The Hard Truth of Managing Your Own Happiness

(How to Avoid Feeling Like a Smooshed Grape)

I’ve gotten to this slightly jaded place, where if you start talking to me about vision boards, or even mention the “law of attraction,” I start to feel a sense of cringe.  A small part of me wants to roll my eyes. I guess I’m feeling more sceptical about all of that fluffy-bunny woo-woo stuff these days.

I don’t fully mean that of course.  In fact, I’m making fun of myself just a little here.  I’m pretty fluffy-bunny woo-woo. I’m no stranger to crystals and pendulums, herbs, essential oils, tarot cards or healing energy.  I love all of that stuff. I just don’t think it’s wise to make the mistake of thinking that anything can replace hard work, motivation or perseverance.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m still a little resentful of some of the new age philosophy I bought into as a teenager (and stuck with throughout my early twenties). I’ve got a little baggage going on, because I now believe that I was only getting half of the answer.  Somehow, I had absorbed the message that if you just visualized hard enough, things would fall into place.  

This is perfectly encapsulated with the whole idea of “the cursed how’s.”  I remember reading things that were literally telling me that I didn’t need to worry about the steps to accomplishing my dreams, aka “the cursed how’s.”  I only needed to focus on the end result. The Universe would take care of that pesky bit in the middle.  

Utter malarkey, of course.  

Yes, visualizing is good.  Yes, I think you should practice it.  Heck, you should get SO GOOD at visualizing that you are able to practically smell your dreams manifesting.  You should get as involved in your visualization as possible. You should try 100% to make it real for yourself.

And THEN, and see, this is the bit I was missing, you have to come back down to earth and make a plan as to how to get there.  You MUST consider the “cursed how’s,” because your day only has so many hours in it.  You have to turn your goals into step-by-step actions. Houses don’t buy or clean themselves.  Abs don’t magically arrive just because you visualized the perfect body. Getting caught up in a daydream of end results is not the same as rolling up your sleeves and putting in the effort. You cannot wait for the Universe to pluck you out of obscurity and say, This one.  I pick this one. This one’s special.  Trust me.  Tried it. It doesn’t work.

Please bare in mind that all of this is coming from a self-confirmed New Age hippie.  I believe we can do a lot with our energy. I think there’s more to the world than meets the eye.  Yes, I even believe that you can attract a better life by improving your energy. However, you also have to accept your role in the transformation.   As Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Pray to God, but row away from the rocks.”

All of this doesn’t just apply to big life stuff, like dream houses, finding true love, or losing 50lbs. I think it also applies to your daily emotional wellbeing.  Like, you have to take charge of your own happiness. You have to build it yourself, and protect it, and work on it, or it may not stick around.

I don’t know… maybe other people have a more robust, durable sort of happiness, but mine is not.  Mine needs tending to like some kind of fussy, exotic flower garden.  

I journal to deal with my “flower garden” of feelings, and the other day I wrote this: 

I feel like I am being smooshed like grapes for wine.  Like someone is dancing on my soul. Like they are gleefully crushing it beneath their disgusting bare feet.  (Ha. These days, I’m not even so hung up on the wine, just the smooshing.)

Ok, so my soul is being smooshed.  What now? Do other writer-types feel this way?  Do they feel like their 9-5 is sucking away their creative potential?  Their time? Their energy?  

Ha ha.  I’m writing this while sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and Sheryl Crow’s “If it Makes You Happy” just started playing.  Personally, I think that was a little heavy-handed of the radio.

Yeah, my personal journal rants and a little dramatic, but the bad feeling of being “crushed” was, I think, due to my lack of organization/motivation in keeping up my own happiness-inducing habits.  For me, those habits, those “cursed how’s” are so important. My fussy, exotic flower garden requires: adequate and regular sleep, cardio and strength training contained in 4-6 workouts a week, time for writing, time for reading, time for singing, healthy well-balanced plant-based meals, time for meditation and time spent with friends and family.  If I start lacking in any one area, I am off. Life is bad. My emotions get…well, you saw the journal entry!

The only way to get it all done, and to avoid the “my soul is being smooshed” feeling, seems to be to schedule my life, and then maintain the motivation to actually carry through with my plans.  

I’m drawing attention to that last bit because I feel like that’s where I tend to fall down.  I can come up with a great schedule/plan and then get distracted, or get busy with something else, and all of a sudden it’s 10:30PM, and my real goals for the day are yet to be accomplished.

And I wind up feeling like a smooshed grape.

Vision board away.  Feel free to send your hopes and prayers.  (You can even send ‘em my way!) Maintain a rule of “good vibes only.”  Just remember, it’s still you who has to put in the grind and the effort.  You are the only one capable of rowing away from the rocks.

My Storm Story

Everyone’s storm story is different, and hell, I’m home now on the EIGHTH DAY, so I may as well tell you ours. Oh, and I’ll try to throw in a few pictures along the way!

