Tag Archives: life reflections

Taking care of Self

It is often hard to give ourselves permission to stop and truly take care of self.

Lately, I have been pulling out many hats and switching them several times throughout the day.  There are moments of clarity where I talk to my self and say, “What the heck are you doing, Jennifer?” The answer comes back, “stop and have lunch, drink water, breathe, damn it breathe.” Still I proceed unsympathetic to its pleas, after all there is a list of things to do and a timeline in which to do it.

There are also roles; that are defined very early on in relationships with family, friends and significant others. Each person, for the most part, is busy too and therefore has difficulty noticing if we are burning the candle at both ends. There is a person who might pipe and say, “Why don’t you just not do that?” OK, I could put it aside but the odd thing is, the darn thing will be waiting for me tomorrow or next week when I’m equally busy, so how does that help? What’s even odder is that thing you put off, waits until you’re just about to drop off to sleep and then creeps into your head and says in a whispering voice, “Don’t forget…. tomorrow” And I’m awake again.

So, today I took time out at the spa. “Ahhhh.” It was there in the low lights, relaxing music and with the gentle hands of Leanne providing me with a well needed facial, I had a moment. Here I am imparting the wisdom of women balancing their life and careers and I’m not taking my own advice. Asking women to take time out for self and sharing how those around you will benefit from your self care and here I was forgetting to even take a proper breath.

This time at the spa was a luxury I do not afford myself often. Financially it is not always feasible, sometimes I feel guilty for loving it so much and as you can see I don’t allow time. It is my choice to wear all those hats and sometimes a hat is donated and worn to alleviate someone else. Either way, saying “No” is a word that is hard to say, even for me.

So, this counsellor needs to take her own advice more often and the advice of those loving people who observe the flames as I streak by them on my way to the next project.

Taking care of self should not be the gift you give yourself, but the norm. I have to say, I will need to explore this further, reach deep and overcome. In the meantime, I will start small, reduce the current array of hats and know that “Delegation” and saying “NO”, are not dirty words. My face is clean and so to is my conscience for taking an hour + for self.

Buying a boat – we hope

Continuing where I left off on the Boating for Two Dummies story, we may have found the one for us. I can tell you it is a very good idea, if you are first time boaters, to take the time necessary to find the right one. There is so much to learn and the more boats we saw the better we became at asking the questions and doing our own visual inspection.

We did manage to secure a slip at a Marina which in itself can be quite the hassle as many marina’s have waiting lists in Vancouver and surrounding areas. At one point we wondered if we would just be setting up  deck chairs with drink in hand staring at our newly rented slip and no boat.

What was nice about looking at boats in Marina’s and privately, was how friendly the people are. This appears to be a whole other world where people still acknowledge each other as they walk past, get to know their neighbours and extend invitations to upcoming events. We were invited to join clubs as soon as we get a boat and to me it looked like the party had already started. This friendly atmosphere is in stark contrast to the daily existence within our own neighbourhoods. I like it!

We met a very nice couple this past weekend and truly enjoyed seeing just how much care and pride they had in their boat. Sure they are now looking to move on up to accommodate grown kids and grand-kids, but still this boat appeared to hold a special place in their hearts. What I also enjoyed was sitting and talking, we had a very interesting conversation that I won’t soon forget. Pleasant surprises made it worth the ferry ride and 45 minute drive to get to their cabin.

I highly recommend this hobby or lifestyle depending on how you look at it. I haven’t even got started and I am excited for the future. My husband has discovered that he loves looking at boats and could have continued inspecting more if it weren’t for that “NEED TO MAKE A DECISION BEFORE THE SUMMER IS GONE, DEAR!”

So here is hoping that this is “the one”  and that it will turn out well with the final survey. We both can’t wait to be setting sail for one of the many beautiful locations that adorn our west coast, or just hang out at our slip, either way its “Cheers…to new adventures.”

Censorship from Within

The battle over censorship in our outer world rages on. Although, one could argue much of what would have been high on the list of censored material or speech is becoming less and less of an issue. The anything goes, over exposed, live for yourself society of today, imposes little in the way of boundaries one cannot cross.

Censorship from within, however, is still prevalent. We consciously monitor what we are wanting to say in close relationships or those of professional significance. In examining our social circles we can often find ourselves taking more time to evaluate whether what we are intending to communicate will be objectionable or misinterpreted. After all, these people will be around us more and some can be ultra sensitive on certain topics. So, rather than be completely free to openly express a thought we are forced to scrutinize so much of what we say before it ever leaves our lips.

It can be exhausting and quite disingenuous. How can we be having an honest, sincere discussion, if before we speak our true thoughts go through a last second filtering system? Censorship from within is something we have all learned to do to some degree or another but to me it feels as if a part of self is truly being stifled, not usually for civility sake.

