Stormy Day Equals Drawing and Painting Day

Okay…the weather today in our area is forecasted to be somewhat less than stellar.

In fact, “The Weather Network” is calling for the potential of up to as much as 15 centimetres of blowing snow into this afternoon.

Much of the big hoopla given the chance of a “bit of snow” today really doesn’t hold much concern here at the “old homestead.”

Other than trekking out later to pick up some groceries for the week, we really don’t have to head out in what could be less than optimal road conditions.

Where does this leave today then?

Well, from where I sit(and yes it is still dark given it is 6:20am), it seems like the perfect day to look out the window every so often at the blowing snow and spend the rest of my time sketching and painting.

The perfect type of day to keep refilling the tank – “The Trials of Up and Down.”

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

The Parcel Packing Vortex

With each passing hour and day, we’re getting a few steps closer to that very, very special time of year. We all know what it is and for some, it’s a day filled with both equal amounts of celebration and trepidation. It’s the day we pack up the car, fire up Christmas tunes on the radio, and head off to our local post office or courier drop-off location to launch the yearly parcel of Christmas gifts for family or friends, and yes, it is always heartfelt parcels destined for a land far, far away.

We’re in the exact same boat as you are.

Many of us have friends and family who live on the opposite side of the country or perhaps even that special person(s) who live far, far away on the other side of the planet.

At this time of year, those loved ones who don’t live near us are referred to as “domestic” or “international” shipping. Terms that have significant meaning to some given this post, but honestly do the terms “domestic” or “international” really ooze or create much of a “warm and fuzzy.” I think not.

I’m sure as we are doing here at the “old homestead”, you’re getting gifts together for the family members who can’t be with you; wrapping and sticking those precious hand-made Christmas tags on each one, and then the horror, that seasonal horror of biblical proportion starts to creep up like cold air seeping under the front door……the smell of evil permeates everywhere.

All these gifts for the grandchildren(as an example) have to fit into ONE BOX.

The freaking and genital crushing “ONE BOX” dilemma.

A devilish exercise which is akin to a thousand-piece puzzle that the world’s fastest and largest computer system would cough and wheeze over and ultimately crash in a heap of smoking ruins.

The process always starts well, with the first few gifts fitting nicely into the shipping box. But, as the exercise moves along the process slows down when you come to the realization that those last four gifts….no matter how you move them in some bizarre “three-dimensional four-level puzzle torture” they simply will not fit.

Thus each gift gets taken out of the box, along with a cry and sigh of anguish and defeat. The slow awakening that this heart-wrenching and soul-crushing exercise has to start all over again.

The process always repeats itself for three to five distinct cycles and with the following realization.

The “parcel box vortex” comes to ultimately define the meaning of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over again the same way – but expecting different results each time.”

But, when it seems all is lost and that Christmas may not happen this year, a miracle happens. It feels like the hands of a “Christmas angel” have directed those last few pieces to fit perfectly.

You yell an exclamation proclaiming that there is “something bigger than all of us at work in the cosmos.”

The flaps of the shipping box fold down perfectly. You finish securing each flap, corner, and edge with several layers of packing tape. You sit back for just a few minutes and admire with great satisfaction and wonderment the final product. Often a glass of wine is required given the sanctity of the moment.

Then off to the post office or courier company.

We’ve used FedEx for the past few years to ship Christmas gifts to our daughter in Atlantic Canada. We’ve found them to be reasonably priced(usually about $25) and bang on in terms of the delivery schedule. I suspect we’ll do the same again this year with presents for both Sara and Andrew(the boyfriend).

Regardless of which company one may use, whether a private courier or national postal service, at this point we’re all in the same boat.

The rapidly leaky boat of finishing the gift buying and moving up to the starting gate of the “parcel packing vortex.”

So, over the next few days or a couple of weeks…remember you are not alone in this exercise of self-humiliation and intelligence-crushing insanity.

There are scores of us all crying and pounding our fists on the carpet, like a three-year-old having an epic “where is my sippy-cup” level meltdown.

Remember……we’ve prevailed in the past and I’m confident that we will prevail again this year.

“Would you mind just topping up my wine glass again?”

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Happy and Grateful or Grateful and Happy

Although this post is a couple of years old, it is a message that is timeless. Or at least I think it’s timeless. And along with being timeless, the marriage of gratefulness and happiness and how the two concepts interact or should interact is perhaps something we should all take a close at.

