Thirty Days Live

Over the years I have pushed myself to do new things; things that are beyond comfortable, things that were hard, things others would not do….and others do comfortably. I learned to snowboard, I relearned piano, I started learning Spanish and speaking it when in Colombia (tourist Spanish) and hiphop dance among so many more things.

In the month of September I challenged myself to do a live video every day on FB. It was a challenge, and way beyond my comfort zone. I had done a couple in the past months and did not like doing them. I fumbled my words, I rambled and I felt like my voice was shaking (at least that was my perspective). I felt sick to my stomach with the thought of it and relieved when it was done. I went back and watched one of those early ones. It wasn’t as bad as I thought.

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Stepping out of my comfort zone. This is the footwear for adult hiphop dance performance of Cinderella I was in last week for it’s remount. I started hiphop a couple years ago and it includes going on stage in costume and dancing which was new to me before I started.

Starting out the month of September was okay…the first day. Then I had to do it the second day and my stomach was in knots. I was so not wanting to do it. I did it anyway. The third day, not quite as bad but I still dreaded it. After that it got easier. It got easier and I was able to find some entertainment in the process. I did my live videos at my worst (I had some low energy, close to tears days) and my best, days I had dressed up for a day out. The thing I liked most was finding a different place to do the video every day. I posted from the garden and chicken pen, from the yard and forest and from a spot on the couch more than once. I also went live from some activities I was involved with.

The topics were another thing. My exercise in doing the live videos was to become comfortable with it. It was really a show about nothing but not nearly as funny as Seinfeld. I started with a plan but that lasted all of 2 days and then I went with the things that came to mind, things that were happening at the time.

I started out the month rambling, and ended the month rambling but I think it was a lot smoother near the end of the month. I was definitely more comfortable and my desire to not do a live video at the end of the month was more about boredom, or rather not feeling like doing ‘yet another video’. I have yet to go back and watch any of them. I really don’t have a desire to see them. If I decide I need to do live videos for ‘other people’, I will go back to watch to see where I can improve but my goal in doing them was to get a level of comfort in doing them….and that, I accomplished.

When we are presented with an opportunity, we are often nervous and feel we can’t do it. We recognize when we are out of our comfort zone and often pull back and choose and easier path. Pushing the boundaries of comfort moves our line of comfort, increases our comfort zone and keeps us growing. How often do you challenge you comfort zone?

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My Comfort Zone Won’t Stand Still

Where is your comfort zone? Are you always in it? Do you have to be forced out of it by outside sources only to recoil in fear and push against it with all your might? The one thing about being comfortable is…it’s really comfortable. That voice inside us resists moving from that place. The other voice inside us tells us to move. Usually the situation isn’t so glaringly obvious, but as we age, this type of situation can creep up faster and faster. If we wish to create a world that is bigger, to have more abundance, we can do so by pushing back on our comfort zone by leaning into the uncomfortable.

If your comfort zone is the top of the mountain, reach for the sky.

When we are young, we learn by experimenting and doing. A child learns to walk and talk by observing and trying. A teen learns to branch out on their own by trying new things and finding what works and doesn’t. In our 20’s and 30’s we are experiencing new jobs, relationships and sometimes parenthood for the first time. Then we get comfortable, not necessarily in the every day (those who are parents realize they face new things daily), but we often get comfortable in our lifestyle. We have small growth activities through outside sources (interacting with people) and we upgrade at work, learn new technology, read a book, but often don’t do something big that scares us. That something might be small to a twenty year old who is all about adventure but the forty year old self is losing sleep over it. By fifty, the voice of ‘I’m too old for that…’ is resounding more often. Continue that theme into the sixties and by seventy a person can have one foot in the grave even without health problems.

As we age, our world gets smaller. Our memories aren’t as clear, which makes learning a little more difficult which means keeping up with new technology can be overwhelming; there is so much information. Our bodies slow down and it seems things take longer and there are health issues even if we work hard to prevent them.

