Author Archives: Wee C

The Comeback Kid

Oh hey there. So nice to see you again! Indeed, it’s been awhile. Going on nine months, in fact. Almost enough time for me to have conceived and birthed a child. Wouldn’t that be a fun little way to return to Comfortably Uncomfortable?! I hate to disappoint, but nothing quite that exciting to report, I’m afraid.

I promised I would be back, and if you know me, you know I’m not very good at breaking promises. So here I am. And it feels a great deal like coming home; as if I’ve been welcomed at the back door of my family home with biscuits, jam, a big slab of cheese and a warm hug. My blogging ritual and all of you have been sincerely missed. I mean where else can I tell embarrassing stories about myself, pour my heart out, and expose my most ridiculous thoughts? You’re welcome.

To no one’s surprise, the past nine months have been filled with enough self-reflection to make the Buddha proud (you know, if pride was a sentiment the Buddha embraced), lots of life lessons (which is sufficient evidence that all I really need to know I did not learn in kindergarten) and a handful of shenanigans that predictably ended with “what was I thinking?”

Perhaps most notably, I’ve welcomed, been welcomed and continue to be welcomed into the lives of more incredible people than one person should ever be blessed enough to have surround them. And for someone whose lifeblood is human relationships, this makes for a pretty profound and awe-inspiring existence.

But I won’t lie (because I’m not very good at that, either), I’ve really struggled with coming back to this blog. My life has changed dramatically, and therefore, so too has Comfortably Uncomfortable’s purpose. Which is precisely what I’ve been wrestling with – what the heck will I write about? I grew weary of writing about all the lessons in life I’ve learned. I have no doubt you were all feeling it was a bit self-righteous, too. Thirty Things played a critical role at one point, led me precisely to this place, and gave me a bounty of content to keep you all entertained. But its home is also firmly located in the past.

So, as I do, I’ve been waiting for the world to show me what’s next. I’ve started and re-started countless “comeback posts”, none of which felt quite right, the timing always just a bit out of sync. But recently, I could feel it brewing. I could feel the creative juices reactivated, quietly building a simmer and then a boil beneath the surface. This weekend it erupted. The stars have apparently aligned and a sense of clarity around what’s next in my creative playground emerged.

It was brought to me as all great wisdom in life is – through TED.com. I stumbled across this video and I realized what was next. For so long I’ve been writing about my life as an interpretation, working to make sense of it, deciphering what I’ve learned, where I stumbled and what the heck it all meant. I gotta tell you, that’s bloody exhausting and I’m kind of over it. Don’t be fooled. My necessity to interpret and analyze life will be a lifelong affliction…and the reason I’m likely destined to come back as a bird in my next life (small brains, limited capacity to think…you get it). And we all know how much I love birds.

If you don’t watch the video (and you should; it’s beautiful), all you need to know is that this woman is a storyteller. Her job is not to interpret, but to simply tell the story as she sees it. She accepts that the story may evolve, that she may see it differently a decade down the road, and that it may not always be the same story. It’s a mechanism to capture a perspective and an experience, using words as opposed to visuals. The interpretation is left to the reader. This approach is my inspiration for what’s next.

You see: I love people and their stories. All of you, from the randoms who sit next to me at the bar to the friends I’ve had since elementary school, are my greatest source of joy and inspiration. I adore the stories that we create together and, equally, those that we create apart. Storytelling is an art that moves me and so, it only seems logical that it’s one I should engage in as my creative outlet.

That’s the next iteration of this blog: a home for stories and creative writing. The stories will be truthful; they’ll be ones from long ago in the past and not-so-long-ago. Many of you may find yourself in my stories – not to worry, making you uncomfortable is actually far more uncomfortable to me than it is to you, so I will always walk this line carefully. Some will be funny, others will be sad. Regardless, I strongly believe that this is what’s next in the evolution of me as a writer.

Some time in the coming weeks I’ll write my first story. When I do, I sure hope you’ll grab a cup of tea and spend 15 minutes hanging out with me. I’ll see what kind of yarn I can spin for you.

It’s time

– Contributed by Wee C

This is a post that has been writing itself for the past year and a half. Since the day we launched the blog, in fact. 17 months, nearly 30,000 hits to the site and, as of the moment I press “publish”, 99 posts later.

We started this blog to chronicle 30 Things. We believed it was an interesting story to tell; one that some folks may see themselves in, draw inspiration from, or simply find humour in. Turns out, we were right. We also started this blog because it gave us a home for our story, a place where we could collect our thoughts and make sense of life’s evolution. This has been particularly true for me.

