Thoughts From The Wilderness – Advice From A Waterfall

One of these days, I’ll find the inspiration to create a new post as compared to rehashing an “oldie but goodie” from the past.

To say it has been a strange; weird; difficult; and sad year doesn’t even come close to describing the last 365 days(+/- a few).

Some days when at the computer writing, the words flow as easy and smoothly as a brook tumbles peacefully over pebbles in a forest hollow. Other times, pulling teeth from your own head would be easier and less painful.

The key I think is to “keep keeping on.” In other words, just simply keep plugging away. So, maybe tomorrow(Friday) might be the day for something new.

As I’ve written before and as you’ll read in a second, I’m not a huge fan of these “Advice From A…..” quotes and graphics. The next question that pops into my mind is, “why have you done three or four pieces utilizing them?” That is a good question. I don’t know to be honest. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of them or that someone has already taken the time and effort to create the sub-headings. I thinking it may very well be the second point. Why recreate the wheel?

Nevertheless, there are some good points in “Advice From A Waterfall” to let smoulder away in the coals of your mind. It just occurred to me, that these “Advice From..” things all deal with aspects of nature. I wonder why nature?

From last year..

— as always with love —

Not long ago, I went on at some length about these “Advice From A ……” quotes and imagines.

Although many of them I have found or seen online aren’t necessarily tools I might run too, the essence of the messages contained in them, I think is useful as a helpful or wise reminder for a variety of instances and situations.

One key lesson we all need to learn and heed is that often we need to step back from living every once in a while and look at a much bigger picture of life. Life is more than the chaos and swirling dust-devils that often fill our 24/7 and 365 days a year existence.

Although more can be said on “the bigger picture of life look at things“, there is some excellent advice on living life through the lens of viewing a waterfall.

Advice from a Waterfall

waterfall

Let your cares fall away

How often do we keep lugging the same issues and concerns around with us? Well, in fact, it’s most of the time.

The sad thing is, that many of our cares, issues and concerns are so minor in nature that in the big scheme of life, they don’t amount to more than a hill of beans.

Stop making insignificant stuff – significant. Such as waste of emotional and mental energy.

Unfortunately, we do tend to “major on the minor.”

Let your cares fall away.

Roar with excitement

Life is the world’s largest buffet table. Everything is available, just simply toddle on up to the bar and pick whatever floats your boat. Having the opportunity to eat at the world’s largest buffet, should fill all of us with excitement. All we need to do is simply fill our plates and eat.

In other words, life is meant to be enjoyed and most importantly, it is meant to be experienced.

Try something new today; expand your comfort zone a bit. All that life has to offer; all of the different experiences that are out there should cause you to roar with excitement.

No roar; no growth.

Roar with excitement.

Go with the flow

Stop planning everything life within an inch of its own “life.” Sometimes you just got to “go with the flow.”

Of course, some things in life do need significant planning and attention to detail. Everyone gets that. But there are times when you can’t and shouldn’t “plan and create a binder full of lists and plans.” In other words and to quote the 1990’s “chill out dude.”

One way to look at it is, “going with the flow” and “trusting your intuition” go well together in the same sentence. Sometimes, you just have to let life happen and come as it may.

Go with the flow.

Make a splash!

We all want our life to have had meaning and an impact at the end of it all. A meaningful life is a basic human condition or need that we all have.

If you’ve ever been around water, you know that when something hits the water, it makes a splash. Some splashes are big; others are not so big. Regardless, a splash is a splash – no matter what.

In the middle of a battle, it is hard to know if you’re winning the war.

Life is like that in many respects. Often it is hard to tell if you’re making a splash that counts for something. At times, only you can tell if you’re making a splash or how big your splash might be.

Make a splash in your family; help out/volunteer and make a splash in your community.

Don’t let your life simply be a ripple on the water. Make it count – and make it count large.

Make a splash.

Stay active

Waterfalls are active and vibrant as they roar and tumble over a rocky ledge someplace in the great outdoors. They have this movement and life to them that captivates most of us to stand and observe them with awe.

A waterfall that didn’t flow or wasn’t active would be pretty boring. Really, it wouldn’t be much of a waterfall if that was the case.

There is more than enough research out there on the benefits of staying active. We tend to think physically, but there are just as many emotional and mental benefits of staying active as well. Whether we like it or not, we’re physical, emotional and mental creatures. A such, we need to stay active and exercise each one of those parts to the best of our ability.

Stay active.

Create your own music

Waterfalls create a certain sound as the water crashes and hits the bottom. A waterfall does not sound like a bird chirping. Nor does it sound like a duck. A waterfall creates its own music in order to sound like a waterfall should.

Simply said, “march to your own drummer.”

Don’t be someone else. Marching to someone else’s music, simply makes you a copycat with the potential of you not even being able to keep time and march correctly.

You need to be who you were meant to be. So, go out and figure that out. Create your own music and march to your own drummer. Be you!

Create your own music.

Immerse yourself in nature

For the most part, waterfalls are found naturally where? In nature.

There has been much research done and written in regard to why it is so important to spend time in nature. I read recently, that even time spent in an urban park for a few hours sitting on a bench has tremendous overall benefits.

