Addendum To Yesterday’s post: Sincerity of One’s Actions

As you have probably realized by now, sincerity and honesty are extremely important to me.

In yesterday’s post I wrote about the sincerity of one’s words.  I believe that a person has to be sincere about their actions as well.  This is equally important.  It never occurred to me that there are many people who go through life doing things that they do not enjoy doing.  Some actually do things they intensely dislike.

You might ask yourself, “Why would anyone do things they don’t enjoy doing?”  To answer this question, we have to recognize that sometimes all of us need to bite the bullet and do things that we normally wouldn’t do, whether for our work or because someone needs our help.  I think that both of these reasons are good reasons for not being true to oneself.  I am sure there are some other good reasons but right at this moment my mind is drawing a blank.

I have known far too many people who spend their whole lives trying to please people by doing things that are not compatible with their own needs or even their own ethical values.  This point was recently emphasized when I was watching an episode of “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix.  In a new relationship, Grace was pretending to like all the things her new man liked.  Then she would go home and complain to Frankie about how much she hated doing these things.  Her reason was that it was a new relationship and she wanted him to like her and enjoy being with her.  In my opinion, that is a horrible reason for doing something you dislike.  Grace was, in essence, lying to her new boyfriend.  She was being someone totally unlike herself.  The woman she was pretending to be was not the woman she really was.

I know that this is a common thing when people are in new relationships.  I will even say that I have tried doing some things that I thought I might not like, but not since I was not completely sure, I decided to give them a try.  What I did that was different than what Grace did, was once I discovered I didn’t really enjoy the activity, I told whoever I was doing it with how I felt and stopped participating.

An example of this was early in my marriage.  My husband was very involved with archery.  He was an Alberta champion archer.  In my desire to spend more time with him, I tried archery.  It did not take long to realize that it was not my thing…for many reasons…one of which was that my chest kept getting in the way of the string when I released.  That was PAINFUL!  Also, I was not very good.  I also realized that I did not enjoy being a spectator at the archery tournaments.  This meant many weekends when Greg was away at competitions and I was home by myself.  But that was okay with me.  Why pretend?

Recently I was in a relationship where my wonderful boyfriend did so many things to please me that he later told me he disliked doing.  I was absolutely astounded because he seemed to really enjoy doing these things.  Sometimes, he did enjoy doing some of them but he really needed to be working and would later be upset that he did not just say he was too busy.  It would not have bothered me if he had just said how he really felt.  I have many wonderful friends with common interests to do things with and would not have been upset at all.  I said as much so many times.  For some reason, I was not believed.  That is so sad because he spent way too much time doing things that were not in his best interest or that he didn’t enjoy,  just to try to please me.

If I sound like I am complaining about his wanting to please me, I really am not.  I loved that he wanted to please me.  He pleased me in many ways all the time.  But doing things and pretending to enjoy them and later being honest (and resentful) was not the best course of action.  It was an example of “insincere actions.”  It is also an example of dishonesty.  It doesn’t matter that the intention was well meant.  In the long run I think it is a huge part of why we are no longer together.  I made sure that I was always honest about what was important to me and what was not.  I am a woman of simple needs.  Unfortunately, he did not believe me.

To end this post, I just want to say that if you have to do things that you are only pretending to enjoy in order to have a relationship (whether with a friend or a romantic partner) then the relationship in not REAL or HONEST and that means it is not HEALTHY!  Please, don’t ever let yourself be a person who is not your own authentic self.  Live life honestly, with passion and joy always!

Choose Your Words With Sincerity

I suspect that finding the best title for this post will have been the most difficult part of my message today.  This post is about both choosing your words and about making sure that what you say is sincere, but also so much more!  It is about how this affects any relationship you have.

I am sure that all of us have, at times, said things we regretted later.  I am so very careful about NOT doing that, although years ago I was not so diligent.  In the heat of an argument, it is not so unusual for people to do this.  What I have recently learned is that there are some people, very kind, loving, people, who DO, indeed choose their words carefully, but are not sincere about what they are communicating.  These people can be excellent communicators.  I think the root cause in what they do is the intense desire for the chosen words to be true.  I believe that they say these words, usually wonderful, complimentary words, because they know that what is being said will make the recipient feel good and also because they, themselves, want so much to believe that everything is “perfect”.

You might be asking yourself right now, “How can giving someone compliments be bad?”  That is THE most important question to ask.  It is my opinion that if these praises are sincerely given, they will never be “bad” or “hurtful”.  Unfortunately, many times we find out later that the person giving these compliments says them to everyone about everything.  They are totally meaningless when offered that way.  I guess if one never found out that they were insincere, then there would be no downside.

I think sometimes a person’s desire to have the “life of their dreams” or the “perfect relationship” causes them to say what they wish was true rather than what is really true.  Not only does that hurt the recipient of the compliments, but it also hurts the donor.  It fools them, usually temporarily, into believing that they have what they desire when, in fact, they do not.

I am a firm believer in being honest.  I am also a firm believer in trying not to hurt people’s feelings.  I also believe that one can do both of these simultaneously.  Is there anyone among us who has never told a “little white lie” to protect the feelings of someone they care about?  I doubt that there is.  There is a huge difference in doing that and just saying wonderful things about everything and everybody.  Then the compliments become totally meaningless.  They lose any value that they would have if they were said with sincerity.

