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Category Archives: 50th Birthday

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#28

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“Jealousy and bitterness will hold you back from truly living your life.

Let it go.”

 

I’m sure the Frozen song is playing in your head right now, whether you like it or not. Sorry for that.

Oh jealousy and bitterness…such powerful emotions that have absolutely no use.

When I think of times that I felt jealous of someone or something that someone had, I have no memories of ambition or accomplishment from those situations. No one came around with a magic wand and gave me what I envied and I certainly didn’t end up being just like them. So…what was the point of all the misery?

I remember bitterness…serious, intense bitterness. I remember it becoming an entity of its own. I lost myself in it so deeply that I didn’t find myself again for 15 years. Was the bitterness justified? Well hell yes! I didn’t deserve this treatment and this bitterness was my weapon. I owned it. Oh yeah. The problem was that this weapon was aimed at me. It took me a long time to see the end of the barrel, but I did.  I hope you don’t take as long.

Let it go! Let it go!

Oh c’mon. Sing it.

Set yourself free.

 

 

 

Video credit: Youtube

 

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#27

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“Even though we are all different, we are all the same.  We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are.”

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One of the greatest challenges in life is cooperative interaction with others. We hit walls we don’t want to climb and cross bridges we don’t want to meet…half…way. We guard our personalities and beliefs with our life.

Why? It took a long time to figure out who we are and no one is going to mess with that…right?

However, sometimes we have to step out of our deep rooted convictions and venture into neutral territories. It is in this place that we will find one thing in common. When we look underneath egos and actions, we will find the vulnerability that makes all of us human….the need to be validated and loved.

This is where hearts will align.. in spite of ourselves.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#26

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“Being with someone as they pass is as phenomenal as witnessing a birth. It is a privilege to be present.”

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It started out as an ordinary day in November.

I was 22, enjoying my first “real” job since graduating from college. However, this day turned out to be life changing. Today I would lose my dad.

As I arrived at work, I was immediately told that I needed to call my aunt right away. It was about an hour’s drive to get to the hospital in my hometown. This was a blur, emotionally and literally as I urged my boyfriend to drive faster.

ICU was like some kind of dreamworld, some place that shouldn’t be…because the reality was too hard to accept. I remember white…sheets, walls, floors, nurse’s uniforms, the grey tone of my father’s face almost blending in. There were heart monitors, tubes, oxygen masks…things I had never seen. My 19 year old brother was standing beside the bed, trying hard to control his tears. I remember holding him up as his knees started to buckle. My 16 year old sister had an 8 hour trip by train. She would not make it in time. I remember watching the jagged waves on the heart monitor…every beep was another second of denial. As long as his heart was beating, this nightmare had not begun.

I watched him struggle to breathe. I saw the fear in his eyes. I felt the tiniest possibility of hope vanish when a nurse politely explained to us exactly how a person dies when there is no heart muscle left to keep them alive. She told us how the oxygen mask would make him “comfortable” in the end.

A few minutes before my father died, he suddenly attempted to rise to a sitting position. There was no logic to this, given the amount of strength he had left. It was frightening, but amazing at the same time. Looking straight ahead with eyes wide open, he pointed at something. He was unable to speak, but he was trying to communicate. He saw something. He knew something. He was entering a new realm, a journey that we were no longer a part of.

As devastating as this was, I felt so fortunate that I was there. I cannot imagine how disappointing it would be to take your last breaths on this earth without someone you love by your side. Death is not just about loss. Beyond the heartache, there is something more to this moment.

We celebrate the beginning of life.

We need to honor the end of it.

~

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#25

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“Strength can be silent.”

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This one is still very hard for me…another lesson in progress.

Why?

My shyness crippled me when I was a child, a teenager and even into my twenties.

It took me a long time to grow “a voice”.  It took me a long time to be confident about my own opinions and a longer time to not care what others think of them. I find it very hard to be silent in a situation that is harmful to others. I want to fix things. I enjoy making a case. I enjoy writing a letter of complaint. (Can you get paid for that?) I am actually pretty darn good at it. Speaking up for something that I strongly believe in?  My cup of tea.

Despite this, I am learning that sometimes I just need to listen…even if it means listening to the silence. Sometimes the silence says that I am saying too much, that maybe I am over compensating for my own inadequacies or maybe I am speaking on the behalf of others, when they haven’t given me the floor.

Sometimes…I just need to be quiet shut up!

Strength is not always about raising your voice. Sometimes it is about restraining yourself from doing just that.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years..#24

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“Reality is sitting in a canyon,  watching the eagles fly.”

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There is so much noise in this world.

Technology makes so much noise.

People make so much noise.

My mind makes so much noise.

We have dressed up this world so much that sometimes we can’t even see it. As we cover it with technology, politics, materialism, media…egos, we have forgotten about the world in it’s natural state. Within the simplicity of nature, we can find the truth. The truth is spoken in the wind, written in the clouds and carved in the rocks. The truth is lying in the grass and examining one blade… because one blade of grass is a symmetrical masterpiece.

Yeah, I know, I know…we have so much to do. Where would we find the time? The funny thing is, we have created our own complexity. We have built our own obstacles. We can make our lives as simple as we want them to be.

