That time I tried to be friends with a white supremacist…

August 18th, 2017 No comments
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Like many of you, the events in Charlottesville last weekend have shaken me to my core. In some respects, I feel like I contributed to allowing America’s Nazis to have such a platform. Why? Because I had been one of those people who suggested that we need to listen to them and have discussions with them. I had been one of those people who have said, but no, free speech, they must be allowed to voice their opinions.  Yup, I was one of those people, like so many of you…

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You figured I would have learned my lesson when it comes to Nazis, but time made it easy to forget that I once tried to be friends with white supremacist. It’s a story I haven’t shared publicly, but I think it’s time. Why? Because I think Canadians assume we are immune to this sort of activity, but we’re not. And for every one of you suggesting that we try to be listen to them, read my story, and then go watch the Vice Documentary on Charlottesville. Then come back and tell me that we should try and come to some sort of consensus with these fascists fucks.

My story happened in the mid-90’s in a small city in Eastern Ontario. That was the summer that the Nazis came to town and started recruiting. That was the summer that I found out one of my childhood friends was married to a Nazi and was expecting his baby.  Except, they didn’t call themselves Nazis. They called themselves nationalists pronouncing the virtues of ‘white pride’.

I’m not even sure where to begin, because it still baffles me that I hung out with these people and pretended to like them. I guess my loyalty to my childhood friend, overrode my rationale thinking at the time. I was also quite confused because her husband (said nationalist) was attending school on a First Nations scholarship. Yes, you read that right. So, he couldn’t really be racist… at least that’s what my young mind thought. Turns out racism comes in many different colours.

It had been many many years since I had seen my childhood friend, Lucy (not her real name) and I was pleasantly surprised that she knew my boyfriend, Chuck (not his real name). They had been friends at a different time and place in their life journeys. Too cool, I thought. She introduced us to her husband, Biff (not his real name), and told us that her and her hubby were going to have a baby. I couldn’t have been more excited for her. So, we decided to get together and catch up… that’s when things got really weird.

Chuck and I went to their house to visit them. Now Chuck was often mistaken for a skinhead because he had a shaved head, wore big black army boots, and was covered in tattoos. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when Biff started talking to him about a white pride movement called the Heritage Front. As I sat catching up with Lucy, I watched from the corner of my eye as Biff and Chuck engaged in a lengthy dialogue about immigrants taking our jobs and the watering down of white heritage. It made me uncomfortable, but what harm was there in just talking to them, right? They should be allowed to voice their opinions, too, right?

Later that night, Chuck and I went home and we talked about what had happened. Chuck brushed the conversation off as harmless and then handed me some literature Biff had given him to take home and read. It was a newsletter from the Heritage Front. It was perhaps the most covertly racist thing I had ever read. Disguised as a harmless group newsletter, it was full of anecdotes about immigrants taking jobs from Canadians. It also contained bits and pieces of info about the founder of Heritage Front and the history of the white pride movement. There were no overt racial slurs, there was, however, a small illustration of the ‘good ole days’. It depicted a lynching, complete with hooded clansmen. The illustration was located on the back of the newsletter and was small enough that it could have been overlooked with just a cursory glance. What I was holding in my hands was a piece of white supremacist propaganda, I just didn’t realize it at the time. I chose to ignore it, after all, they were just harmless words and illustrations. Everyone was allowed to have their viewpoint – free speech and all – so I chose to ignore that aspect of these people — until they refused to let me ignore it any longer.

Hanging out with Biff and Lucy became increasingly precarious. Biff had introduced Chuck to some other friends who were rapidly trying to recruit Chuck into their circle. On one occasion, when we were visiting their home, we met a group of older teens and young adults who were very loud and violently vocal with their thoughts. One of them told us about this old lady that lived next door to them who was a Wiccan. What’s that, another asked. A fucking witch, another proclaimed, We should go down there and burn her at the fucking stake. I’m not going to lie. My heart raced. You see, I was a practitioner of the craft, at that time. In fact, I was sitting, right there in front of them, with a shiny pentacle hanging around my neck. Biff and Lucy had visited my home and they had seen my altar. It only occurred to me later that were probably trying to intimidate me. Or they were incredibly stupid and didn’t realize that there was a Wiccan sitting in the room with them. Either way, it was a very frightening situation.

I sat in that room, with those people, listening to them become increasingly violent with their words. I witnessed, one young kid, maybe 17, rip off his shirt and proudly show off his new tattoo – a full back portrait of Hitler. Yes, that’s right, this kid, had a giant portrait of Hitler tattooed on his back – and he was proud of it. More tattoos started appearing, and before I knew it, there were shirtless skinheads thrashing about proudly displaying their swastikas and tattooed racial slurs while loudly saluting Hitler with the typical Nazi salute and shout of Heil! .

Of course, that didn’t stop us from still being friends with Lucy and Biff. You see, I believed, deep down, that my long-time friend didn’t actually hold these racist ideals. I thought, that perhaps, she had just gotten herself into a precarious situation with a man who was angry and confused (let me reiterate, he was a white supremacist with First Nations blood). She was about to have his baby. She was young and the world seemed like an incredibly scary place. I still want to believe this, but I don’t see Lucy these days. There is a chance she’ll read this, and if she does, please know that I always rooted for you and wanted the very best for you in what seemed a very dark time.

After that incident, I wasn’t comfortable visiting Lucy and Biff’s. Our next visit with them was at our apartment, and if I recall correctly, it was the last time we hung out with them as a couple. At that time, we had a roommate and two house guests living with us. They were all home. Before Biff had arrived, he had already indulged in some mind-altering substances. He was quietly agitated. As the rest of the house sat around listening to music and chatting, Biff sat away from the group, on a chair. He remained quiet and disengaged from the group. Then suddenly, he stood up, and started shouting Heil Hitler! while performing Nazi salutes… in MY home. Then he quietly sat down, turned toward my altar, my place of worship as a Wiccan, and began to grab various items and crush them. Chuck told him to stop, but he was in a trance and just sat crushing delicate pieces of my altar, including a sculpture made of bone. He just picked it up and crushed it with his bare hands. Here was this giant beast of a man, viciously destroying the sanctity of my home, while proclaiming his loyalty to one of the most evil creatures to ever live – Hitler.

