Full Circle

At the risk of sounding cliché, I have no idea what happened to the summer of 2017. It seems like it was just yesterday my kids had just finished school. It literally feels like yesterday was July 1, and my kids were both excited to participate in our local Canada Day parade. Then I blinked, and there must have been a disruption in the space-time continuum, because this morning we were dropping the kids off at school again for Grade 6 and Grade 4.

Time flies when you’re having fun? Maybe so. But my perception around the passage of time certainly seems to have accelerated along with my increasing age. At first glance, making sense out of where the heck the time went was tough for me to swallow.

But as I took some time to reflect on the summer of 2017, I can see how our precious time together wasn’t wasted.

As a family, we went to the lake, rode our bikes and ate ice cream, and walked in the river valley as we watched the goats munch on grass. We took a weekend trip down to Calgary and the Rocky Mountains. We basked in the glow of a crystalline mountain lake on a sunny summer day as we marveled at the beauty that surrounded us.

We went to the movies, and I ran outdoor yoga classes one night per week.

While my husband and son traveled to Philadelphia for a hockey tournament, my daughter and I spent some quality one-on-one time together, shopping for back to school clothes, baking, and making homemade popsicles from Kool-Aid and Jell-o, just like the ones my grandma used to make when I was a kid. My son and I went to see the Emoji movie the night my husband took my daughter to the Bruno Mars concert.

In the space between kids’ activities, play dates, swimming lessons, camps, and their certain chronic boredom, I continued the work of ‘working on myself’. And when I dig a little deeper into the events of this past summer, I can detect some definite themes around challenges, lessons, and growth—both for myself and the members of my family.

One evening per week in July, I spent time in a circle of women, digging deeper into the relationship I have with my body. Through journaling, meditation, and sisterhood, I unearthed a whole bunch of unexpected sticky spots I was previously unaware of. Through these realizations, I am working to heal with the intention of being able to stand, comfortably and confidently in my own skin.

I completed 40 consecutive days of meditation practice, with the intention of softening the walls I’ve built around my heart, and encouraging myself to be more open and receptive to the love that already exists in my world.

loveiswhy

I focused on deepening the awareness around the reasons for my own discomfort, and I’d like to think I have made strides in learning how to be present with these less than pleasant feelings.

discomfort

And to top everything off, we started a fairly major bathroom renovation in August that will likely leave our master ensuite unusable until sometime in October. If you want to talk about feeling discomfort, there’s probably no better way of making myself uncomfortable than to throw my family into a state of upheaval by eliminating a bathroom.

This work has been challenging and difficult in every possible way, but I know with every part of me it is also absolutely essential to my continued evolution and the metamorphosis I forecasted and committed to for myself in 2017.

Another notable highlight of the summer was celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary with my husband. We had a beautiful dinner at the Hardware Grill, and on a whim decided to go to a movie at the VIP theatre in southwest Edmonton afterward. For those who aren’t familiar, the VIP theatre is 18 plus (because they serve alcohol to you in your seat), and offers a deluxe movie-going experience with reclining leather seats that feature personal drink holders and adjustable side tray tables.

There are separate washrooms for the VIP theatre goers, and each bathroom stall features quotes etched into the glass door. The quote that caught my eye was from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, and the message emblazoned into the smoky glass read:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ironic? Just a little.

In as much time as it took my brain to register the meaning of the words, my world shifted a little. In that instant, I replayed the events of the night I had just shared with my husband: the amazing meal—the taste and lightness of my sea bass contrasted with the decadence of the truffle oil potato crepe, the smoothness of the wine, the conversation (the laughter and the tears), and the cute older couple dining across the restaurant whom we said we be us in another 35 or 40 years time.

In another moment, I relived our summer and the past 18 years of marriage and our life together—all the adventures and the highs and lows of raising our two children. The time before we were married. My teenage years, youth, and childhood flashed before me, flooding me with a lifetime of memories.

Maybe it’s not exactly what Ferris Beuller had in mind, but I agree that sometimes life can seem to move very fast. That’s why it’s so important to me to pause—to notice and appreciate—and to stand in the fullness of my life.

Summer 2017 may have, indeed, gone by quickly, but I have no doubt it served a very important  purpose. I look back over the past two months with a heart full of gratitude and appreciation for the challenges, the growth, and the memories, and for bringing me back around to what’s important in this life.

I can see so very clearly how, with every breath we take, it always comes back to love.

Full circle.

beuller

 

All the Shiny Things // C’est La Vie

With the first month of 2016 more than half over, I am finding I’m just not where I thought I’d be. I am no clearer on my purpose and priorities, nor established in routine, nor closer to finding any sense of what normal will mean for me this year. On the bright side; however, one small, yet important revelation has emerged out of my marathon of mental murkiness: I am beginning to recognize my pattern of avoidance and distraction.

