Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let’s Play Follow the Leader

There’s an echo in my house. 
When I say, “Go”, my echo says, “Go”.
When I say, “Happy”, my echo says, “Happy”. The stream of vocabulary sometimes seems endless.
My echo resonates throughout my house and sometimes even out on the street.
Oh, did I mention that my echo is just over 16 months old and his name is Tyson?

Now (more than ever) I am aware that little ears are listening and little eyes are watching..... ANYTHING and EVERYTHING!  Tyson is learning to speak and for him all of these words are new and sometimes fun to say.   It's imperative now more than ever to ensure that what comes out of my mouth are things that I want my son to hear and my actions should be the ones that I would love for him to emulate some day.  
With that being said, I'm a realist who is far from being the Claire Huxtable super-mom that I was introduced to in my youth while watching The Cosby Show.  But that's okay, what mother really is?  I'm working hard to lead by my example.  This practice is a daily struggle on my part but when I look how far I have come in my life, I'm proud of the strides that I have taken towards the summit of integrity.
My desire to conceive my son forced me to take a look at the lifestyle that I had been previously living and make some serious edits to it.  I began eating healthier (with great thanks in part to my husband for alot of the cooking), I continued to go to my favourite workout classes at the gym, I joined a prenatal yoga class and made valiant efforts to steer clear of stress and other emotional toxins.  I surrounded myself with several mindful and healthy mothers and was inspired by the examples that they set for me.  
Being a leader doesn’t have to involve grandiose acts of grandeur.   You don't have to organize political rallies or have hundreds of followers on Twitter.  Sometimes leadership can be found in the more subtle things such as the positive spin that you consistently take on situations or perhaps by your unwavering commitment to healthy living.  You may not do it for anyone other than yourself but don’t ever doubt that someone may be motivated to hop on the same path that you’re on.
Tyson will likely be playing Follow the Leader with me for the rest of our time here together.  I’m looking forward to making it one of the most enjoyable and encouraging games that he has ever played.
Until next time, friends....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adding, Subtracting and the Pursuit of Happiness

I had a conversation with a good friend today.  To be honest it was a bit of a venting session on my part because I had alot of balls in the air and not enough hands to catch them all. After wiping a few hot tears from my eyes and taking a deep breath, my friend gently asked, "Do you think that true happiness is possible or is it just an unattainable figment of our imagination?".

It didn't take long for me to share my views on this question.  I definitely believe that true happiness is possible.  I find that when I'm experiencing a simple and real moment, that is often when this happiness hits me. Like when I used to occasionally stay in bed for the better part of the day to read a good book or even now when Tyson is playing and he stops just to run over and give me a kiss.

Simplicity = Bliss

I find my life can feel challenging when I add too many "things" into the mix.  More projects, more contacts, more events, more commitments, more chores. 

More = Less

Less time.  Less control over the things that matter (they're covered up with the things that don't). Less joy.  Reflecting on all of this has helped me to realize that while "more" is good in moderation, the key to getting back to true happiness in my life lies in the act of subtraction.  I need to take away things that make me stressed out and tired.  If they don't serve to bring out the best in me, why would I want to keep them around?  I have faith that removing all of the unnecessary social static around me will help me to better appreciate the peace that can be found in solitude.

At this point in my life quality means more to me than quantity.  I would rather have two great friends instead of twenty acquaintances.  I would rather write one great blog post as an alternative to seven mediocre ones.

True happiness is possible and it's ours for the taking.  Sometimes less is best.

Until next time, friends.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Could've Been A Contender....

I find it really interesting when people talk about all of the things that they could have been at some point in their lives.  It's as though they are reflecting on their lives and giving a eulogy at their own funerals.  The thing is... they are still alive and kicking.  

"Could have been" doesn't apply when you still have time to examine all that you can be.

Pushing past self-imposed limitations can be difficult when you have convinced yourself of all the reasons why you don't deserve success.  I know that I often limit myself due to my circumstances.  For example: "I don't have the time to pursue writing full time because I'm a new working mother" or perhaps "It's not possible for me to pack up and see some of the world when I have so many responsibilities at home".
But I am choosing to move towards what is possible because I don’t have time for regret.  Baby steps are all that’s required when starting out on this journey.