Last Thursday, January 16th, I actually went to work.  (God, it feels like it’s been so long now!) Almost as soon as I got there, I could hear my coworkers around the office buzzing about the storm.  There was much chatter about the projected snowfall, about how heavy the winds would be, and about when and if schools and businesses would be closing.  I overheard calls to loved ones at home discussing what provisions were needed. I heard one lady say to another, “Geez, if we wind up coming to work tomorrow, we won’t be fit!”   

True enough, but the comment made me smirk a little, as I felt it was safe to assume that we would be off work the following day.  “Even if we get the low end of the estimate; 40cms, it’s still more than enough to shut everything down,” I mentioned to my workmate Alex.  He agreed, and I think we both figured we were getting a four-day weekend out of this. Honestly, the anticipation made for a bit of a fun day.  (An extra day off here and there does wonders for office morale!)

The only thing dragging me down was this nagging headache I had going on in the front of my face.  It wasn’t debilitating, but it was there. pound. pound. pound.  I had often wondered if I was one of those people who got headaches because of barometric pressure changes.  This seemed like evidence to support that hypothesis. There was nothing else wrong with me, so I got an ibuprofen from someone in the office and I moved on.  The pill seemed to help quite a bit.

That was good, because I was also instructed to change my desk that day.  Kind of annoying, but there have been a lot of changes at work lately, so this wasn’t a surprise.  I took most of my possessions to my new cubicle assignment on my break. The new spot was two floors below me, and I like my workspace to feel like home,  so it was a bit of an undertaking. I moved the rest of my things down at the end of my shift. I took my time cleaning up the old desk for the next person, but left a bit of a mess at the new desk downstairs.  No big deal. I could get fully up to speed before work on Monday. I’d probably have the new digs in order by 9AM on the 20th. Perfect.

I went home, and we generally made sure things were as prepared as possible.  Shovels inside and at the ready. A bucket of salt in the basement as well. Nothing left outside that that could blow around.  Electronics charging. My stash of candles accounted for (I make ‘em, so there’s always a box somewhere!) plus a couple of flashlights, of course.  

As for food and basic supplies, we are fortunate enough that I knew we had at least enough for a few days.  Plus, we’re both pretty dang creative with food when times get tough; him through training, me through cheapness and previous moments of desperation.  All good, as far as we knew.

We heard that schools as well as the Metrobus service were preemptively cancelled for the next day.  “You know it’s going to be bad if they’re cancelling the buses now,” Jason said.  He had a point. I couldn’t remember the last time they’d done that.

Day 1: FRIDAY

No school and no work and it’s no surprise!  We awake to a storm, and it keeps up all day.  In fact, it gets worse in the evening, when the winds pick up.  The gusts are well in excess of 100km/h, and all the while the snow continues coming down.  It really is something to watch. I feel worried for anyone who needs to travel. I think about all of the essential services people.  I also think about my friends in radio. Those guys are amazing. (Mad respect to everyone who made it in to work, and who wound up staying there for a few days!)  

By evening, the windows have acquired an intricate pattern of snow spray, preventing us from getting much of a view.  Not that you’d see much if they’d been clear. The storm is intense. White-out conditions all over the place.

I’m not feeling great  My headache hasn’t really gone away from the day before, but now I also feel a little queasy and very cold.  I eventually quit watching the storm and head for the bath. (Jason gives me a flashlight, just in case!)

The lights flicker, but they never go out for more than a few seconds.  Each time they go, I think, Oh, this is it!  But no, we manage to keep our power throughout the storm..  

I stay in the bath for a good long time, with Jason periodically knocking on the door and telling me, in disbelief, how high the snow is. “It’s nearly to the top of the patio railing!”  “It’s just at the top of the patio railing! You should see it Jennnq, it’s crazy!”   By the time I come out, the snow has filled the patio, it is now drifting over the sides of the railing, and it is indeed “crazy.”

Snow filling the patio…

We watch the storm in wonder and listen to records late into the night.  The drifts get to be taller than me and then taller than Jason. Crazy indeed. This is a serious amount of snow.  We also slowly realize that we have fewer and fewer options for exiting our home. The front door has a storm door that opens out.  That is now blocked by a huge drift of snow. The side door is the same. The basement door was a possibility until snow finally filled that stairwell in too.  That leaves the windows. One of us is headed out the window tomorrow.

Well, that’s something to look forward to.  I do so relish the opportunity to use the word “defenestration” in a sentence.

Day 2: SATURDAY

I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over, and I haven’t even lifted a shovel yet.  Not good. 

At least there’s no rush.  We’re under a State of Emergency, so everything is shut down.  It’s easy to see why. The snow is piled in great, unbelievably high drifts.  Some places don’t look too bad. Some places are 8 feet high. Sweet merciful.  The work we’re going to have to do to get out is nearly unfathomable.