Much of the research shows and concludes, that spending two hours a week soaking up nature — be it woodland, park or beach — gives a positive boost to health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically.

As a society, we have never before spent so much of our time indoors. And never has there such a time or such a desperate need as the present to reverse that trend.

Immerse yourself in nature.

There you have it. Some real-life advice from a waterfall that you can take to the bank.

Go out today or this weekend and find yourself a waterfall. Once you get there, simply sit, listen, absorb and just be.

— as always with love —

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Watching Your Step Along Life’s Journey To Avoid Mistakes

They say that history repeats itself over and over again.

I suppose that’s true, although in all honesty I don’t really give it much thought until I’m into the middle of something and realize. “geez – why does heading down this particular path seem – oh so familiar?”

Wise scribes also say that we can learn from the mistake of others, instead of heading off and recreating those same mistakes all by ourselves. That at times appears to be a hard concept for many to get a handle on – including myself.

Nevertheless, as we scurry along through life, it does behoove us to at least have a semi-decent grasp on our surroundings. So, what if we don’t?

Well, if you flip life over into a hiking analogy, by not knowing or keeping an eye on your surroundings you may very well end up in a destination you never expected to be and most definitely do not want to be in.

When others in our lives say, “turn right instead of left” perhaps it would do us great benefit if nothing else to perk our ears up and heed what they are saying. Good chance is they went “left instead of right”and are trying to help us avoid the same mistake.

I don’t know. Why not take a read from a year ago.

— as always with love —

Much has been written over the years, including the odd piece by yours truly on forging one’s own path through life.

2020k

On the opposite side of the coin, there has been just as much written and published on the merits of following a path or direction in life that has been laid down by others trudging along before us. And again, I’ve scribbled the odd bit myself on this topic.

The above picture was taken along a boardwalk in the Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve located near Gravenhurst, ON.

The Torrance Barrens Conservation Area was designated as the world’s first permanent Dark Sky Reserve. It comprises about 4,700-acres of Crown land of mostly bedrock and wetlands, with trees and bushes that are stunted in height. Because of these unique features, it means that star-gazers have an unimpeded spectacular 360-degree view of the night sky, unhampered by light pollution.

In addition to all of that neat stuff, Torrance Barrens also doubles as an exceptional hiking and mountain biking area, with 3 well-marked trails for public use.

Through the extensive hiking trail system, there are a number of boardwalks that cross wet and/or sensitive bog areas. Unfortunately, during our last few times hiking there, the boardwalks have fallen into disrepair. As such, they require needed much maintenance and repair to make them safe and usable once again.

Even though the boardwalks were built by generous volunteers to guide and somewhat protect us and more so to protect the sensitive wetlands, not watching where you’re going and with one wrong misstep, a serious injury could easily be the result.

In many respects, life is much the same.

Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 7.51.58 AM

Whether we’ve been trudging along forging our own path or we’ve chosen to follow a path that was blazed by others who have gone before us it doesn’t really matter.

Watching where we’re going can help us in identifying and avoiding pitfalls and potential hazards long before we could potentially fall headlong into them. Not watching or paying attention generally equates out to BIG MISTAKES.

Being aware of your surroundings or watching where you are going in life, at least gives us a fighting chance to avoid making the mistakes that others have made before us.

In the picture above, if Lynn wasn’t paying close attention to where she was putting her feet, she may have ended up like the person or persons before her who broke through the rotted boards. Not a nice way to finish a day hiking.

mistake

The whole concept of watching where you are going and learning from the mistakes of others or learning from history seems to come to mind here.

It’s useful to remember that if we don’t take this rather over-used concept, yet however simple and effective one where do we end up?

One doesn’t need to be a “rocket scientist” to see that learning from the mistakes of others or from mistakes generated through history can save us from setbacks, heartache and strife regardless of the situation we’re in. Whether it’s in our own business environments; the world of medical and scientific research or in our own personal lives and relationships it makes no big difference.

Of course mistakes and missteps are going to happen, mostly due to the fact we’re human and making mistakes and taking missteps is somehow part of our DNA and genetic makeup for some stupid reason.

mistakes3

In the end, we can choose to learn from the mistakes that others have made and from the missteps that have befallen those before us.

Or on the other hand, we can choose to charge ahead to recreate those mistakes and missteps and if we’re lucky we can make some brand-new exciting ones along the way, that people in the future(maybe even tomorrow) will talk about and create memes with.

History is there and recorded for a reason. We might as well take the opportunity to learn from it before we head off and do something we wish we hadn’t. Because if we don’t, history has a way of returning and biting us squarely in the ass.

mistakes5

Lastly

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Why Your Story Is Important

The message contained with the post is an exceedingly important one. It was a year ago when I first wrote and published it and it is still important today. There are those who do view mental health and mental wellness is the light of negativity or in the light of “not so important.”

There are many I think, see mental health or mental wellness issues as a taboo subject at the best of times. No problem discussing cancer issues; or a brief chat about MS; we’ll even bring up “COVID-19…but mental health – no way.