Women traditionally were schooled in the ways of making others feel important (mainly men) in conversation. To be good little listener’s and not be overly knowledgeable so as to turn off a potential “suitor.” Today’s women don’t worry about that so much, but I wouldn’t say that there isn’t still some of that old school thinking interlaced with our social makeup. Many times I have overheard conversation with women, who I know have the capacity to add more, but appear to be holding back. I too, have found myself in similar situations and again come away angry for my lack of truly honoring myself and in some ways the other person(s).

Censorship from within keeps us at arms length. How can anyone truly know us if only a small portion of our story is being told? Do we truly get a chance to fully express ourselves? Does it become a train wreck or a non-conversation because of our verbal constipation? Stuck inside of us is a whole lot to say, but all that comes out is what is considered acceptable to the audience in front of us.

This is what separates us from true friendship, where freedom of expression is truly honored and trusted as opposed to the confines of a previously labeled existence in the eyes of another. Censorship for the sake of etiquette and civility I can live with. Censorship because we will be chastised or deemed unsuitable, I can not endorse. Living with verbal constipation is not a healthy existence…all that pent up dialogue could have you conversing solely with the voices in your head. Better and less critical listeners, I would guess, but I fail to see how anyone on the outside wins.

A Reason for Meeting

A conversation I had this morning spurred me on to write this post.

Did you ever meet someone that made me you feel at ease the first time you met them? Have you gone  to a party, dreading the fact that you know hardly anyone there, only to find yourself talking all night long with a person who shares similar interests? Have you met a good friend through a job? Developed a long distance friendship with someone you have never met in person?

All of these are examples of the connections we can make when we aren’t looking. It is not forced, it is a pleasant surprise. These fabulous opportunities are so genuine because there was no agenda attached, no timeline, no expectation. It takes an ordinary day or experience off in a whole different direction.

I believe there is a reason for meeting, it is by no accident that people come together. Their time spent can be fleeting but memorable, or be the beginnings of a long friendship. It could be that there is a message to be heard that can only come through this person and then they are gone. Possibly they are the teacher of  lessons you need to learn or the stepping stone to a dream. Whatever their reasons for coming into your life, it is worth it to be thankful.

One minute, one hour, one day, a lifetime can be turned around just by their introduction or presence. I have met so many exceptional people in the ways I described earlier. Some remain in my life, others made a lasting impact and I’m forever grateful for the time I had with them. I guess my point is:

Savor the moments, they are pure and they are what makes a dull day light up, a smile worth its weight in gold and a voice the most precious sound you will hear. Meaningful connections begin always when we least expect it.

It is by no accident…


Boating for Two Dummies

Look out ocean here we come!

Well, sort of, maybe, sometime soon I’m sure, least I think so. For three months my husband and I have been researching boats and I’m hoping we are nearing the end of our research mission. I started out somewhat reluctantly entertaining this idea but have since come around to its benefits. It is well worth the time we have taken, as there is much to know and many people/boats to see. Everyone has an opinion; what styles they like, the best motors, maintenance issues, mooring, features that are for enjoyment, those that are necessities. It is all so mind boggling!

I discovered that I am claustrophobic and couldn’t be on a boat that would have us doing the majority of our cooking, eating and sleeping down inside a cabin. I’m not one for being relegated to the dungeon anywhere especially when I haven’t done anything wrong…lately. Instead, the most suitable style allows us to see outside just fine while sitting comfortably in the cabin.  To me,  it feels like a small motor home and I can deal with that just fine.

My top five motivations for becoming boaters are:

1. We get to spend time together seeing areas of our beautiful coast, not previously available to us via land.

2. I get to camp again, which I have been missing desperately for over eight years.

3. There will be no TV or computer taking up valuable time. The only technology will be boat related.

4. You meet other passionate boaters who make the whole experience seem that much greater.

5. Intimacy…alone just the two of us… relax, enjoy, eat, drink, be merry, and oh yeah, I’m bringing a whole bunch of board games. (Friends are welcome on occasion too, of course)

We have saved up money, have a budget, bought the books: Boating Handbook, Power Boating for Dummies, Anchoring and 2009 Ports and Passes – Tides, Currents & Charts. We are about to take the appropriate courses, and have been on and off so many now I think we are nearing a decision. I will be wearing my life jacket, adhering to boater safety, bringing my binoculars and scoping out the best destinations. Oh, the excitement builds!

I sure hope I don’t get sea sickness! I have never been a good traveller, humm?

🙂

Music – The breath of life

There are many things in life I can live without, far more than I could count right now. Off the top of my head I could probably say my top five needs have always been friends, family, food, shelter and music.

