That which we call a Rose

There has been a lot of excitement around the Flexibly Blessed household! BabyOnesieBlack

Our daughter has blessed us with a new little grandson, born on Good Friday (after 2 days labour!) Mom and baby are doing very well. And we are all thrilled!
Last September  daughter J announced she was pregnant. Okay, I guessed and caught her off guard, and the look on her face was … well … an announcement! Anyway, from the time she shared the news, one of the overriding questions was, “what will you name the baby?” She was very good at keeping this a secret as she and her Partner B wanted it to be a surprise revealed only after the baby was born. Okay, I did manage to get the news a couple months early (apparently that’s what I do!), but kept my vow of silence. The new parents believe picking the name is a sacred thing, not to be taken lightly. In fact, the new little one’s name has a very distinct meaning. 

This last week, I have been thinking seriously about names and their meanings.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (William Shakespeare)

Names! From the moment we are born we are given one. And as we grow, we get additional ones. Daughter J became “Mommy” when Baby J was born 6 years ago. And before that, she was “Daughter”. Oh, and I became “Nanny”, and hubby “Papa”. Year after year, we gain more names – student, graduate, doctor, crossing guard, hair stylist, etc. These revolve around what we do. We also derive names from relationships with others, like the ones mentioned earlier, as well as ones like friend, neighbour, husband and wife. These are the good names. These are ones we can be proud of, and that lift us up.

But there are other kinds of names too though, aren’t there? Ones less edifying. Sad names. Sometimes these are called “labels” as they are often linked with how we have been perceived. Maybe it was something we did, whether purposeful or accidental. Often these names come from misunderstandings that grow and fester. They can be hard to shake. Sometimes we give these names to ourselves. I know I have. Maybe we are embarrassed about something we did, or disappointed in our choices. Unfortunately, these names keep us stuck in the past. We are locked and chained in a tiny box. Personal growth becomes stymied with this thinking. I have realized that if I want to grow and be healthy, I have to leave these types of names behind (which is why I have not offered any examples). I have to turn my eyes off of other people’s opinions and judgments (even my own!). I need to turn my focus on to God.  This is what I have been doing. For myself. And for others too.

So, if you need a reminder (like I often do!) these are some of the names our Wonderful Creator gives us:

He calls us Friend (John 15:15) and Chosen (1 Thes. 1:4).

Ephesians 2:10 calls us God’s handiwork, created to do good works which were prepared in advance. I’ll take that one!

My Grandma used to remind me regularly that I am God’s temple, a residence of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19)

Other names are: His messenger (Matt 28:16-20), His Child  (Galations 3:26), and Brand New (2 Cor 5:17)

Here’s two of my favourites: Greatly Loved (Romans 5:8) and Free, Free Indeed (John 8:36).

With Him I am Glad (Psalm 92:4) and the Singer of a new song (Psalm 40:3-5).

He even transforms my ashes and makes them into beauty (Isaiah 61:3)

And may I suggest Isaiah 62:1-5!

This list is not exhaustive. Our Beautiful Creator calls us many more names all of which lift us up and help us to reach new levels becoming who we were born to be. They free us to become our true selves!

My daughter J and Partner B took great care and pleasure to name new Baby O.

God does the same for all of us.

Now this, is a very good thing.

Decluttering Your Life With Love

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These last few years seem to be a process of decluttering for me. Lately, this has extended to my social life. I have always been one to believe that being positive, respectful and kind to others will result in them extending the same to me.  But then I hit my fifties and I realized that this is not always the case; that there are some social connections which are just not healthy. And I have been disconnecting from them. I no longer attend functions that I am not interested in or excited about. I finally feel free to simply say no. Over time,  this backing away has created distance with certain acquaintances which is fine with me. In truth, I never really clicked with them in the first place. I just thought “nice” girls were … well … always nice. But “nice” can be over rated when your own emotional health is sacrificed.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in being kind and loving. This is not about “hating on” people, or jealously or judgment or anything else along those lines. Sometimes it’s just a matter of chemistry. Sometimes certain people just don’t mix well together. Maybe it’s because we are all broken in one way or another. And, perhaps, certain variations of “brokenness” are not compatible with others. In fact, I would say, some combinations are toxic. Now let me be clear: People are not toxic. But some relationships are. And the best thing one can do is to excuse themselves from the whole narrative, then go and focus on more positive connections.