We’re very much shut inside, and the window in our living room is the best option out.  I had thought I would be out first, but I just feel so awful. Jason is the hero who goes out through the window.  (He isn’t thrown out the window, so technically, there is no “defenestration.” The word rolls around in my head all the same.)  Jason digs his way toward our front door while I stay inside and try to remember how to human.  

I get a shower and some tea, but after half a bagel, I feel queasy and like I’ve eaten too much.  Strange. I feel as if I have a brutal hangover, and I have had precisely nothing to drink. Ugh. Unfair. 

Within about a half hour I’m outside with him.  I take out a waterproof speaker, and we listen to everything from Anthrax to Caravan Palace while we tackle clearing the deck and regaining access to the house. 

It would have been impossible without him!
Regaining access to the driveway

We shovel the deck for a few hours.  It is very tiring, and sometimes I stop and take breaks.  By the afternoon, I notice that my breaks are coming with a side of hopelessness.  I just keep getting this feeling every time I stop…a feeling of deep despair. It’s like something inside my body is giving the activity of shoveling a great big “NOPE.”  I do my absolute best, but at a certain point I have to call it quits.

At the end of the day, the driveway still needs to get done, but our deck/patio is 80% clear and you can get in and out through all the doors.  (Accomplishing this was much easier with two!)

That evening, even under many layers I cannot get warm.  The power stays on, which I am thankful for. I wear a toque as I sit on the sofa under blankets.  Every time I lift my arm, a shiver courses through my body. My throat is scratchy, and the headache…It’s more like POUND. POUND. POUND now.  It occurs to me that this may not be because of the barometric pressure.

I take my temperature.  101.8 degrees. Oh. I see.  I’m actually sick. I realize this explains why my body just wanted to give up earlier.   Awesome. Jason seems worried he may catch something too. He hugs me close anyway. Good man. 

I barely eat and go to bed, hopeful that I will be of more use tomorrow. 

Day 3: SUNDAY

I still feel gross.  I shovel for a short period of time, but Jason takes care of the lion’s share of the driveway snow with the snowblower.  I am thankful.

Inside the house I read for a while, but when my queasy stomach seems less-than content with that, I listen to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on Audible.  I love it. All of the different voices make me feel like a child hearing a bedtime story. (Ok, it’s a pretty racy bedtime story, but Alan Rickman is one of the voices!  How cool is that??)

An enjoyable listen!

I have no desire for my beloved espresso.  I still barely eat. The only food that appeals to me right now is oranges.  All that I want is an orange. I fantasize about cutting into one, and the sweet juice running out, and I imagine biting into the fresh cold flesh.  Yes. All I want is an orange. I imagine the taste on my tongue, and imagining is all that I can do, because guess what we don’t have???

The state of emergency is lifted in St. Philip’s so that during the day people can run out and get essentials.  Jason is still outside struggling in the driveway, so when Mom calls here to check on us, she gets me. “You sound so stuffed up!  I’m heading out to get a couple of things. Need anything?”  

“ORANGES,”  I blurt, as they are currently the only thing on my mind.  

Sure enough, a short time later Jason comes back inside with two oranges in his hands.  “Your mom dropped these off.” He says.

I cut into one almost immediately and am surprised to find a blood orange.  It’s colour is unexpected and striking. It is almost ombré inside. I wish I had the skill to paint it, but instead I eat it quickly and enjoy it immensely.  It’s funny how the body must know what it needs. I don’t recall ever wanting an orange this badly. 

OMG I want another one right now!

Tonight, for some flipping reason, the weather stirs up again.  15 fresh centimeters fall overnight. More work to do tomorrow.

I am somewhat relieved to learn that the State of Emergency continues.  I would not take my nasty fever to work anyway, and this way there is no sick day required.  A little silver lining.

I sleep fairly early hoping that I will be back to myself tomorrow.   

Day 4: MONDAY

I still seem to have a slight cold, but I feel a lot better.  I have some energy, which is good, because we now have yet more snow to shovel, and the driveway (did I mention that our driveway is one long hill??) could still use some work.  

We work on the driveway and Jason and I bicker about nothing.  I think being cooped up is getting to us.  

Jason is also bummed because we had tickets to see Jim Gaffigan, and the show (scheduled for Sunday, aka “Day 3”) was cancelled. 

The slightly-disappointed Jason works on widening the driveway with the snowblower.  I go inside and eat my second orange. It still tastes like everything I want it to be.  (Oranges, man.)

Espresso still isn’t tasting good to me.  Must be a residual thing from the cold. This seems like a good time to actually go with it though.  Hadn’t I been meaning to break the addiction? If I can drink less coffee, that’s great. I’ve been sipping black tea instead.  For some reason, it continues to taste much better to me right now.  