I'm not trying to feign ignorance to the fact that we live in challenging times (especially economically).  These seem to be times when alot of people are feeling a bit hopeless and/ or uncertain.  For me, times like these make me feel restless and hungry for change.  There is a voice in the back of my mind that seems to drone on and on about the reasons why I shouldn't do spontaneous and freestyle things.  It shrills, “What if you fail? What if you lose everything? What if you're not good enough?"

But then there’s a voice in my heart.  It's a faint whisper that says, "You can do anything.  What are you waiting for?  Get out of your own way and just start."

I completely understand why so many people listen that debilitating voice in their mind.  It can be so loud that you can't hear anything else.  But listening to the voice in your heart can help to free you of so many things.  Stress, anger, anxiety, uncertainty and I would even go so far as to say some levels of depression.  I know because I have been there.  The voice in my heart lifted me out of holes in life that prescription medication couldn't reach.

Am I everything that I hoped that I could be in my life?  No. Not yet.  And that's the best part.  As long as I'm breathing and moving, I'm evolving.  One day at a time and one word at a time I am "becoming" and learning to love all of who I am right now.  

I hope that you take some time to nurture and cultivate all of the wonderful things that are possible in your life.

You can be a contender.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

From the Ground Up....

A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last. The same principle applies to man, otherwise he too will sink back into the soft ground and becomes swallowed up by the world of illusion. ~ Sai Baba

 I had the best conversation today with my Auntie L who currently resides in Etobicoke, ON.  Auntie L is a woman in my life that has always been an example of beauty, grace and wisdom.  Kind of like one of those women that some aspire to be but the bar appears to be set at an intimidating height and seemingly just out of reach.

But it isn’t.

Anyone can achieve greatness if they want it bad enough.  The steps toward said greatness are built upon a solid foundation. 

That revelation alone is what made the conversation so good and rich.  We caught up on family matters, shared a few school girl giggles and discussed some heartfelt insights.  One of which was the importance of a solid foundation in a person’s life.  In an earlier post I brought attention to how negatively women have been represented in many areas of social media.  I was truly upset about the messages that young women and men are receiving online and through the entertainment industry.  After reading my thoughts, my Aunt sent me an insightful email with a different voice and an opposing view.  I read the email; I thought some more and then today I just listened.  Truth be told, I liked what I heard.

Auntie L. reminded me of the importance of having a good and strong foundation in life. When you build your life on a solid foundation, it’s easier to be confident in yourself and your values.  When you stand on a solid foundation, you can’t fall apart.  A strong foundation isn’t exclusive to a specific demographic or social standing.  If you weren’t blessed to have been given one in your childhood, it’s alright.   Anyone can build one (or re-build one) at any time.   To ensure that your foundation is protected from damage caused by unexpected emotional storms and other such circumstances, it is imperative that you only work with quality materials when assembling it such as: quality relationships, positive ethics and values,  faith (whatever that may mean to you), and a constructive standard by which to live by. 

Only you can determine your worth and if others “make you feel bad” it’s only because you let them.  I know this because I had to learn it myself.   Negative people and situations are like carpenter ants and they will slowly erode your foundation. Surround yourself with positive people and keep the energy suckers away.

Thank you, Auntie L., for reminding me of the importance of a solid foundation.  I am forever grateful that you are a part of mine.

Until next time, friends.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Friday!

This week went by hard and fast but the good news is that the weekend is upon us.  I plan on spending some quality time with Little T, getting a bit of fresh air, taking a few pictures and hopefully catching up on a neglected book or two.  A few that I highly recommend are:

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
Do You! by Russell Simmons
The Joy of Doing Things Badly by Veronica Chambers
Creative Girl by Kathleen Sise

I hope this weekend allows you to be rested and enjoying special moments throughout your days and nights.  Until next time.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Can't Be What You Can't See....

"You can't be what you can't see..."
(Tag line from "Miss Representation")

I had the opportunity to watch a very powerful documentary last night called "Miss Representation" and I want to shout it's powerful message to anyone that will listen (especially to young women).  It is a labour of love that was created and shared by Jennifer Siebel Newsom after she became a mother for the first time to a baby girl.  She narrates that having a daughter caused her to look at the world with a fresh set of eyes. What she saw around her were disturbing depictions of women in the media which resulted in the deterioration of self-esteem and identity within women (particularly young girls) today.  