I have done some things to push my comfort levels to different places. I have learned to snowboard, I have started learning a new language and practicing. I have pushed myself to learn new technology and a new business and another new business and all that is involved with those things. I am getting comfortable and it is time to start doing something new. Tomorrow, I will start a video challenge on my fb page A New Dawn-Feeling Good. I am not sure if I will do it daily all month but have plans to do it daily to begin with at least and have some topics set out. My plan is for a short 2-4 minute video each time. If there is anything you want me to talk about let me know. I will try to fit it in if I know something about it. I am scared, nervous, really uncomfortable with the idea.

As we go through life, our comfort zone moves. We can allow it to push us into an increasingly smaller world, or we can push our comfort zone to the mountain tops or beyond. Where are you taking your comfort zone?

More Than Only

Have you ever noticed a certain theme floating around in your conversations, readings, or what you listen to? Perhaps you have sought out the subject or started the conversation but other times it is seemingly a huge coincidence to keep hearing a message over and over again in the period of a month or two. It may be a bit of cluster illusion; perhaps just what catches your attention when you are focused on learning something. I have taken the opportunity in the last couple months to do some coffee dates. I have had some other opportunities to visit people in social settings as well. As I have been doing some work around the place that occupies my hands, I have been indulging in podcasts and my mornings begin with some personal development reading. Although there are have been many observations, in my ‘going’s on’ in the last few weeks, there are definitely some things that have been standing out for me.

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For my coffee project, I have been asking a few questions, seeking answers for my life. I feel like I am narrowing it down a little. I spent the day with my mom a few weeks ago, and as it often the case with moms, she gave me a lot of insight into me in relation to that question. This past week I had the opportunity to meet with a number of people. One person in particular really helped dig out some perspective on myself I have been missing.

The other thing I have noticed in asking the same or similar questions is how similar the answers have been. Not only have I observed their answers to be similar to others, but in all cases, in getting to know a person better, I can see where the answer for present and future has come from someplace in the past, usually their childhood.

We are uniquely formed and continually grow. We may think of ourselves in a certain way only to find others perceive us differently. This week I have been described as approachable (I have been told that for as long as I can remember) and easy to connect with. I have been told I am open and and encourager. Though I don’t really think of myself in those terms, others do. I can’t say people know me more than I know myself but it would seem there are times they have some more insight than I; that my insight is muffled by the voices in my head. I like that I am getting to know people in a deeper way and they are getting to know me, and also giving me insight, even when they don’t know it.

Each of us is unique in our abilities, the things our hearts pursue, the natural talents we possess, our experiences and opportunities. Each of us has talents, some seemingly more than others, some seem like experts while others are ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. Some people have talents we never see because they are shared with a tiny microcosm of their life, and some people have talents they don’t share at all, perhaps because of the voices in their head. People often feel they are ‘only this’, can only do ‘that’, are too young, to old, to smart, not smart enough, too out of shape, too tall, too short, too shy, too outspoken…the list goes on. Only human? Yep, we all are and we can only do our best in this life and that’s good enough because we are all more than ‘only’ and sometimes we need to see it through someone else’s eyes.

While doing my coffee project, I am digging for those things, hopefully providing a lens for people to make observations, encouraging them to use those hidden talents, to grow. I am seeking a way to help each person in some peculiar way, because peculiar seems to be how it happens. Connecting the dots, connecting people with information, connecting people with people, connecting with people connecting with me. Hit me up for a coffee appointment; you will be glad you did, and not just because it’s me and I am fun and funny and will make you laugh either. We are all human, but we are more than only.

The Spiral of Mental Health

I don’t claim to know all there is about mental health or the lack thereof. I don’t seem to even understand my own mental health, let alone try to comprehend that of another. I do understand the magnitude of differences in what contributes to one’s mental health or lack thereof. I also recognize the vast differences in degrees of mental health issues, in that the actual mental anguish and pain threshold in each person can be more or less, and can change daily. I think of the way our mental health changes to be like a spiral, much like a screw where one moves up and down on that spiral path, but may not recognize it happening because it is a spiral path; a path that the place one is today doesn’t really look different from yesterday. And I believe we all go through it at some point, to some degree.

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Life is a tangled mess sometimes.

