I believe we can be anyone

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle you can fight--but never stop fighting! E.E. Cummings

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

My TOP 10 Highlights for 2013


Remember David Letterman, the talk show host?  Back in the day, I used to watch him on TV (I know I’m dating myself now!).   One of the things I enjoyed about his show was his “Top 10 List”.

 
This past year, I had an opportunity to participate in a creation circle group where one of the exercises we did was to write down our WINS each month and share them with the group (usually through email and then briefly at our monthly meeting).  I found it an eye opening and extremely empowering exercise to do each month.

I don’t know about you, but maybe it’s just women (or men, you can correct me if I’m wrong), but women can be really hard on themselves and think they haven’t accomplished “enough” each day or month.  Well, when I started to write down and keep track of what I did every day (like I have been for a few years now), I realized that I accomplish WAY than I think I do: every hour, every day, every month and every year. 


 
I keep track of what I accomplish each day and each month by writing down all my activities, appointments, etc. in my Day-timer.  I’m a bit “old fashioned” in the sense that I buy an actual paper Day-timer every year and then I color code with colored pens my different activities.

For example, when I exercise and do anything physical like walking, riding my bike or taking a class, going for a sauna, etc., I color code with a pink pen and write down how long I did this.  Appointments that I have like: massage, doctor’s etc., I color code with a blue pen.  Anything FUN I’m doing (Yes, fun!  That could include: taking a personal growth workshop, an art class, or meeting a friend, etc.), I color code in purple.  And, my work/business schedule is marked in green.  This is simple and works for me.  You may find another method that works better for you.  If you don’t have a “method”, give it a try and see if you like it.

 
My WINS notebook is full of things I have accomplished in 2013.  Below, I have condensed them into a TOP 10 LIST for the year.  What came up for me doing this exercise is that I noticed basic themes throughout all of these accomplishments; not just in what I "got" done, but in what I learned in the process about myself and life. 
 
Every year I have been doing what is called an “Intention for my Year” exercise where I review my previous year.  It’s always eye opening to look back at my previous year to see what I accomplished, and then to move forward into what I would like to create for the upcoming new year. 


I hope you get as much out of this article as I have and that it somehow inspires you into action in your life.  The Year of the Snake is now over (the shedding of things and letting go).  Now it’s the Year of the Horse and moving forward.  Changes are coming in a BIG way!  I hope you are ready for them!  All the best to you and have a wonderful 2014!
 

1.   I got a huge piece about Universal timing in 2013.  I recognize that everything is ALWAYS timed perfectly.  I really saw this last year in how things happened.   Even when it doesn’t seem like “perfect” timing or if I view the timing as “bad” with my judgment, it’s still ALL perfect.      
When I look back now, there were so many experiences and moments over the year that I now recognize as being perfectly timed.  Everything that needed to be done got done in time.  However, I do notice that my “worry” energy sometimes still sneaks in, so I need to continue to be conscious of that habit.  Having said that, everything all works out.  I’m learning to see and trust that more.  And this past year, I saw it more than ever.  Trust that everything is as it “should” be.


2.  Supporting my parents the best way I could and recognizing that my mom has her own journey to go through.  That was a tough one.  Especially when she was taking care of my dad at home for just over 3 weeks when he got out of the hospital after 6 weeks. 
My dad needs a LOT of extra care and is now in a long term care facility.  They are both in their mid 80s.  Everyone knew at her age that it would be too challenging for her to take care of him at home.  However, she felt that she needed to try her best and do it anyhow. 
In the end through her own experience and timing, she finally realized that it was too difficult for her.  It was one of the most stressful and challenging periods in my life and in hers.  However, I got through it with lots of support from my partner and friends.  And, I supported my mother the best way that I could.
I was so happy we went up for Christmas to be there with them and support them in the transition of moving my dad into long term care.  This was another challenge of letting go for all of us.  But, especially for my mother, who has been with him for 50 years.  They have also lived together in the same house for that period of time. 
 
