Lessons of Life

Life has a funny way of teaching us the lessons we are here to learn. I think the past five years there were many stepping stones to the platter of lessons I have recently been blessed with. I say blessed like it’s a gift because quite honestly I look upon all things as gifts. Sometimes they are not gifts we would choose for ourselves, like opening a parcel with a nasty sweater at Christmas. Still gifts just the same. I have unwrapped a few unwanted gifts as of late. I won’t go into great detail due to the private nature and those close to me but to generalize the situations for the sake of soul-searching and allowing a connection with others that may possibly have recently opened a similar gift.

 

 

As a parent, I have been given the lesson of stepping outside my comfort zone. Not just the daily run of the mill parent craziness. Children are a supreme blessing in my mind. Swirling around them in constant motion are many things; love, chaos, frustration, joy, laughter, among so many other beautiful things. Sometimes though, a ripple in the smooth surface depicts an undercurrent that threatens menacingly. The demon reared its ugly head in my child’s life as Anorexia Nervosa. It was a slow and steady build up that went undetected by my cautious eye only to attack with a vengeance like an unexpected sucker punch. I struggled within myself originally, laying blame in my mind where I could. That route was fleeting as I stepped outside myself. This wasn’t about me and how I felt. This was about my child and how they processed things. The alteration to my thought process has allowed me to become the support structure this fragile Being needs. Simply, compassionately, I remain strong in the notion that I need to be the rock when my darling is feeling at a loss. There are those around us that still want to lay blame, find the root cause, or dissect everything to bits. I feel the process is about gaining back self love and control in a positive format. To know that love from those around the sufferer is unconditional. To be strong for them when they don’t have it within themselves to be.  There is a long road ahead to health and wellness for my child. It’s an all-encompassing disorder. Treatment is multi-faceted. To say I wish my child never had to deal with this is an understatement. However, taking this one day at a time makes this lesson a little easier to deal with.

 

 

Too often I hear people complain about their weight needlessly. Who truly thinks a thigh gap is remotely sexy anyway?  Don’t get your knickers in a knot if you are naturally thin and have a thigh gap. That’s a totally different thing. I’m referring to young girls (or boys) that starve themselves for this look that is not natural to their physique. It breaks my heart to see people think so poorly of themselves as to deprive themselves senselessly of proper nutrition. Learning to love and accept our bodies at their natural weight and shape is a practice in self love. We are all constantly bombarded by utter ridiculousness for the sake of industries to prosper at the peril of making us feel bad about our outer shell. Looking good is important for self confidence but being healthy makes one look fantastic! I don’t know about you but looking fantastic due to great health pummels the heck out of a mediocre “looking like everyone else” or not enough energy to do the things you want. I struggle when people ridicule others with differing figures. It matters not whether its an obese person calling a slim woman a bitch or an average built person being condescending to someone of heavier stance. Having hit many different weight points in my lifetime, I realize that every body shape and weight deals with some sort of stigma. When we stop ridiculing and scrutinizing others, perhaps we can all go a little easier on ourselves. Lets all just aim for healthy!

 

 

 

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Absence

You may have noticed that I have been laying low as of late. Life has caught me within its chaotic tendrils in both a positive and negative  manner. I keep moving forward with a smile on my lips and a sparkle in my eyes. My Spirit is riding the waves that Life sends my way. As the dust is starting to settle slightly, you will be hearing more from me again soon.  Please stay tuned…I appreciate your friendship and patience.

 

– Melissa

 

 

invincible heart

Dig Deep…Then Leap!

Life is an amazing ride. You can jump on and take the ride or dig in and let so many incredible experiences pass you by. I personally refuse to look back with regret…with the would have/could have/should haves. I am leaning into the curves of life as they come at me.  Learning new behaviors that allow me to give thoughts a chance to become reality. I am challenging myself to take a leap when opportunity arises. Putting myself out there and taking chances that at one point I would have been too apprehensive to risk the possibility of failure. What is failure anyway? I have a new attitude where failure is concerned. It used to be a sense of rejection or a deflated feeling of humiliation of not accomplishing what was set out to achieve. My new attitude about failure is that it is merely a redirect – a change of course that will lead me on a new path. I’m good with that. Failure doesn’t seem daunting when it is renamed as redirection. So, why not stretch yourself to the limit and try something new? Push through your fears or nervousness of countless things that we allow to control us on a regular basis. Dig deep and find the strength within…you have it in you!

 

 

Never let your fear decide your fate.