I think that we all need to think about the words we use, especially in relationships, whether with friends, family or significant others.  We need to do this ALL the time, not just in the heat of an argument, but ALL the time.  Make what you say count by choosing your words with sincerity!

Endings

I have been working on this blog entry for about a month.  It is, without a doubt, the most difficult piece I have ever written.  When a relationship ends, any relationship, there are a myriad of emotions one goes through.  Those emotions vary in intensity depending on how important that relationship is to you.

In my 69 years on this earth I have had many relationships end…friendships dissolve all the time, for various reasons.  Losing a friend can be painful…or not…depending on the situation.  Losing a family member is usually tragic.  Losing someone you love with all your heart can be devastating… it almost always is.

I have lost both of the men I have loved.  The circumstances and situations were entirely different.  Both of these “endings” were tragic.  The way they affected me was totally different.  I lost Greg to death…suicide.  I lost Stephen due to his choice to end the relationship.   I feel I was able to handle Greg’s death much easier than Stephen’s ending our three and quarter year relationship.

I know that many people will disagree but I think that dealing with a relationship that ends due to a death is much easier to handle than one that ends because one of the people decides to leave.  I have experienced both, and for me, having the finality of death made it easier to deal with the loss.  There was nothing I could do, once the death occurred, to “fix” things.  There was “closure”. Although I asked myself many questions about how I could have made things better after Greg died, I knew that the answers could not change what happened.  I went through all the stages of grief but in an entirely different way than I am going through them now.  The “absoluteness” of death made second guessing totally unnecessary.  The fact that there was nothing I could do to bring Greg back made it easier, at least for me, to get on with my life…not to wallow in the past.  Although the last years of Greg’s life were not very happy years, for him, myself and our son, Ted, we had so many happy memories.  Deciding to embrace those happy moments made it easier to go on.  This is not how I am finding the recovery from my present situation.

When I met Stephen, I wasn’t really looking for another relationship.  I have a previous blog post about all that.  After Greg dies I made a conscious decision that I could and would be happy, passionate about life, positive and enjoy life by myself.  I did this for thirteen years.  I lived a life filled with wonderful friends, doing things I loved to do, having many experiences that enriched my life in so many ways.  I could have gone on this way for the rest of my life.  I never felt that I needed a man to complete me.  I had been without intimate relations (yep, I am talking about sex…but also touching of any kind) for such a long time (I know it’s unbelievable, but it was 26 years) that I didn’t miss any of that.  Or at least that’s what I thought at the time.

Along came Stephen.  My life changed in more ways than I thought possible.  He is, without a doubt, the most intelligent, funny, positive (especially when it comes to other people), passionate, kind and generous person I have ever met.  He started me on the road to “recovery”.  What I mean by that is that he gave me knowledge that led to me making some extremely life-changing decisions.  My health has improved more than I ever thought possible.  I am in better shape than I ever was.  I look and feel years younger.  My thirst for knowledge was encouraged.  I learned about passion…and I learned that when with the right person, my “lusty wench” persona was alive and well.  I learned that touching was probably more important than anything I had done without for years.  I learned what it was like when someone actually touched my soul.  I learned how to “have fun with life”…all the time.  Stephen and I made so many people laugh…cashiers in grocery stores, people walking on the street, friends, family, just about everybody…and most of all, each other.

For reasons I won’t go into (not my story to tell) I was unable to make Stephen happy.  I gave it my best shot.  I have never loved anyone like I loved (and still do love) him.  I know that might upset some people.  But I am not a young woman now as I was when I met Greg.  I know so much more about what is important in life…it makes a huge difference.  After going through three horrible episodes where Stephen decided to end our relationship (one of those times I had to move out and find a place of my own) and then changing his mind when we decided we would try to work things out, we both realized that although we had made great strides in making ourselves more able to have our relationship work, he just wasn’t happy.  I have to say that I was honestly very surprised.  I know we had a few issues that we still had to deal with, but I thought we were both happy.  I am just as responsible as he is for our relationship not working.  I am placing no blame.

What I did realized is that I couldn’t make him happy…he had to be happy with himself.  That goes for me, too.  I also realized that I could not continue to be a “yo-yo” with our “on again/off again” relationship.  I thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives together.  I knew that I had found THE best person I have ever known and the man I would love forever.

The recovery from this relationship is the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with…and I have dealt with some difficult things in my life.  If Stephen was dead then I could move on much more easily.  Don’t misunderstand, I am extremely happy he is not dead.  But this way, there are so many “what ifs” or “if onlys”.  There is no closure.  There is no finality in the same way that there is when dealing with a death.  I know this is final…but “where there is life, there is hope”is always at the back of my mind.

I am doing a lot of HARD work to get through this.  The first few weeks were terrible!  I cried all the time.  People told me that I had to do that…it’s part of the grieving process.  I hate feeling so sad. Maybe if our relationship had more “bad” times it would be easier.  But most of the time things were more wonderful than I ever expected.  I cannot focus only on the few unhappy times in order to get through this.  That may work for some people, but because my life had never been better, I cannot do that.

I find that the boundaries Stephen has set for our “recovery” period are very hard for me.  The first person I want to share things with is him.  Not hearing his voice (which I heard every day for over three years) is hard for me.  Having NO contact is so very hard.  And the collateral damage is so vast and affects so many people!  My granddaughter says to me every time I see her, “Grandpa will be back because we love him so much and he loves us so much.”  I did not tell her what really happened as she is only 3 years old.  I told her he moved away.  Stephen and Sadie had such an amazing relationship!  He is the BEST Grandpa in the world.  She will have so many happy memories because of her “adventures” with him.  I am so glad this is true!