She is such a strong woman, but she also deserves a break now and so does he.  Life has become very simple through this whole experience for me.  It’s about spending time with family, friends and doing things I love and enjoy and having fun.  Life is too short.  And, the gift is that it has brought us closer together as a family.  Practice asking for and receiving support because it’s there for you.  Know that you are NEVER alone, you only choose to believe that.


3.  The theme of “Letting Go” was definitely up for me this year.  The Year of the Snake was a challenging one; all about shedding layers and letting go of things that no longer fit or serve. 
I received support from a friend who helped me switch to a new system for our household bookkeeping which I now love.  I let go of a job with a company I had been with for 8 years.  I let go of my AFLCA fitness certification.  I let go of some old belief systems and patterns.   I needed to let go of my mom and her journey and trust it would all work out in the end.  I let go of hiding my creativity and art. 
In order to bring in the new, one must let go of the “old”.  The big flood in Calgary was a HUGE letting go in our city last year in more ways than one.  Wow!      

Regularly evaluate your life and let go of things etc. that no longer serve you to make room for something else.

 
4.  Turning 50 in September 2013, makes one contemplative and reflective at times.  I feel young at heart but I also seem to have more aches and pains than usual.  I’m certainly not 20 anymore!  Boy does time go by quickly.      
I realize more and more that it’s important to do those things that I LOVE every day.  The trick to this is making the time to do them though.  Otherwise, it doesn’t and never happens.  It’s all wishful thinking.  Actions speak louder than words.  And, when I do things I love, I’m happier.  And aren’t I worth that? YES!!  Aren’t you??  YES!!

 
5.  Taking risks helps me to grow and evolve.  I applied for jobs that I didn’t necessarily qualify for.  I tried new classes like Aerial Yoga.  I went Zip lining.  I rode a gigantic horse (albeit only for 10 minutes but so what!  I did it anyhow!)  I reconnected with a friend in Kelowna I hadn’t seen in 18 years and stayed at his place.  I was a tourist in the city of Kelowna and so was my friend!  (Ironically, I lived in Kelowna for 2 years and saw more of it on this trip than when I lived there!) 
I spoke at my Toastmasters Club and finally reached my goal of 10 speeches.  As a speaker, I did my best to be as authentic, spontaneous and unprepared (but somewhat prepared) as possible.  I allowed myself to trust that what I needed to say would come out in the way it would need to.  A huge lesson in trust.  In my life, I spoke my mind more and spoke from the heart more.  I was vulnerable.  I asked for support. 
Risks help us to grow as human beings.  I encourage you to take risks and surprise yourself with what is possible.

    6.  I consistently took care of myself and my body.  Whether this was exercising, getting massages, taking fun classes to move my body, riding my bike, walking, eating as healthy as possible, etc. 
    Again, it’s important to make time to do these things for our own health and well being.  Doing something each day, even if you incorporate active living into your lifestyle by walking to the grocery store and back counts. 
    Write it down!  It all adds up!  Let go of how exercising “needs” to look and be easy on yourself.

     
    7.  I took my art to a whole other level.  I put myself out there more.  I realized it’s okay to share it with others so that others can enjoy it too.  I enjoy other artists and their art work.  Of course, I create because I enjoy it and it feeds me.  However, it’s great to share with others too. 
    This past year, I really enjoyed connecting with other artists and getting into the arts community more.  I created a lot of pieces and had fun experimenting and trying new things.  I took my first Impressionism painting class which was new for me and really enjoyed it and learnt a lot about myself (the teacher was great too).      
    I participated in The Fairy Festival in the spring and the Artspot Art Show in December (which had a variety of 30 different artists showing their wares).   I learnt that if I don’t put myself out there, I will never know where that will lead me. 
    So, put yourself out there!  What have you got to lose??  And, don’t take things personally.
     