In April 2010, I had no idea the hell of a ride I was about to go on. I knew that things were changing, that there was a big something ahead of me, but I could not have predicted what a stunning evolution of self would happen.

Since then, I’ve migrated from a girl who couldn’t say “yes” to anything fun to one who wants nothing more than a life filled with joy, abundant laughter and a whole lot of foolishness…and is in fact living that life every, single day.

I have gone from a girl who had suffocated all of her relationships to one who is unreasonably blessed to have a bounty of remarkable, caring people in her life. I am surrounded by healthy, loving relationships.

Two years ago I was drowning in negative energy, unable to deal with life’s curve balls. Now I say “go ahead and throw them”, I’ll learn what I’m supposed to learn and move on. I promise I’ll come out the other side with a smile on my face.

I went from being 110% married to my marriage, to separated and, now, en route to divorce. I learned to accept the thing I feared most in life. With the help of Big L, I embraced the fact that you can’t logic your way through tragedy, you need to go into the eye of the storm and weather it before you can come out the other side. And, through that, I’ve come to thank my lucky stars for the unbelievably positive change this turn of events has brought.

All along the journey, you all have been right here, cheering me on, offering up public and private words of encouragement, asking for more, spreading the word and coming back week after week. I have exposed some of my most honest feelings. I let you inside my head and heart and risked a hell of a lot of  judgement – some of my most exposing posts were read by hundreds and that’s plenty raw. There were times when I didn’t want to write, when I didn’t want to share, but I did because it forced me to push through, to be seriously uncomfortable.

Because of all of that, this blog has been an enormous source of pride for me. I’m proud of myself for telling my story, for sharing despite the discomfort, for ignoring the emotional risks and doing it anyway.

Now, it’s time for a break. Comfortably Uncomfortable has helped me through the most difficult and exhilarating period of my life. It forced forward momentum when I couldn’t ignite it myself. But after a long period of sharing everything, I’m hungry for more privacy. It’s not fear. Nor is it an unwillingness to share. I simply want to experience a period of change and evolution that’s not fueled and supported by a bevy of cheerleaders. It feels important to be alone with my thoughts and find the strength within myself to grow and take risks. I couldn’t have arrived here without this blog, amongst other things.

I’ll be back, I’m sure of it. But for now, I’m hanging up the crutches and taking a little walk on my own. Adios en vaya con dios.

I’ve got that smushy feelin’

I'm all smushy for this hat.

– Contributed by Wee C

When my dogs were puppies I used to hold them and tell them they were so cute that I could squeeze them until their little heads popped off. Put down that phone…no one call Animal Control. I didn’t. Of course. But you know that feeling when something feels so darned good that your toes wiggle and you feel all smushy inside? I’m pretty smitten with that feeling. It’s one of my favourites. So, I thought I’d share 10 things that are making me feel smushy these days*.

1. My dad finishing his MBA – he’s mid-50s, doesn’t have a previous university degree and one day just decided to do his Masters. By distance. He just got the last of his marks in and he passed with flying colours. Talk about giving your kid some killer inspiration.

2. My mom helping my dad get his MBA – c’mon, say it with me: behind every great man is an even better… But the truth is that sells my mother short. I don’t know a single human being who is as selflessly giving as she is. And when my dad came home with this crazy idea to do his MBA, my mom simply said “let’s do it, I’ll help.” She beats the pants off anyone in the remarkable category.

3. My cool mom friend – awhile back I wrote about a friend of mine who just had a baby. What I didn’t tell you is that she’s about the coolest mom I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t ask if the baby had a “boom boom”, she calls it shit, like it is. She makes no apologizes for not clothing her child from head to toe in organic cotton, nor does she feel the least bit badly for going out and having a good time, sans-babe. She’s brilliantly caring and still the same girl I’ve always loved; she didn’t turn into someone else the minute she conceived. And that makes me smushy (but not in the boom boom kind of way).

4. My fun new hat – it’s the one in the picture and it makes me jump with glee whenever I wear it. Need I say more?

5. Forgiving myself – I’m still figuring the new me out, so some days I’m  unsure of myself, I get awkward, I zig when I really wanted to zag. Good thing part of the new me involves forgiving myself and learning to embrace the fact that the only thing that really matters is here and now. I love giving myself gold stars for this one.

6. Big L’s wedding plans – this girl has thrown convention out the window. From the dress to the location (in a film production office downtown), she and hunny are playing by their own rules in every single way. It’s a treat to watch her be recklessly joyful about every single detail of this event. November can’t come fast enough. I can’t wait to see the magic come to life.

