ponderings on the sometimes bigger questions and queries of life, as it happens to unravel.

We spend so much time in life thinking about stressors
and things that suck in our lives. 
I decided today to make a list of things that make me happy. 

Coming out of a summer where I lost a long term romantic relationship AND a job,
I have felt lost and ungrounded.
So many of the things that made me happy are no longer in my life,
I have struggled to see or know what does bring me joy
(not the Marie Kondo type…although you should see my underwear drawer now!) 

A funny thing happened though.
As I sat down to try to think of 10 things to list
(which I thought was going to be hard),
I got going and realized that there are way more than 10 things. 
It helped me to rediscover those things that I had become distanced from,
things that I had pushed away from acknowledging
because it hurts to think about them without crying
(see #’s 5,16 & 19),
things that I worry might be gone forever and to voice
that I want them because they make me
happy means I might be UNhappy without them.
Doing this also showed me that I have hit a point of
being unapologetic for what I love.

Things I love and want do not mean I am needy,
they mean I know what makes me happy - and that’s a good thing.

Things I love that are cheesy and stupid
(see #’s 2(d), 4, 17 & 21) I will proclaim without shame ;). 

So my Top Ten list will be as long as it needs to be,
and ever to be added to. It’s my list 🙂

What puts a smile on your face?

Top Ten(ish) Things That Make Me Happy
(in no particular order of importance but yes, coffee is number 1)

1. Hot coffee in the morning. Preferably with a cigarette and outside.
2. Travel.
a. waking up someplace that is not home. 
b. getting lost walking around a city that you don’t know
c. airports (yes, I do love them now) - the anticipation of where you are headed lives in them.
d. shot glasses with cheesy touristy pictures on them (yes, I collect them)
3. Roadtrips.
a. loud music in the car a thousand miles from home.
b. roadside rest stops; that feeling when you get out of the car and finally stretch your legs.
c. changing routes on a whim because you want to try a new direction for a while.
4. Stupid B movies that I have watched a dozen times.
a. Planet of The Apes
b. Anything Star Wars (original three) related.
c. Bad 50’s black and white cult classics.
d. Zombie/Post Apocalypse movies.
5. Love. All kinds.
6. Graffiti.
7. Decrepit and abandoned buildings and things.
8. A clean kitchen.
9. The smell outside when it rains.
10. Bike rides at sunrise. The silence is perfect.
11. Camping.
a. conversations about nothing for hours around the campfire.
b that feeling when your sleeping bag finally feels warm after you slip into it.
c. swimming in a lake so cold that you can’t feel your feet when you get out.
12. That feeling when you are lost in a good book.
13. Loud music while cleaning the house.
14. Dancing alone in my apartment.
15. That feeling when you are done your run.
16. The scent of the person I am in love with.
17. Ridiculously time wasting Youtube videos
a. special nod to the “Irish People try…” series
18. Scary movies (even though I am a wimp at watching them and will swear that I hate them).
19. Falling asleep in the arms of my partner.
20. Breakfast. Hot breakfast. On the weekend. 
21. Troll dolls.
22. Hikes with my kidlets and realizing they have,
in fact inherited my sarcasm and dry wit genes.
23. Cheese. All. Cheese.
24. Butches. Everything about them.
25. The ocean waves. Quiet or harsh, they cleanse and whisper of power.
26. Words.
27. The feel of a freshly shaved head.
28. Boots. 
29. Leather.
a. the smell
b. the feel
30. Femmes. Everything about them.
31. Dogs.
32. Spreadsheets.
33. Kayaking and paddleboarding. 
34. Beer with labels that make me laugh.
35. Boobs (yes, you read that right, it’s not a repeat of #26). 
a. Side boob. Trust me, it needs its own entry.
36. Sea glass.
37. A pen that writes exactly how you want it to.
38. Moonlight.
39. Sex.
40. Apple crisp.
41. A hot bath with my laptop on the towel chest so I can watch a movie while I soak.
42. Making dinner for friends and spending the evening laughing.
43. Frozen yogurt with gummy worms at the movie theatre.