All that we desire and all that we “accomplish” in a day is trivial, compared to the miracles of LIFE.

We just have to clear away the clutter for a moment in order to see it.

We just have to silence the noise in order to hear it.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#23

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“If you constantly blame others, you will never see your own mistakes.”

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Pretty self explanatory. You’re not perfect. You never will be perfect. You can be 99.9 percent right, but never 100 percent. If you are, then you may have landed here from some unknown planet because this planet, my friends, is full of humans. Humans falter on a regular basis.

Breathe…falter….breathe…falter.

Catch those breaths in between.

Look in the mirror. Reflect on your actions.

It might not be pretty, but you will discover something amazing…an enlightenment, so to speak…a realization of your own flaws and blunders.

This can change your life.

I remember an extremely difficult workplace situation years ago, that took me close to a nervous breakdown. I look back now and wonder why ….no make that “WHY OH FLIPPIN’ WHY” would I react the way I did!  Even though I truly had been treated very unfairly, that is all I saw. They were wrong. That was it.

But that isn’t it. In every interaction or relationship, we have strengths and weaknesses that come into play. Even if we are “right”, we can present it the wrong way. Presentations are like a land mine of misunderstandings waiting to happen…and in our quest to be heard and understood, we make mistakes. And that isn’t all of it. Sometimes, we really are wrong. We forget or refuse to take the time to look into that crystal clear stream of reality and see our own imperfections.

Enough said.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#22

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“Friends do not always reveal themselves.”

I am still hanging on to the theory that we were put on this earth to share with others. Whether it be our time, our possessions, our abilities, our talents, our compassion, our stories…whatever we have to give, I think we are supposed to give.  When doing so, sometimes we are blessed with interactions that lead to friendships.

Friendships are gifts. The problem is that sometimes they are hard to identify. If only they came in neat little packages tied up with a bow…with a little tag that says, “Really, I’m your friend..for real.”  Between reading social cues, dealing with your own personal insecurities and the fear of forming assumptions, it can become complicated…at least it has been for me. Maybe I’m just a freak so unique that I have trouble with this. I am a very open person. This could hinder the process of some potential friendships. I probably scare the hell out of people. Would I change this about me? Absolutely not.

So what have I learned about friendships?

I’ve learned that often I am afraid to call them that.

I know what I think a friendship should be.

My eclectic personality requires a wide variety of friends.

I’ve learned that the more time someone gives me, the more I feel they are truly my friend.

Although I do not fear rejection (because I am secure with who I am), I get frustrated when I can’t determine the intentions of others. I am not sure if this is a problem on my part or theirs.

For the most part, I think I am a good friend.

I treasure the friendships I have.

A friend can come in any size, race, age, occupation, social background, education, etc.

Openness is key to me.

Your spouse can be your best friend.

Anything pretentious, materialistic or superficial does not interest me.  My relationships need to be deeper.

I have learned that even at my age, I still have lots to learn about establishing friendships.

In my opinion…

A good friend truly cares about you, would do almost anything in the world for you, listens to you, advises you, confides in you, laughs with you and cries with you.

A good friend is someone who doesn’t care what you look like, accepts all of your faults, your mistakes and never gives up on you.

A good friend has no ulterior motives for being your friend.

A good friend considers the reasons you have become who you are.

A good friend sees your positive traits and enjoys them in the moment.

A good friend has time for you.

A good friend would sincerely miss you if you were gone.

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Birds of a feather sticking together at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#21

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21. “Give me ten crying babies…please….but don’t ask me to do a jigsaw puzzle,  or any  other tedious task requiring patience and hand eye coordination. I will probably throw it at you.”

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I work with babies.

I work with babies all day.

I work with babies all day, five days a week.

Do I have your attention?

Yes….waaaah, waaaah, waaaah and more waaaah.

Diapers, rocking chairs, plugs from heaven, pacifiers, air-borne food, catnaps, fevers…I’ve only just begun.

BUT…or shall I say BUTT…

I love it.

Babies are the epitome of life. Think about it.

YOUTH.  INNOCENCE.  ENERGY.  OPEN MINDS…little blank slates ready to absorb the world around them.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Despite the necessary acrobatic skills required to care for six infants at the same time (with one co-worker),  I feel I am blessed every day to have the opportunity to nurture, educate and care for these bundles of wonder. Yes, I said educate.

The screaming crying does not bother me.

Do you know what agitates me?

Threading a needle, figuring out the “features” on my car stereo, untangling Christmas lights or…

Trying to text more than two words on my cell phone without back spacing.

 

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#20

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“I am guilty of prejudging people.

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It’s a good thing I can change my mind.”

Let’s start with chihuahuas.  I have called them rats and swore they were one of the ugliest looking dogs on the planet. Then I met my mother in law’s dog. She likes to knit and while she does, her dog likes to sit on her lap with an afghan over her head. She doesn’t move. She guards her from anything bigger than her, which would be everything. She is completely loyal. She doesn’t like me…even though I consider myself a bit of an animal whisperer, she just doesn’t like me. I think she knows that I have judged her. Now she’s judging me.

