28 August 2013

Girlfriends, Themes and My Cats

Of course I was on vacation last week. Partially because I needed a serious break from work and how frustrated I'd been feeling. Partially because I wanted to get going on my apartment purge (I've given myself a two year goal, by the way). And partially because I needed some girlfriend time and it's so much easier to make it happen with the time off. I saw four girlfriends during my stay-cation and the conversations all had the same theme.

Everyone of the conversations delved into letting people go and when it's time to let people go.
There are so many reasons that we stay friends with someone, stay in a bad relationship past the expiry date and even continue on in a career/job that is dissatisfying. For me, I find that I will justify a lot of bad behaviour before one thing finally hits my 'letting go' nerve and I'm done. But I realize that, truly, I get stuck in obligation.

We've been friends for this long, even though you say shitty, flippant things to me and belittle what makes me happy.
He just needs to get past this bad period in his life and he'll be nice again.
She's family. You can't distance yourself from family.
I'm calling because I feel like I HAVE to call but I don't actually want to call.

I believe more and more that feeling obligated is a shackle around my neck. It wastes my time. It's not honest and that makes me feel twice as bad. It's not honest because I'm doing something I don't want to do. And it's not honest because I'm not accepting the person (or situation) for exactly who they are. I'm hoping the person will change and be the way she used to be, the way I want her to be...

How many times have we heard, "Just accept it. This is the way it is" when we complain about a situation?
We nod our heads sheepishly and agree, "You're right." Most times.

I'm thinking about this more for people too. "Accept it, Shelley, this is the way SHE is" hmm

If I accept her for exactly the way she is then that means I no longer have to feel the need to stay and change her. I can accept all her behaviours and I have the right to walk away because I am accepting me for exactly who I am too. It doesn't matter how long we've been lovers or friends or even family, time flies by too quickly for me to get stuck in the shackles of obligation. If a person is continually insensitive and I call her on it and she makes it my fault for her insensitivity, I have an important choice to make. She is saying that she isn't going to apologize or change, and she doesn't have to, and I don't have to stay.

I'm totally interested in the other side of the story too. It's clearly not as simple as me walking away or letting go of a relationship. How do I play my part in the other person's story?

My best anecdote is about the woman who took care of my cats while I was away. This is a woman who has admitted that she is lonely and doesn't have many friends.

There was more than enough food. I feed my cats crunchy food TD Cal that I buy from my vet. I got a brand new bag so there was more than enough. The bag lasts them a month. I was away for a week.

I feed my cats canned food once a week (even less) and they share a tiny can. I told her that if the cats seemed out of sorts she could give them two cans during the week as a treat. One can on two different occasions.

I come back from my trip and she informs me, "that's not good cat food. They like the canned with the gravy and the morsels."
Ohh ho Kay, so that means she's fed them the food that I feed them, goes out and buys them food (that they don't need) and feeds them how many cans?

I shrug it off, okay fine, I'm grateful to have had someone watch them while I was gone. My two grown cats are fine on their own but I would have been worried about Stormy the one year old.

She opens the drawer where I keep their canned food to show me she'd bought them two bags of cat treats and a popular named crappy canned food and it's twice the size of the cans I feed them. Holy Shit!

She tells me, "You should feed them this, they love this." She has the tone of voice that makes me feel as if she is saying that I don't know anything about cats and I'm not taking proper care of them.

Of course if my cats were kids, she wouldn't dream of taking them to McDonald's every day for a week. Kids love McDonald's! Well the food she gave 'my kids' was the equivalent of that.

I felt like I was obligated (the shackle) to accept what she'd done and keep the grateful attitude for her taking care of them. I was grateful, but seriously, they had everything they needed. She didn't need to spend any money. I would never leave someone to take care of my cats without enough supplies.

There were more shenanigans. She'd move my furniture around because she didn't feel that Gatsby had to eat his food under my work out bench. I, of course, put his food there because he likes eating his food there. He used to take his food in his mouth, run under the work out bench, drop the food on the floor and then slowly eat it. He likes to eat there.