Nothing much else happens.  We spend time with the cats.  I spend a bunch of time on Facebook and start to feel like I’m not doing enough with my life.  It’s not exactly time well-spent. Not too kind to the ol’ ego. Social media really is poison sometimes.  Also so distracting. I resolve not to let is take up too much of my precious time in the future.

Cats! Way more rewarding than social media!

Day 5: TUESDAY

Yay, I’m better!  No more temperature, and I actually feel alive!  

This is great for me, but I’m probably driving Jason nuts.  More energy means more talking, singing and dancing. Especially since we’re largely cooped up together.

We have all of the shoveling done except for this one area of our deck.  It is a giant leftover drift from Friday’s storm. It’s not impeding our ability to come and go, it’s just this giant snow mountain on the patio. And now it’s really compacted and heavy. We had put it off, but it’s not great to leave snow on your deck.  It can freeze, get really heavy with rain and damage the wood.

Today we both get out there and tackle it.  We hack at the snow mountain with our shovels.  It takes a while, since it has a hard crust on the outside, and the snow inside it is anything but light and fluffy.  We get the tunes going again and it’s a damn good workout. The best part? In the end we can say that everything is finally clear!  Woohooo!!

We’re still under the state of emergency, but today in St. John’s the supermarkets are allowed to reopen from 10-6.  People go a little crazy. The lineups snaking across the parking lots are so long that they make the news. Hundreds of people turn up to wait for the stores to open. They’re anxious to stock up!

Jason and I don’t go, as we have no interest in battling the crowds, and other than the orange drama, we’re not really that desperate.  

Jason had made a bunch of pizza Saturday, and since I was sick and couldn’t eat much of it, it’s lasted us for a while.  (I was SO sad I couldn’t really enjoy fresh pizza!)  

Jason’s pizza is no joke! Mmmm!!

I use some of this extra time today to dye my hair.  I clearly can’t be left in the house with hair dye for this long and not touch it!  Nothing too crazy, I just take what’s already there up a notch. A little yellow. A little green.  Some hot pink. (Ok, so maybe it is a little crazy!)  I was really wishing I had some blue, but somehow I don’t think blue hair dye counts as an “essential” right now.

Tonight, Jason and I bust out Mario 3 and play it via the Wii.  I love it, but I still kinda suck at video games. We play for a while, and then I switch it over to Dragrace.  I haven’t felt very fabulous during the SOE, but hey, I can dream!

Day 6: WEDNESDAY

Day 6 of the State of Emergency dawns with an unstoppable blue sky, and a winter sun that my skin would have to be mercilessly coated in SPF to withstand.  It is, in a word, beautiful. It makes the absolutely insane amount of snow surrounding us sparkle like so many diamonds.  

We both need to get out of the house so we head to the grocery store.  I’m damned excited to go. Thankfully, yesterday’s lineups are nowhere in evidence.  We get what we need (more citrus, yay!) and we head back home. There. We can at least feel like we’ve accomplished something today.

I am still reading a lot.  This is good. Since I’ve been a little more depressed and anxious the past couple of years, I haven’t read nearly so much, and I have always loved books.  I’m going to try to keep a list of what I read for 2020. I can always try to beat my number next year!

I’ve just finished one called The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.  It was ok.  Good encouragement at least. I’ve been sober for 11 days now.  It’s a start.

Later, I go see my Mom.  We talk about nothing for a couple of hours and watch the “Baroness Von Sketch Show.”  I can do this visit because she also lives outside of St. John’s, and St. Philip’s actually isn’t under a state of emergency anymore.  It’s just St. John’s. Just like how people can go to work now if they work in Mount Pearl. It’s kinda weird.

I get official word that my work building will be closed tomorrow and Friday.  Wow. This kinda sucks, because that big mess I left last week at my new cubicle will remain exactly as is for the next three weeks.  I’m scheduled to go elsewhere for training starting Monday. My new desk must remain a cacophonous explosion of quotes, origami figures, books, notes and lipgloss for the next while.  Nice first impression on my new work neighbours. Also, a bit annoying if you’re like me and can be just a little fussy about your stuff. 

This snow has now derailed the city for an entire week!

Day 7: THURSDAY

I coughed all dang night last night. (Just when you think you’re done with it, ugh!)  I still don’t feel like myself, and it’s such a bummer. I’m still heavy on the tea and water. (Haven’t gone back to espresso.)

Huh.  No wine and no espresso or coffee.  I’m pretty cheap, lately! 

I try to leave today (car needs gas) and succeed only in getting my car stuck in the driveway.  It takes me an hour and a half to free it. Even after all of that shoveling, it’s still iffy in that driveway.  I blame the incline.

Afterward, I still feel energetic, so I do an at-home workout.  (If I don’t stay active, I may crack up in here!) I walk on the treadmill, do some squats, planks and bridges.  I don’t cough, even a little bit. Jason smirks a little, as there is more Lizzo involved in this workout than one might initially expect.  (She’s so fun though!)  

