My Little Positivity Project…

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One of the things I love most about Summer, is the happy, lighthearted feeling in the air.

Even though we are now in the early days of September, the warm sunshine is carrying on. Flip Flops will remain the fashion shoe of the season (for at least another weekend), and that wonderful BBQ smell can still be inhaled from just about anywhere.

Summer has always been considered a happy season, but I noticed over the last several weeks that I’ve been stumbling upon my share of grumpy people. The temperatures out there may be hot, but the mood has felt a tad chilly.

Being an optimist by nature, when out in public I like to exude a good energy.  I was taught early on that it’s not anyone else’s problem if I’m tired or having a rough day, so when I walk out my front door, its usually with a positive vibe and a courteous disposition. I normally get a lot of that in return.

But something in these last weeks has felt a bit “off”.

It started with my running into this unsociable dog owner in my neighborhood. Every few days for several weeks, we seemed to be walking our dogs at the exact same time. Without fail, when she sees us approaching, she yanks on her little dog, mutters how he is “unfriendly” then abruptly crosses the street.

I couldn’t help but wonder…is it the dog, or perhaps the dog owner who has the unfriendly issue?

But it was branching out from there…lots of discourteous drivers, seemingly stressed out store clerks, impatient customers in line ups…and most noticeably, the “Grumpy Parkade Guy” from my office building.  He earned the title of being most noticeable simply because I started seeing him 5 days a week as I drove into our office parking garage.

One morning about a month ago, he just appeared at the end of the ramp.  I think he was there to assist with some of the construction crews that were coming and going.

The 1st week, he glared at me every single morning. I’d pull in to see him standing there, hands on his hips, giving me a “look” as I drove past.  Now granted, we didn’t know one another, so he certainly didn’t owe me anything…but he looked at me with such disdain and as though I was annoying him somehow.

On the 5th day of that 1st week, I got more of a “if looks could kill” kind of a look…Grumpy Parkade Guy had taken the glare up a notch!

So what was it?  Did he not like my car, was my music too loud, did he have something against brunettes?  I was creating all kinds of scenarios in my head and doing that thing we are never supposed to do…ASSUME!  

So I decided to take action, I was determined to get this guy to smile. And that’s how Grumpy Parkade Guy became my little Positivity Project!

The following Monday morning I pulled in the usual way, and there he was, in his usual stance with that familiar scowl. I slowed down slightly, looked right at him, then extended a warm smile and a wave as I drove past. I think it caught him off guard.  His expression went from grumpy, to slightly confused.

Tuesday, the same deal…slow drive by, a big smile and a wave. He responded with a head lift (but still no smile).  Now for those that aren’t aware, a head lift is when you raise your chin up slightly.  It’s not a full nod, just more of an acknowledgment. It was enough to give me hope that a tiny glimmer of progress was being made.

Wednesday I gave him my own head lift, flashed a bigger smile and extended the usual wave.  His response was a head lift and a slight smile!!! I was definitely on to something.

Thursday…I was still initiating the routine, only this time he gave me a wave and a full smile in return! I felt like a kid who’d just got pinned with the gold ribbon on track & field day!

Then on Friday…I hit the jackpot. GPG (Grumpy Parkade Guy) not only gave me a head lift and a big full smile, but HE WAVED FIRST!

That’s right, he waved before I did! We’d hit a new level in our relationship. If I wasn’t strapped into my seatbelt with cars lined up behind me…I may have jumped out and done a small cartwheel right then and there!

It only took 5 days of me being consistently positive to turn the attitude of GPG around! My little Positivity Project was working out nicely.

So here’s what I learned…

I could have easily kept driving in every morning developing unsubstantiated and ridiculous scenarios in my head about this glaring, seemingly grumpy guy I knew nothing about (and still don’t). But instead, I took the positivity high road. I chose to step up and be the 1st to see if being more positive on my end, could instill something more positive on his end.  It absolutely did and I was so excited because of it.  It proved to me once again…that the gift is in the giving.

I’m happy to report that FGPG (Former Grumpy Parkade Guy) and I have continued on with our enjoyable early morning routine. We now smile and wave in tandem.  

There can be a wonderful ripple effect when we extend a little random act of kindness.  A simple gesture like a smile, a wave or any small courtesy has the power to change a mood or shift a state of mind. 