A couple of weeks ago, in Canada there was “Bell Let’s Talk” day which focuses for at least a day on mental health awareness. A pretty big social media event splashed across FB, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Today, not so much social media presence when it comes to health issues.

But, I get it. Or at least I think I get it.

The stench that often gets wrongly applied to discussions around mental health is a tough one to get rid of. Sort of like a skunk that has sprayed your dog an a wet and miserable spring morning. You can get rid of a good chunk of the smell, but it still lingers.

But, it ultimately is your story.

And you can choose to tell it or not. You can tell all of it or none of it; or end up somewhere in between and tell only the parts you want others to hear.

There are going to be risks associated with whatever decision you make. How risk averse you are will decide the narrative or lack thereof in your story.

No one is saying that you need to become the “poster spokesperson” for mental health advocacy in your area. You can if you want too – if that is the way you want your story to go.

Often simply reassuring a friend or loved one with “I know where you’re at – because this is where I am or I was” is the perfect story to tell and to hear.

From about a year ago…..

— as always; with love —

The stark and naked truth is that we all have a story to tell.

Each of us as we traverse through life, create our own story, word by word; sentence by sentence and chapter by chapter. We often roll out with great fanfare the stories and snippets of our successes and positive challenges(if there is such an animal as “positive challenges”) that we’ve overcome with transcendent diligence and fortitude.

dont-be-ashamed-of-your-story-wecapable

What we tend to not expound upon with much fervour are those words, sentences and chapters that chronicle our journey dealing with emotional and mental wellness.

Another stark and naked truth is, the stories that deal with our own emotional and mental wellness pilgrimages can be one of the most, if not the most difficult thing that we could possibly be faced with.

So, in order to avoid at all costs the “stark and nakedness thing,” we simply don’t do it.

We shut up and say nothing.

Talking about personal, emotional and mental wellness issues has this “airing of our dirty laundry” smell or feel to it. For many, it is not a feeling “we add to or desire to add to.” As such and due in most part to the negativity that can surround emotional and mental wellness discussions of any magnitude, we arrive at the question of how many of us want to “air our so-called dirty laundry” for all to see?

Unfortunately, not that many.

Many of us will remember the show “The X-Files” from the mid-1990s. The tag line for the series was “the truth is out there.”

truth

Much like in “The X-Files” that “the truth is out there”, in our own emotional and mental wellness struggles and triumphs “the truth is also out there.” Our emotional and mental wellness paths contain much truth; our truth. Within the pain we go through there is the real truth. And there is truth because the pain and struggle are real.

In as much as there is an absolute truth(s) contained within the struggle and pain of emotional and mental wellness trials, there is also growth in that pain as well.

The key point is, the truth that is found within both the pain and growth, has to be brought out into the open; into the light.

The truth that is kept locked and hidden away in a darkened room has no value to it. The truth; our truth wrapped up and included our own emotional and mental wellness stories need to be brought into the light of day to have an impact on both us and on others as well.

Telling your story; your emotional and mental wellness story often becomes the path to truly owning your story. And by telling others, your own story can often be the words, sentences and chapters that go on to help others craft and tell their own story

We know that words and stories open doors of knowledge and understanding for all of us to learn from. Our emotional and mental wellness story(s) can often be those words that inspire and create awareness for others who may be trying to chronicle their own mental wellness journey. Seeing and hearing from others often is the catalyst for them to take yet another step(s) along their own path to a healthier emotional and mental wellness place in their life.

truth1

As well, when telling our stories we start learning to “find our voice” and through that, we discover how to express ourselves in a way or ways that others can understand and embrace. And more often, understand and embrace in a HUGE WAY that we never would have anticipated or expected.

Our emotional and mental wellness travels often can feel like a huge jumbled mess of misplaced puzzle pieces that we’ve have never been able to fit together into a cohesive picture. Dissecting and looking at past events in our lives and organizing them into a narrative can help us to appreciate and understand those things to have led us to become the person we are today. We need at times to take a look at where we came from in order to understand where we’ve arrived at.

A third point and very important element in telling our emotional and mental wellness story is, that your story will often reveal what your heartfelt priorities in life are. When we’re in the middle of whatever the emotional or mental wellness struggle might be, it can be hard to discern what is truly important to us.

Crafting and telling our own story can often reveal those components or elements in our life we truly place value on.

We love success stories. Big or small victories, we all love to hear them. Now becomes the opportunity for us to join in and tell our own success story. When we truthfully tell our story; the emotional and mental wellness challenges we faced and overcame or happen to be still working on in our own life, we hopefully present or give to others an enormous amount of hope and peace of mind that they can do the same thing.

truth2

There is tremendous pain contained within emotional and mental wellness challenges that many of us have faced in the past; or are facing now; or will face in the future. Alongside that though, is growth. The growth that comes from having to deal with each one of those challenges.

Contained within the pain and growth is truth. That “the truth is out there” and found within the words; sentences and chapters of our stories.

We all have a story to tell, and every story is important.

Very important.