A few months ago, we went on a great vacation. Things in our world were stressful and for me, there were many things pulling at my time. Going on a trip is always a good elixir for the things that ail a person’s mind. You get away from it all, relax, enjoy…and then you return to all that ail’s a person’s mind plus what added up while you were gone and not taking care of it. The post vacation blues is a recognized phenomenon. It feels great to get home to your own bed, but reality of life sets in once again.

There were other people (my husband and our partners) who were going through much the same things in particular areas of life, but each of us were all wearing different hats in the areas in which we worked together, and completely other hats in all the other areas of our lives that did not intertwine. That, and I have no idea what they were going through on the inside while working so hard to get life done, so I will speak only of my perspective and my mental health.

Let me preface a little with physical health. I am at that age when peri-menopause and menopause plays a role in physical and mental health. This started a couple of years ago. The hormonal changes occurring in a body, whether young or old, female or male, will play a role in what is happening in your mind. It may be that you are more hungry, more agitated, have more energy or less (like when you are growing and need more sleep), or maybe you just feel weaker (like muscle depletion as you age), or countless other things that you may not recognize. For me, menopause caused a weight gain I couldn’t control and remiss to work harder at due to lack of energy and stressors in other areas of life. Excuse…maybe, my reality…definitely. I bring this up because over a year ago, I had a wise friend tell me it is normal and I just need to do what I need to do to ride it out in my most healthy way, which was to continue being active and continue to eat healthy as much as possible, but not to sweat the stuff I couldn’t control. That kind of encouragement meant a lot and made me feel more ‘normal’ as in not the only one who experiences those things. And, I did some research too :-).

Back to our return from vacation. There was a lot going on. I won’t go into details but I felt I was being pulled in a hundred directions. I felt that one area had priority due to timelines and that took me away from home, it took me away from the other parts of the job that were on my table (and who likes paper work anyway) and every day when I came home, not only was that work on my table but I had a messy table which in itself can cause me angst. It didn’t stop at my table. There were the messy kitchen counters much of the time, there were the messy floors, the laundry and the outside chores. There were also my other businesses I was paying too little attention to. In my mind, my life was spiralling out of control.

It is all well and good to say, “This too shall pass”. Like a kidney stone, it eventually did. Like a kidney stone, the pain is just as real while you go through it and until it passes. Part of the problem with what is happening in a person’s mind is the invisibility of it to others. Unlike a kidney stone that one would go to a doctor for and be diagnosed and treated, sometimes the beginning of depression or the middle of depression are just swept under the rug as moodiness or a bad attitude even by the person experiencing it and especially if you are a person who is generally positive and studies mindset. To add to that, people who study those things, usually gather like-minded people around them and it becomes that much more frustrating when you start to think there is something terribly wrong with you.

I complained a lot! I got frustrated and complained about my situation. I created my situation in most ways and in other ways not (although, I know, I know, that to is something we create, again making us feel crappy). We are not an island; our lives intertwine with those around us and those around us contribute to the mesh of pathways, expectations, commitments, problems and their solutions, and a gamut of other influences in your life based on what is going on in their lives, even when it has absolutely nothing to do with you. I made choices as some would point out, to start 3 different types of businesses/education/steep learning curves within a period of 6 months. Squirrel! Maybe, but also opportunity that happened quickly. Life happens like that sometimes, in different areas too, opportunity to go on a vacation, then another one, or opportunity to get a deal on this, then another thing and then and then…we can be more discerning or we can think when it happens, “This won’t be easy but it will be worth it when the hard part passes”. Or as often happens with me, “I can do that on that date because my calendar is free for the whole week before and after, then as the date approaches, there is sickness, appointments, emergencies, pet problems, a need to get groceries, something breaks down, weather making things more important today, you know the drill. We are not an island in a bubble.

The spiral begins, and it progresses at different rates. Slowly at first, then more quickly, then, wait…up the spiral a bit. Wait…ouch that was a quick drop. That is just life getting out of control.

The spiral begins, and it progresses pretty slowly at first. It can continue pretty slowly too. At first I was a little frustrated, but I was having fun in all the things I was doing. At first I could say it will pass. At first I would be a bit overwhelmed but then I would get my bearings. I would also just do a little here and a little there so it wouldn’t get out of hand. I got a little tired, I got a lot tired but then I had more energy.

