The Long Way

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For as many times as I’ve heard the song, Take the Long Way Home by Supertramp over the years, which coincidentally was released in 1979 when I was a mere babe of three, I never actually paid much attention to the lyrics. And while I may never know why this particular song made a very peculiar, out-of-the-blue appearance in my consciousness yesterday, now that I’ve taken a closer look at the lyrics, I’m pretty sure it’s about a heck of a lot more than a guy who’s not so eager to get home to his less-than-loving wife.

Taking the long way is often perceived by the lazy as an inefficient waste of time. To those who suffer from chronic impatience, doing so seems plain silly. And to the faint of heart, taking the long way in anything can be daunting; every single step an unbelievably grueling grind.

But when we come to think of home as less of an actual physical dwelling and more an idealistic place of peace and comfort within ourselves—a way of living and loving from the heart, if you will—perhaps taking the long way actually does have its advantages.

It certainly calls to mind some important questions. For example: What would you do if you had more time? And, moreover, if all those things you want to do are really so important to you, why aren’t you doing them in the time you have right now?

The funny thing about time, though, is the realization that it has less control over our lives than most of us would care to admit. The truth of the matter is time becomes an easy target, a willing scapegoat of sorts, when it gets away from us, or when things don’t work out the way we plan. I am certainly not immune to this flimsy belief system, having fallen prey to its clutches on more than one occasion.

After only recently making the switch to seeing my life as a long game, I’m still trying to shake this belief system all the way loose and out of my consciousness. Because I’m no longer buying into the need to beat the clock or believing the perception that I’m running out of time.

And that’s why this year I am celebrating a different type of birthday than I have in the past; one that more accurately reflects the person I’m becoming with each twist and turn on this long and winding road. This year, my birthday is not about hoopla. There will be no confetti or balloons, and most likely there will be no cake. I am not looking for fanfare, because I’ve come to the point where this day is about much more than being showered with attention and gifts. And I’m perfectly fine with that. In fact, it is exactly the way I want it.

Instead, this year I am choosing to celebrate the depth of the person I continue to become, the complexity of my journey, and the bittersweet richness of doing this life my way.

Today, I will refrain from spending time on Facebook or Instagram, instead setting my phone to airplane mode. I will use my time intentionally and wisely. I may choose to do some writing or complete an art journal spread. I will almost certainly spend time outside, walking, enjoying the opportunity to breathe in the fresh air, and simply being in the calming presence of the trees. I may indulge myself in a handcrafted latte, some luxurious chocolate, and a gourmet lunch prepared just for me. I will, no doubt, sit in silence, listening to the wisdom of my heart. And I may just go ahead and dream up a list of 42 random acts of kindness to be completed over the course of my 42nd year on planet earth.

Continuing in this spirit of giving generously, I also commit to doing something meaningful for me: making myself a priority and giving myself the gift of time, not just today, but for the next 42 consecutive days:

  • 10 minutes of meditation
  • 20 minutes of writing
  • 30 minutes of movement/yoga/exercise

The idea and meaning behind this gift to myself is two-fold:

  • Writing down these intentions (and declaring them out loud for all the world to hear) is a major maneuver in holding myself accountable; and
  • Doing these things for 40 days in a row will set me well on the path to establishing these priorities as part of a nourishing daily ritual for myself. (I’m basically just sweetening the pot by adding on a bonus two days!)

In the place where I stand now, I’d like to think I’ve become at least a little wiser over the past 42 years. (If my grey hair is any indication, I should be very smart. You can ask my stylist. lol) But I’ve said it before and I’m not afraid to say it again, right here and now: I can be a slow learner. And so I continue to learn my lessons as I take the long way on my journey through life, all with the intention of finding my own unique way of living and loving from the heart.

One such lesson I’ve needed to receive on more than one occasion is about allowing what comes, to come; what stays, to stay; and to simply let go of the rest. And although I suspect I’ll always crave meaningful connections with my fellow humans, I’ve come to see the futility in grasping and clinging to people and circumstances that were perhaps never meant for me in the first place. And of course I continue to see the tremendous benefit of practicing gratitude on the daily. I am endlessly grateful for every single person and situation that has come my way, realizing they each held an important place in my world, whether in my life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

So, as I round the corner to 42 Street, it feels like I’m inching ever closer to finding my ‘heart home’ and tapping into a more permanent place of peace within myself. And as I do, it occurs to me that maybe birthdays are merely time and route markers on our journey. And then I wonder if maybe we’re all just taking the long way home?