And then she nit picked. She told me everything that was wrong, in her opinion, with my apartment. She asked me why I didn't use my work out paraphernalia more. She insulted the sheets on my bed. "These are not good sheets."

No stone was left unturned.

So I'm curious, it's the writer in me. I'm curious about the story she's creating for me to play my part and walk away so she can stay in being lonely and not having many friends. What part of any of this stops this woman from being lonely and not having many friends? Absolutely nothing. She must mean well?!? All I kept thinking was, "Didn't your parents teach you any fucking manners?"
What could she possibly be thinking?

I feel like all of this is a big thing for me this year. How do I want to spend my time? Who do I want to share my time with? Am I going to focus on your snide remarks when you say you love me? Or am I going to focus on those who "show" me they love me? What am I willing to tolerate? Do I have to feel like I'm tolerating something?

I know that it's all important because I've been here before. I know that so much of what has been happening with some people and what some others are discussing with me is helping me to be and stay clear. That's all I can ask for, clarity.


Here are some old blog entries on this old cycle:

Silence May 17, 2012

Clearing Old Energy June 5, 2011

I Want To Feel Good May 28, 2011

27 August 2013

The Book Purge has Ended - For Now

I have to say that this whole purge thing is labour intensive. It is far more work than the years of purchasing. ha-ha!
I've managed to pull out all of my books from the bins and trunks and boxes that I had of them. I got rid of a good chunk of books and now nothing is hidden away. All the books I still have I can actually see and reach. So next will be to do a whole lot of reading and to continue to purge.

I think it will be easier to let go of more books once I purge more of my other things. But in the meantime I feel like I've done a good job. I sold a few books and left a whole lot on the window sill of my apartment building for others to pick through. And they did! Walking down the stairs and seeing the books rearranged and disappearing was a satisfying feeling.

My trunk that was filled with books is now filled with my handbags and purses. I won't be purging those anytime soon because I actually use them all. So that's a great place to keep them since they are easier to access.
One of the rubbermaid bins that was filled with books now has my sheets, pillowcases and my electric blanket in it and is strategically placed under my bed.

So it was a good week of accomplishment considering starting with books was the hardest thing to do. The good thing about starting with the hardest thing is that I'm starting to feel more ruthless.

I met with a couple girlfriends, while I was on vacation, and brought one some activity books (from my Child and Youth work days) and stuffed animals for her daughter. The activity books she can grow into. And for my other girlfriend who has a boy and a girl, I brought her the rest of the small stuffed animals. Because she's a teacher, if her kids don't want the stuffed animals (like they wouldn't - hee-hee) she can bring them to school. I kept my oversized stuffed animals, for now since they already have a spot in my apartment. There are a few I will keep, like my mom's teddy bear from when she was a child and my teddy bear from when I was a child.

I took a break last weekend since I had to do laundry and get groceries and all those kind of chores. Plus it was the last of my vacation and I didn't want to be handcuffed to the purge. It was good to relax and get back to the mindset of going back to work on Monday. And I felt good about going back to work so that was all good.

Tonight I came home with a purpose and got rid of a whack of picture frames that have been in a pile forever and made more room for my cookbooks. I'm going to go through them at some point and whittle them down. It's so easy to get recipes on the internet, which I mostly do these days but there are still some cookbooks that I'll want to keep.

I was flipping through the minimalists site last night at my part-time job and jumped on to a post about throwing out/ getting rid of one thing per day. I like that idea as well. So I'm finding that trying ANYTHING and everything is probably my best bet.

And my binders. I've been looking through my binders of papers that I can scan to pdf and save on a flash drive.

And that's how the purge goes for now. :)


24 August 2013

Scott Sonnon's Morning Exercise

As a morning exercise to focus my day, charge my body, vitalize my emotions and clarify my vision, I recorded the 29 Most Impacting Attitude Changes I started doing which has kept me on my path:

1. Instead of mulling around the wrong people, places, activities, food and attitudes, I started walking with the right ones.

2. Instead of running away from my obstacles, anxieties and fears, I started turning and running at them. (Most disappeared; the remainder, I finally began resolving.)