I wish I had taken the opportunity to snap a picture of the following quote on the sign that ultimately inspired this post.

grateful1

Ironically, the sign was on the property of a large car dealership on the busiest road in the City that I work in.

Not only is it a place that sells cars and trucks, but apparently they are also delving into life inspiration and inspirational quotes to brighten our day.

Regardless of the car dealership’s motivation for having the quote at the edge of the road, the quote and the words within it, should if nothing else cause us to pause and think about the meaning behind them.

The question is, “are happy people grateful, or are grateful people happy?”

Here in Canada, we’ve passed through the “Thanksgiving Holiday” and are now pressing wildly along and riding the gut-busting roller-coaster of the Christmas season. To our friends south of us, they are in the midst of their Thanksgiving celebrations, which thus heralds the start of the holiday season south of the border.

So, what a perfect time of the year to take a short look at “are happy people grateful or are grateful people happy?”

Often at Thanksgiving dinner or certainly at some point during that time, people sit back and either ponder to themselves or say out loud “what they’re thankful for.” We go through and express gratitude for things like “what we have or been given” or “thankful for the people in our life.”

Thanksgiving and all it entails go hand in hand with expressing gratitude. Just try it for once!

grateful3

Now, on a bit of a send note for a minute or two( and not trying to make it more complicated than it already is), “gratitude” gets its meaning from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness.

If we think about it for a second, doesn’t gratitude wrap itself around all three of these meanings?

Gratitude is being thankful for what we get or receive in our lives. When we express gratitude, by default, we are acknowledging the source of whatever we received. The source of goodness or whatever it is we received, often is found outside of ourselves.

pooh

Therefore, expressing gratitude helps us to connect to something bigger than ourselves as individuals. It could be other people, a higher spiritual power, or perhaps nature.

In a nutshell, expressing gratitude moves us along to feel and have more positive emotions; to be thankful for the good experiences in life. Gratitude or expressing it helps to improve our health; deal with rough stretches when they occur and help to build strong relationships.

All of that sounds like someone who is hap, hap, happy.

Conclusion – gratitude is associated with happiness

Okay then.

Have you ever come across someone who was truly happy, yet felt ungrateful for the blessings or the good fortune in their life?

Likely not.

It is akin to “I’ll be happy when…….?”

Unfortunately, in many respects, we live in a society where the “I’ll be happy when attitude prevails. The “when” in that statement makes that whole approach to happiness – exceedingly elusive. “When” is “when?” When or how do we know when we’re there; when we’re happy? If we don’t know or have any concept of what or where “when is”, how do we know if or when we’ve arrived there?

That philosophy puts us in a place where we could never be happy, peaceful, or fulfilled in the present. we’d always be chasing something we can never catch.

It is grateful people who are happy.

gratitude 1

It’s as simple as that.

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

The Trials of Up and Down

If the last number of weeks and especially last week could be represented in a picture, surely it would be this.

Having said that, the understatement of understatements if there ever was one would emphatically be “life has its ups and downs” or something similar in nature.

Along with the whole “life has its ups and downs” view of existence, is that the roller coaster we refer to as “life” can leave you mentally and emotionally drained so to speak. Actually, there can be no “so to speak”…you’re actually and simply “drained…empty….zero in the tank…nada.”

That’s how it feels to a great extent this Sunday morning.

Why so low, so drained?

The background…

I came out of a very stunted and emotionally/mentally abusive/challenged upbringing. All of which to a major degree at times has caused significant mental and emotional wellness issues throughout my life.

Anyways, family and a family that are close and loves each other unconditionally and all those wonderful things are exceedingly important to me. As I suspect they are within every family.

As such, with only one child(we had Sara, then lost another one) being able to connect on a regular basis every few weeks via text or an “old-fashioned phone call” or even 21-century video calls, is pretty important within my life and Lynn’s.

Since coming back from visiting Sara and her boyfriend(Andrew) the last week of September, we were and are still unable to reconnect with her through any medium. Having said that, Sara does have a challenge coping with connecting or more often reconnecting with those in her life. And the more you send a text or call to see how life was, the harder it becomes for her to reach out. Each call or text would add an additional layer of guilt to her because she couldn’t or hadn’t been able to respond.

Anyhow, she has seen a therapist in the past, which really helped her to a very great extent.

But, not over the past two months.

So, to say the least, we were becoming very, very concerned as this was the longest period we hadn’t heard from her. It goes without saying that the emotional and mental toll on both Lynn and I was considerable and increased with each passing hour and day.