 

 

 

 

go ahead - unknown source

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back with regret is not of interest to me. I’d rather look back with a smile on my face or have a good laugh at the things I had thought were mistakes at the time or good experiences that became great memories. Most of all I look forward to creating new memories through trying new things, meeting new people and living life to the fullest! There is no better time than right now to take that leap of faith and allow your wings to unfold.

 

 

 

Image - glit-z.com

Image – glit-z.com

 

How do you respond to challenges, failure, and/or unplanned events?

 

 

 

 

 

Love-Hate Relationship

Have you ever been entwined in a love-hate relationship? I find myself caught up in the web of one such bond at present…with my Keurig coffee maker. Yes, you heard right. The convenience and speedy delivery of coffee to my body makes me swoon with pleasure while the environmental and health impacts trouble me greatly. So much so that I have shunned my Keurig brewing system in favour of slow-mo brewing techniques. Again.

 

If you’ve been around here long enough or are a friend or co-worker (which makes you and automatic friend) of mine, you are very aware of my deep-rooted desire to be constantly caffeinated with the strongest and fiercest cup o’ heaven I can get my mitts on. Before the K-brewer of Evilness was dropped on my lap a few Christmases ago, I immersed myself in the process of making a perfect cup of coffee each and every time. I think the beverage was originally more about the ritual than the drink itself. I did away with an automatic coffee pot and opted for a French press, a cone filter-drip doo-da for on top of my single cup, and a stove-top espresso pot. I adore each system for different reasons. Then I was swept off my feet by a handsome new stranger; his name was Keurig. He gave me everything I wanted and all of the things I didn’t really need. My friends and I joke about resorting to dragging around IV poles to keep the coffee flowing into us 24/7 and Mr. Temptation (Keurig) was the closest I was going to get.

 

 

 

Image found on imgfave.com

Image found on imgfave.com

 

 

 

Before Sir Hotness landed on my kitchen counter I had considered the pros and cons of introducing another brewing system in my home. I had decided to forego said machine due to its wasteful nature while looking longingly at it every time I was in ones vicinity. Here’s the flip side of this passionate vortex of quick caffeine supply…

 

I don’t know which is worse, the fact that hot water is blasting through plastic, leaching particles of nastiness into my coffee to be absorbed by my body or the horrific amount of waste from the stack of K-cups that accumulates. There’s a lot of buzz at the moment in regard to convenient brewing systems such as the Keurig and Tassimo. I highly recommend doing some personal  research for yourself on this. As far as my research has concluded, there is no recycling program for K-cups other than the Grounds To Grow On program through Keurig themselves. This program appears to be a step in the right direction but is limited as far as access goes, is expensive to utilize, and depending on your opinion may not be a viable form of plastic aftermarket utilization. I struggle with the notion that burning plastics as an energy source is acceptable. The Green Mountain Coffee Co. has a target of making 100% of K-cups recyclable by 2020. For more info see the sustainability report here. I have a few options as far as disposal of the single use cups go.

 

1. I can toss it in the trash bin which makes me feel guilty at creating excess and unnecessary waste for the landfill.

2. I can save the used K-cups and become an episode of Hoarders until a recycling option becomes available.

3. I could take apart each K-cup myself and compost the coffee grounds, recycle the foil liner, and re-purpose all those pesky little plastic cups somehow.

 

 

 

None of these options are particularly appealing. I have purchased a reusable My K-cup to use my own ground coffee in a wire mesh basket inside a plastic case. There is yet another issue…more plastic. It seems like a never-ending cycle, doesn’t it? In my constant quest to “do the right thing” I have been hunting down a stainless steel reusable My K-cup. I have located such a thing on Amazon (of course) with a price tag of $19.99 Canadian. Do I want to shell out another $20 so I can brew coffee in single cups? I actually loathe the refillable K-cups for one reason only; I use a gigantic cup in the morning and need to refill the cups twice. It is not fun trying to dump the used grounds into the compost bin when they are piping hot and I have not yet consumed any of my beloved liquid gold. I am a patient woman but this tests my limits most mornings.

 

 

Besides the disposal of these little cups of enviro-doom there is the issue of how they are made to begin with and the environmental impact before use.

1. Made from plastic that may or may not be heat-grade and/or food grade, plastic is a product of the oil industry which is an environmental nightmare.

2. The amount of energy used to manufacture and fill the mass amounts of individual sized cups is wasteful.

3. The cardboard boxes that the K-cups are packed in. Although recyclable and occasionally made from a percentage of recycled paper themselves it is still unnecessary excess packaging.