     
    8.  Personal growth workshops feed my soul.  I love it.  And sometimes I don’t because when my issues are up in my face, sometimes I don’t want to look in the mirror at myself.  However, this is how I grow and how I choose to grow.  Otherwise, life stays stagnant and I remain stuck. 
    When I heard about The Samurai Workshop in 2012, I immediately signed up.  You had me at “Samurai”.  I love martial arts and action movies so I was hooked.  When I read the write up about the course, I was hooked even more and I couldn’t wait to do it.  However, I had to wait 6 months to do the course in June of 2013. 
    Boy did my issues come up and boy did I move through it.  It was one of the most challenging things I have done and one of the best experiences I have had!  I have done many, many courses over the last 13 years.  I would do it again. 
    I healed another layer in my relationship with my mother.  I realized that life is short and to appreciate and let the people in my life know how much I appreciate them because you just never know what could happen; they may not always be around.  Life can change in the blink of an eye and there may not be another opportunity. 
     
    I learnt about leadership and following.  I learnt that I need to put things in my life in order and to leave them better than I found them.  Do I really want to leave a big mess for someone else to clean up after I die?  Preferably not. 
     
    What an amazing weekend.  You will just need to find out for yourself because it’s through the experience of doing something like that, that we learn.
     
     

    9.  Being a part of the creation circle group over the last 2 years has been insightful, at times challenging but also very supportive.  One of the things I enjoyed the most was writing down my WINS at the end of every month in my WINS notebook. 
    They say that whatever you focus on expands.  I used to focus a lot on what I didn’t get done rather than what I did get done.  However, this last year was the year where I did this exercise every month and realized that I get a whole lot more done than I think I do. 
    My Day-timer is a great tool to keep track of all that I have done (appointments, when I exercised, courses and classes I took, errands, and whatever else).  There’s something powerful about writing things down and seeing it in front of my eyes every month.  I feel empowered by it.  And, sharing it with a group of people every month is even more powerful because it’s about accountability and cheering each other on. 
    I accomplished so much last year.  And you know what?  I’m damn proud of that.  I highly recommend doing this for yourself and start to recognize that you accomplish more than you think.
     
    10.  I want and plan to travel and take more holidays.  I have said this for a long time now.  It takes money though.  However, I learnt that my partner Rick and I can be focused when we want to. 
    We had been saving money for a couple years in our vacation fund.  Every month I put in his and/or my vacation pay into a vacation fund.   We finally had an opportunity to take a spontaneous last minute all inclusive holiday to Mexico in January 2013.  We always wanted to go to Mexico.  It was amazing, fun and SO worth it. 
    My and our goal is to create our life so we can do more of that.  The older I get, the more clear I get about what I want to be, do and have. Things somehow start to get simpler. However, I have noticed that time is moving and going by faster.  There is no time to waste.  What are YOU waiting for??  Just do it!

     

     

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Day 2: Weiner and Bun

    SUNDAY
     
    When I arrived late Saturday night, I was more than ready to unpack, settle in and go to bed early.  John's brother Rob and his friend, Tracy were staying for the weekend as well.  They decided to go downtown to check out some bands, but I just wanted to relax and so I did.
     
    At first, I felt a little nervous for a couple of reasons.  First, I hadn't seen John in 18 years. And second, I'm now staying at his place with his brother and someone I only just met.  As open as I am to meeting new people, I was still out of my comfort zone.  Having said that, Rob and Tracy were very nice and gracious, as was John.
     
    Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast.  Of course, with my limiting food choices, this proved to be a challenge, but I worked around it the best I could.
     
    Downtown Kelowna on the weekend is a busy place with various activities:  the craft market, people walking around the boulevard along the lake, shopping, having coffee or lunch, riding their bikes, doing tourist activities or laying on the beach.  Summer is always busy, but particularly in the Okanagan.  It is THE Mexico or Florida of Canada.  Everyone wants to go to the Okanagan and it's no wonder why. 

    "Graffitti" painted on the side of this building close to the lake.
     
     
    The old Willow Inn that stood here behind me for 81 years is now a parking lot.  http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/45203/Lights-out-for-the-Willow-Inn 
    Many fine memories there.  All things come to an end eventually though.
     
     
     Along the Okanagan Lakeshore.
     