My little Positivity Project became a very valuable experience, as I was reminded how it’s not up to us to know, make judgment upon, or decide anything about a person when they appear unfriendly or give us an unwarranted glare. 

But maybe…just maybe, it is up to us to extend and inject a little positivity their way because of it.

The quote by Jackie Mutcheson sums it up rather nicely…”It Takes Each of Us to Make a Difference for All of Us”

For today friends…this is The World as Eye See it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons I Learned From a Seagull…

 

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Have you ever watched a Seagull (or flock of Seagulls) in action? It can be quite entertaining.

A few times a week, I shop at my local market which is situated on the Waterfront.  On any given day, it’s saturated with Seagulls (so I get entertained on a regular basis).

While the Seagull can be known to be dirty, a bit savage like, and downright annoying at times, I realized there are a few things about these pesky birds I actually admire. Continue reading

WHEN A HOUSE BECOMES A HOME…

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I live in a neighborhood filled with vast and varied dwellings. It’s quite a blend of old meets new, and I’ve come to realize, there’ a different style of house and garden to suit every kind of personal taste.

My husband and I rent a small home that has a beautiful energy. We felt this from the 1st time we came to see it. We believe the energy was instilled by the owners who are kind, loving, compassionate and generous people.  They raised their children and created many meaningful memories here as a family.

In the last few years, we’ve noticed our neighborhood is changing.  Though we have some delightful, friendly neighbors who’ve been here since we moved in over 12 years ago, a few of the newer ones keep to themselves.  They don’t meet my glance, or return the “hello” I extend as the dog and I walk past them on our daily stroll. We also notice many of the new houses going up are beginning to look like clones of one another.

When I’m out on my daily walks, I love to property gaze. I often wonder or try to imagine who lives behind some of the gates and blinds that appear to be closed so much of the time.  Are there happy families inside, people living alone, children having fun…couples with dreams of starting a family and building a life?

Are these houses or are they homes…and what is the real difference between the two?

There is a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Under the Tuscan Sun”.  Diane Lane’s character is remodeling both her life and the Italian Villa she bought in Tuscany. At one point she says “What are 4 walls anyway? They are what they contain…the House protects the Dreamer”.  There’s always been something about this line I have loved.

A few months ago my siblings and I got the opportunity to share a very special reunion in our birthplace of Winnipeg.  On our last morning together, we decided to take a quick drive to our old childhood house. We had not been there since leaving it some 50 years prior.  Let’s just say the old house did not represent the greatest of memories for any of us. Last time we were all together there, it was a turbulent and painful time when our family became divided.

Yet for some reason, we all felt a need to see it.  I’m not sure what any of us expected really…but I believe there was a strength in our togetherness that played a part in the strong current that was pulling us there.

As we arrived at the familiar address, we were more than amazed by what we saw.  Our old house (pictured here) was no longer an old house at all. What stood before us was a structure that was bright, fresh, new…bearing no resemblance to what it once was.

My brother knocked on the door, but no one answered.

So we stood outside on that beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, took some photographs and chatted with the nice people who had lived beside our old place for 35 years. They had seen many occupants come and go, but told us the house was now owned by a lovely young couple with a new baby.

Just as we were about to leave, the front door opened and out they came. We shared our story of not being back in 50 years, and they graciously invited us in to have a quick look.

We stepped inside to see a tasteful, very comfortably decorated space. The walls were filled with beautiful photographs and meaningful momentos.  The old kitchen from the 60’s was now modern with state of the art appliances. The basement was smaller than I remembered, but was cozy, filled with books and baby toys.  We could all feel how this was a very happy space. It was warm, cared for and clearly filled with an abundance of love.

We wandered through the rooms and had some laughs revisiting memories (like my brother playing bartender at age 10 in our Dad’s bar in the basement).

As we headed back upstairs to leave, I spotted a print hanging on the wall that said “Love Makes Our House a Home”.  I couldn’t hold back my tears, for there it was right in front of me…

A house may contain many things, but a home carries your heart. It’s the emotion, the sense of safety and belonging you feel there…the dreams you bring and most importantly, the LOVE you inject into your house that will turn it into a home.

What we had just walked into…was worlds apart from what we had walked out of all those many years ago.

We expressed our gratitude, then said our goodbyes knowing a beautiful life was going to be lived here, filled with everything a family is supposed to have.

