Tag Archives: Wee C

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 I adored the simplicity of chronicling the day’s activities and the historical reference it provided.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

Killer Moves

– Contributed by Wee C

Dancing Queen

Photo source: The Body Odd on msnbc.com (http://tinyurl.com/4qtzlvj)

It was an epic moment in television history…when Elaine Benes showed off her killer dance moves and wowed the world with her unforgettable style and grace. I’m always so flattered when people tell me I dance just like her. I mean, she’s a total star and no one ever forgets how she danced. Sigh, I’m the luckiest girl on earth.

I don’t know how I do it. I’ve been able to move like that for as long as I can remember. High school dances, proms, gala events, house parties. I’ve always managed to get people talking when I get up to dance. Pointing and whispering. In amazement, of course. In fact, there’s a reason we didn’t have a dance at our wedding…I would have put the other guests to shame. Brought them to tears, even. Sobbing, turn-your-head-away-because-you-blind-me-with-your-brilliance, tears. I think you’d call it a gift, my ability to move people with my dancing, but I’m much too modest for that.

So, when Paula Abdul got up on stage to teach us new choreography at Bust a Move I knew that I would be able to rock out with her, the Laker Girl, and the So You Think You Can Dance finalist she had brought with her. Straight up, I’d forever be their girl.

Tragically, though, I had been placed at the back of the event room. Hidden from view. Only to be seen by the poor wallflowers at the back who just couldn’t get it together enough to keep up and follow along. How awful it must have been for them to watch me in horror…the horror of knowing that they could never move like me. Longing for my coordination, my fluidity, my swagger. My moves are so unique, they could never duplicate them.

Oh, jealousy is a cruel emotion. I could feel them whispering amongst themselves behind me. It’s so hard being that girl, but there’s one in every crowd and you can’t apologize for being remarkable. That’s denying your gift and that’s all kinds of wrong.

So I continued on, making my arm movements all the bigger, throwing my hips more dramatically, and doing everything I could to prevent myself from adding in my signature move…the snapping of the fingers. That would have sent them over the edge, I’m quite sure of it.

Admittedly, there came a point, where I just had to stop. It broke my heart to give up my chance for Paula to see me, call me out of the crowd and up onto the stage, but I was filled with sorrow for the girls on the wall. I knew that if I didn’t stop, they would melt into a puddle of self-doubt and despair. And I’m far too kind to allow that to happen. So, selflessly, I abandoned my one shot to make it big and I joined them on the wall. I could immediately see a deep, deep sense of relief come over their faces. It bordered on jubilation. I knew I had done the right thing.

It’s so hard keeping a talent like this bottled up. But my friends and loved ones have always encouraged me to remain modest and to use extreme moderation in showing off my mad skills. It’s sweet how protective they are over me, really. So I heed their advice and choose my venues wisely. Wedding receptions, though? That’s my beat. Thank goodness I have one coming up soon. That crowd? They won’t know what hit them. At least not until they see my flailing arms propelling me across the room. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

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.

With much love, Me.

– Contributed by Wee C

The Reverb 10 prompt from December 21 struck a cord with me: write a letter to your future self – you, five years from now. What advice would you give yourself in the next year to get yourself there?

Dear Wee C – you’ve always been quick to point out that much can change if you just give yourself the time you need. And boy, were you right. Five years ago, you were sitting on your sofa over the Christmas holidays feeling a little (Ok, a lot) lost, wondering what the next year would bring. You were filled with uncertainty about all areas of your life. You were feeling exposed and vulnerable, but at the same time, confident that something remarkable was on the horizon. And in the midst of all these feelings, you just kept telling yourself to be patient, to hold on, to live with expectancy, and above all, to have faith, ’cause life was about to get really interesting. You didn’t know how true that was.

Your 2010 was about reclaiming yourself. Actually, it was about getting reacquainted, learning what brought you joy and sorrow, what you were willing to give on and what you would absolutely hold your ground on. It was about learning to walk down uncertain, often dark and scary paths, in order to find the clearing on the other side. In fact, the early part of 2011 will be much the same. You should be prepared for this. But be joyful in this journey. Embrace all the tears, fears and victories, as each one has something truly remarkable to teach you. Pay attention. Write your feelings and observations down. Listen to your heart, and most importantly, your soul. Don’t waffle. Be true to the foundation you’ve built in the past year, it will serve you well in the years ahead.

You may have felt that 2010 was your most significant year to date, but I can guarantee you that 2011 will be defining. It will mark a turning point in your life. Oh, I know how you hate change, how it can make you feel as though you have lost control and everything you know is being challenged. But you must give yourself over to change. You must decide every single day, every single moment to be awake and aware, fully conscious that an evolution is occurring and that not a moment will go by that is not part of the grand plan to get you to the next destination.

Knowing you, you want to know what that destination is. What will it look like? Who will be there? Will I like it? Will I be happy? I can’t answer those questions for you. But what I can tell you is that your life, five years from now, will be more remarkable than your wildest dreams can imagine. Over the next five years, you will learn to embrace your potential. You will stop fearing your greatness and you will become it. You will stop apologizing for your very existence and you will fall in love with yourself – truly in love. You will be surrounded by friends, family and relationships that are steeped in love and joyful interactions. Joyful, Wee C, joyful. Your professional reach will be far beyond your city or your country. You will impact people around the globe. You will be constantly innovating and creating, bringing others solutions that improve their lives and yield the clarity they have been seeking.

