rowling’s story about Harry Potter talks about bullying.  It talks about shy people.  It is detailed about friendships and how you can end up in arguments with your best friends.   It discusses bravery.  It tells the reader that you will find friends in the strangest of places.  You learn that there are those who will always have your back and those who will always try to put you down.  In the end, the moral of this series for me is that, no matter how difficult life’s challenges may be, it is important to always to be true to yourself and hold onto your beliefs.  Again, my opinion only.  I am sure there are many differing opinions about these books.  Huzzah!  Even better…books that mean something different to everyone.

Back to my non-tea party playdate (a.k.a. adorable granddaughter).  Did she get mad and storm off when I said I didn’t want to play princess tea party?  Nope.  She sat back for a second, hummed and hawed and said, “Ok, let’s play hospital.”  The new game was about to begin.  Oh sure, I kept changing stuff along the way.  She wanted me to be the doctor and I told her I wanted to be the patient.  She let that one go too.  Then she wanted me to have a baby and I wanted to have a broken leg.  Well, that one I gave in to.  Why?  Well, she had the baby doll all lined up and ready to go.  Lesson learned:  If you want to have friends to play with, sometimes it’s your way and sometimes it will be your friend’s way.

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I know that parents want their children to be happy, happy, happy all the time.  No tears, no issues in life.  Give them whatever they want because you love them with all your heart and would never want anything to hurt them.  The difficulty with this is that the real world isn’t like home.  Eventually they will have to deal with the bullies or they might not get their own way.  What will they do then?  How will they handle it?  If you don’t have them try it out at home where it’s controlled and safe, they won’t know what to do when it happens outside the safe house.

Conclusion:  You may disagree with what I have said.  That is fine with me.  We all have our opinions about teaching children to become great citizens in this world of ours.  There are gads of books out there from psychologists to psychiatrists to other parents.  Every parent worries that they are the worst parent ever and that someone else has the right answer and the best way to raise their children.  NEWSFLASH!  Parents who love and care for their children ARE great parents.  Everyone is doing it wrong and everyone is doing it right.  That’s why there are so many books on this subject because no one really knows the best way.  If your gut tells you it feels right then go with that way.  You will be happy and your child will be happy and happy people go on to live happy lives.

Feel free to challenge your kids during playtime.  No harm…no foul.  Your brilliant lad or lassie will surprise you with what they can come up with.  “Child torture”?  Naaaaah!  Let’s refer to it as…mini-brain stimulation.  When you get that clever answer back you won’t regret it.  Give yourself a star for being the BESTEST PARENT.  (Yes…my made up word, but there should be a word for something better than best)!

Dear Parent / Guardian – Please feel free to print off this star and wear it proudly.

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Gnomenclature…

Yes, please feel free to “google” that word.  It does not exist…yet.  This new word now exists in my special dictionary where verbiage is absolutely a necessity.  Feel free to use it in your everyday vernacular!  The official, properly spelled word is:  nomenclature.  The definition is:  “the devising or choosing of names for things, especially in a science or other discipline.”  Well, my newly created word – gnomenclature – shall be defined as:  “the naming of garden gnomes based on their statuesque appearance”.  Yes…I think that shall do fine!  Why do I bring up gnomenclature?  Today I shall share with you the story of two garden gnomes and their ultimate destiny.  Our story begins…

It was Father’s Day.  A sunny day.  Wiseguy was excited to have the kids and grandkids over for this special day.  I must admit that every year the children try to find ways to surprise their father with unique and unexpected gifts.  Wiseguy is now at that point in his life where he lacks nothing, nor does he wish for anything.  The creative gift ideas were becoming a challenge.  One package he opened was not something either of us expected.  It contained a garden gnome.  True, none of those existed at our house.  The second package contained another gnome.  They were each about two feet tall.  One was jovial and the other was quite stern and serious.

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Happy Gnome (on the left);  Wise Gnome (on the right) – See??? Gnomenclature!!

