Play Dates

#inspiration, play, have funWay back in time, when I was a child, play times with friends were not normally prearranged. We just headed outside and down the street until we found someone to play with.

Much was the same when my children were young. They went into the neighbourhood, connected with friends and came back home for dinner.

Today, between the busy work schedules of parents and extracurricular activities for kids, this is more challenging. Add in the media warnings not to leave children unattended and the kind of play other generations participated in is no longer commonplace.

The social interaction of play is important so play dates are arranged in order to make it happen.

If this is a good idea for children, it makes sense to me the same would hold true for adults. My friends and I may have good intentions but we can go months without actually seeing each other.

When it does happen it’s usually two of us meeting at a coffee shop or over lunch. After an hour or so, we are both on our way again.

I decided I wanted more than that so arranged a play date with three other friends. We met at the home studio of another friend and spent an entire afternoon talking and laughing as we stepped out of our comfort zone and learned to work with resin.

The afternoon was a success. Everyone agreed we should do it again next month. The projects we created were a bonus as the real prize was the time spent having fun together. My biggest take away from the day was that play dates are good for adults too!

Who Are You?

#inspiration, children, introductionsMy husband was mowing the lawn at our son’s house when our granddaughters came home from school. Two came out to see him. One of the girls had a friend with her and hesitated before making an introduction. Then she turned to her friend and said, “This is the guy who comes to cut our grass.”

Brian choked back his laughter at the time but was still chuckling about it when he got home. We joked about this unusual introduction and knew it made a funny story to tell. It also made me stop and think.

We talked about the reasoning behind this. My husband was not there in his role as a grandfather; instead, he was in the back yard mowing the lawn. He was defined that day by what he was doing, not who he was.

How often do we describe ourselves by what we do? I know I’ve been guilty of this. When asked about myself I tend to tell you I’m a wife, mother and grandmother. You may learn about some of the jobs I’ve held, my volunteer activities or that I am now retired. You’ll definitely hear about my grandchildren!

These are all an important part of the woman I’ve become but they don’t define me. There is much more to me than that. I am an observer of life, a lover of nature and an encourager who is passionate about sharing from my heart.

Unless I communicate with you on a deeper level you will only know me by what I do and not who I am.

I’d like to know you better. What are your passions? Help me learn who you are.

 

Markers

#inspiration, flags, service providersSmall red, orange and yellow flags are scattered in front yards all along my street. They mark service lines for gas, electricity, cable and internet.

Fibre optic internet is being installed in our neighbourhood, and the markers are necessary to identify the various lines so none are compromised when the new cable is run from the street to the homes.
Someone came to my door and asked me to sign an agreement allowing the service line to be run to our house. I asked a few questions and was given some interesting information.

During the construction of new homes, service providers bury the lines about four feet deep. Over time frost heaves and other conditions move them upwards. Since they are hidden from view no one knows exactly how close to the surface they have become. That is why everything is marked and checked before any further work can be done.

The reason this conversation stuck in my mind had nothing to do with what was happening on our street. Instead, it had everything to do with unpleasant things from my past I attempt to bury and forget.

I thought the pain of these hurts was pushed so far down in my subconscious I’d never have to deal with it again. Sooner or later these issues make their way to the surface.

I attempt to push them back underground again knowing this is only a short term remedy. The markers are there, reminding me of what is just below the surface.

Experience has taught me that feelings buried alive never die. Only when I acknowledge the hurts and truly forgive myself or others, will I be set free.
Instead of markers to be concerned about, I plant the seeds of a bright future and watch expectantly as they bloom.

Here Comes the Judge

#inspiration, juddddgments, lessonA heavily tattooed man walked past.  Our topic of conversation changed as one woman told us of an experience she had several years ago.

She was a teacher and the mother of one of her students had multiple tattoos. At first glance, judgments were made about this woman’s lifestyle and character.

The teacher learned a lesson when she actually got to know the student’s mother. She said, “This woman was gentle, kind and highly educated. She was totally opposite to what I expected and I knew how wrong my initial impression had been. Since then I do my best not to judge anyone based on appearance.”