On the human side of things (shhh, don’t tell her she’s not human)…

It is our nature to judge. We obviously need to use this handy skill for other aspects of our lives.  Heck, if we didn’t, we’d be back floating in the middle of a lake eating ho ho’s (o…kay, maybe just me).

We assess situations. We criticize and analyze. We judge ourselves.

So it is only natural that we would judge others.

I don’t think there is any magical learning experience here. I think when it comes to scrutinizing those we meet, we have to force ourselves to change. It is just a button we need to turn off. We need to tell ourselves DON’T DO IT! Be objective. Ask yourself why would I judge when I do not know. When it comes down to it, we do NOT know.

We generalize.

We stereotype.

We assume.

Now scroll back up. Look at that face and remember……

“You……know……nothing”.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#19.

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#19. Parenting is lifelong.

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When your children are small, you think this is the most difficult time of your life. Diapers, fevers, tantrums, oh my!!  It has to be easier when they are grown.

“Grown”?

What does that mean? Do they ever stop growing?  I haven’t stopped growing!

We are always waiting for the next stage in their development whether it’s walking, talking or starting school. There is always a step, as though we are accompanying them up the stairway to ADULTHOOD…some magical place where we are no longer responsible, no longer needed, no longer of service.

This is so far from the truth.

Parenting is not a job that simply ends at 18 or 21 or 55. They continue to grow and change every day and you are part of that.  You never stop worrying about them, caring for them and loving them. Everything they do has some effect on you. There are feelings of pride, guilt, concern, sadness, relief, excitement and fear that run through you as they continue on their journey of life.

The hardest part of being a parent is when you no longer have the right to be involved. Your involvement becomes a privilege. Your knowledge of what is happening in their life crosses lines of confidentiality policies and ventures into new territories of friendship, mentor-ship and consultation…if you’re lucky.  Suddenly, the flashbacks of boo boos, band aids and kissing it “all better” are sweet memories. It was so simple then. As your children get bigger, so can their problems.  When you no longer have the ability to protect them the way you used to, it can be the most unsettling and frustrating feeling you have ever felt.  Your colicky baby that kept you up night after night was still SAFE in your arms. As they get older, it is much more of a challenge to let go and simply pray for their safety and well-being.

Parenting doesn’t end when your children are not children. As long as you are worried, you are still a parent.

They are part of you forever.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#18

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#18. “Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

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The last “best thing I ever ate” was a Green Chile Cheeseburger in Hatch, New Mexico.

What is green chile?

It is NOT a jalapeno.

It is NOT just a chile pepper that happens to be green. It is what it is…green chile.

There is nothing like it. The flavor is so unique and the first time I tried it, it reminded me that there is so much in life that I still need to discover!! I know, I know, it’s just green chile. My point is that along my journey of 50 (ahem) years, I have become more open to new experiences, new places, new people and new foods.

Life is too short to waste a minute saying “eww, what is that, I don’t think I will like it”.

Green chile is now a staple in our house as an addition to breakfast burritos, chicken enchiladas and my personal favourite, green chile stew.  Yes, this Canadian girl can make a mean green chile stew. Hatch has it’s own brand of green chile and you can find it by the can in many local grocery stores.  You can also buy it freshly roasted or roast it yourself!

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My husband and I go “home” to New Mexico approximately once per year to visit his family. My father in-law has made it a tradition to drive to Hatch for the green chile cheeseburger experience. Consisting of the freshest ground beef I have ever tasted, a perfectly melted slice of cheddar and….drum roll please….a slathering of one of New Mexico’s greatest treasures…GREEN CHILE!

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 Hatch, New Mexico is located about 40 miles north of Las Cruces. Rows of red ristras dress up this quiet rural town and can be purchased for a reasonable price at many roadside markets.

Driving into Hatch, you would not expect to find any culinary magic happening here.

Actually you would not expect to find much of anything happening here.

Population:  1,680

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Then you see it…a line of people gathered in front of a small restaurant called “Sparky’s”. This speaks volumes considering the unusual array of familiar, yet unrelated statues adorning the entrance. Maybe they are there to disguise the true identity of this gem. Seating is minimal, after all.

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You can choose to dine outside with Ronald McDonald and Sparky the robot constructed from tractor parts or inside surrounded by even more whimsical decor. I know what you’re thinking, but trust me.

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Whether you find this place to be amusing or just plain odd, one thing is for sure. If you’ve been here once, you will be here again….and again.

It may be a good thing I am only in New Mexico once a year because the spicy potato wedges and old fashioned milk shakes are also delicious!

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So if you are ever in the area of Las Cruces, New Mexico, be sure to visit Hatch, the self proclaimed Green Chile Capital of the World.

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http://sparkysburgers.com/

What’s the last “best thing YOU ever ate” ?

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#17

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#17. “If you think about where a person is coming from, what they’ve been through in their life, how they’ve been raised, you will find it easier to forgive, understand and accept that they don’t and may never look at things the same way that you do.”

 

This one is golden.

Do you want to be empowered? Free yourself from the frustration? Save some time and energy?

Ok, now I sound like an advertisement.

The truth is…

When this little light bulb of enlightenment switched on in my brain, it changed my life.

Click.