— as always with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – A Storm Checklist For Living – Five Tips

Generally speaking, this winter has been pretty darn sweet in terms of snow accumulation and freezing temperatures. We’ve had both, but not to the extent we’ve experienced in years gone by. Now, having opened that door, we may wake up on Friday morning with 42 centimetres of snow on the ground and temperatures reaching minus 30 degrees C.

But, freaky weather does happen. Snow in the winter or hurricane force winds and rain during the summer. We know with certainty(or we should by now) that storms happen. It’s part of the circle of life, much the same as “death and taxes.”

I don’t think, there is anyone who goes through life without experiencing some sort of challenge, difficulty or storm in their own centre of the universe. We all do. Geez, it is pretty much as simple as that.

We know they’re going to show up. Often unexpected – we’ve all been there and “bought the tee-shirt.” On the other hand, there are those times, we know the “storm is brewing.” However, we end up standing there with this blank look on our faces; still flabbergasted when the storms rolls overhead and dwells 32 feet above our “pink candy-floss and merry go round” existence.

What do we do then?

Good question. Here are five tips to help “weather the storms” when the show up in our lives.

Note – these do not include buying “Storm Chips”(yes – they are a real thing) and beer and riding out the latest hurricane that is generally anticipated for eastern Canada in late August or September. This is a well-documented; tried and try approach. It is however, usually is included as part of a more conventional and practical suggestion of bottled water, extra batteries and alike. Not always though – just sayin.’

— always with love —

from a year ago……

In my area of Canada, that being north-central Ontario, we’ve been pretty blessed this winter in terms of storm blasts and bad weather. Now, having even thought that and worse, allowing such a thought to be typed out, we’ll likely wake up tomorrow morning and find three feet of heavily drifted snow on the ground.

This is what happened to Newfoundland in eastern Canada in mid-January. They thought, “Hey we’re having a pretty decent winter so far don’t ya think?” and then got this massive dumping of snow over the course of one day. Mother Nature sure has a way of balancing out the score in the end.

Be careful what your thoughts are – you may end up with exactly what you didn’t wish for or could even imagine.

A couple of weeks ago, Lynn and I happened to find ourselves in Collingwood and took a quick side-detour to Sunset Point Park on a blustery and windy afternoon.

2020q

It was windy and cold enough to keep us in the car while in the parking lot at the park.

In no uncertain terms, Georgian Bay was having a stormy and messy time of it. Much of the surrounding trees, ground and anything that happened to be reasonably close by was covered by a thick layer of ice.

Now having said that, there are often times and even during the winter, when Georgian Bay can be calm and almost mirror-like in appearance. Other times like this day, not so much. A stormy tempest was brewing in a teapot.

But realistically none of this bad weather stuff is unexpected.

One doesn’t need to be a meteorologist to figure out it is winter in our area of the world and with that comes the potential for lots of snow over the winter months; high winds; and obviously the potential for storms of one description or another to pop up on a fairly frequent basis.

Life is exactly the same.

In as much as you pray and hope that things throughout your life sail along smoothly, much like a sunny and warm weekend afternoon, you and I both know that isn’t necessarily the case. We don’t go throughout our life from birth to death with it all “sunshine, unicorns and lollipops.”

Storms and bad weather in our lives are going to occur. Often those storms can be somewhat minor and inconvenient like a brief summer shower at a family picnic. Other times it might be like the “snow bomb” that hit Newfoundland a few weeks ago.

Regardless if they are minor or major, storms are going to arrive on your doorstep. So then, what can we do?

Five tips for “weathering storms” in life

Check the schedule

In other words, expect storms and challenges in life to show up.

schedule

We all know this fact or at least should know that this is one of many stark realities of life – bad stuff or storms are going to happen. The ironic thing is we can often go through exceedingly long periods in our lives when things are clicking along just fine. No troubles, no storms, no strife. Life is good.

Although the “no troubles, no storms, no strife” reality of existence is a good one, it does tend to lull us into a false sense of “no troubles, no storms, no strife.” In other words, our memories or our knowledge that “bad stuff or storms are going to happen” gets sucked into some “black-hole galaxy” that all is “sunshine, unicorns and lollipops.”

If you’ve had a long stretch of “no troubles, no storms and no strife” or perhaps it’s more of “sunshine, unicorns and lollipops”, there is a huge potential that your memory at this point is failing you big time. Remember, crap happens to all of us and it may happen to you about ten minutes after reading this.

Expect storms and challenges to show up.

Take responsibility

How many of us want to run and hide under the covers when a thunderstorm is coming? When it comes to storms in our lives, we often resort to the same approach. We run and want to avoid them at all costs. Especially if the storm or difficulty was one we created all on our own.

A healthier and better approach is to develop skill(s) in taking responsibility. One problem though is that “responsibility” is often linked together with self-blame or self-pity.

stormlife

However, for our purposes here, think of “responsibility” as being able to respond to the given situation you may find yourself in. Being able to respond given the storm we find ourselves in or in this case “take responsibility of” helps to keep us out of the mud-sucking hole of self-pity, blaming others or of feeling like we’re a victim in this.

A “being able to respond to” mindset really helps to put us on a course to find effective long term answers to guide us through these challenging episodes when they occur.