Later I decide that I need to finish writing about this, so I can finally post it!  Things are almost back to normal.  

The latest word is that the city will be fully operational as of 6AM Saturday. Hooray!  It would appear that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We’re nearly done with this State of Emergency business.

I get a couple of edits into this thing, and somehow I wind up watching Doctor Who instead. 

Day 8: FRIDAY

The SOE is basically over, as far as I know.  Everything should be lifted early tomorrow, as I mentioned yesterday.  

I have read more, not had anything to drink and I’ve even given up coffee in my time off.  I feel as though I’m coming back to reality as a slightly improved version of myself. 🙂

Now, can we please hurry up and get everything back to normal?

White Woman Spirituality

I haven’t written a poem in a while, but I have something for you! Before you read it as an attack on anyone though, I just want everyone to understand that the biggest target here is myself. I’m not really trying to criticize anyone. Just having a few thoughts.

White Woman Spirituality

How do I dare approach?

My people have already put a claim on everything,

a brand sticker, a price tag, and I

am another one, stinking of patchouli

sniffing around the appropriated edges of what has never been mine.

I am a stigma on myself.

Betrayed by inherent adherence to stereotype

skin so white, yoga pants so tight,

(The gurus say to do it, but

giving up lattés is so hard, y’know?)

the more I protest that,

“I am different”

the more we sound the same.

Re-Examining My Relationship to Alcohol

It goes without saying that I’m thankful the clocks went back this weekend.  I am trying to do this early morning thing, and it was getting harder and harder getting up in the dark.  The extra hour makes all of the difference when you are trying to force yourself out of bed and into being your best self. 🙂

The initial days following the roll back are always a little curious.  You keep half-panicking, thinking that it’s later than it is. And then you get to relax.  You’re ok. It’s 4:30. Not 5:30. Big difference. The body just gets so used to having its rituals at particular times.  Even the change of an hour feels like enough to knock something in the primitive brain slightly askew.

Speaking of rituals, I have noticed that I’ve been developed another little, rather unwanted one. One I’m actually partaking in as I write this to you right now.  You see, every evening, around 5:30 or 6 o’clock, I find myself craving a glass of red wine.

wine

I feel the immediate need to clarify this.  This craving is specifically for wine, and I drink a maximum of one-two glasses. You’ll never see me drinking a rum and coke, and I cannot imagine putting away a half case of beer.  Just not my thing.

I also feel the need to tell you that I am not a “drink to get drunk” kind of person.  Yes, in my younger years, I drank quite a bit more on weekends, and yes, I made some regrettable decisions.  Thankfully, as I’ve gotten a little older, alcohol has lost most of its luster. Now, it’s more about the timing of it.  About the flavour. About the rituals of creating and enjoying food, and how well they happen to pair with a glass of red wine.

I’m not interested in embarrassing myself, I suppose.  Or in two-day hangovers, which seem to be how mine go. Not worth it to be sick, while my mind turns anxious circles over everything I said and did the night before.  

I’m glad I don’t do that, but this post is about what drinking has become for me, and how it’s still managed to become…unsettling.  I am uncomfortable with it, even if my drinking is not considered to be societally overboard.

I mean, I might be freaking myself out, but it’s practically an ingrained joke that women love wine.   I am doing exactly what is expected. You can go to any home décor store and pick up cutesy little “wine-o-clock” signs and assorted other wine-themed crap.  That stuff is very normal. Very accepted.

Just like how easily I accepted red wine into my life.  

And why not?  I had bought into the idea that it was healthy.  Or at least…healthy-ish. An indulgence that the new, fitter version of myself was “allowed” to have.  Besides, it’s kinda classy, right? A little goth? Somewhat European?

And now I’m seeing that I glamourized it too.  It’s hardly something that marks one out as an intellectual or “special.”  There are rows full of wine in every liquor store. Real exotic.

And, although I hate to admit it to myself, it’s not that healthy.  Or, it’s healthy in the same way chocolate is healthy; in a tiny amount, and in a variety that probably doesn’t taste very good.  I highly doubt that I get many health benefits from my hearty glass of cheap Cabernet sauvignon. Maybe I’m wrong, (please, prove me wrong!) but I don’t think so.

By my own logic, I feel like I should just see it as the “junk food” it clearly is and cut it. Like potato chips, or sleeves of Oreos…just keep it out of the house.  Simple.

But when I’m driving home after work, I never crave extra cookies or mountains of pasta.  I think about stopping off at the store for a bottle of wine.

And THAT’S what I don’t like that.  I don’t like that there’s this little bug in my brain that reminds me about wine.  As if that’s what’s important about my time at home. It makes me so uncomfortable that it’s causing me to examine my relationship with alcohol.  Causing me to revisit those earlier held assumptions.

You know what? I can’t really find a bonus.  I have no solid reason to drink red wine. It costs me money.  It’s probably harming my health, at least a little, it’s a whole bunch of extra empty calories every time I pop a cork, and it’s probably making my mornings harder.