The spiral continued and I didn’t see it coming really. Others likely saw a change, but didn’t know my complaining was my way of saying something was wrong, something was wrong with me and maybe I needed help. Something was wrong with me but to tell me that wouldn’t help. I didn’t even recognize it while it was happening.

Then… I did. Then I did something. Then I did something different.

Before I go on, there are a couple of things I want to clarify. First, I am in no way comparing my experience to anyone else or to anyone who suffers from mental illnesses, just like I would never compare the common cold to someones battle with cancer. My experience is probably as common as the common cold and I believe people can relate to feeling that way at times. I also believe as common as it is, it is not as recognizable as the common cold and still people don’t talk about it. I now recognize it as burnout.

The other thing I want to clarify is that some of what pulled me away were things that were essential to my health. I continued bootcamp, wallyball and basketball. I was sad that I didn’t feel I had the time to go snowboarding even once in the winter and that my cycling didn’t happen until well into the summer. Eating was more difficult because I would be out well into the evening so we ate out more that normal but I still tried to eat vegetables and appropriate meals and amounts. I continued my morning practice of drinking water when I woke up and thinking of the things I am thankful for. I believe those things really helped me to not spiral more quickly nor to the extent I could have.

So back to “then…I did something different”. I found some relief in a supplement for my mood (please, seek medical help if you need it; I knew where I was on the spiral and knew I had time to try something before that step), and it helped immediately. I also started working on my sleep, getting just a little more. I had quit taking vitamins regularly a year ago thinking it was causing me to sleep restless, but started taking them again and started sleeping less restless again. It helped that the main part of the project was done (the proverbial ‘passing’ of the stone) and I could devote more time to my space and other things. Sunshine and warm weather are great; I got my garden in just in time but with great effort (early morning, later evenings). I delved into more podcasts while doing my physical work, I started reading again, just a chapter a day. I devoted more time to my other businesses, very slowly. I didn’t over commit. I didn’t even jump into the things I wanted to do.

I slowly started moving up the spiral. I started to feel like myself again. I started to see how far down I went; because when you are on the spiral, you may not even know you are there. For me, there are times when I feel flu-like symptoms and I brush them off as not enough sleep or just under the weather and I continue on with my day lacking energy and drive and feeling lazy (oh don’t get me started on that mind issue), only to find out in a day or two when I feel good that someone in the family is feeling the same way and to think back and realize, ‘wow, now that I feel normal, I was actually quite sick’. Yep, same with my mental health.

I can’t say I am 100%; I often feel I am, but I definitely have days or hours where I know I am probably closer to 80% on average. Those times when I just want to cry for no reason, those times when something small sets me off to being really sad, those times when something small makes my eyes watery. I know it has a lot to do with the hormones. I know this too shall pass. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train. I know that the spiral will always be there, because it is so dependant on physical health, what is going on around and my own choices and thoughts. The first, I have some control over, the second I have little control over and the last, in theory, I have complete control over…except, the last is really influenced by the first two whether we like it or not and the belief that we have total control over it can ruin our chances of recognizing when we are on the spiral. It can also make us feel we are flawed because we can’t fix it. And that is the worst stigma yet.

I wrote this a few hours ago, not posting because I like to come back to proofread with fresh eyes. I went out to feed chickens and for some reason my old iPhone I listen to podcasts on started playing old ones from before I subscribed to a few of them. Interestingly enough, one of the ones that came up was on burnout. The other was on clutter. Weird! Here are the links to those if you are looking for something to give you inspiration:

Happiness of Pursuit #64

Happiness of Pursuit #63

Finally, it is good to know our limits. It is good to push our limits too. In our athletic endeavours after pushing our limits we need to rest appropriately so we don’t suffer overtraining syndrome. With our mental/physical/emotional health, when we can push our limits, (it’s how we grow), we also have to rest appropriately to reduce the chance of burnout. And if we do end up in that place of burnout, take time to heal as well.

 

 

Pirate’s Booty and Medical Supplies

Sometimes the connection between two things is strange and unexplainable. Such is the case of these two things and yet somehow they go hand in hand, or at least they were connected over a muddy cocktail.