Not everyone was blessed with a loving beginning. They are what they came from. They may not be able to see or feel more than that. Not everyone has sailed a calm sea without drowning in pain or suffering…and some are still drowning. Some have a point to make, an axe to grind or a need to be heard. Some people can only feel better by making others feel worse.

Some people will not change. Some people don’t need to change…not for you.

Sometimes you have to rearrange your thoughts, open your mind and accept.

Let them be who they are.  Let it be what it is.

A huge burden can be lifted when you do.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#16

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#16.”Worrying is a waste of time, but that won’t stop me.”

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Aguirre Springs near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

What could be

Is nothing more than fear

Merely stopping you in your tracks

To steal your moments

Pocket your dreams

And play with your intentions

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#15

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#15. “Nature is amazing.”

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A field

That’s all it took to enchant me

I have never returned

From the sound of the crickets

Blades  of green tickles

Or the smell of rain on the path

The path I walked

To school, to play, to think

The path I rode

My bike and my Honda 70

Over the bumps

Around that curve

Slowing down for sure

Because nothing’s for sure

Being cautiously crazy

Carelessly  stable

~

In the 70’s, life was about what we did. We DID things…without gadgets in our hands. We made things. We made things up. We looked for things. We found things. We entertained ourselves and created our own life, without Google and a status shuffle.

Playing outside was the key to our happiness as children.  We felt the wind, touched the grass, skinned our knees and burned our faces in the sun…without sunscreen.

Nature was part of my childhood. It fired up my curiosity and my imagination. Taking a walk in the field near our home gave me ideas. There was a large crater like hole surrounded by tall grass, which became a hideout. There were plants to identify and dissect. There were bugs to put in mason jars and tiny toads to capture in my cupped hands.

I always set them free.

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There were trails in the field and my younger brother took to them fearlessly with various dirt bikes, deliberately catching air over mole hills. I admired him. I admired him so much that I wanted to be the only girl in the neighborhood to ride a mini bike. After all, a girl can only force Barbie to try on so many of those silly plastic shoes.

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The trees I climbed, the wild raspberries I picked and ate, everything I saw and touched in that field is still with me today. I was blessed by nature. I need it to nourish my soul, calm my mind and recharge my body.

If you find the time to go for a walk…..stop.

Look.

Listen.

Nature comes to you when you are still.

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50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…..#14

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#14.  “I’d rather be taken advantage of once in awhile than have a closed heart.”

Random thoughts…

~When you give to another and they deceive you, it can hurt beyond words. The only thing worse is the nothingness you feel when you don’t give at all.

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~I honestly believe that to truly give, it has to leave you without something, at least for awhile. Something may be returned to you or it may not. It shouldn’t matter, if you gave for the right reasons.

~I was never a risk taker in my younger years. No way. I used my shyness as a wall. It protected me from disappointment, failure and rejection. Unfortunately, it also isolated me from life. It prevented me from finding out what COULD happen and what I could MAKE happen.  I eventually chipped away at the wall, taking the last of it out with some good swift kicks, finally breaking free ! On the other side of the wall, I was vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable in order to grow.

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~Opening your heart is really a personal choice. All I can say is that the odd times I have been taken advantage of  are small price to pay for the friendship, gratitude and personal reward I have received from reaching out.

~If I based my willingness to be open and generous on some of my past experiences, I could easily decide to hold everything I have and everything I am very close to my heart. That would be a burden. I would rather liberate myself from  bitterness, suspicion and doubt. It feels good to lighten the load

…and simply give.

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Recipe for Change (50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#13)

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#13. Don’t look to others to change your life. It’s not going to happen. You are accountable for your own destiny. The only one that can change your situation is you.

Life is tough.

I think some people are more fortunate than others to breeze through the first half of their life, without losing  a parent or sibling, without going through a divorce, without being abused, without suffering from a serious physical or mental illness. Then there are others who have faced all of these and more.

Life is not fair.

Random things happen to random people. I think it is foolish to think that tragedy cannot strike at any moment. It can. It does. It happens  to someone somewhere in every moment. It could be me. It could be you.

So now that I’ve spewed this negativity and doom, I will follow with some hope. Hope is one thing that can always exist. No one can take it away. It is yours. No one can control it. No one can end it for you. If you take hope and mix it with a little action, it equals change. This recipe is a keeper. It can also be passed down. You demonstrate this for your children and wowsers, they will have the best formula for survival on this planet. Keeping with this analogy (humour me here), you can also stir things up that really need to be and watch your life rise to new levels.

I made the mistake of looking at where I was in my life as where I had to be. Someone had to get me out or maybe I needed to stay there. This wasn’t fair. What did I do to deserve this? Someone else had to change so that everything would be ok for me. How dare someone else try to ruin my life or leave my life. I wallowed in self pity, anger, resentment and pain. It took many years for me to realize that no one else was going to do ANYTHING of the sort. That is difficult to accept. First you are thrown this horrible fate and then you are supposed to be the one to deal with it? Seriously?

What it comes down to is that you cannot control the crazy, unpredictable, tragic, shocking things that can happen to you and no, you cannot change everything you want. Change  doesn’t bring back the loved ones you have lost from this earth. It doesn’t completely heal the scars that cover a victim of abuse or multiple abuse. Change is a place for you to go. It is anywhere else but where you are…..and  if you’re in any type of despair, then anywhere else is good.