7. Julie’s Jeep – is there anything better than being in a friend’s Jeep with the top off, the sun streaming in and the music blaring? How about two cute gals sitting in the front seat basking in the glory of life. There’s not much to complain about in that scenario.

8. Music – I grew up playing the piano and have always loved music, but during my cranky, life’s the pits phase (can you call a decade a phase?!), I forgot how much I love music. These days, I’m cranking it way up and singing it loud. And I don’t much care who hears me. Heck, my karaoke adventure from last summer happens at random daily intervals these days.

9. Early mornings accomplishments – I get more accomplished between 6am and 9am than I do any other time during the day. I get a run in/take the dogs for a walk, do 30 minutes of pilates (or swim), take a shower and dry my hair, drink my cappuccino and eat breakfast, I read the daily headlines from the Globe, the Chronicle-Herald and often the NY Times, and make my bed. So by the time 9 o’clock comes, I’m feeling mighty good.

10. Bologna sandwiches – yup, that’s right…straight from the foodie’s mouth. Cook the bologna (I microwave mine for speediness), add a hunk of cheddar cheese and slather on the mustard. A few All Dressed chips on the side never hurt anyone, either.

And, of course, my dogs still make me feel smushy just like they always have. Some days I have to restrain myself, but so far, I’ve managed to avoid loving them to death. So, tell me! What’s making you smushy inside or your toes wiggle with glee?

Full disclosure: I did not come up with the idea for this post on my own. Last week my business partners and I did a similar post on what was stirring our souls. It was Big L’s brain child. And I’m stealing it. But it was such a fun post that I wanted to do it all over again. And guess what? I’m not apologizing for it. Don’t worry, she’s used to it.

Kicking Ass and Taking Goblin Names

Pendulum at the Pantheon in Paris

– Contributed by Wee C

It’s finally happened. I’ve swung too far the other way.

For years my personal pendulum* swung disproportionately to the overworked, overtired, overstressed, overemotional, overcommitted, overperfectionist side of life. It was bloody tiring and not much fun at all. I had way too many things to check off my list, way too many people to please, way too many competing goals to achieve. Way too, way too much.

When I finally made a clean break (which took way too many failed tries), I ran so fast and so far in the opposite direction that I didn’t want a single goal or obligation left in my life. Damn goals, I thought, they’re just like having someone hold your head under water and laugh as you gasp for air. They won’t get me again.

When I finally stopped running, I hit a clearing. A big, open pasture that had no hills, no rocks, no molehills that turned into mountains. Just grass, sunshine and blue skies. I could look out all day long and nothing would obstruct my view. Insert blissful sighs, cartwheels in the field and rousing renditions of Kumbaya here.

But there was a problem. On the edge of my field was a Sleepy Hollow-esque forest. Dark and threatening and filled with the horrors of big goals, dreams and mile long to-do lists that chased you until you tripped on a stump and cried out for help. Cross that line into the Forest of Aspirations and you were all but a goner, never to return to the field again.

Having spent an awful lot of time in the forest, I felt like there was no middle ground between the lush green fields and the foreboding mass of trees. And if you had to pick one or the other, I bet you’d pick the place where beauty and bliss abounds, too.

But guess what? That field is pretty damn boring. Especially for a girl who thrives on growth and evolution, chasing big dreams and pushing boundaries. You can only put a buttercup under your chin so many times before the suspense wears off. And I’ve completely mastered the art of the daisy crown.

So it appears that I let my personal pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction. I stripped my life of goals, massive to-do lists and obligations. And, yes, I LOVED that…for awhile. And it was EXACTLY what I needed. But it’s time. I need my pendulum to find its way to centre. In fact, I’m hungry as hell for a couple killer challenges and some serious boundary pushing.

The beauty of hanging out in the field is that your mind gets mighty clear. Empty even. You know, all that fresh air tends to cleanse things. So with my clear mind and the restored fire in my belly, I actually get to start from ground zero and add only the goals, intents, dreams and aspirations that I want to. I get to be deliberate and disciplined about what I choose to add and what I don’t. I get to discover the place between the forest and the field that’s down in the valley and hidden from view.

So what’s next you ask? In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be finding out. I’m going to put aside some time, hang out with myself and take a good hard look at what I want to add in. But one thing is for sure. I’ll only be inviting things that add value to my life and that are worth making myself uncomfortable for. And don’t worry, I’ve worked so hard to get my mind mentally prepared for this next phase that I’m ready to kick ass and take some forest-goblin names.