This evening we went to visit our son and his wife and deliver the gifts we brought back from Colombia. We were driving the Volvo and got through the mud at the bottom of the long driveway, arriving at the top of the driveway to first see a strange man walking around on the grass by the barn on his cell phone. We pulled up by a truck, presumably the one he was driving that was up near the house. Because I was wearing my nice new boots (or probably not about me at all) Lorne pulled up on the grass rather than behind our son’s truck that was sitting on a muddy area.

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Looking out the screened window at the truck that got stuck.

Disembarking from the vehicle we were informed of the situation with the truck. The healthcare solutions truck was indeed stuck in the driveway and although our son had offered to pull him out, he refused having called a tow truck. Sometime during the visit we heard the tow truck arrive and could see through the trees that it was at the bottom of the driveway not continuing up. As fate would have it, it was sitting there waiting for another tow truck to both pull it out and pull out the healthcare solutions struck.

Awhile later there were two tow truck drivers, and the truck driver and my son and his truck working on dislodging the healthcare solutions vehicle from the muddy ruts. Success eventually followed, not without deeper ruts and a greater mess.

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Waiting at the bottom of the driveway for the tow. Fortunately the tow truck was on dry ground.

As the truck was leaving we got word that the tow truck drivers were going to wait at the end of the driveway until we got our vehicle out (just in case), so we made our exit. We had to wait partway down the driveway as again the truck got stuck at the bottom requiring a little tow. We were able to rush through and made it okay with some mud stuck to the undercarriage.

Oh don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging on the Pirate Booty element. The driver was having a really bad day so no one broke it to him that he didn’t deliver life saving supplies to children in the household or to an expectant mother (any day now). He does not know that he delivered an unexpected sample of Pirate’s Booty.

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One ounce of gluten free goodness

Yep, one ounce is very light and doesn’t feel like 140 calories at all. Two hours of that poor man’s time, two tow trucks, the time our son put in and wasn’t able to bath the dog or visit with us, the mess in the driveway both top and bottom and all for the pirate’s booty. Arrgggghhh…those pirates.

Somewhere In Colombia

Somewhere in Colombia, someone will buy a pretty pair of boots not knowing that one of those boots made a trip to Canada and back. This is a feel good story about boots. Boots and shoes have natural feel good properties (in my opinion). I mostly focus on sports shoes but have taken to all sorts of pretty shoes and boots over the years. New boots and shoes make me feel good. I think the next time I go to Colombia I will take a suitcase to bring back shoes 🙂 .

For those who are not in the know, one of the places I wanted to visit when in Colombia was the shoe store of my friend Martha’s cousin, who has a shoe making business with a storefront. Five years ago when Martha came back from Colombia with really nice boots it became one of those bucket list things. So, when we were in Colombia that was on our list for must go places. Once there, I was a little overwhelmed; I deliberated for a long time on what to get. Do I get a pair of shoes I will only wear once a month, or every day shoes or boots. I settled on a pair of boots for me and a pair of sandals. We were there for a very long time and I tried on the black ones first but at the last minute decided to get brown ones after realizing the black ones were not too different than some black ones I already own.

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Together again, my Colombian boots that traveled to Canada separately, one boot in front of the other so to speak.

As can happen when 6 Canadians converge on a small store trying on so many shoes and purchasing a whole bunch (I got shoes for my daughters also), there was mass confusion. There were other customers there as well, probably seeing the commotion and being drawn in to the excitement of shoe shopping. In a couple hours we had seven pairs of shoes picked out, some were getting stretched and others were packed and ready to go. Martha and family had a pile of shoes as well. The footwear went to the house and we picked them up the next evening along with the other bag of shoes from the store. We took them back late to our room, where we packed our shoes with our luggage and prepared for our flight early in the morning.