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Strength Where There is Nothing Else (50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#12)

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#12. “You are much stronger than you think. You just have to tap into it.”

There is an abyss that exists in my mind.

I have been there.

It is a place of darkness, unimaginable hopelessness , shock, denial, fear…but most of all, it is empty.

It is nothingness with the relentless power to end you as you know you and your life as you know it.

You try to move…..you can’t.

Cold reality has its grip on you so tight, it is easier to succumb to it, than it is to fight.

The ground you walked on crumbles under you and the only way to go is down.

You bounce around in the tunnel of blackness, empty headed.

There is no mercy here. You surrender to the unidentified force that surrounds you.

Nothing else means a thing. This place is center stage and you are the audience tied to your seat.

Nothing moves. Nothing cares.

You are still.

Sometimes there is more strength in stillness, in silence.

Sometimes what we don’t do is stronger than what we do.

Sometimes our strength is not about our stamina, courage or our energy.

Sometimes……it comes from the faintest whisper in our mind, the weakest part of our sanity……the dimmest light.

Sometimes we can only find enough strength to extend one tired and desperate  hand

……and hold on.

Lessons in the Land of Enchantment (50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years)

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#11.”The best fry bread I’ve ever had was made by an elderly Navajo woman at the edge of a dusty road leading to Shiprock, New Mexico.”

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New Mexico is my other home. It was there that I met my husband and discovered a new landscape. I fell in love with both of them.

There is a peaceful feeling that I can only find there, a need to explore the rock formations and lonesome desert flowers, a desire to just sit and feel the sun caress my soul.  I have had many opportunities to see the Land of Enchantment but this particular adventure will be forever imprinted in my mind.

This was a day trip in the Four Corners Area highlighted with a visit to “Shiprock”.

We were travlling on Red Rock Highway that takes you to this glorious sight.  At the side of this deserted road, we could see the figure of an elderly woman dressed in a long dark skirt sitting by an outdoor grill of some type.  As we drove closer, I insisted that we stop. My sons were with us and I believed this was one of those “once in a lifetime, you just have to stop” moments.

Getting out of the car, the aroma of oil and bread combined was surprisingly wonderful. The desolate desert backdrop transported us to a place of long ago, of recipes passed down….a place of simplicity, family and survival.

As we approached her, she smiled slightly, which pronounced the deep wrinkles set into her weathered face. Her long hair was pulled back with a beaded barrette but the dry wind of the southwest sent it in a few different directions. As she poked at her creation in a cast iron skillet, I noticed her hands. This was a working woman. She placed the fry bread on a paper plate and handed it to us.

4708057612_c63bac4ea6I pondered about what this meant to her compared to what it meant to us.

This was her living. This was our…..hmm…..entertainment?

Fry bread was a common staple to her.

Perhaps to us it was an initiation into an unknown land that was only a privilege to visit.

We paid her the four dollars she had advertised with her cardboard sign and thanked her.  The bread was round, flat, yet puffy, soft and warm…..delicious.  Our first bite could not wait until we returned to our car. We were in the moment, cacti at our feet, surrounded by blue skies and sunshine. Most of all, I think we honored the old woman by eating it right away. It was too good to wait for.  Driving away, I thought about the way we had a brief encounter with another place, another time and then we simply moved on. We leave it there and come away with a few photos and a memory.  We carry on with our travels, our lives, our problems, our ways, but our past is someone else’s present. The native woman selling fry bread still sits there, waiting for her next customer to slow down, completely intrigued by her or maybe just hungry.

Shiprock is the name of the small town governed by the Navajo Nation as well as the amazing landmark itself.  This magnificent peak rises 1500 feet above you, but it is not the height that makes this formation unique. It stands out in an otherwise barren and flat desert plain, and the shape of Shiprock reminds me of Disneyland.  The only difference was that this magical place is real. Geologically speaking, it is a stunning tower of volcanic rock, the neck of a volcano that erupted millions of years ago, with rugged walls of lava leading out of it. To the Navajo people however, Shiprock is a sacred monument. They strictly prohibit anyone from approaching this religious and historical site that they call “Tse Btai”.  As I looked towards this masterpiece of nature and the long, dusty road towards it, my husband warned me that we could only admire it from afar. That was fine with me. As much as I love to be hands on and this mountain screamed “climb me”, I found myself scanning the wide open desert, half expecting someone of authority to jump out of nowhere or fire off a few warning shots. It was not the only thing that stopped me from getting closer to Tse Btai.  I felt a presence. It was as though a spiritual circle surrounded this beautiful creation. The Navajo have many stories and legends about their “rock with wings”. It didn’t matter what Shiprock meant to me because what it meant to others brought it to life.

This isn’t really about Shiprock.

It is about appreciating a natural wonder without touching it, without invading it, allowing the wind to be the only one to carve and caress it.

It’s about restraint and respect of others beliefs.

 

This isn’t really about the fry bread.

It’s about a quiet lady at the side of a dusty, desert road, trying to make a living and at the same time, upholding the traditional ways of her culture.