*Ok, so I know, my analogy of the pendulum is highly flawed. But I like the visual. So, for the purposes of this post a pendulum can swing dramatically more to one side than the other. Plus, it’s my blog. So I get to change science however I want. I win.

[Photo Credit]

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

The '80s epitome of love

– Contributed by Wee C

Not long ago I used some sort of fancy Facebook app that summarized all my activities on “the FB” into one nifty little presentation. Thank goodness for marketers and their ingenious ideas, eh? What I liked about it, though, was that it told me the word that appeared most frequently on my profile. To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, LOVE was my word. I’m pretty sure that I was born in the wrong era because I’ve long believed that love is, indeed, what makes the world go round. I’m a pretty big fan, to say the least. And not just of the “in love” kind of love, but equally, the “I love you, man” kind of love.

So, needless to say, love is a top-of-mind topic with me. It’s something I think about often, wondering what it looks like, how it evolves, why it changes, how to give it with abundance, and how to gracefully receive it. But recently, for a whole variety of reasons (and don’t any of you get all presumptuous, I just happen to have the privilege of renewed perspective and good literature fueling my busy mind), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the “in love” kind of love.

As a child of the ’80s, I was born and raised on soap operas and romantic comedies. So early on I came to be brainwashed believe that being in love was a place of bliss and fulfillment. C’mon, how could you not want what Luke and Laura or Felicia and Frisco had?! The trouble is that for a long time I saw being in love as a destination; a place you work to get towards or what you’re rewarded with after a sufficient period of good behaviour has passed. Surely this is where the tragic notion of brownie points became solidified?

For a long time, I was anxious to get there. To that place called being in love. I now see just how narrow, and frankly stifling, this point-of-view is. And it’s one I bet a whole lot of us share. Heck, the term “falling in love” itself suggests that love, at least in the romantic sense, is a goal, a destination, or worse, an end-state. And once you’re officially “in love”, it’s like the journey has stopped and you can just settled in. You’ve arrived. Let the dirty socks and nagging abound.

But for someone who loves love as much as I do, I’ve come to realize that’s just not good enough. In fact, I kinda think it sucks. It’s certainly not how I want to look at it in my life any longer. I want my definition of love to be far less limiting, much more about a journey than a destination, and much less likely to incite resentment and feelings of confinement.

So, I’ve re-framed the romantic version of love in my mind. Simply, for me love is a shared journey of discovery; a common search. It’s a journey where you get the privilege of creating meaning together. This places love on a continuum and suggests it continues to grow and evolve for as long as you wish to be on the journey together. It’s not a destination at all. And that paints a pretty beautiful picture in my mind.

It’s also a place where you are supported in your growth and where you get to support and mentor someone else in theirs. It’s where exploration is comfortable and never judged. It’s where you get to try and fail, or try and succeed. The wonderful thing about this is that human beings never stop learning or evolving, and therefore, neither should love.

And just because I make it sound all peaceful and balanced, don’t for a second think that I’m trying to take the mad rush out of being in love. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’m trying to sustain the rush for a lifetime.

In my mind, thinking of being in love as a place you work towards, an achievement you wish to accomplish, or something you’ve earned, diminishes it. But perhaps more importantly, it creates all kinds of unnecessary and fabricated pressures. We get anxious to just get there already. We want to check it off our list so we can move onto the next thing – the house, the car, the baby. We get impatient with our significant other and wonder what the hell is taking them so long.

Who knows if I’m right. But right now I like the way this sounds. Thinking about love this way excites me. It makes my heart pretty darned happy. And it makes me wonder what the heck Laura ever saw in Luke anyway.

Have A Little Faith

– Contributed by Wee C

So, I know. It’s been awhile. I haven’t exactly been attentive to our little corner of the Internet, have I? If our blog were a piece of property, the weeds would have overtaken the house by now and the neighbourhood children would be wondering if the witches had moved in. Um, excuse me, there will be no snarky comments from the peanut gallery. I can hear you from here.

But, the thing is, I’m kinda happy these days. Rephrase: I’m really flippin’ (insert more profane language here if you’re not my parents or children under the age of 12) happy. Which has made me realize that I don’t have all that much to talk or fret or moan about. For the first time in a long time, I’m pretty damned settled. That means you’re stuck with the “I love my life” blog post.

So what got me here? Simple answer: faith. I’m still working on faith “in what”, but definitely faith in something bigger than myself – in the world, in God, the energy of life.