Lucy tried to calm him and suggested they leave. He stayed solid in his chair, just crushing the sculpture to dust, ignoring our requests for him to leave our house. One of my house guests grabbed a knife and held it behind his back and then stood in front of the rest of us. He didn’t say a word. He just stood there, staring at Biff. Waiting to see what he would do. Eventually, Lucy convinced Biff it was time to leave.  I am not going to lie, in those moments and for many many months after, I was terrified. I also felt responsible for putting my house guests and roommate in danger by even allowing this man to enter my home. I thought I was being a good person by trying to engage with him. Turned out, I was just allowing him to feel more comfortable to be who he was – an angry racist. He had felt emboldened enough to incite fear inside my own home. And this, friends, is the problem with engaging with Nazis; it gives voice to their thoughts and empowers their ideas. I thought I was one of the good people, turns out I was just helping the bad guys to get bolder and scarier.

I think it’s time we do what we should have done… shame them for their inhumane thoughts and behaviours. Do we ignore them? No. But we need to stop giving them a platform to spread their hate. There is limit to freedom of speech, and when it is used to incite hate and violence, that limit is reached. As one of my friends put it so well, this isn’t an abstract concept. There is no such thing as a peaceful or reasonable Nazi. Nazis have deeply racist and dangerous worldviews. It’s time we shut that shit down for good. It’s also time we call them what they are: terrorists.

So, what happened to Biff and Lucy? Lucy gave birth and shortly after she left Biff. Biff moved into an apartment downtown, and then one evening, he violently beat to death a homeless man. Biff went to prison, and died while incarcerated. Lucy moved on, and raised an awesome kid. Lucy got out before it was too late. We need to do the same.

M. xo

 

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40 Things I Didn’t Do For My 40th Birthday

May 25th, 2017 No comments
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IMG_0871Well, here we are… it’s been over a year since I compiled this epic list of 40 things to do for my 40th birthday. So, how many of them did I accomplish? Two – just two on that list. I painted a self-portrait and I befriended a horse (sort of). So, what the hell happened?! Life happened… other things became more important than whether I walked over the Bay Bridge or finally played my first round of golf.

One of the biggest roadblocks in completing many of these items was due to spraining my ankle exactly one week after I turned 40. A very nasty fall down a set of basement stairs resulted in less mobility for me  all summer and indeed most of that year. There would be no splunking or hiking bridges for me.

Sure I had lots of other items to cross off my list, but they paled in comparison to what life was about to offer up. Shortly before I turned forty, a long time family friend, and someone I considered a business mentor, passed away. Around this same time, one of my family members was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. These two events changed my perspective on life last year… and that list quickly became a afterthought.

Do I intend to keep crossing things off that list? Probably. Will I do everything on that list? Probably not. Why? My perspective has changed and some things seem less intriguing than they were a year ago. That’s how life works.

FotoJet CollageAnd yet, while it seems that I didn’t accomplish much if I were to simply look at that list, I realized how much more I did last year than I ever anticipated. I had my first surgery experience in a hospital. I finally allowed a dentist to remove two of my wisdom teeth. Both of these were huge fears of mine, but I overcame them this last year! I wasn’t expecting to, but that’s how life works… expect the unexpected.

And because I was unable to move around as easily because of that silly sprained ankle, I spent a lot more time painting. So much time, that it became a full-time gig and I discovered a hidden talent AND an immense passion. So, yeah, the list didn’t get completed, but I found myself anyhow. Now, I am actively working to promote my art and I spend most days splashing colors onto canvas. It’s delightful!

Yes, life rarely ever works out how we planned, but there is always an opportunity to move forward, even in the midst of failures and chaos. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a different path, a delightfully unexpected path… and if you are really lucky, it may just show you your true colors.

M. xo

Check out more of my artwork on Facebook and Instagram!

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Why I Don’t Visit You…

December 12th, 2016 No comments
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Since I’ve been asked a lot why I don’t visit… here’s your answers:

  1. My husband works out of town during the week (mostly). I don’t drive. Getting to your place is not as easy as it for someone who drives, so cut me some slack. If you have a license, come see me or come pick me up.
  2. I work from home. I do not have set hours. Sometimes, my work takes up all my waking hours, and sometimes I work really early or late because of #3.
  3. We have a lot of visitors. Our house is blessed with many regular visitors. Simply put, I often don’t have time to go to other people’s houses because I have visitors at my house. If there were two of me, I’d divide myself up, but there’s only one, so work with me, k?
  4. You might be the problem. Yep, there, I said it. I don’t have time for drama, or inane problems. I also may not enjoy spending time with you like I used too (refer to aforementioned drama). I will still love you dearly, but I won’t allow someone else’s problems or drama to negatively affect my life. And here’s something else, some of the people I love, I don’t particularly like. How can that be? Easy. History.
  5. I am working very hard to turn a hobby into a business… a dream into reality. It’s kinda like having a baby (some of you will remember what that was like). I may not have time in the next five or so years to visit you as I nurture my ‘baby’. Once my ‘baby’ is more self-sufficient, I’ll be able to visit more frequently.
  6. Invite me over. Don’t just say, we should hang out or you never visit. And don’t call me at the last minute and expect me to drop everything to come see you. You have a better chance of making plans with me.
  7. I’ve been assessing my relationships lately. I’ve looked at how my family and friends have given or taken; been steadfast or inconsistent; been supportive or hindering; and brought laughter or tears. It’s had me reevaluate who I want in my life on a regular basis. It’s really that simple.

Just remember that I care and I do want to visit, but right now, might not be the best time. Oh, and if you think this post is about you, it’s probably not. 😉

M. xo

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Every Family has a Story to tell… Welcome to Ours.

October 25th, 2016 2 comments
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A few year ago, I wrote a post entitled, “Why I Don’t Have Children… Yet.” Well, it’s long overdue to update that post. Now before you start congratulating me on a pregnancy or adoption, you may want to read a bit further. The children in my life now, are neither children, or mine in any biological or legal sense. In fact, what connects us and brought us together in a unique family dynamic is that we were estranged biological cousins – having only connected just a few short years ago.  I am significantly older than my three cousins. In fact, their mother (my aunt) and I were only six years apart in age.

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Prior to reconnecting with “the girls” (as hubby and I refer them), I had only met the eldest of these cousins when I was 18 – almost two decades earlier. It may seem unusual for some families to have such distance between relatives, but it seemed to be the norm in my family growing up.