It’s about entering another world, another time, another feeling and then leaving it behind.

It’s an exchange between curiosity and a few dollars.  It’s real. It’s pure. It’s sharing at its best.

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Shiprock Oct.2003 -3

lava wall

Shiprock Oct 2003

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Shiprock Oct.2003-5

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lava wall in sun

Shiprock Oct.2003-4

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…..#10

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#10. “In an instant, your world can be turned upside down. The people you take for granted can disappear in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow is only a plan. This moment is all you have.”

It was October of 2000. It was a Saturday morning when the phone rang, waking me up from a deep slumber. As one who usually dreaded the worst, I assumed this 7 a.m phone call meant something was wrong. Perhaps my grandmother was ill but in the back of my mind, I thought “calm down, it’s probably just a wrong number”. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to hear.  It would have been the furthest idea from my mind. It was unthinkable.

When my crying mother said my brother was “gone”, I asked where he went. He was single. He could go wherever he wanted. He had no significant ties. I thought…. where in the world could he have gone that would upset my mom so much? What was she talking about?

Confused and half asleep I asked her, “Where did he go?”

“He’s dead”, she muttered  with whatever strength she could dig up from……somewhere. My mother had waited hours to call me. She just couldn’t pick up the phone.

He was 36 years old. He was my baby brother by three years.

He was my only brother.

I fell to the floor. I remember so clearly the sound that came out of my mouth. I remember pacing back and forth and screaming “no” over and over. I am sure at that moment, I was insane. I remember crawling up the stairs, waking up my ex husband. I was not me, but just an empty, robotic being, mumbling, sobbing, shaking, running around the room……lost in denial.

I cannot understand to this day how I drove an hour and a half by myself to get there. My two sons were still asleep (or were they?) and their dad would stay there with them. I didn’t want them to know anything about their uncle yet…because it couldn’t be true anyways. That was the plan I managed to somehow articulate before running out the door to my car. I was going to see him because that was the only way I could prove that this wasn’t happening.

The next time I saw my brother, it was Halloween night and he was in a casket.

DEATH is sneaky. Don’t ever trust it. It hides away mysteriously and then leaps out of nowhere to blindside you into oblivion.
LIFE is precious. Don’t ever take it for granted. It is amazing, breathing and beautiful and it never hides. Take everything it has to offer.

Don’t wait until the phone rings or there is a knock on the door. Live your life to the fullest.
Every minute unfolding in front of you is amazing.

~ In memory of my brother, his laughter, his incredible smile , his song , his silly dance and most of all, his loving heart.~

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#9

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#9.  “Happiness and contentment in your life only happens because you are happy and content with yourself.”

Throughout my twenties and thirties, I had a vision of what would make me happy. It was a perfect world and time.   It was just outside the box of reality I lived in, but completely achievable….or so I thought. It was more than just career goals or personal milestones. It was this imaginary idea of what my life should be like. I constantly pined for it . I was always waiting for it.  I like to think that I had some kind of epiphany about this but maybe it was just a few hard knocks that forced me to finally free myself of these ridiculous and unnecessary expectations.

As I approached 4O,  I found myself again…under the rubble of wishes and good intenti0ns. Wow, I was M.I.A. and didn’t even know it!

Why is it that different things make different people happy? Maybe it’s because it is our own particular state of mind that reacts. Happy things make happy people happy. They don’t work as well with unhappy people. People in my life have suffered similar challenges and losses. Although they all found themselves drowning in  despair and self pity, some have not come back up for air. They are still swimming around in the aftermath, hanging on to what happened to them, their only strength is their pain. It’s really easy to be unhappy. It requires no work on our part. Acceptance requires action but believe me, it is worth it in the end. Our own contentment welcomes the laughter, the warmth, and the beautiful stillness.

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California breathin’

Feeling inspired to write a poem today…….

SEARCH FOR SERENITY

Taking, needing, wanting

All the while believing it is the goal

To find, to get, to hold

A dream deserved

Only to realize

The illusion of plans

And the truth of fate.

Giving, accepting, feeling

As each moment ignites only briefly

Feeding the soul for only now

Is there anything

Not conjured up

Or wished upon

Only within is there light

To find, to get, to hold.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#8

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*8. ” Nothing can change the past. You can only change how you feel about it.  Move on.”

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Reminiscing about the past was something I valued. I thought it meant I was deep. I reflected on my experiences. I analyzed. I let myself be consumed by the emotions and the images and the……..

Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..rewind.

Reminiscing is something I still value.  I still think it makes me deep.  I like to reflect.

Ok, now I’m being honest.

The truth is , it’s hard to keep your focus on what is ahead without looking behind you. You know what is behind you. It’s your story, your identity, your true but slightly fabled account of how it went down. It gives you fuel to make a point. It gives excuses for your daily behaviour. The past can hold a lot of negative power.

The future becomes a tale to be told later. Right now, it can give you hope. If you are oblivious to it, it will simply pass you by and join the other dead parts of who you were and what you did.

Look at your present moment.  Feel it.  Know it.  Own it.  “Now” is something you can choose. The past is no longer a choice.