I lost my relationship with his whole family.  I have grown to love them very much.  I will miss them all so very much.

So, time passes and some days are even good…it is on those good days, the days when I actually have some fun, that I crash the hardest.  I come home from being with friends and enjoying myself and I find myself alone and I realize that although I have wonderful people in my life, it is still very “empty” at times.  I know that this is part of the “process” of grieving.  I know that I will have bad days along with the good ones.  I know that I will take two steps forward and one step back over and over again.  I also know that I WILL go on and have a happy life…but I know (because it is what I WANT) that it will be a life without a “partner”.  Partly because I will never put my heart out there again and partly because I have found that most men I meet are not looking for the a woman who wants what I want.  I want a life filled with passion…about everything.  There are not a lot of men my age out there who want that.  Even if I found one (and I am NOT going to look) I could never take the chance again of being hurt and feeling like I do now.

I KNOW that I am strong and resilient.  I KNOW that I will be fine and that I will go on to do wonderful things.  But let me tell you, this is THE HARDEST thing I have ever done.  There are times when people say, “You are strong and everything will be okay soon,” that I just want to say, “I am tired of being strong.”

Endings are never easy…this one certainly is NOT!

Hopefully some of you may find this blog post beneficial…you might be able to relate.  I know it has helped me to write it.

Unexpected Challenges

For the past few months I have been struggling with an unanticipated challenge.  I am usually quite good at handling whatever comes my way.  I have always had a wonderful support network although I must admit that I don’t like using them unless it is absolutely necessary.

There have been many unexpected challenges in my life.  Those of you who know me, know what they have been.  You also know that I am not one to dwell on the negative aspects of what life hands me.  Sometimes, at least for me, this is not so easy.  The difference with the challenge I am facing now is that it is a very emotionally charged issue.  Handled incorrectly, the consequences could be ones I would not like at all.

This is not a new issue for me.  I have been dealing with this for years…with different people, as I am sure everyone has, at times.  I have written about it in previous blogs.  It has to do with reciprocity in relationships.  I am not going to talk about the issue.  We all know that any good relationship needs give and take.  Without that, there is no point in the relationship.

What I have been wrestling with is how to deal with this as it is affecting me now.  I have choices.  I have been very vocal about my belief that we create our lives by the choices we make…by how we react to what happens to us in our lives.  I have tried the methodical strategy of evaluating the pros and cons of reacting in certain ways.  Although the number of pros and cons is fairly equal, the results of reacting one way or the other is radically different.

I have asked for advice from people I respect.  Almost everyone has given me the same advice.  One person seemed to think that I am being selfish in wanting or even expecting reciprocity in one of these cases.  I have very strong feelings attached to this issue.  The feelings are MINE…I am entitled to them regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I do understand that there are situations in people’s lives that may require that they need to “take” more than “give” for a time.  I totally get that everyone goes through hard times and they might need more help than usual to get through a given situation.  I am good with “giving” more in these situations…IF, and this is a big IF…I am given some sign, even a small one, that I am appreciated for the support I am giving.

I am dealing with this same issue with four different people right now.  It is interesting that for years one might never run into situations like this and then BAM…it seems like everyone needs support.  I am open to helping others…always.  All I ask in return is to somehow be shown by these people that they care about me and appreciate all that I do to make life better for them.  Is it crazy to think that everyone knows that phones work in two directions?  Is it crazy to wish that it wasn’t always me who calls or arranges times to meet or to check in and make sure that they are okay?  Is it unreasonable to think that I might be invited to their homes and not always be the one who does the hosting?  I don’t think so.  Is it also unreasonable to hope that when I need help some of these people might step up and offer some…or even just check in to make sure I am okay?

I had cataract surgery two weeks ago.  It went very well, but I have had two weeks of restricted activity.  What really amazed me was that the person who has been most supportive is a woman who I have only known for a year…a woman who is one of the most selfless people I have ever met.  She is kind, caring and has taken such great care of me.  I also have a very supportive man in my life, who has been a lot of help as well even though he has a lot on his plate right now.

I HATE being dependent on people.  That means I won’t ask for help unless it is absolutely necessary.  I just didn’t think I would have to ask the people who I have helped over and over in our various relationships.

What I have decided is that I am just going to stop being there for these people…except in emergency situations (I am not heartless or selfish) until such time as I feel that what I do is appreciated…until I know that there is any reason,  other than the fact that they need something from me, that they might want me in their lives.  This makes me so very sad!  I am hopeful that sooner, rather than later, I will find that I AM important to them.

The message I want to get across is that all of us have to stand up for ourselves and not let ourselves be taken advantage of…in any and all of our relationships…with friends, spouses or significant others and even, sometimes, family.  The one person who will be with you for all your life is YOU!  Protect your heart and your emotional health.  Be good to yourselves.

I don’t want people reading this to think that these people have any relationship to each other…if you read this and you think I might be writing about you, then all I ask is that you think about all this and do what you think is right.  I don’t need to discuss this at all…I will be here…still caring about you…as I have since we met.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

This blog post is, in one way, extremely easy to write and in another way, extremely difficult.  Within the span of two short days the Universe has pointed out to me just how precarious life is.  Literally, in the blink of an eye, one’s life can end.

