I Have Retired!!!!

cake

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

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

Yes, I Have Changed …

change

Queen Street West, Toronto

I simply could not continue to survive in this world the way I was.

I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did.

Yes, folks, there is such a thing as being too kind, too giving, too compassionate, too forgiving and too loving.

It becomes too much when it is done without regard for oneself; when serving others is prioritized to the point that the giver’s own needs are sacrificed.

What follows is a state of being which is decidedly not spiritual. What follows is the definition of martyrdom. In my case, martyring myself to useless, superfluous and thankless causes.

Take it from one who knows, this mindset attracts the wrong people.  Interestingly enough, this mindset can also extend to attracting the wrong reactions from the right people.

Not a happy place to be in.

In my own personal situation, it was very easy for others to push the right buttons to manipulate me into agreeing with and doing things when my heart and spirit were screaming “NO”!

Simply:

allude to a lack of compassion or hypocrisy;

mention selfishness and sprinkle on a little guilt;

add a dose of “What will other people think?”

And certain characters had me exactly where they wanted me – doing backflips and jumping through ridiculous hoops for their viewing pleasure.

As I look back, I see it was almost comical.

Until it wasn’t.

Until I was so exhausted, and so resentful and so burned out that I did not even resemble the original kind and compassionate person I started out as. All that was left was a threadbare, used up doormat.

So I changed.

I realized kindness and compassion are only authentic when they are first applied to oneself. And this is where boundaries began. Take it from me, there are some things we cannot do for others, because the resulting impact on ourselves is far too great for us to bear. Which brings me to the next point –

Sometimes we will disappoint people, and this is perfectly fine. They will survive it, and so will we.

In the same manner, sometimes we will be misunderstood. Also fine. Things generally become clearer as time passes.

Now we come to the hardest part –

Sometimes when we stand up for ourselves and exercise our right to say “no”, we will not be liked. Not always. But sometimes. I have come to accept this. I have no control over what other people think of me. Their opinion of me is their business – not mine. In the end, a “friendship” that is based on us not being our authentic self by saying “yes” when we mean “no”, is no friendship at all. Rather, it is an “entanglement”, in which both parties are better off without. (Trust me on this one. I spent over 30 years on such an “entanglement” and barely made it out with my heart and spirit still intact).

Over time, I have come to acknowledge that not all people carry positive motives in their hearts; that “acquaintance” is not another word for “friend”; that people can say one thing and in the end do something else entirely; and that, even those who are close, will sometimes make choices that are not in our best interest. I am okay with all of this. I have learned to look after myself and my own needs. This is my job to do. Nobody else’s. I truly am a “grown up”. Finally.

I still believe in love, compassion, kindness, goodness and having a generous heart.

But now, this is tempered with reality.

I  still am a “nice girl”.

But, make no mistake, I am no push-over.

My eyes are wide open.

Fear and Freedom

lioness

Worrying about what other people think about you adds unnecessary stress to your life.

Once you release your fear of other people’s opinions, you set yourself free to live your own life.

You become free to live a life true to you that honours your own spirit.

Now you cease to be a sheep helplessly pushed along by the crowd.

You have transformed into a lioness, and nothing can stop you.

Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom – Marilyn Ferguson

Perfectly You

picture

And I said to my body softly

I want to be your friend.

It took a long breath and replied

I have been waiting my whole life for this

We all come in different shapes and sizes.

That’s what makes us so unique.

That’s what makes us beautiful, each in our own way.

Please never ever compare your body to anyone else’s.

Know that your body serves you well

Lungs breathing, Heart beating

Legs walking, Hands holding

And Mouths kissing

Please love yourself enough

 To accept yourself just as you are.

Because just as you are

Is perfect, Is beautiful

The Strength of a Woman

strongWhen you know exactly who you are and decide exactly where your personal boundaries fall, you can face the world with strength. Even in difficult situations.

It’s okay to feel afraid, or angry, or insecure, or any other emotion that arises within you. Acknowledge your emotions. Breathe through the difficult ones Then let them slowly dissipate.

Life is for living. Life is for enjoying.

Lovingly embrace every minute!