My New Year’s Wish for All of Us

A few days ago, I was at McDonald’s and had ordered our darling grandson a Happy Meal. He was jumping around, looking at everything and everyone. And when the meal came, he was SO EXCITED about the little toy inside. He jumped up and down and gave a little “whoop”! One lady passed by us and said: “I want to be as happy as he is”! And I thought about that. This is what I want for myself and for all of us in 2017 – to be happy, joyful, excited; to notice the little everyday small blessings that occur and to be so excited and thankful for them! Life lessons from the little ones are the best lessons of all!

Now New Year’s day has come and gone, and I think a good way to start off is to set some intentions. I did this last year, and upon review, noticed writing them down helped me to assess how things were going 6 months down the line.

So, without further ado, here is my 2017 list:

  1. I want to reconnect with my faith. Anyone who has read this blog will know that a few years ago I suffered a deep hurt within my former church. I have noticed that unfortunately, this has caused me to disconnect a bit with God. And I’ve realized that what happened in the church had nothing to do with God. It was not God’s will. It was not something God permitted in order to “teach” or “refine” me. It was an unfortunate and very human event. Period. It’s time now to reconnect with the Divine. To accomplish this, I am setting the intention to read a bit of the Bible each day. Even if that means one verse. I believe this will reignite my faith. I also believe this will further contribute to my spiritual healing.
  2. I want to care even less about what other people think of me. Not that I don’t want to be social. Of course I do. And of course I want to get along with people. But, at this age, I realize that a life lived to please others is not a life fully lived. I am responsible for my choices and the consequences thereof. I want to live as I please so far as it causes no harm to anyone else. As a former “people pleaser”, I believe this intention will further contribute to my healing.
  3. I want to find a way to help others outside of a church/religious environment. Maybe I will take a turn at a food bank. Maybe I will give a gift card to a homeless person. Maybe I will sit and listen to someone who needs to be heard. I would like my heart to be open to these opportunities.
  4. I want to return to my yoga practice. I have been busy for the last couple of years helping my daughter raise my wonderful grandson. But I realize I need to build in some time for myself again. A lovely friend has signed me up for a yoga class starting this month, and I intend to carve this time out for me.
  5. I want to continue to support and love this little family. I can’t think of anything more worthy to do. As Mother Teresa said: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

I wish everyone a lovely successful and joyful new year. May all your dreams for 2017 come true! vicky-and-laurie-2

 

Lesson Learned from my Wild Child

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It has occurred to me lately that I have spent a lot of time making myself suffer over the choices of other people. It is almost like I never realized that I have no control over such things; that my control lies solely in my own choices and my responses to others.

Yet, still, I believed that one of my best qualities was being non-judgemental. Though this may have been true in how I presented myself, I now know it was never completely true in my heart.

My youngest daughter has taught me so much about this. My Wild Child. She makes a lot of choices that I would never make. And, yes, as a consequence, she does find herself in her fair share of pickles. This breaks my heart, which I suppose is natural. I am her Mom. But there is more. It also makes me incredibly angry (probably because I am so scared of the idea that any ill could befall my precious daughter). I must admit, the phrases: “What was she thinking?” and “Why does she do these things” have passed through my mind on several occasions. Lately, though, I am realizing how utterly judgmental and unkind these thoughts really are. I am starting to see that this mindset (this heart-set) is not valuing my daughter for who she is.

My Wild Child is a risk taker. She is confident to try new things. She will not be chained to a life of “should and should not”.

Yes, her father and I raised her to be strong!

My Wild Child also owns the consequences of her actions. She learns from them. She copes in her own way. She is living her own life, and relishing in every single moment of her youth.

So, who am I to say her way is wrong. Actually, my way would most likely not fit at all for her. After all, this is her life to live.

All this gets me pondering. How many times have I secretly, quietly, in my heart, judged other people. How many times have I thought “If only he or she did things this way, they wouldn’t have this issue!”

God forgive me for my judgemental heart; forgive me for my lack of love and grace!

merty

 

Relationships and The Beautiful Gift of Inquiry

I have once again found myself in the forgiveness realm. This is nothing new for me. Neither is it foreign to humanity as a whole. Either I am the one who needs to be forgiven, or I need to forgive. None of this is for the faint of heart as forgiveness carries with it a cornucopia of strong emotions. Nonetheless, I have found that healing only truly comes when forgiveness has occurred.

This is my current story.

I recently left a very difficult and hurtful friendship (I referred to it as an “entanglement” here). I tried to do it as gracefully as possible. Unfortunately, the other person did not take it well. We have known each other “forever” and I suspect she had grown very comfortable with the dynamics of our relationship. Truth is, it was very dysfunctional. In all honesty, I don’t think she likes herself very much. At any rate, it seems that she coped with her own internal dissatisfaction by projecting all the things she disliked about herself, onto me. I put up with this for far too long. Some reasons being:

I knew her since we were 11 years old, and I was so used to the style of our interactions, it took me a long time to realize how very unhealthy they were;

I truly cared for her. And I loved to “save” people. I believed that by constantly returning kindness for rudeness I would somehow eventually teach her to treat me (and others) better. This never happened. After decades, things were even worse. Which brings me to today’s writing on forgiveness (an addition to a former blog entry here).