    As Rob and Tracy took off to meet with another friend, John and I spent some time on the beach.  It was a little too busy for me with traffic and people, but still nice. 

    In front of the "Sails" sculpture. 
     

    City Park and the craft market which happens on the weekends generally.
     
    

    John called another friend of ours, Weiner (no that's not his real name, it's actually Wayne) to see if he was out on his boat.  By chance, he just happened to be going out on the lake.  Next thing we know, within a half an hour, we're on a boat on the lake on a hot summer day!  Sweet!

     
     Weiner and me on his boat.  It's another picture perfect day.
     


    The condo on the lake Weiner used to own.
     

     
    Later that night, we end up going for dinner at the Golf Club with Rob, Tracy and John's parents Ben and Joyce Lee.  Ben used to be a City Councillor for the Rutland area of Kelowna.  He was affectionately known as the "Mayor of Rutland" and has a park named after him.  Pretty cool.   Check out his page here.  http://www.kelowna.ca/CM/page491.aspx  They are quite lovely people and still live in the same house they have lived in for years.  As people get older, this isn't always the case. 

    The evening came to a fairly early close which was fine by me.  I was about to embark on a workshop over the next two days and didn't need to do anything too crazy, yet.
     

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    Day 1: The Drive

    I decided to take a road trip to Kelowna to a:  take a workshop and b:  to reconnect with a place I used to live at for 2 years over 18 years ago.  Kelowna has changed and grown a LOT!!  It is now a mini metropolis and it was quite a culture shock driving into this city that was now somewhat unrecognizable to me, albeit at first.
     
    The longer I stayed, the more comfortable it began to feel again; the old familar places became recognizable to me once more.  I visited more new places and tourist attractions on this trip of 11 days than I did when I lived there.  It's funny how life and work stopped me from exploring the tremendous beauty around me.  Sure I did see some of it, but I needed to be a tourist in the city I used to live in to see so much more of what Kelowna has to offer. 
     
    It was a tremendously fun trip.  The only regret is my partner Rick wasn't able to get time off of work to go with me.  So, off I went on an adventure of my own.
     
    In Kelowna, I reconnected with a friend named John that I hadn't seen in 18 years.  I had the pleasure of his sight seeing hospitality.  I was also lucky enough to stay in the spare room of his condo in downtown Kelowna.  He guided me to places in Kelowna I wasn't aware of.  I had a list of other things and places I wanted to do and see as well.   Funny enough, I also showed him things in Kelowna he wasn't aware of.  It was a win win situation for both of us.
     
    I spent some time with John, met some new people and also took time for myself to explore, play and have fun.  The weather was picture perfect.  It was 28 to 35 farenheit every day that I was there.  Now THAT'S summer.  I love the sun and the heat.
     
    I plan on sharing my journey with you over the next few blog posts as I took so many photos that one blog post would never cover it.  I am a bit of an amateur photographer and I enjoy sharing the beauty of how I see the world through my eyes.  Enjoy!


    On the road again.  It's been a LONG time since I have been on a LONG road trip.  Driving for 8 hours certainly can have its challenges physically.  I'm not in my 20s anymore.  This shot is just past Lake Louise on the highway.

     
     
     
    A photo of me by the side of the highway for a quick rest.
     
     
     
      A bear!  A bear!  I was wondering why all of those cars stopped by the side of the road!
     
     
     
    I stopped in Golden when this woman and her son walked by with this cute little guy!    He was quite relaxed as you can see and didn't mind me taking a photo.  Unfortunately, I don't remember what breed this is but I HAD to get a shot of him.  He's SO adorable!
     
     
     
    A popular rest stop by Mara Lake.  I love the drive along this lake even with the amount of curves that it has.
     
     
     
     
    Just a half an hour or so from Kelowna now.  I thought this scenery was pretty.  I'm almost there now!  Whoopee!
     
