Tag Archives: Self reflection

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 I adored the simplicity of chronicling the day’s activities and the historical reference it provided.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.

Coming Back and Moving On

– Contributed by Wee C

Coming back is what I hate and love the most about any trip. I loathe the day before/travel day. That sense of despair that comes with returning to reality and accepting that the bliss of vacation simply can’t last forever. You pack with far less enthusiasm than you did pre-vacation. Your mood turns a bit somber, already remembering memories that you haven’t yet finished creating. You hold onto that pina colada with a death grip, sucking every last morsel out of the bottom of the cup. Mucho rum! Mucho rum! Insert long, heavy, sad sigh here.

But not long after that comes the post-vacation recall. I find myself smiling at random things, remembering how lovely it all was. Others may have lost their memory on the trip, and are quite likely smiling about that, too. For me, though, vacations almost always yield insights. You become quiet enough to reflect, to see life for what it is (and isn’t), to find the you that may have been lost in the driving pace of work, a troubled relationship, or just simply the mundane rhythm of life. You’re stimulated in ways you would never be at home, you experience and try things that the shackles of life may otherwise prevent, and damn it all, I guarantee you just have way more fun.

Coming back inevitably helps me to move on. I mean that both literally and figuratively. Yesterday, I came back from a beyond delightful trip to Mexico, filled with friends (old and new), laughter, and a little bit of misbehaving. Yesterday, I literally came back from one of the more memorable experiences in my life, one that has helped me move on in more ways than I can count. For that, I am grateful.

Figuratively, I’m also coming back. I’m coming back from a journey that was dark and lonely, and pretty darned miserable. It was a journey (because it sure as hell wasn’t a vacation) that led me to places I never wanted to visit and to experience things I had worked so hard to not have to experience. But, the truth of the matter was I took the journey. I went through it. I owned it. Oh, I make it sound so noble. Let’s be clear, I didn’t go willingly. But with encouragement from Big L (well, it may have been more firm directive), she sent me on a Dante-esque journey through purgatory and hell, telling me to open myself up to experiencing every ounce of pain that can I could possibly handle (she’s such a good friend). Because, as she says, you can’t action your way out of tragedy, you simply have to experience it. Seriously, where does this wisdom come from?

Truth be told, I had the same feelings about coming back from my nasty, miserable, no-fun-at-all journey as I do about the wonderful, delightful ones. Leaving it behind felt kind of sad. In the middle of my journey, I thought I would be stuck there forever…like the plane WOULD NEVER LEAVE. And boy, did I want it to leave. But crossing over to return home felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind. Indeed I was. Now that I’m here, though, I realize that it’s coming back that allows you to move on.

I don’t know that I won’t have to take another crummy trip in the not-so-distant future, in fact I fully expect I will have to, but what I can guarantee is that I’ll get on the bus and go, however bumpy, vomit-inducing and painful it may be. Because, boys and girls, the lesson of the day is that you have to go to come back. It’s not rocket science, but the outcome is equally profound.

Making The Rules

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve always said that I could run for politics because I’d be one of the few people I know who has only a handful of skeletons in their closet. And, truth be told, the few skeletons I have aren’t so much skeletons as dolls that got put away after I got too old. I don’t have a particularly storied past filled with missteps and wrong doings. Sure, I have a few (that I could count on one hand, for Pete’s sake), but nothing remarkable. There’s one simple reason for this: I’m a rule follower. I respect the rules, I follow the rules, I seriously embrace the rules. Which may or may not make me a tragically drab person. I, however, believe I make up for it in other ways. Someone, anyone back me up here??

But I’ve realized something incredibly important in the past week. I don’t follow my own rules. I follow everyone else’s. And I do it because I want them to be happy with me. Over the moon happy with me. I followed my parents’ rules, I followed the church’s rules, I followed my husband’s rules,  I followed all of my boss’ rules over the years, I’ve followed friends’ rules, heck, I’ve even followed the rules of people I don’t much like or care about. All in the name of securing the approval of others. Is she that desperate, you ask? In fact, I may very well be. But I think it’s something different. For me it’s always been more about doing what’s right. I’ve always felt that respecting other people’s rules was more important than respecting my own because putting others first was right and “that’s what makes you a good person, isn’t it?”. And truthfully, that’s all I really want in life…to be considered a kind, respectful, good person.