But, we did have her boyfriend’s(Andrew’s) cell number. After not hearing anything, Lynn made the decision to call Andrew last Saturday. She got the automated response, “this number is no longer in service.”

We were devasted.

Not knowing anyone else in Halifax, Andrew was our last and only real connection to Sara. At that point, both Lynn and I fell as rapidly as one could into a not very good and rather darkish place to be. Whatever negative and bad situations we could imagine, we accomplished all of it.

While trying to sort this mess out(which included taking an emergency leave from work to go to Halifax), I knew her boyfriend had a sister who was a medical student in Halifax. With a bit of sleuthing and luck, I found her Instagram page and figured we would message her to see if she could help.

Fast-forwarding a bit, just as I was about to hit send in the message to his sister, Lynn said, “you should include Andrew’s cell number, just to check if it has changed and that perhaps his sister had his new one.” As I was composing the message on my phone, I said to Lynn, “grab your phone and read me Andrew’s number.” Lynn starts, “area code 209………”

As a stunning realization swept over me like a tidal wave, I quickly blurted out, “that’s wrong the area code. Where they are in Halifax the area code is 902.”

Lynn had the area code backward in her phone.

As we looked at each other in rapidly increasing disbelief. I picked up my phone; hit Andrew’s number and after a couple of rings I get, “hello.”

To make a long short a bit shorter, we had a wonderful chat with Andrew. Yes, Sara is back in a place where she finds it a significant challenge to reconnect. But, Andrew said, it just isn’t with us, it’s with all the people in her sphere that she should be connecting with. So, she is back working with her therapist and we hope and know there will be great results.

It was very comforting to know that Andrew understands our concerns and that he loves her and is supporting Sara to give her the time and space she needs to work through whatever she needs to. He said, she is working a lot(which she loves to do) and the new puppy is an ongoing bundle of fun and concern as new puppies are.

You are likely thinking at this moment, “So wtf is the issue here? Seems like it all worked out more or less.”

You are absolutely correct – it did.

But, it also emotionally and mentally drained both of us. From weeks of ever-increasing lows, and then going from a high after getting off the phone with Andrew, I crashed to a somewhat much lower spot.

This morning, it feels like I’ve moved a bit from that place………but not much.

I just feel drained and I know Lynn feels the same way.

We were out for a bit on Saturday afternoon trying to chip away at the Christmas list, and I mentioned, “I can’t take or deal with any more emotional poop at the moment. I’m sort of needing this weekend to be one to start to fill the tank again.”

That seemed to be a common theme in the car as we headed back home.

Without a doubt – “life has its ups and downs.” And much of it from a backwards area code.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – How Are We/You Holding Up?

I originally wrote the core of this and posted it just about a year ago. And without stating the obvious, COVID is still here and from what I hear and read, it doesn’t appear to be taking any sort of a hiatus anytime soon. Although, it is nowhere near bolting through the population as it was last year at this time.

Let’s get things moving along here.

So, what are you making me read?

Well, to be honest, I’m not making you read anything. If you continue reading and I hope you do…. it’s your choice.

But, at this very moment, as I type away in a slightly darkened living room, the message of the post is as relevant today as it was last year and as it will be next year in 2022. Especially seeing we’re three-quarters of the way through the month of November and very nicely cruising along through the holiday season.

How are we holding up?

At any time of the year and it doesn’t need to be the holiday season, scores of people are dealing and managing with their own mental and emotional wellness issues and concerns.

For many, the emotional and mental wellness issues they deal with on a daily basis can amplify and intensify 1000X during the holiday season.

There is plenty of well-documented research illustrating the myriad of stress-related issues that the holiday season can throw upon all of us.

This year, added a full 365 days of living and navigating through the ongoing global pandemic, including a myriad of pandemic-related issues and concerns that took us to new and uncharted territories, including the introduction of COVID vaccines early in 2021.

Forgetting all of that “stuff” and speaking only for myself, the past weeks have been a series of good and somewhat less than good days. Not bad days, but on the other hand – not good days either.

If the “truth is told”, I’m finding that the introduction of seemingly ordinary things or events ramps up my anxiety a notch or two. Lucky for you guys, it seems that there wouldn’t be enough space in this post to list all these “ordinary things”, coupled with the boredom that would surely be strutting alongside as you read through the neverending and exceedingly exhaustive list.