The first sign from the Universe occurred this past Saturday when my wonderful Stephen and I were returning from a road trip in “The Slinky Linky” (Stephen’s wonderful car).  We had been to visit Stephen’s dad in Didsbury, Alberta.  We picked Saturday because the weather and road conditions were good.  We knew that a REAL cold snap was on the way and wanted to make sure we could make this trip prior to Christmas.

We had a relaxing and stress-free trip (complete with a wonderful massage during the entire drive…from the Slinky Linky, not from Stephen) from Edmonton to Olds, where we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants for lunch.  Then it was on to the lodge to visit with Dale.  We had a lovely visit.  I was primarily a “listener” in the conversation which hit on many interesting topics.  I did chime in occasionally, but found it much more interesting to be an observer.  Stephen and his dad are so well versed in so many subjects that I know very little about and I love just listening and learning.

We showed Dale some photos of Christoper’s new family, which he enjoyed seeing enormously.  We also showed him photos of Sadie which he also loved!  Dale opened the Christmas gifts we had brought for him, choosing to open them while we were with him, rather than on Christmas Day.

We left, shortly before 4:00 pm and headed back home.  Of course, being so far north and it being December, most of the drive home was in the dark.  We were discussing lots of interesting topics and I was enjoying another wonderful massage, when Stephen yelled, “Oh my God!” and jerked the steering wheel.  As I mentioned, it was dark.  There was not a lot of traffic.  We were on the QE2 Highway nearing Red Deer.  I had no idea what was happening, but my body reacted instantly…I could feel my blood pressure rising, I felt nauseated and disorientated.  I looked to my right and saw what had made Stephen cry out.  A car that had been stopped on the shoulder decided to get back on the highway, obviously without looking.  He was travelling slowly.  We were going about 122 km/hr.  We had been in the right hand lane and Stephen had swerved to the left in order to miss being hit.  The driver of the entering vehicle, for whatever reason, decided that he would not only get back on the road, but cut over to the outside lane (where we had gone to avoid him).  Stephen, with his ability to be totally focused on whatever he is doing, was in complete control.  He also has a super quick reaction time and always maintains a “cool head” in emergency situations.  Due to his superb driving abilities, we were safe!

It took so much longer to write the last paragraph than the incident itself took.  In that instant, when all this was happening, I experienced what people have told me about happening to them in “near death” situations.  My life did, indeed, flash in front of my eyes…at least enough of it to make me think this might be THE END for us.  My whole body was shaking and I thought I might vomit or pass out.  Those of you who know me know that I do NOT vomit…my one last phobia still intact.  I had an instant migraine, probably from that rush of adrenaline released during the “fight or flight” situation.  Both Stephen and I were absolutely amazed that we had avoided a collision…one that probably would have killed us as well as the driver of the other car due to the speed differential.

After we had calmed down, we started talking about what had happened.  We both believe that death is not something to be feared,  for we believe in Reincarnation and also because we know that we are here, on Earth, for a reason…to accomplish “something” and if what we are to accomplish is not complete, then it is not our time to leave this life.  That being said, I am so very glad it was not our time!  I have so much more I want to do in this life!  Also, before this life ends, I want to make sure that certain things happen.  The NEAR MISS, which was literally, within an inch of our lives, made both of us examine how we have been living our lives and how we wish to continue living them.

The second incident the Universe provided in order to show us how quickly a life can cease to exist involved a totally freak accident that took the life of someone very close to Stephen…the mother of his sister-in-law.  She was a perfectly healthy woman in her eighties, living a wonderful, meaningful and active life.  What happened to her was so unexpected and took her life so quickly.  There certainly was no time for closure for the family members.  I cannot even imagine the depth of their grief.

This is what I learned from these signs from the Universe:

1,   Make sure that you let the people in your life who mean the most to you know how much you love them.

2.  If there is a “rift” or problem between yourself and anyone important to you, do whatever you can to fix things between you.  It may not always be possible to do that, but try!

Also remember that not every problem can be fixed and know when to leave it be if this is true.

3.   Make sure that you are living THE BEST life you can live.  Make the choices that are best for YOU!

Remember, only if YOU are happy with yourself, will your relationships with others be as great as they can and should be.

4.   Don’t take anyone or anything for granted.

5.   Live every day as if it was your last…enjoy every minute of it.  That means always focus on the positives!

6.   Keep a “Gratitude Journal” and read it frequently.  This will remind you how very fortunate you are.

I could keep going, but I am sure you get the point…In a blink of an eye your life can cease to exist.  To that end, live a fulfilling and joyous life!  And during this joyous holiday season, stay focused on your driving…remember that people may have been out celebrating, with or without alcohol.  Be super-aware of the drivers on the roads.  Stay safe!

 

 

Making Lemonade from Lemons: Our Fall Trip

I am sure you have all heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  We all know, or we should, that the way we react to situations is our own choice.  Some of us find that choosing to see the good when it is not all that apparent is quite easy and some don’t.  I am a person who has always tried to be positive…even when things were quite bleak.  I think this is why, for most of my life, I have been so happy!

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go on a wonderful holiday with my true love this September.  Rather than going somewhere exotic, we combined our holiday with some family “business” on his part.  Stephen’s family is wonderful!  Every last one of them!  There are four wonderful brothers, an amazing sister and all the spouses.  I am so lucky that they all welcomed me into the family!  We have enjoyed some wonderful times together in the past few years…Palm Desert as well as various times in our lovely Alberta.