So, there they were; our two new residents.  Happy made me laugh every morning when I saw him.  How could he not?  He always looked like he had just finished playing a trick on someone.  Wise gnome…well, he moved, a bit, but he never seemed happy about it.  We had fun moving them around and making the grandchildren think the gnomes pulled stunts while we were sleeping.  They would move from vegetable garden to table top.  They were ingenious (and obviously, so were we…way before that Elf on the Shelf thing became the big brouhaha.)

Cooler weather arrived.  Fall was starting to shut down summer.  We moved our tenants into a bench seat to hibernate for the winter.  Better to keep them hidden instead of having to clean snow off them.  Fall became winter, winter became a harsher winter, that part of winter finally turned into slushy spring.  After all the snow melted and the torrential rains abated, we re-introduced our ceramic/clay garden-variety (haha) gnomes into the backyard.  You recall them?  Happy and Wise?

The new year had begun and many new adventures for this fun pair!  Or were there?

It was the beginning of spring.  As I had mentioned, the snow had melted, the rain continued to cover the earth, but we felt confident that our two friends could handle the elements.  After all, they were garden gnomes.

One foul evening, the wind gods swept through our city.  They ripped shingles off houses.  Garbage bins went flying down the street.  You could actually hear the wind howling.  It whistled through the tree branches in an almost taunting way.  We hoped for the spring weather of yesteryear.  Luckily the winds died down.  The clouds had finally exhausted their waterlogged fluffiness.  The sun arose with a special kind of brightness.  The inclement weather ordeal was over.  I decided to venture outside and tally up the damage to our garden.  Sadly, my first steps through the rear door revealed devastation that I had not expected.

I opened the screen door and put hands to lips to stifle the scream of despair I felt clawing to escape from my mouth.  There, on the interlock brick, were pieces; many coloured pieces.  Blue, green, black, grey, red.  There had been a fatality!  I looked to my right and saw Happy.  The wind had turned him slightly sideways.  His eternally smiling face was there and his hand was still pointing as it usually did.  However, this was something surreal.  His hand was pointing at the remains of Wise gnome.  There he was, atop the bench seat, slightly askew from the night before.  His companion…the seriously, stodgy, Wise gnome was gone…in pieces…never to be repaired.  No Humpty Dumpty future for this gnome.

Comedic value?  Hands down, high five, fist bump…absolutely 100% classic hilarity!  Do I miss our elderly Wise gnome.  Meh…he lived…but not really.  Seriously…check out Happy!  Would you not want your life to be as happy as his everyday?  I know I would!

gnomeIt does not mean that you have to be mean to other people; although he does appear to be a prankster.  Those happy squint eyes and the smiling face…look at it!  That’s the model trouble-maker image.  Even with his disheveled clothing and half torn boots, he has found a way to make himself laugh.  I guess that’s why I like him.  No matter what adversity is thrown my way, I believe I can always find something to make me happy and appreciate all the good in my life.

So, if you feel lost and lonely or if you feel like you are being bullied or if you feel like you will never win…think of Happy.  Look at this picture and remind yourself…life is what you determine it to be.  If I can be like Happy (bwahaha) I will have a happy day, everyday.

P.S.  Gnomenclature states:  the naming of garden gnomes based on their statuesque appearance.  You can be whoever you want to be.  Stand in front of that intimidating mirror and decide.  It is your choice and your prerogative.  Just know wholeheartedly that you are beautiful just the way you are.  Love and be loved.  XOXO.

 

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way into the New Year…

Here it was, a few hours before the New Year and my little heart was going pitter-patter with nervousness.  I am sure everyone has their tradition regarding the coming year, but I have this quirky superstition that whatever I am doing last in the “old year” will be a representation of what my life will be like in the new year.  So, here it was, 2016, and I was having a fantastic time hanging out with wonderful friends.  We were shooting darts or playing Euchre and for some reason, I still felt like there was something not quite right.  Playing games is a good way to start the new year but I felt I needed more.  Then…it happened!