But, more than anything, you will be peaceful. All the turmoil and angst you have allowed yourself to feel – for as long as you can remember – will be replaced by a calm bliss. You will embrace the time you spent feeling anxious, stressed and overstretched, as it will have taught you how to find peace. You will acknowledge that life is simply a series of days, strung together by your attitude and outlook on life, with each leg of the journey contributing a different coloured thread.

Wee C, I cannot stress to you enough how amazed you will be in five years time. Each year between now and then will bring you to new and greater heights. You simply need to allow it to happen. Stop meddling, controlling, and fussing and start by embracing the wonder of every single thing life has to offer. Start by hugging your husband and being grateful for his love. Start by cleaning a closet and feeling the triumph that comes from clearing out the crap and clutter. Start by curling up with a cup of tea and a smile, nothing more. Simply, start.

I can’t wait for you to catch up and join me here in the future, for you to look back on this time in your life and recognize just how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished. Buckle up, babes, this ride is about to get interesting.

With much love (more than you can possibly understand today),

Your 35-year-old self, xo

Thanks to Jenny Blake for a prompt that yielded a particularly introspective, and fulfilling post. With much appreciation.

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.

Unshackling Myself – Reverb 10

– Contributed by Wee C

Not long ago, Big L forwarded me an article from Psychology Today called Shackles or soul-stirring? Decide before you commit. She’s good like that – she always finds all the gems! The article is well worth the read, but the basic premise is that some things take your time and make you feel like you’re in shackles, while other things stir your soul. Choose the things that stir your soul and abandon (or don’t say yes to) those that don’t.

I love this philosophy and have started employing it in a number of areas of my life, included with Reverb 10. The night I “committed” to do Reverb 10, I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to feel obligated to write every day. Heck, I spend my days writing – writing strategies, emails, and other assorted documents. Did I really want to come home every night and write? But I loved the idea of being challenged by a question, posed by someone else, that I needed to write to. I loved the opportunity for creativity that Reverb 10 brought. And I loved that I was joining a community of writers, all taking their unique approach to the daily prompt.

So, I signed the agreement. Yes, for those of you not doing Reverb 10, you sign an agreement to write about the daily prompt every day. Theoretically, Tweets count, but c’mon, taking the easy way out wasn’t what I was signing up for. I wanted to write….or so I thought. But clearly, I have not IN ANY WAY been writing on a daily basis. Life has happened, as it always does. And suddenly, what was supposed to be soul-stirring has felt a little too much like shackles. Why? Because I made a commitment, and not fulfilling a commitment immediately results in those shackles being locked up and the key thrown away.

And, here’s what happens when the shackles are on: I become paralyzed and incapacitated. I want to do what it takes to get those dang handcuffs off, but I just can’t do it. And the longer I wait, the worse it gets. Like when you haven’t spoken with an old friend for years, but know you need to call. Every day that passes makes it more difficult to pick up the phone and call. Until eventually, you just give up, numbed by time and shame.

I was beginning to feel an awful lot like this with Reverb 10. Every day, the need to write has lingered at the back of my mind, and every day I’ve struggled to get to it. And every day, I’ve beat myself up over it. Just trying to get my daily dose of guilt, you see.

But, tonight, I’m done. No, I’m not done with Reverb 10. I’m simply done feeling badly that I’m not writing about every prompt. Because, after all, wasn’t I doing this for enjoyment? Wasn’t I doing this for self-fulfillment? Wasn’t I doing this to STIR THE SOUL? And not to end up in SHACKLES?

So, I’m going to pick and choose, writing about what I want, when I can and enjoying the fulfillment that comes from that. Rather than trying to cram the answers to four questions into 1,000 words. Ahem.

And, so, tonight, I will answer December 11th’s prompt: What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? Ok, there’s more to the question – like how will you eliminate those things, but I only want to answer the first part of the question. What? It’s my blog post and I’ll do what I want to. So, here goes:

1. Shackles – hahahaha! But it’s true, in 2011, I’m trying to keep those shackles off altogether.

2. Self-doubt – I’ve been second-guessing myself since my grade 1 math tests. 2011 will be all about trusting myself.

3. Lack of faith – I have always believed that life turns out the way it is supposed to, if you just have a little faith. But sometimes that faith is stronger than others. Here’s to 365 days of deliberately choosing faith.

4. Eating for comfort – my fellow cheese lover and all-around delight, Mr. Ben Boudreau told me that cheese is addictive because it contains morphine. Read it here and believe it! Explains why I exhibit addictive behaviours with it. 2011 NEEDS to be about finding another source of comfort. One might think exercise or something would be a good idea.

5. Request for Proposals (RFPs) – I want nothing to do with RFPs in 2011. Nothing.

6. Holding it – I’ve recently realized that when I’m up against a deadline, I’ll avoid going to the washroom for hours. No. HOURS. Dying, squirming in my chair, I’ll push through to get the work done before I go to the washroom. I feel this could be unhealthy over time, so I ought to stop this.

