Every Moment Counts

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2016 has been a hard year. That’s not news. Personally for me, it’s been a pretty big year of firsts and with that of growth and sometimes pain. I’ve lost my way a bunch, found it, then lost it again. I’ve cried a lot of tears and I’ve learned what it is to walk beside someone else in life and share the heavy burdens of everyday. I’ve discovered that when I suffer, he suffers too and I’ve discovered that when I feel joy- likewise so does he.

It took me a long while to understand that when I live my life with someone else, it impacts them too. I think sometimes we all somehow believe we don’t have the impact we think on one another. Random encounters with strangers can have impact on their lives good and bad and of course so does the impact sit with those we live with day-to-day. We all leave an impression on one another- a residue of our energy that stays on long after we’ve gone.

I’ve thought about this through the tragic and sudden death of a young friend this year. He was kind. He lived his life in a way that shone light on others. He smiled the biggest, hugged the tightest, laughed the loudest. He had so much joy about him that in his absence, I think it’s still here. His happiness was so big you couldn’t be in his presence and not be touched by it. Isn’t that how we should all live our lives? He only got 30 years here but I think he’d figured out the secret to a full life no matter how short the years. He was present and he felt so much joy I can’t think of him without smiling.

This year has been a tough one but if I have learned anything, it has been the importance of living in joy and in being true to me. I feel like I’ve strayed from that this year more so than ever. I’ve wandered off the trail in search of happiness for others. I’ve tried to be different so I don’t upset those around me and ultimately I think it is the thing that takes me the furthest from my writing and my ability to stay in touch with who I am. The desire to make others happy is something that weighs on my mind often. Sometimes it’s like a tidal wave that takes away every true perception I have of who I am until I have no voice. Without a voice, I have no opportunity to be great in this life and I think it is the realness of this that overwhelms me most.

It’s not about the year or the circumstances within it, it’s about being true every second, making the most of the time we have, not letting life slip away. It’s about hugging one another tight when we have the chance, taking quiet moments for ourselves, being gentle with others and with ourselves always. It’s also about knowing that each and every one of us has a purpose and it is to be great in the little moments we have everyday to shine.

My friend was not famous- he didn’t invent anything to change the world and my children won’t read about him in history books. He joked a lot, laughed a lot, hugged a lot, and loved a lot. He taught me that every moment counts. My only regret this year is that I’ve wasted too many on sadness. I’ve wasted too many moments in my own head spinning wheels that make the pain of not feeling enough more real.

I’ve convinced myself that I am small when I have every opportunity to be more.

I hesitated to write this because it’s been painful but I’m taking the moments back and turning them into something I can use to be better, stronger and more resilient because truly, every moment counts.

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Positivity Project Day 5

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Positivity Project- Record 3 things I’m grateful for and 1 inspiring quote everyday for 7 days to promote a happier, more positive life.

Inspiring Quote: “Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

Three Things I’m grateful for:

1. Country sky at night- millions and millions of tiny dancing lights on the blackest canvas
2. Smores around the campfire
3. Friends that treat me like family

I should be long in bed but I am fresh off a weekend that fed my soul a little and I wanted to write about it before I launch into a busy week. This weekend I headed north to spend time with a family my parents and I met camping about 24 years ago. They’ve known me about as long as I’ve been me and I spent my childhood either running after the three girls or being carted around by them. They now have children and husbands of their own, live in different cities (one out of province) and come together only intermittently.

On Saturday I sat at a table amongst the girls. Their mom was on the end and we were all laughing and joking and playing bingo. One man asked their mom if we were all her girls. She smiled and looked down the table. “Well those three are” she said, pointing to her daughters. “She’s more like my half daughter but she’s definitely one of the family” she explained, pointing to me. Later when they invited me over for dinner and I asked if they were sure it was okay that I crash the family affair they all laughed. Their mom bumped my arm and leaned in, “You’re always welcome here. You’re one of us you know” she told me.

I’ve spent all my time and effort lately trying to belong somewhere. It sounds crazy but I’ve been feeling, in some ways, like I don’t belong in my own life. It’s part of the reason I started the Positivity Project. I wanted to remind myself of all the ways I am lucky and loved and fortunate in my own world. I think I’ve been too easily forgetting about the good bits. This weekend I laughed until I cried, felt so much love I thought in moments my heart might burst, and remembered what that sense of belonging is like. I wanted to write it all down before I let any more of the good little bits slip through the cracks. Life is too short to let that keep happening.

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Time Passes Either Way….

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All night I’ve been stewing over whether I’d write this blog or not…the experience I had today has been bumping around in my brain like one of those little silver balls in an old-school pinball machine, and thankfully it’s done just enough to ignite a little something in me.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit I’ve been in a slump lately; walking around in a negative funk like it’s my J-O-B. I’ve felt frustrated and cranky and all I could do was focus on being frustrated and cranky and it became a bit of a vicious cycle I haven’t been able to pull myself out of.

Today as I walked home from the subway, caught up in my own little world, I spotted a little old woman walking down the street toward me. She was leaning on her cane and struggling with two bags of groceries as she descended the slope of the road that dipped in a steep decline. I pulled my earbuds out and approached her. I kept thinking I didn’t want to freak her out but was almost certain she’d topple over if I didn’t help. She was hesitant at first but allowed me to take the bags from her and walk her home. She had 3 litres of milk and a carton of 12 eggs. I think the bags weighed more than she did. I made light conversation as we walked and as we approached her house she told me how nice her neighbours have been by mowing her lawn and helping her by bringing her recycling and garbage to the door for her.

I had a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach as I listened. Since I’ve lived in Toronto I’ve grumbled about how hard it is to meet people. I’ve complained about the lack of a sense of community and how nobody is willing to help one another. As I stood at this woman’s door with the carton of eggs and the bags of milk and the circulation to my fingers began to fade, my head swam with the knowledge that she’s lived directly behind me for almost two years and I’ve never made the time to know her, even in passing. Nor have I really met anyone else in our neighbourhood. Isn’t it funny how life just passes you by like that sometimes?

We chatted for a while and in conversation I learned that her husband had passed away in previous years and that last year she’d lost her daughter to cancer. None of it was weird or over-sharing, it just was. She said she had lots of help from neighbours and friends from her church but then she opened the door to let her cat out and as he weaved through my feet I bent to scratch his ear. She admitted that she’d adopted him a few years back just for the company. I wanted to hug her. For the billions of people in this world, I wonder how many of us feel lonely on a regular basis? I wonder how many of us could have an impact just by carrying someone’s groceries to the door or smiling and saying hello rather than keeping ourselves closed off.

As I put the groceries down I made a decision. I asked for paper and pen and scrawled my name and number down and asked her to call me if she ever felt she needed anything. I walked home feeling pretty unsettled. I felt I’d not done enough. I still do. Sometimes I think the ones who ask for the least help are the ones who need it the most. It makes my stomach hurt.

That being said, walking away from her house I also realized that by doing something kind for someone else I’d not been so focused on my own negative thoughts. It made issues that seemed important five minutes before, feel silly. It’s easy to forget there’s more to life than the trivial little life stresses when you’re living them. It’s easy to forget that time passes either way.