But, here I sit now at 5:01am finishing up this post as one means of dealing with the anxiety and emotional wellness or lack thereof I’m experiencing.

Experts might start or certainly would start by telling me to, “cut yourself some slack.” You’ve got enough happening in your own life, along with the swirling mess that generally has engulfed most of us across the face of the planet.

Easy to say…….but a challenge to implement.

So…how are we/you doing?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Wilderness Art – Nova Scotia Inspired Lighthouse Community

It has been a long, long time since I’ve posted much regarding my going watercolour and pencil sketching voyage I’ve been on for the past year and a half or so.

It appears lately, I’ve been on a slight(well in fact more than a slight) Maritimes and Nova Scotia-inspired themes trek.

A quick Mr. Google search yesterday suggested that there are about 128 or so lighthouses in Nova Scotia. Now, if you count the ones that no longer exist because they were torn down at some point, the number of past and present lighthouses totals around 185.

The line and wash watercolour isn’t of any one place in the Maritime areas of Canada or Nova Scotia specifically.

What I was striving for was a fun whimsical inspired view of an east coast lighthouse and a few colourful houses that could be found at any tiny Nova Scotia fishing harbour/village.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Short and Sweet – How Do You View The World?

I wrote this back in the summer of 2020

The theme or message in the post is relevant at any point in our life’s journey as we travel across the face of this tiny blue planet.

Life and how we view life can change for us and often can change ever so slowly that one day we wake up and have no friggin’ idea how we arrived at this place. This assumes that the place we’re now at isn’t a place we want to dwell.

Having said that, and on a much more positive note, we can change or move from a place of darkness or negative on how we view the world.

–as always with love–

All of us view the world through a certain lens or filter. In fact, we may have several filters that we unknowingly interchange and utilize throughout the day.

A basic example of a lens or filter would be those who see the world as a good place, full of hope and potential. While on the other hand, there are others whose life experiences and hence filter(s), allow them only to see the negative and dark issues that surround them.

And I fully get it, that the above is a huge overgeneralization.

Filters or lenses come in all shapes and sizes and cover a multitude of circumstances, issues, and life experiences. How we view the world takes a lifetime of experiences(good and bad), a multitude of varying circumstances, along with our upbringing plus a whole host of complex interactions with the world around us.

Lynn took this picture using a clear crystal ball, which I gather is a fairly common piece of equipment in many photographers’ camera bags.

The funny thing is, that Lynn needed physically take the crystal ball out of her camera bag in order to create the shot.

The lens on the camera sees a particular image.

But, through a definitive choice, Lynn placed the crystal ball in front of the lens which then distorted the view which then the camera lens captured.

Now, this post isn’t to be the end-all to be all in terms of the filters we see the world through.

Here’s a couple of links to posts the talk about the filters and lenses we wear that I’ve done in the past.

Lenses That Colour Life

Viewing Life Through A Distorted Lens

The point is, if we don’t like what we see, we always have the opportunity to change the filter or lens that we view the world around us with.

Is it an easy thing to accomplish?

Sometimes it is.

Most times it’s not.

If you mostly see the world as a place full of hurt, pain, and distrust, it could be a difficult, yet doable emotional process to change that filter or lens to something that allows you to see the world as something better.

The reality is, if one doesn’t try – then one doesn’t know if it can be accomplished.

Often we just need to start and reach into the “camera bag of life” and see if there is a different lens available.

There are scores of professionals out there, that can help you along that path.

Maybe today is the today to start to change the lens you’re wearing. The day to start changing the entire way you view the world.

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

What Are You Moving Towards or Moving Away From? – Part 2

On Sunday(yesterday), I wrote a piece about searching and working to discover “the path/my path” to follow along with this thing we call “life’s journey.” You can read here what Part 1 is all about.

Having said that, science might suggest that if you are moving towards something then the reality is you are also moving away from something else. Well, that seems significantly logical.

It has become more than abundantly clear, at least to me it has, that this “self-discovery” quest to uncover this so-called path my life should be on is much harder and fraught with challenges and tripping hazards, that one really wasn’t anticipating. And that one(that means me) doesn’t really want or appreciate.

Nevertheless, life happens and there isn’t too much anyone including your’s truly can do about it. As well, this post isn’t about that.

This post is about “what am I moving away from?”

It would be fair to say, that over the past 18 months or so during the pandemic, information and specifically disinformation, sensationalism, and negativity found fertile ground in the living rooms and minds of many. The pandemic is just one example of where all of these three “things” have been at the forefront at times.