On my mom’s side, there was little love lost between the siblings (my mom, and her brother and sisters). Developing relationships with my cousins was extremely challenging growing up because of all the bickering and stubbornness from the authority figures in our lives. Yep, I’ll say it here, and I will probably get some grief for it, but keeping the cousins from each other because of adult pettiness was extremely selfish. I’m not sure why we were forced to live with the sins of our parents, but that’s how it was. In some ways, it’s still like that. We have a very fractured family. It’s never been cohesive, save for perhaps a few short months before my Nanny passed away.

I hadn’t seen my Nanny in 15 years when she showed up at my mom’s door to tell her that she had terminal pancreatic cancer. She only had six months to live and wanted to get to know her grandchildren, and reconnect with her daughter. Nanny lived for two years and during that time I got to know her, and I also began to realize how much I’d been robbed of growing up. One of our funniest exchanges was when she saw me for the first time after all those years. I was an angry teen goth girl, and I wore the clothes and make-up to prove it. Nanny looked at me and said, “I guess those pink sweaters with the kittens on them that I’ve been sending you for Christmas over the years wasn’t a good choice.”

So, for a brief time there, Nanny brought us all back together. Of course, it took a tragedy for us to start acting more like a family, but that’s how it was for my maternal relations. Shortly, after my Nanny died, the bickering and hostility started again. Nanny’s death was followed by my Gramps’ passing, which again brought the family together for a brief period. Following my Gramps’ death we lost one more family member, my youngest aunt and “the girls’” mother. She was 34 when she passed away from ovarian cancer.

This is where I’ll confess now. I did not attend my Gramps’ memorial, nor did I attend my aunt’s. There were monetary factors that made it difficult to travel at those times, but I also didn’t want to be there to witness yet another family funeral gathering. It was the only time I saw that side of my family, and I was just done. In fact, my mother wasn’t even speaking to her youngest sister when she passed away.  I also was pretty bitter about Gramps’ death. I wasn’t going to sit around and watch people shedding crocodile tears for a man they barely visited. My biological family were practically strangers to me.

Now don’t feel too bad for me. I was blessed with an amazing step-family while growing up. I have the best Dad I could ever ask for, and he’s not my Dad because he has to be or because we share genes. He’s my Dad because he wants to be. He chose me and my brothers. To me, that is very special. In addition to my Dad, I have amazing aunts and uncles, and cousins that I share no biological relation with, but we have a very deep familial connection. They have been my family for as long as I can remember, and even after my Mom and Dad went through a very messy divorce, they were still there for me and my brothers. They were still my family.

In the last ten years, I’ve had the pleasure of finally getting to know my biological maternal cousins. I do not know my paternal side, but that’s another story, for another day. It took awhile to get us all together, but it finally happened one summer day. We finally all came together in one spot, not for a funeral, but for a celebration. It was an amazing day. Now that we’re all older, we don’t have to concern ourselves with whatever issues might be going on with our parents. We can choose to keep in touch and get to know each other, and for the most part, we have.

While getting to know my deceased aunt’s girls, I learned of some very tragic history and personal struggles. You see, shortly after my aunt passed away, “the girls” began having less and less contact with their mother’s side of the family. When family did inquire about seeing them, they were denied. Very few of us in the family had any clue about how they were growing up following their mother’s passing. Now, I won’t go into details about their upbringing because that is their story to tell, not mine, but I do want to address some of the concerns that some people have with our relationship with “the girls”.

Just over a year ago, the youngest of the girls moved into our home. It was the first time that hubby and I had ever lived with anyone else, so it was definitely a new experience. At first, we also thought that this sixteen-year-old who had already been living on her own for a couple years, wouldn’t want or need any parenting from us. We quickly discovered that she, and her sisters, were craving parental connections. Sure, their father was still alive, but he wasn’t, and still isn’t, very involved in their lives. There was no love lost between them and their step-mother, who I was told moved into the girls’ family home with her kids only a few short months after their mom passed away.

Yes, indeed, the girls were looking for someone they could confide in, come to for advice, or get a hug. They were looking for unconditional love and we found ourselves naturally falling into a parenting role with the girls. Of course, the girls aren’t little girls anymore. They are teenagers and young adults, but even they want that sense of security and love just like anyone else. Why should they be denied that?

Some people have been quick to judge, but we pay them no attention. You see, some people don’t understand what it’s like to have unconditional love for someone that isn’t necessarily your child. Hubby and I were lucky though, because we both are blessed with unconditional love from parents that we share no genetics connection too. My Dad taught me what unconditional love of a parent means, and I intend to carry forward his legacy.

Sure, it’s not always easy being a surrogate parent to the girls, but that’s because they have some serious history tagging along in their journey. A-a-a-n-d, let’s face it, they hadn’t experienced our brand of parenting before, so it has been something we’ve had to work on as a family unit. In fact, the youngest who moved in with us, spent the first few months worried that we were mad at her all the time, waiting for us to yell at her, and never ever eating the last of something in the fridge. She also described me as “mean,” not because I raised my voice, but because I told her things she didn’t want to hear and challenged her perceptions. She was also always trying to pick at fight with me… even if she didn’t realize she was doing it.

It was only after hubby and I started getting closer to the middle child, that we realized that challenging female authority was ingrained in them. I am not even sure if I have talked fully with them about this, but it was very evident to hubby and I. All we could assume, was that it was a pattern of behaviour developed in childhood from trying to save their father from a wicked step-mother (their description of their step mother is totally NSFW, so I won’t be repeating it here). Their father was the victim that they always had to save, despite the fact that he was also a perpetrator too. If you think about it, it kind of makes sense in the worldview of children who lost their mother at a very young age. Losing one parent is awful enough, but losing both? They weren’t going to let that happen.

As time went on, and the girls got older, the gradually started leaving their family home. The eldest left when she turned 18, while the two youngest were both out in their tweens and early teens. Their relationship with their father has become more distant as time has moved forward. There were many evenings when the youngest girl was in hubby’s arms crying because her father had stood her up, yet again.

We really tried to stay at arm’s length because we didn’t want drama from my biological family. We tried, we really did. But there’s something about watching a young person struggle with things that she shouldn’t and be virtually abandoned by her only surviving parent. It just didn’t sit well with us, so we opened our home and hearts. We have never pushed the girls for a relationship, we just try to make ourselves consistently present for them. We try to encourage them to become the best versions of themselves that they can. We support their goals and aspirations, and cheer them on when they reach those goals. And we never stop loving them, nor do we cast them aside when they screw up. We talk to them, and make it clear that they are responsible for their actions. We encourage them to make amends, and communicate openly about their feelings.