Don’t be fooled. I didn’t get here overnight. When life slams you flat on your ass, you don’t bounce back up like a basketball (although that’d be a neat party trick). It’s a hard, uphill slog and you’ve gotta choose faith every single day. Some days, you’re choosing it a thousand times a day, slaying each and every one of your wandering, misbehaving thoughts with a big fat faith laser sword (you know, one with sparkles and such). Think of Mario going to save the Princess. Sometimes you had to try and beat that level a lot of times before the monster was toast. But the reward at the end was worth it, yes? Kisses from the Princess, c’mon.

I’m already predicting what you’re saying. Really? Isn’t that a little naive? Life doesn’t really work that way. Put the crazy in a padded room. But I’m telling you, changing my internal commentary and relying on faith has worked. Every.Single.Time.

Want in? Start by changing the language you use in your mind. Somehow we’ve learned to categorize everything by good and bad, positive and negative, right and wrong. What happens if we took that lens away? What if it just “is”. Think about it in context: you lost your job. Your first reaction is “that’s bad”. But how can you possibly know that? How many times in life do we label something as good or bad and it turns out to be the exact opposite? Perhaps more importantly, how many times do we label something as good or bad and then fight to hold onto what we thought it was, even when life is showing us that we’re dead wrong? Because, let’s be honest, as human beings, we’re not all that good at being proven wrong. We tend not to embrace that with enthusiasm.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that we can’t have emotional responses to what life throws at us. Good heavens, if I took emotion out of my life, I might as well bite the bullet now…emotion is the currency I operate in. So, yes, allow yourself to respond. Be human. Be joyful when the situation calls for it. And be sad when you need to be. Just don’t get stuck there. When the time is right, pull back, remove the labels and don’t let the ultimate dichotomy of good and bad suck you in.

The trick is that you can’t stop there and sit idle, because you will get sucked back into the vortex. You have to actively believe that things will work out as they should. Actively means not fretting when you want to fret. It means freeing your mind from the what ifs and paralyzing commentary like “I should have done it this way” or “If only I had turned left instead of right”. It means listening and watching for signs that point you in the direction you’re supposed to be going, even if it’s not where you think you should be going. And, yes, it means having blind, evidence-lacking faith that life will lead you down exactly the right path.

I know that it’s a mind bend and not everyone will get there. Believe me, I know. As Pollyanna as I make it sound, I routinely struggle to follow my own advice. The less-enlightened version of myself is always fighting the wiser version. The more I let the wiser one win, though, the better life seems to get. And if I look at some of the incredible things and people that life has brought me in the past couple of months, it’s hard to argue with having a little faith…in faith.

PS – I happened across my high-school yearbook the other day and found the following quote in my grad write-up. Seems I’ve been carrying this belief around with me for quite some time.

“Faith. Faith in a spirit possessing greater strength, wisdom, power and love than you do. Faith in the ultimate goodness of life. Faith in yourself. Faith that as you seek, you will find.”

 

 

Against the Grain

– Contributed by Wee C

You know as a kid when you would go to the mall and your friends would run UP the DOWN escalator? Or maybe DOWN the UP escalator? It was usually the boys, showing off to impress the girls. Like the modern day Roman Colosseum or something. Chivalry and honour at its finest. Us girls, we were oh-so-impressed, giggling hysterically and then some of us would take a crack at it ourselves. Even then, though, I knew myself and my inherent clumsiness well enough to avoid this at all costs. I knew I’d slip, fall and crack my teeth on the metal, my lips stuck between the claws of two risers. I could imagine what the outcome would be in that scenario, but somehow I missed the memo elsewhere in life.

Throughout my 30 (soon-to-be 31) years, I’ve been going UP the metaphorical DOWN escalator. I choose “up”, rather than”down” because it’s always been a climb. One with lots of friction and resistance. Before I proceed, let’s be clear (once again). I have by no means lived a difficult life. In fact, mine is almost as charmed as they come. I haven’t faced adversity or tragedy. Not the real kind, anyway. I have, however, spent an awful lot of time chasing things that I had no business chasing. Dreams, goals, aspirations. Men. Not because there was anything wrong with what (or who) I wanted, but I was chasing things that I wasn’t supposed to have. Things I thought would make me successful – in my own eyes and others. Things that I thought would make me happy – because they’re things everyone said would make me happy. Things that were so inherently contradictory to who I am, what I believe and what makes me, me, that it’s amazing that I didn’t trip and fall a long time ago.

When I think about this metaphor, it makes me realize that it’s no wonder so many of us are frustrated, feeling unfulfilled and uninspired. We keep searching for our purpose. We set goals for ourselves and achieve them, and yet somehow feel emptier than when we started. We plot our lives in five, ten, 20 year increments and assume that everything will unfold exactly as we plan, with no bumps along the way. Perhaps more remarkably, we assume that we’ll be the same person, wanting the same things, then that we are now. Have you ever been the same person after five years has passed? Do you even want the same things tomorrow as you do today? Rarely. As a society, we are a group of well-educated, informed adults going up the down escalator. Only now, it’s not so much fun and we all look a wee bit silly.