3. Instead of lying to myself, I held myself accountable. Even if they hurt, they turned out to be for the better.

4. Instead of putting my needs second, I began to put them first; and as a result, my best use better served others.

5. Instead of trying to be someone I'm not, I began to embrace everything I am (and discovered my uniquenesses which no one else can duplicate.)

6. Instead of clutching the pain of the past or chasing the worry of the future, I began to relish the incredible potential of "right now."

7. Instead of being afraid of making mistakes, I started to embrace them with humor and gratitude for the path to my success has been paved with my failures but overgrown when I had quit and when I never had started.

8. Instead of beating myself up about prior mistakes, I began to see their experience and insight had brought me to my awareness of the right choices.

9. Instead of trying to purchase happiness, I started to give it away (and - ironically - have become happy finally.)

10. Instead of hoping others would make me happy, I decided I was perfectly enough, and as a result, capable of happiness without anyone filling a perceived void within me.

11. Instead of drifting on the current, I decided to GROW with the flow, and - all things be damned - stand against it, if my values compelled me.

12. Instead of worrying that I wasn't ready for something, I accepted that no one can be perfectly prepared. I stepped up to bat and started swinging; and made a few great hits that I'd never had, would I have not swung and missed some.

13. Instead of getting involved with relationships for the wrong reasons, I candidly opened conversations on the right reasons for me to stay with someone. Many left; those who mattered, always have remained.

14. Instead of rejecting new relationships because of past hurts, I accepted that risking pain of lost love is better than risking loss of opportunities to feel love.

15. Instead of competing against everyone in order to win everything, I started to play with everyone in all things, and discovered I could not lose anything.

16. Instead of coveting the scarce resources I did not have, I started expressing gratitude for the abundance I did (and surprisingly, greater fulfillment followed.)

17. Instead of complaining, and pitying myself, I started cheering and celebrating myself; instead of lamenting the limitations of my disabilities; I started relishing the limitlessness of my genius.

18. Instead of holding space for grudges in my heart, I freed myself from their bondage. Forgiving others didn't excuse their behaviors and attitudes; it liberated my own.

19. Instead of letting others drag me down, I either gave them a hand up, or lived my life unapologetically. (Surprisingly, like those others above me had inspired me to climb, some stopped trying to drag others down, and climbed up themselves.)

20. Instead of trying to apologize for being myself, I started thanking others for being true to themselves. Ironically, living authentically became effortless.

21. Instead of pushing incessantly to fill a sense of lacking worth, I took periodic pauses to marvel at the life given to me, and appreciated ever more greatly the blessing of being able to drive for that in which I so passionately believe.

22. Instead of awaiting the next big thing to be completed, or to arrive, I started reveling in the continual stream of the little things; and discovered they hold the greatest significance.

23. Instead of trying to make everything perfect, I realized they already are, even when they're full of flaws and mistakes... just like me.

24. Instead of following the path of least resistance, I started creating the path upon which my heart compelled me to explore... No matter how great the resistance; and realized, only ever a solitary individual with one humble act had ever turned the tide. It started with me.

25. Instead of living the lie that everything is fine, when I found unacceptable circumstances, I calmly but defiantly began saying no. Ironically, more chances to say yes began to appear.

26. Instead of giving away my power by blaming others, I started empowering myself with the responsibility to change.

27. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, I decided I was going to be everything I could whenever I could. Ironically, I found myself of greater value to more people.

28. Instead of worrying so much, I started believing in the power of faith. By giving up anything I could not change to God, I began able to change everything that I needed to change for myself.

29. Instead of fixating on what I didn't want to happen, I started vividly imagining what I did, passionately pursing it, enjoying the steps, and relishing my mistakes. Surprisingly, what I most wanted, what I ultimately needed, began to happen more often.

Very Respectfully,
Scott Sonnon

17 August 2013

Minimalist in Training or The Big Purge of 2013

Last night, I started Day 1 of getting rid of my stuff. I started with books because my place is filled with them and books will be the hardest thing to let go of. I started with three empty boxes:
1- Keep
2- Recycle/Garbage
3- Sell

As I was sorting through the books in the shelves under my window I could see how difficult this could be. Talk about emotional attachments to books. When you write and even beyond that, when you love to read, it's hard to let go. I wasn't getting too far because honestly, the books were going in the keep box and the Sell box was empty. So I added a fourth box - Undecided. That helped me to pull some books out of the Keep box and really got the process flowing. And some books started making it in to the sell box as well.