So…I guess I don’t drink anymore?  I’ll let you know when/if the bug in my brain dies.  

Minerva

Nagging Little Things

I had a nagging little thing going on in my life. I’m ashamed to say that I lived with it for a few weeks. Just a small, nagging little thing; something that needed to be done that I somehow couldn’t get myself around to doing.

You know how anxiety can make the slightly unfamiliar seem insurmountable. This thing was on my “To-Do” list, but I still managed to avoid it. In my case, my “nagging little thing” was a slow leak in the left rear tire of my car.

This is the kind of stuff that isn’t a big deal until it is. Obviously, I can’t go around with a flat tire, but it wasn’t flat. Just a little low. Inconvenient. The first time I noticed it, I buzzed by the gas station to put in some air. I have sensors on my tires, and I’ve had a slow leak before, so this part doesn’t intimidate me. (Due to prior tire experience, I know that in the time that it takes for me to say “one-one-thousand” slowly to myself as I inflate my tire, I gain about 20kp of pressure.)

I didn’t rush out and properly address the tire issue. Instead, I became even better at inflating my tire by feel. I can put in the air, hop back into the driver’s seat, turn the key to check the tire gauge on my dash, and be right where I want to be without overfilling, all in a matter of seconds.

So I just kept doing that. Every couple of days I had to make a date with an air hose to get my tire back up where it needed to be. Real cool.

So, why not just get it seen to right away? Like a sensible person? I could tell you that it’s because I work full-time, making it a bit of a hassle (true!), or I could say that I wasn’t keen on maybe having to buy a new tire (also true!), but mostly I was just procrastinating about having to do something mildly uncomfortable. I mean, to fix my tire, I had to take action. I would have to find a garage to look at my tire, find a time during which they could do that and not leave me stranded, physically drive to the garage (a place that I know shockingly little about), and then maybe buy a new tire. Car stuff is always a whole thing.

So I repeated the every-two-day tire-filling process ad nauseam. It almost became part of my routine.

rubber
I was being haunted by a tire. (Ok, it wasn’t a killer tire, but still…)

Well, Friday morning I stopped for air at the gas station. Again. On my way to work. Again. I told a guy there that I was going to get my tire fixed or replaced over the weekend. I guess I only blurted it out because I felt awkward, knowing he had seen me come by for the exact same thing many times before.

Well, damn. That changed things a little. I might have had it on my ‘to-do’ list, but it’s different when you say something out loud, even to a stranger who probably doesn’t care about it one way or the other. Add in any accountability at all, even accidental, blurted accountability, and it changes the pressure in your mind.

I would recommend that all people with a “nagging little thing” build in some kind of accountability. It really lights a fire under your ass. Even if that fire is only there to convince you that you don’t want to have to go back on your word, or back to the hose at the gas station again, because now you’ll feel stupid.

Saturday I had some errands to run, and you know how crazy it gets driving around on Saturday afternoons! I wound up trying to turn left onto a main road at the height of traffic. When I realized the futility of this attempt, I changed tactics, indicated to turn right instead, and planned to use the next available street on my left as a way to turn around and join the flow of traffic in the opposite direction.

I turned right and headed up the road. I came into the next available turning lane on my left, and made my way onto a side street.

Right in front of a garage.

I mean, seriously, even I knew I would be silly to pass up this opportunity. Briefly, I imagined having to once again pull off the road during the Monday morning rush to inflate my tire. In front of that same gas station guy. Ugh. No thanks. Before I had a chance to convince myself that I was ‘too busy,’ or whatever, I pulled into the lot, headed for the reception desk and managed to get booked in for a couple of hours later.

I got my mom to come back out with me, and we actually turned car time into coffee and quality time together. Not half bad. We headed back to the garage together later, and…

It was only a dented rim! They knocked it back into place and everything was fine. I dropped it off and had my car back in a little over half an hour. No new tire required. Simple. Shoulda done it ages ago.

Have you also got a “nagging little thing”? If so,consider this your ass kick to make that call, book that appointment or take that next step. You’ll feel so much better when you do! Start by building a little accountability, (i.e. tell someone), and then take that action. It might be a whole lot easier than you expect!

Light, life and love,

-Jennnq

21 Days Complaint-Free

Overall, I would have to say that I am grateful.  How could I not feel fortunate? I am healthy and mostly happy.  I have a partner who is also my friend. Things with the new house are going well.  My teenage offspring and I continue to enjoy a good relationship. (That last bit is not something I take for granted.  I am well-aware that not every parent has this!)

Yet, despite all of the light and love present in my life, I would have to say that I am an EXCELLENT complainer.  

