Friday, 2 November 2012

Lessons From Sam

Excerpts from conversations between Sam (S) and Me (M):

Lesson 1: Volunteering for causes you know little about so that the cool kids will like you = bad idea.
S: Remind me why you volunteered for this committee at work?
M: I like the people on it, and I want them to be my friends.
S: But you've been stresing out about the article you need to write for days now.
M: I need to submit it this week.
S: It's a volunteer committee - it's supposed to be fun.
M: I know.
S: That's it. It's getting late. Turn off the computer and go to bed. Tomorrow, you get in touch with these people and tell them you just don't have time for this right now. Which, let's be honest, is true. This is getting ridiculous. You've been up late three nights in a row spazzing out about your volunteer work. These people will like you even if you don't join their stupid committee.
(This actually turned out to be true. They invited me to their party tomorrow.)

Lesson 2: Starting a new job + getting divorced = you can't be there for everyone, all the time, everywhere.
S: You can't do it.
M: She needs me.
S: This is obviously stressing you out.
M: I know. But, you don't get it. I have to do this.
S: No, you don't.
M: Yes, I do.
S: Look, you are working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and dealing with a divorce. This is going to have to be one of those times that someone else plays the role of supportive friend.
M: Seriously. You really don't get it. I have to do this. You just don't understand.
S: No, I DO understand. You are running yourself ragged. You have enough on your plate. This is too much.
M: Look, clearly you don't get it. I don't want to talk about this anymore.
(Then, in the middle of the night, I had my first - and hopefully last - anxiety attack. Score: Sam 2, Me 0.)

Lesson 3: I am attractive (Ok, I know that sounds so arrogant, but I'm still going to leave it there.)
S: That guy we just walked past was totally checking you out.
M: No, he wasn't.
S: Yes, he was. Do you think he was turning his head to get a second look at me?
M: Fair enough. He could be gay though.
S: Well, I was with a girl, so he probably figured out that I'm not gay.
M: Point taken.
S: You're a beautiful girl, you know.
M: That's nice of you to say.
S: I'm not just trying to be nice. It's true.
M: I already said you're not spending the night.
S: This is not about sleeping at your apartment. However, if you change your mind, let me know. Anyways, you're very attractive, and you should know that.
(After the trauma of the breakdown of my marriage and the divorce proceedings, 'attractive' is hardly how I felt. I think I will always have a special place in my heart for Sam for reminding me that even in my brokenness, I can still be seen as attractive.)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Welcome to November!

Hello dear readers! Welcome to a new month in blogland. November is slated to be a month focused on relationships.

As you know, I recently inadvertently started casually seeing someone. I had not planned to start dating again until January (which, handily enough, coincides with the blog month themed 'New Beginnings'). But, sometimes life throws you a curve ball. So, I'm sure that navigating this crazy new world of romance will provide ample entertaining blog fodder. However, what I am surprised to be discovering is how much I am learning about myself and life in general through my budding pseudo-relationship (if you can call it that). Sam is someone who went through some major life upset about a year before I did. To his great credit, he used to the opportunity to do some serious introspection and personal growth. Now, he regularly doles out pearls of wisdom when I am being a spaz (which, let's be fair, is pretty often these days). In the weeks to come, I will pass along some of these gems to you.

Other relationship types I intend to touch on this month (ie. beyond relationship with self, with romantic partner) will be the concept of friendship and family.

So, lofty goals considering last month I fell off the blogosphere and only produced a handful of entries, but things at work are calmer and should allow for more personal time.

As usual, feedback welcome. I always love receiving emails and reading comments.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Single Girl Snippet: How You Know You Have Good Friends

Excerpt from telephone conversation between close friend (C) and me (M):
C: Hey, you got a second?
M: Yeah, for sure.
C: So, your new guy...
M: Yeah?
C: Ok, so he seems really nice and all. But..
M: Mmmhmmm?
C: I Googled him.
M: Oh.
C: Look, obviously what you do is up to you. I just wanted to make sure you were aware.
M: Thanks.


And this is how you know you have good friends.

It would be a easier to not call up your friend in another city after Google-stalking the guy she is casually seeing. However, that's not what my friend did. And for that, I am very grateful. It means she cares. It also means that there are people looking out for me to help prevent a second round of "I married a knucklehead."

Naturally, I had to do my own Google stalking. Then, I had to have a serious heart-to-heart with Sam. All I will say on the issue is that sometimes Google doesn't give you the whole story. That said, Sam is aware that I see the issue in question as a bit of a red flag. So, we've agreed to spend a bit of time getting to know each other, and plan to revisit the issue should things move in the direction of an actual relationship. Conversely, he doesn't need to know all the gory details of my marriage and divorce (which, thank God, are not available via Google) at this time either. Everyone has their baggage.

Monday, 29 October 2012

How to Inadvertently Start Dating Again

First, I apologize for the lack of blog posts this month. I had intended on spending the month simplifying my life, but I actually made it more complex. In the midst of the complexity and chaos, something had to give. Unfortunately, it was the blog. However, that said, I realized I miss blogging. The exercise forces me to reflect on my personal growth journey and move forward, rather than stagnate or spin my wheels in anxious circles. So, I'll try to update things more frequently in the future.

So, the question on everyone's mind, it seems (based on all the emails and texts I have been receiving), is where have I been this month. The answer is twofold. First, I have been clocking in an ungodly number of hours at my job. Second - and, to be frank, the real reason blogging got the boot for a few weeks - I met a boy.

This is the story of how I inadvertently started dating again.

You all remember Sam, I'm sure (the Sam stories are apparently some of the most popular posts on this blog). In case you don't, the story in a nutshell is that my coworker's roommate hit on me at a party over the summer. More recently, my coworker reintroduced us on the pretext that we both wanted to learn to dance and should therefore take lessons together. I told Sam I didn't want to date anybody, was getting divorced, blah, blah, blah... He said that was fine and suggested we be friends.

THEN, I had a super crappy day at work. Like the kind of bad day that at the end of my career I will look back on and be all like "Whoa, now THAT was a bad day!" I got home from work much later than expected. It just happened that this was the evening Sam was supposed to drop by for tea to discuss dance lessons. Sam offered to postpone when he realized I was running so late. I said I was really busy that week, so better just to leave our plans as they were (Confession: in my head, I was thinking "I don't want to give up another weeknight over this"). I walk in the door, change into yoga pants, a camouflage workout shirt, and a hoodie. In my head, this was not a date. I was tired and grumpy. I was in my own apartment. I like yoga pants and hoodies.

Sam came later than I had said was the minimum time I needed to wolf down some dinner before he arrived ("I wanted to make sure you were comfortable," he later said). Now, unlike yours truly, Sam arrived freshly showered, nicely dressed, smelling really nice, and had a bottle of wine in hand. Dance lessons never came up in the ensuing conversation, and the evening didn't entirely end on a platonic note. Ok, I just realized that sounds way more suggestive than what actually happened. He kissed me. That's it. And you know what, it had been a long time since someone had kissed me. It was nice. We agreed to see each again.

The next couple of weeks established a pattern of evening visits involving tea at my apartment with me in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, and him nicely dressed and freshly showered. He eventually told me that he was willing to tolerate the yoga pants, but that the camouflage workout shirt had to be reserved for workouts only. I guess this is fair.

