Savoring Our Summer State of Mind…

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Welcome to Summer…

The blissful time of year when everything gets a little lighter…days, clothing, meals and most notably…our state of mind.

Depending upon where you reside, the seasonal shift into Summer is either subtle, or slightly more dramatic.  But either way…there’s an attitude that drifts in with the balmy winds and blue sky.  It fills our days with a gentle lightness of being we don’t seem to experience at any other time of year.  Continue reading

Age is Just an Attitude…

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Meet “Annie”…my adorable 82 year old inspiration!

Annie and I met recently while seated beside one another at a bar during Happy Hour in a very busy establishment in Oceanside, California.

I couldn’t help but overhear how specific she was in ordering her Key Lime Martini.  I leaned in to let her know that although I was predominately a wine drinker, I was intrigued by her order.  Continue reading

FABULOUSLY FLAWED

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One beautiful summer night not so long ago, while spending a lovely evening with some girlfriends, I showed them this photograph. I then asked them to tell me the 1st thing they saw.

The answers varied, as each of them noticed something a bit different.  I got everything from ”The sunlight shining through the leaves”, “Shades of green”, “The little orange flower” and finally, ”A broken pot”.  The question was then turned on me when one of them asked, ”Why, what do you see?”

My reply was… “I see myself”.

Everyone got very quiet for a moment then stared at the photo again. I couldn’t help but  smile as one of them squinted, as though she was looking for me lurking somewhere in the background.

But I was right there, front and center.  I was the clay pot with the big crack down the middle. I quickly pointed out that I’d chosen to see myself as “cracked” versus “broken”.

I explained to my dear friends that when I’d taken this photograph, 2 things immediately came to mind.  1st, my favorite quote by Leonard Cohen: “There is a Crack in Everything, That’s How The Light Gets In”.  2nd, how this lovely clay pot looked so peaceful basking in the sunlight, surrounded by greenery, flowers and good energy. To me it appeared perfectly content to be just as it was, yet to someone else it looked broken.

This led us to a very interesting Wine assisted discussion about the ways in which we see ourselves and our imperfections. How self acceptance isn’t always easy to come by because so many of us view our flaws as these big negatives, rather than as something different or unique.

We were well into our second bottle of Wine, when it was determined that perfection was highly over rated.  Who was holding the yardstick measuring what was deemed as damaged or in need of fixing? (On that note, I may have just dated myself…do they even make yardsticks anymore)?

We also agreed that we are often far too hard on ourselves…that our imperfections are a valid and interesting part of who we are…and that Leonard Cohen was a lyrical genius who understood everything there was to know about real life.

By our 3rd bottle of Wine, it was unanimously decided that I was a self proclaimed crack pot (lol).

Our wine infused conversation that night was kept lighthearted and filled with laughter, and yet it was also deep and very meaningful.  One of my favorite questions came from the friend who had seen “a broken pot”.  It stayed with me long after our evening ended and it’s one I continue to think about.

She asked…“Is it too far of a stretch to see our flaws as being part of what makes us fabulous?”

I certainly hope not, because I like to believe we can still be perfectly ok…even on the days we may not feel we are in one piece.

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

Growing in the Right Direction

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Our next door neighbor has this black iron fence around the front of their property. I walk past it everyday and admire the flowers they seasonally grow on the inside.

Their small yellow Rose bush has never had more than a couple of blooms on it at any given time. They may be few…but they are always exquisite.  Continue reading

Sitting Still…

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I have this deep affection for photographing benches in Nature. It’s really become kind of a thing with me, especially in the last couple of years.  I’ve likely taken hundreds of shots of them in all kinds of places, seasons and settings.

It’s taken me some time to finally understand, that what I am really drawn to…is the stillness they represent.  Continue reading

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