 I remember the first time I felt regret.
That’s not true. 
I remember the moment, the split second that was just before that feeling tore through me.

I can still feel the string that was tied to green balloon as it slipped past my fingertips.
It slid, barely touching me as it flew upwards,
the balloon, filled with helium, drawing it up and away from my grasp.
I had played the game for only a few minutes that morning..
It was silent outside in the early morning chill where I stood in my driveway.

Everyone else in the house was asleep as I had taken my balloon and wandered out.
Even at seven years old, sleep was always done for me far before anyone else in my house was stirring.

I had spent the night before playing release and catch in my bedroom and I was good at it.
I had held tightly to the string, letting the weight of the balloon bob against it as I tugged it lightly.
Loosening my grasp, I let it purposely slip away.
For a second, maybe two.
Until I would grasp and hold tight, catching the string before it was too late.
Stopping it from leaving me.
I was good at it. 
It never got away from me. 
I knew I could always catch it.
I knew this.

I stood in the driveway and shivered in the cold air.
I looked up at the balloon tethered to the string and at the endless sky beyond it.
I let my grasp loosen and the string started to slide through my fingers.

I tightened my grip.
Just a split second too late.
The string wasn’t in my hand anymore.
I saw it as it flew past my eyes and was gone against the bright, overcast sky.
All I could see was the bright green balloon as it lifted farther and farther away from me.
Out of my grasp.

It wasn’t merely the loss of it that hurt.
It was that what I had done had caused it to be gone.
That it was gone because of me and I couldn’t take that action back.
There was no way to make this moment different.
That hurt more.

9:30pm Tired and barely able to keep my eyes open

9:45pm Looked at clock

11:30pm eyes open, it must be morning, yay! I slept…nope…not even midnight

12:15am still not morning

1:00am ugh

1:45am a whole 45 minutes

2:07am clock check

2:25am still awake

3:05am I think I slept 🙂

3:33am more sleep 🙂

4:03am clock check

4:45am almost 45 minutes of sleep… I’m on a roll here

4:58am can’t sleep

5:03am seriously, it’s only been 5 minutes!!!!!!!

5:20am still awake

5:31am pretty sure the night’s “sleep” is done

5:45am headache so bad I can’t stand it anymore

5:50am aaaaand, up for the day

And people wonder why I’m cranky.

I’ve been a lifelong insomniac…going through spells when I either can’t get to sleep at all or when, like lately, I can get to sleep no problem but wake continuously all night – ending usually with being up for good from about 4:30am.

I have tried most remedies…teas, natural supplements – melatonin being the latest one…meditations, breathing techniques etc… nothing works. Sleeping pills work somewhat but only for a few hours or the heavier ones leave me with such a “hang-over” that I can’t function. Plus, sleeping pills, for me, don’t leave me feeling rested. Sure, I was “asleep” (unconscious really) but I don’t wake feeling refreshed – I still feel tired; not to mention the side effects :(.
So, I continue to not sleep and hope for the best… maybe some late night blogging would help 😉

I was visiting the lower mainland this past weekend and stayed with my 2 oldest boys. They’re 21 and 19 and live together in a basement suite that captures that visualization perfectly… I have lots to be proud of with my boys; they’re smart with money and managing their time, they have a great work ethic and are polite and punctual and responsible. Good heads on their shoulders in many ways. Yet in some ways, they surprise me… case in point – laundry.