After years of hurt, broken confidences and outright spitefull remarks, I finally had to be straight with my friend. I had to tell her the truth. I no longer felt close to her. I could not trust her. The friendship had been trampled on so much for so long, it no longer existed in my heart. I told her it was over.

And my friend reacted as I always knew she would – aggressively.

(Which is frankly another reason I stayed so long – fear)

A lot was said. Publically.

My friend quickly reacted by slamming me on facebook to all our mutual friends (and anyone else on her friends’ list). She wrote that she was now “free” of me. She described me as “toxic”. She indicated that she hoped everyone will come to realize how “toxic” I am.

I was hurt.

I was angry.

However,

I did not give her what she wanted – which was a public fight.

Instead, I turned to Byron Katie at The Work.

This was the attitude I started with:

“She should not have called ME “toxic”. SHE is the toxic one! SHE has treated me terribly for years! How dare she!”

Then I opened my mind to other possibilities, and I turned the above statement around.

“She SHOULD call me ‘toxic’ … how is this statement true?”

“How COULD that statement be true after ALL I have put up with!!!”

Well, I realized something.

I realized that I had allowed her to treat me in a shoddy way for decades (DECADES!) I began to understand that during all those years of allowing her to treat me that way, her brain has become wired to do so. I had originally believed that she would unlearn that behaviour. But, instead, it has become completely ingrained in her. It is now second nature. This is how she relates to friends. And this is not healthy. In fact, this is very unhealthy. And so it follows:

I am toxic to this person.

I have, unwittingly, encouraged in her, a very dysfunctional system of relating to others.

Understanding this has allowed me to let go of any residual anger and hurt; it has allowed me to move on from victimhood. It has freed me and forgiveness has become easy.

I wish my friend well, though from a distance.

I honestly hope she finds the peace that we all need.

friend

What I Learned from Travelling to Sturgis, South Dakota

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Fourteen days ago, my hubby, myself and nine of our friends, hopped on our motorcycles, saddlebags overflowing, and began a long 2,338 kilometre (1, 453 mile) journey from our rural homes in Ontario, to Sturgis, South Dakota. Our destination? The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

This entailed a long 3 day journey. “Why?” you may ask.

Well, by day 2 I was asking myself the same thing. But then I thought, while travelling across the prairie, there must be a reason why so many people have done this same journey for the last 75 years. There must be some lesson(s) to be learned.

And there were lessons learned.

Below are five things I learned from travelling to Sturgis (and back home again).

  1. Always prepare for the unexpected.

Driving along the interstate at 75 to 80 miles an hour provides a close-up view on how quickly weather conditions can change. Best advice ever: dress in layers and keep sunscreen and rain gear on hand. As well, never forget that clouds and an overcast sky are not forever. Keep steadily moving forward and you will see the sun break through before you know it.

2. Some days are awesome riding days. Some days are not.

And this is okay. When you encounter bumpy roads and other unpleasant conditions, remind yourself that “it is what it is”. It’s just not a good riding day. That’s all. Tomorrow, most likely, will be better.

3. We all get by with a little help from our friends – even when they start to irk us.

There is no doubt, travelling down the road as a pack in staggered formation, is way safer than travelling alone. Cars see and respect your space much more than when you are alone. As well, the extra eyes can spot possible dangers on the road much more efficiently.

Of course, there will always be that friend (or friends) who begin to annoy you. Perhaps one friend starts cutting in further up the line, so everyone needs to regroup. Perhaps another friend is slightly out of pace with the others, leaving too much or too little space between bikes. Set boundaries, keep open communication, and above all, maintain a sense of humour. In the final analysis, each one needs the others. So concentrate more on being kind than on who is in the right or wrong.

4. Trust your riding partner completely

When double riding, the passenger on the back must have complete faith in the driver. When the driver leans in to execute a turn or bend in the road, the passenger must lean in as well. If the passenger panics and leans the other way, the bike could easily be dropped. Bottom line is, partners must have faith in each other and move together in order to make the relationship work.

5. In the end, no matter how many come along side you, your journey is your own. It is individual to you. Be sure to embrace and love it.

The people you are journeying with will all have their own bikes and gear. Each will have their own individual style. Do not waste time comparing yourself to the others. They are on their own journey, and you are on yours. Enjoy the ride. Love where you sit in the pack. Have fun. Smile and laugh. This moment is for now to enjoy, and will be gone tomorrow.

As I mentioned before, it took three days to travel those kilometres/miles to Sturgis. When we arrived, we were treated to a wonderful time; great sights, scenic roads and amazing friendly people. There is only one first time in Sturgis – and we enjoyed every minute of it!

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My Magical Garden – A Sequel

Last May I wrote about a very special garden in the front of our home. This garden had a mind of it’s own, and would not yield to any of my attempts at planting flowers. Eventually, I gave up and simply plopped a strawberry plant container on it to conceal the empty space. Surprisingly, at the end of the summer, the strawberry plants grew over the container, and somehow planted themselves into the soil of this magical garden. A few years later, another surprise flower emerged. If you are interested, you can read the rest here.

This fall has brought another surprise for our family – this time in our backyard, near the lavender and herb garden. A beautiful deep pink carnation has somehow joined us growing in between the stones of our walk-out patio. What is so amazing is that there are no carnations in any of our gardens.

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I am so grateful for this small miracle.

The blessings of nature abound when our eyes are open to see them;

when our hearts are open to receive them.

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Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. – C. S. Lewis