Saturday, March 17, 2018

What’s Real?

In the Staff Room the other day we were discussing how easy it is to fall prey to spam/phishing. And that there are so many other less than honest ways that can infiltrate someone’s life and thinking.

Which then led us to open up the conversation about What’s Real? What do we absolutely know is real?

What's Real?
In this age of images enhanced by photoshop too-good-to-be-true pill promises for weight loss and youtube videos guaranteeing instant wealth, how do we tell fact from fiction? We have grown cynical, sceptical and sometimes just plain miserable.

We are inundated with experts in every imaginable field and how strange, they often know each other. They tell you the same thing but use different words. They are exuberant and yes, a wee bit exhausting. And somewhere during their podcasts/ workshops and books, we struggle to be discerning.
  • Do you help the stranger standing on the side of the road, or is it a scam to steal your car?
  • Is that orange juice really 100% pulp free as the advertisement says?
  • Was that croissant truly baked in-house by the chef this morning?
  • Are you “debt-free” if you carry a line of credit? (Yes, someone I know told me one day that she had no debt except what she had on her line of credit. We were in a public place, I was incredulous, I could not respond with what I really wanted to say.)
But most importantly, because our judgement has been skewed, because we have been deceived in the past, or because our intuition has not been flexed recently, do we trust ourselves?

Can we confidently know that it is an authentic friendship, true love, or real parmigiana-reggiano cheese? Are we always second guessing ourselves?

How do we know that the friendship or love will survive in heated times, and that your 100% real cheese will melt with heat the way that it’s meant to.

Do you trust your experts or do you flex your intuition? (Tweet This)

What's Real, does anyone really know? (Tweet This)

 *This one’s for you G. My true friend and love who favours real cheese every time.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Honest Lies

I found an old journal that I’d forgotten about the other day buried in a box, hidden out of sight. It held my words and the stories of  my life written about 10 years ago all wrapped up in brown textured floral.

If you scratched your finger slowly across its face, it felt like scratchy corduroy. And in it I told a lot of honest lies.

It spoke of the daily challenges and the bigger roadblocks that I was experiencing as we all do.  The biggest realization I had in reading my scribbles however was the dishonesty of the words. I wrote trying to preserve my hurt, my pain and often covered it with annoying optimism. (Tweet This)

Honest Lies
I look back on that period of my life, and know how difficult it was. How afraid I was. And yet my words did not convey that. I recognize that the smiling tone I chose, the shining of the light on the less stressful (more manageable) parts of my day were my strategy in coping. So if someone read these pages years after I'd died, they might think "oh, it was hard but she was just fine". Which really wasn't true.

We may read a lot of articles these days about emptying out our elderly parent’s homes. Finding this old journal of mine made me pause and think. That surely mixed in with our mother's crystal 3-section pickle dishes and our dad's way-too-small wine glasses we will find some of their written words. Post-cards and ledgers, love letters and journals.

Before we discard, let’s pause and read between the lines.

  • Let’s think that when our mothers said that they pickled 50 jars worth of cucumbers, that their feet ached from standing on hard floors. That they wondered if the ration would last until the next summer. Or just that they would get sick and tired of pickles.
  • When you read the post-cards between friends, one in the country and the other in town, let's remember that they knew they had to censure their words from prying eyes. But oh how they loved each other.
  • That the ledgers with the beautiful handwriting (MacDonald, MacDougal, McDonnell) documented more than just the 25 cent bag of purchased sugar. That sugar was a privilege and that every pie was a masterpiece. That what each slice cost in money, they paid for by doing without something else.

If we hold each object that we are tempted to put quickly in the dumpster, what else will we learn?

Because written between the lines of my journal, were the feelings and heartbreak I protected. Glued together with hope, just like the love letters that took months to arrive from across the world, just like the hand-written recipe for Grandma's pie, just like the belief that all would be better, someday.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Impact of a Writer

It's a lonely job being a writer.

You sit and ponder, fuss over the right word and at the back of your mind, there is always a gnawing question. Do I have an impact as a writer? (Tweet This)

Impact of a Writer, Kelowna BC

Seeing your twitter and facebook followers go up, reaching a crescendo of interest and then dismally disappear. Bidding on projects and never hearing back (except for a handful, to which a writer is eternally gratetful, thank you).

Somewhere along the path of  life, you decide, don't compromise, don't whine. Don't sell your soul. But every once in a while you get the fleeting thought of joining the ranks and just sell(out?). But sell what? The choices are endless, soft taco shells for game day football, anti-aging face cream, a new yoga outfit.

You hesitate.You'll do it just once.


And then there's my dilemma. How do you sell mindfulness, contentment, peace? How do you tell the truth of what you've learned without trespassing on someone's soul? All we have are words.