I was explaining to my son (we’ll call him Son 2 since they have asked me to never mention them by name; apparently being a blog subject isn’t all that thrilling 😉 )… anyways, I was explaining to him that I’m looking for a new dresser because I’m not loving the one I have now. We went strolling through IKEA with him and I (and Son 4 in tow) debating the virtues of this one and that one. I am highly picky lately when it comes to what I bring into my home…I have to love it or it doesn’t come into my life. Life is too short to live with furniture that makes you say “meh”. Needless to say he was not enjoying the fact that I found something I didn’t like about everything we looked at. The one I loved was just a little too tall (my fat older cat would never be able to reach it and make her way to the window) the one that I loved the colour and lines was only 3 drawers (come on! who can live with only 3 drawers?!) or the one that I REALLY loved was $200.00 over budget. So, as we started to walk away from the dressers without a purchase my son shrugged and explained that I just didn’t understand how to “do” clothing storage… He explained it thusly:

The clean clothes come out of the dryer and are placed in the laundry basket
The laundry basket of clean clothes is placed in the bedroom (on the floor)
As you require clothing to wear, you take it out of said laundry basket and wear it
When it is soiled and requires washing it get placed on the floor…next to the laundry basket
Over the course of time (dependent on clothing needs) the laundry basket will empty and the pile next to it will grow.
When the laundry basket is empty of clean clothes simply put the dirty clothes on the floor into it and take it to the wash for laundering
And…. voila, the cycle begins again… no dresser needed!

Now why didn’t I think of that? I’ll have to get him to explain dishes to me next time I visit….

Perspective is a funny thing. It can colour how you see and interpret things around you. Take 2 people viewing the same moment and experience and they will each have different interpretations of what happened. Some things are black and white and can’t really be seen differently. Is it daytime or nighttime for instance…although dusk and dawn can even throw that argument.

But I’m musing about more subjective times. I was at my son’s baseball game last night and while I have spent years at sport events and kid-filled events in general it has been a while since I’ve been in attendance. Some of the comments and interactions that I observed last night between parents and children astounded me. Even more so because it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before…many times before. This time though, with a different perspective, I was shaken by how it affected me and how apparent it was, to me, the negative impact that their words and actions could have on their children.

Now, I don’t profess to be the uber-parent or the authority on how to treat your kids. I’ve made mistakes in parenting and have a handful of less than stellar moments that I would rather forget (and hope my kids do lol!). Having lost my son last year though I have a different perspective than I used to. While I have always believed in “pick your battles” and in watching what you say with regards to how it will leave an impression on little spirits, now I find that I am so much more aware that every moment is a treasure and that- as a parent- we need to really get that concept.

Watching last evening and sitting back and seeing the way that parents treat their kids was rough. I’m not an aggressive or intrusive person but I was having a hard time not leaping in and asking some parents what the hell they thought they would accomplish by the way they were speaking to and treating their children.

Watching a mother talk to the coach, with her child by her side listening, about how she needs to sign him up for a sport again next year because he’s lazy and needs to be made to do anything (yes, her words exactly!).  The coach, laughing and stating that they all are lazy really. Both of them oblivious to the impact of those words on the little set of ears. Sad.

The same mother throwing a ball to her daughter on the team for practice. Her daughter yelled to her mom that she wanted her to throw it harder so she could practice catching harder throws. The mom yelled back “So I’m throwing like a 9-year-old girl eh? Not good enough?” Does she have any idea what those words could mean to her 9-year-old daughter that she’s throwing to?? Or worse yet…maybe she does know and does it anyways.

Listening to a father who has nothing but criticism to his son when he comes off the field. Not a word of praise. Watching that little boys face change from a smile as he runs off the field to his dad to an expression of anger and frustration while he stomps away from his dad after the remarks. The father following, angrily yelling “how dare you walk away while I’m talking to you”. This is a 9-year-old. Would that father not walk away himself if he was subjected to that behaviour on a regular basis? I would assume he would.

Watching a child who has struck out, been given a stand to hit the ball so that he can get a run to first base in… as he gets tagged out and walks back to the players area be told by his mother that he better work on it…next year he won’t be “coddled” if he keeps striking out. His face scrunching up as he throws his batting helmet to the ground and walks off mad…his mom yelling at him to “watch his attitude”. She then turns to another parent and says “these kids have no respect nowadays”. Seriously?! She doesn’t deserve respect the way she treated her child. That’s a two-way street.