I was placed in the womb of a woman who adored music and sang all the time. With great certainty I know the vibrations of her voice in song made its way to me before I even saw the light of the real world. She was a professional singer until immigrating to Canada and becoming a full time Mum and was from a long line of musicians and entertainers.

Thankfully, this meant I was exposed to some of the best of the best in music and understood the difference between a trained voice and those that were not. My mother had her favourite records that would fill the house with music. She encouraged us to sing; on road trips, at family gatherings, on stages and in choir. The sound of music and song was everywhere.

I remember what helped me sleep at night was my little transistor radio tucked under my pillow. The joy of the first Christmas when my sister and I received our very own little blue stereo, and my first rock album was Little Queen by Heart. That album saw me through some of the happiest and darkest times in life and remains to this day in a frame on a wall in my home.

Music is the breath of life for me. It quiets my mind when nothing else will, it lifts me up when I’m down, and makes me move when I have forgotten the freedom to dance.  Throughout the years I have attended many, many concerts and fed for days on the energy they leave behind. I have seen a diverse group of artists from Liza Minnelli to Megadeth, Crosby, Stills and Nash to Annie Lennox, Elton John to BB King and of course Heart several times.

World, rock, pop, blues, jazz, classical, metal, the folk artists and the crooners have all contributed to my music infused world. The worst thing that could happen, is for me to live in a silent world away from music. I don’t even want to imagine it. Even as I write this the radio plays the songs of the day.

No matter where we will travel, music is a universal language. People join together in celebration and sorrow with music sewn into the experience. Like everyone, there is music that is not to my personal taste, but I can appreciate the joy and necessity to have it in life.

In the song Wooden Ships there is a line that say’s “If you smile at me I will understand, cause it is something everyone does in the same language.” Well, in my mind the same can be said for music, share with me your music and I will understand.

Trapped in the Mundane

Have you ever woke up one morning and thought this is the same day I had a week ago.? No, wait a minute it was two weeks ago. No, let me think… actually I believe it was last month. In fact, it is a common scene that plays itself out so frequently that it becomes less and less distinguishable from one month to the next.

Do we all live like this? Do we get to a point in life when things become so predictable you have troubles even caring if it is the weekend or not?

When I was younger it was all about living for the weekend. What would I get myself into? Who would I see? Should I go out for the day or evening? Or stay home and work on some new little project? Camping was a favourite activity. Even a couple of days spent away from home was invigorating! It was all about the new scenery, exploration, different conversation, not having to beautify myself and eat stuff I wouldn’t normally eat.

Gathering together with friends was more frequent in the past too. These days it takes more time to organize as our schedules have just got more complicated. It is even harder for those with children, but somehow I also think it is just too easy for us all to fall down the rabbit hole.

I watch people go by my home jogging, cycling, walking and driving. When I am out at the beach I have observed people power boating, kayaking and sailing. I wonder if this is just today, or do they live for the next opportunity to experience something new, something adventurous? Do they get up on their days off from work and think “Wow! What a great day for….”

The fact that I can predict a large portion of my life right now, means it is truly time to mix it up a bit. Don’t get me wrong there are so many days when life seems very meaningful, joyous and interesting. I’m not talking about those days. I am referring to how easily life can become one of being a couch surfer and life observer rather than a participator.

I’m far too young to be staring out this window watching life pass by, the rabbit hole is too easy to spiral down in and frankly I miss the old me. I liked her. By the end of a weekend with her I had something to show for it. More pictures for the albums,  I learned how far I could push myself, I became a tourist in my own town and had a whole host of reasons to get out of bed.

I wonder how many people feel like they are trapped in the mundane? Maybe it is time to find out how people get from there to “Wow! What a great day for….”


Michelle Obama’s School Visit

The first lady Michelle Obama had a lot of focus on her while her husband  President Obama attended the G20 summit. A friend of mine who lives in England and I were talking about the coverage of her visit. She sent me a link to an article that spoke about a visit Michelle Obama made to Islington’s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/apr/05/michelle-obama-school-london

The speech she gave really appeared to resonate with the students, I especially enjoyed both the power in the message and the simplicity of the language. All too often politicians or their representatives tend to speak too much and say very little of value or they clumsily dance through the photo op and leave the site soon after. This was not the case. Michelle Obama, by all accounts, was very present and her words gave a glimpse of the girl in the woman, memories from her own years as a student.

More importantly she inspired the girls attending that school. That is exciting to me; one, five, ten or 100 more girls feeling good about themselves, affirming the importance of their own education, caring about today and looking optimistically toward their future!

Empowerment is a beautiful thing.