I know someone who had a medical condition that caused her to gain a lot of weight. This, in itself, was difficult enough. She told me that people no longer looked her in the eye when they passed on the sidewalk. It was if she no longer existed. Did others judge her as unworthy of respect due to the extra weight she carried? Her story caused me to reevaluate the way I experience strangers. There is so much more to someone than how they look.

As an extremely shy teenager, I overheard a conversation referring to me as stuck-up. It was actually the opposite. Instead of thinking I was better than the others; I didn’t think I was good enough to speak to them. I remained in the shadows, wishing for the confidence to tell them the truth. These judgments defined me for many years.

I wish I could say I am free from judgments. That would be a lie. I’m working on it and getting much better, but they still slip in. Remembering they are usually wrong helps. With this in mind, I know most of my harshest judgments are against me.

“Judgment means that you view the world as you are, rather than as it is.” Wayne Dyer

What Sign?

#inspiration, signs, lost, walkingA friend confessed he’d gotten lost recently. It was a nice day and he decided to walk to an appointment several kilometers away. To avoid busy streets he’d cut through a few neighbourhoods and should be there in twenty to thirty minutes.

He set off and twenty minutes later was surprised to discover he was back near his starting point. It hadn’t seemed like he was going in circles, but that must have been the case. Frustrated, he went home and got the car. The destination was much easier to reach when driving.

Later, this friend asked his wife to accompany him so they could figure out where he’d gone wrong. The route confused her, too. Then she saw a sign that would have pointed him in the right direction. “Did you see this sign?” she asked. “It would have helped you”. “I noticed there were signs but didn’t bother to read them,” he replied.

This was more than an amusing story. It was also an example of how easy it is to go astray when I don’t pay attention.

Signs to point me in the right direction are often all around me. The question is, do I pay attention or ignore them, assuming I know how best to reach my destination? Maybe the detours and stumbling blocks are there for a reason.

Even when I have confidence in where I’m going and how to get there sometimes the route is unfamiliar causing confusion. It’s easy to get disoriented and go in circles. The result is a lot of time and effort spent to get nowhere!

The only solution is to pay attention. This is easier said than done, but I have learned it’s the only way to keep on track.

Tribute to Mom

#Inspiration, mom, mothers dayMother’s Day is a bittersweet time for me. Twenty years ago, on Mother’s Day weekend, my mom went to her eternal home. After all these years, I still miss her. If I concentrate hard enough, I can almost hear her voice.

No longer can I share my life, ask for advice and learn from her quiet wisdom. She gave me all she could when she was with me. Now I draw on those memories as I navigate my life.

Recently I was told my mom would have been proud of me. Oh, how I cherished those words.

Mom loved me enough to ensure I learned what was needed to have a fulfilling life. This was much more than separating the whites from bright colours when I did the laundry, or not letting the potatoes boil dry!

She taught me to be polite and respectful.

Her example showed me the value of service to others. I learned giving is receiving. To this day volunteering is still one of the most rewarding parts of my life.

Although I didn’t always appreciate it at the time, she helped me learn appropriate discipline is a form of love. I learned to be honest and responsible.

When I did something wrong, she was forgiving. This taught me to be honest about my failures. I also learned the freeing power of forgiving others.

The twinkle in her eyes and quick wit ensured I would appreciate fun and laughter. Her ability to laugh at herself helped me learn not to take myself too seriously.

Mom’s deep love of family helped me see the beauty in committed relationships. She loved and accepted each of us despite our flaws and weaknesses.

I know my mom was proud of me because she told me so in her final days. I like to think she’d be proud of the woman I’ve become today.

The best way to honour mom’s memory is to pass her wisdom and love on to the young women who follow behind me, so they, in turn, may pass it on. I look at my daughter, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughters and know she’d be as proud of them as I am.

The Eyes Have It

#inspiration, eyes, observation,It was an interesting discovery. While sorting through a drawer full of papers I came across one that had been tucked away several years ago and forgotten.

At the end of a seminar, each of us was presented with a unique gift to commemorate our days together. On a large piece of paper, someone had sketched the eyes of over sixty participants. The name of each person was printed neatly above one eyebrow.

I was fascinated to see the numerous shapes of eyes. Some were almond shaped while others were wide and round. The eyebrows were even more diverse. From delicately shaped to thick and bushy, the brows framed the facial features. No two sets of eyes were exactly alike.