So, that’s what we try to do for them. They probably don’t know what they do for us, but they have had a profound effect on our life. We always want to know what and how they are doing (almost obsessively). They give us a sense of pride and joy when they accomplish something really great. Sometimes, they do something that disappoints us, but that just challenges us to help them learn and grow from the experience. We grow from that experience, too. When we’re out shopping, they are always on on minds. Often, one of us picks up an item and declares that one of the girls would love this! We spoil them on occasion and we also tell them no, too. That teaches us how to be more kind, and stronger, so that we can better people for them. We try to be as honest as possible with them, without setting off any emotional alarms… that’s not always easy, so hubby and I have to self-reflect a lot. We miss them when we haven’t seen them in a couple days, and we’re worried when they don’t respond to our texts in a timely manner. The girls have, very simply, made our life more complete.

This relationship between us and the girls wasn’t planned. It just happened naturally, or perhaps with some intervention from the beyond (if you believe in that sort of stuff). I don’t know what the future holds for all of us, but I do know, that if they’ll have us, we’ll be there for the journey, cheering them on… and picking them up when they fall.

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M. xo

 

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20 More Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years… Everything is still going to be okay.

May 26th, 2016 No comments
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Well, it’s finally here. I’ve finally reached the top of the hill. The view from here is fabulous! The horizon looks bright and full of promise. It’s a good day to be 40. Of course, there have been many bad days climbing the hill, but they seem to be overshadowed by the many many good days. Whether it’s a good day or bad day, I always try and learn something new about myself and others, and find something to be thankful for. There’s lots to be thankful for and there’s still lots to learn. They say the journey down the hill is much faster than up the hill. Well, if that’s the case, I’m gonna hold on tight because I plan on making the journey down just as rewarding as it has been traveling up.  For now, though, I’ll leave you with 20 More Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years… Everything is still going to be okay.

 

  1. Respect your parents.

Respect_ParentsIt’s easy for kids to find fault in their parents, particularly as those kids become adults. Parents are human, and they make mistakes. Some parents may even get it completely wrong, but there was one very important thing that your parents did right – you. Respect the gift of life your parents gave you. Respect the sacrifices they made to raise you in this world. You may never know the struggles and triumphs they privately faced before you existed, so cut them some slack. They have secrets and fears that you may not know. They are human, just like you and they fuck up. That’s okay. Respect them by learning from their successes and failures, no matter how big or small, and become a better person through them.

  1. Learn to live with less, but more fully.

Ever look around your house and ask yourself how you accumulated so much crap? Why do you hold onto all those trinkets and collectibles? I’m totally guilty of being a pack-rat. It’s resulted in years of holding onto stuff that has no intrinsic value to me and completely cluttering my house and life. It’s true that I attach sentiments to objects. I can tell you when and who gave me all the little knick-knacks littering my house. Now, I’m not on the level of needing an intervention from Hoarders, but I discovered something a couple years ago that made me re-evaluate my need for all those trinket-filled memories. A long-distance move resulted in half our belongings being packed up and stored for almost a year (you know, gotta declutter the house when you’re staging your home to sell). I didn’t miss them. In fact, I forgot about the objects, but not the people, or the memories. It’s okay to let go of things, it’s the memories you want to hold onto.

  1. You know that thing yoGoDoItu’ve really wanted to do? Go do it.

Waiting for the perfect moment to do something you’ve always wanted to do might mean you’ll be waiting a very long time. That thing you’ve really wanted to do might also not happen if you don’t make efforts to actually go and do it. Of course, it’s okay to prioritize – clearly quitting your job and traveling the world without any sort of plan in place just isn’t a good idea. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it priority to include the things that you want to do, rather than have to do.

 

 

  1. Be kind to your elders – with any luck, you’ll be one someday, too.

Kind to EldersNothing ruffles my feathers more than seeing a young person being disrespectful to the elderly. Yes, I know, some of our aged citizens can be a bit crotchety and short-tempered and that’s okay. Think about it for a second. How would you feel not being able to do the things you once could with the ease and quickness that youth affords? As you are slowing down, life around you is speeding up. It’s gotta be one hell of a scary ride at times – a ride that far too often is taken alone. Thank your elders for their sacrifices and building the foundations for what you have now by always being kind.

 

  1. Uplift those around you.

upliftIt’s simple really: when you start encouraging others to see the very best in themselves, you start to find the very best in yourself. Every interaction you have with another sets the stage for the relationship. You can choose to point out the poorest parts of another, but why would you want to? It doesn’t take a genius to realize the kind of reactions that results from negative interactions. Rather, doesn’t it make more sense to interact in a positive way such that you focus on the very best? Positive interactions are generally met with positive reactions. That then lays the stage for a positive relationship. Look, it’s perfectly okay to not always feel like doling out compliments or enthusiasm, but silence will be far beneficial to you in those instances than negative interactions.

  1. Spend more time outdoors.

When I was young, my mother refused to let us stay indoors all day. My most precious memories have all been outdoors. These days, screens invade our lives at every turn. It becomes even more important to spent time outdoors. Turn off the cell phone, put away the tablet, and just look around you. See the world and hear it in all its glory. It’s truly magnificent, this planet of ours. We can learn so much about ourselves just from watching the behaviour of nature. It’s okay if you’re not an outdoorsy person, but make sure to stop and smell the roses (in your garden, not on your dining room table) once in a while.

  1. Children are far wiser than you believe.

childrenwiseEven though I don’t have children of my own (and that’s okay), it doesn’t take a parent to realize the value of a child’s point of view. They are reflections of their environment and nurturing. They know a lot, even if they don’t know that they know a lot. Want to be a better parent, or person overall? Hear and really see the children in your life. They’ll tell you way more about yourself and the world than you ever knew. Their perspective, if truly pondered, will shake your reality.

  1. Be an awesome human being.

What does this mean? It means being human each and every moment. Sure, there are real jerky humans out there. The good news is that you don’t have to be an asshole. Most of us have a choice in how we interact with people. It’s okay if you’re having a bad day. We all get them. That’s part of being human. You can choose to allow that bad day to overshadow all your interactions, or you can choose to suck it up and be awesome despite the shitty day you’re having. There’s a good chance that by being awesome all the time, you won’t have quite so many bad days – and that life will be, well, pretty awesome because awesome human beings tend to live awesome lives.