 

 

I have only touched on the notion of health risks due to heat and unknown plastics coupled with an acidic element such as coffee.  This is a topic for further research before I can have an opinion other than, “why risk it on a regular basis?”  I don’t claim to be the picture of perfection as far as my environmental footprint is concerned but I always strive to do the best I can to reduce my impact. Every little thing each of us does makes a difference and it adds up. I have returned to my original love of perfectly, and sometimes leisurely, brewing techniques that produce a far superior cup of coffee.  Even if it means letting go of express coffee consumption! Egad!

 

 

 

 

“And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use.  And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:  “Look at this Godawful mess.”  “~Art Buchwald, 1970

 

 

 

 

 

Healing Silence

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”

– Caroline Myss

creek

Silencing the mind can be one of the most difficult tasks we as humans have to undertake. It sounds simple yet, if you are anything like me, the brain is usually swimming with “stuff”.

I honestly don’t recall a time in my life when I have been pulled in so many directions at once like I am at present.

Silencing the mind feels like an insurmountable quest lately. When things become so overwhelming I just want to escape, that’s exactly what I do. I find myself walking or surrounding myself with nature in some form or another.

There is nowhere indoors that can possibly come close to the uplifting and enlightening experience of being immersed in the great outdoors.

I feel part of a whole when I am outdoors. Infinitesimally small, yet connected to a web that’s never-ending.

Mother Nature instinctively wraps her loving arms around me and settles my heart and instantly quiets my mind.

It is in this peaceful embrace that my soul begins to heal.

Transitions

“Navigate your transitions by opening up to living a wholehearted, authentic life grounded in courage and self-worth.” – Gail O’Keefe

I happened to stumble across this quote this morning. It seemed to shoot straight into the centre of the swirling chaos that has taken up residence in my mind as of late. Transitions. It’s the perfect word to describe where I’m at in my Life at the moment. So much so that I can’t even put my thoughts into words where I’m at – which is very out of the ordinary for me. Usually my mind spews out thoughts quicker than I can type, yet over the last few weeks I am living in a perpetual thunderstorm inside my head – and my heart. Not an angry thunderstorm with brooding black clouds but a thunderstorm that is clearing the way for clear skies and thoughts. This quote holds the ticket. The ticket to the usual process of my thoughts and the way I generally choose to live life; with authenticity. My courage has tripped and stumbled and self-doubt has managed to slither in through the crack under the door, so to speak. It always seems as though when there is an inkling of weakness that the nasty nonsense that is lingering on the border of thoughts gathers together and charges in like a raging bull hoping to crush the Spirit that has withheld its advances for so long. I have been sucked into the evilness of over-thinking but today I have decided to grab hold of the parasitic practice and slam it to the ground…then stomp on it with my stilettos. A perfect use for impractical footwear.

” Think for yourself. Trust your own intuition. Another’s mind isn’t walking your journey, you are.” – Scottie Waves

I have made the realization that I have taken up residence in this mindset of over-thinking long enough. Realistic thinking that focuses on forward and positive momentum to better oneself is where I’m finally at. This is not a selfish act as I’ve been privy to hearing a few times lately. Nor is this mere self-preservation. This is about taking charge of my Life. Leaning into it and letting the wind blow my hair into tangles, feeling the sunshine bright and hot on my face, stomping through mud pits that try to hold me in its grasp but staying focused on the other side. Taking ownership of oneself by living authentically not only empowers the individual but impacts those around them, allowing them to do the same. We all hold back far too much. We worry about what someone else might say or think, we don’t want to be seen as eccentric, or possibly we have never thought there was anything else to life except running on the same hamster wheel day after day. I have always had my own mind and been a strong-willed female from the get-go. While I was often soft-spoken and jovial in my approach to things I have found that I have let Life steal moments from me occasionally. No more! I’m here to live…to dream…to play! To embrace the love of living like never before. Sometimes this means pulling forth strength from within that I never doubted having but that I never needed to rely on like I need to in this moment. I need to assemble my courage and self-worth to unprecedented levels and be more Me than I’ve ever been. To be true to Myself and to respect my own instincts while always being gentle with others. There is no accomplishment in being nasty to people in the name of being truthful to yourself. I would like to recommend that those that view another individuals journey into authentic living as a personal offence take a good hard look at their own life. If authenticity is undertaken as a means to embrace Life and love while being in full connection with oneself, transitions will benefit everyone involved. Change isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts like hell but brings a stagnant or unproductive state to one of empowerment and happiness down the line of Life. Other changes are for sheer personal empowerment or unrealized dreams finally brought to the forefront. Ultimately, change brought on in a methodical manner would be most beneficial. However, in this life of mine that never seems to fall short on the pizzazz-o-meter, a plethora of changes have decided to create a landslide at present. I know I will come through the other side, perhaps with a few bruises and scrapes but ultimately I will still have a smile on my face…even if it’s pasted on for effect.