“3…2…1…Jump!” I heard everyone yell.  I jumped excitedly off the couch, waving my hands in the air and landing happily on the floor.  This was my fantastic leap into the New Year!  I was also 7 years old.  My parents had let us stay up late so that we could do this exciting thing!  My mother had made homemade pizza (we weren’t take-out OR delivery people).  My aunts, uncles, and (YAY) cousins had come over for this new adventure.  I recall the big joke my dad had made with regards to my eating habits:  “Ha ha!  It took you two years to eat a slice of pizza.”  Too true!  I started a slice of pizza (I was a super, super slow eater.  Nothing like the Hoover-eater I am today!) and I finally got to finish it after my super bounce.  What a memory!

As a teen, I was lucky to go out with my older siblings.  We went out to fancy banquets / dances for New Year’s Eve.  There would be a fancy three-course meal and afterward there would be endless dancing.  There was the obligatory nervousness due to the desire to find the best dress, matching high-heel shoes, fancy jewelry to be worn that evening.  Quite the show!  Quite the excitement!  Quite the fun for one evening!  Year after year we looked forward to this event.  Then marriage and children came along and the procedure changed.

As new parents, instead of going out for the evening, it was time to invite other new parents over and hang out while the kids either played together or were put to bed early.  A quiet evening with some munchies and chit-chat.  5…4…3…2…1.  Happy New Year!  Quieter, but still fun.

Fast-forward again and you see children breaking away from their parents to do their own thing.  The parents would either have fun continuing their pre-toddler tradition of a banquet hall or they might even stay home.  Parents worried about their children, but pretended they did not.  Children…ahem…adults…not worrying at all since they were invincible. 5…4…3…2…1. Happy New Year!

This is a footnote of what life was like for me every New Year’s Eve.  As I grew older I realized the beauty of life and how incredible each coming new year was.  I also gave up on resolutions.  I found that these best-intentioned goals seemed to dissipate, usually by…um…January 14th.  I finally decided that I would focus on that last hour of the old year to predict my new year’s fate.  Why?  Not sure, but it seemed like a genuinely great idea at the time.  This brings us full circle back to December 31st, 2016 and when IT happened.

We had congregated in the kitchen. Nine minutes to go.  Here we were, all gathered together, awaiting the dawn of the new year.  I sat there nervously, pensively.  Why?  Well, my weird (unique) thought-bend of “last actions of previous year permeating the new year” were beginning to haunt me.  Yes we had had fun! Yes we were surrounded by friends!  Something was missing and I didn’t know how to fix it.  Then, a funny thing happened on the way into the New Year.

“Amanda is still up,” said H.

“Who threw up?!” queried B.  That was it!  I broke out in fits of laughter.

“No,” said H, “Amanda is still up.”  I was done for.  I was laughing hysterically.  Literally laughing out loud (the real LOL).

Suddenly Wiseguy yelled “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!”  We looked at him like he was a crazy man.  The time on the stove clock showed a minute to midnight.  He pointed to the television which showed all these lovely people happily kissing and embracing each other.  Not only had we missed the countdown, but we had missed the actual jump into the New Year.  Were we upset?  Heck no!  We all hugged afterward and wished each other all the best in the new year.

Me?  I was beyond ecstatic.  I had desired a sign to show me what the 2017 year would be like based on my interesting definition of “old versus new” philosophy.  I was so grateful to be laughing hysterically from 2016 into 2017.  This was something very new for me.  So far my jaw is going to need therapy from all the laughing I have been doing.

P.S.  I did feel short-changed a bit in missing the countdown.  Imagine my surprise and supreme gratefulness, when my friends and I got to do a repeat countdown!  We watched as New Orleans counted down (an hour later) into the New Year.  I love this life!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!   May you wake up happy every morning.  May you look out and enjoy what you see daily.  May you appreciate all the good that you have in your life.  May you smile everyday.  Even when your life seems impossibly hard, believe that everything that happens is leading you to something brighter and better.  Life is beautiful and so are you.