  1. There is nothing wrong with you. You are a result of your environment and genetics.

The genetic lottery isn’t a joke. Genes play a crucial role in determining personality and behaviours. Environment also has an important role. You cannot control your genes, and often environment is out of your control, too… particularly when you are very young. Some get a dealt an easier hand in life than others. That’s okay. It’s all in how you live that life that you’re given that will make for either a happy life or one full of strife.

  1. Be authentic.

Be AuthenticStop telling everyone what they want to hear, and start telling them what you want them to hear. Be authentically true to yourself. It’s okay if you’re still figuring things out. We all are. Just be sure to be authentic to you while you’re trying to discover you – otherwise, you may find yourself wearing a very uncomfortable mask. Be true to you.

  1. Be a student of life, for life.

You’ve got one life to live. Why would you ever stop learning more about yourself and the people around you? Being a student of life means being open to new people, ideas, and experiences. It’s okay to be nervous about the unknown, but you’ll be much better person – and far wiser – if you open your heart and mind to life.

  1. Look in the mirror when you start casting judgments on others.

It’s so easy for people to look at others and find their flaws, but do we know why that is? Maybe, it’s because we see our own flaws in others – their flaws are glaringly obvious to us because there’s something vaguely familiar about it. The trouble is that some people don’t want to recognize their own flaws and so they will continually and constantly point out the woes and problems of others and the world. Just stop for a moment. Look in a mirror. It’s okay if you don’t like the reflection glaring back at you. You can change, but it begins by seeing yourself reflected in what you don’t like about others. Stop wasting time judging others, and start spending time being a more awesome human being. Gandhi had it right when he said: Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

  1. Blood isn’t always thicker than water.

WATERCLANThe closest relationships I have with people in my life are not with people who I share a bloodline – and that’s okay. For various reasons, most of my biological family were near strangers to me for most of my life. I have a step-father, and an extended step-family. I have family friends that are like second parents to me, and I have friends that I consider part of my extended family. When I hear people say that blood is thicker than water, it just doesn’t ring true to me. The coolest thing about people in your water clan, are that they are people you’ve typically chosen, rather than those from the blood clan that are mandated. Sure, some very deep biological connections can and do occur, but let’s not forget the importance of family that isn’t necessarily blood.

  1. Clean the skeletons out of your closet.

SkeletonClosetIt’s okay – we all have skeletons in our closet. Some of us have much scarier skeletons than most. We keep them in the closet because we don’t want to be confronted by them. There, they accumulate and gather dust. They become baggage that weigh us down and leave a film of ick on us each and every day. Cleaning those skeletons out doesn’t mean that you have to show others those skeletons. It means that you have to find a way to move on and let them go. Sometimes, it’s as simple as forgiving yourself.

  1. Ask for help.

Everybody needs help from time to time. It’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak. It means you have enough strength to recognize that you can’t do everything yourself. Asking for help allows you to learn from others and to become a better person through them. Everybody has something to offer, and most people are willing to help. You just need to ask. They aren’t psychic (well, they might be… I don’t know you’re friends), so don’t sit and struggle while waiting for someone to realize that you need help. Simply ask.

  1. Love yourself more than you love any other.

It is so important that you love yourself first – before your spouse, your kids, your parents, and your friends. While it might seem selfish, its purpose is selfless. If you cannot extend unconditional love to yourself, then how can you expect to do that for another? By taking care of your needs and desires, you are not only loving yourself, but loving others. Paradoxical, indeed. Stay with me. Nurturing and loving yourself allows you to become the very best you – and isn’t that what you want for those you love? Don’t we all want to give those we love the very best of ourselves? Then what the heck is the problem?! It’s not only okay to love yourself before others, it’s essential to becoming an awesome human being.

  1. Everything in moderation.

Go ahead. It’s okay to have that cookie. Have the salad too. Feeling a bit lazy? Yeah, that’s okay, too. Kick back and binge watch some Netflix, and then take an extra-long walk tomorrow. Far too often we stress our minds and bodies by putting them through extreme, and entirely unnecessary, conditions. Learn to listen to your body and mind (yes, I know they can play tricks on you), and learn to balance the things you need with the things you desire.

  1. Change your mind; change your reality.

mindrealityThe way you view the world shapes your experience of it. If you generally have a negative view of the world around you, then your reality must really suck. I mean seriously, it might be your viewpoint that needs to be checked. Take a look at some of the happiest people you know. What do they all have in common? They view the world through rose-coloured glasses, and you know what? Their reality is pretty awesome. Now I’m not saying that reality doesn’t suck sometimes, even for those chirpy birds among us. Reality doesn’t have to suck all the time though. Life is pretty awesome most of the time. It’s okay to remove the shades darkening your vision and replace it with rosey-hued positivity. You’ll still be cool, trust me.

  1. You are important to someone. You are loved.

I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes, we all feel incredibly alone. It’s okay to feel loneliness and unloved. That happens from time to time. It doesn’t mean it’s actually true. You are important by virtue of the very fact that you are here, today. Your presence has an impact on someone. And here’s a secret, as soon as you start loving yourself, you’ll always be loved and feel loved.

  1. Everything is going to be okay.

I’m not going to lie. The journey up the hill hasn’t been easy. There were times that I thought I’d go tumbling back down, but I didn’t. Somehow, through all the screw-up, missed opportunities, and failures, I made it. I found a better me along the way, too. How cool is that? It’s didn’t just happen though. I had to consciously work on finding a better way of living and being human. I’m still doing that, and I don’t plan on ever stopping. I know there will be tough times ahead, probably some of the toughest, but I’m prepared to breathe and remind myself that everything is going to be okay.

M. xo

P.S. Check out 20 other Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years… here.

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20 Things I’ve learned in 40 years…. Everything is going to be okay.

May 6th, 2016 1 comment
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It’s true. I’m turning the big 4-0 later this month. The best thing about approaching forty is the sense of self and awareness I have now that I didn’t have twenty years ago. I’ve learned a lot in forty years…
ChangeMyMind via @BlckChckn

  1. I reserve the right to change my mind.

I am human. I am fickle. I change and adapt to my environment. One day I may love mushrooms; the next day –not so much. Change is a natural part of life. Changing my mind is also natural. I am not static. I am multi-dimensional and ever-changing. And you know what? That’s okay. I embrace change, even change within myself.