And so, it's been about a month now. I don't think this is my Mr. Right, but he really has been a gift in my life as a Mr. Right Now. I'll write more about lessons from Sam in weeks to come.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Single Girl Snippet: Pinch Hitting for the Husband

As some of you may remember, when I moved into my current apartment this summer, I went on a fierce independent furniture-assembling spree. There were shelves, coffee tables, a bed, and a rather large sofa.


Excerpt from a conversation between a male neighbour (N) and me (M) the other day:
N: Is your couch from Ikea, too?
M: Yup. I quite like it, actually. A little tough to put together because the pieces were so big and heavy though.
N: You put it together by yourself?!
M: Obviously. What else was I supposed to do? There was nowhere to sit in my apartment.
N: Why didn't you call me?
M: We had only met once at that point, and it seemed kind of weird to then invite you over to assemble my furniture.
N: You should have called.

One of the many challenges in navigating the transition from 'wife' to 'single girl' are these moments in time when life would just be so much easier if someone with a muscle mass bigger than my own were around. Being fairly stubborn, I generally figure out a way to get around the problem. But, the conversation with my neighbour the other day made reflect on how a) I am prone to making life more complicated than it really needs to be, and b) I am actually surrounded by people who would be happy to pinch hit for the various roles in my life my husband played. The reality is just that in my new life, my best friend, confidant, muscles, shoulder to cry on, advice giver, etc are no longer all the same person. Though it's a bit of a mental gear shift, I'm very grateful to be as well supported as I am.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

More Meditation


October is the month of simplifying and living in the moment. Seems like a good time to learn to meditate. Becoming a bona fide meditator remains an elusive quest. Some of you may remember my first uncomfortable foray into the world of meditation classes. My do-it-yourself approach to meditation at home was also an epic fail - I've been on the same page of Jon Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living for over a month. Recently, I went back to the meditation classes down the street. Last class, all I needed to do was stare at a candle and then share my reflection (initially, we were told the sharing was optional, but then the entire group shared and looked expectantly at me. I'm not sure that my whole "I'm new to this and had a hard time quieting my mind" was what they were hoping for. I thought that sounded better than "I'm going to have stir-fry for dinner" which is what I was really thinking about.) Anyhow, the candle staring was bearable. In fact, I was encouraged that maybe I could learn to even like the exercise. Tonight's class, however, was another dose of radical meditation:

Excerpt from the teacher's instructions (T) and my inner dialogue (I):
T: Ok, everyone come and form a circle with your legs out in front of you.
I: Everyone else here seems to be BFF's. I don't know about this snuggle up in close stuff.
T: Alright, really, come in close. We are trying to form a circle.
I: That was definitely directed at me. Who knew that lightbulb shape wasn't close enough to circle for a pass. Better scoot in a bit.
T: Now look around. Be comfortable seeing your peers. Be comfortable being seen.
I: This is a little too up close and personal. I wonder if anyone would notice if I just stare at the candle instead of making eye contact with all these strangers.
T: Now, close your eyes...
I: Oh, thank God! Finally some relief from all that soul gazing.
T:...And grab the hands of the people sitting next to you while keeping your eyes closed.
I: Ooookay, so we are all snuggled in tight here reaching for each others hands. This could go verrrry wrong.
T: Now REALLY feel the other person's hands...

After the pseudo-hand massages, we all breathed out loudly while chanting a loud Ahhhh. I'm kind of glad I go to these things alone because I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face otherwise.

Anyhow, in spite of the craziness and the uncomfortable feelings, I felt unusually calm and relaxed walking home from meditation class. Maybe this is just the medicine I need.


Anyone out there have experience with meditation? What helped you learn to quiet your mind?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Looks Like It's 10/12/12

If you were waiting with bated breath after October 12th's post, here is the answer as to whether October 12th would manifest my Mr. Right: nope. In spite of the heels, makeup, and a cute dress, the Universe did not provide.

So, ladies and gentlemen, apparently December 10th, 2012 is going to be the magic day. I'll have to put it in my planner. ;-)

Let's all keep our fingers crossed!

Photo Source

Friday, 12 October 2012

12/10/12 vs 10/12/12

A few weeks after separating from my soon-to-be ex-husband, I read The Soulmate Secret. Some of you may recall the collage I created as a result of this book.

Another exercise recommended was to close my eyes and visualize the date I was going to meet Mr. Right. This is what I saw (yes, in big, bold red numbers just like these):



12/10/12



then...



10/12/12



then...



12/10/12

The first two numbers kept switching places. Now, this was back in January. Both October 12th AND December 10th seemed like a lifetime away. However, here we are: October 12th, 2012 is upon us.

Probably a good day to wear heels and makeup. ;-)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Living Life

Clearly, there has been a bit of a decline in post frequency this month compared to previous. The main reason for this is that I have been very busy living the life I am creating for myself. I love my career, and lately I have been working 50-60 hrs/week. I have been going to a yoga class 4-5 times/week, and it's amazing the difference I am already seeing in my flexibility and strength in just a few weeks. I am also socializing more now than really at any other point in my life. It's not uncommon for me to see a different group of friends each of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the weekends I am not working. And finally, I have dipped my toes into the waters of the world of dating (which warrants a post of its own).

And so, with all this activity, my computer time has taken a nosedive. I am debating the direction I want this blog to take. In the early stages of separation, it kept me accountable -- I mean, if I said I was going to do something, then I needed to haul my sorry self out into the world and do it. Now, though I'm wondering if it's time to dial back a bit on the post frequency. We'll see in the next few weeks how things go.

On a side note, thank you to all you faithful readers who started emailing when the daily posts disappeared saying you wanted the blog back up and running. I'm flattered.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Single Girl Snippet: Was He Flirting With Me? Part 3

"Was He Flirting With Me?" and "UPDATE: Was He Flirting With Me?" are two of the most popular posts on this blog. So, it would appear that you, my dear readers, find my dating life (or, rather, lack thereof, at the moment) quite interesting.

And so, I bring to you what I expect to be the final installment in the "Was He Flirting With Me?" series.

Anyhow, as previously established, yes, he most certainly was flirting with me back a few months ago when we first met. (And by 'he,' I mean my coworker's roommate. Let's call him Sam.)

In the update, I posed the question as to whether it was unethical to consider signing up for Latin dance classes with Sam given that I am not interested in pursuing a relationship with him. The reviews were mixed. In the end, I ended up saying to my coworker that he could give Sam my contact info, but that I would likely only be able to fit in dance classes on Sundays. I thought this was restrictive enough that the project would likely fall through. But, truth be told, I actually do want to take dance lessons. And, to be even more frank, after being separated for nearly a year, the idea of having a dance partner is nice. I think we all need human touch. I don't mean necessarily romantic. When you move to a new city by yourself post separation... let's just say that the amount of touch in your life takes a nosedive. So, gliding across the dance floor in the arms of some guy sounds pretty good.

My "Sure, you can give him my info" email resulted in receiving a reply from Sam along the lines of: "Dance is all about commitment and communication, so let's grab coffee and take it from there." I had sort of convinced myself that this wasn't a real set up, that really everything was totally platonic. You know, like my coworker just happened to know of two people who wanted to learn to dance, and they just happened to be of opposite genders. But, even I had to admit that this committed coffee business smelled awfully date-like. So, Sam got my best "I'm going through a divorce, not ready to date, and sorry if I gave you the wrong impression" line. I thought for sure that would scare him off, and that would be the end of that (phew!). It wasn't. So, then I offered to turn 'coffee' into 'tea and cookies' thinking that would for sure make me sound lame (and who wants to date the lame girl who is into tea and cookies?).