First things first, I had to determine whether avoidance (to avoid) and distraction (to distract) are, in fact, the same. Just to be perfectly clear so there is no confusion, the meaning of avoidance is: to avoid or keep away from something. I will use the term in a sentence for illustrative purposes:
I’ve clearly been avoiding my office—the place where I write my most prolific works.

A distraction, on the other hand, can be anything that divides the attention or prevents concentration. However, there is also another connotation of the word: that which amuses, entertains, or diverts. In other words, distraction (to distract) is a sly little term, and an even sneakier phenomenon, as it is manifests in a variety different sizes and forms in our daily lives.

Thinking and journaling on the subject has led me to conclude that even my own thoughts must surely qualify as a distraction on the road to pursuing my goals and dreams. But the following are the big three SHINY distractions that have kept me away from writing since the beginning of January:

  1. The Holidays and a Decorating Debacle

Not long ago there was thing called Christmas and the holiday season, which really is the ultimate distraction from everyday life. And of course there was decorating for the holidays: SO. MUCH. SHINY. Pretty twinkling lights. Shimmering decorations. The shiny glint and glow of packages wrapped in metallic paper and sparkly bows. I think you get the picture. The holidays are a beautiful time of year, and in many respects a welcome distraction from the otherwise mundane nature of our routine-driven lives.

And then there was un-decorating after the holidays, which took away all the shiny and replaced it with the bland and lackluster. In fact, my house looked so naked after the un-decorating process that I was forced to go out in search of more SHINY things to cover up a certain unmentionable spot in my poor naked house. This became a rather tedious process of trial and error that included many hours of shopping, buying, trying, rearranging, and returning. But in the end I’m pretty happy with how it turned out—because of all the shiny things, plus it’s better than leaving a glitter covered reindeer and frosted garland up all year long. Don’t you think?

IMG_2862

2. Books and Reading

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
Samuel Johnson

It goes without saying that, in my eyes, books are irresistible SHINY things. I am currently enthralled with Still Writing by Dani Shapiro, and I plan to move on to Autobiography of a Yogi when I’m finished. There are so many other titles waiting in the wings that I honestly wish speed reading was a viable option. (I took a course a number of years ago, but something tells me I wouldn’t get nearly as much out of the process that way.)

“For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
Eudora Welty

3. 21-day Journaling Challenge

I stumbled upon a free 21-day journaling challenge (on social media—the most dangerous of all the shiny things) that started at the beginning of January. The challenge, titled A Journey to Genuineness, has proven itself to be a particularly interesting and unexpected shiny thing. If helping to establish a daily writing practice isn’t enough of a benefit on its own, pointing me in the direction of who the heck I really am certainly can’t hurt, either. Learning to distinguish my genuine self from my inner critic, who quite frankly is an obnoxious B-I-T-C-H, and journaling on topics such as my strengths, feelings, and values, has been both enlightening and cathartic. Incidentally, my number one strength is appreciation of beauty and excellence. Coincidence? I think not. It’s also not surprising to see honesty, love of learning, prudence, and perspective ranked high on my list.

The lesson I’m learning is a shiny thing can be anything that distracts you from what you think you ought to be doing. But this rule and schedule-following girl is also beginning to soften into the perspective that it’s alright to give in to the temptation.

What’s more, maybe it’s a good thing to be completely consumed by the sparkle of what catches your eye or captures your heart; to get lost in the beauty of something—simply for beauty’s sake. I’d even like to be so bold as to suggest that you allow yourself the indulgence, particularly when the call is coming from the very deepest part of you (your genuine self). Go all in—with no guilt and no regrets—and just enjoy. This is part of life. Heck, this is life, or as they say en Francais: “C’est la Vie!”

Sure, being disciplined is important, but getting distracted and veering off course temporarily isn’t the worst thing one can do, either. As I slowly come around to welcoming that which amuses, entertains, or diverts as an essential part of my life, I can see how these distractions are often the experiences and things that add colour, shine, and visual variety to my world, not to mention providing much needed mental stimulation and a break from the monotony.

I’d like to think that, even with some scenic stops along the way, I will still get where I’m  going eventually—and right in the time I am meant to. Stopping to smell the roses, swim in a freshwater stream, or climb a tree will no doubt delay me temporarily, but more importantly these distractions are experiences that can teach me valuable lessons, lead to important discoveries, or present a new path I hadn’t seen before. And even if none of these things transpire, C’est la Vie! I am willing to bet that I’ll enjoy all the shiny things I saw along the way.

I’d love to hear about your ‘shiny’ things. If you are so inclined to let me in on your beautiful distractions, please leave a comment below.