This September we started out by stopping by the family farm in Carstairs on our way to Calgary to meet Katie and Carl.  Our first “lemon” was that we had booked the wrong Hampton Inn and Suites in Calgary…who knew that there were two with the same name…Hampton Inn and Suites Calgary Airport.  We thought we were booking the same hotel we had stayed at the summer before. Alas, we were not.  The hotel room was very nice and very clean.  They only problem was that there was no restaurant or lounge.  We did not have a suite and visiting with four adults was a tad crowded in our rooms.  Did we let this bother us?  No, we just found other places to enjoy each other’s company for those two nights.

The weather and the gorgeous fall foliage were amazing!  We spent a wonderful day visiting an outdoor home decor exhibit followed by a lot of walking and visiting.  We managed to get to one lovely art gallery.  We had some wonderful, deep, philosophical discussions where I learned that the four of us are “kindred spirits.”

Then on to the hotel in Canmore.  The original plan had been to stay in Banff but as it was still considered “the season” we decided to stay in Canmore but spend our days in Banff.  The resort we stayed in was really a time share/condo.  Not new…not really all that clean, but the suites were nice and the views were amazing!  Again, the weather and the foliage were fantastic.  Now, I know I said that the suite was nice…but there were some strange things about it.  First of all, the one bedroom, complete with a King sized bed, was NOT a large room.  In fact, it was so small that you couldn’t even open the closet door or get the luggage rack out of the closet.

Then there was the bathroom…The makeup mirror was located about a foot below the ceiling…fine for women over 7 feet tall, but for poor 4 foot 11 inch me, it was a joke.  Have you ever tried to put on makeup while looking up at the ceiling???  Then there was the shower!  Each suite had a steam shower, equipped with a foot massaging unit.  The steam shower had 3 dual purpose knobs and a pin pad with MANY numbers and symbols on it.  There WAS an instruction card located in the bathroom.  Unfortunately the diagrams on the card were NOT for the shower in our room.  We didn’t even want to use the steam part of the shower…all we wanted was a regular shower.  You would think that would have been easy…but NO way!  After at least a half hour’s reading and trying to figure it out, Stephen suggested I go first.  I am SO glad I did not decide to wash my very thick hair…it would have been impossible to stay in the shower long enough to rinse the soap out because this was the HOTTEST shower I have ever had!  And the shortest!  I believe I looked like a lobster when I emerged.  Stephen also had a very short, very hot shower.

When we met Katie and Carl for breakfast we asked them if they were able to figure out the shower.  This is when we found out that not all the showers were the same.  They WERE able to figure out how to make their regular shower work.  They also flooded the entire bathroom in their suite…to the extent that water leaked to the suite below them (or so we heard).  What happened to them was that when they turned the shower on, the cover on the foot massager blew off and water sprayed out at very high pressure.

Did any of this ruin our stay?  Absolutely not!  We laughed about it all.  The next morning we had the opposite problem…NO hot water.  So, sponge baths only (and short ones) until we checked into our hotel in Olds, where we knew the shower was not only clean, but we knew how to make it work and we knew we would have water of the correct temperature.

The other “funny” incident at our hotel in Canmore occurred in the restaurant in the hotel when we went for dinner…albeit a late dinner.  Katie and I ordered wine…each of us ordered a nine ounce glass…why not?  We weren’t driving!  Stephen ordered a beer and Carl asked for “a glass of your finest Diet Coke.”  This request seemed to confuse the waitress who was not all that comfortable with the English language.  After finally figuring out what Carl wanted she left to get our drinks.  When our wine arrived at our table it was very obvious that they were not nine ounce pours…we all suspected they weren’t even 6 ounces.  We asked our lovely waitress about this and she assured us that we had 9 ounces.  We were all a little upset and possibly a little bit more vocal in expressing this than we should have been.  The two other couples in the restaurant were quite amused by us.  Although this restaurant was advertised as a VERY upscale and popular place, there were very few diners that evening.

What could have been a very tense situation was made into something very different by my wonderful Stephen.  He called the waitress over and told her that we were all gamblers and we always bet on things…for a lot of money.  He said that Katie, Carl and myself thought we got a short pour but that HE thought we did not.  He said he hated to lose bets and the only way to settle this was for her, our waitress, to bring us a measured shot glass and we would find out.  She was very willing to do that…after all, she didn’t pour the wine.  She returned with the shot glass and we measured the wine in the glasses…we were right…not quite six ounces!  We let our waitress know and she righted the situation by bringing us the remaining three ounces and possibly a bit more.

Next we decided to order our food.  Being that it was later than we usually dined, and we didn’t want a big, heavy meal, we opted for three appetizers.  They were small but expensive…but that’s for later in the story.  Katie, being very much like her brother, told the waitress (in a joking way) that “we didn’t want 75% of our appetizers, we wanted ALL, 100%,  at the same time.”  We were not sure if she knew we were joking and found out later that she probably did not.  Our three dishes were:  elk meatballs in a Saskatoon sauce;  mini crab cakes with a different sauce for each one; and a charcuterie tray.  They first two dishes were “fine” but certainly not terrific.  The charcuterie tray was very weird indeed.  On the plate were:  pickled onions; olives; hot peppers; crostini; some sort of salami; some very “not dry” proscuttio; and some RAW bacon!  Yes, raw bacon…okay, it was pancetta, but it was totally RAW and disgusting!