Sam was not deterred. Today, when I woke up, this was the email in my inbox:
From my perspective, I met a very smart, cute, and interesting girl at my roommate's housewarming party. And, I just learned that she is looking for a dance partner. I'd like to tag along for ride. That's it. What will come of this? Who knows. I understand that you are in the midst of a divorce, that you're not looking for either a rebound relationship or anything more serious. Friendship perhaps? So, rather than focus on expectations, let's just have fun and leave it at that. I would love to meet you for tea and cookies. Let me know what your schedule is like, and I will work around it.

How could I say no to that? So, I texted him. One text turned into a drawn-out dialogue over the next hour or so. Turns out that Sam does yoga and is into nutrition. He loves to cook. He even thinks my whole gluten-free issue is not a big deal (he previously dated another celiac). I still don't think anything is really going to come of all this on the romantic relationship front, but it's really nice to be treated so respectfully. This guy doesn't really seem to have any ulterior agenda other than maybe hoping that at some point I change my mind about dating him. Refreshing.

Tea and cookies tonight.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Quarterly Report

Alright, so I'm at the 25% point of my 1-year project.
These are the residual effects:

June - Gorganization
My apartment is reasonably tidy most of the time. That said, during busier work weeks, piles of laundry on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, and an unmade bed are the norm. I'm still working on managing clutter. I'm going to revisit my minimalist aspirations next month again.

I still bulk prep meals on weekends. It just makes workday lunches so much easier.

The file system is alive and well. I don't know why I didn't set one up years ago.

The learn-to-dance odyssey continues. However, now when I go to weddings or parties, I actually dance. You know, you just get to the point where you realize no one else really cares what you look like. And, it's a lot more fun to join in than sit on the sidelines and watch.

I'm still married to my moleskine planner. People at work are trying to pursuade me to move to something electronic... it just wouldn't be the same.

I caved and reactivated my Facebook account. The people I socialize with here are all Facebook junkies, and I didn't want to be left out of the loop. I did, however, do a major purge of my "Facebook friends." And, I jacked up the privacy settings. Now, it's not causing me the anxiety it used to. My status is something like "Homemade soup will be ready in 10 minutes. Text or call if you want to join me for dinner." You can only do things like that when you actually like all the people on your "friend" list (or at least you like all the people who live close enough to take you up on your offer of dinner).


July - Self-care
Retail therapy is much more prominent in my life than in previous years. Not that I go crazy or spend money that I don't have. But, now, about once/month I let myself indulge a little. Last month (August), I bought some new clothes. This month (September), I bought a 3-month yoga pass. It's soooo decadent!

Pseudo - spa nights have become more regular. The at-home pampering is a nice way to unwind. Next on my project list is to learn more about making my own producs and source out local ingredients to do so. At some point this year, I want to try making soap.

One area where I have really made an effort is to prepare nutritious meals. I really think nutrition is the foundation to good health. Okay, nutrition and good sleep. The sleep part is still a work in progress, but the regular yoga routine seems to be helping.

I'm continuing to make big efforts on the social front. I've actually managed to stick to my resolution to host at least one gathering every month. I see friends or family pretty much every weekend, often twice within the same weekend. The efforts have been soooo worth it!!! My relationships with old friends are even stronger, and I have a number of wonderful new friends.


August - Exploration
In August, I learned that really it's ok sometimes to do what you want rather than what you think is more productive, more useful, etc. No regrets about dumping karate.

Also, I'm so much more ok with saying "This is the way I am; take it or leave it." It's very liberating. People tease me about some of my quirkier habits (making dehydrated flax crackers, for example). But, at the same time, I declined my first real offer of a date since separating because I am confident enough in myself to recognize that though the attention was flattering, he just wasn't the right kind of guy for me. (I will admit, however, that when we were standing next to each other at the end of the evening, and I realized he is like 6'5", I really wished he was my type - I even convinced myself for a second that I should give him my number. But, alas, you can't build a relationship just on the fact that you find tall guys attractive and you meet a tall guy.)

I'm becoming a bit more of a "you only live once" type. Anything that resonates with my image of my future self (who, by the way, is SUCH a cool girl), I say YES. Brunch with strangers? YES! Hosting my work group for dinner? YES. Wardrobe update? YES. Healthy eating? YES. Yoga and meditation? YES. Dance classes? YES.


September - The Non-Tangibles
Working through the book Calling in the One was a huge turning point for me. This isn't to say that now I'm, you know, built of teflon and all reminders of my marriage just glide off. Not at all. I still have a mini-meltdown every now and again. However, now I have a lot more insight into why things didn't work out with my husband, and the person I want to be when I emerge from all this mess. Essentially, the person I "called in" was myself. This is important. You can't think of eventually building a relationship with someone else until you are well acquainted (and at peace with) yourself.

The other really good thing I did for myself was the yoga/meditation monthly pass. I've been making it to the studio about 5 days/week, and Thursdays I stay for a meditation class after the yoga. I'm the type of person who carries stress physically rather than spazzing out. So, the regular deep stretch is just wonderful. I feel calmer, and I am sleeping better. It's great. Helps me process my thoughts, too, I find. I definitely recommend it (though I caution that not all yoga studios are created equal - shop around til you find the right fit). Once my 3-month promo runs out, I may crunch some numbers to see if an annual pass is in my budget. Kinda pricey.

I meant to tackle my existential crisis this month, but didn't happen. So, that project is being pushed to October.


Ok, so a number of you readers have contacted me to say that you are playing along with the projects on this blog. What changes have you made in your life? Did the changes stick? Any pearls of wisdom you would like to share? Funny stories? Touching stories? I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Calling In The One: Fire in the Kitchen Sink



Setting a fire in my kitchen sink was definitely the most therapeutic of all the exercise in my Calling in the One journey.
For anyone who isn't into setting fires, the option of tearing the paper, stomping on the paper, or burying the paper is available. But, for me, this was a 'go big or go home' moment. Burning the paper has a sort of finality that the tearing/stomping/burying of the paper does not offer.

So, what was on this paper, you may wonder?

Make two columns. On the left, you include I RELEASE sentences. On the right, write out a matching I EMBRACE sentence. For example, I RELEASE the hope that the past could have been otherwise. I EMBRACE a future filled with joy and love.

I had four full pages.

I cut horizontal lines so that I had a pile of paper strips, each one containing its matching I RELEASE/I EMBRACE sentences. Then I burned them all one by one. It felt good.

And, the next morning, I woke up feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Calling In the One: Fairy Tale Ending

 
One of the exercises that I was most skeptical of during my Calling in the One odyssey was writing a fairy tale featuring yourself. But, I was committed to the process laid out in the book. I opened my journal to a fresh page:

One upon a time there was a princess. She was kind of nerdy, but a nice girl overall. In the kingdom, there also lived a dragon. He was a very arrogant, nasty piece of dragon.