After all, maybe it’s the long way—with all of its peaks and valleys, detours and dead ends, speed bumps and plot twists—that makes this life worthwhile.

xo

Take the Long Way Home
Supertramp

So you think you’re a Romeo
Playing a part in a picture-show
Take the long way home
Take the long way home
‘Cause you’re the joke of the neighborhood
Why should you care if you’re feeling good
Take the long way home
Take the long way home
But there are times that you feel you’re part of the scenery
All the greenery is comin’ down, boy
And then your wife seems to think you’re part of the furniture
Oh, it’s peculiar, she used to be so nice
When lonely days turn to lonely nights
You take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home
You never see what you want to see
Forever playing to the gallery
You take the long way home
Take the long way home
And when you’re up on the stage, it’s so unbelievable,
Oh unforgettable, how they adore you,
But then your wife seems to think you’re losing your sanity,
Oh, calamity, is there no way out, oh yeah
Ooh, take it, take it out
Take it, take it out
Oh yeah
Does it feel that your life’s become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy
When you look through the years and see what you could have been
Oh, what you might have been,
If you’d had more time
So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who’s to blame if you’re not around?
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
Took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home, so long
You took the long way home
You took the long way home, uh yeah
You took the long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Long way home
Songwriters: Richard Davies / Roger Hodgson
Take the Long Way Home lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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.

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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.

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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.

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Just for Today

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Is this thing even on?

Hi, it’s me. I know it’s been a while. Like 56 days, I think. But who’s counting?

So, the kids are back in school and it’s eerily quiet in my house today.

The sounds of doors slamming, footsteps thumping, and raised voices fighting have been replaced with the soothing nothingness of an ambient hum.

Today no one has expected me to referee an argument. No one has come to me hungry, looking for a snack only 20 minutes after they ate their last meal. And no one in my house is whining about being bored, eyes fixed on me as the sole proprietor of fun and entertainment.

Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this moment—secretly, or then again maybe not so secretly—and actively counting down to it for the past week.

I am basking in this glorious alone time. I love the peace. I relish these silent moments. I’m soaking it all in on a deep, cellular level.

I can be quite extroverted when the situation calls for it, but I am an introvert to the core. This time is very much essential to my sanity and overall well-being.

But much more than that, this time affords me the luxury to get quiet and listen to the tiny whispers of my soul. It is in these beautiful moments I remember that the truth of who I am is not who or what my ego self would have me believe. I have nothing I need to do right now other than to just be. Best of all, there’s absolutely nothing I must prove to anyone.

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The shift from doing to being—from living a life ruled by the voices in my head to being guided by the truth in my heart—is something I must constantly bring my awareness back to, over and over again. ‘Just Being’ is deceptively tricky, and it is perhaps the most important work I can do, here in this lifetime. It represents the totality of what it means to be the best me I can be. This is my commitment.

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t arrived.

So, even though the kids have returned to school and there’s at least a thousand things waiting to be completed on my to-do list, I am committing to the practice of just being.

Just for now.

Just for today.

56 Intentional Days

Although summer technically started a couple of weeks ago, in many ways I feel as though  summer with my family is just beginning. And with the kids slated to return to school on August 30, we have eight weeks, or 56 days to be exact, to enjoy our summer to the fullest.

Now, I don’t mean I’ll be scheduling and over programming every moment, because that certainly is not the case. That would be tedious and grueling and pretty much no fun whatsoever.

However, I’m also cognizant of going to the other extreme—not making any plans, flying by the seat of our pants, and leaving everything to chance. I speak from experience when I say this approach is dangerous. This amount of boundless freedom has a tendency to lure me into a state of submission, inducing an intoxicating false sense of security, which in the end only leaves me feeling lazy and lethargic.

I’ve finally come to appreciate that I’m a creature of habit. I crave routine and structure. I thrive on predictability and order. I’m at my best when I’ve got something specific to hold my attention and focus.

When I contrast my affinity for structure and routine against the fact that I’ve habitually been making time my arch nemesis, it’s really no wonder I’ve been feeling a little stuck in a continuous loop of “there’s never enough time in a day to do all of the things that I really want to do.” And as I’ve been working with a fantastic coach to help me unravel this and some other limiting beliefs, I feel like the time has come for a 360 degree turnaround and re-framing of my opinion about time.

I know some of you may be nodding your head in agreement with my time-as-enemy mantra, but I honestly believe this is just one of those things we all say to make ourselves feel better.

Because the truth is there’s plenty of time available when we: get intentional about scheduling our time according to our priorities, minimize the negative effect of distractions (insert social media here), and don’t let our limiting beliefs cloud our vision.

I’ve suddenly been able to put the pieces together and see, with amazing crystal clarity, my blockage about time for what it really is. It’s not that I don’t have enough time. Pppffffff! The truth is I have trouble putting myself and my needs ahead of everything and everyone else. And because of this, all the stuff I’ve been talking about—my deepest desires and the whispers of my heart—often end up at the bottom of my list.

With this new understanding I see an opening—an opportunity to form a new habit of making myself a priority, more often. As I see it, I have 56 days ahead of me right now when I can both be present for my children AND make myself and my needs a higher priority on my to-do list.

This summer, I am choosing to make friends with time by seeing it as a gift. No longer will a replay the broken-record soundtrack of “not enough time” over and over again in my head. This summer, I am choosing to be intentional about how I spend my time. And this summer I will value myself and my self-care needs by making time for me a priority.

Over the next 56 days, my intention is to dedicate some time every day to my passions and the activities that make me feel more alive and whole.

Starting today, movement (yoga and exercise), stillness (meditation), and words and language (reading and writing) have moved from the bottom to the top of my to-do list.

No attachment to objectives, no entanglement in specific outcomes. Just a dash of intrigue and a touch of excitement to see what changes and possibilities the next 56 days will bring.