No amazing skills to sell, no life-journey from illness to health, from overweight to not, no addiction conquered. At least none I'm willing to share so blatantly, choosing to lean towards the subtle, the reader who is ready.

There are many of us out here. Sitting at our keyboards, searching for words to hit the mark, not willing to stray from the hard earned path of independence.

Many of us have given decades to raising children, running small business, being a loyal employee to a company which will give a pension. We have saved our pennies, stepped into the unknown of middle-aged dating, taken up painting or playing an instrument, maintained long-time treasured friendships. These have been our lessons.

And what we have to share might not send off fireworks, but instead light small flames, here and there. The despondent young mom who feels that "it will never end", the dad from the other side of the world who responds to your post, the reactions to your photographs that someone says touched their heart.

That's the Impact of a Writer. We are not always paid with money. That's not why we do it. (Tweet This)

Reach out once in a while to your favourite writers. Please. It is what keeps us going.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Empty Frame

My partner and I went through an exercise of hanging stuff on his office wall the other day. He didn’t want it to look too contrived, which works well for me as I do like things a little “off-centre”. It makes me yawn when I think of a  long straight line of frames, it doesn’t matter how pretty the subject material.

The wall we were filling is to document the growth of his learning. It includes a decades old degree in a seen-better-days frame, a photo of fellow recruits from a time spent with the Air Force, and more recent accomplishments and testimonials. Black frames, documents splattered with red (as if by planning) highlighting the passage of time. One this way, the other in the opposite direction. Small ones fitting among the more official parchment paper ones. Filling the wall.

And one empty frame.

We like to hang things on our walls, don’t we, it doesn’t matter who we are? From the university cheap poster variety to perhaps the numbered print and signed art as our tastes and budgets allow.

My question to you is this: What do we display in our lives and what does it say about us?

  • Do we like the minimalist look? Perhaps revolving our favourite pieces from one spot to another? Enjoying each one for a short time. Or do you just not sit still long enough to enjoy more than a few?
  • Are we likely to hang/display a sentimental photograph or drawing from a loved one? Do you do it because it was important to someone else? Does it have meaning to you? Do you think that your loved ones will keep these treasures after you’re gone?
  • Does an emerging artist catch our eye? Or do you shop at the Thrift Store on discount days? Does the satisfaction of discovering something new give you a satisfying pleasure? Or are you just whiling away your time?
  • Are you a collector? Does everything find a place in your space? Do you have a hard time knowing when to stop? Sometimes, it’s called Eclectic, sometimes it’s just Junk. Does it make you feel safe? Abundant? Why?
  • Why do certain items hold more appeal in our lives? So I ask you this, take a walk through your spaces. See it with fresh eyes. Is it time to put emphasis on the more current you, and enable you to celebrate who you are, who you’ve become?
  • Take the time to examine the old favourites which still hold their charm. How did they help you become You? Why?  

And once you have viewed your new space, leave some room for the Empty Frame. For what is to come. And keep watching in your Everyday for what you will fill it with.

What we "display" tells us who we've become. (Tweet This)

Let's never discount the value of an Empty Frame. (Tweet This) 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Not so Big Dreams

Do you ever feel tired of smiling? Of having Dreams so Big that they scared you? Not the same as when you were an awkward teenager but more recently? That feeling that although you have done your best to stay on top of things, to show the world that "dang-it-all you've got your stuff together" that no one knows what's going on inside?

We're listening to a lot about people's successes right now. About gold medals in international sports, injuries overcome, financial hurdles navigated, standing on the podium. About the competition not only from others but also of the demons within, of Facebook fiascos and Pinterest pity parties.

Rare Picture of Me, Seattle

We read on social media about 19 year olds who sold their technology company for zillions of dollars. And of folks like Chris Guillebeau in The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World who set a goal to see every country in the world. Sites built on teaching people how to pay off their mortgages in five years and then sailing around the world for the rest of their lives.

Okay, I think you get the picture.

But what about the rest of us? Most of us? Who just want an extra long-weekend, a great sale on toilet paper, an extra 100 airmiles on Thursday's grocery order? Dreaming of completing one chapter at a time in the novel we're writing?

How do the rest of us keep smiling?

I say, let's plan on some smaller dreams this week. A parking spot closer to the door. Someone who says "thanks, you've made my day". A hidden piece of chocolate cake in the freezer.

I'm not saying to give up on the Big Dreams. I'm saying it should be just as much fun juggling some Not so Big Dreams some days. Keep those Dream balls in the air and sometimes you get to land on a Big one. (Tweet This)

You can juggle many Not so Big Dreams at the same time. (Tweet This)

Enjoy your smaller dreams this week and tell me what happens!