Take responsibility – develop skills to respond.

We all need a friend

Ever notice on Facebook or other social media platforms, that getting “hundreds or even thousands” of friends can be pretty easy. Hell, you don’t even really have to try very hard.

I find this to be especially the case if someone posts a ton about how good things seem to be going in life. Lots of positive “gifs and memes” posted on a daily basis about life and how for you it is“sunshine, unicorns and lollipops.” Understandably it’s easy and not very hard emotionally to post the good stuff; the “clean laundry” in our life so to speak.

On the other hand, no one really wants to post the “dirty laundry” or difficult situations they may be facing. Oh, some do and mostly they get back quaint platitudes and quotes that don’t really help them but do make the person who sent them feel really good and special.

No wonder people don’t reach out when times get tough.

friends2

Deer in the headlight moment hereyou don’t need fake FB friends or fake social media friends when storms in life hit.

What you do need is just one friend or person that you can lean on. As difficult and or hard as it might be, often leaning on a friend can be a real help in weathering whatever storm you find yourself in. When difficult times hit, often your “so-called FB friends” will scatter like cockroaches in the kitchen when the light is flicked on in. But who cares, they’re fake anyway.

Remember, often all you need is just ONE FRIEND who will ANSWER THE CALL AND STAND WITH YOU during this time.

Lean on a friend.

Welcome it

stormlife

Although it may be something we don’t want to hear, difficult challenges often end up building character and helping us to grow in ways we never thought possible.

In retrospection, isn’t it those moments of adversity that we’ve gone through and kicked the crap out of that we take pride in; learned from; and have grown from?

It may be a strange approach, but don’t shy away from storms. Successfully navigating through a storm will often show that you are far more capable of tackling life and new challenges, more than you ever imagined.

Welcome it.

Celebrate your successes

There is a good chance that right this very moment as you’re reading this, you’ve been through a storm or difficult period in your life at some point in the past. And you made it through whatever that stormy period was.

Celebrate that success. Why?  Because you’ve handled and conquered challenges in the past, there is no reason why you can’t do the same thing again.

Even if the success wasn’t birthed out of some difficult storm you faced, celebrate it anyway.

glass2

Our lives are made up of far more success stories that were not born out of challenges or storms, but that was just simply born. We need to continually remind ourselves(or at least I need to) that life isn’t all composed of storms and bad weather.

As individuals, we can, unfortunately, end up at some point in life, where we see the glass as only and always half empty.

The reality is the freakin’ glass is also half full. Be a “glass half full” type of soul.

Whether the success was a result of riding out some storm in life or just simply a success that fell into our laps – celebrate them all.

Celebrate your successes.

Five simple tips for weathering the storms in life.

  • Check the schedule(expect stuff to happen)
  • Take responsibility(respond to the situation – don’t run and hide)
  • We all need a friend(lean on someone to help)
  • Welcome it(storms and challenges help us to grow)
  • Celebrate(you made it through before and you’ll do it again – celebrate that)

What are some tips that you can share with others to help make it through the storms in life that we know we are going to face?

— with love always —

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Finding An Oasis or Investing in Ourselves

I’ll be the first to admit, I’d make a piss poor investment banker or investment consultant. Other than “put a bit away for a rainy day”, that’s all I got.

But, we do need to invest in ourselves though. Yes, money wise but more importantly in our emotional and mental wellness bank. “Emotional and mental wellness bank” – I like that.

I don’t know how many times I’ve either said it; written it; or read it, but our ongoing global pandemic has fu@ked much of what in pre-pandemic times we normally did and took for granted. But, if there was one moment in the history of “us” that could use some investment time – it would be now.

Right this very freaking minute.

I work in a City(I don’t live there though) that has now become the epicentre within Canada in terms of the UK variant of COVID_19.

Even a day or so ago, there was at least one media report(I haven’t seen any others) of the province considering a blockaide by enforcement officials(the police I assume) to restrict access to and from the City, in order to stop people from travelling(for non-essential trips) and moving the variant strain of the virus around – which as already occurred.

So, I guess what I’m getting at is, take the time to recharge; to get away from the madness; to get away from the news(which is hardly ever positive) and just simply find an oasis.

Oasis has two meanings. Both are appropriate, but one is slightly more appropriate:

— a calm, pleasant place in the middle of somewhere busy and unpleasant —

Enough said.

From a while back….

— always; with love —

Someone recently mentioned to me that our lives are a pretty simple process comprised of “eat; sleep; repeat”. They also skillfully slipped in spending countless hours working for someone other than yourself mixed into this particular equation.

Confronted with the magnitude of such enlightenment, a number of concerns popped into my mind when this person uttered this tidbit of wisdom on life.

First and foremost, I wanted to know what hallucinogen, this person was currently riding and secondly, where could I get a decent supply of it.

In my many years trudging across the landscape, we call living, I’m sort of finding that life and living it is a little more complex than “eat; sleep; repeat.”

Yes, just a little more complex.

It is in the complexity and challenge that we need to find a place.

A place for our soul to find refuge and recharge from the trials of life and living. A place where no matter what spins wildly out of control around us, when we get there – “all is good.”