     

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    A Story of Stuff

    As I met with my Bodacious Women's Circle a couple of weeks ago, once again I was amazed at the power of sharing and stories in a group.  I find myself becoming more and more grateful for getting to know these women.  I realize that "their issue" is also mine to some degree.  We are all connected and we are all humans struggling to overcome what blocks us and what keeps us stuck.


    For example, our last meeting a woman shared about her "stuff", her actual physical belongings that were in a box.  She had accumulated some clutter, as we all do from time to time.  She couldn't face dealing with the contents in this box.  As she kept eluding to the contents in the box, I finally asked her "What is in this box?"  She shared with us that there were some personal things in it that she was avoiding dealing with. 

     

    All of us deal with clutter and accumulating, it at some point in our lives.   And clutter can come in many forms and faces; either physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually.  Clutter anchors us to the past and can sometimes keep us stuck.  It can be difficult to move forward toward future goals if we aren't willing to let go of things that are not in support of us moving forward.  We need to let go of the "old" to bring in the "new" things into our lives.


    It's funny how I sometimes go through resistance going to this monthly meeting because  a) logistically it's sometimes a nightmare to get to the meeting because I'm taking transit (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little here, but sometimes it is a pain not owning a car) and  b) on some soul and unconscious level I know there will be some issue or issues coming up in the group that we can all relate to and that we will need to face and heal potentially, if we choose to of course. 

    That's partly what the group is about; being able to share where we are at and overcome our blocks and challenges with the support of others. It's hard to do everything on my own and I imagine it's hard for others too.  Asking for support from others can be one of the most challenging and risk taking things we do in our lives.



    Why is it that most of us believe we need to do everything on our own without help from anyone?  It's just not possible.  Successful people and businesses have great support systems and a team of people to help them run things.  They realize they can't do everything on their own and nor do they want to.  It's about becoming clear of our strengths and enhancing those strengths.  I don't feel it's always necessary to build on our weaknesses because there will be someone else better suited.  Why do things that aren't our innate and natural gifts?


    Why do so many of us, and in particular women, think we need to do everything on our own?  When are we going to say enough is enough and reach out for support?  It's too hard trying to be SuperWoman.  I'm learning more and more that it's okay to collaborate, brainstorm and support one another.  We all have different strengths that we can bring to the table.  It's just impossible to think that we can or need to know everything!  Let me share a personal story with you.

    For the last few years, I have decided to take care of the household bookkeeping.  I have never taken a bookkeeping class.  I have fumbled my way through, learning as much as I could from the few books that I have read.  Every month I would spend 5 to 7 hours calculating income and expenses, keeping necessary receipts, throwing some away, and then on top of it, dreading and cursing every moment.


    For the last few years I proudly kept on top of things every month, up until last year when life got busy and the bookkeeping fell to the wayside.  Not that I looked forward to doing it anyhow. And so, it was easy to procrastinate.  But then 1 month led to 2, then 2 months to 3 and so on and so on.  Well, you know how that goes!  By 2013, I was not only behind 8 months in 2012, but also 4 months behind in 2013.  This is not how I like to start the year off, being behind.



    Now I needed to get caught up because tax season was coming.  Good grief!  I remembered being in that place a few years ago where my pattern was leaving everything to the last minute and then spending hours and hours trying to play "catch up" and being completely stressed out and just getting our tax stuff in on time.  Can anyone relate to this??

    As I spent hours over the last few months slowly getting caught up, this year I realized that I couldn't keep doing things the same way any longer.  I was miserable and I was complaining about how many hours I was spending doing this (to the dismay of my partner).  I realized the reason I was procrastinating was because I was dreading the bookkeeping every month.



    I knew I needed to do things differently, but how?  I needed help.  But who and where?  I started speaking with my friend Destiny about my conundrum.  I was using Excel but in a very limited capacity as I haven't been trained in it.  Well, as it turns out, she's an Excel whiz!  She promptly emailed me a copy of a spreadsheet that she was using.  I looked it over and told her I was interested.  She agreed to come over to work with me on creating a new bookkeeping system. 