We did NOT make a fuss.  We did not send anything back.  We did not complain.  But we did decide to order dessert.  Katie, Carl and I ordered two to share between the three of us and Stephen asked the waitress if they had ice cream.  She told him that they did but said, “You do NOT want that…it is VERY tiny…for children!”  It was obvious that she was afraid he would be upset by the size of the scoops.  Stephen assured her that he would be fine with just a little ice cream.  When the desserts came out the ice cream was in a huge bowl and there were FOUR gigantic scoops of chocolate ice cream in the bowl.  Our waitress obviously told the kitchen staff what had happened with the wine and asked for extra ice cream.  We were not charged extra for this.  But I will tell you that the cost of that particular dinner was extremely high!  Way too much for what we ordered.  In terms of how much we laughed and how much fun we had, it was well worth it!

On to Olds, Alberta, where we stayed in a wonderful hotel called the Pomeroy.  It is located across the street from Olds College.  The restaurant, Just Jacks, is terrific!  Great food at great prices, served by skilled wait staff.  There were NO lemons to be found at the Pomeroy!  We all (12 of us most of the time) had a fantastic time!  We even took over the lobby one night when Carl played his guitar and the family sang…and boy can they harmonize!  The college has a Botanical Garden and Wetlands that allowed me to wander the grounds snapping gorgeous photos of the beautiful fall foliage.

We had so many wonderful experiences on this trip but the VERY best was an evening set up by Bonnie with her cousin Willie Hamm who is a musician and a Luthier.  He makes amazing stringed instruments of all varieties.  His work is flat-out unbelievable.  He has a relationship with wood that one rarely sees (my son also has this relationship with wood).  He showed us how he designs and builds all his instruments in his shop, which is attached to his home.  He explained why he chooses a specific wood for a specific instrument…he actually can “play” a piece of wood…Willie makes one-of-a-kind instruments for famous and not so famous people.  He showed us harps, guitars, bouzoukis, banjos, ukuleles, and other stringed instruments he has made or was in the process of making.  He “book matches” the grain of the wood on each instrument.  While making a guitar for a female country singer who has now passed away, he discovered that in the “book matching” process, a face appeared on the back of the guitar…a woman’s face.  We saw that face and it was REALLY there.

After the experience of seeing how Willie designs and builds these instruments, we were treated to what I believe was the best (or possibly the second best next to Sir Paul’s)  concert I have ever had the experience of attending.  He played most of the instruments he had in his shop, and he can play all of them extremely well.  He writes his own music, all instrumental (at least all he played for us).  Willie is an amazingly talented musician as well as a wonderful Luthier.  He has just produced his first CD and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Willie uses only wood that has fallen naturally…he does not use wood that needs to be chopped down.  He travels all over the world to get his wood.  Willie is a MOST amazing man and the experience we were treated to that evening was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I would have paid hundreds of dollars to have this experience!

The rest of our holiday was spent with the family…and what a wonderful family they are!  Six siblings who all get along (maybe not always but most of the time) and who love and respect each other…although they certainly have many differences of opinions.  These people know how to have fun!  They know how to show their love!  They know how to laugh and rejoice!  And they all know how to sing!  You can tell that I am NOT a biological member of this family as I cannot sing, although I wish I could.

There were no more “lemons” on this holiday.  As far as I was concerned, the lemons we were given helped to create one of the best holidays I have had…EVER!  Remember, YOU decide how the experiences in your life make you feel.  Although I have always known this fact, this holiday showed me again that we are the creators of our Universe and we have the power to experience the life we desire!

Happy travels to you all!

WANTS VS NEEDS

I think all of us have been guilty of wanting or desiring things over the course of our lives…who doesn’t do that???  We all crave things…happiness, material possessions, love, success, recognition, financial independence and many other things. We wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t do this.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting these and any other things you might desire.

It was not until very recently that I finally, after sixty-eight years, made the distinction between “wanting” and “needing”.  I was taught this difference by my parents, who were trying to make sure that I grew up to be a person with good values.  My teachers also made this distinction.  I clearly remember a Social Studies unit in Elementary school defining our basic needs:  Food; Shelter; Clothing.  As I got older, other basic needs were added to that list of a more personal or emotional nature:  to feel valued as a person; respect; human contact, or shall we say, connections with other people; intellectual stimulation to name a few.  Things get more complex the older we get.

I have caught myself many times in my life starting a statement with the words, “I need…” I honestly believed I did need certain things…not always to make me happy…sometimes to make life easier and even sometimes in order to help another person.  Again, nothing wrong with these thoughts.  Maybe they are a bit misguided and maybe they are a bit misunderstood.

I have, over the years, become more of a minimalist.  I never liked clutter of any kind…the kind you can see and even the kind you cannot, like thoughts and feelings that can clutter your mind, filling it with unimportant or negative “stuff” until there is not enough room for the really important and positive “stuff”.

I love the simplicity of my life now, without the clutter.  My home is peaceful, beautiful (in my opinion) and functional.  I am very happy here.  I do not NEED anything else to make this home of mine better.  I am safe here.  I have many friends here.  I have wonderful amenities like the pool,  the hot tub and the gym, which are fun, but they also help to relax me and keep me in good physical condition.

It was easy for me to understand that all the material things I craved were not NEEDS…they were things that I wanted.  I got that concept a long time ago.  Where the difficulty came for me was in applying this NEED/WANT confusion to relationships with people and to more intellectual and spiritual issues.