Coincidentally, one of the first blog posts I wrote was about my perceived lack of time to do all the things I want to do in life. It’s kinda cool to see how much I’ve grown and how much my perspective has shifted from October 2013 until now.

Wishing you all a happy and intentional summer!

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My Satya: To Be Among the Young at Heart

Satya is the Sanskrit word for thruthfulness. Truth is a commodity I value highly, probably because I’m a terrible liar. That’s why, as much as possible, I try to live by The Four Agreements, and make a point of being impeccable with my word.

But lately when thinking of satya or truth, I’ve been contemplating what “my truth” is. Although I’ve been pondering the subject for quite some time, along with studying Patanjali’s Eightfold Path of Yoga everything suddenly became so clear when I came across the following image. I’d say it was definitely a sign!

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Yup, that’s right. I just don’t want to grow up.

I’m not referring to denying reality or shirking my grown-up responsibilities. I’m talking about reveling in simplicity and finding solace by heeding the unexpected wisdom of childlike innocence.

In sharp contrast to the prevailing theme in our society that insists children should grow up as quickly as possibly, I believe there’s both magic and freedom to be found in approaching life more like I did when I was young.

Waking from a beautiful slumber to dream and scheme, in the way one can only before being told it’s too risky, crazy, or too far out of reach.

Greeting the enormous possibility of each new day with unbridled curiosity and sparkling wide-eyed wonder.

Playing outside from sunup to sundown, drinking in the fresh air and digging up the earth.

Riding bikes and climbing trees and splashing in puddles after heavy rain.

Discovering the joy in everything—from rocks and insects to cloud formations and hoola hoops.

Relying on nothing more than sheer intuition and my five senses to explore the world and find my path through it.

Trusting that every day brings with it the promise of a new adventure.

Believing I can go anywhere, do anything, or be anyone I want to be.

Knowing that love, creativity, and imagination are the very best fuel for living an inspired and truly rewarding life.

These are the beautiful truths my heart knew when I was created. And these are the truths I must keep coming home to, especially when my heart feels broken and my spirit shattered.

Forgetting, even if just for a moment, all my hurt and invisible wounds, this is when I remember the truth of who I am. It is in these moments that my soul’s light shines forth through my smile for all to see, just like when I was young. This is how my heart breaks free of its cage, to be alive in this moment, for this moment is all there is.

I don’t even know what to say about all those years I poured so much energy into wishing I was older and wiser, because now I understand I no longer want to grow up. And in case I haven’t been clear, it’s not even remotely an age thing.

It has taken me some time, but it seems I’ve finally figured out what it is I want most. My truth, my satya, my intention is to allow my spirit to grow younger, and to remain for the rest of my days among the young at heart.

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I’m the cutie on the left, pictured here with my sister, Michelle. Circa 1980

Young at Heart
by Frank Sinatra

Fairy tales can come true
It can happen to you if you’re young at heart (young at heart)
For it’s hard, you will find
To be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart (young at heart)

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting with each passing day
And love is either in your heart or on it’s way

Don’t you know that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth to be young at heart (young at heart)
For as rich as you are
It’s much better by far to be young at heart (young at heart)

And if you should survive to a hundred and five
Look at all you’ll derive out of bein’ alive
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart

Taking back control of my life in October

This post could also be called, All work and no play makes My Phare Lady a cranky woman!

You see, my life got sucked up and swallowed whole by the swirling vortex of September. A tad dramatic? Maybe. But it’s the most accurate way to sum up how I’ve been feeling lately.

It seems like it was just yesterday we were doing back-to-school shopping for the kids (well in advance of the actual start of the school year back at the beginning of August, I might add). We were organized and on top of the game. Now, with two kids in school and extracurricular activities on top of my working three days a week and trying to manage a busy household, I’m completely overwhelmed by our new fall family routine.

What frustrates me most is that I never seem to have enough hours in a day to accomplish everything I need, not to mention what I would like to do. I want to do more of the things that feed my soul, like reading books, blogging, and exercising more often, but with barely enough time to accomplish the basic essentials (I have mountains of laundry and dust bunnies in all corners of my house), that’s just not happening.

I am running around in circles and instead of getting closer to finding my passion, I feel discouraged and discontent. In my quest for balance, harmony, and personal fulfillment, I feel like time—or the absence of it—is the enemy. (I may need to re-read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, but who has time for that? Oh, the irony!)

The rational side of me knows life is essentially the events that happen as a result of a series of choices. And the only reasonable conclusion I’ve been able to come to is this: I need to get absolutely clear on my goals and priorities. I need to devise a plan about to how to use my “spare” time as efficiently as possible toward achieving my goals. Without the ability to clone myself, or the unlikely event that some higher power is going to add more hours to each day, a thoughtful and deliberate plan of attack is likely my best bet for taking back my life in October.

So, stay tuned for my goals and action plan in a future blog post. (I hope putting this out there on the Internet will keep me honest!)

Also, I’m curious to know:
What are your strategies for getting everything done and maintaining a healthy balance? How do you accomplish life’s necessary tasks while still leaving some time for fun and the things that feed your soul?