I am a sarcastic and critical over-thinker.  I am extraordinarily capable of poking holes in things.  Sometimes, those skills are actually great! I can take a piece of fiction and deconstruct it six ways from Sunday.  It’s also good to have a grasp on the possible pitfalls and risks, which is something my mind goes to automatically. (In a group of friends, I tend to be the one nagging people to reapply sunscreen and make sure they’re hydrated!) But sometimes… sometimes it just turns into me being an anxiety-bag, and picking the whole world apart, only to wind up annoyed because it doesn’t come up to my exacting standards.

Useless complaining doesn’t help anyone.  Although it may feel good in the moment, It doesn’t resolve the situation.  It doesn’t endear you to the people around you either, and I feel like…sometimes, it can actually stress you out.  If you allow yourself to ruminate in that energy, there is no way you’re going to be a positive person. I would reason that complaining a lot makes it harder to be happy.

I first heard about the 21-day no complaint challenge through productivity guru Tim Ferriss’ blog.  Tim, in turn, had been influenced by Will Bowen, who is a minister, author and motivational speaker.  He is the founder of the “Complaint Free” Movement. (You can find out lots more about that here.)

The idea is so simple; you wear a bracelet as a reminder on your wrist.  Any time you complain, you switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start over again. Eventually, you succeed by surviving a full 21-days complaint-free.

SO SIMPLE.  Yet…the challenge is obvious.  I mean, I’m a positive-thinker, but…I don’t think I know ANYBODY who doesn’t complain, at least a little. Imagine how your mind would change if you never complained.  I mean, talk about cultivating a positive mindset!

Suffice it to say, I can’t really see this particular challenge as anything but positive for an over-thinker like me.  

To clarify, I know that sometimes what could considered “complaining” is actually useful.  The classic example is ordering something in a restaurant and not getting what you wanted. In this instance, yes, you should (nicely) complain!  The difference here is that the complaint is constructive. You deserve a meal that’s to your liking, and bringing the problem to someone’s attention allows it to be resolved.  Constructive complaining, where steps can be taken to resolve a problem, is ok. The complaining that isn’t helpful would be complaining to pass the time, to shame someone else, to make yourself feel better, or to reaffirm a negative belief.  

I suppose that I love a good challenge EVEN MORE than I love a good complaint-filled rant, so I’m going to take today as my DAY 1.  I am not going to purchase a special bracelet from the website, but there are bracelets/packages available, and they appear to come with a variety of supports and extras. You can support the movement and get an official bracelet here: acomplaintfreeworld.org  Instead, I am cheaping out, grabbing a magenta piece of string, and ta-da! a bracelet that I can easily wear without having to take it off at night.

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Maybe I’ll buy a special bracelet from the website eventually, but for now, I think this is fine!

I’ll be posting updates as I move seamlessly and easily toward my day 21.  (Sarcasm is still ok!) Each vocalized complaint means that I have to start again.

Anyone else wanna try this?

Yours in hopeful positivity,

-Jennnq

A Forest In Fall

I don’t always have the chance to go, but there is a wooded area behind where I work, and on my lunch breaks I sometimes venture up there. When I do, I find myself blissfully alone in what I consider to be a mind-blowingly beautiful place.

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Makes it hard not to feel a twinge of hope, y’know?

My pictures don’t do it justice.  I hardly think they could.  Not until they can capture a perfect panoramic shot, along with the brightness of colours alive in the moist air, and combine it all of it with the actual feeling of being there.  I only hope there is some shadow of how it seems to me reflected in the pictures I snap with my phone.

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Gotta love that clean air. (The crowd’s not too judgmental, either!)

Apart from when I indulge in dramatic makeup and costumes, most of the pictures I take of myself are “forest selfies.” Me, against a backdrop of trees left to grow of their own accord.  Embarrassing, perhaps, but it makes sense.  I am trying to capture the state in which I feel I am being my most authentic self.

In the wilderness, things like choice of clothing are of little consequence.  Somber or bright, as long as I am warm, comfortable, and not hitching my hem on the trees, I’m fine. (Still, because I walk directly up from work, I admit that I do sometimes wear wilderness-questionable outfits out on the trail anyway!)  

Like any immediate concerns about appearance, most modern distractions become so much nothing in the forest. My social media presence and number of Twitter followers are infinitely less interesting than this one particular tree I was fascinated by. It stood “alone” in a crowd; surrounded by trees of different species. Yet it was the one dripping in sunlight. I wondered if anyone else had ever even seen it look like that  before.

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Don’t be afraid to be different…

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It was so much more shiny in reality. I love the pluck of this sun-struck tree!

I miss the outside when I don’t go.  I work indoors now, and when the days are busy and long, or cold and miserable, I don’t go to the woods at all.  It bothers me not to have this tiny escape.  The urge to follow the path to the trees some days is quite insistent.  