Now, this may seem all very altruistic, but over a chat with Big L, we explored this approach to life and found a massive flaw. In following everyone else’s rules, I expect that they will too. Heck, if I can give them that courtesy, surely they will return the favour? But most people don’t pay as much attention to the rules as I do…even if they’re making them. So often people don’t even follow their own rules.  The problem is when I’m following their rules, but they’re not, or they change the rules (as routinely happens), the disappointment I feel is overwhelming. It causes me an inordinate amount of stress. It makes me really angry and hurt. I followed all your rules, damn it, why are you changing them? Why aren’t you following them? What did I do wrong? Did I screw up again? It’s not their faults, they’re human. But it sure is disappointing and disillusioning. It causes me to question humanity and, truthfully, it breaks my heart.

In the midst of this realization, this week someone incredibly close to me broke every, single one of their own rules. Rules that I had believed to be true for as long as I had known them. Rules that I deeply admired and loved them for. Rules that I believed with a certainty beyond reason. Rules that allowed me to trust them implicitly (and in fact caused me to vehemently defend them to other people). Rules that I had followed and embraced as my own. Rules that I thought could never and would never be broken.

But they were. They were broken in the most catastrophic and devastating way imaginable. I can honestly say that Friday was the worst day of my life. And the aftershock continues to pulse through my body, finding its way into the nooks and crannies and dark crevices of my life.

As you’ve no doubt come to realize about me, I’m not much for letting an opportunity to learn pass me by. So, true to form, this experience taught me a pretty important life lesson: live your life by your own rules, Wee C. I’ve talked about this through my 30 Things journey, and I’ve genuinely tried to embrace this notion, but have never done so successfully…at least not fully and completely. But now, well I’m operating in a new world order these days. One that’s unfamiliar in every way possible. Everything else is changing, and it’s time to embrace this ideal.

So, I started by following my own rules. For the past couple of days I’ve done what I believe is the right thing to do. It may not be what others agree with, but I’m OK with that. Acting this way felt big and bold and scary. But it also made me feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have in a long time, if only for a moment.

I have an uphill internal battle ahead of me, which, despite being surrounded by incredible friends and family, it’s a battle that I need to go through alone. Supported, loved and being cheered on from the sidelines, but ultimately, alone. That means the only rules I can take with me are my own. And to that I say: onward and upward.

Conditionless Love

– Contributed by Wee C

When I was young and I would hit a low point, my mother was always there with arms wide open, a free hand to stroke my head, and her famous line “it’s hard to be a little girl”, which she said to me long after “little girl” was still an appropriate term. Regardless, it was always what I needed to talk me off the ledge. I grew up knowing exactly what unconditional love felt like.

Lately, my mom and dad have been back in full-on support mode. These days, they don’t need to talk me off the ledge…I’ve learned how to stay back from the danger zone…and my mom doesn’t tell me it’s hard to be a little girl any more (although she still strokes my head from time to time), but they’re once again showing me what unconditional love truly means. It’s not big or grandiose. It doesn’t swoon or gush. It doesn’t walk through the door with flowers (although sometimes it does come in the form of a home cooked meal). It’s simply consistent and predictable. It’s being there because you said you would always be there and for no other reason than that. It’s giving what you can, even if that’s only the size of a pebble. It is exactly what it says it is: loving without conditions.

And that’s where I think we as humans falter. Somehow, we’ve learned to love with all kinds of conditions attached to that love. “I’ll love you if you do this”, or “I’ll love you, but only if you don’t do that”. We’ve given one another labels: boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, husband, wife. And within those labels we have assigned job descriptions, must-dos, qualifications. We’ve become so tied up in what another person’s “role” is within our lives, that we’ve forgotten what it’s really about: love in the unconditional form. A celebration of who the other person is, not frustration in who they are not.

So, as we approach the Hallmark-sanctioned day of love, here’s my challenge to you. Look at your relationships. How are you applying labels and expectations to others in your lives? What are you telling them they must do in order to earn your love? Have you forgotten what unconditional love looks like? I did. And so did my husband. And the results were disastrous and I fear, irreversible.

Life wraps its grip around all of us, and it’s so easy to say “tomorrow, I’ll be kinder, more loving tomorrow, but today, I’m too stressed, too tired, and you’re annoying me.” What I’ve learned is that at some point, tomorrow simply doesn’t come. And even though deep down you know that you love the people in your life with a love that is so profound it takes your breath away, if you’re not loving them unconditionally, you’re not loving them enough.