 

To Start Anew…

Fall is the season that most poets considered the middle age of life.  Spring is all about renewal. Summer represents the high-falootin’ days of youth.  Winter; cold and miserable…leading to death’s door.  So said the poets of yesteryear.  Well, I am here to claim that any season, of any year of your life, could become your season to begin anew.  I myself decided that I no longer wanted to live dreading each day of my existence.  This is my short tale of how I found the courage to start afresh and find my happier life.  I hope you will find some inspiration from this and get the gumption to laugh at fear and believe in yourself.

Life begins.  You are born.  You grow.  You thrive.  Every person has had different experiences in their youth.  Many have whimsical tales of the atrocities of their youth which become hilarious horror stories to share.  In most cases, they are never as bad as what many others experienced.  We might joke about clothes passed on from elder siblings (yes, I wore my older brother’s clothing).  We tell tales of psychotic parents and the types of punishment they doled out.  Whatever the torture, we survived.  It molded us into the adults we became.  As we moved from childhood to teenage-dom there were undeniably, more challenges.

If you ask any adult now, most will say they were never as bad as the teenagers are now.  Hmmmm.  If you were to actually start thinking about (shall we call them adventures) of your early double digit years, you might find that you were also a thorn in your parents’ side.  High school and the need to belong, finding your own identity, learning, growing.  To make it even more fun, the physical changes from youth to pre-adulthood.  Ugh…I would never want to relieve those days again.  We move along to early adulthood.  Welcome to your twenties!

You are an adult.  You are dreaming big on what you want to do in life.  Oftentimes finding a job meant actually greatly lowering your expectations.  Parents still viewed you as a child.  You had big ideas on your future life.  If you were brave, you followed your dream no matter what anyone said.  If you were trained, like most of the sheep in our society, you did what you were told to do and let life slowly start crushing your rose-coloured world.  It happened to numerous people (myself included) and in many cases it was because older, “wiser” people wanted what was best for you.  They didn’t want you reaching for the stars or dreaming big because they didn’t want you to get hurt.  It was done out of love, but in the end you were miserable.  Misery bred more misery.

You might have married someone thinking:  “This will make things better!”  You jumped from job to job hoping:  “This will be the one!”  This is where many found themselves saying that glorious phrase: “Life got in the way.”  Such a sad little phrase, but many truly believed this.  I myself was one of those for a very long time and then I literally (yes literally) decided that I could take control of my life.

Practice.  Yes, it took practice and EXTREME patience.  I disliked many things going on in my life and I felt trapped.  I had not control.  I pitied myself.  Then I made the conscious effort to STOP the internal, infernal negative voices.  From there, I started focusing on what I call the “silver linings” of life.  No matter how negative things seemed to be in my life, I would find the positive.

EXAMPLE:

NEGATIVE:  Stuck in traffic  /  POSITIVE:  I was listening to an audio book so I would actually be able to hear more.

NEGATIVE:  I got rear-ended / POSITIVE:  I was hit by an honest person who paid for the repairs.

NEGATIVE:  I did what my boss told me to do and was reprimanded later for not following policy /  POSITIVE:  I learned procedure and learned who I could trust and not trust.

These may sound like silly examples, but the fact is that our society is based on sarcasm.  Comedians make fun of people.  Embarrassing people and posting it on Facebook, or YouTube, so that it can go viral, is a new goal.   Gossip at work about who is the most stupid or the ugliest is a favourite past-time.  Even the daily news focuses on the negative.  You can break free!  How?

One day, I decided that, although in the Fall of my life, I could start anew.  I could find a place that would make me happy.  Best of all, I whole-heartedly believed it.  With my whole body and soul I trusted it would happen.  Did it work?  You betcha!!

It is the place where I work now.  Timeline:  from online resume to interview to second interview to job acceptance was one week.  My new job has people who are supportive and friendly.  Yes, the job is hectic and fast-paced, but I feel alive and grateful.

Moral of the story:

  •  Don’t be afraid to start anew.  So many famous people started new careers in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond (helloooo KFC…Colonel Sanders)
  • Believe in yourself.  You have lived your life and learned many things.
  • Let go!  Sometimes not fretting is all it takes to make everything better.