Decluttering Your Life With Love

cottage

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.

 

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

 

Lesson Learned from my Wild Child

jen

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

 

Garden Blessings Abound

There has been a lot of rain this last week or so.

Warm temps and rain.

Perfect for puddle-splashing with my grand-son.

Perfect to fall asleep to with the bedroom window ever so slightly open.

Perfect for lazing away a Sunday afternoon, with warm tea and juicy book in hand.

rain

And perfect to induce the glorious eruption of  blossoms and foliage in our gardens.

How I love this time of year and watching the gardens bloom.

Would you allow me to take you for a virtual tour of our gardens?

IMG_2387[1]First stop is my Magical Garden. I blogged about it here. It was the garden that refused to grow until I left it to it’s own devices. The strawberries are almost ripened enough for picking! I love this garden that nurtures my body and spirit.

I love how it reminds me of the joy and surprise of unexpected blessings.

IMG_2419[1]Next stop is our Heritage Garden, so named as we inherited it from the previous owners upon our move 14 years ago. Yesterday I was greeted with the beautiful sight and sweet smell of freshly-bloomed pink peonies. How lovely to come home to!

IMG_2392[1]

This Heritage Garden also boasts of a flowering shrub, rose bushes and wild daisies.

It reminds me to be thankful for all the unmerited blessings I have received.

Next up is the garden along the side of our house, underneath our bedroom windows.

IMG_2388[1]This garden is filled with gifts from friends. Little green shrubs had taken over a friend’s garden. She decided to share the wealth, dug one up, and gave it to me. I divided it and, years later, the transplant has proven to be successful. Around the same time, I mentioned to a co-worker how very much I loved tiger lilies. She responded by bringing me two from her own garden. These two plants proved to be fertile and multiplied greatly!

When I look at this garden, I give thanks for the blessing of friendship. The shrub-bequeathing friend is still in my life. And, though I no longer work with the tiger-lily giver, the return each year of the plants remind me of a wonderful time of life that we shared at our former workplace.

IMG_2426[1]I am especially happy with our next garden stop. This is our little front entrance garden that I filled with lavender last year. To my amazement, these plants not only survived a very cold winter, but they have blossomed out beyond what they did last year. Just a little water and love is all that was required. I wanted to plant lavender by our front entrance to provide a soothing scent to greet friends and family when they visit.

This garden reminds me of the blessing of hospitality. And how wonderful it is to have people join us in our home.

The final stop is our sweet Gazebo Garden. I am very pleased with it’s progress this year.

IMG_2412[1]This garden has so much meaning for me. I dug it out to surround the outdoor oasis my hubby built for us to provide a place of peace during a particularly painful time we went through a few years ago. This garden is where my love lies. It reminds me of the blessing of having a life partner to share experiences with – be they good, bad or neutral times, I know we have each other.

This garden reminds me of how, with faith in each other, we can bring beauty from sorrow, hope from despair.

This has brought so much peace.

And these gardens have brought so much joy!

.