I am me for a reason

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I am a very different person from the young girl I was many years ago.  Some people have the good fortune of knowing who they are from an early age but I was not one of those people.  I lived a life I thought I wanted but I had not been honest with myself.  The path I was following was carved by what others needed from me but not from what I needed for myself.  It wasn’t until many years later that I gave myself permission to be me.

As I shifted through the years, the things I used to tolerate have become intolerable.  Where once I held my tongue, my voice is now louder than ever and I feel confident in my opinion.  I now value my voice and am no longer willing to remain silent.  This part of me always existed but never had the courage to be present.  This strength of character finally gave itself permission to exist and defined the person I always knew I was meant to be.

I recently saw a meme on Facebook and that innocuous comment turned into this blog post.  Life changes.  Sometimes we stick to the original plan, but sometimes we realize that the path we were meant to follow went in a different direction and it just took us a while to catch up.

I spent many years catching up to the person I am today and I am very happy with who I have become.  I have finally embraced the change in myself and recognized it as a strength and not a weakness.  Of all of the dreams I had for myself as a teenager, I could not be more proud of the person I am now and can only hope I have the courage to continue to live by the beliefs that I currently have.   Now, more than ever, I believe I am me for a reason.

 

 

 

Old words with the same message

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I am doing something I don’t usually do by copying and pasting a post I wrote back in February of this year.  The words I wrote then have a hauntingly familiar refrain and I want to share them again because I think they should be read.

 

“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on, it takes a lot of strength to let go.” ~ J.C. Watts

~~

I was born a “fixer” and, until a few years ago, I had spent a great deal of my time taking on other people’s burdens as my own.  But something shifted in the paradigm of my reality when I got divorced in 2012.  I realized I was spending too much of my time trying to change a life that was not mine to change.  I was hanging on to problems that irrevocably had impact on my life but I had no power to solve.  I needed to let go.  But I was so stuck in the pattern of my life that I didn’t know how to let go.  I wanted so desperately for things to work out in my life that I honestly thought that this was the syllabus of my future.

It takes a monumental amount of courage to walk away from a relationship that you have put your heart and soul into, but a relationship has to give you what you need for it to be successful.  By its very definition, a relationship is a form of communication.  Wants and needs are expressed and, in a healthy relationship, are reciprocated without condition.  Such was not the case for me and I knew it.  I felt it deep within myself but it took me a long time to admit it because to do that would have made me feel like I had failed.  But I had only failed myself by not seeing the signs sooner and listening to that nagging inner voice.

I finally found the nerve to put my needs first and, in finally letting go, I gave myself permission to define myself according to my needs and not the needs of anyone else.  The strength to hang on was easy, it was my comfort zone, but finding the strength to let go made me feel eviscerated, vulnerable, and it was not something I was accustomed to.

I wanted to write this post because I have friends now in the situation in which I found myself years ago.  I want them to know that letting go is not always the easy choice, but it may be the right choice, for them.   It may be hard to listen to that petulant voice in your head, but that voice is the most sincerely honest advice you will ever get.

let it go

(image credit)

Don’t give up easily.  If it is worth the fight, than fight, fight like your life depends on it.  But if you know in your heart that nothing will ever change, let go, let go like your life depends on it.

The wait is over

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There is a palpable energy in the air in my small town – a feeling only locals can understand when we are within arms reach of getting our town back.  The Labor Day Long Weekend is upon us and, for those who are fortunate enough to have today off, that means a three-day weekend.  The multiple-lane highways that once allowed travelers to reach our vacation destinations in Muskoka are already becoming congested in the Southbound lanes and the stress levels of those trapped in their cars in slow-moving traffic is escalating exponentially.

traffic

(image credit)

But as the tension increases in those turtle-paced vehicles leaving our little piece of paradise, the stress in the minds of the locals slowly abates.  Faces that have not been seen during the summer daylight hours slowly peek out of their windows, tentatively gauging the right time to emerge from their summer hibernation and engage in the life we left behind a few months ago.

The summer is over.  We have survived the tumultuous invasion of a population that we graciously accept for two months, although their civility leaves much to be desired.  We have overcome the barbarity of those who demand instead of ask, of those who expect instead of request.

And along with the manners of our city guests, my writing brain and my spare time to read have been held hostage but the window of those long-lost opportunities has finally been cracked open.  The breath of rekindling those passions has been blown into the stale air that I have been breathing the last few months and the breeze of creativity has begun to churn the dead leaves in the corners of my mind.  There really is light at the end of our summer tourism tunnel.

I hope you all had a great summer and I look forward to greeting the many faces, and blogs, I have missed over the last couple of months!

Tofu or not tofu……that is the question

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I always had a preconceived notion of what it would be like.  I avoided it like the plague and since I have been enjoying my plant-based/Vegan eating, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would cave and try it for the sake of trying it.  And although my foray into Tofu may have done it a great injustice, it was just as horrible as I thought it would be.

On my day off this past Monday, I stopped into our local health food store to pick up some things to bring home for dinner.  The Polenta Bake was delicious and the Falafel, while tasty, was a bit dry.  I stepped outside of my comfort zone and bought a few pieces of marinated Tofu.  The woman behind the counter assured me that, when it was heated up, it would taste like a chicken nugget.  That should have been my first hint that it would be something that was meant to taste like food, but wasn’t real food.

(my home-cooked dinner…..without tofu)

In my quest to eat better and feel better, I have drastically changed the way I eat.  I have not, in over seven weeks, craved any of the processed food or meats that I used to eat before I embarked on this journey.  I have been truly surprised that I have not had any moments where I deviated from eating food that is essentially good for me and is in its purest form.