  1. ‘No’ is an option.

Pleasing everyone is impossible. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means that I am prioritizing. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything that’s asked of me – or that I want to do (I can’t count the number of stories or paintings I’ve already created in my head that will never materialize). It is okay to say ‘no’, particularly when saying ‘no’ might save your sanity.NoIsAnOption

  1. Don’t be a slave to numbers.

You all know what I’m talking about: time, money, waistlines. I spent far too many years obsessed with numbers, particularly with time. It’s probably why I have a terrible anxiety disorder in my middle age. Until very recently, money was always a worry too. And I’ve always struggled with my waistline, but not in the way that most women generally describe. I’ve been chronically under-weight for years. Again, probably something to do with my anxiety issues. A-a-a-nd what’s at the root of all that has caused me worry: time, money, and the notion that I’m not a real woman because I don’t have curves (yeah, that meme stings a bit). Numbers: arbitrary values that define who I should be and how I should live. Here’s the thing though: I had chosen to allow those things to bother me.  I let them go, and I was much happier. You know why? Because there will never be enough time, money, or change in the waistline – and that’s okay. Once I realized that, I spent less time worrying, and more time living.

  1. Most people are good.

It’s true. Most people don’t intentionally do bad things. Let’s face it though – everyone has done something bad in the eyes of another. It’s okay though – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You see, some people tend to spend a lot of time criticizing other people’s behaviours, but fail to self-evaluate their own. Imagine how much better we’d all be, if we stopped focusing on the ways others need to change and began self-reflecting more. Try it. You might be surprised to see that which you’ve criticized staring back at you. Sure, there are truly evil people in the world – but the people you’ll most likely meet aren’t those people. Check yourself before you start checking others.LiveOutsideTheBox

  1. Don’t just step outside the box: Live outside the box.

How cliché, right? The truth is that some people function better inside the box, but I’m not one of those people. I tried it for several years, but I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I tried to become this ideal person that I thought other people wanted me to be. I tried to fit into the mould, but it never felt right. Then I not only stepped outside the box, but I began living outside the box and I discovered a better me. It is okay to step outside the box, and for some, it’s okay to live outside the box.

  1. It’s never going to be what you expected or planned.

It’s perfectly reasonable to set out goals, but it’s perfectly unreasonable to expect the path toward that goal to be straight. There will always be roadblocks in front of goals – and sometimes those roadblocks will completely derail goals. That’s okay. As long as I try to achieve my goals, I can attain a measure of satisfaction that I am moving forward – living. And when I do reach my goals, I can bask in elation at the accomplishments I’ve achieved. Either way, I’m engaging with this life I’ve been given.

  1.  Stop worrying about what other people think. They aren’t judging you. They’re too busy worrying about what other people think of them.

This isn’t always an easy state of mind for me to achieve, particularly since I have an anxiety disorder. That hasn’t stopped me from actively reminding myself that other people have insecurities too. In fact, most people do. We tend to assume that there is a spotlight on us, when there probably isn’t. It’s okay to be insecure – everyone else is too. What’s even better is realizing that you have nothing to be insecure about because no one is really judging you. They’re too busy worrying about what other people think of them.

SmileOften

  1. Smile often – even when you don’t feel like it.

Smile. Right now. Go ahead. Yep, right now – smile. You’ll instantly feel better. The more often you smile, the better you’ll be. Try it again. SMILE. It’s okay if you can’t smile all the time, but smile as often as you can.

  1. Be kind – always.

Kindness will fill your heart and your home. If you’re not looking for a full life, then by all means, carry on with your cantankerous ways. Some of the unkindest people I have met are also some of the loneliest. It’s okay to not feel like being kind all the time, particularly when someone has been unkind to you. Just because you feel like being unkind, doesn’t mean you actually have to be unkind though. It’s easy to extend kindness, even when you might not feel up to it. Kindness doesn’t cost you anything and it reaps benefits for both the giver and the receiver. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by being kind.

  1. Apologize for your mistakes.

It’s okay to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Some of us make larger mistakes than others. The only way to learn from mistakes is to realize that they are mistakes in the first place and then to take responsibility for those mistakes. Part of taking responsibility is apologizing for mistakes that have caused others pain or hardship. Not only will you become a better person, but you’ll lift a burden you may be feeling – you know, the guilt you feel when you’ve done something wrong. It’s okay. Apologize, seek forgiveness, and then you’ll be able to move on. Don’t forget to apologize and forgive yourself too. Sometimes the worst mistakes we make cause the greatest hardships upon ourselves.

NeverEnoughTime

  1. There will never be enough time.

It’s one of the tragedies of human existence. We will never have enough time, and that’s okay. It’s what you do with the time you do have that really matters. Stop worrying about how much time you have left and start doing something with your time. Fill it with things that matter to you because doing anything less is just a waste of precious time.

  1. Change is constant.

Life is never going to be the same, and that’s okay, in fact, change can be downright delightful. There will be ups and downs; challenges and triumphs; laughter and tears. You can’t expect life to stay the same. There will always be changes, both minute and monumental. Friends will come and go, and sometimes come back. There will be losses, but there will also be many gains. Change is inevitable. The good news is you can adapt to change. Adapting to change means moving forward through life – living.

LiveInMoment

  1. Live in the moment.

So many of us spend a lot of time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. What a waste of time. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future, but you can live in the moment. Look, it’s perfectly okay to reflect and prepare, but if most of your precious time is spent on dwelling and worrying then you’re wasting an awful lot of time on things you can’t control. You might even need help to move on from the past or to relax about the future. Go get it. It will change your life – suddenly, you’ll have a lot more time for things today.ThankfulForPeople

  1. Be thankful for the people you value in your life.

The people you value in your life right now are not always going to be in your life in the same capacity, if at all. Don’t panic, it’ll be okay.  For most of us, our circle of friends gets smaller as we age. Family dynamics change too. We may become more distant or closer to kin, but connections can remain strong through loss, distance, or time when we are thankful for those we value. The pain of separation can be eased by knowing that you parted from that person showing them how grateful you were to have known them, and how important they were in your life.