Well, I am happy to say that I finally understand COMPLETELY!

Let me first explain what I have learned about the PEOPLE part of this.  I love my wonderful Stephen so very much!  I desire him!  I crave physical contact and emotional stimulation from him!  I depend on him to teach me things, to open up my eyes to new and different ideas about life, the world, science (my weakest area) and to protect me in the event I need protection.  I WANT to be with him…I WANT him in my life…as much as is possible BUT I finally realized that I do not NEED him.  I can take care of myself…I did it for years and I have always been, not just okay, but happy. Now, knowing that I WANT him but don’t NEED him has, in a way, freed me from the sadness I used to feel when we were not together, the stress I used to feel if we argued and I thought we might not make it as a couple, and the emotional turmoil that sometimes exists in any relationship.

Now I am able to enjoy every minute I spend with Stephen without worrying about what might happen or how I might feel when we are not able to be together…and there will always be times like that..”.life” intrudes into our lives all the time.  I recognize that the desire to be with him is terrific.  What I felt before, or maybe just thought I felt (doesn’t really matter as the result is the same) was not good for me and tended to have the opposite effect that I wished it to have.  Not only has this improved MY life, but his as well.  Our relationship is so much stronger because of this.

This WANT/NEED conundrum is also crucial to understand in your relationships with EVERY person in your life…even family.  Of course you love your family members!  That love is, or should be unconditional, but you do NOT NEED them if the relationship turns, in any way toxic.  By that I mean, if the way the people in your lives treat you makes you unhappy, then you do NOT NEED them in your life.  You may WANT them in your life, but you don”t need them to be happy.

What we need, or I guess I should say, who we need, are people who can heal us if we are ill in any way.  Also the people who provide our basic needs…the people who grow and sell the food we need; the people who build the houses we live in; the people who manufacture and sell the clothing we need, not to look pretty, but to protect us from the elements of weather.  We need people as our friends (and even family sometimes) who support us, treat us with respect and understanding and are POSITIVE assets to our lives.

Last night I made a list everything I thought was a NEED and everything I thought was a WANT.  At the end of the exercise I had almost completely eliminated one of those lists.  Can you guess which one?

Be a happier, more productive person by recognizing the difference.  Have a wonderful life…filled will what you REALLY NEED!!!

Choices

Every single one of us faces many choices each and every day.  Throughout the course of the day we interact with people who affect our lives in various ways.  Events happen which change our lives; sometimes subtly and sometimes in an earth-shattering way.  The people and the events change daily (sometimes) but what stays the same is our ability to choose how we react.

We are so very lucky to be able to choose how we react to what is happening to us.  Yet I believe that some people do not understand that they have this ability.  They are victims.  The world happens TO them.  They do not understand that we create our own destiny by making things happen and by making choices that make us happy.

We all know people who have suffered.  Unfortunately bad things DO happen to good people.  If we look at these “bad” things, I believe that most often they were caused by these very same “good” people.  Their choices affect others, especially those who love them and sometimes are very important to them.  That does not make them “bad” people…just people who have made bad choices.

Because I believe that the way we react to events and people is a choice, one that can make the difference between being a happy, positive person or wallowing in self-pity and sadness, I have made the following choices.

-I CHOOSE to awaken each morning and see all the wonderful possibilities the day holds for me.

-I CHOOSE to fill my heart with love for the people who mean the most to me and to show them how I feel each and every day, not with my words, but with my actions.

-I CHOOSE to look for the GOOD in all situations even when it might be hiding among all the “other” stuff life throws at me.

-I CHOOSE to be good to myself by doing all that I can to be healthy, physically fit, happy and emotionally secure.

-I CHOOSE to live a life filled with love…for myself and for all the people in my life.

-I CHOOSE to look beneath the surface to see what is REALLY meaningful to me.

-I CHOOSE to learn something new and useful every single day…keeping my mind sharp and continually acquiring knowledge.

-I CHOOSE laughter over tears.

-I CHOOSE to be helpful and never intentionally hurtful to anyone I interact with in any way.

-I CHOOSE to be grateful each and every day for all the wonderful people in my life.

-I CHOOSE to NOT let the little things that tend to frustrate me become big things that cause me pain.

-I CHOOSE to support the people who are important to me in any and every way I can and to make sure that these loved ones know they can count on me…ALWAYS.

-I CHOOSE to try not to let people “push my buttons” and cause me to become stressed or unhappy.

-I CHOOSE to focus on the MANY positive things in my life that make me happy and to not let things “get me down.”

-I CHOOSE to live a happy, full life with the focus being on how I can make the important people in my life see this and know that ANYTHING is possible and achievable if you want it and are     willing to work for it…no matter how difficult that might be.

-I CHOOSE, now, and have chosen in the past, to live, to learn, to laugh and to love…even when things are “tough”…because I CAN!!!

I hope that all of you will think about the choices you make every day and choose YOU first!

 

 

 

Finding Purpose In Your Life

I have never felt a lack of purpose in my life.  As a teacher I know that I touched many lives.  I run into past students frequently and they tell me how I made a difference in their lives.

I have always been the type of person who loves to learn and grow.  I have NEVER been bored!  Not EVER!  I can’t imagine anyone ever being bored but I know people sometimes find it difficult to fill the hours of their days, especially when they are retired.

The first year after I retired from my teaching career I decided to travel.  I did not travel for extended periods.  In the Fall of that year I went back to the east coast of the United States where I grew up to visit people I had not seen in many years.  I coordinated that trip to coincide with the spectacular foliage that is very much more flamboyant than here in Alberta.  It was a wonderful trip.