Look, at fifty something, for the first time in my life, I really think about Time. I want to spend the rest of my time doing positive things with positive connections. I still care about people. I still want to help others. It’s just that some people are best loved from a distance.

I have warned my daughters about the type of people who are highly competitive. These are the ones who are only satisfied when they feel they have outdone others. Heaven help you if they set their sights on you. They will absolutely, heart-breakingly put you  down to their own satisfaction. Your words will be twisted, facts will be slightly altered, comments will be hurtful and “jokes” will be anything but funny. These are the type who encourage a mind-set of their superiority and your inferiority. And if you stand up to them?  Forbid that you actually treat them as they treat you! They will tantrum and attempt to cause all sorts of drama. How sad for them that the only way they feel good about themselves is by putting the rest of us down. Interestingly, in the end, these people are actually a slave to others. Because without feeling superior to every one else, they have no self esteem at all. They need prayer. From afar. Very far.

In reality, there is no place for competition among people. We all have our own individual backgrounds, talents, gifts, phobias, etc. So, the priorities and challenges of each life are individual. For example, I had a traumatic first few years of life. This is nobody’s fault or failure. This was just some tricky circumstances for a little girl to maneuver. I remember being an anxious child. I also remember being well loved by my Grandparents, especially my Grandmother. However, it took me to 16 years of age before I finally started smiling and laughing. I know this because some close adults at the time mentioned the change in me and made positive comments. Well, since this time, as an adult, smiles and laughter have defined my life. “You have a beautiful smile” and “I love your laugh” are the two most popular compliments I have received. Now, this – smiles and laughter – are a great success for me, given my early years. I would say, for my Grandma, this would be considered a little “miracle”. But to others, hey, it’s just some smiles and some laughter. Easy peasey. This highlights my point that there is no valid competition against others. We each have our own struggles and success for me is not necessarily success for you. And vice versa – you may have struggles that I just breeze through without thought. This is why relationships work best when people encourage and help each other reach their own personal potential. With no judgment. With no comparison. With no winner/loser mentality. But with love.

I have let go of relationships that are unhealthy like I have let go of foods and habits that are unhealthy. This is not necessarily an emotional thing. It doesn’t even have to be a “labeling” thing. I compare it to my daughter who can’t eat bread because she is allergic to the gluten in wheat. In reality wheat is not toxic; gluten is not toxic; bread is not toxic. But to my daughter who is celiac, these items are toxic. Now, my daughter does not crush the bread, or stamp on it, hurl it in the garbage or scream at others who enjoy bread. She just recognizes that bread is toxic for her. And she lets others choose for themselves.

So it is with some relationships and some people.

Love without limits.

But set boundaries that show your love extends to you too.

 

Hello, My Friends

It’s been a long time since I have written – since May, I believe. We have a lot to catch up on! I hope the spring and summer months brought many moments of joy and happiness to you and that those moments have turned into treasured memories now!

Hubby and I had a summer to remember as well, although ours was bittersweet. We spent our moments taking care of his Mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last fall. The disease progressed quickly, and by late spring, she needed someone with her every moment. She moved in with us while hubby searched for a nice senior’s residence for her that included memory care. One was found, and she has been there for just over a week. The months spent caring for my Mother in Law were precious, though overwhelming. I would compare it to the first few months of caring for one’s first baby – exhausting, life changing, and definitely a sacrifice made only out of love. I ended up referring to her as “my little girl”, as she reminded me very much of a toddler who is very sweet but also needs constant coddling and attention. I feel for families dealing with a loved one diagnosed with this disease which alters the life of not just the patient, but the surrounding loved ones.

I learned a few things during this journey that I would like to share with you.