I was surprised and disheartened to realize that I have subconsciously  participated in this imbalance of social order. 

  • I've occasionally indulged in watching movies with women starring in stereotypical roles.
  • I've obliviously downloaded songs that promote women as "things" as opposed to people simply because I thought that they had "good beats".
  • I've measured some women (including myself) against society's ruler and have sometimes felt like we have come up short.
  • I've been silent and a bit complacent until now.  In this instance, "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" just doesn't apply.

I'm so grateful that there are courageous women like Jennifer and many others in the world that have brought attention to such an important issue and the call for change.  It has been a wake up call to action and if you get the chance to watch this amazing piece of work, I hope you feel the same way, too.  For more information check out http://www.missrepresentation.org .

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Music to My Ears

I have been a big fan of the work that Karen Walrond has done over at Chookooloonks.  She is an inspiring writer, photographer and advocate of all things beautiful (check out her blog at http://www.chookooloonks.com/ ).  I was catching up on a few posts that I missed this week and and came across one where she referred to an organization called Playing for Change

Being the curious creature that I am, I decided to check them out and I AM IN LOVE!    I love the concept, I love the music and I especially love the message.  Check out both sites when you have a free moment but before you do, enjoy a FANTASTIC rendition of The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter". So good! Seriously.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...

Alright, maybe not so much Wordless Wednesday.  It's more like "Less of My Words and More of Someone Else's".  I saw the following item posted on a blog called Facts About You and I had to share it.  It's amazing how some people just "get it".  Until next time, friends!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We Are All Creative

I've recently had alot of discussions with people about creativity and being creative. I am intrigued by what it means to other people but what intrigues me even more is when people say, "I am not at all creative!" or "I wish that I had the ability to (write, draw, perform)".

It is my firm belief that everyone is creative and the life that you are living today is proof.  You've created it.

I know. In some cases it's a tough pill to swallow (especially when you are not living a life that you would like to be held personally accountable for) but I believe this is the truth.  For example, when we get out of bed in the morning we are faced with a choice to have a good day or a not so good day.  Now you might be asking yourself, "Who would actually choose to have a not so good day?" but many of us make that choice and create that reality just based on our attitude alone.  I know, I've done it.

Choosing to surround yourself with positive people, positive energy and positive environments can make all of the difference in an otherwise "uncreative" existence.

Consider this: 

Each positive decision that you make in your life is equivalent to the stroke of a paintbrush on a canvas, a  powerful word in a poem  or a bar of music in a symphony.  Every choice that you make takes you one step closer to creating something beautiful.

So at the heart of it all, we are creative.  It is my sincerest hope that you make a masterpiece starting today.

Until next time, friends....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Child's Play

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing."
Dale Carnegie

Today was a day that wasn't really out of the ordinary.  I woke up this morning to spend the day with my son and to try and fit in a bit of work in the "off time" that never seemed to come. That was alright, though.  The time that I spent with my son today showed me how much he is growing.  I sat and watched him make creative things out of the most basic tools.  The thing that I found most entertaining was the way that he marvelled at every new discovery.  These moments compose many of the memories stowed away in my mental Rolodex.

The real fun came at lunch time.  Tyson arose from his nap ready to eat and I decided that after his lunch he was going to have some pudding for dessert.  To ensure a clean experience, there is always a bib that he has to wear and a wash cloth within close proximity to me.  What also keeps him relatively clean is he fact that I feed him.  Sure, at 15 months old he can eat some things with his hands like sweet potato fries and other "finger foods" but not the mushy, wet stuff.  Until today.

I realized today that my agenda for organization and cleanliness isn't going to help him grow, develop, experience and marvel at the joy of trying to do things on his own.  So (with a heavy heart but childlike anticipation) I handed over the spoon on let him have at it.  He missed his mouth more often that I can count and it took seemingly forever to get all of the chocolate off of his body but oh that smile!  If I could have frozen that moment in time forever I just might have.

Just me and him.
He and I.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Until next time, friends!