Call me crazy, call it blind (and perhaps stupid) faith, call it unfounded, but I wholeheartedly believe that each and every one of us has a specific role to play in this world. Maybe not to be Mother Teresa or a Stanley Cup-winning hockey player, but each of us has something inherent within us that is so uniquely ours that only we can fulfill it. Whether you share my point of view or not, I guarantee that nearly all of you understand that feeling of living life against the grain. It’s a bit sublime and you may not be fully aware of what’s happening, but you know that you’re not being true to who you are and what you want. You just haven’t acknowledged how much of an impact that’s having on you, nor have you decided to do anything about it. You may never do anything about it. But I know you know.

I’m no expert in reversing or re-routing traffic flows, and heaven knows there are still plenty of days when I fight the good fight. But over the past two years, I’ve made a deliberate effort to spend a lot more time listening to myself, to finding the things that make me happy and fulfilled. And, guess what? I’m a lot more of both these days. No, getting here is not an easy, fast or even intuitive process. And, yes, sometimes the decisions you end up making or the things that happen suck. They really suck. But if being happy and settled in your own mind and body is something you desire so much that it’s making you unhappy, I’m telling you that the journey is worth it.

I want to share some philosophies that have helped me. Now, don’t come looking for a PhD in psychology, you won’t find it. Nor do I have any professional insurance to cover me if you decide you want to sue me for bad advice. And I certainly don’t believe that my path will work for everyone. Or, perhaps, anyone. Each of our paths are as unique as we are and we can only hope to pick up a few tips for how to navigate along the way. But, here’s how it went down for me.

1. Acknowledge – Ugh. Could I not have come up with a more original first step than this? “Hello, I’m Wee C and I’m not happy.” I know it sounds trite and overstated, but I simply began by acknowledging that how I was living wasn’t working for me. And I owned it.

2. Commit to making a change – Enter 30 Things. I knew that I needed to do something to help me on my pursuit of happiness. 30 Things is what worked for me. That may not be your thing. The most important factor was that in making a commitment, I forced myself to pay attention and be present in my life. And to acknowledge every day.

3. Let go of control – Somewhere along the way, somebody came up with the genius idea that if we worked hard enough, planned sufficiently well, and had nerves of steel we could control anything in life. And then the whole world (well, at least North America) decided to embrace this ideal. Me included. That’s why 30 Things was about saying yes to things I would normally say no to and not about making a list that I could control and check things off of. I found a way that I could let life take me down the paths it wanted to and I had no control over any of it. Letting go of the control would have been an impossibility had I not completed #1 and 2.

4. Let go of the outcome – This is perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned. If you take nothing else away from this post, take this, try it, practice it. When I first separated from my husband, this became my own personal mantra: let go of the outcome. I knew that I could either fight the situation and work to get my old life back, or I could accept that because I wanted life to change (at least some fashion), that’s exactly what was happening. I didn’t know whether we would come back together stronger than before, or if we would go our separate ways. The outcome I wanted was the former. But I was prepared to accept either, knowing that if I didn’t interfere, the outcome, regardless of what it was, would be remarkable. Truth be told, it has been…and I’m just getting started. I’ve since applied this approach to nearly everything in my life. When you don’t worry about the outcome, the journey to get there becomes a hell of a lot more enjoyable. And enlightening.

5. Make space and time – I started blogging, I started to keep a journal, I practice yoga and pilates, but more importantly, I stopped with a whole bunch of other foolishness that was simply taking up space and time in my life. I thought that being busy made me important. It didn’t. It just made me busy. And miserable. Space and time brings clarity and in my experience, clarity brings a lot more happiness than being a busy body ever did.

6. You’re not a hippie – Not that there’s anything wrong with hippies. But sometimes pursuing self-enlightenment, your own path, simply a different way of doing things can cause people to roll their eyes and say “She’s just trying to find herself. At some point self-discovery became “airy, fairy” and frowned upon. So I spent a lot of time not admitting to the fact that, yes, I am indeed trying to find myself. Not because I’m lost, but because what the heck else is this gig about if it’s not about that? I’m done apologizing for being true to myself and doing things my own way just because other people’s imaginations suck.