2020o

Many have discovered what is known as a Soul Place. It’s a spot where we feel intrinsically drawn to. Often we don’t know why we are drawn to a particular location(for example the seaside) but we are and once we arrive, we always experience an exceedingly personal and unique feeling of belonging, acceptance, energy and renewal.

Often though, we stumble upon a quiet place of refuge quite by accident.

Several years ago, Lynn and I were hiking along the Bruce Trail in the northern part of Gray County on a hot and humid summer afternoon. It was one of those days when the forest would not give up or even let a gentle breeze caress your sweat-covered skin.

In other words, it was one hot and somewhat miserable afternoon at this point.

As we hiked along across the top of the escarpment face, we came across the tiny waterfall shown in the picture above. Although not tall(with a drop of six to seven feet in total), that cascading water was a very welcome sight for sure.

It gave us the opportunity to splash the cool water on our faces, heads, arms and legs. Not only was there obvious physical relief found in the coolness of the water, but the sound of the babbling stream as it flowed across the escarpment and the slightly heavier splash of the water streaming over the edge of the rock and hitting the bottom soothed and resonated within our spiritual being.

It refreshed physically and refreshed those needs deep within our souls as well. A wonderful place in nature to sit and relax.

DSC_0191

It was an oasis found in the midst of a challenging journey.

Like a challenging hike on a hot and humid summer afternoon, often in life, we need to find refuge in an oasis in order to recharge from the craziness of life that can envelop us from time to time.

That refuge may be as simple as picking up a coffee and heading to a park to relax and reflect on whatever is consuming our thoughts and time.

23

It could also be skipping out of work(if that is possible) for a sunny afternoon of skiing at a local ski and snowboard resort here in Ontario. Maybe it is a quick weekend getaway to resort or cabin on a lake. I often simply get in the car and head off for a couple of hours simply driving in the countryside.

The fact of the matter is, your place of refuge or oasis can be anything or any place.

The point is that there will be those times we need to step back from the swirling tornado of life and living that can be buffeting us, to take some “me time” to recharge.

We may think that is time wasted or time that would be better spent trying to corral and suppress the thunderstorm of life brewing overhead.

More often than not, that is the worst approach or solution we can choose to implement. I wrote recently, that when we’re in the middle of a battle, it is hard to know if we’re actually winning the war.

battle

When we step back from the battle for a few hours or a day or two; when the smoke and dust clears; and the craziness subsides, we can see that “the war is winnable(and that we are actually winning) and then what needs to be our next steps.” 

In Canada, as I’m sure in other places throughout the world, we’re getting into tax time. Searching through our files(assuming we have some sort of record-keeping system) and compiling all that is necessary in terms of investments, income and such in order file our income tax information with the government.

Just as investments in terms of wealth and retirement are important, so is investing in ourselves.

A few hours or even simply a day invested in just ourselves is never a bad investment. In fact, it can often be an investment that yields the greatest dividends overall.

38

Those few hours or day spent refuelling and recharging in our Soul Place or oasis/refuge, will be the one thing that keeps our most inner being from cracking and crumbling under the strain from the storms that can often slam us as we trudge along through life.

Perhaps right now is the time to find that place; whether by accident or design and to take a few moments of refuge and recharge our soul and mental well-being for the battles ahead.

Invest in yourself today! You’re worth it.

— again – with love always —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Three Ways To Help To Control What You Can Control

I wrote this a year ago, not knowing or having any clue that the world was screaming headlong much like a out of control train into a level of “bat-$hit craziness,” that absolutely no one had on their 2020 bingo card.

And once we jolted to a complete stop somewhere in mid-March, what we could control or thought we had control over disappeared overnight, like an Amazon package stolen off your front porch. You on the other hand, were blissfully unaware we had lost control of the train and were at the backdoor sipping on a Mojito, patiently waiting for your package to arrive.

As humans, we do tend to spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to control and harness most of what we simply cannot “control and/or harness.” Investing and oh yes – wasting all of our valuable resources trying to control what simply is uncontrollable.

Think trying to herd cats – an impossibility. Herding cats. That’s a level of insanity no one wants to head down.

So, where does this take us?

Well, there are things we can do to help control what we can control. So, read on.

And yes, we did finally settle our contract. And yes, since last year(March and beyond) we’ve been on an emergency duty schedule. In early December(2020) we came off emergency duty work, but with “Lockdown Light – Part 3” in existence in Ontario, we’re back to emergency duty schedules once again. Oh joy!

— as always; with love —

You can only control what you can control in life.

That one rates right up there with “as the sun sets today, a new day will dawn tomorrow.”

3

Without a doubt, both have a bit of a cliche type ring to them.

In fact, both are great big fat cliches.

All of this is more than freaking ironic given the definition of a cliche is, “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

Question – why do we use cliches in every third opportunity that is presented to us(although, I’m trying to limit myself) when helping someone? And, do they have any meaning or add any real value and insight?

Not sure there is a good answer to either of those questions.