Long story short: Dragon pretends to be a nice prince. Princess falls in love with him. Then, she finds out he tricked her. She gets REALLY mad. Dragon gets banished from the kingdom. AND THEN, a wonderfully tenderhearted, drop-dead gorgeous, incredibly intelligent prince arrives and sweeps the princess off her feet. He thinks the princess is beautiful, very smart, and loves how caring she is towards others. The prince also believes in equal division of household chores. They fall madly in love with each other, get married, and have beautiful, healthy babies. Princess then masters the art of baking Dora-shaped birthday cakes.

Sigh... What a great story.

Anyhow, it was actually kind of therapeutic to write it all out. Granted, I felt kind of silly initially. But, in the end, the effort was worth it. So, I toss out the challenge to all of you readers out there to write out your own fairytale ending. Maybe your 'prince' looks like a dream job, or a dream opportunity, or whatever. Jazz it up. Make yourself be a stellar character. It's a fairy tale, after all.

And they all lived happily ever after...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Calling in the One: Room for Two

Corningware Mug

Above is a picture of my favourite mug. One of my many quirks is that I eat out of a mug more often than I use a plate. This mug is made by Corningwear and is more bowl-sized than mug really. My first bowl-mug was a gift from an uncle years ago. Sadly, I dropped it a while back and it broke. However, the happy ending to that story is that just recently I spotted said Corningwear mug on sale at a department store. Deciding to buy one bowl-mug was a no-brainer. The debate was whether to buy two of them. You see, I was on the "Make room for two"lesson of Calling in the One at the time. Apparently, if you want to attract a life mate, you need to make room in your living space for them and act like they are already part of your life. If I meet Mr. Right tomorrow and he starts spending a lot of time here, then - and I'm embarrassed to admit this - I don't really want to share my bowl-mug. If I get up in the morning, and I can't have my grain-free cereal in my bowl-mug because someone left it dirty in the sink, well, that would be a very sad way to start the day. On the other hand, I've been making a conscientious effort to keep clutter to a minimum in my apartment since moving in. Buying a second mug with the intention of leaving it unused in the cupboard seemed a little counterintuitive. But, in the end, I decided to bite the bullet and just do as the book instructed.

Just in case the mug wasn't enough, I also bought extra hangers. Then, I bought extra clothes and needed to use the extra hangers. So, I bought even more hangers. I only used a few of the second batch. The rest are ready and waiting for either Mr. Right, or my next shopping spree - whichever comes first. Mr. Right wasn't get very much closet space. He does, however, get a small amount of space (one sixteenth) of my Expedit bookshelf/clothes storage system. I mean, really, it's not like I'm going to keep half the closet bare and half my storage space open. (And, let's be honest, how many couples out there really have a 50/50 division of closet space anyways? That's right, not very many.)

Hopefully the mug + hangers + shelf space is enough spacial karma to attract Mr. Right. Time will tell.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Calling In the One: The Post-Its



One of the first exercises I did from Calling in the One (Katherine Woodward Thomas) involved developing a list of 'Essence Qualities.' First, you make a list of words want to anchor yourself to. Some of the words on my list included: healing, joy, love, courage, honesty, forgiveness... Next, you transform the words into affirming sentences. For example, Joy became My life is filled with joy and laughter.

These affirming sentences should then be transfered to Post-It notes. I had some jazzy yellow, orange, and pink ones. The Post-It's should be featured prominently within your living space. I placed mine along the edge of my bedroom bookcase. Then, read them every day for a while. Make sure you pick good stuff so that it's fun to read. It doesn't have to true per se. You just have to want it to be true - you know something you aspire to. As you can see from my photo, I worked on releasing the past. I also had one that said I am beautiful. Definitely include that one in your collection. It's nice to read that you're beautiful every day.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Calling in the One

Calling in "The One": 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life


I've recently worked my way through a wonderful book called Calling in the One. As you can see from the cover, the book promises "7 weeks to attract the love of your life." I'm still single, but have no regrets having spent the $14.56 Amazon charged me for the book.

Working through the Calling in the One was a huge turning point for me. This isn't to say that now I'm, you know, built of teflon and all reminders of my marriage just glide off. Not at all. I still have a mini-meltdown every now and again (particularly on days involving interactions with lawyers). However, now I have a lot more insight into why things didn't work out with my husband, and the person I want to be when I emerge from all this mess. Essentially, the person I "called in" was myself. This is important. You can't think of eventually building a relationship with someone else until you are well acquainted (and at peace with) yourself.

In the next few days, I will share some of the more comical moments of this little adventure. The book indicated that you get out of it what you put in, and I wanted to squeeze every last drop of wisdom out of its pages. So, even when skeptical, I followed the exercises. I laughed, I cried. I did things I never would have done otherwise (e.g. setting a fire in my kitchen sink).

Enjoy.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Single Girl Snippet: Party, Party, Party

A colleague from work had a birthday party recently. Excerpts from conversations between me (M), my gay friend (G), the lawyer who hit on me (L), a female friend (F) and other random people (R1, R2, R3...). It was a great night.

R1: Is that your boyfriend?
R1 gestures toward my gay friend.
M: No, we just work together


G: So, if I didn't tell you I was gay, would you think that I was?
M: Um, I definitely had my suspicions.
G: Oh...
He sounded really disappointed.
M: I think it's great though! I mean really, there's very little overlap in the Venn diagram of males who would be attracted to us. It's perfect. We can be each other's wingperson.



R2: So, that's your boyfriend over there?
R2 nod in direction of my gay friend.
M: No, we just work together.



 F: What were you guys talking about?
G: That we're both single.
F looks to me.
F: Are you looking for a man or a woman?
M: Man.
F: Oh, so man, but say you met a girl and she was really pretty?
M: Uh, no, still just a man. I think I am sort of unidirectional on this one.
F: Oh. Too bad. You know, I saw my ex-girlfriend in the market the other day.
Verrrry interesting. This particular friend is involved in a serious relationship with a male currently.


M: So people around here seem to think you're my boyfriend.
G: Really? Why?
M: I don't know. We 're almost like a bad joke: "The nearly-divorced girl and the gay guy go to a party..."


R3: So, is that guy your boyfriend?
Points to my gay friend.
M: No, we just work together.


L: Interesting music, eh?
M: Yeah.
Lawyer immediately takes the seat next to me on the couch.
L: I'm (he said his name... I'm embarrassed that I don't actually remember what it was).
M: Nice to meet you.
L: So, you know the host from...?
M: Work, actually. You?
L: Cousin. You from here?
M: No. I just moved.
L: Me too. May.
M: Same.
L: This is a great city. Good choice to establish yourself here.
M: I'm actually planning to go back to [my hometown] in a few years.
L: Oh, that's a great city, but the work opportunities for me aren't very interesting. Much better here. You really should stay here.
I was puzzled as to how this stranger's career should have any bearing on my life plans.
L: We should go out sometime with our host and his girlfriend. What do you think?
This catches me totally off guard. I think it was a legit double-date offer.
M: Uh, sure.
I was so stunned. A polite version of "I'm not sure you're my type" would have been more appropriate.
L: It really has been a pleasure meeting you.
M: Thanks, that`s nice of you to say.
He puts his hand on my leg. I like my personal space. He was a little too comfortable. This was not just a friendly tap on my knee...
L: So, why did you move here?
M: Oh, you know, change of scenery.
I figured a "change of scenery" sounded better than "found out my husband was looking for a new soulmate and decided to skip town."
L: Well, it was SO great meeting you tonight.
M: Thanks.
L: You getting to know the city here?
M: Yeah, bit by bit.
L: You know, the bar scene is so different here than where you come from.
Next few minutes we discussed bars, then:
L: It REALLY has been a pleasure spending time with you tonight.
I'm not sure anyone has ever been happier to meet me than this guy! I don't even think he had been drinking very much.
M: Uh, thanks.
His hand found its way back to my leg. I did not encourage this.
L: I'm going to go smoke outside. Why don't you come?
M: Oh, I don't smoke.
L: Ever?
M: Never had a cigarette in my life.
L: Come outside.
M: No.
L: Ok, well it has been REALLY great spending time with you tonight!