I went to a used book store on my way home from work on Monday and asked if they buy a lot of books, "Like buggies full," and Buddy said they are happy to buy buggies full. It's a good quality used book store so they'd be going to a good way station before they go to a good home. Um, yes, emotional attachment to books.

I've negotiated with myself on a couple things to make the process easier.
1- Now that I've unplugged the television, I can read more of the books I do own and then sell them
2- The books that I sell immediately, I will write a list of titles and authors (that still interest me) and I can purchase them on Kindle or Kobo, if I really want to read them. I know full well that my attention goes off in other directions so I probably won't buy them for my e-reader but it's the mind trick I'm playing with myself that will help me to move it along.

I set aside some children's books that I will pass on to my girlfriend for her young daughter. The little one isn't quite at reading age but she is definitely at being read to age. Plus some activity books from my child and youth work days, that will definitely be interesting to her for years to come. Especially since My friend is very crafty.

So really it's become 5 boxes.

I figure I'll start this way first and once I've gone through everything I will do the major one, that the minimalists recommend, packing up everything in your house as if you are moving and finding out what you actually use during a week or two and what you never touch. It makes sense to have less stuff before I do that one.

I do live in an apartment building where, if you leave your discarded stuff on the window sills in the stairway, other people pick up what they want from it. But with books (emotional attachment) if I leave them out there and they aren't taken I always take them back. I can't bear the thought of books ending up in the garbage. So that's the main reason why I'm selling them.

I took the week off work as a needed vacation because last week was pretty irritating and I realize that it was irritating because I haven't had time off since Bermuda and that was the first week of June. Only I could think this is a fun vacation but I'm actually really stoked. I've made plans with a couple girlfriends and am contacting a couple more girlfriends in hopes of making plans so there will be social fun and laughter and beer in the midst.

I realize that I'm not telling anyone anything new about purging and making changes in our lives. It was part of the gremlin/ critic in my head the other day. You know that ass that tells you, Who do you think you are? Why are you writing about these things everybody is laughing at you, is going to laugh at you? You aren't telling anyone anything that they couldn't find better information any where else. The Gremlin has been on full throttle. He's screaming actually. But I'm working through him anyway. I'm showing up anyway. I'm writing about what's going on anyway. I know when I get to the other side, something positive will come of it. Gremlins only say positive things once the work is finished, never during the actual pain and perspiration. Gremlins don't do work, they hinder work.

I've been blogging since 2006 and I only saw, could only see, the body of work when I looked back through the archives years later.

My ultimate goal is to get down to only having books on the four book cases that I own.
1- One bookcase has my favourite authors: Nancy Huston; A.M Homes; Jasper Fforde. And books that I re-read (Alice Walker; Richard Wright; The Great Gatsby; Five Smooth Stones etc)
2 & 3 - My two large bookcases have the workbooks: writing manuals/handbooks; Numerology/Astrology/Tarot; Kundalini Yoga/ Qigong; Energy work/Self development; Creativity/Drawing; Dream work (lucid dreams) etc. I need to get these cases down to the essentials and weed out the books that don't really do it for me.
4 - One bookcase has all the books I've purchased at IFOA (International Festival of Author's)
That's the direction I move towards.

The Boxes of Purge:
1- Keep
2- Recycle/Garbage
3- Sell
4- Undecided
5- Give away


14 August 2013

Are you Trading Your Life for What You Love to Do?

Work frustrations come and go in cycles. The last couple of days have been hard ones for some reason. Whenever the really hard days happen I get hit with a brainwave to help me cope through it. Today's brainwave was to look for something inspiring to focus on instead of the things that aggravate me. I've decided I'm going to do that everyday from now on.