I left the game with my son with my head filled with frustration and anger. Angry at the pain and disappointment on the kids’ faces that I saw. Angry that these parents are ignorant of the impact of their words and actions. Frustration over the inability to give someone else the perspective of loss and the ability to see the treasures that their kids are. To really see it instead of just paying it lip service.

I had asked him to tell me what he knew to be a singular truth of life…

My eyes were closed as I lay with my back against the trunk of the tree. The tree, standing alone at the top of the small hill was sparsely decorated with leaves that rustled in the breeze. Affording a slight shade that cut the heat of the day just enough to allow it to be bearable. The roughness of the bark digging into my light shirt as I settled my body and allowed my mind to wander, waiting for his reply. The sharpness of the bark digging into my ribs slightly as I inhaled, the solid strength of the tree comforting against me.

I exhaled, resigning myself to accept whatever truth he would offer to me; not caring precisely what the truth would be but simply that I craved and needed to know something. To know, as a certainty, something…anything…to believe in my heart in a singular truth. The sage’s presence as he sat on the other side of the tree was palpable as I waited.

The sun on my face was hot and it felt good. The kind of good that makes you smile with your heart…your lips just conveying what is bursting inside. My body was damp with a sweat earned by the hike to this place and the wind that blew quietly caressed me and caused a shiver to run through me, the heat of the day gone for a second. I relaxed myself deeper into the ground where I sat and the warmth of the grass drew me to a place of physical contentment that I craved. I exhaled.

Feeling heaviness in my body and calmness in my mind, I was present.  I felt capable, strong and in control – for the first time in a long time. I barely noticed as the tears fell silently, my breathing slow as I welcomed the strength back to my spirit; missing for so long and found in the most simple of places now – within in myself.

I blinked as my eyes opened slowly….the brightness of the sun, high in the sky, burning my eyes and making me drop my head down to filter the sharpness of the light.

Taking a deep breath, I could smell the scent of the grass as the warm air filled my lungs. Releasing my breath, my shoulders set firm and my back rose straighter instead of slumping as it had been for far too long.

I leaned forward as I disengaged myself from the tree trunk, my mind focused on the reality that I had not heard the sage and no longer could I sense his presence. I turned and looked…the other side of the hilltop was empty; he wasn’t there. The small boulder just on the other side of the tree that I had noticed earlier had something on top of it that I could barely make out. I arose and walked to it.

A white piece of parchment fluttered in the breeze, held in place with a small stone. Removing the stone, picking up the paper and reading my singular truth that the sage had left for me.

“You are, as we all are, alone in our journey of this life”.

Ok, just saw a segment on a morning talk show about goggles for dogs to prevent UV exposure damage to their eyes…. got me thinking….

What in the world did all those wild doggies do for all those thousands of years? What do the wolves and dingoes and such do now? My goodness! They must be wandering the wilds half blind by now from all that sun exposure and those horrid UV rays!

But also makes you wonder just how much of the “stuff” that we buy into *needing* we really actually NEED.

I have a friend who told me recently that she never uses sunscreen anymore. She tries to avoid too much sun exposure and be smart about her time in the sun and not burn but doesn’t use it anymore. When I asked her why she replied that North Americans have the highest use of sunscreen products and also have one of the highest rates of skin cancers. Think about the fact that your skin is porous…what you put ON it, gets IN you….

But I digress…the fact is we don’t NEED most of what we have been led to believe that we do. When you look at your wants versus your needs you’ll see you can do without a whole heck of alot. When I recently moved long distance I vowed that only what fit in my car in boxes was coming with me…and did it. Feels very freeing to not have everything that was weighing me down. OK, I will admit…. I did NEED that rolling pin I got rid of but I can buy another one. Not saying it’s a perfect science!

Simple thought for today…think about whether you really need what you think you do – you probably don’t 😉

Living abundantly doesn’t mean with lots of stuff…