Back to the dance floor
G: Who's your new boyfriend?
M: He's not my boyfriend.
G: Seriously though, good for you! You were just like sitting there and effortlessly attracted a guy. Good work!
M: Thanks. He's a lawyer. Nice enough guy. The smoking thing is an issue.
G: Did you make out with him?
M: No.
G: Why not?! Oh wait - the cute guy is back! Ok, we can't touch or be close, I don't want to give him the wrong impression! I hope he's not straight...


Overall, it was such a great night! I got to know some of my work colleagues better. Had some nice wine. Danced. And, though I am confident the lawyer is not my soulmate, it still felt great to be deemed so attractive by someone I had just met. I'm really glad I went to the party rather than deciding that it wasn't really my thing (which, strictly speaking, is probably true - but this is a year of pushing beyond my comfort zone).

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Your Inner Pilot Light & the 90/10 Rule


A couple months ago, I started following Dr. Lissa Rankin's blog. One of her recurring themes is that of the Inner Pilot Light, which she describes as:

that ever-radiant, always-sparkly, 100% authentic, totally effervescent spark that lies at the core of you. ... This part of you always knows which choice to choose, how to heal yourself when you’re sick, and whether to trust someone or not. Your Inner Pilot Light knows exactly what you like, loves boundlessly but selectively, discriminates between what is and isn’t authentic to your inner nature, and has the 411 on how to connect straight to Source. Your Inner Pilot Light guides the path, lights the way, navigates the journey, and asks only that you trust the process.

Your Inner Pilot Light is the essence of who you really are.

Since starting my "year to be my best self" project, I've been trying to reconnect with my inner pilot light. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't. What I am discovering in the process is that there is a lot of truth to the "90/10" rule: 10% of life is what happens to you, and 90% is what you make of it.
In recent weeks, I often wake up feeling like I have sunbeams shooting out of my heart. And, I know this change is genuine because when I got stuck at work til 8pm on Friday and missed my 5:45 yoga class, I was still smiling and warmly wishing the night shift a wonderful weekend when I left. It is so empowering to feel like you are really presenting your authentic self to the world. I feel so much more confident sharing my opinion, and this has actually really enriched the relationships in my life - both professionally and personall.



Anyone else out there a 90/10 type? Or, anyone thinking of moving in that direction? What are your thoughts on the inner pilot light?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Single Girl Snippet: I Want to Learn From You

Excerpt from a conversation between me (M) and a coworker (C) over apps and drinks:

C: So, what do you think are the key things people need to discuss before getting married?
M: Uh, I don't think I have much advice to offer on marriage seeing as how I am currently getting divorced.
C: No, I think you have interesting things to say. I want to learn from you. So, what would you put on the list?
M: Ummm, okay -- well first, you should talk about finances. Figure out where on the spend-save spectrum each of you are. Also, how you plan to prioritize your expenses.
C: I'm a spender.
M: As long as he's ok with that and you can still pay your bills, then it doesn't need to be an issue.
C: Alright, what else would you include?
M: You need to talk about kids and family. And by that, I mean whether or not to have kids, who will take care of them, how much time you each intend to devote to raising your family. After the birth of baby #1 is not the time to discover that you each were each expecting the other to take parental leave or stay home with kids permanently. And, you need to talk about how much of a priority extended family will be in your lives. A mismatch can potentially create some resentment -- ie. your partner may not want to go to your family functions every single weekend, or vice versa.
C: I like that... Next?
M: Ummm... religion. Religion as it relates to each of you, and especially as it relates to how you intend to raise your kids. If you are expecting your potential spouse to go to synagogue/mass/temple/whatever with you and the kids every week, you should probably clear that with them.
C: Anything else? I'm listening. This is really interesting.
M: Life goals, hopes, dreams. You need to support each other for these types of projects. If you're really mismatched -- ie. one of you wants to live on an ashram in India and the other wants to stay in their downtown Toronto condo -- resentment can build and lead to big conflict. This isn't to say that there isn't room for compromise, but just that any big projects that you think are critical to your sense of self need to be put on the table up front. And similarly, you should talk about your general expectations from each other regarding things like gender roles, household tasks, time devoted to activities outside the relationship.
C: That's a great list!
M: Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.


Anyone have anything to add to the list?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Single Girl Snippet: You're Going to Be OK

 
Excerpt from a conversation with a friend (F) recently over tea.

F: You've really changed in the last couple months.
M: Really?
F: Yeah, a couple months ago, you were so sad. And whenever you talked about the future, you always stressed a big IF: IF I ever meet someone, IF I ever remarry...
M: I've been working hard on the personal growth stuff.
F: It shows.
M: Thanks.
F: It's nice to see that you are finally starting to believe what the rest of us have known all along: you're going to be ok.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Meditation Update: Midway Through the Month

September was supposed to be my month of meditation. Now that we are at the midway point, I can tell you that I failed. I tried setting an alarm. I started reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living. I left my yoga mat out in the livingroom to encourage a moment of deep contemplation.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
From Amazon.ca

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Solution: I bought a 3-month yoga pass a few days ago.

The plan is to stop at the studio for a class on the way home from work. Apparently, I am not of the DIY variety when it comes to meditation. However, after stretching for an hour, I manage to relax and meditate at the studio. Having someone use their yogic voice to remind me "Now, relax the big toe....the ankle...the leg..." doesn't hurt, either. Bonus, I've noticed an improvement in the quality of my sleep. And - at the risk of sounding like a total hippie - I actually feel much more peaceful. Apparently, changes in the brain can be seen on imaging only one week after starting a meditation process. It'll be interesting to see what the effects of this 3-mt stint of yoga/meditation will do.

Yoga Poses (stylized) by Gerald_G - For a request.
Image from the Open Clip Art Library

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Single Girl Snippet: Personal Training

My gym pass included a free personal training session.

Excerpt from conversation between me (M) and my personal trainer (P):

P: So what exactly do you want?
M: You mean like goals for this program?
P: Yes.
M: Well, better overall fitness. And, I'd like to lose ten pounds.
P: What?! You don't have ten pounds to lose. You have the body of a marathoner.
M: Uh, thanks, that's nice of you to say.

About five minutes later...

P: So, would you want to run a marathon?
M: Maybe. It's something I've considered. I've done half-marathons before, but not a whole one. A lot of my friends are marathoners, so sometimes I think it would be fun to join them.
P: Totally. You know, if you lost ten pounds and trained hard, you could do a marathon.