” The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Beach Bliss

 

 

 

Snack Shack/Restrooms

 

Have you ever heard the call? The call to head to a certain location?

Do you listen?

This morning, although the temperature was frigid, the beach called to me.

I have not been spending as much time as I desire outdoors lately so when the beach called, I dropped everything and went directly there.

Wind blown sand and snow

Wind blown sand and snow

 

Nature holds many surprises if you look around and notice the details.

The windswept sand and snow is a temporary painting on the landscape.

I dare not walk past without admiring its beauty.

swim at your own risk

swim at your own risk

 

 

 

 

trees along the pier

trees along the pier

“Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.”
~Charles G. Stater

 

beach volleyball

beach volleyball

 

 

 

 

Winter Beach

Winter Beach

 

There is something so mystical about the beach in the winter.

It is other-worldly. The sights, sounds and scents are very different from during any other season.

I stood in this spot for an extended period of time. Taking it all in until my face started to hurt from the cold.

With my ear buds in, listening to music I found myself dancing. I know. Weird, right?

I was alone on the beach without a soul in sight and here I was dancing!

I rejoiced in the sensation of pure bliss – of Spirit and surroundings.

Think I’m odd if you want to…whatever. Before you pass judgement though I dare you to give it a go for yourself.

Glimpse of Summers Past

Glimpse of Summers Past

 

 

 

 

snow fence

“Land really is the best art.” – Andy Warhol

 

 

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

 

 

 

 

Bench

 

 

 

 

[W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.”  ~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866

Life Lesson In Kindness

Life lessons abound these days. I suppose it’s because I’m listening. I feel the winds of change blowing and it has made me slow down and take stock of not just what’s going on inside of me but those around me as well. It’s fascinating when we open ourselves up, even a smidgen, to hear what the Universe wants us to hear. The tools we need right now to grow and learn the lessons we are supposed to learn. Some days those lessons are like a slap and are uncomfortable, but necessary. Other days, it is as though the sun breaks through the clouds and I feel the warmth of  love radiate.

 

Today brought an interesting encounter which has made me ponder the presence of life lessons. Let me take you back to a few days before Christmas to set the scene. I had been out with some friends and we were all headed back to our cars when one of my friends and I noticed that we each had a parking ticket. I felt rather perturbed at this fact since I was less than ten minutes from my allotted time running out. At almost the exact moment I noticed the ticket on my windshield, a homeless man approached me and asked me for a twoonie (that’s a two dollar Canadian coin, just in case you weren’t sure). I was so caught up in my own thoughts I instantly apologized that I didn’t have any change (which I honestly didn’t) and moaned about having just gotten a ticket. The man apologized to me…for my having a ticket. I felt like a self-absorbed, entitled brat for having said what I did. This man’s kindness made me stop and think about my flippant thought process. Lesson learned, or so I thought.

 

I don’t go downtown often, but when I do parking is scarce and I always remember that less than stellar parking ticket incident. Today I was running downtown to pick up lunch for a friend that is temporarily housebound and myself. I scored a great parking spot right by the location I was headed to and there was even time still left on the meter! My footsteps were light…I counted myself lucky. As I was walking away from my car, a man approached me and asked me for a twoonie. Normally, I am ashamed to admit, I feel a bit apprehensive about handing people money. I’d much prefer to supply them with a cup of coffee or something to eat if I have the opportunity and means to do so. However, my hand instinctively slid into my pocket and pulled out a two dollar coin and handed it to the man. As I set it in his palm I looked him directly in the eye as he thanked me and said “Bless you.” To my surprise, this was the same man who I had moaned about my parking ticket to before Christmas. It was an instant realization that I was given another opportunity to learn my lesson. To think first and foremost with kindness, to send out the consideration of another person’s needs in the moment, to not judge based on a preconceived idea. Sure, this man could be a millionaire that poses as someone in need. He may have a substance abuse problem. He could be whatever nonsense we tell ourselves to validate our fears of avoiding  lending a kindness to a stranger. I’d like to think that he is first and foremost a man who needs a bit of human kindness and a couple of dollars.

 

 

be kind

Toxic People Test

Lately I seem to be bombarded by people off-loading toxicity. I would ask why but sometimes it’s just best to not let it eat up too much head space. To this I just shrug my shoulders, walk a LOT to breathe in fresh air, and spend more time with the friends that I know will make me laugh and help make sense of human stupidity and arrogance. There are certain instances where I know without the shadow of a doubt that people spew their garbage in my direction simply to get a rise out of me. I’m not sure they really want my reaction because it may never come. I have worked on my level of tolerance over the last ten years or so and have become a slow smolder, but there is a distinct threshold to my patience. I’m no mouse when it gets to this point. A lover, not a fighter is my true nature however there is fire in these veins.