I get my protein from beans, nuts and oats, among several other foods, and I feel better than I have in a long time.  My quality of sleep is better, my energy is better and I have no physical symptoms of the stomach upsets that I had before I cut out all of the processed crap that I once forced my body to ingest.

I am not going to preach about plant-based eating but I will say it is a dietary change that made a world of difference for me.  And in that brave new world that includes foods that I could not have imagined enjoying the way I do, Tofu will never be one of those foods.

 

 

Life is about a lot of things

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Today began as nothing special.  But  my nothing special day changed drastically when my car made the familiar turn onto my road after doing some shopping on my day off and I casually glanced along the macadam leading to my house.  What I saw on the road made me do a double-take and tears instantly appeared in the corners of my eyes.

A random woman, a stranger, was walking her two small dogs, one black and one white, down my road and for a split second I could have sworn it was my mother.  When she was still alive, my mother chose to park her car in my driveway and walk her two small dogs, one black and one white, on my road because it was a manageable, quiet street.  When I came home from work, I would see the silhouette of my mother and her two sidekicks as they simultaneously pulled her in a myriad number of directions.  It was a struggle for her but she walked those little dogs until she could walk them no more.

Before I realized it, I had come to a complete stop and simply watched this woman walk away from me.  I don’t know how many minutes passed before the fading contour of her shadow turned onto the side road and disappeared.  The clock of my nothing special day stopped and I couldn’t move.  I could barely breathe.

The hopeful part of me anticipated that the woman would turn around and come back.  The stubborn part of me was willing to sit in the middle of the road until she did because the child in me thought for a split second that my mother would be the one to round that corner on her way back.

Eventually I collected myself and pulled my car into my driveway.  I was already on the verge of an ugly cry so I stood in front of the Birch sapling I planted three years ago in her memory and nothing could stop that surge of emotion from escaping.  But the cry was much shorter than I anticipated.  As I looked at that Birch tree, now almost double the size it once was, I realized that life does go on.  We endure many hardships, we suffer through tough times, but beauty always has a way of sneaking back into our lives, even when we think the best things in our lives have been taken.

mom's tree

(this photo was taken in 2014, shortly after it was planted)

Life evolves.  Life is about birth, growth, love and death.  But life is also about remembering, cherishing, holding on to memories and carrying on.  Life is about chance encounters, reconnecting with friends, deja vu and finding new things to love.  And life is about knowing that you were once able love something so much that it physically hurts when you keep remembering that it is gone forever.

Life is about a lot of things but, good or bad, life still happens every day.  I am just thankful that I am able to wake up each morning, engage with the people I still have in my life and spend time remembering those who have been able to emerge from their eternal cocoon and spread their wings in a new reality.

Life is about a lot of things.  But most of all, life is about finding some happiness in the saddest part of your day.

They had me at bacon

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I have two words for you – carrot bacon.  Coming from a professed meat lover, I know these two words will shock and amaze you but I have just made my first batch today and will continue to do so.  It was delicious!

My foray into more of a vegetable and plant-based world has been encouraged by a friend who has recently decided to eat a Vegan diet.  I am supportive of his decision and I am hoping that his food choices will help him alleviate some of his medical anomalies.

In his quest to research his new eating style, he has sent me several videos on the topic and they have been very interesting, to say the least.  For a woman somewhat shy of fifty, I have noticed my body does not react well to the foods that were once digested without a second thought.  Bloating is a common complaint so I decided to investigate a plant-based diet and give it a try.  I am not confessing to becoming a Vegan but I am going to give this new lifestyle a fair shot and see how I feel after a couple of weeks.

Food plays a huge role in our lives.  In our twenties, we could eat whatever we wanted.  In our thirties, we became a little more conscientious and made better choices.  In our forties and fifties, we become sadly aware that we are no longer in our twenties and thirties and our lifestyles have to evolve.  I am excited to venture into this new chapter of healthy eating and thankful that the internet is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to recipe ideas.

The carrot bacon is done.  The pistachios, walnuts and almonds are toasted.  The breakfasts and lunches are prepared for the next few days and I am eager to find out how this journey evolves and how my body adapts to the changes.  My first two plant-based dinners were a huge success and I felt full without feeling sluggish.  That to me is a huge step in the right direction.

I am not committing 100% to the Vegan diet.   I may have the odd meal that may not be entirely plant-based but  I am willing to commit to taking this new journey one day at a time.  If it improves my health and well-being, I’m willing to give it a try.

 

 

One dark cloud can rain on everybody

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Moods are contagious.   When a mood is allowed to live and feed on the energy from which it was born, it is given the power to grow exponentially and infect everyone around it, like a slow-acting poison.  That mood can seep under the skin of unsuspecting people and change the trajectory of their day.

Last week, one dark cloud hovered above my surroundings and it spewed forth its acid rain.  What started as a relatively happy day slowly spiraled into a morning from Hell.  I was astounded at how quickly one bad mood could leech itself from its host into every organism with whom it came into contact.  I bore witness to a malignant energy infecting everyone in its path.

(image credit)

A quick discussion with my superiors resulted in temporarily removing the poison from our work system and eventually the day became much brighter.  Within minutes of the cause of the discomfort leaving building, calm was restored and the dark cloud was lifted.  The miserable rain ended and the sun began to shine once again.

Although it may be a small cloud in a vast sky, one dark cloud can rain on everybody.   We just need to be strong enough to blow that cloud into a different sky.