Saturday, 15 September 2012

First Solo Wedding

Bride by kattekrab - stylised bride for use in wedding or marriage stationary.
www.openclipart.org


One of my closest friends just got married this past weekend. I had RSVP'd months ago -- sans +1.
I was a little nervous about going to a wedding. It wasn't that many years ago that I was a bride myself. The last couple weddings I attended with my husband, I cried on the way home wishing that he and I could somehow recapture the happiness we had once shared. So, I was worried this might be quite the salt-in-wound experience. I decided to drive by myself so that if I became an emotional basketcase, I had an easy escape.

And then the unexpected happened: I had an absolute ball at this wedding.

I had my hair done that morning and wore a new dress. I felt great. Friends I hadn't seen in months were at the wedding with their husbands, and I was so thrilled to see them again. I ate. I danced. I smiled.

As I looked around at the beautiful landscape and all the happy people, I felt a genuine, profound happiness for the newlyweds. And at that moment, I was overcome with a reassuring feeling that I, too, will find love again.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Broken Water Heater: Evidence of Progress


I stepped into the shower half asleep the other day, and very abruptly discovered that my hot water heater had broken. As I creatively maneuvred my body to minimize contact with the cold water while still managing to rinse out the shampoo from my hair, I remember thinking this is not that big of a deal. I certainly didn't enjoy the experience (I'm the type of person who not infrequently wears a sweater in July), but it didn't register on my radar as something to flip out about. The actual tank is in another tenant's apartment. It's not like I could go take a peek at it and see if there were any clues as to why I no longer had hot water. This was completely out of my control.

Once at work, I emailed my landlord, assuming he would deal with it. There are perks to renting, and not having to deal with repairs and maintenance are among them. He told me to contact the hot water tank rental company, and then coordinate with the other tenant for the repairman to have access to the tank. Though still convinced this issue fell squarely on the 'not my problem' list, I called the hot water tank company (HW):

M: Hi! The hot water tank I am renting from you seems to have broken.
HW: I can send someone to take a look at it today.
M: Great! Here's the issue though - it's not actually in my apartment.
HW: Do you have access to it?
M: Nope. It's in someone else's apartment. My landlord wanted me to call you directly though.
HW: When can I send someone then?
M: I guess it would be up to the other tenant. Listen, can I ask you a hot water tank etiquette question?
HW: Sure.
M: Normally in situations like these, do you typically deal with the landlord because that's who has a key to access the hot water tank?
HW: Typically, yes.
M: So if I call my landlord back and tell him that you would prefer to deal with him directly, that's kosher?
HW: Yeah.
M: Great. Thanks so much! You've been very helpful.

I hung up, and emailed my landlord back informing him that this little issue was indeed his problem. He then (begrudgingly, I suspect) dealt with the hot water people and (finally) got the repair done a few days later. Luckily, the timing coincided with me being out of town for the weekend, so I only had to deal with cold showers before work twice.

All this to say that I am slowly learning two things:

1 - Most things in life are not worth getting worked up over. Though not having hot water is problematic, far worse things can happen.

2 - Don't be afraid to ask for what you want/ Just because someone else says it's your problem, doesn't mean it actually is your problem. In the past, I'm sure I would have taken my landlord's initial instruction to coordinate with the other tenant at face value. This would have meant needing to be home when the repair guy came, making lots of phone calls, etc, etc. A little initiative on my part meant that I was free to enjoy a weekend away visiting family and friends while someone else (who cashes a sizable cheque from me monthly) dealt with the hot water tank.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Single Girl Snippet: The Guy with the Dandelion Greens

Click here to read about dandelion greens

Being somewhat new to the city, I'm still on the hunt for the ultimate grocery shop. I am a bit of a health-nut foodie, so finding quality fresh produce at a good price is paramount. My little quest took me to a store in a yuppie neighbourhood over the weekend.

While selecting my organic greens for the week (half price!!!), I couldn't help but notice that the guy a few metres down from me was carefully scrutinizing the dandelion greens. He eventually settled on what appeared to be a fairly healthy-looking bunch from my vantage point, and placed them in his basket beside his cantaloupe. Very impressive. Also, I couldn't help but notice that Mr. Dandelion is, uh, pretty easy on the eyes. Like maybe he does modeling on the side - that kind of attractive.

The store itself was rather cramped, so Mr. D. was always a few metres ahead as we zig-zagged through the dry goods. I eventually skipped an aisle, which brought me to the cash first. Of the four line ups, he chose to stand behind me. Okay, so now I have this very attractive guy standing like a foot away. Whistling along with the radio. So, he's a confident, happy, very attractive guy. It would have been an entirely appropriate time to start a conversation. But, I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say. Plus, I'm actually standing at the cash in spandex shorts, a sleeveless top that leaves a small gap before my shorts start, ballcap, and four small waterbottles anchored to my waist. It made perfect sense to me that morning to map my 10K run to end at the grocery store; I didn't exactly expect to run into Mr. D. Yeah, so essentially, I'm there in my sweaty spandex holding three tubs of organic greens in one hand and red wine vinegar in the other. Not exactly at my sexiest and most confident I have to say.

So, I toss out the following:
1 - What would you have done?
2 - What would have been a good conversation starter?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

At-Home Workouts

After realizing I was spending as much time commuting to/from the gym as I was exercising, I decided to cancel my gym membership. The plan is to workout mostly from home, and then hopefully convert the time savings into more sleep and meditation time.

The components of my at-home fitness routine will include:

1. Bodyweight workouts
I found some interesting workout plans online. One is a "Boot Camp" style workout that looks interesting (link here)

bootcamp-workout-one-2.jpg
Click here for link to boot camp workout.
2. Yoga
Yoga practice at home was previously discussed here. My favourite style is Sivananda. A typical Sivananda class lasts 90-120 minutes. Each class will include breathing exercises (pranayama), sun salutations, and a specific sequence of 12 postures (asanas). I'm hoping to get through the sequence a couple times/week on my own at home.

12 basic asanas
Sivananda Sequence
 3. Running
I'm trying to run 4 days/week. Two of these days, I join the free practice sessions at the Running Room. If I manage to stick with it, I'll sign up for a half marathon clinic that runs through the winter.

Ok, so there we go. I put it out there, so now I am accountable. I hope I stick with it and discover more sleep, a better body, and my inner zen.

Wish me luck!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Single Girl Snippet: 5 Dresses

My favourite new dress
Embarrassing confession: I bought five dresses on my way home from work yesterday. This totally violates my minimalist aspirations. However, I succumbed to the temptation because:
1) My summer work wardrobe was nearly non-existent. The last few summers, I worked in air conditioned environments and just made do with my fall/spring clothes. This summer, I am working in a hot building.
2) I found a great sale.
Ok, the first two reasons are just me rationalizing... the real reason I bought five dresses:
3) They make me feel pretty.

Excerpt from cell phone conversation with my mother (O) post purchase. I am standing at one of the busiest intersections in the city.

M: Hi Mom! Guess what I just did?
O: What?
M: Bought five dresses. Like, today. Just now.
O: Seriously?! My daughter?!
M: Yupper. True story.
O: I'm proud of you.
M: Thanks. My little shopping spree came to $200 with tax. Regular price would have been closer to $500. Apparently these dresses are designer dresses from up and coming people.
O: I never thought I would see this day.
M: Yeah, and you know what, I'm discovering I kind of like wearing heels sometimes.
O: Wow!
M: Enough that I may have to buy a second pair to keep my plain black office heels company.

The conversation continued along those lines, and then finally my mom closed with:
O: Well, I'm just SO GLAD you called RIGHT AWAY with this GREAT news!!!