  1. You never know how much time you have left to do the things you are dreaming of, so do not put these things off! What comes to mind for me is my plan to take writing more seriously. When I am retired. In 10 years. But, what if I can’t? What if, within those 10 years, something unexpected happens that renders me unable to write? I’m thinking that if we have a dream, we should live it to the best of our ability. Right Now! The future is not promised.
  2. It really is true! Joy IS found in the small things that occur naturally each day. I will never ever take these little things for granted again. One example is how much the hubby and I love to share a series on Netflix together. We find one that interests us and spend evenings watching 1 or 2 episodes together. I never realized how important this little ritual was until Mother in Law moved in and (I say this with love) took over the television. Other little things include: spontaneously going for dinner and movie together, having friends over, going on motorcycle rides … There are so many little things that we missed this summer and I have realized how important they actually are. I mean, it would be great to do something really big like travel around Europe together! But, in the end, it’s the small routines that serve to bond us together and ground us.
  3. It’s not selfish to put yourself first sometimes and, in fact, self care is necessary. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty bucket! Again, I’m saying this with love, but the Mother in Law required a lot of care and attention. This summer there was a point where hubby and I ended up absolutely exhausted! I had to step back and say “no” to a few things in order to tend to my own needs. And I have emerged from this with even more respect for my own self care. I am an introvert that needs time alone. I replenish my spirit when I spend time laughing and goofing around with some close female friends. I require quiet times to read and ponder. I am out of sorts without my daily brisk walk and yoga routine. My body is nurtured through simple whole foods prepared at home. The life changing thing that I have realized is that if I don’t set time aside to put myself first and tend to my own needs, then I will get lost in all the other pressing needs of the world. I will disappear. I have a friend with a schedule so busy he has to use a daily planner. He told me years ago that he pens in the times reserved for himself each day. In his own words: If I don’t schedule time for me, then nobody will.

There is so much more I have in mind to share with you. But I will leave these for future blog entries. After all, I have made a commitment to myself to stop by here more frequently!

The door

There is No Pity Party Here

Yesterday evening I received a message from a well-meaning friend. She went on quite a bit about the latest antics of my Wild Child (my youngest who I blogged about Here.)

How I must be “suffering”, my friend lamented, at the “odd” behaviour of my free spirited hippie baby girl. How “horrible” for her to not attend the latest family event. Then the whole diatribe was summed up with the not so subtle accusatory statement on my “silence” regarding this episode, which I suppose was odd as well. Why ever would I have not yet contacted her to discuss all the sordid details of my latest apparently very public and extremely strange family drama!

My reply to her was short. We are doing fine as a family. We are no more nor less disfunctional than any other family out there, truth be told. In fact, I believe we put the proverbial “fun” in disfunctional!

And now I am taking to blogging over this, because I know in my heart this issue is simply an advanced form of the same old “Mommy bashing “ I and others experienced with our toddler and preschooler delights tantruming in grocery stores, at schools, and appearing in line-ups everywhere, to a rapt audience of “perfect “ on-lookers who have never seen the likes of such a scene. (Ya, right! You know you are secretly thanking god it’s not you this time and, in fact, you know it probably WILL be you next time!) But I digress. My point is as follows.

First of all, no one member of this family holds the key to control the ENTIRE emotional temperature of the rest of us. Yes, we care about and love each other. But we are healthy enough to know we are each separate individuals and we don’t judge ourself on the other member’s behaviour. We accept our differences. We may not like and support the other person’s actions, so we are quite willing to hand over the consequences of unacceptable behaviour to the person at fault. Hey, maybe we even need to distance ourselves for a while. But make no mistake, when the chips are down, each member returns to their roots. My hubby and I just received a call from said wild child alerting us to the fact that her sister needed us and was trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with us. And then she gave us a curt “good bye” hanging up promptly. Perfect, we are not, but family we will always be.

Secondly, to my concerned friend (and anyone else who feels beyond reproach enough to offer an opinion), please give me the courtesy and space to figure out and experience my OWN feelings. Maybe I am reserving judgment on my Wild Child because I want to wait and see how things progress over time. As my beloved late Father in Law used to say, “You don’t know if something is a good thing, or a bad thing. In the end, only time will tell”.

And, you know what else? This instance of a family member missing an event is only ONE THING in a plethora of happenings occurring in our life. Many events are actually very wonderful. For instance, my eldest daughter is marrying this May and she just achieved her Masters in Education. Not to mention the fact she has held a full time job for the last 8 years. I would describe this as a successful launch into adulthood! Something to rejoice and be happy about! Let me also mention, that at this up-coming wedding, I have my own very special friends and former bridesmaids in attendance! How blessed am I to have kept connections throughout a lifetime with these wonderful women! Oh, and this July? My hubby and I celebrate 30 years of marriage – for better and for worse, we honoured that, all of that, and we are still together. Something to be proud of, I would say.