I owe my parents a lifetime of gratitude. I can’t remember a single time that they have ever made me feel as though I am a burden or nuisance to them. Yes, arriving late to a family dinner has noticeably annoyed my dad, but a big hug has always been more than enough to wipe the slate clean. And so, these days, as I spend a lot of time looking at what the future will bring, the only thing that I’m sure of is that conditionless love will abound.

Grateful for Gratitude

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve been avoiding this blog. I’ve been avoiding writing this post. I’ve been avoiding you all. Even now, I’d really rather hold down the delete button and close the cover on my laptop. In fact, I can feel the chills of stress and anxiety setting in. But, alas, the time has come to soldier on.

You see, life hasn’t been all roses and sunshine lately. In fact, it’s been pretty damned hard. And while I’m not ready to get into the dirty details, suffice it to say that my world has been turned upside down, on top of its head, drowning in a bath of freezing cold water. And, truthfully, I’d rather be curled up by my fireplace with a cup of hot tea and a blanket, thank you very much.

Oh, I knew it had to come some day. Life had been all-too-perfect prior to this. I’ve always said that everyone’s ride will hit a detour some time. Just so happens that now is my time. I wasn’t sure what scenario would lead me here, but I always wondered how I would react, what I would do, when my time came. I imagined myself curled up in bed, balls of tissues practically suffocating me, my oversized hoodie swallowing me up, the blinds drawn into severe darkness. Visions of straight jackets also appeared once or twice. And while I do love a good crisp white blouse, that did feel a titch dramatic.

Truth is, that’s not what happened at all. Ok, well it’s sort of what happened…I haven’t exactly behaved like tears are a precious commodity. But it is true what they say (all those wise people – you know, like Winston Churchill and Voltaire), it is in times of adversity that we find our greatest strength. In my case, it’s where I’m finding my true self.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve seen more of myself than I have in a decade. It’s not for any other reason than that I’m exposed and vulnerable and feeling quite naked (good thing all this stress has resulted in a 10-pound weight loss). I’ve found a strength that I thought had left me a long time ago. But, perhaps most importantly, I’ve found my way back to gratitude. A place that feels so much like home, but one that I had forgotten to visit for far too long.

Let me simply proclaim this. I have been blessed. I am blessed. I will continue to be blessed. My life is rich with blessings. What’s so remarkable to me is the intensity of this feeling at a time when it feels that so much has been taken away. Instead of feeling empty and drained, most days, I’m feeling full. Like a pig feeding at the trough, full. Would I like to get back what I lost? I can’t say yes to that quickly enough. I’d say it a million times over if it would help. But in losing something so big, what I’ve learned is that we can’t ignore what we currently have…today. Not what we wish we had yesterday, not what we long for tomorrow. If I sit here and pine for what I had or what I want, I’m not honouring the love I am currently receiving from friends and family on what seems like an hourly basis. And that love is beyond profound and overwhelmingly generous.

And so, even in the deepest void my life has ever experienced, the water fills in, rises and spills over. It’s here that I realize just how grateful I am for gratitude.

December Maintenance: An Empty Tree

Mine and hubby’s lives? They’ve been pretty darned blessed. We both grew up in families that took incredible care of us, never wanting for anything (well, except a pony…but I’m still holding out for that), always donning the latest fashions (well, save for the skinny jeans, of course), and always with a car sitting in the yard waiting for us to drive (and, dare I say, a gas card to fuel it with). Indeed, at a very early age, we understood all-to-well what it was like “to have”.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not talking gobs of stuff: diamonds, multiple cars, caviar or our own personal collections of Louis Vuitton. We weren’t that kind of privileged (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). We were simply well taken care of. Comfortable. Cozy, even.

And truthfully, I never thought much of it until we got out on our own and realized that our standards were high. Damn high. Like, who do we think we are, high. Combine these high standards with upwardly mobile careers, making increasingly more money every year, and we were just fanning the fire. One that would eventually suck us right into the white, hot centre.