That's right, you know you're a little fashion-challenged when your mom thinks the announcement of a shopping spree is great news.


Another purchase

This is one of the two dresses I bought last week (yeah, as in not part of this week's 5 dress spree...)
I now have enough dresses I could wear a different one every day of the week.
Pretty crazy.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Saturday, 8 September 2012

UPDATE: Was He Flirting With Me?

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have closure on the issue of "Was he flirting with me?"

Answer: Yes.


Yesterday, I received an email from my coworker. I will paraphrase it below:

Remember my roommate, Matt? You met him when I had our group over for drinks that time. Well, he wants to learn to dance. You mentioned recently that you would like to learn to dance, too. So, let me know if you're interested in taking tango lessons with Matt and I'll put the two of you in touch.



Photo Source


Here is the dilemma:
Matt is a good-looking guy, a couple years my junior. He was quite pleasant when we met, but I can tell you right now that there is something about him that is a total deal-breaker when it comes to having a relationship. Is it kosher to sign up for tango lessons with him anyways? It makes me feel like a bit of a schmuck.

Voting time:

YES - it's totally kosher. It's not like dance lessons are a marriage proposal. It's not even a formal date. Enjoy the muscle-y eye candy and flirtatious dance moves!

NO - Tango is a fairly sensual dance. Agreeing to to the lessons is kind of like agreeing to a date. If you're really convinced there is zero chance of a relationship, then invest your time and energy elsewhere.

Single Girl Snippet: The Haircut

Finally, I did it. Well overdue, really. It's been almost a year. But, better late than never.
Today, I finally got the post-breakup-hairstyle change. For the first time in over twenty years, I have bangs again. That's right, all you mathematic keensters: I last had bangs during an era when applying hairspray and then backcombing to "poof" your bangs was so cool.
bangs
Way more extreme bangs than I ever had, but totally captures that 80's spirit.
 My current hairstyle involves "side bangs" and no hairspray or backcombing. This is more or less what my current hairstyle looks like:
Sideswept Bangs: 20 Photos of Gorgeous Sideswept Bangs
... Except that I'm a brunette, have hair that is a little frizzy, and am about 25 years younger than the person in the picture ("Marion Fedder" -- who is that?)
It felt like such an extreme thing to do, but most of the people I have seen since haven't noticed. Maybe I'll go for something bolder next haircut. That said, the new change in look is really helping me feel the whole 'fresh new life vibe' of this season of singleness. I should have done it sooner.


Anyone else out there opt for hairstyle changes post breakup?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Not Part of My Tribe

Wikipedia photo of a Masai tribe

The following is a quote from Dr. Lissa Rankin's blog:

The way I see it, sharing my imperfections with you is kind of the perfect screening tool. In other words, I’m not trying to please everyone. I only care about pleasing my people – and if you read this post and decide you don’t like me anymore, then you’re not part of my tribe. Good for both of us to know, right?

Her words really resonated with me. I consider myself a recovering people pleaser. This isn't to say that overnight I've become horrendously selfish or anything like that. It just means that I am trying to shift my focus to following my inner compass a little more closely rather than trying to be everything to everyone all the time.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bloom

A few days after moving into my new apartment, I received a notice that a parcel from Amazon had arrived for me and was being held at the Post Office. Packages from Amazon are like Christmas for me. The odd thing was, though, that I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon in a while.

I brought the slip to the post office. Sure enough there was a parcel with my name on it. I excitedly tore open the parcel right away. Inside was a copy of Kelle Hampton's book Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected.
There was also a note:

I hope that in all the excitement of moving, you haven't had a chance to go out and buy your own copy yet. Consider this a bit of a housewarming and heart warming gift.

Thinking of you.

It was from a childhood friend. We email a few times/year and try to visit at least once/year. She had phoned me a few weeks prior to my big move to my current city, and had been stunned to find out that I was in the early stages of divorce proceedings. Bloom was just the medicine I needed at that time in my life. I was so incredibly touched by her thoughtfulness.


Though the book focuses on the Hampton family's journey after discovering daughter Nella has Down Syndrome, there are life lessons for anyone who is living an unexpected transition and wants a little inspiration to keep their head up in the midst of the storm. Bloom is now one of my all-time favourite books. I am already looking forward to reading it again.

I mention this story now because I am reflecting on the importance of reaching out to the people around me, especially those who might be feeling a little more fragile these days. I know that I can tell you exactly who reached out to me in the first few months after my separation, and how incredibly indebted to them I will feel forever. I was so beyond blessed to have the family and friend support that I did (and still do!). Often, I wonder how I managed to be so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life!

Anyhow, all of this to say that when someone is going through a life-defining moment (good or bad), it's a time when just 'being there' for them is so important. A little kindness in moments like these goes a very long way. And so, I am going to keep my eyes and ears open this month for opportunities to pay forward the huge cosmic debt of love I owe to the world.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Thought Bite: Friendship

Excerpt from Kelle Hampton's blog:

Q: I know you didn't grow up in Florida and yet you have this wonderful and extensive circle of close girlfriends. What are your tips for making new friends in a new place? While I have made some lovely new friends in my not-so-new area, I struggle with creating those super close friendships like the ones I left behind.

A: My closest friendships involve vulnerability, honesty, and effort. If you want to get past the "what brand of sippy cup do you use?" level of friendship, you have to make efforts. Have a dinner party. Put yourself out there. Tell your story. Ask to hear your friend's. Meaningful friendships mean you have to talk about meaningful things. My deepest friendships have evolved with being vulnerable, with making mistakes, with communicating through good and bad, with accepting that sometimes we are different, with honestly expressing my weaknesses and asking for support, and with making efforts to spend time with friends who make me feel good.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Letting Yourself Be Loved

heart by tomas_arad - a red heart



As I have alluded to previously, the first few months of 2012 were marked by a number of non-divorce crises in addition to the breakdown of my marriage. I remember painfully joking to a friend of mine at one point that getting divorced was #4 on my list of acute stressors. Historically, I have not been one to talk much about problems in my life. Rather, I typically played the role of listener or counsellor when people around me hit a rocky season in their own lives. However, the cumulation of the crises of 2012 brought me unsettlingly close to my breaking point. And this is when I did something very radical: when someone I trusted asked me how I was doing, I gave them an honest answer.

And you know, that was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I learned very quickly that I was surrounded by more love, acceptance, and support than I realized. I was hugged when I cried; reassured when I doubted myself. At a time when I wasn't sure how I would make it though, some very beautiful people offered to carry me. And because of the love shown to me, I managed to keep my head above water as the storm blew past.

Today, I am challenging each of you to reflect on the following thought from Calling in "The One" (more on this wonderful book in future weeks):

For love, by definition, happens when it is safe to be flawed in the presence of another... It is never our perfections that makes us lovable, but rather our shortcomings and our perfectly imperfect imperfections.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Spreading Sunshine




After my yoga class the other day, I stopped for some tofu takeout. While waiting for my brown rice and sprouts, an older Indian gentleman came into the restaurant. “Hello my prrrrrincess!” he jubilantly exclaimed to the cashier, his accent quite pronounced. “How are you today?” She smiled and replied she was very busy. “Oh, keeping busy is a very good thing” he said. He paid for his tofu, turned to me and said “And a very good night to you, my dear!”  And with that, he left the restaurant. He was practically skipping. The cashier was smiling. I was smiling. Anyone within earshot of the whole happy exchange was smiling.