I’m far from having things figured out. But I’ve learned that living life against the grain – against YOUR grain – is hard work. It brings way more friction to life than any of us need. So, albeit a little late, I’m taking a lesson from my childhood self and doing what I can to avoid cracked teeth and bloody lips. I’ll impress the boys another way.

Nothing is Normal

– Contributed by Wee C

I’m known as the mother amongst my friends. A term I’m sure they use with affection. Right, friends? I’m generally nurturing and caring and make sure you have the biggest bowl of pasta your belly can handle…followed promptly by dessert and cappuccino, of course. You know, like an Italian Mama…minus the Italian part. But a real mother, I am not. I’ve not harboured a child in my womb, licked my finger to clean my child’s face, or carried 10 tons of supplies like a personal Sherpa to my infant baby. No, the closest I have come to being a mother is teaching a bunch of tykes to ski. If that counts, I could be a pretty good mom if I ever choose to venture down that road. But until then, I have absolutely no authority on the subject. Which is why I may not have any business writing this blog post.

One of my oldest and dearest friends, and her wonderful husband (also a dear friend, just of the newer variety), recently had a babe. A precious, beautiful baby boy. I’ve spent a lot of time with them over the past six weeks, and I gotta tell you, I’ve noticed a few things. There’s not much that’s normal about their lives. For those of you who are parents, none of this will come as news. But for me, the contrast between life before and after is glaring. Five different options for carrying baby on your back or chest can be found in their home. What happened to the simplicity of the Snugglie?! My friend sits and visits with me with a pumping contraption strapped to her chest, and acts as if this is all very normal. Tummy time has suddenly become the event of the day. And I wish for Mom and Dad’s sake that this was actually the dirty activity it sounds like it is. It’s not. Nothing. Absolutely nothing about their lives is normal.

Which got me to thinking. There are a lot of similarities between their lives and mine right now. ‘Cause not much about my life is what I would have once considered normal. I don’t live in the same place, I don’t sleep in the same bed, I don’t do the same things. For the first while, I really fought to retain some degree of normalcy amidst a whole lot of change. I thought that would help me. Normal is what’s right. Right? I suspect my friends are feeling much the same way. Wanting things to be normal is normal.

But there are a few flaws with seeking normal: you’re inevitably living in the past, you’re missing what’s special about the present, and you’re not being honest with yourself. Because, guess what, if you’re trying to get “back to normal”, you’ve already lost it. Although I can’t imagine why you would want it back anyway. Going back to normal means you’d have to give up everything new in your life; those things weren’t normal before. Instead, we need to create a new normal. Yes, the things we loved about life before can be brought forward. We just need to figure out how to blend the old with the new and make that feel, well, normal.

Normal has somehow become a crutch for many of us. Wanting, wishing for what we think is normal prevents us from having to deal with the discomfort of what’s not. Chasing after normal fools us into think that we’re adjusting to our new reality. For me, as soon as I stopped trying to find normal in my life, I found it. It just didn’t look like I remembered it. In fact, in many ways, it looks much better. For my friends? Well, their new normal comes in the form of explosive poo. I’m pretty sure that’s not what their normal used to look like, but these days, it seems to suit them just fine.

The Philosopher Queen

– Contributed by Wee C

The philosopher has come out in me lately. More Dr. Phil than Plato and his shadows on the cave wall, but I’m a philosopher queen nonetheless. Shockingly, I’ve been thinking about love, loss and the stuff that happens in between. You know, like life. I’ve been thinking about how so many of us progress from lust to love, love to life, and somehow, life to loss. I’ve been thinking about how we keep the lust as part of the love and how we prevent life from suffocating all of it. Ah, yes, Socrates would be proud. What’s that wisdom he used to pass along…know thyself?

When I look back on my 11 year relationship (and, yes, I arrogantly believe this makes me a enough of an authority on love to write about it), there are plenty of things that worked and didn’t work. That’s reasonably inconsequential at this point. What I have realized, though, is that most couples spend way too much time arguing talking about the kind of toilet paper to buy, who spends more time working than the other, how the other never buys them flowers any more, and not nearly enough supporting one another in their individual journeys. And if Maslow is right, and self-actualization is the ultimate destination, a relationship with someone else has to be about supporting them on their path; not cluttering it, not obstructing it, not hijacking it. And certainly, it can’t only be about the colour of the drapes.

What I’ve come to realize in the past couple of weeks is that building a life with another human being is a privilege. During that process, you learn, you teach, you share, and most importantly, you grow as an individual. Building, however, insinuates support, collaboration, progression. Building is what helps us get to self-actualization. It’s sustaining a life that’s problematic. Sustaining is stagnant, it’s suffocating and it’s emotionally suicidal.