For a long time, we lived our lives fancying about, enjoying all that comfort. Dinner parties complete with legs of lamb, endless wine and new plates and cutlery (things had to match, you know). Lovely throw pillows, smelly candles and soaps, chef’s-quality pots and pans, 3,000 jackets (each), and a few European adventures thrown in. It wasn’t an extravagant life, but it sure was a wee bit excessive. We likely could have done with a few less candles and a few more pieces of chicken (skin on and bone in, even). We were wasteful. We didn’t need all that stuff, but we sure did like to have it.

I make it sound as if all this is in the past. Let me be the first to own up to the fact that we’re not totally reformed. We still misbehave from time to time. But life caught up with us. Careers changed (and restarted), the burden of a mortgage crept in, and, well, other debt also found its way into our lives. I’m quite certain no one told me I’d pay for my wedding for the following 10 years. Consider yourself warned. Basically, we became like everyone else. Grown ups, accountable for grown up-like things. Nothing particularly different from anyone else. Just grown ups.

In response, we’ve had to reform our lives…to grown up lives. At first, we fought it. It somehow felt unfair, like a child who had a big bag of candy and the mean bully took it away. Then we (read: I) got depressed. Wasn’t I working my behind off to be able to do more, accumulate more, eat more (and better), get more? More, more more. And, then, I got determined. Determined that I would beat debt and reclaim my life. Insert the world’s evil laugh here. Wee C, that’s simply not how it works.

But recently, I’ve realized that amidst that journey, I’ve changed. We’ve changed. See, we cut back. A lot. And we didn’t die. Our lives didn’t become less meaningful or less fulfilling. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Yes, folks, it’s a Christmas miracle. In spending less, I suddenly feel like we have more. The burden of always needing something is a significant one. I don’t care whether it’s the fanciest shampoo or a new Coach purse, when you’re in the mindset of acquiring, you always need something. Break that habit, and you suddenly find that your “needs” are a lot less than what you think.

And, so, my December maintenance comes in the form of doing less. Well, spending less. Our normal Christmas? You got it, it was excessive. Multiple gifts of all shapes and sizes under the tree, stockings stuffed full, and a fridge bulging at the seams. This year? We’ve committed to simply enjoying the season, with the gifts to ourselves being a stress-free, less-is-more kind of holiday. For the first time in my adult life (and in my relationship with hubby), we’re simply filling stockings. No additional gifts under the tree, just socks filled with goodies. Now, to be perfectly transparent, there will be a few indulgent items in those socks, but it won’t look like Santa’s sleigh tipped over as he passed over our house.

Currently, I have an empty tree in my living room. There’s not a single thing wrapped and under it. A year ago, I would have been disheartened by this. Today, I’m joyful. My December maintenance represents much of what life has become for me: stripping things back and enjoying life without the gloss we so often want to put on it. Ok, so to be fair, I like me a bit of gloss. I always will. But I’m just trying to avoid living in a glass house. That somehow seems a dangerous situation.

November Maintenance: Igniting Forgiveness

– Contributed by Wee C

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder

Oh boy. Ain’t that the truth. “An emotional link stronger than steel.” Swallow that boys and girls. Take a big deep breath and swallow that. Hits like a ton of bricks, eh? Even the most forgiving amongst us isn’t free from memories of things people have said, done, or NOT said or done to us, making us inextricably tied to those people in our lives. Yeah, yeah, we may think we’ve forgiven, but I’d argue that we’re much less likely to forget (which really means we haven’t forgiven at all…following me?). Yes, I may have theoretically forgiven the kids who teased me about my highly-womanly body (that’s a nice AKA for chubby), or the boys who broke my heart (many of whom had no idea they were the source of my angst), or the people who made me feel as though I wasn’t cool enough, smart enough, fabulous enough (perhaps we should do a comparison now, yes?). But let’s be honest, even following my seeming forgiveness, I’ve been holding onto those memories like a lottery winner with a death grip on their winning ticket. Too bad what I’ve been holding onto hasn’t been nearly as liberating…

But wait. Could it not be? What if all that stinking baggage could actually be a source of strength? What if situations that at one point caused angst, anxiety and anger could bring peace, strength and serenity? That’s where Big L and I landed over pizza and wine (the food of philosophers, of course). Perhaps it was time to shed ourselves of all that silliness, to truly forgive, and to melt that steel into a puddle of mush. But you can’t melt steel with your kitchen blow torch, and, likewise, you certainly can’t melt emotional steel with a box of tissues and a few tears. No, it takes something much bigger than that.