 

 

Yesterday I was at the brink of popping someone. Yes, me. It felt like the negative bus had pulled up and offloaded an angry mob at my doorstep. To make a long story short, I worked through it with a few laughs along the way…but mostly a whole lot of working out, fresh air, journaling and loud tunes. I can’t hold a grudge or stay angry for long. After a few hours it just seems pointless and over-thinking kicks in. My bubbly nature tends to create waves again and I’m over whatever was bugging me. Moving on!

 

 

Feeling invigorated this morning and looking forward to spending time with a close friend, I had an upbeat attitude and a smile on my face. Even my hair was cooperating this morning!

 

I arrived at my local Starbucks to meet my friend, ordered my coffee and snagged a couple of comfy chairs at the window to enjoy the warmth of the sun. While waiting for said friend to arrive, I was within the auditory sphere of a group of ladies I have noticed here before. They were taking up a lot of space and dragged a bunch of chairs around a table, spilling over into the space of other customers. I waited patiently in my seat, minding my own business and trying not to overhear any of their bizarre conversation about the faults of one friends’ face and how said woman should do something about it. Good grief. As my friend was getting out of her vehicle, another woman came in to the coffee shop and joined this gaggle beside me. Only problem was, this woman dumped all her stuff on the chair I was reserving for my friend. I politely said, “Excuse me. This seat is saved for the person I’m meeting.” Well, you would think I woke a demon! The woman that was ever so sweetly pointing out her friends short-comings turned her wrath on me. “YOU CAN’T SAVE SEATS HERE!”, she snarled at me. What the heck? She proceeded to hiss at me that her friend had back issues and needed that chair. Then she told her friend to pull the chair up to their table! (Didn’t she just say her friend had back issues? Why was she not helping her friend with the chair?)  I was dumbfounded. Inside I chuckled to myself thinking how lucky this woman was that she didn’t try to steamroll me yesterday. Today she was dealing with normal me; whatever normal is. I kindly reported that I would move, since her friend was in need of that chair due to her back issue. You would think I had told her to go f*ck herself. She huffed and puffed like the wolf trying to blow down the little piggy’s house! I just grabbed my stuff and moved, whilst shaking my head. Weird.

 

Of course, my friend had walked in to see me moving seats and wondered what was going on. I let her in on the kerfuffle and was rewarded with a kind response about how tolerant I am of other people’s rudeness. That’s exactly what this boiled down to. Severe rudeness on this woman’s part and a sense of superiority. I was not going to be immature and argue over a seat, but clearly she was doing exactly what she told me I wasn’t entitled to do. What makes people think it is ever acceptable to speak to people like this? This is where every day dealings go off the rails. When we start speaking to others in such a way and with the tone that someone is worth less than another, issues arise. Not only is it rude, it displays a total lack of class. I would never think twice about giving up my seat to someone that genuinely needs it or asks politely, but bullying is pure toxicity. I will always use manners first and foremost. My parents taught me well that when you are kind, you are usually repaid with kindness. I only wish everyone had learned this wise teaching.

 

 

I think this was a test for me today…and I passed with flying colours.

 

 

 

“Anytime anybody is rude, it makes me double- check my own behaviour to make sure I don’t do that to other people.”  – Patricia Heaton

I Dream In Shades of Green

Here in the Northern hemisphere winter has unfolded and Old Man Winter’s icy breath blows relentlessly. The beauty can be awe-inspiring to some, downright depressing to others. I am of the inspired mindset. I tend to do a lot of inner work when winter settles in. Inner as in practicing self-love, or taking care of my Spirit, focusing on what I need to keep joy in the heart and regain focus on health. As an avid gardener, horticultural tech and professional landscaper I tend to yearn for garden time while simultaneously rejoicing in a bit of a break in the schedule. Plants are always on my mind…seriously. I dream in varying shades of green. I long to get my hands in the soil and mud on my boots. To smell the earthiness of freshly cultivated soil.

 

Something I had failed to ponder, which now occupies my mind almost on a daily basis is what exactly is going on within the garden while we are, for the most part, forced out of it. There is surely magic taking place. I find it fascinating to think upon what is shakin’ underground that we never see. The slowing of the biological processes of what we are aware of that is above the soil line while life force is still maintained. The energy that is still flowing constantly while for the most part we as humans deem the garden to be resting until we get back into the garden to assist; as if plants were relying solely on our actions.  I am humbled by the realization that we are merely a player on Mother Nature’s stage. 

 

 

winter garden