Walk

I know the #BellLetsTalk campaign was a couple of days ago, but I wanted to share a poem I wrote for all my friends and loved ones who are affected by mental illness. And, to each of you, please remember the lyrics to that new beautiful song I’ve been hearing on the radio, “I’m only one call away…”

Walk

When life seems too hard to handle, go for a walk. Physically and mentally, go for a walk. Move your body. Move your mind. Soothe your spirit.

When the depth of your emotion threatens to drown you, go for a walk. Put one foot in front of the other. In your mind, move from where you are to where you need to be. You will get there.

When you think your life will never be ok, go for a walk. Walk slow or walk fast, just walk. Feel time passing, feel your heart beating and know…time will fix it. Until then, lean on those who love you unconditionally. And trust me, someone does.

When you feel powerless in a situation, accept that you are, and just walk. Keep walking. You got this.

Three Lessons Eye Surgery Taught Me About My Life and Screen Time

Six months ago, I had laser eye surgery to correct my vision. The post-procedure instructions dictated absolutely no screen time or reading for three entire days. My eyes were really strained and uncomfortable in the days following the surgery, so I mostly kept my eyes closed anyway. No big deal.

Last week, I had more surgery to improve the results achieved the first time around. Same deal – no screen time, no reading. But, this time was different. It was only one eye. It was less invasive. I had no discomfort. And, I could see perfectly. But reading was off limits. No texting. No iPad. No laptop. No television. No book. Oh my.

Here are just a few lessons I learned:

1. I am not nearly as busy as I think I am.

For my entire adult life, I’ve been convincing myself that my goals are unachieved because I’m just too busy. I work. I have (a bunch of) kids. Sure, my grandmother’s generation could raise 12 kids and keep a house clean, but that was because women stayed at home…right?

Right. But our grandmothers also didn’t have the distractions we have today. If they wanted to gossip, they had to wait until someone came by or until they ran into their nosey neighbor at the grocery store. They didn’t get caught up in social media for hours between tasks when they sat down for “just a minute”. They didn’t binge watch Netflix. And guess what? Neither did any of their 10 kids. So those 10 kids were available to help out and pitch in.

In the three days following my eye surgery, I accomplished more at home than during the three weeks previous. And, at 10 o’clock when I sat down on the couch but couldn’t check Facebook or watch an episode of Suits, I went to bed. Instead of staying up way too late caught up in alternate reality. I got a good night’s sleep so the following day, I had tons more energy to burn.

2. Moderation is the key.

Like with all of life’s pleasures, moderation is key. There is no doubt that technology has the ability to enrich our lives. We can connect with friends and loved ones anywhere in the world with the touch of a button. We can learn almost anything. We can find inspiration, friendship and support.

Conversely, we can start comparing ourselves and our lives to a reality that doesn’t exist. We can waste time. We can start enjoying Meridith and McDreamy’s lives sooooo much that we’d rather watch them than to connect, really connect, with our loved ones. Or with ourselves.

Most of us don’t indulge in other pleasures for hours every day, so why not start setting limits on how much time we allow ourselves to get lost in screen land??

3. Being connected actually means turning off the screen.

It’s funny because, nowadays, when we hear the word “connected”, we automatically think “online”. But, at no time are we actually more disconnected than when we have our faces in front of a screen.

Let’s be real. When we’re caught up in the drama of an episode of Suits, we don’t have to face our own drama. In fact, we are actively avoiding connecting to our loved ones. We can be sitting side-by-side with them, but if screens are on…we’re not spending time with them. We probably even get upset with them if they interrupt us from our screens.

So, in addition to the gift of lens-free sight, my eye surgery taught me some pretty important lessons. Money well spent!

Lessons I wish my children didn’t have to learn the hard way: Post Number 3

People are can be jerks. That’s not the lesson. It’s a fact we all learn early in life. From the time we hit the playground in kindergarten only to be shoved off the swings by the mean kid.

Jerks abound. Strangers can be jerks. People we work with can be jerks. Friends can be jerks. People we love the most can be jerks. And, we, ourselves, can be jerks.

The reasons people can be jerks vary. Sometimes people are jerks without knowing they’re being jerks. Sometimes they’re jerks because they’re just in a bad mood. Maybe they didn’t get enough sleep, something went wrong, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes they feel justified in being a jerk because they perceive the person they are communicating with to be a jerk.