  1. You have a chance every day to do something great – take it.

Doing something great doesn’t mean you have to do something grand. Really great things come in many packages. Maybe it’s our consumerist society that makes so many of us strive for really big things. That’s okay, just don’t forget about the little things that are great too. There are many opportunities for great things to happen each day, but if you’re only focused on the really big ones, you may miss the smaller ones. Seize every opportunity for greatness, both big and small, each and everyday.StopBeingAfraid

  1. Stop being so afraid.

Easier said than done, right? Yup. Sometimes you can’t help being afraid, and that’s okay. Fear is a state of mind, a very resilient state of mind. Sometimes, your mind just gets the better of you (and sometimes your mind can make your body do really weird things). The problem with fear is that it can inhibit someone to live fully. Fear can lead to missed opportunities and disappointment (usually in oneself for being such a baby). Everyone is afraid of something, and some of us carry a lot more fear than others. Fear can be conquered, easier said than done. Yup.

  1. You’re going to get older – deal with it.

You can’t escape the specter of time… and that’s okay. You’re going to age, go grey, get wrinkles, and become frailer over time. Sure you can try any number of remedies and cure-alls, but you’ll never be able to escape the fact that you are getting older. Stop fighting it and start embracing it. Your time is limited here. You can either spend it fighting the natural aging process, or you can learn to adapt to your reality.

  1. Prepare to be disappointed.

There’s a saying on a popular television show, ‘expect the unexpected’ that can be applied to life, except it should be modified to say ‘expect to be unexpectedly disappointed’. There’s no denying that people are going to disappoint you, and that’s okay. While you can’t control someone disappointing you, you can control how you choose to react to the situation. People are flawed and they’re going to make mistakes. They will do things that will disappoint you; however, most people don’t intentionally go out looking to disappoint you. Take a deep breath and know that they are just as flawed as you are, and they screw up too.

EmbraceYourFlaws

  1. Embrace your ‘flaws’.

I have crooked teeth. I have less-than-perfect skin. My skin tone is so pale that I can glow-in-the-dark. I’m a bit clumsy, and depending on who you are – I either have the most annoying nervous laugh, or an insatiable zest for life. You know what? I’m perfectly okay with that. There was a time that I was super self-conscious about all these things. The thing was, that those things barely bothered anyone else, so why was I so hung up on them? I mean, it’s not like my pock-marked skin and snaggle-toothed grin have kept me from finding love, happiness, and success. They aren’t ‘flaws’ at all, but rather part of who I am. We all have them, and most of the time the only person who is obsessing over your ‘flaws’ is you. Seems a bit pointless, doesn’t it? Besides, I have better things to do with my time then spending it obsessing over the state of my middle-aged skin or the occasional hair on my chinny-chin-chin.

  1. It’s never too late.

There’s something about turning forty that results in hearing a lot of this phrase: “I’m too old to do that”. Pfft… really? Tell that to Tolkien who published the first in his Lord of the Rings trilogy at age 62. Or what about John Glenn who in his 77th year became the oldest person to fly in space. Or what about two of the oldest female marathon runners at 92 years young, Gladys Burrill and Harriette Thompson? You’re never too old to try, because the truth of the matter is none of us know how much time we have. Sure, health, finances, and other factors may impede your intentions on trying, that’s okay. Being too old should never be the excuse keeping you from accomplishing your dreams and goals.

In the lead up to my birthday this month, I’ll be sharing “20 More Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years.” Stay tuned!

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“The Martian: A Novel” (Not A True Story)

April 21st, 2016 No comments
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Apparently I’ll need to be stuck on Mars with a lot of time on my hands to finish my list of 40 books to read for my 40th birthday. Admittedly, it took much longer to read this book than I anticipated, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book either. Life took some unexpectedly crazy turns recently – nothing as serious as being abandoned on Mars, but serious enough that my attention was elsewhere for a while.

mars-1326108_1280

Full disclosure: I had seen the movie prior to reading the book. Normally, I would prefer to read a book before watching the film, but in this case, I’m actually glad I consumed the movie before the book. In fact, I downright enjoyed the fact that I had seen the movie first because the book took me on an expanded journey of a familiar story that I had already fallen in love with. Instead of silently yelling at a movie screen, “No, you forgot this part! And that’s not what happened!” I found myself delighted by the new tidbits of story unfolding before me. Sure there were differences in the cinematic version versus the literary version, but those differences were merited given the distinct nature of film and literary media.

Most notably different was the end. Clearly, Hollywood wanted something visually dramatic and poignant to end the blockbuster movie. I’m not sure if it was because I saw the movie and the end was so different, but I found the end of the book to be somewhat anticlimactic. Overall though, the movie did an excellent job of staying true to the story in the book.

The one thing I really liked about this book (and movie) was that it wasn’t just a comedy, or drama, or action story. It’s all of those and much more. It’s a story about the enduring human spirit. I highly recommend that you pick up the book, particularly if you enjoyed the movie.

And in case anyone is still wondering… no, “The Martian” is not based on a true story. Buzzfeed cleared that up fairly succinctly.

Next up… something a bit less ‘meaty’. I’ll be reading something from one of my favourite authors, Mr. Stephen King. Two down, 38 to go.

M. xo

* Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in some cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to keep writing and supports the upkeep of this blog. Thanks for your support! 

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Life is like a game of Jenga… you never know when it’s all going to come crashing down.

April 5th, 2016 No comments
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By Guma89 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Life really is like the game of Jenga: a tower built with pieces that can uplift or break down. The pieces are in constant motion and the tower is in a constant state of change. Sometimes the pieces move in just the right spot to give the tower more strength. Other times those pieces just seem to mess up the whole core of the tower, and the tower becomes weaker and vulnerable to destruction.

Each of the pieces is wedged into the tower, some more solidly than others. They are all unique. No two alike. Every piece comes with its own shape, dings, and dents from the relentless climb up the tower and the unceremonious fall back down. Occasionally, one of those pieces gets restless and needs to move. This causes the tower to teeter and sway. Another piece may become uncomfortable in its current state, shaking the whole foundation of the tower and causing all the other pieces to be in a state of discomfort too.  The stability of the tower might give way to all those pieces awkwardly trying to fit together. When the tower comes tumbling down (because it always does), you have to start building it back up again. This time you decide that some of those pieces aren’t suitable for the long-term stability of the tower, so they will be removed or relegated to less problematic locations outside the perimeter of the tower. They are kept in reserve, looked after, but only placed into the tower when the tower has rebuilt a strong foundation.