Nevertheless, there can certainly be a nugget or two of truth in them, regardless if they’re “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

Where I work, we’re in the midst of selecting new duty crews for the next fourteen weeks. We’re also in the midst of a long and protracted labour negotiation. We’ve been without a contract since July 1, 2019.

batshit

In a nutshell, both of these things combined and with a bunch of other stuff thrown into the mix, have caused a number of my fellow co-workers to go shall we say, “bat-shit crazy.”

And this particular example of “bat-shit craziness” where I work, is a life-force all on its own.

I swear, it is a living and breathing entity, spawned by the devil himself or certainly one of his/her minions. And it goes without saying, it can suck the life and enjoyment of life out of anyone who gets remotely close to it, when “the bat-shit crazy train” is firing on all cylinders.

All kidding aside, most of us are aware that it can be far too easy to fall into the life-draining politics of the workplace.

Nevertheless, this is where I am at in this situation, that being:

“I can only control what I can control and that involves for me, going carefully through the duty crews and picking the ones I feel might be the best for myself at work and our family life.”

You can only control what you can control.

Three tips to help “control what you can control.”

Focus – Where Is It?

Having our focus in the wrong direction or on the wrong thing can simply drain our energy. It drains it away from the thing(s) we can control. It’s those circumstances that we have control over which will ultimately help us achieve the best outcome possible given the situation we’re in.

When we focus on what we have no control over, it makes us less effective and potentially could take us to a place you never wanted to be in the first place. In other words, the more time and energy we spend on the things we can’t control, the less time and energy we’re spending on the ways and things we can control.

The great point to remember here is, don’t let other circumstances end up controlling what you can ultimately control yourself.

Get your focus in the right spot – on what you can control.

Wrong Focus Equals Worry

When our focus is where it needs to be, we don’t or shouldn’t worry as much about those items or circumstances we can’t control or have no control over.

Over the next day or so, as I work through the new duty crew book, my focus will hopefully be solely on the things that I can control and make a difference with, in terms of selecting a duty crew.

Once I know that all of MY EFFORT; that I am doing all I CAN in this situation to make good choices, then to hell and fu@k the rest of the variables and crap outside of my control.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m anxiety-free or that my nerves aren’t doing a bit of a “highland jig.” But in my heart, I know I’ve done all I can and that I can trust myself and my effort to control what I can control.

Why worry and fret about something that doesn’t rate the “time of day?”

Don’t give “bat-shit crazy” any of your valuable time and resources. It will survive and thrive just fine without any input from you.

The right focus equates to less worry.

Controlling What You Can Control Takes Discipline

It takes discipline to control what you can control. It is not a “one and done” scenario in life. So, get ready throughout your life for someone to utter while having coffee the cliche “you can only control what you can control.”

This type of discipline takes practice.

Think, “bat-shit craziness” and how easy it is to pull up a comfy chair and join right in with all that “fun.”

bathsit2

When we get sucked into that “black-hole level of insanity”, we start to flounder around like a “fish out of water” worrying about the one hundred and seventeen variables and possible outcomes, none of which we have ANY CONTROL OVER.

Flopping and wallowing around wasting energy in the “batshit crazy black-hole level of insanity” ultimately keeps us in a state of helpless passivity.

It takes discipline to keep our focus and to keep moving forward, even when we feel vulnerable and uncertain about the outcomes.

Controlling what you can control requires discipline.

You can only control what you can control.

You can’t control the “batshit crazy” swirling tornado around you that wants to suck you into its vortex, much like “Dorothy and Toto” in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Remember:

  • Keep your focus
  • The correct focus provides less worry
  • It takes discipline

Regardless of what happens and as the “old cliche goes”“as the sun sets today, a new day will dawn tomorrow.”

3

And the new dawn gives the opportunity for a whole new “bat-shit crazy black-hole level of insanity” to occur.

Lucky us!

What do you do to ensure you take control over what you can take control of?

— as always; with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Three Tips In Dealing With Anxiety

Anxiety.

A word that many of us(including yours truly) deal with. An anxiety onslaught can occur on a daily basis, although at times – they can be much less frequent. They can be minor bouts, that aren’t such a huge deal. While on the other hand, our anxiety attacks can be major outbreaks that are debilitating and rendering us at times incapable of undertaking the simplest of tasks.

Through most of 2020 and now into 2021, anxiety and other mental wellness issues and concerns are becoming more and more prevalent as people work to deal and cope with the ongoing pandemic.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any real answers to this. The only thing I can share, is that you are not in this alone.

I wrote this about a year or so ago, maybe longer on my journeys and struggles with anxiety.

I must admit that the last number of months or so, things have been really good for myself. The ongoing anxiety fights have been much fewer, to at times non-existent. All of which I find sort of weird(but in a good way), given that my job as an essential front line worker has kept me in the midst of the “need to keep yourself safe from the virus” deal since the beginning of this.

Nevertheless, I share this to encourage you that even though you may feel alone – you’re not.

— as always; with love —

You feel anxious; I feel anxious; in fact, we all feel anxious at some time or another.

Whether it’s the “big exam” coming up at the end of the term or that fast-closing deadline for a project at work or your first back-country solo hiking trip, everyone feels nervous or worried at times.