Today's was from John Assaraf:
Are you trading your life for what you love to do? Who you love to be with? Are you asking the big questions like who do I want to become? What do I want to experience, give, share and be? Powerful questions will give you powerful answers. Decide today to go after the biggest goals you can imagine and trade your life for the biggest, fullest, most amazing expression possible of yourself! You have it in you or you wouldn't have the thoughts about it!

Are you trading your life doing what you love? Are you asking yourself powerful questions like What will it take for me to be fulfilled? Happy? in love, Passionate? What are the biggest goals I want to achieve and what do I want to experience, do, give, be and become? These are powerful questions worthy of finding the answers to and trading your life in pursuit of making them a reality.

In answer to those questions I've unplugged my television for the rest of the month of August to start. I'm playing with the experiment of seeing how much I can get done in my spare time. It's so easy to turn on the television when I get home and then it stays on. It's not like there's much in the way of 'Quality Programming" that feeds my mind. So I'm starting there.

And I'm working out. Most of the work frustrations will be less irritating with a regular working out and burning off some steam. Truth be told, I've got some serious work out gear in my place. I could do some circuit training. heh! But seriously.

And another article that I posted on my Facebook wall today, Are You as Busy as You think? by Laura Vanderkam had information that I've seen recently and now I know it comes from that article.

Here's the quote:
Change your language. Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

What is a priority to me?
It's certainly not being focused on the amount of people who don't do their jobs and affect my job negatively. That drama is exhausting and I don't have the same energy level I did in my 20's and 30's for that. So as they help to polish me into the next phase of who I want to become, I set my priorities on writing, something I've always loved and used to put on the back burner for some reason or another.

As part of this priority, I stuck my neck out a little more and told some more friends about the page I have on Facebook. The page most of my friends don't know I have. So I gained another 11 or 12 more people who may take the time to read an entry or two. So welcome to you all if you're reading what I'm writing. Back in my early days of blogging when nobody knew I was doing this I would swear a lot but I've managed to curb the cussing over the last couple years. I try to label my entries so if something interests you click on the label and you'll probably find a few more entries in that vein.

And as always, Thank you to the friends who have been following me since I started my facebook page over a year ago - my Plurk Buddies; the MNINBers, who I virtually met through the platform challenge (April 2012); the friends who have my phone number (and know what my laugh sounds like) and friends like Sarah and Christine who I've followed for years because they inspire me. I'm grateful for your ever present support.


Magic and Asking Questions

Image of Ray Bradbury in his Basement office courtesy of http://www.mattselznick.com/2012/06/06/ray-bradbury/

I've been focusing on the inspirational aspects of social media. It's so easy to get caught up in wasting time. Playing too many Facebook games. Reading silly articles for the comments sections (people can be downright mean in them, holy cow).
And as always, I'm looking at ways to improve and ultimately change the course of my life.

I'd like to move in a new direction in my life and I'm looking for strong answers to move me forward.
I've got back into listening to Ted Talks. It really does feed the mind. On the weekend I found a couple of talks that have made me think about my options. Well going backwards in all this, back in the winter I was out with a girlfriend, Sandra. We talk mostly about what we are doing and where we want to go. At one point I confessed that Toronto feels like it has served its purpose for me and now I'm starting to think about where I'd like to live next. I've never really loved Toronto the way I loved Montreal and the plan never was to stay here.

The big thing of course is possessions. How do you even begin to look at purging 32 years of collecting? What must I keep?
Life has changed so much for me. Back in the day, I wanted a crazy Ray Bradbury room of stuff that explodes the imagination with ideas to write.

Nowadays I'm more interested in being a minimalist. The lighter you are, the quicker you can move. Or as my friend Vanessa said a few years ago, "If you own nothing, nothing owns you." That comment has stuck with me for years. And being in my 1 Personal year of a new 9 year cycle looking at what I want this 9 year cycle to stand for is ever present.

One Ted Talks made me think about how simple I could make my life
Jon Jandai - Life is easy, why do we make it so hard

and the other one made me think about tangible ways to get there.
Adam Baker - Sell Your Crap, Pay Your Debt, Do What You Love

The funny thing, the magic in these thoughts, is that since I've watched these two talks I struck up a conversation with a business man who sits outside where I do when I take my breaks at work. We've both have sat out there for years and out of the blue I strike up a conversation. Doesn't he say that he's a minimalist and has been for 5 years and he's the happiest he's ever been. Yep.