Everyone is a jerk sometimes. Occasionally, someone is a jerk all or most of the time. Rarely, you come across someone who is almost or never a jerk. (Aspire to be like those people!)

The only person we can stop from being a jerk is ourselves. We cannot do anything about the other jerky people out there. We can, however, control how we react when someone is being a jerk in our direction. We can choose to be a jerk right back. We can give them the finger. We can tell ourselves what a big giant jerk that person is and walk away feeling righteous and superior. We can make up a story in our head about why that person is a jerk: they think they’re better than us, they think they’re smarter than us, they don’t like us, they’re mean spirited, they’re stupid, they’re a BIG MEAN JERK.

OR.

Or, we can acknowledge to ourselves that maybe that person is going through something crappy. We can think about how maybe that person didn’t mean to be a jerk. Maybe that person didn’t even know they were being a jerk. We can make up a story in our head about why that person is being a jerk: they have low self esteem, they’re overwhelmed, they’re tired, they have PMS, they just lost their job, their loved one has cancer.

We can respond to that jerkiness with kindness. This is hard. This goes against our natural fight or flight reaction – be a jerk back or walk away. I haven’t mastered being kind to jerks yet. I haven’t even mastered wanting to be kind to jerks yet. But, I acknowledge that I have to try.

I read a line in this blog ( http://www.theseeds4life.com/life-can-only-be-understood-backwards-but-it-must-be-lived-forwards-soren-Kierkegaard ) and it stuck with me:

Sometimes we were forced to admit our powerlessness and learned to practice acceptance.

Anyway…the lesson here is this:

The only power we have in life is over our own reactions and responses to the world around us. The only way we can make the world around us a better place is to be better people.

Being better people is hard frickin’ work. It takes effort. It means quieting the negative voice in our heads and searching for the positive voice that is softer but profound. Everybody has one…just hush up and listen.

Lessons I wish my children didn’t have to learn the hard way: Post Number 2

So, I created this blog with the intent of posting every day…but as I seem to have said more than once today…even the best laid plans… So, some eye surgery has had me away from the screen, but that’s ok.

So, here’s something else I wish my kids (and all humans) could know and understand right now:

You are enough. You’re not more than enough. You’re not less than enough. You’re exactly enough.

Don’t let your ego convince you that you are better than anyone else. Don’t let your self-doubt tell you that you’re less than anyone else. Apples vs Oranges. Different. Cannot be compared.

You know that saying, “Fake it ’till you make it”? Don’t. You don’t need to fake it. You’re enough. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to be everything. Be humble. Admit to yourself and to others when you are unsure of something. People respect honesty. Confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive. Be self assured and humble.

Believe that who you are is good enough – it is. Don’t ever be afraid that you don’t measure up. There is no measuring. Apples vs Oranges. The only person on this earth you need to compare yourself to today is who you were yesterday. Overcome your own obstacles and know that they are not the same as your siblings’, your friends’, your teachers’, or your moms’.

When you accomplish something and are feeling proud of yourself or when you stumble and are feeling inferior, remember this: that accomplishment or stumbling block is not a comparison of your worth compared to someone else’s.

When you succeed, you have every right to be proud…you fought personal battles to reach your goal. You overcame personal obstacles. You made important decisions along the way. Decisions that were right for you. Your accomplishment is a win by you, for you; and you deserve a pat on the back. But, be humble. Remember, someone else working towards the same achievement fights different battles, overcomes different obstacles.

When you stumble, be kind to yourself. The same holds true. You have fought personal battles, have overcome personal obstacles and have made important decisions. And, that is enough. You are enough.

Roll With It

So, without a doubt, planning is a useful tool that we use to navigate through life: Planning a vacation so we don’t spend the majority of our time wondering what to do next, planning our meals so we don’t have to ask the daily dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”, planning our work day to make sure we accomplish all our most important tasks, yada, yada, yada. Planning = Important.

But, sometimes, stuff happens and we just have to run with it. We have to think quickly, make decisions on the fly, and roll. I know it causes some people stress and anxiety to be forced to quickly veer from the path they had mentally drawn for themselves to an unknown, make-it-up-as-you-go scenario. Personally, I find these situations to be fun. Adventurous. Life would be pretty boring if we always knew what we were going to do next.