Enter my November maintenance and one of Big L’s 30 Things. Our strategy for conquering the steel wasn’t complicated, but it was intense. It involved Thai food and Sangrias (we do our best thinking over food), a stack of plain white paper, some pretty markers and two very open minds. Sounds threatening, yes? Here’s how it went down: November 10, we gathered at my homestead, and quietly wrote letters to everyone who we felt we had to forgive. We wrote about how they had hurt us, upset us or made us feel less than we are. And at the end of each letter, we forgave them. Silently, we exchanged our letters, read one anothers and nothing more was spoken of them. I knew Big L’s deep dark pain and she knew mine and the unspoken understanding between us said way more than any verbal commentary could.

Tell me you don’t think we stopped there? That’s not nearly dramatic enough. The next morning we burned those suckers to ash. That’s right. We burned every, single last one of those wrongs and shed them from our lives forever. Well, the forever part might be a bit of a stretch, but what I’ll tell you is that in burning those letters we burned our ability to indulge in distant memories and hurt. We have shed that baggage and when it creeps into our minds, we know that we have no choice but to excuse it and move on. We’ve already dealt with it…it doesn’t get any more of our time or energy.

I know, I know. All this business may feel like a bit much for some of you well-balanced readers, but I’m telling you, there’s not one of you out there that’s not carrying anger or hurt towards someone. And if you’re self-aware enough to recognize it (perhaps a wee bit backhanded?), then take this challenge on yourself. It’s less about the burning and more about forcing yourself to write it out and forgive the person or people. But don’t leave the burning out. It’s a pretty liberating experience…and perhaps the most important step in melting the negative emotional link(s) between you and the people in your life.

Let the burning begin!

The remains...

I Want You To Know…

– Contributed by Wee C

Today, a woman I deeply admire bore it all. She wrote a blog post that is as honest and exposing as a blog post (or a conversation or a story) can be. A woman, who is an overachiever, who has demonstrated nothing but success and whose appearance is always impeccable was brave enough to tell the world that things are not always as they appear. She shared stories about real, legitimate anxiety attacks. She openly wondered how this could happen to HER; how she could be the girl leaving the doctor’s office with two mental health prescriptions in hand. And she admitted to being the lost girl who so many thought was found.

I can only imagine the feeling she experienced as she guided her mouse to the “Post” button on the draft page of her blog. The anticipation of knowing that sharing this blog post would be like standing naked in Times Square during rush hour traffic. You see, for those of us who blog, writing in draft format is liberating; it’s like a journal that’s under lock and key. But pressing “Post” is like leaving your diary wide open to the deepest, darkest page in the book.

“I’ve spent the majority of my 32 years being THAT girl. The one who has to have every moment of her day jam packed, planned and neatly lined up in front of her. The girl who cried her eyes out in a McDonald’s drive-thru because the plan was to go to Wendy’s. McDonald’s wasn’t the part of the plan and so, overwhelmed with anxiety and lack of control, she sobbed the whole way through her Quarter Pounder. True story. That was me.”

So why am I paying such homage to this woman, aside from the fact that she is more remarkable to me today than she was as her pristine, flawless former self? Because today was a big day in her world. Today she took a step that many of us would never be brave enough to take, let alone be self-aware enough to articulate. And because today was a big day in her world, it’s a big day in all of ours. Today, she took the pressure off those of use who know exactly what she means when she says: “But the truth is, I’m still losing myself on a daily basis. I’m over committed and I’m striving for perfection in each and every task on my to-do list.”

Perhaps most importantly, she implicitly said something that I believe more of us need to say to one another. To anyone who reads her post, she said: I want you to know. I believe that for all of us to be able to cope with the human condition, we need to tell one another what we feel, as ugly and unflattering and dark as it may seem. We need to let others know that they are not alone. We need to share our experiences so that we can learn and grow together. We need to talk openly and honestly and not be embarrassed by feelings and situations that no one (not one single one of us) is excluded from having (knowingly or not).