The artistic ability required to create these realistic images was impressive. Even more so was the power of observation needed to capture the small details that helped identify each person.

I read somewhere that observation has less to do with the things you see than the way you see them. This is true for more than artists. It applies to each of us.

Many years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal. Each night I write down five things I was grateful for that day. Focusing on the positive has changed my perspective and my life. When I look for the beauty in my surroundings, the goodness in people and the life lessons that present themselves, that is what my eyes see. The minor irritations fade into the background.

My goal is to create value in all things. It doesn’t always happen but I am getting better at it. I have learned if I want to create a positive life my eyes need to be looking for the right things.

Good Enough

#inspiration, #drawing, belief,
I took this picture at the airport in Denver

Earlier this week I made a visit to a store that carries my books and something on the wall caught my attention. There, pinned on a corkboard above the manager’s desk was a sketch. It was a small ink drawing of an old van and the detail and shading were exceptional.

I asked about this unassuming piece of art and was told a little about its history and creator. The man who gifted this to the manager did so as a token of appreciation for her kindness. His life had been one of struggle. Things are turning around but the road he travels is not an easy one.

She was impressed with his drawing and asked him to paint seasonal designs on the window of the store. He refused. She offered to provide the materials and pay him for his work. “I’m not good enough to paint pictures people will see,” he said.

“If you don’t do it, I’ll have to print designs on coloured paper, cut them out and tape them to the window,” she replied. Reassurance of his talent was futile. This man had no belief in himself or his abilities. The store ended up with coloured paper designs in their window.

As I listened to the story, I saw a universal problem. Most of us don’t believe in ourselves. No matter what we may hear to the contrary, we just don’t believe we are good enough to follow our dreams.

Until my desire to succeed became stronger than my fear of rejection I was the same. To some extent, I still am. The risk of failure is real. So is the opportunity for success. There are plenty of lessons on the road to achieving my dreams.
I will be forever grateful for the moment I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go for it! Now I know for certain, I am good enough – and so are you.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford

On the Right Foot

#inspiration, kicks, right foot,The aquafit instructor told us to kick our legs to the side, alternating right to left. I am left-handed, which means I often do things the opposite way to most people.

We had a full class and the participants were crowded close together. When I started off on the wrong foot it was a challenge not to make contact with the person next to me. My kicks caused problems on both sides.

The only way to avoid this was to stop, pay attention to what those beside me were doing and coordinate my steps with theirs. Once I was on the right foot things went smoothly.

The phrase, ‘start on the right foot’ means to make a good beginning; to start off well. Despite my best efforts, this is not always easy to do.

Earlier this week my day started off on the wrong foot. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fight or withdraw from the world. I was kicking myself and it would have been easy to inflict my self-destructive behaviour on others.

What I was doing wasn’t working so I needed to do something different. Once I acknowledged I was tired and overwhelmed it was easier to accept my limitations that day and move on. My attitude improved.

I started my day over, on the right foot this time. Once I was back in step with the world around me my day became positive and productive. And even better – no one around me was injured!

Communication Breakdown


#inspiration, internet, communication Our normally efficient high-speed internet was not working. We had been away from home for two months and counted on this means of communication to stay in touch with family. It was also necessary for keeping up-to-date with other commitments in our lives.

Our apartment in Mexico had a landline so we hadn’t bothered to get a Mexican cell phone. Unfortunately, the landline was connected to the internet. The result was a breakdown in all but face-to-face communication.

Our service was down for over a week, back up for a few days and then down again. No one else in the building had this problem. To say we were frustrated would be a gross understatement.

On the plus side, in the evening my husband and I talked or played cards instead of surfing the internet or watching Netflix. We hadn’t realized how much time was spent online until we were forced offline.

I know checking my email and social media can be addictive and have been working hard at curtailing this habit. It is easy to get caught up in the virtual world, with ‘friends’ I don’t even know. This comes at the expense of those I want close relationships with. There is something drastically wrong with this picture.

Emails and texting are convenient and often necessary. Spending hours online scrolling through Pinterest or Facebook leave me with little to show for my time. In order to create more of what I want in my life, I need to focus on personal interaction.

I find it ironic that it took an online communication breakdown to help prevent a breakdown in personal communication.