 

When I worked as a mail carrier, Mother Nature didn’t have to push me quite so hard. Outdoors was a given. I couldn’t help but observe natural cycles in action.  I brushed past buds and first crocuses. I was met by fall bugs seeking warmth in the crevices of dark mailboxes. I even, in the right place at the very right moment, caught a glimpse of late-summer Blue Flag Iris growing wild.  In short,I saw the change of the seasons as easily as I read the words on the envelopes and fliers between my fingertips.

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One of my more recent shots. The forest is changing again!

I have to force myself to pay a little more attention now.  Like so many others, I don’t have to go outside.  It’s just something I endeavour to do.  I am fallible.  I am easily distracted.

Still, even at my most distracted, I think Autumn has always been my favourite.  The trees themselves may be bare or nearly so, but the wooded landscape is far from lifeless. I love the moss, and the brilliant shades it boasts, even late into the season.. I love the cacophony of the leaves that litter the ground.  I also cannot help but love the proliferation of strange mushrooms in their multitude of unexpected shapes and arrangements. You might find the strangest specimen standing alone, or a circle of frilly brothers and sisters keeping unexpected vigil. I love those perfect days where the temperature is just crisp enough to tell you to keep moving, and to whisper of impending winter.

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This is pretty amazing to me. Fungus is neato!

I have a history of wandering.  Trails through the forest, going precisely nowhere, suit me perfectly.  I love the mystery that lurks there, and the fact that we as humans don’t fully understand everything about how it works.

Life is complicated.  2016 has been so hard on so many people. This fact only heightens for me the spiritual importance of creating a built-in time-out.  Ordinary breathing space on ordinary days. I’m not saying a walk in the forest will cure your sadness.  I’m just saying there’s a lot that clean air, mossy undergrowth and being awed by the wilderness can fix.

Yours in continued observations and aimless wanderings,

-Jennnq

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Me, pretty much in my happy place.

Green Smoothies, Getting a Job, and that Terrible Budget…

I’m going to go ahead and call this past week an all-round interesting one.  I will say that, although I STILL do not have any set-in-stone plans for my future, and things are still feeling very up in the air right now.  (The excitement!) I believe that things will work out for the best, and I am very curious about the opportunities the Universe is currently presenting me with.

As of right now, I actually DO have a part-time, and fairly unexpected job. (!)  My ex-boss from 4 years ago, back when I was writing commercials, is…now my boss again.  I met with her earlier this week, and I have been invited back on a part-time basis.  Very cool.  It actually felt amazing to be back in the building after 4 years away.  (It was terrifyingly also a little like ‘coming home’!)  I am excited to use my writing skills once more, and I am thrilled to see some folks I haven’t talked to in a while, as well as to meet some of the new-to-me faces around the building.  I’m pleased to at least see where this thing leads.

I also managed to do a little soul-searching and to revamp my diet.  I think feeling a little blue kind of derailed my regular eating.  When you start eating crappy food, it can be really hard to stop, and I had definitely noticed that I sorta fell off the wagon.  I also know how good I COULD feel with the right food, so I am deep into raw food again. I say “again,” because I have experimented with raw veganism in the past.  

I want to reassure those of my friends who may worry about me, however.  This time, I am NOT doing things with an iron-clad strict approach.  I am also NOT even eating entirely vegan (just a lot of vegan-friendly food), and I have every intention of sitting down to a decent, cooked supper most nights.  (Jason would have it no other way!)  I am not aiming to be perfect, only to put what I know about proper diet into action.  Hey, who doesn’t like to feel good?

Right now, I am ramping up the amount of fruits and veggies I eat during the bulk of the day, and, again, I aim to have a heavier meal with my family in the evenings.  This sort of approach (based on SOME of the thinking in the highly-popular “Raw ‘til 4” movement) works really well for me, and makes me feel very alive.  Again, for anyone who knows me, I want to stress that this is so that I can feel/perform my best.  I am NOT restricting calories, just crappy food.  I always find that a couple of days with a LOT more greens and fruit-packed smoothies will make me feel like wonderwoman.  🙂

In the realm of positive change, I really think I’ve eased up on myself  more recently, and that’s a good thing.  I’m 33, I’m 5’5”, and I guess now I’ll never be a teen model. 😉  I still love experimenting with fashion, and I love makeup, but yes, there are times when I know I may be using it out of insecurity.  Like, when I worry about my uneven complexion, and wind up using corrector, tinted moisturizer, bronzer, blush and highlighter all at once.  

I want to stress that there is NOTHING wrong with any of that stuff, and I am NOT about to give up my bronzer or anything, but when you feel like you NEED it…that’s a bit of a warning sign.  

I had a good think earlier the week, and I am proud to say that other than moisturizer and sunscreen (my poor nose always burns!) I have been leaving my skin goop-free.  You know what else guys?  I look totally fine.

So I guess that’s it.  Some distinctly interesting possibilities in my life right now, a lot of bananas and dates, and learning to live with my natural self.

Oh, and the Newfoundland budget is flaming terrifying, so I made this:Library