So, today, here’s what I want all of you to know:

  • Anxiety, depression, or even just the blues can happen to absolutely anyone, no matter how cheery you were as a kid, regardless of how many wonderful people you have in your life, no matter how perfect your home, job and family may or may not be. And, from personal experience, simply opening your mouth (and perhaps your mind) is the most profound experience you will have on the road to recovery, even if you just say it aloud to yourself.
  • Here’s the secret about perfectionism: it’s a completely and utterly unattainable goal. You will not reach it in this lifetime. Stop trying. Someone remind me of this when I wake up tomorrow, will you?
  • And, thirty-somethings of the future, I want you to know that your life will not be more fulfilled by over-filling your plates when you are 18, nor will you achieve greater successes by being a martyr for your job than you would if you lived a life of balance, and you certainly will not have a more full life by allowing stress to lead your life rather than peace. Yes, strive for excellence in what you do. Yes, work hard to be an accomplished individual. Yes, push beyond the status quo whenever you can. But do not prostitute your own life for the sake of being an overachieving workaholic. It will catch up with you, I can guarantee it.

And so, dear readers, over to you. What do you want the world to know? Please, share your wisdom. We all need it.

The Return of Mrs. Peppy Pants

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve spent nearly all of my life believing that things happen for a reason. Yes, I was the emphatically positive, glass half full, never let ’em get you down kinda girl. Like the Chumbawamba song acted out through interpretive dance. And, boy, was I committed. My naysaying friends would get a healthy (or obnoxious, if you were a glass half empty kind of person) dose of Mrs. Peppy Pants whenever they would complain or wallow in their own pre-pubescent or adolescent pool of self-pity. I always believed that if you just had a bit of faith, life would turn out as it was intended.

You want proof points? I got plenty. In fact, I’ve got a list as long as my arm. But here’s the key to all of this. You can’t be a control freak. The minute that I finally let go, settle in, and let life take its course without me having my grubby little paws all over every detail is the minute that the birds start to chirp, the sun rises over the horizon, a gentle breeze moves in and the sky turns all purply-pinky-orangy-blue. And the orchestra kicks in. And Ryan Reynolds comes along sweeps me off my feet, takes me to the…oh, wait, what?

All through my teens, this is just who I was. And I was so comfortable in who I was (not so much how I looked…tragic!), you’d have thought I was 80. Like an 80 year-old stuck in a 16 year-old’s body. The truth of this comment should not be lost on you.

And then I hit my 20s and everything changed. The birds all became screaming crows, the sun forgot to rise one morning, the gentle breeze turned into a freaking hurricane, and the sky was an angry black. Somehow Tori Amos became my theme music and Ry thought that Alanis was way more upbeat than me. I spent nearly a decade living my life in this new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable world. And yet, somehow I became terribly comfortable here. I had accepted that this is what happens when you get older. I assumed that all my naive and youthful jubilation was forever lost and this was “just how it was going to be”. I looked around and saw people who were older than me, at nearly every juncture in life, walking around like drones, going about their business, accepting that this was “just how it was going to be”. So I settled in.

And then 30 Things came along. No, it wasn’t like the Hallelujah chorus began to immediately play, but I’ll tell you, there sure has been a crescendo working itself up in my life. When I finished 30 Things, I feared that all the joy and elation I had been experiencing would subside. But here’s the incredible thing. Suddenly, once again, I’m seeing all kinds of signs that things happen for a reason, and that when you finally let go is the same time you actually lift the flood gates and the tide of good things come rushing in.

So what does that mean for me right now? I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a clue. What I can tell you, though, is that the conversations we’ve been having (we being me and Big L) and the like-minded people that have been finding their way into my life (well, really, my Google Reader) is feeling a bit like a storm surge. But not the dark and gloomy kind of surge…more like Noah’s Ark, wiping the land clean of garbage and replacing it with something a whole lot better. Let’s just hope my rebirth doesn’t take thousands of years. I’m 30, I don’t have that long.

PS – In the past week, I’ve come across some really wonderful like-minded blogs, a couple of which I believe you folks out there in reader-land would enjoy. Two of which are new The Quarterlife Quest and Doniree) and one we already post on our site, but I love it so much that I need to remind you to check it out (Stratejoy). Happy reading!

Opening the Kimono

– Contributed by Wee C

Growing up the daughter of an RCMP officer would lead you to believe that the odds of being well-adjusted and generally stable, with a surprisingly low desire to challenge authority, would be about as possible as Paris Hilton spawning the next Einstein. Police officers’ children, ministers’ kids…we’re all known to suffer the same plight in life: throw your respective parental unit’s career choice in their face, get arrested for drinking underage at 16, get pregnant (or impregnate someone) at 17 and leave home in a torrent fit at 18. A bit of a mass overgeneralization? Hardly. Which is why I’m sure you’ll stop everything you’re doing in shock when I tell you that I didn’t do any of those things. Really. Believe it.