Happiness is contagious.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

September: The Non-Tangibles

If I really commit to this month's projects, I suspect I am going to experience some fairly significant growing pains. I've labelled September as the month of "The Non-Tangibles." I have spent the last few months working on aspects of myself that are visible to the outside world -- organization, healthy habits, recreation. This month is really about personal growth on the inside.

To keep myself accountable, I am going to reveal my projects now:

1. Work on resolving my existential crisis
a) Getting divorced as a young Catholic has really brought up some big questions about my faith.
b) Over the last year, I have seen some really terrible things happen to some really wonderful people. The lack of cosmic justice doesn't sit well.

2. Ripple effect
I want to work on becoming a kinder, gentler soul so that I can spread a little sunshine in the world around me.

3. Really listening to my inner compass
Too often, I get caught up in what I feel I ought to do according to other people rather than doing what feels right for me. I think regular meditation would be a good start to fixing this.

4. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude
I try to make a point of sharing the nice things I think about people, but there's room for improvement. This month seems like a good time for that.


5. Create more time for the things I enjoy.
And, conversely, stop spending so much time procrastinating about getting the things I don't enjoy doing done.


Other projects may come up, but the above are likely to be the primary foci of the month.

Thoughts and suggestions welcome.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Exploration Wrap-Up

August has been so interesting!

Highlights of my month of exploration have included:
-Attending a yoga class with 2000+ other yoginis
-Buying a dehydrator
-Swing dancing
-Attending my first meditation class
-Painting again
-Hosting my coworkers for apps and drinks


I also attended karate classes for a few weeks before realizing that the experience was causing me a fair amount of stress. I was dreading going to class because I hated being yelled at and harshly criticized. So, I decided to tuck the "get my black belt in karate" project on the backburner for now. I am currently in a season of my life where my extra-curricular activities need to be things that bring peace and happiness to my life.

The biggest change in me this month is that I am now much more comfortable attending classes or functions solo. I often invite friends to join in whatever project I have dream up; but, I'm always ready to just go on my own. I don't want to miss out on something just because of social insecurity. I'm also being braver socially. A year ago, I don't think I would have been the one driving the social activity within my work group. But, by sticking my neck out a little, I've discovered that I work with some really great people that I now consider friends. 

I am happier and feel more like myself than I have in years.



Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thought Bite: Right Places

Image source
 
So, I married the wrong guy.
However, in navigating the fallout of my marriage, I am discovering a strength and boldness within me I never knew was there. I am more in tune with who I am now than ever before.
Happily ever after may very well be just around the corner...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Painting

How I spent the afternoon
During this month of exploration, I have taken the opportunity to rediscover things I onced loved dearly. Today's project was to paint on a canvas.


As a child, I loved to draw. Art was my favourite subject in high school. College gave me the opportunity to continue refining my skills. Then, I stopped doing art cold turkey. I had met my future husband, and there just didn't seem to be enough hours left in the day to devote to such unproductive activities like art. I mean, it wasn't like I was going to be the next van Gogh or anything. But, the lure of sculpting and painting never really left me. So, when I saw an easel and canvases on sale, I splurged.

 When I got home, I set up my easel and canvas and just stared at it. The fear of painting something not good enough made me hesitant to put a pencil to my perfectly blank slate. I felt like I needed to paint something grandiose, something that would pay hommage to the years I spent taking art lessons. Something truly great. It was a lot of pressure. The whole issue became stressful, so I put the project on the backburner for a while.

Then, while out jogging, I spotted something in an art gallery window that looked like this:
This is actually a much more polished version of what I saw.
The real deal looks like crayon scribbled on yellowed, partly torn paper.

This is when it occurred to me that of all hobbies to give up because of feeling not good enough, painting is a pretty ridiculous choice. Clearly, there is room for everyone in this field - as evidenced by the crayon-on-torn-paper work on sale around the corner. I also realized that this time around, no one was going to be evaluating my portfolio. I was doing this for me. I didn't need to slave for weeks over creating a photorealist depiction of some stupid fruit bowl. And you know what I enjoy painting most? Abstract designs. I love plotting out colour schemes on a colour wheel. I love watching the colours blend together when I mix them on my palette. I love seeing the effect colours have on each other when applied next to one another on a canvas. This is precisely the kind of art my ex-husband would deam "not real art." (As an aside, he also considers Renoir "a hack" and nearly got us thrown out of an art gallery for being a wee bit too vocal about this opinion a few years ago.)

Boating on the Seine by Renoir

Anyhow, I decided to give myself permission to paint what I wanted rather than what I felt I should. This was the result:




Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Swing Dancing: 2 guys and 1 girl

Photo Source

As part of my effort to a) be more social, and b) figure out what to do with my arms while dancing (see previous posts: Zumba and Azonto), I decided to give swing dancing a try. A quick Google search confirmed that drop-in, introductory lessons were available in my area. I intended to go regardless of whether or not I would know anyone there. That said, I (M) tossed out an invite to my coworkers (C):

M: So, I'm going to go swing dancing on Saturday. Do you want to come? The intro drop-in lesson is $5, and there's an open practice night.
C1: Actually, I would like to go!
M: That's great!
I turned to another coworker.
M: Me and C1 are going swing dancing on Saturday. You should come!
C2: Yeah, maybe. We'll see.
Next coworker.
M: C1 and I are going swing dancing on Saturday. C2 might come, too. You should totally join us. It's going to be great.
C3: I actually love swing dancing!
Who knew I had such cool coworkers?

Anyhow, I invited all eight of my coworkers and successfully recruited two of them for the event (and a third joined us for post-dance drinks). My two recruits were both male. I'm sure the instructor (I) was trying to figure out just what exactly was going on when we walked in together, because he said:

I: You're going to have to choose between your boys to partner up for the lesson.

Slightly awkward situation given that I don't really know either of these guys especially well. But, I'm not going to lie, it is fun walking into a dance lesson sandwiched between two boys. I chose C1 to start. In spite of our great enthusiasm, we did not demonstrate any real natural swing dance talent. In fact, we somehow ended up moving backwards at a furious pace every time we danced together -- numerous near-collisions with walls, posts, a desk, other people. Luckily, C1 found this situation as hilarious as I did, and we spent most of the lesson laughing. C3 can actually dance. He's a good lead. We didn't laugh as much, but I was glad he came out for the evening.

During the practice session, I was asked to dance by some of the other male attendees.

Excerpt from conversation between one of these guys  (G) and me (M) past the midway point in the song we were dancing to:
G: Do you know the basic the step for this style?
M: Nope. 

I thought that was a very nice way of telling me I wasn't especially good. My beginner lesson had been in East Coast swing. This, I learned, is not the same thing as West Coast swing. My fake-it-til-you-make-it strategy failed. On the bright side, the male leads in both East Coast swing and West Coast swing - meaning that the guy essentially decides what the girl needs to do with her arms at all times. This appeals to me.

C1 and I have already made plans to go swing dancing again this weekend. We intend to become superstars by the end of the year (watch out, So You Think You Can Dance!). And, we are going to convince our other coworkers they all secretly harbour desires to become really good swing dancers so that our workgroup kicks butt at the next work talent show.