I've been playing with living a simpler life for at least a decade. This new 9 year period, I want to take living a simpler life a step further and purge. Seriously purge.

Today I found these guys, The Minimalists.
The link takes you to their 21 days on how they became minimalists. One of the ideas that struck me was to pack up everything in your house/apartment and only unpack what you need as you need it. After a week or so, you come to realize that most of the stuff you have you don't even use. Right?


11 August 2013

Changing With The Times

I love Journalling. The best part is that I can write something down, forget about it, and later when I'm reading through entries realize that what I wrote about is actually being created in my life.

While I was in Bermuda in June, I listened to a Joel Osteen sermon on television while I was waiting for my friends to come get me. His main message was to embrace where you are.

I wrote in my journal - "Listening to Joel Osteen and he's reminded me about relaxing into the situation.

When you're between jobs and you're looking for another job and the stress that comes up. Always in the end, when you get the job, you wish you would have relaxed more. Made better use of that free time. That's my new moon wish to relax more into my life and into what is going on as it happens. I know the energy of my life has changed, so let me continue to change along with it. What are the good qualities of where I am?"

I've noticed that since I wrote that journal entry I've been changing the way I phrase things. I did it just last week. I won two tickets to a spoken word event and I was telling a co-worker about the event the day after. I actually said, "I won the tickets and I was going to say that I never win anything but the energy of my life has changed so not winning is not true for me anymore."

Even my Bermuda trip was something that wouldn't happen for me in the past. Mind you, I didn't have a passport. But I feel like the energy of my life is changing and yes, it's definitely because of the small actions I am taking. Like getting a passport and going out of my way to look for the information that ultimately won me the spoken word tickets.

Today I wrote in my journal, "Change yourself, change your thoughts, to meet your changing life."

More of Joel Osteen's message that inspired me that I've been working with:
You couldn't go where you're going without the people who keep you down, make your life difficult. They are polishing you as long as you continue to shine your light. Enjoy your life while God is changing the circumstances.
"This is where you have me right now and God I know you are working on my future. While I'm waiting I'm not going to worry. I trust you God."
Some things you can only learn in the struggle. God is getting you prepared. Stay in faith even when it's difficult. Keep doing the right things even when the wrong things happen. It's not happening to me, it's happening for me. Embrace where you are! Keep the faith and trust. And Maybe what you're praying for is too small that's why you haven't received it. (If what I'm praying for is too small, what is a sizeable dream to pray for?)

I love the idea of being polished. How many times have we looked back in our lives and saw the path that led us to where we were? If so and so hadn't have been so miserable we wouldn't have left that city and moved to this city where we have been able to find our confidence, our self-respect, our power!

When I got back from Bermuda I, of course, had a lot waiting for me when I got back to work. My first frustration was a co-worker who didn't keep me in the loop for work we both know full well that I needed to be informed of. I emailed her telling her that I couldn't accept the form she'd sent me because I had nothing to back it up.
She emailed me back, "Oh I got the authorization from the rep. You were away so I didn't bother to send it to you." and she attached the authorization.
In my head, I was thinking, 'well she knows I need that information, why the heck wouldn't she copy me on it?' But I never said it to her.
Moments later, as if she heard my thoughts, she sent me an email saying, "I'm so sorry I didn't send you the information..." and some other stuff about hoping I wasn't mad at her for the needless frustration.
I emailed her back, "It's okay. Like Joel Osteen said, you are polishing me." ha-ha!

What are the good qualities of where I am?
Change yourself, change your thoughts, to meet your changing life.
If what I'm praying for is too small, what is a sizeable dream for me to pray for?
Who is polishing me? How is this situation polishing me?

And, as luck would have it, Joel Osteen is on now. His message today goes fittingly with his June message - Be positive or be quiet. You may think negative but don't speak it out.

I may have thought, "I never win anything," but I caught myself and didn't say it because I'm making it no longer true for me.