You can’t change the past but you can change your feelings about it. I am not talking about denying yourself the emotions you need to move through stages of grief or divorce.  These are necessary, healthy steps in your journey. When you can’t bare to take the next step however,  you may find it helpful to ask yourself some questions.

Will I let this hurt me to the core of my being?

How do I want this to change who I am?

Can I think of new ways to handle this, cope with this or accept this?

Did I do anything to contribute to this event? Am I being honest with myself about that?

Is there something I can salvage from the wreckage that is new to me, something I can use to move forward?

If we dwell on what has been, then it will be again….and again…..and again, in our minds.

Good memories can be treasured and filed under A for awesome. Take them out and bring them back to life whenever the urge strikes you…because they give you joy! It is cruel to relive our tragedies, losses and broken dreams. File them under D for done.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#7

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#7. “Don’t be afraid to take a stand. The people that matter will not hold it against you.”

I used to care….REALLY care about what others would think if I was more aggressive with my opinion. I still care. The only difference is that these self conscious feelings will not stop me. I don’t let them. I can only hope that those who are important in my life will accept me no matter what I stand up for or what I believe.

“ Why not go out on a limb? That’s where all the fruit is.”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~Mark Twain~

Now that’s a good quote, truly better than mine. Love the imagery.

I spent at least the first half of my life sticking like glue to the trunk of the tree, afraid to move. It took me a long time to ……change? That is really what it boils down to.  There was no divine  intervention that took place to transform me. I just got tired of the  “me” that I had become. Somehow I was enlightened that change happens by changing your mind. It is purely psychological. You can remain the way you are, if you’re happy with that, or you can move on.  Find new ways to interpret and live your life.  Some significant losses and events in my life also gave me more reasons to venture out of my safe haven. When people you love die young……I think you know the rest.

Recently I took a stand by supporting a movement for environmental issues. The group made headlines around the world. Like many other movements, it has a strong message although not always delivered in a consistent, united or organized fashion. The cause reflected my beliefs, my morals and certainly my love for a clean world or “Mother Earth”, as this group refers to it.

I am a non-native working in a native community surrounded by chemical plants. I “get it”. I breathe it.

Taking a stand for this group took me on a couple walks of peaceful protest. I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it.  The prospect of change taking place because people speak up, people reach out, people  stand firm, is at the very least, inspiring.

Taking a stand can be easy, if you don’t think about the risks. You just get out there, balancing with whatever you have to stop you from falling. Pride, determination, strength or even disregard for what can happen because you believe it can’t be worse than playing it safe. There are times in your life when you gamble more. First day on the job….not so much. Veteran in the field…..let it rip. Just my opinion.

Limbs can break.  Sometimes what we’re standing on is not as solid as we thought.  We may or may not have been aware of that, but we got out there anyway. That’s the beauty of it.  Hopefully, when we hit the ground, we are unscathed. There are many more trees to climb.

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Great place to stand alone
Aguirre Springs, New Mexico

 

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#6

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#6. “I could easily get into a fist fight with people who talk during a concert. If you’re not singing, shut up!”

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Tragically Hip
(and the brilliant mind of Gord)

Have you been there?

It’s hard enough watching a struggling artist pour out his heart and soul in a quiet bar as people obnoxiously talk over him.  At a concert, it especially baffles me when people actually pay for a ticket but don’t have any interest in the band. There’s the fifteen year old textaholics that didn’t know the name of the group until they got there because they never heard of them. Why? Because they were not BORN YET!! Then there’s the couple who had a few too many “pre-drinks” and are now arguing about how many they’ve had and how they’re getting home. Don’t forget the ones that continually talk into each other’s  ears about the group you’re trying to listen to as if no one can hear them.

Besides the evil glares that I cast upon them, I can envision myself (maybe after one more beer), winding up a good one.

Pop!!

Of course, that never happens. I am there to see a band that I love and somehow through my gritting teeth, I manage to bite my tongue and behave myself.

The evil glares continue, however.

Music is extremely meaningful and sentimental to me and I appreciate that not everyone shares this passion to the extent that I do but…pahleeaase!! Would they like it if someone was interfering with their livelihood? Hmmm….imagine if you’re a public speaker and a few oblivious people in your audience suddenly burst out into song.

There is a time and place for everything.

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The Eagles
(a major check off the bucket list)

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#5

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#5. “Everyone you meet in your life will teach you something…..if you’re willing to learn.”

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If you think about how much you have learned over your life time so far, it is probably at the very least, mind blowing.  By asking simple questions of those you meet, you can multiply this amount of information over and over.

There came a time in my life (probably around 40,  since I have evolved slowly), when I realized that every unique being on this earth has something to offer me.  I have always found human behaviour to be quite fascinating but within this hobby of observation, it is easy to analyze and judge.  When I tried to curb this a bit, I began to see more, learn more and feel more.

Besides the obvious factual information so easily obtained, there is always a story, an undertone that whispers  softly , if  you listen….I mean, REALLY listen and imagine where it is coming from.

Do you think you can learn something from the homeless man begging for change on the street?

Absolutely!  He has a story. You can learn from his pain, his misfortune and the small acts of kindness that give him joy. You can learn from your own fear of him, as he approaches you.  Ask yourself why it is so hard to look at his face, even when you hand him your spare coins.  Is he not worthy of eye contact or is his lesson to you lying dormant within yourself? Everyone has a story. Your story may not be any more interesting.  It is just different. Your story is not worn on your sleeve every day, like his.