    I, in the meantime, streamlined the expense categories (although there were still too many categories in Destiny's mind).   After reading "Your Money or Your Life" a couple years ago and rereading it again this year, I was reminded of why I had so many categories to begin with.  To her dismay, she gave in.  She and I both realized that it was me dealing with it in the end and if I was okay with it, that's all that mattered.  Besides, I could already tell that this new system would be WAY easier for me, even with all the categories.

    As we spent time together setting things up and with her teaching me, I started to see how this new system would completely simplify things.  I also realized that we needed to simplify things in the way of NOT using credit cards (we have 3) plus our joint chequing account for paying all our expenses.  Dealing with 4 different accounts was in and of itself already challenging and I realized it just took too much time and energy to deal with it all.
     
    After speaking with Destiny some more, I realized that this too was causing me extra stress.  It was hard to keep track of 4 different accounts and then doing the bookkeeping on top of this. For me, this was the last straw.  Things needed to change this year.
     
    I decided to speak with my partner about just using our chequing account for all the expenses. We both came to a mutual agreement of paying off the credit cards completely by the end of April. 


    With a fairly generous tax refund we were able to pay off the 1.  We then took some our savings and paid off the other 2.  By the end of April we were completely debt free and on a "cash only" basis like we were a few years ago. 


    I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to be debt free.  There is something to be said for the feeling of freedom that comes with it; to say to ourselves "enough is enough" and to become more conscious and aware of our spending habits. 


    Because we have been tracking our expenses for the last number of years, this new system worked with budget amounts for expense categories as well.  I was somewhat opposed to budgeting because it felt limiting to me.  But then I realized it's okay because it tracks any potential overspending in any one category.  It's not about "sacrificing, but about keeping track so we can reach any goals we have that we would like to achieve.  To be able to track expenses with this wonderful new system is exhilarating. 

    Actually, I am now excited to do the bookkeeping and I look forward to it because of this simplicity. All thanks to my friend and thanks to me too for being willing to ask for support and being willing to change.  That's where it all starts and big changes can happen that way.


    I realize that debt is not free money.  There is a high price to pay for it and so much energy is tied into it.  There was a huge shift in my physical energy this last month.  I finally realized how much of my energy was tied into this old exhausting system and also into our debt.

    It's not that I think credit is bad.  In this day and age it's difficult to not get by without it.  We can't always pay for things with debit online.  But I have decided that as soon as that purchase is made on the credit card, the money needs to come out of the chequing account to pay for it.  If there isn't any money for that purchase, then it shouldn't be purchased to begin with.

    It's simple and yet, not always an easy action to implement.  It does take commitment, determination, patience and persistence.  I can still get caught up in the spending madness and it takes a conscious effort to not get caught up in it.  With books like "Your Money or Your Life" and "The Soul of Money", I realize that I need to become in touch with who I am and what is important to me so that I don't continue these unconscious and unsupportive spending habits.



    Ask yourself:  Is how I make my money in alignment with my values and who I am?  Is how I spend my money in alignment with my values and who I am?  Am I achieving the goals I say I want to achieve?  These are the deep questions we need to ask ourselves in order to heal our relationship with money and to get out of the consumer rat race of spending ourselves into consumption prison.


    For years I have said I wanted to travel.  And yet, for some reason, I haven't travelled as much as I would like.  Why is this?  Is it because I'm just a big fat liar?  No.  This is the tragedy of unconscious spending and not having goals.  Our behaviours and actions speak much louder than our words ever can, ALWAYS. 

    This is why I am on a mission to become empowered with my relationship with money.  This is why I realize that I can't do everything on my own and sometimes I need help and support. There is no shame in this.  Shame, on the other hand, is a whole other discussion to get into for another time because sometimes shame stops us for asking for help.  This too, is something that needs to be healed.


    Thank you to (I will call her Bodacious Woman "P" to honour her privacy) for being vulnerable, open and willing to share your struggles about your "stuff" in our group.  You are not alone, we are not alone, we are all in this together.  I am grateful to all the teachers in my life.  Thank you and I look forward to sharing and learning more.