My siblings and I had to go our separate ways after that visit. Each of us were headed back to our own lives in our own cities…not knowing when we may all be together again. We were filled with so much gratitude for our weekend together and the remarkable reconnection we’d shared.

Though we never said it out loud, I believe each us felt somewhat healed by that visit to the old house.  When we think of it now, it’s with happiness and a wonderful sense of comfort, knowing that after all these many years…

Our House had finally become a Home. 

For today friends…this is The World as Eye See it

 

Savoring Our Solitude

 

 

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I love the word “Solitude”.

I love the act of Solitude even more.

Though it’s been defined in a number of ways, people often confuse the meaning.  I personally like the definition that says how Solitude is “The Act or Situation of Being Alone”.

There are some who mistake being alone with loneliness, Solitude with seclusion…but I believe the two could not be farther apart.   Continue reading

The Nature of Change…

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Those of you who appreciate spending time in Nature, are vividly aware of the gorgeous little miracles taking place everywhere you turn.

I love the quote by Mary Davis who says “To Walk in Nature is to Witness a Thousand Miracles”.

The more aware we become…the more miracles begin to appear.

There is this beautiful blending that takes place, a sense of “anything goes” that continuously occurs amongst the elements. Mother Nature reminds us that everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be.

When you consider time outdoors as time well spent, it makes no difference where you are or which season may apply. A coworker of mine once announced (as I was complaining about the weather)…”there’s no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”.  At the time, it made me laugh, but that saying stayed with me. Years later I still think of it anytime I’m contemplating whether to go out, or stay in on a cold, rainy day.

Have you ever noticed how Nature is in a continuous state of change? Not just season to season, but also from day to day, moment to moment. The grass grows, flowers bloom, snow falls, the sun rises, winds blow, the rain falls, leaves change color etc. There is a multitude of constant change and evolvement always taking place.

When you stop and think about it…its not so different from changes we experience within the seasons of our own daily lives.

We all know change is necessary for growth, the trick is whether we decide to embrace and accept, or reject and deny it! We are faced with consequences and alterations either way.

I have a beautiful friend who regularly reminds me… “Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional” (John C. Maxwell).

But when a change is unwelcome or unexpected, the embracing/accepting part can be extremely difficult. We are not always prepared when a painful change occurs (such as a loss or a betrayal). There’s nothing easy or embraceable about it. In fact, we can often find ourselves stuck for periods of time, unable to move in any direction at all.  So we inch our way through the moments in between.

But I’ve learned that much like any turbulent weather pattern, eventually there’s a shift…the rain stops, the clouds part, and the sun comes out again.

I took a long walk in the forest with a friend a few weeks ago, a place filled with incredible energy and wisdom. I’ve always felt the trees are like wise old men. Let’s face it, they’ve been around a lot longer than we have and survived all kinds of  treacherous conditions. Whenever I am in their presence, they help me to tap into my own inner wisdom (something I forget to do from time to time).

So my friend I got to talking about change, not just ones we may be unprepared for, but the ones we know we need to make for our betterment. We spoke of the importance in knowing ourselves well enough to be able to realize when change is necessary. We agreed this involves getting real, looking deeper at what’s really going on within us…what our instincts are nudging us towards.

Deep down we all know what is no longer serving or fulfilling us, we just need to decide what to do about it.

Big changes mean big shifts…not just the discipline of say changing a habit, but possibly separating from certain people, or stepping away from things we are used to. I don’t know about you, but for me old habits die hard, I never find it easy stepping out of my comfort zone and into unknown territory.

By the end of the walk, my friend and I agreed that it’s SO worth it when we stay true to what we know is right.  Because when we plough through and get past the hard parts of change, there is this fabulous feeling of progress, strength, empowerment and freedom.

These feelings greet us on the other side as if to say “Welcome Home”.

Should you find yourself struggling to deal with change, be it one you want to instill for yourself, or one that showed up uninvited, I encourage you to spend some time in Nature.  Lots of time!

Find a place where you can to be alone and get immersed in the energy of the elements. A place with no Wifi and where time has no measure or agenda. We all have somewhere in Nature we connect with, be it the ocean, the forest, a lake, the mountains.

Go somewhere and unleash your thoughts, let them be free to roam.  Go where you can breathe in the open air and just “be” for awhile.  I promise if you connect with Mother Nature in this way, you will find some clarity and a true sense of balance.