When we arrived home Sunday evening, we unpacked and gifted our daughters with their items. I showed them my pretty boots in the clear plastic bag, continuing to put items away from my suitcase. It was an hour or so later, my daughter was looking more closely at my boots when she noticed one boot was a size 38 and one was a 37 (the right foot boot). My right foot is my larger foot and it did not fit. Not that it would have mattered; it was noticeably a different size. That was kind of the beginning of my “It has been a week” from my last post. I messaged Martha right away since she was still in Colombia although she had flown out of the Medellin where the shoe store is because she could contact her cousin and communicate better in Spanish than me.

Back track an hour or so before the discovery of the shoe situation, we had learned another friend was leaving for Colombia on the following Saturday evening and I had decided to give him the Colombian pesos we had left over (about $5 worth). After messaging Martha about the boot, I messaged him to see if he would be going to Medellin where the shoe store was. He wasn’t, so we still didn’t know how to manage the shoe situation.

Fast forward to Tuesday when I messaged Martha about what to do. She sent a message back and said she had my boot and to send the small one with packaging with our friend to put in the mail anywhere in Colombia.

We picked up Martha and family at the airport late Friday night and she handed me my one boot from her carry on. The next day, I wore my boots and took the small boot in it’s bubble envelop with the Colombian pesos to our friend who took it that night to Colombia.

So somewhere in Colombia, some time in the near future, someone will buy a pair of brown boots, in size 37 that look just like mine and she will wear her boots, not knowing that the right boot on her foot, set foot in Canada in a small home on the tiles you see in the photo. She will never know the travels her boot made, and even though I won’t know her, I will know there is a boot in Colombia that came to visit me for a week.

Further, I know that even though something that seems like a difficult situation to remedy can work out perfectly and like I said in a post a couple weeks ago, money isn’t the only currency we deal in and nothing is better than the help of great friends who are at the right place at exactly the right time.

 

It’s Been a Week

It’s been a week! Depending a person’s tone of voice that little statement can mean a lot of things. For me, it’s been a week since we arrived home from Colombia. It seems so much longer because…well, it’s been a week. The thing with social media and blogging is sometimes a person’s life can come across as being all rainbows and butterflies. In our mind we might know that everyone has their struggles but when we see all the good things, the tendency is to focus on those with no regard to the realities we all face and may not know about.

I definitely try to stay positive. I don’t think being negative, complaining, and whining are very effective in improving my life or that of others. Don’t get me wrong; I am not above being negative, complaining and whining, but I don’t always present that side to everyone. I do want to be real and sometimes that means being less than positive. So, it’s been a week, in this context is said with a bit of a sigh.

Returning from a great trip seems to have an element of post vacation blues. That for me was compounded by the many things that were not done in my absence. Before leaving on a trip there are all those things to do in preparation. Sleep was scarce the week before leaving. On the trip, sleep was irregular and this past week, sleep again seemed to be less than desired. Being tired is not conducive to being positive in the wake of a storm.

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There are some weeks where having a snack hangover and falling asleep seems like the best option to get through the week. 

I could go into details of all that felt wrong about the week, dealing with household management items like laundry, taking care of things that were left while I was gone and moving back into cooking and cleaning up. I could go into detail about how things at our flip house didn’t progress to the point we had hoped, things were done incorrectly and there was another problem that needed to be dealt with along with somehow, we didn’t have enough supplies we thought we had purchased enough of. I could talk about areas where I volunteer and finding that yet again when I returned from my vacation, things were left a mess/undone. I could whine about the small things, the dropping of stuff, the cat puking, the dust and mud tracked in the house, the things that can happen any time but seem so much worse when one is tired and feeling beat down by circumstances. I could be more specific on how my week was less than ideal, but again, we all have bad weeks and I know from a message from a friend that my week deserves a glowing review in comparison to what she is going through. It puts things in perspective; it doesn’t devalue what I felt about my week. I had a less than perfect week but there were good things too.

There were many blessings this week. The countertops were installed in our two kitchens. We got to attend a marriage renewal ceremony. We picked up our partners/traveling partners/friends at the airport. I accomplished a decent amount of things this week. I was able to play wallyball and basketball this week. The weather was nice (definitely nicer than before we left). I survived the week. So, I can also say “It’s been a week” with a little lilt in my voice because I am more in tune with the comforts of home and the blessings I have.

Still, being real, I hope this coming week will be better.