Without going into a long diatribe about the effects of dis-information, sensationalism, and negativity let’s all agree that these things can cast a dark shadow over our own emotional and mental wellness.

So, in a nutshell, that’s what I’m striving to move away from. There tends to be a bucket full of negative and alike that no matter what, we can never escape from. Fair enough.

However, I think if we aren’t careful or on-guard so to speak, all those other things can sneak into our psyche and slowly cast this hellish and dark hew over our mental and emotional wellness.

All of this isn’t to suggest that I’m planning on hiding under some rock or crawl into some dark and dank cave in north Simcoe County to escape all these poo-poo things. Of course not.

I/we have to live in the world I/we currently exist in. Having said that, what I can do is to work diligently on a daily basis is to eliminate or at least limit exposure to disinformation, sensationalism, and negativity that comes across my plate.

And along with that, increase the things that bring joy and calmness to my spirit throughout my day.

So, there you go.

Working on adding more of the joyful things or things that bring joy and soothe my mental and emotional wellness and other the other side of the coin, work at limiting and eliminating disinformation, sensationalism, and negativity that crushes my inner self.

–as always with love–

— get outside; find inspiration; discover yourself —

What Are You Moving Towards or Moving Away From? – Part 1

Over the past few weeks, well the last two at least, I’ve been overwhelmed with this feeling or sense that I need to find, discover or create some type of “path” on which my life needs to be.

Obviously, the white elephant or big question here is, what does this so-called path “look like” and where ultimately or even presently does this path go?

At this point in time, I can emphatically announce to the entire world, neither of those questions is remotely close to getting answered.

Nevertheless, one thing that I am incorporating in this “journey”(again, at least at this juncture) is focusing on and moving closer towards the things or activities that create joy and comfort in my life. On the other side of the coin, is moving away from the things or activities that can only be looked at as “bringing me down.”

For example, on the“moving towards” side of the equation, I’ve come to the realization(although I’ve honestly known it for some time) that sketching, painting, writing(blogging and poetry), as well as other creative pursuits bring me an exceedingly massive amount of joy and soul comfort. Such as I’ve been striving to become much more determined and focused on sketching at least every day and painting on my days off, or if I have time to paint in the afternoons after returning home from work.

In a way, it seems(metaphoric) blinders have come off my eyes(and psyche) and I see that when I focus on my creative side, these steps on “this path” bring an indeterminable amount of soothing and goodness in both my mental wellness and into my soul. Which is good.

We all know or at least have some inkling that we have entered the holiday season. And it is the time of year that can bring much joy, excitement, and pleasure OR it can be the exact opposite of all three of those things – misery, apathy, and sadness.

This year especially, I’ve moved into this “state of being”(can’t think of another word or phrase), where Christmas activities have become almost like a “soul or mental/emotional well-being medication.”

So, what the hell does “soul or mental/emotional well-being medication” mean? And what are these activities?

The “soul or mental/emotional well-being medication” is simply that. The activities bring a sense of peace and soothing to my distressed and troubled emotional and mental wellness. A sense of calmness and ultimately escape into a world of “no hurt and pain” if only for an evening or an afternoon. Things like Christmas light displays, that can be found in Owen Sound(Festival of Northern Lights) or the “Holiday Magic Display” at Blue Mountain Village as a couple of examples. Nighttime Christmas parades and night outdoor markets are great options that we’re trying to hit up as well.

While this post may seem a tad “distressed” or “unfocused”, the value or message in it is one that is chasing me(or I’m chasing it) and the message is simply – “move towards the things the strengthen or help heal your soul – your mental/emotional wellness.”

At this stage along the journey of “path discovery”, this is the only answer I have – at this moment.

I’m hoping to crank out “Part 2” – looking at “Moving Away From.”

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Today

This is going to be short ……so lucky you.

As part of my “life path quest”, which by the way just seemed to get ignited on Sunday, I came across this graphic.

Now, in terms of the message it portrays, it appears to be pretty simple. However, in its simplicity, I believe it holds much complexity.

So, what is this complex complexity? It’s this…….start it today.

Jump in with both feet and “freaking well” begin. You can’t herd cats and you’ll never get your ducks in a row.

Procrastination or “putting off to tomorrow” is a “Game of Thrones” level, dream/goal/aspiration slayer.

That’s it.

That’s the post.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —