Wednesday, April 25, 2012

That was Then – This is Now

I think too much. I used to not think enough. I can’t say for certain how or why I’ve changed so much – I’d like to think its personal growth but I know better.

In an effort to get a handle on my past so I can live contentedly right here in the present I’ve been evaluating who I was back then. I’ve decided I need to do this because I’ve been spending way too much time back there lately and if I can just get to a place where I’m ok with it I’ll be able to let it go (at least that’s the plan).

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: 
  1. I used to work out – A LOT
  2. I used to be at a healthy body weight
  3. I used to cook more healthy meals for myself and my family
  4. I had an active social life
  5. I had hobbies I enjoyed
  6. I was busy with my life
  7. I thought I was happy and working on being fulfilled

This is what I’ve been hanging on to and comparing myself and my current life to; and I have to admit that me and my current life weren’t doing well in the comparison. I’ve been looking back and thinking that I was healthy and happy, but if I take things one at a time I get a VERY different picture and result.

1. While working out is definitely good and I need to be doing it now, back then I worked out too much. I ended up needing back surgery due to “over exercising”. I didn’t work out because I enjoyed it or because it made me feel good I did it because I had influences in my life that made me feel like I had to do it – I had to be someone specific. I had an image I had to maintain...or else. All in all I had a very unhealthy relationship to exercise and with how I treated my body.... not so healthy after all.

2. I was at a healthy body weight – a great thing and something I aspire to be again but back then I over exercised and obsessed about what I ate – or didn’t eat. There was no health involved here – just working out and eating to maintain what I presented to the world because it was expected of me. Again not a healthy way to live.

3. I used to cook; I even went to cooking school. I thought all good wives were “supposed” to be good cooks. This was drilled into my head from a very young age and I took it to heart completely. It never occurred to me that I dislike cooking, but I do. While I did it in my past because I felt that I was supposed to now I’d like to develop a taste for and enjoyment of cooking and good healthy food.

4. I had an active social life...what a joke. Seriously – a joke. What this translates into really is nights spent in bars or hanging out with the neighbours drinking too much. I miss hanging out with friends regularly like I used to but I certainly don’t miss the rest of it. It wasn’t healthy then and it wouldn’t be healthy now.

5. I had hobbies that I enjoyed. For some reason I’ve looked back on my life and the activities that I used to participate in in a very warm and fuzzy light and I don’t honestly know why. I have hobbies now that I enjoy very much – in fact several of them are the same as they were back then. Nothing like a little time distortion L

6. Here’s more time distortion going on. Yes, I used to be busier than I am that supposed to be a good thing??! I don’t think so now that I look at it from a different perspective. Not to mention the fact that then I had two little people to look after, I was over exercising and did I mention bars? Duh!

7. I might have thought then that I was happy and fulfilled (or working on it) but really I was too busy and too afraid of what I might learn if I actually checked in with myself. Looking back I had moments of amazing joy because I’ve always loved being a mom to my two boys and there was a lot of joy in their early years. There was also a lot of fun at times hanging out with friends and dancing the night away but it certainly wasn’t all roses and candy.

So what have I learned with this exercise in looking back? I’ve learned that “the good old days” weren’t as good as I remembered. I’ve learned that while I might have been at a healthy body weight I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, exercise or my own body. I’ve realized that busy isn’t what I want to be and that I have a pretty darn good life now.

I think this has been just what I needed to make peace with my past so I can live contentedly in my present.

I also think that I now know what I need to get unstuck – or at least moving.

Stay tuned for Friday’s post where I’ll tell you what I’ve got up my sleeve. J

Monday, April 23, 2012

Getting Unstuck

I love vision boards and it occurred to me this morning that it’s been a while since I made one. Because I’m having a hard time lately with my brother’s death and feeling really stuck I think now’s a great time to make another one. I’ve written about them before, and I posted a picture of the one I was working on in December here; but that one doesn’t express where I am right now or where I want to go so it’s definitely time for a new one.

Looking back on my last couple of boards I noticed a pattern. I have a lot of keys, a lot of butterflies and on every one of them I’ve had this statement cut out and put near the top. (That’s one of the things about making vision boards - they continue to give you insight long after you’ve made them).

If you’re a person who believes in signs and symbolism (and I am) then figuring out my vision boards isn't that difficult. Keys are symbolism for opening doors on both the spiritual and physical plane, they help you see things from a new or different perspective; they can also mean you already have the key to a solution that you need within you. Butterflies are a very strong sign of transformation and change and of new beginnings.

Many months ago, I took this statement out of a magazine at the doctor’s office and it’s been sitting on my bedside table ever since. I look at it daily and wonder why I had to have it so much that I ripped a page out of a magazine that wasn’t mine.

On my last vision board just above centre is a quote by Andy Warhol “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”  I first saw this quote last fall and since I put it on my last vision board I’ve seen it too many times to count popping up here and everywhere in my life.

Oprah often says that life speaks to us in whispers, then a little louder, and if we’re not listening she’ll yell at us until we finally hear her. Apparently I haven’t been listening. Looking back at my life and my vision boards it’s clear that change and transformation has been coming my way for a LONG time.

So what now?? It’s often said that an image can say a thousand words; this one only says three, but I think it sums up my next step perfectly.....

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Aching Heart

Some days I sit down to write one thing and another thing entirely comes out; yesterday was one of those days.

As I read over what I wrote yesterday before I started writing this morning I got to the part where I said I need to make peace with my past and I felt like I’d been cuffed upside the head by a tree branch. I might have written that yesterday and read and re-read it while I edited but I didn’t even see it. It came out of me without my awareness or knowledge.

I don’t need to ask where it came from because I’m completely aware that my heart is broken and that I wish more than anything that I could go back to the morning before my brother took his own life and if nothing else tell him I love him, tell him that he’s a part of me and no matter what he always will be.

There’s a lot in my past I have to make peace with, so does this mean I need to start where it’s the hardest? Start in my very recent past and move backwards from there. That seems counter intuitive to me but maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

A very good friend to me told me yesterday that it’s the fear that gets us stuck and I agree with her and while that’s true what do I have to fear in getting past Mark’s death. He’s already gone – how can there be more to fear?

It still feels so surreal some days. I find myself ruminating and I have to shake my head because I think I’ve gone off to some bad dream and then I realize that I’m wide awake and it’s real. He’s gone, really and truly gone and I’ll never have the chance to laugh with him at something stupid or marvel at his crazy fast mind or grow old with him...with my baby brother.

Maybe it’s not about making peace with my past – maybe it’s about making peace with my life as it is now. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Good Old Days aren’t so Good

Since my brother's suicide two months ago I've found myself looking back over my life and re-evaluating everything. One of the things I've thought a lot about and written quite a bit about is who I used to be in my past. I've thought about and written about how active I used to be and how I used to work out a lot, how I used to be a dancer and artist and how I used to try to do everything perfectly. I've also been thinking about how older people often look back on their younger years and consider them "the good old days", and then I wondered if I've (already) become one of those people who only look back.

I don't want to only look back - I want to live in the present and look to the future; but I can't until I make peace with my past. This is where I've been stuck for a while now. The Past. Mine and my brothers. I can't help but feel like he wasted his life and that makes me soooo sad; and it makes me want something different for my own. I don't know what that is right now and I certainly don't know how, but I do know something needs to change....and that something is me.

Mark probably wouldn't love this photo,
 but all I see is my baby brother just like
I remember him for our childhood.
I've been looking at pictures of us as our young selves and we were quite the pair he and I. There was a time when we were inseparable and then there was a time when we hardly knew each other. When I look at pictures of him as a little guy my heart just aches for the person he became.

Where does potential go if it's not explored and honed? In my brothers case it went way off course into a life of drugs, loneliness and self sabotage. I can't help but see some similarities between us - while I'm not a drug addict I do know a thing or two about self sabotage.  I know my brother and I aren't alone in this; there are many of us who know what it feels like to continually get in our own way in our efforts to live the lives we think we want. There are as many different ways to self sabotage as there are people who do it. Why do we do it? What are we afraid of?

This is where I'm stuck.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Have a Neurotic Dog

Hello my name is Lynne and I have a neurotic dog. There I said it. I’ve failed as a doggie mum - first by getting a neurotic dog and second by letting her get so out of control. I should have known better; I really should have. I know dogs and I know what to look for and what’s good and what’s not but she was so darn cute she came home with us. And that’s all I have to say for myself about that!!

Who could resist that little face. Isn't she adorable? 

Yesterday Astro and I went to a canine behaviourist to hear (to the tune of $130) that my dog is in fact neurotic...well duh!! I already knew that – what I don’t know is how to fix her, because what we’ve tried hasn’t worked very well.

Here’s the answer...are you ready? It’s a biggie....cheese whiz. Yes, you read that correctly. Cheese whiz and a clicker are the answers to my prayers. I’m not too sure about this (as you might be able to tell), but I’m willing to give it a try.

I will keep you posted on our adventures in clicking and cheese whiz, and in the mean time if anyone has any great success stories I’d love to hear them.

She's getting ready to pounce...look out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busy Weekend

We had a busy weekend here. Jon worked away on the removing the old siding and covering the house with aspenite to level it in preparation for the insulation and siding. He’s starting on the side of the house where the garden is already and where it’s going to be added to this year so I’m happy about that. The sooner I can get gardening the better! Right now all the garbage from the siding is right where the pond and new garden are going to go. 

You never know what you’re going to find when you’re renovating an old house. Yesterday when the siding came off we discovered critter holes in the house. Jon took it all in stride (of course), me, not so much. YUCK. I’ve been assured they’re really old holes; but still. L

Critter holes :-(

I decided a couple of weeks ago that we need a little pond between our two walkways leading up to the house. We’re eventually going to have a large pond in the front yard/edge of the field but I want something smaller that we can sit by and enjoy – something a little more intimate and close to the house. I’ve been pouring over a book Jon bought me and websites to plan exactly what I want; it’s been so much fun. It will likely be much later in the summer by the time we can get to it but I can’t wait and in the mean time I can make sure it’s all planned out thoroughly.

This is my inspiration’s much bigger and fuller than we’ll have but it’s the general idea of what we like. Very natural looking.

Image from

Over the weekend I finally got my pansies planted. I bought a few violas to go with them and I put them in my favourite trough planter. They look a little lonely in the yard but I feel like I’m making a statement with them. They say “A gardener lives here!” 

A gardener lives here...really!

There is so much mess in the yard and my only flower bed is currently hidden behind a big stack of lumber so my little pansy planter has a big job to do until the lumber moves and the yard gets cleaned up. While we work on the outside of the house and gradually get the yard cleaned up I have to work with what I’ve got. J

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It’s a quiet kind of day

It’s a quiet kind of day. The wind is howling and the rain falling and I’m sitting in front of what is likely one of the last fires of the season. I’m feeling quiet and contemplative and I’m savouring the solitude....even the dogs are resting quietly.

I wish every day could feel like this – not rainy and windy, but peaceful and calm.

After a busy weekend I’m grateful to have several hours to myself to bring myself back to my centre and to acknowledge the peace within.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Messy Messy!!

My house is driving me a little nuts. When Jon and I tore down the storage room a few months ago everything in it had to move into the rest of the house so I have all that stuff in the library. Then I decided it was time to move Shane out of his big room and into our smallest so I could move my creative space into that room. Along the way I decided it was best to move Bradley into Shane’s room and me into his room so for the last several weeks our upstairs has been in disorder too.

Too much stuff...not enough storage.

Jon has been working away on the house – all but one door has been changed/installed and 15 of 19 windows have been changed or installed. The windows might have been changed but because we’re on a little bit of a time crunch the interior jam extensions and trim haven’t been installed yet so they look messy.

Yesterday afternoon Jon decided it was time to start ripping the old siding off to start getting ready for our new siding; which means the outside of the house is a big mess too. Our yard is still a big muddy mess with little or no grass......did I mention it’s all driving me a little nuts??

I have a relatively large capacity for mess and disorder but this is too much for me.  I have to remind myself every few minutes that things will get worse before they get better, but they will get better! It’s just a matter of what I do in the meantime? UG!!

P.S. Check out the little tent Jon made to save my tender plants....what a guy I married. He’s the best! J

See the tiny baby plants under there?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Joy

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about all the things that bring me joy. I truly believe the more we know about what brings us joy the closer we are to it. If you’re aware of the things, both big and small that fill you with joy and gratitude you can always be on the lookout for them.

I feel very fortunate to be a person who finds joy easily. I’m not sure if I came this way of if I’ve just unconsciously cultivated it in my life – either way I’m grateful. I think of joy as an easy spiritual practice that we all have access to.

    Here’s a (sort of) short list of things that bring me joy:

  • Listening to my guys laughing – it doesn’t get any better than that!
  • Playing with my dogs
  • Walking hand in hand with Jon
  • Hearing Bradley playing his music
  • Catching up with Shane – especially when he's home
  • Gardening
  • Taking pictures
  • Writing
  • Birds –especially chickadees at the feeder
  • Butterflies in the field
  • A beautiful spring day
  • A beautiful fall day
  • A beautiful winter day
  • Wandering around the garden
  • Reading outside
  • The smell of our fire burning when I drive down the driveway
  • Being warmed by the fire on a chilly day
  • The trees lining our driveway
  • Crab apple trees in bloom
  • A good cup of tea (well steeped)
  • A cheesy movie
  • Belly laughs
  • A single blossom
  • Purple
  • Old buildings
  • Being by the water
  • A meal I didn’t have to cook
  • Being up before the sun occasionally
  • A soft breeze
  • A great pair of boots
  • A relaxing day at home after several out
  • Grocery shopping with Jon
  • A clean kitchen floor
  • A new book
  • Flowers...did I  mention flowers?!

I could probably go on and on all day. J

What brings you joy?

Monday, April 2, 2012

It Really is the Small Stuff

My week is off to a wonderful start. Jon got my clothesline up so I have my first laundry of the year on the line! Woo hoo! I have my first leaves of the year and when I went out to hang the laundry this morning I noticed a beautiful pattern of ice around our well.

It really is the small stuff that bring me joy! I’m very grateful.

Ahhh...clean sheets for Bradley.
Poor Astro tied up - she insists
on running away.
My first leaves - Yay!! Any suggestions on how to deal
with the mold that's already starting?  
I think the ice is so pretty.

I hope it's a great week for everyone!