Some days I think we just need to remind ourselves, that much like a tree…we have everything within us to remain strong and to withstand any and all changing conditions.

For today friends…this is The World as Eye See It

LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE…💕

According to the Beatles, “All You Need is LOVE“…personally, I couldn’t agree more.

There’s so much to write about LOVE that I couldn’t possibly condense my thoughts to one article, so I decided to share a recent revelation I had.

I’ll start by saying I’m rather fond of the word LOVE in many other languages.  Take the French word “L’amour”…when it rolls off your tongue, one almost feels an obligation to say it gently and with the soft flair of a French accent (causing one to feel rather glamorous)

Then there’s the Italian version, “Amore”…which I think is really a 2 syllable word (“Ahhhh – Moray”).  Like all things Italian, one should deliver this word with an attitude of passion and hand gestures (causing one to feel rather dramatic).

But no matter how you say it, or in what language, I believe there’s a universal understanding that LOVE is the essence to all that we are.  Just think of the decisions in our lifetime (not to mention throughout history) that have been made all “in the name of LOVE“…proving it’s a very powerful and emotional driving force.

Now the other day I found myself in a very reflective mood, and for some reason I started thinking about the many people in my lifetime that I’ve loved and lost. It wasn’t a negative or morbid thought process at all…it actually felt rather peaceful.

I started thinking first of my parents, as I lost each of them at very different ages (my dad when I was 16 & my mom when I was 52). Then of my beautiful Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, my wonderful Father in Law and members of his family. Each of these incredible people had all impacted my life in such amazing and very powerful ways. I am who I am because of all of them, how they lived, what they believed in…but most importantly, because of their LOVE.

I reflected also upon some beautiful and very close friends whom I’d lost over the years, their passings were unexpected, sudden, shocking and thus very hard to bare. I continue to have tough moments accepting they are gone.

Then my thoughts turned to other relationships in my life that have ended, not in death but in closure…either by choice or possibly some irreconcilable difference. A living relationship loss can also impact us in very deep emotional ways and there is a definite grieving process that goes with it.

So as I sat there reviewing this list of LOVE and loss, I noticed how it added up to quite a number of people. This could have easily sent me into a teary state of whallowing, had it not been for the powerful revelation I suddenly felt.

It was this awareness that LOVE never leaves us.  The people we cherish may leave us, various relationships leave us and end…but the LOVE we experienced with them, that stays with us forever! That LOVE is eternal, everlasting and it lives within us each and every day.  We have the ability to spread, share and keep that LOVE very much alive as we continue on.

I have to say this gave me an enormous sense of comfort and a peaceful, contented feeling of closeness to the people I’ve lost and continue to miss. I hope it may bring the same to you.

Throughout the years, though much can change…it’s the essence of LOVE that will always remain.

For today friends…this is The World as Eye See It

Root Canals & Relationship Advice…

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A lot goes on inside your head as you lay in a dentists chair during a root canal. I recently had a particularly long, grueling one (2 1/2 hours). When you are stuck for that length of time, your thoughts travel…and when you find yourself unable to speak…the listening skills get quite a tune up.

I have always considered myself to be a good listener, so I have to admit I was surprised how tough I found it not being able to say a single word while my Dentist and her assistant engaged in some juicy girl talk.  For 150 minutes, they were conversing quite literally in my face, while I couldn’t even utter a syllable (sadly, grunting doesnt translate well).

I think as humans beings (and dare I say, especially women), when someone discusses an interesting or heartfelt experience, our impulse is to react, engage and assist by offering up our own sage advice.

The torturous part for me that morning, was how the conversation revolved around things I’ve had experience with, great affection for, as well as learned and grown from.

My dentist described a girls weekend she hosted for a close friend who’d just been blindsided and shattered by the breakup of a long term relationship (aka “juicy girl talk”).

The way she described the emotional support offered, the tears cried, the deep conversations they shared – it was everything I believe a loving friendship represents. I was simply dying to chime in and give her my full personal take on all of it.

I had fabulous book/movie recommendations, other break up stories to share, I wanted her to hear how other women I know had gone through something similar then ended up stronger and better off on the other side.

I loved hearing about the nature walk on their first morning after (while slightly hung over and emotionally raw)! Their 1 hour walk turned into 3 hours as they got lost on a trail.  Turned out to be the best thing ever, as this supportive group of friends embraced nature, had an unplanned adventure, took in the fresh air/sunshine, cleared their heads and had some laughs. It helped shift all their energy, especially the heartbroken one.