Jenga

When the tower does eventually fall, and you’re standing there with the pieces scattered around you, it’s time to seize the opportunity to build an even stronger base. Once all the pieces have fallen, it’s time to reflect on which pieces were the weakest and most vulnerable in the tower. You can’t throw those pieces away. They have to be integrated back into your tower – over time. Integrated such that the other pieces provide a foundation for the weaker pieces to be propped up, but without risking the stability of the whole tower. Sometimes, you need the tower to come crashing down. The important thing is to pick up those fallen pieces and find a new way to fit them together that doesn’t compromise the strength and integrity of the tower. Every tower has weak spots, it’s how we protect and care for those spots that will ensure its future stability.

M. xo

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I love this book! Betty White’s “If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)”

January 26th, 2016 No comments
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If you haven’t heard, I’m turning 40 this year. I’m kinda making a big deal about it. I mean it is a milestone, right? So I decided to compile a list of 40 Things To Do This Year. One of those things on my list was to ask my Facebook friends to recommend books to read. I picked forty, and now I’m in the process of reading them.

BATMANBETTYWHITE

The first book I decided to read on that list was Betty White’s If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t). I’m so glad I decided to start my journey with this book. Not only did I learn a lot about Betty White, but the book really resonated with me because as I’ve discovered, I have a lot in common with the then 89-year old author of this delightful insight into various aspects of life. In fact, I think this book would resonate with most people.

Each section of the book covers various topics, some common; others off-beat. Each section is accompanied by short and delightful stories from the many adventures of Ms. White. She writes about everything from Growing Older to Stuffed Animals. Of course there are plenty of anecdotes of the celebrity variety in addition to musings on less Hollywood-esque things (like Children, Friendships, Loss, and The Dining Room Table).

Besides uttering to myself repeatedly, “Yes! That’s it exactly!” while reading this book, I also discovered one other thing: F*ck being Batman, I wanna be Betty White.

Do yourself a favour: Go read this book.

* Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in some cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to keep writing and supports the upkeep of this blog. Thanks for your support! 

Stock images via www.vecteezy.com

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Forty Things To Do This Year

January 19th, 2016 1 comment
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It’s been quiet around here. What can I say? Other projects pulled me away from the coop. That’s what happens when you’re a free-range hen. :) The truth is I spent some time over the last couple years starting another blog, and learning the art of blogging. So, yeah, I didn’t return home to the nest very often. That’s about to change.

40 Photos of Me

This year, I’ll be spending more time blogging from my heart. Why? Well, it’s a milestone of a year for me. I’m turning forty this year. Yup, I’ll be standing at the top of that hill soon – precariously teetering between my youth and old age (at least that’s what they say). So, I’ve decided to spend the year trying new things and self-reflecting. Lucky you, I’ve also decided to share the whole thing here.

So, what’s in store this year? Lots. Probably more than I’ll be able to accomplish, but it’s good to set goals – even if they don’t always materialize when or how you envisioned. One thing I am excited about is attempting to redesign this blog on my own. I’ll be celebrating five years of blogging under the Black Chicken moniker this February, and I think it’s time to jazz up the site. My amazing husband has donated so much of his time and talents to me over the years, and I know he loves doing it, but it’s time for him to do more things for himself – and for me to do more things for myself. So, I’m going to give it a go.

I also plan on trying a whole list of new(ish) things this year – a list of forty things, in fact. No, this isn’t a bucket list. It’s just a list of stuff I’ve wanted to do (again) – or thought about doing (again), but I’ve never gotten around to doing (again). That’s it. It’s a pretty simple list. Some might even say it’s underwhelming. What can I say except that I’m a bit of a realist, and have many roles in my life that tend to derail my best intentions. I couldn’t make a grand list to accomplish this year, because I know that just wouldn’t happen with all the other stuff I have going on in my life. So, I made this list of random stuff that came to my mind over the last few days – stuff I’ve always thought, “Yeah, I’d like to do that someday” or “I really should finally do that” or “I’d like to do that, just to say I’d done it”. So, I made a list – a rather underwhelming list, but a list nonetheless.

In case you are wondering, yes, I’ll be telling you all about my experiences trying to accomplish all this stuff. The fun part is that it’s going to reconnect me to my roots and get me exploring my community more. I’m really looking forward to that. I returned to Belleville two years ago now, and I feel there is still so much I have to discover about the place I call home again. If you’re part of the Bay of Quinte community, you’ll want to stick around because I’ll be spending a lot of time exploring where I grew up and visiting old acquaintances who are doing some amazing things for Quinte and the County (that’s Prince Edward County for all you non-locals). So, that’s the plan. Wish me luck (I’m probably going to need it).

You might be surprised by some of these things, and you may be asking ‘why’? Of course, you’ll have to tune into future posts for the whole story.

Forty Things To Do This Year (Abridged Version):

  1. Paint a self-portrait.
  2. Visit a mosque.
  3. Attend a yoga class.
  4. Walk the Bay Bridge.
  5. Befriend a horse.
  6. Ride a horse.
  7. Go ‘mudding’.
  8. Fire a gun.
  9. Become pen pals with a senior.
  10. Become pen pals with a kid.
  11. Try sushi (again).
  12. Catch a big fish.
  13. Ask Facebook friends and fans to recommend books I should read; pick forty and read them.
  14. Attempt to get an A-list celebrity to wish me happy birthday and give me advice.
  15. Get a tattoo (???)
  16. Record a song with my husband.
  17. Go cross-country skiing.
  18. Go rock wall climbing.
  19. Go splunking.
  20. Play a round of golf (real golf, not mini golf).
  21. Learn how to say and write: ‘hello’ ‘good-bye’ ‘thank-you’ ‘please’ and ‘friend’ in forty different languages.
  22. Attend a live slam poetry night.
  23. Take a photo at the top of the Bay Bridge.
  24. Get my hearing tested.
  25. Track down an old friend’s address and send them a letter.
  26. Attend some local arts shows.
  27. Attend Sunday Jam.
  28. Invite a group of my former junior high school classmates out for drinks.
  29. Attend a country music concert.
  30. Attend a dance performance.
  31. Burn my diaries.
  32. Record a spoken word jam with the Kid.
  33. Take the telescope outside the city for an evening of stargazing.
  34. Take dance lessons.
  35. Visit museums in my hometown.
  36. Enroll in a creative writing course.
  37. Pay respect to deceased family and friends.
  38. Grow an amazing bell pepper plant.
  39. Have tea with my Gramma more often.
  40. Live mindfully every day.

M. xo

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