Do I think that we all need to sit around and discuss the meaning of life all the time? Absolutely not. Do I think that we need to feverishly run down the path of life in a relentless pursuit of higher mindedness? Not a chance. But have I come to believe that reducing life to nothing but mortgages, babies, RRSPs, and “where the hell is my ring” will kill even the best relationships and suffocate even the most inspired of individuals. Yes, I most certainly have.

Through all of this, the most important realization I’ve had is that life really is a journey of finding meaning. Individual and collective meaning. We need to honour that by supporting the one we’re with and allowing them to find their own meaning in their own ways, even if those ways look different than our own. We need to honour that by protecting our own journey and not allowing someone else to stifle it, even if that means walking away from them. And we need to honour that by not allowing the dirty diapers, the errands that need to be run and the crappy way they fold the laundry to overtake our relationships. Because, really, there’s no lust, love or life in any of that.

Dear Diary: A Year in Review

– Contributed by Wee C

My grandfather was a member of an old-school club. He was a diary-keeper. I’m not sure how many years he kept a diary, but I’d hazard to guess it was a practice he engaged in for nearly all of his adult life. They always looked the same – small, black, with the words ONE-YEAR DIARY pressed in gold or silver lettering on the front. He kept it beside his rocking chair in the living room; the same place he read the paper, visited with guests, and caught up on his daily rest. And I suspect all three of those things were what filled the pages. Day after day. Year after year.

The habit was one that I both admired and found baffling. I adored the simplicity of chronicling the day’s activities and the historical reference it provided. And, in fact, it’s a habit I’ve tried to form myself over the years. But I could never quite understand what he found to write about every single day; a fact which was the single stumbling block to my disgraceful, and ultimately non-existent, diary-keeping habits.

The desire to write about the evolution of life has, however, remained with me. I have never lost the intrinsic need to capture life in words, like a child catching a firefly in a jar in the hopes that its light will never burn out. For many reasons, in blogging I found the tool that allowed me to both express myself and to keep a journal of where life has taken me, what I have learned, and perhaps more importantly, what’s left to learn.

Today marks one year since my first blog post on this blog. April 24, 2010 was a milestone for me. Not because of what I wrote, but because of the journey I began and my ability to reflect on that journey today. Today, looking back through posts from the past year, I’m thankful to have adopted my grandfather’s habit of chronicling life. My methods would seem highly unorthodox and far-too-revealing for him, but the ability to reflect would no-doubt be appreciated.

After reviewing my old posts, what is abundantly clear is that worrying, fretting, working myself to death, and being all-too-high strung is so Wee C circa 2010. I read my posts from early last year and want to both hug this poor, tragic girl and give her a good shake. Gosh darn it, who was that girl? I was so busy buzzing about trying to impress the bosses, keep peace in the household, and ensure everyone (read: every.single.person.in.the.entire.world) loved me, that I completely lost myself in the process. It is so clear to me now just how inevitable a near-fatal crash was.

How was I scared to play Black Jack at the casino? Or why was staying at the party such a huge accomplishment? Going to the strip club seems like such a small hurdle now, but at one time it was one of life’s biggest milestones. And stopping long enough to meditate for ONE MEASLY HOUR seemed like I had accomplished a feat as significant as climbing to the top of Everest. In every one of these blog posts, I read the words and remember the feelings, but I simply do not know that girl any longer. She is someone I knew extraordinarily well, admired sufficiently and never, ever loved enough.

As the year progressed and I completed 30 Things, my marriage began to change and that brought a whole new perspective to how I viewed my life, my relationships and myself. In December I wrote a letter to myself five years into the future. I cried as I re-read it today. Only four months later and I’m dumbfounded by just how accurately I saw my life, despite the dark cloud of confusion hanging over it. I wrote to myself about a peace that was yet to come. Today, not five years from now, I am beginning to find it.

While today marks the one-year anniversary of my first blog post, it also marks the first holiday in 11 years that I did not celebrate with my one-time husband and that part of my dear and beloved family. Today was a series of deep breaths, each one carrying me forward to the next. It was also a day of reflection and gratitude. Wee C circa 2010 could never have made it through today with as much composure as the current version did. Keeping a “journal” helped me to see, and celebrate, that, giving me a life flotation to make it through the day.

My grandfather has been gone for several years, but it seems there are some lessons that are learned well after the original lesson has been taught. As an old farmer, he understood that keeping a diary of significant happenings allowed you to better prepare for the future. He understood that you can never get here without having been there first. Today, I finally learned what he taught me.