In the Spring of the same year I had the opportunity to accompany a friend on a trip to Vietnam.  This was a destination that had never made it to my bucket list of travel destinations.  I did have lots of curiosity about Vietnam as the War had played a prominent roll in my life during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  It was a very interesting experience.

Until August of that same year I continued my very busy life.  I often asked myself how I had managed to fit full-time work into my schedule.  I found that this busy life was mostly comprised of social engagements with friends.  I was never bored but wanted to do something more meaningful to me personally.  I got a job as a bookseller at a local bookstore.  I decided that although I didn’t need to work, I would work full-time until I decided that was not what I wanted to do.  After about 8 years I went to part-time.

During my time at the bookstore I made many important connections with some amazing people.  I managed to publish a children’s book I had written almost 20 years earlier.  I worked on other writing projects as well.  As with most things in life, a time came when I felt I needed a change.  I was collecting pensions and decided that it was time to REALLY retire…for the second time.

I have never regretted that decision.  I have never looked for another job.  Sometimes the Universe sends something to you that you might not have consciously  ever considered.  In my case the Universe sent me some wonderful things which have changed my life for the better in so many ways.

The first was my wonderful man.  I was not looking for him, but I am certainly blessed to have him in my life.  He is, like me, a person who loves learning and through him I have learned so many things that have brought me great joy,  a much healthier lifestyle, and a love like none I have ever felt before.  Every day I am grateful for Stephen and all he has contributed and continues to contribute to my life.

The second was a totally different job, structured to fit perfectly into my life as it is now.  In my new position I have the chance to grow and learn every single day!  I am doing things that I never would have considered doing at other times in my life.  I am taking computer courses on-line and learning new skills that have made me a much stronger, more self-confident woman.

I have become involved in a much more active way in the community in which I live.  I have changed residences and have found a place that offers so much more than I expected to find in condo living.  I had never been really active in any of the communities I resided in prior to this.  I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that a person can sometimes find purpose in life in very unexpected places.  They key is to find things to do that you feel passionate about and do them as frequently as you can.  Keep learning!  Keep growing!  Keep active and fit and healthy!  Learn that you can find purpose in helping others but that is not the only way.  Decide what matters most to you and then set your goals and do everything in your power to achieve those goals.  If you do these things, you will never lack purpose or meaning in your life!

Lessons Learned

It has been so long since I last posted anything on my blog.  I have been very busy going through some life changing situations.  I have learned a lot in the last year.  I have learned how to be a better person.  I have learned how to show support to others while still being true to who I really am.  I have also learned that in order to be REALLY happy one might have to change one’s view (or perhaps dream) of what one’s life will look like in the future.  I have also learned that it isn’t as difficult as I had thought to remain calm when others around you are NOT!  It is much easier to take a step back, say to yourself, “this has nothing to do with me” and just listen…being supportive and understanding.

One of the most important things I have learned is that people are not always who they appear to be on the “outside”.  Sometimes, the most successful and apparently fulfilled people are just as insecure and vulnerable as anyone else.  They need our support and possibly even our suggestions as much as anyone else does.  I learned this from watching and interacting with others:  the love of my life,  my family members and my wonderful friends.  REALLY listening to what they say and sometimes what they don’t say is crucial to a good relationship…no matter what the relationship is.  I think that our listening skills are probably one of our most important skills and they are sometimes very under-rated.  We all listen…but how many of us know how to listen to what is not being said???

I think that although the last year has been hard for me (and quite expensive) it was just what I needed to finally understand just how important it is to work hard for what you really want in life. Sometimes we need help form others, even just initially, to find the skills necessary to do this.  It is my firm belief that if something is important enough, then a person should do everything possible to succeed and reach their goal, whatever it may be.  Giving up is NEVER an option!

It would have been so easy to give up on what I wanted…much easier than learning what I needed to learn to make my relationship (and life in its newest incarnation) work for me.  I almost did. Who, in their right mind, wants to suffer through learning that they don’t know what they need to know in order to make their life work?  I just thought about my past…how no matter how rough it got, I never gave up.  That made my choice, to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of my life, a very easy one to make.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned over the last year:

1.  Never give up on your dreams or your goals…you may have to adapt them, but never lose sight of the real objective.

2.  Learn to listen to what people are really saying to you, whether verbally or by their actions.

3.  Respond, after listening, but do not react emotionally…you will notice a huge difference.

4.  NEVER feel obligated to do things that make you unhappy…you can still help people without compromising yourself.

5.  ALWAYS follow through on commitments!  To do less is not fair to others or to yourself.

6.  Love yourself and that self-love will make it possible to really show others the love you feel for them.

7.  Recognize that “things” are NOT important…people ARE!

8.  We create our lives by how we react to what happens to us…we either get over the “bad” stuff or we are stuck forever in our pasts.

9.  We attract wonderful, positive things into our lives when we KNOW that they will happen.

10.  ALWAYS be YOU!!  Never compromise who you are or what you believe for anyone else.

I am sure there are many more lessons I have learned in the past year.  I have a lot more to say, but will save all that for another time.  I am off to spend the day with my most wonderful granddaughter, Sadie, who brings laughter, love, happiness and joy just by being her sweet, kind self.  I think if we look at young children, especially toddlers, we can learn so many things!

Until next time.