So, here I am sitting in a hotel room in Moncton with nothing but time on my hands in the middle of a major snowstorm. My husband is here. My kids are not. At the moment, there’s power, internet and I have a book. Pretty cool adventure. I might go build a snowman later. Sorry kids.

Lessons I wish my children didn’t have to learn the hard way: Post Number 1

I have been thinking an awful lot lately about lessons I wish I could teach my kids but that, in reality, I know they have to learn on their own – through their own life experiences, by succeeding and failing in their own endeavours, by falling down and getting back up again, over and over and over.

Still, even though there are certain things in life they will come to understand in their own time and on their own terms, maybe if I write something down and they take the time to read it, either now or in the future, while I’m on this earth with them or long after I’m gone, they’ll recognize the lessons more easily when the time comes. Or, at least maybe they’ll know that I love them enough that I wish for them to have this knowledge and the peace that it brings.

So here is the first in what will likely be a series of posts on what I wish my children could know about life right now.

You can do it.

From the time each of us is very little right up until (I imagine) the day we die, we have goals and aspirations ranging from small to big. And, for some reason, there is a voice inside our heads that sometimes convinces us that we can’t accomplish something we want to.

I think the voice has a different volume in each of us and is kinder (or harder) at different times in our lives, but it’s there in all of us.

I remember when each of you were learning to ride your bikes…all of you said, at least once, “I can’t do it!” and you really believed that you couldn’t. You each needed to be convinced that you could do it. You needed to be coaxed and encouraged. And, eventually, you all did it…and, well, William will do it soon. That feeling of shocked pride and accomplishment that radiated from your glowing eyes and huge smiles was worth the hours of pushing you on your bikes and begging you to just pedal.

As we get older, the things we want to do get bigger and the voices in our heads that say we can’t, get louder. Unfortunately, there’s not always someone pushing us along telling us that we can do it if we just keep trying. So, I guess what I want you to know is that, as long as you’re pedalling, as long as you’re trying to move forward and progress, you can do it.

It really doesn’t matter what it is you want or need to do. Maybe it’s a school assignment that seems to be so much more than you think you’re capable of. Maybe it’s a cartwheel on the balance beam. Maybe it’s making a decision about your future. Maybe it’s a fitness goal that you think you’re just not built for. Maybe it’s saying goodbye to a thing or a person that you know is just not good for you. Maybe it’s beating the bad guy on your new video game. Maybe it’s cleaning your room. It doesn’t matter what it is, and it doesn’t matter what that obnoxious, mean-spirited, doubtful or insecure voice in your head is trying to convince you of… trust me: you can do it.

The most important thing is to start trying. Sometimes, starting is all it takes and you surprise yourself at how easily you accomplished what you set out to do. Other times, it’ll be harder and you’ll get frustrated and that voice will get louder. Don’t. Give. Up.

You may need to ask for help, and that’s ok. It’s more than ok. It’s brilliant. Don’t ever be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. The smartest, most accomplished people in this world know how to ask for help. I know I can’t always be the one you go to…and that’s ok…but it’s important that you ask someone if you need help or guidance or support. And, if that person can’t help you, ask someone else. And, so on and so forth.

Don’t decide not to start something because you’re afraid you can’t finish. Don’t decide a dream is too big before you’ve given yourself the chance to nurture it. Don’t do a poor job because that voice is telling you a good job is beyond you.

Start. Try. Dream. Do.

You will be happier for it. The world will be better for it. And, I’ll be here cheering you on, having known the whole time that you can do it.

Little Goals = Big Success

I’m a firm believer in the power of setting small goals in order to get where you want to go.  Small goals are super easy to achieve and even exceed. And, I can’t think of anything more motivating than reaching and surpassing a goal.

This weekend, my very ordinary goal was to get my normal housework done and find extra time to sort through the kids dressers. Not only did I get their dressers cleaned out, I sorted through boxes of clothes, posted pictures online and donated two big bags to families who needed them.

Plus, I cleaned out a closet that’s been driving me bananas and went sledding with the kids. All very mundane-sounding stuff….but….I feel good!