There are no limits to what you can learn, only doors for you to open or leave shut.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years……#4.

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#4. If you’re not thinking outside of the box, you’re living in a very small place.

As a child, the world seemed so big and never ending. My dreams were more like goals. Anything seemed possible. I didn’t hope to achieve them. It was only a matter of how and when. I  had nothing to compare them to, no similar situations to remind me of what could go wrong.  There were so many options, so much to see and do, so many places to go.

I listened.

I observed.

I believed in many things.

Then something happened.  It’s interesting that as I grew older, my mind began to filter out ideas that didn’t seem as logical or achievable….as least not to me, anymore.  Reality shoved it’s way into my tranquil, sunshiney space, ready to rain downpour on my parade, with  a few too many “in your face” experiences of loss, disappointments and heartache.  I was angry, resentful and mostly, just sad.

Later on, I think reality had overstayed it’s welcome. I was tired of what I had to do, what I had to face, how I had to live my life.  It wasn’t until I was 40, that I found my youth again. The doors flung open and I emerged like a giant clumsy child.

I’m baaa…aaack!!!!

Who says I can’t have fun? Who says I have to do things a certain way?  Who says I have to get old?  Who says people are everything they seem. They are not. I was ready to explore again, but this time a little bit of knowledge came along with me.  That can be useful.   I was ready to let go of everything holding me back and  move forward  “into the great wide open” as Tom Petty puts it.  The biggest surprise to me was how happy it made me.

The more open I became……

the more I listened,

the more I observed,

the more I believed.

How familiar that feeling was!

We were born with open minds. It is not our experiences that close our minds. It is our reactions to our experiences that close our minds. There is no right way of doing things. There are just many ways of doing things. That’s what makes people interesting. That’s what makes LIFE interesting.

Take a look at the Grand Canyon. You cannot see it’s boundaries…..the never ending space that beckons you to think past what is in front of you.

Think past what you know or where you have been.

Stay open. It’s fun.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#3

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#3. When tobogganing down a steep ravine, a wine skin filled with cherry whiskey, will soften the blow of every tree you hit.

Looking back at it now, I can’t believe we really owned one of these.  The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language describes it as “a bag made from the skin of a goat for example, and used for holding and dispensing wine”.

I am fairly certain that I was unaware of the goat skin as I sipped chugged my cherry whiskey, hoping my socks would stay dry. We were trudging through a foot of good packing snow with our plastic Magic Carpets, waxed up wooden toboggans and super flying saucers. Woooo Hoooo!!!

Life was good……in the 70’s.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years….#2

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#2. You can procrastinate about not procrastinating.

Even the word “procrastinate” sounds like something to avoid.  It has such an unusual and harsh tone to it.

Why do we do it? There must be a reason why we don’t get around to doing what we planned to do. My excuses are many.

There isn’t enough time in a day.

Shall I clean the oven in my sleep?

I’m tired.

I am not doing that until this gets done.

I’ll call her tomorrow.

I need to be in the right mood to do that.

It would take me ALL day and I don’t have all day.

I was at work. Does that not count as exercise?

It’s just a little piece bar of chocolate.

If I can’t do it right, I’m not doing it at all.

I know I’ll do it, but not now ever.

I’m tired……again.

There’s  a  tiny little sliver in my right big toe . (Ok, I made that one up)

My excuses are rather lame. My intentions on the other hand , are outstanding!  My mood is very perky when I make the conscientious decision of  drawing up “the list”. With my favourite pen in hand, I look for the perfect piece of “Things to Do” paper . Then, using my best handwriting, I proceed to make the most elaborate list of projects ever! It’s an amazing feat of futility.  It doesn’t stop me, however, from feeling incredibly proud of myself as I cross the first  easiest task off the list. Bravo!! A few more strokes of the pen and I’ll be on my way.

Then something changes. I think it has a lot to do with that “P” word.  Somehow “the list” finds a cozy little space where I can easily forget it ever existed.  I  plan to make a new list…..

after another little piece of chocolate.

50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years…#1

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A little over  a year ago,  I  found myself undeniably approaching  the big five oh (no!).  I was determined to make it significant, at least to me, so I decided to share  some things I’ve learned over the years…… the good times, the bad times, the crazy times and all those enlightening moments in between.

Some lessons take a moment, others a life time.  Maybe you can relate to a few.

Hope you find a moment to join me on a regular basis as I reflect on this roller coaster ride we call “LIFE”, starting with…..

#1 If you’re holding a grudge, you’re letting someone continue to hurt you.


Think about it.

Someone causes you pain.  They ruin your day….or maybe your life?

Wait a minute! Are you going to let them ruin your life? Do they deserve that?  Do YOU deserve that?

Carrying a grudge is heavy work  but only you can lighten the load.

Are you waiting for an apology or someone to have a life changing enlightenment?  You could be waiting a long time.

You may be the only one capable of moving forward.   Harboring the anger, resentment and pain is your choice.

Simple as that.

      Stay tuned for #2 !