No, I grew up as respectful of my parents as ANYONE I know. And I don’t know one soul who would argue that point. I can’t recall a single knock ’em down, drag ’em out fight with my parents. Oh, sure, there were a couple of tiffs, but nothing monumental or memorable. I can count on three fingers the number of times I disobeyed my parents – and they likely involved staying out an hour past curfew, not calling when I said I would, or sneaking down the road to play Barbies with the older girls. Send me to Juevi, I know. I didn’t drink, party or have sex in high school (or most of university for that matter). And I did my best nearly every hour of every day to behave in a manner that my parents would find acceptable and approve of…after all, Papa O had made it clear (not oppressively, just in his eternal wisdom) that my behaviour reflected on him, so act accordingly. I loved and respected him (ok, and feared just a little bit…have you heard a Mountie voice?!), and Mama O, too darned much to tarnish their personas.

But perhaps most noteworthy is the number of secrets I haven’t kept from my parents. Mama O always told me that if I lied, she would find out. Every mother tells their kid that. But unlike every other kid, I BELIEVED MY MOTHER?! So, like a good doobie, I diligently told my mother nearly everyone of my deep dark secrets (because there were oh-so-many of them). But not begrudgingly or with disdain – although, I won’t lie, my guilt complex was often a less-than-altruistic motivator – but because I genuinely wanted to share my life with my parents. I wanted them to know when I had screwed up, because I wanted their advice about how to fix it. I wanted them to know when I had behaved outside of the lines, because I was scared to death someone else would tell them…and because being honest had always earned me a lot more privilege than lying ever did. I wanted to tell them because they’re the first people I always want to laugh at myself with, even if it is because of something they wouldn’t necessarily approve of. And because no matter what, I always knew that they would quickly forgive, nearly immediately forget, and always be proud, even in my stupidest of moments.

So it’s amazing to me that it took me nearly four months to tell them about this blog. On it, I’ve opened the kimono (figuratively and literally) on my life. I’ve shared with total and complete strangers, as well as some of my dearest friends, the most personal and exposing thoughts I’ve had. And I’ve literally transformed my life and found a passion outside of work that I didn’t know could even be found…at least not for me. And, yet, for some reason, I didn’t tell the two people that I’ve always told everything to. Not because I didn’t want to. Because that’s not true at all; I desperately wanted to tell them. But because I feared the embarrassment I would bring them. Not surprisingly, my parents are reasonably private folks; you don’t share many secrets or expose much of yourself to others when you’re in the RCMP or are a family member of someone who is…it’s a wee bit risky, really. I also feared that they would think I had become someone totally different; someone who goes to strip clubs, gambles, parties until all hours of the morning, and takes off all but their skivvies to have their picture taken. Oh, wait, what?

Here’s the wild thing about blogging. Sometimes people read your crazy foolishness. Sometimes they tell other people. And sometimes, when the world seems to be falling off its axis, people get really excited about what you’re writing and saying. Yeah, that seems to be happening with this little project that Big L and I have undertaken. So my nerves were getting a little testy as the risk of someone else telling my parents about my rendezvous with Mr. Ralph and his bevy of beauties, before I did.

So I spilled. I spilled in true Wee C form, standing in my parents’ kitchen, confessing everything I could as fast as I could get the words out of my mouth, rationalizing, explaining, and where necessary, apologizing, for every nuance of my behaviour and choices. Not that Mama O gave me any indication of being upset, but because I had made all kinds of possible responses up in my head. And, like always, none of my crazy made-up scenarios (you know, the one’s that you concoct in the mirror when you’re pretending to talk to the other person…) came true.

Instead, as Mama O has always done, she patiently asked questions in order to collect all the pieces of information. She neutrally digested. Warmly nodded. And then asked for the link. She was proud of me. That is unless I allowed someone to post my Boudoir photos publicly on the Internet. Probably wouldn’t be so proud then. She and Papa O have shared the link, told others and cheered me on. As always, they’ve fueled my fire.

Amazingly, I did 30 Things to change my life, but it wasn’t until I did the 31st that the change became real and authentic. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised…my Mama saw me with my kimono opened long before I even knew that you should be embarrassed by being that exposed.