7. Wasting fresh food – I hate to admit to this one, but I love buying fresh fruits and veggies. They’re so shiny and colourful. They’re firm and juicy. They’re…perfect. But when they become less-than-perfect, I don’t want ’em. Funny, sounds a bit like fruit imitating life. Or something like that. So, I’m done with the waste. I’m going to buy what I need and leave the rest of the pretty little peppers at the store for someone else.

8. Multiple lists – I keep the good folks at 3M and Post-It in business. Lists on my desk, lists in my notebook, lists on my fridge, lists tucked away in stacks of papers. In 2011, I only ever want two lists on the go: things to do and things I’ve accomplished…because sometimes those two things are dramatically different.

9. Lack of routine – no day in my life is the same. I dig that, but trying to learn how to execute the day, every day, is a smidge inefficient. I’d like a few, small routines (like going to the gym…sigh) to ensure I accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

10. My muddy yard – with two little dogs, I need grass. Stat. I need my sanity and my clean floors back. And the two are directly related to one other.

11. Control – if I could shed anything in 2011, it would be my need for control. And I’d replace it with love, respect and desire for vulnerability.

I’ve gotta tell you – this post felt cathartic. Maybe I’m already accomplishing number one on my list just fine.

Scrambling to catch up to the pack…Reverb 10

This writing every day business is hard, folks. And clearly, I’m having a bit of trouble keeping up with my commitment. So, let’s play a bit of catch up, shall we? I now have FOUR Reverb 10 prompts that I need to cover off. Let’s see if I can write all four in 1,000 words or less. Put the invisible fork away. There will be no eye stabby motion on my blog.

December 6: What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last significant thing I made was brunch. For 20 fabulous gals. Complete with sticky buns (think butter and brown sugar melted together, peppered with pecans), smoked salmon frittata (kicked up with a little goat’s cheese and fresh dill), yummy garlic and herb potatoes, and the best? Eggs baked with mushrooms, inside of a HAM CUP. Please, paint the picture in your mind. I’ll wait. I bet you wanna use that fork for eating now, don’t you? Oh, and there was a little Bellini on the side. That’s right. It was pretty fabulous. And, yes, if I thought I could make a living as a caterer, I would. But with the kind of ingredients I use, I’d lose money on every gig. So, I just delight in the joy of feeding others. Oh, alright, and I delight in the joy of feeding myself.

December 7: Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

When I started 30 Things, I was amazed at the response I got from people cheering me on, encouraging me and really buying into the idea. Over the course of my “things”, I collected a community. People who would help me accomplish an item and help me add it to my list, people who actively began reading the blog, and people who began sharing their innermost thoughts with me because they thought I had something figured out that they didn’t. Over time, more and more like-minded people who wanted to do more with their lives, challenge the status quo, and refused to accept that this is as good as life gets, started to huddle around me. I didn’t notice it was happening because it was subtle but when I finally stopped and looked around, I realized that it was profound. I was having the same conversations about wanting “more” with people I had known for 20 years and people I had known for 20 minutes. My community was fragmented, but we have a strength in vision – to do more with our lives and to live authentically. That is our single rallying cry.

In the next year, I want to unite this community, to light a fire under it and call it to action through a 30 Things online community I want my community to try 30 Things and experience the incredible impact it has on life for themselves. And then I want them to talk the heck out of it – talk to one another, to loved ones, to themselves. It doesn’t matter. I just want these likeminded individuals to gain strength from one another, just as I gained strength from each one of them. Just a small wish for 2011. You know.
December 8: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I like to think that I see things that others don’t when it comes to relationships, human behaviour and human interactions; that I’m intuitive, sensitive and thoughtful about how and why people do the things they do. And because of that, I’m able to offer insights into life that others can’t see. But, more importantly, it allows me to make connections with people and to help them navigate their own lives in a simpler, more clarified manner. Kind of like a beacon or a lighthouse or some other iconic image of stability and wisdom. Hmmm…somehow this question yielded a very interview-like response. Truthful, but a bit stiff.

December 9: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Kicking off 2010 with a little murder mystery.

Boy am I ever glad this prompt is at the end of 2010 and not 2009. In the past year, I’ve learned to party. Not foolish, off my rocker, have my stomach pumped at the hospital kind of party, but the relax, let your guard down, and take the know out of your face, kind of party. In fact, I began the year with a party. It was a murder mystery party, set in the ’20s. I was Molly Moll, Notorious Nick the Gansta’s girl, and I was dressed to the nines – red nail polish, feather in the hair, bedazzled headband, quasi-Flapper dress, a honkin fake diamond ring, and of course, a cigarette holder.

As usual, I ate my face off, danced like Elaine on Seinfeld (and, no, this is not an impersonation, my dancing is just downright disturbing), and shared in a celebratory bevy or two. Maybe in 2011, I’ll learn how to be the life of the party…

4 Reverb 10 updates, 877 words. Keep your fork for eating my eggs in a ham cup. You’ll love ’em.