I wanted to spew out how I believe there are “no coincidences” in this life, they were meant to get lost! I was so eager to share how I’ve learned when you are down and out…Mother Nature can be an amazing friend, an emotional healer and an incredible therapist.

Then I heard about the food they cooked and the wine they drank (2 of my very favorite subjects). At this point I could hardly contain myself…we were about 90 minutes in, and I’m sure I would have bitten my tongue if it wasn’t frozen and lost somewhere in the abyss!

I was dying to tell her if only they’d decanted that expensive wine, or added a little fresh sage and juice of one lemon to the chicken dish they made…it could have been culinary nirvana.

Finally, the discussion turned to music…how it had them both crying and dancing (more fabulous therapy). I’m sure I was bug eyed at that point and could only lay there in wide open silence creating fabulous playlists in my head.  I had the perfect musical mix to help her friend embrace the many emotions of this lousy breakup.

Yep…it turns out keeping my mouth shut (while it was ironically wide open) was pretty torturous!

Then it hit me!  When was the last time I just “listened” like that? When was the last time I concentrated so fully or intently on what was being shared, without any of my own words or opinions being slipped in?

I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had just offered up some simple, silent understanding.

Is it just me, or do we all tend to be this way? Do we get so eager to weigh in, that we tend to talk more than we listen?  Although we mean well, perhaps it’s not always what the other person needs or even wants.

As my root canal extravaganza was coming to a close, a great memory came to me of the best relationship advice I’d ever been given (something I may not have recalled if I had been too busy talking and dishing out advice).

Years ago a friend taught my husband and I something called the “Back to Back“…its a listening exercise that helps couples communicate more effectively.

The premise is that you and your partner sit back to back (in the dark, so there are no distractions). A timer is set for 10 minutes and each of you get to speak while the other remains completely silent (trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds).

No matter what is discussed or said in “your” 10 minutes, the other person cannot say a single word…then you switch.

Each of you has the choice to react to what the other one has said, or not. You can use your time to share whatever feelings you have, Again, each person must remain completely silent while the other is speaking.  The exercise teaches us to listen, but also allows us to speak without interruption, and to share with no intimidation or distraction.

Its pretty effective and I highly recommend it not just for couples, but for friends, siblings, a parent and child…any two people that may need to work through or share some feelings and thoughts that need to be “heard”.  I was grateful for this memory as I hadn’t thought of it in years

It wasn’t until a few days ago when I realized that perhaps there was more to my root canal than just some detailed dental work. Maybe all that digging and drilling going on in my canal, was actually designed to help me get to the root of a few things I needed to be reminded of.

I’ve been quietly contemplating this ever since.

For today friends…this is The World As Eye See It

Traveling Down the Road of Life…

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I think it’s safe to say that life pretty much starts out the same for all of us. 1st we are born, then depending upon our parents and family life, we are raised in some way, shape and form.

Throughout our childhood, there are various influences and exposures that mold and effect our outlook and values.  Family, education, environment, the prominent people who surround us etc…this all has a huge impact on who we grow into and the direction we take as we find our way out in the world. Continue reading

REALITY…Is There An “APP” for That?

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One of the great thrills with modern technology, has been the invention of the “App”.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use them…from tiny tots to great grannies, we’re all on board the App train.  Everyone has their favorites that are individually customized to phones and other devices. This of course is dependent upon the needs and wants of our own personal lifestyles.

The variety and convenience our Apps provide, is all part of the magic. New and improved versions pop up all the time, and I am not entirely sure how we survived beforehand (yet somehow we did).  Continue reading

Embracing Our Inner Child…

 

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Have you ever watched a young child at play…or listened while they tried to explain something from their point of view?

There is a sweetness, honesty and purity about these tiny humans that I find incredibly precious.

One of their most beautiful qualities, is how they see the possibility in pretty much everything. Their natural sense of curiosity, love for themselves (and others), and the wide eyed wonder they have about the world around them is so incredibly refreshing.

Children also have what I call a built in “fun factor”. They laugh easily and often. You can place them virtually anywhere and their sense of play quickly comes alive. Plunk them in a sand box with a pail and shovel…they will spend hours entertaining themselves.  Give them a box of colored pencils and paper…they will get lost in creation.  Continue reading