I could go on and on about happy blessings, but I won’t. At the end of the day, my life is as beautiful as it is difficult. And may I suggest, if we were all honest, this is true of everyone. So let us all suspend judgement on each other’s families and the situations that arise within them, and instead let’s just replace all this with grace. Let’s call each other, of course. But let us simply say hello and ask how the other is doing.

Let us give each person the grace and space to narrate their own story.

847

 

I Have Retired!!!!

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But before anyone brings out a cake, I must clarify – I have not retired from my work. At 55 I feel I am at the top of my game and still have a lot to contribute. Plus, I love getting up each morning and heading off to work – the people, the satisfaction … the paycheque!!!  No, it`s not that type of a retirement. However, at this age, I have finally retired from some things that have been dogging me for years. They are as follows:

I have retired from Meaningless Drama and the People that Cause it

Lets face it, some people are only happy when they are centre stage. And to ensure this position, they are more than willing to create many incarnations of the same old sh*t storm and pull you right into the middle of it! (Be honest. I know you know such people!) I have put in my notice to them and all their nonsensical drama. I wish them well, and am continuing on my own journey of peace and sensibility. There is no room or time left in my life for irrelevant issues. No, I will not be laying awake tonight, crying into my very comfortable pillow over them and their self-created soul-sucking cyclones. At this age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get!

I have retired from spending time and energy in places and with people I would rather not interact with

It`s nothing personal, but you are either my people or you are not. Period. I  no longer feel the need to justify why I don`t enjoy certain company. I just don`t.  It is what it is. And I will no longer, out of politeness or a misplaced sense of duty, be accepting invitations that I really do not want to be a part of. It`s a waste of my time as well as the other person`s time. And it`s phoney. I`m well aware that I most likely have less years left than years I have lived. I want to spend this time with the people I enjoy, doing activities that bring me joy. It`s as simple as that.

I have retired from worrying about all the What If`s

It seems to me that I have wasted too much precious time worrying about the future (what if I lose my job! or my house! or my relationship! or all three!!!), worrying about how I am presenting myself (what if people don`t like me!) worrying about how well I am doing (What if I`m not the best mom, wife, employee, friend)  etc, etc, etc ad nauseam! Truth be told, I have majored in the art of worrying my whole life. Like, I have a doctorate in it! (Flexibly Worrying, PhD!) I am ready to leave this tendency in the dust. It occurs to me that throughout my life, most of what I have worried about NEVER HAPPENED! And the times that difficult things happened were situations that I NEVER ANTICIPATED! They blind-sided me! And, to be clear, I hold a 100 percent survival rate over each and every one of these disastors! Those are some amazing odds! So, to Life, I say: Bring it! I`ve got this!

And finally,

I have retired from being hurt over unfair and hurtful treatment from other people

At the end of the day, not one of us is perfect; not me, not you, not any one of us humans. So, I am quite content to boomerang any hurtful behaviour right back to the source of it. Not one ounce of my self esteem depends on anyone else`s opinion of me, or their treatment of me. I know enough now to not take personal the behaviour of other people. I am responsible for me; you be responsible for you. You do you. I`ll do me. And that`s the end of it.

Truth be told, I did not enter my 50`s on a happy note. I was so down about aging, wrinkles and grey hair. But, as I am half way through this decade (unbelievably, time goes so fast!) I am loving and embracing it. I have worked hard, built an adult life, and learned so much. I know how much I can survive and I know how strong I am. I would not trade my life now for any other decade. Freedom 55! I am loving it!

Laurie

Breathe Past it

Once upon a time in yoga class, we were laying in savasana and the instructor guided us to breathe into each part of our body. She advised that, should we have an injury, no matter how old, to breathe past it. Breathe past it to a time before the injury, when there was no pain.

Today I paid a visit to my home of nearly 30 years ago – the place where I came of age. I walked the surrounding familiar streets, stood outside my former apartment building, and sat in the green space behind it. And I breathed. I breathed past it all. Past 29 years.

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I breathed past disappointments in myself and others;

I breathed past “what ifs”;

I breathed past struggles, hurt, anger and all the other baggage-injuries that 29 years can hold.

I sat as I did as a 20 year old. Full of youthful confidence, strength and hope for the future.

I was just quietly myself.

How lovely. I found the essence of me.

Such peace.

Such healing.

I decided right then and there –  I am taking this me back as I leave.

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