In reality, this type of anxiety can be helpful given that it can motivate us or warn us of danger.

anxiety

On the flip side of the coin, an anxiety disorder can cause unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think; how we feel, and how we act in situations.

Health Canada estimates that one in ten Canadians is affected by some type of anxiety disorder. Given the population of Canada in 2019 was 37.59 million people, that one in ten ratio equates to approximately 3,759,000 people in Canada with an anxiety disorder.

Why am I posting on anxiety?

Because I deal with anxiety episodes generally on a daily basis.

The most acute occurrences tend to happen fairly early in the morning and while at work. It will continue to escalate, becoming more intense until my lunch break, which generally occurs mid-morning. Ninety percent of the time when my break happens, I take a minute to call Lynn to see what is new(nothing ever is new it seems).

Simply talking to her and it doesn’t have to be regarding the anxiety, but just talking to her helps in diminishing the anxiety and anxiousness to a more manageable level.

Continuing on, more often than not the anxiety episodes will subside until mid-afternoon when they sometimes, but not always ramp-up until I’m finished work later in the day.

anxiety1

At this point, I have not had a formal diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.

I have spoken in the past few months with my Doctor regarding what is happening.

But this graphic, pretty much describes where I am at.

I realize that everyone who deals with anxiety, whether they are being treated by a professional or plugging away on their own, is at a different place in dealing and or treating their anxiety issues.

Three Tips

Here are three tips I work at and try to implement when dealing with my own anxiety concerns.

Thoughts Patterns

I find that very negative/untrue or unsubstantiated thought patterns can enter my mind instantly, take root and completely distort the reality of the situation.

anxiety-negative-thought-pattern-1575982344

I’m trying to challenge those fears and negative thoughts by asking if they’re true(always they’re not true at all) and to then see if there are ways to take back control of my thought patterns.

For example, as I mentioned above my anxiety ramps up early in the morning generally getting more intense until I find the opportunity to connect with Lynn.

If I can’t get Lynn via text message or on the phone, my mind heads off down something similar to this type of rabbit hole:

  • something has happened to her
  • she is sick
  • why doesn’t she turn that damn phone up
  • she’s packed up and left

The usual case is this:

  • was in the shower and didn’t know you called
  • I was doing something with my own business and couldn’t get back to you
  • I was on the phone with my Mom and didn’t do the whole switching between calls thing
  • I didn’t hear the phone ring or the incoming text message beep. Lynn is hearing impaired by the way.

When all this happens, I try to remind myself that it is likely one of the above or something similar occurring as to why she might not get to the phone.

Take back control by challenging the negative thought patterns.

Breathing Exercises

A lot has been written already and I guess much more will get written in the future on the benefits of breathing exercises in anxiety reduction.

Deep breathing is suggested as one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.

mr-worry

When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain says, “good idea here” and then sends the “calm down and relax” message to our body. When your anxiety is kicking in, all of the things that occur, such as an increased heart rate, rapid breathing and higher blood pressure, decrease as you begin to breathe deeply to relax.

There are literally more specific breathing exercises than one can possibly imagine to help in the reduction of anxiety symptoms.

In the morning when the anxiety seems to be “doing its thing,” I try to find two minutes or so to complete “belly breathing” exercises. I find it helps to slow things down and become a bit more relaxed.

Belly breathing technique:

  • Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position
  • Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move
  • Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out
  • Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath
  • Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise

I don’t often have time to complete ten cycles, but I do as many as possible.

Another one I read about is the 4-7-8 technique. I haven’t tried it yet, but I may give a whirl when at home

The 4-7-8 breathing technique:

Apparently, this exercise also uses belly breathing to help you relax. Practitioners of this one, suggest you can do this exercise either sitting or lying down.

  • To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise
  • Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in
  • Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7
  • Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to
  • Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm
  • Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

Deep breathing exercises help to slow things down and get you relaxed.

What are your triggers?

There is something that triggers anxiety episodes.

pic1

If we can identify what those “triggers” are, that goes a long way in helping to deal and manage our anxiety issues.

From what I’ve been able to read, the causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders can be complicated. Research suggests it’s likely that a combination of factors, including genetics and environmental reasons. It is also very clear, and I think obvious(at least to me) that some events, emotions, or experiences may cause symptoms of anxiety to begin or may make them worse.

These events, emotions, or experiences are called triggers.

Because we are all individuals with our own complex issues, anxiety triggers can be different for each of us. Although many triggers seem to be common amongst those of us dealing with anxiety issues.

Research indicates most people dealing with anxiety find they have multiple triggers. But on the other hand, for some people, anxiety attacks can be triggered for no reason at all.

Regardless, it’s important to discover any anxiety triggers that you may have.

Figuring out what they are is an important step in managing them.

For myself, most of my anxiety issues at this juncture occur when I’m at work.

I’m sure that there are underlying factors as to “why”, but for me, the trigger(s) seems to be my work environment. I don’t experience anxiety attacks or episodes for example on my days off or on holidays.

anxiety3

Nevertheless and unfortunately, the side effects of anxiety issues for myself are 24/7, as the graphic illustrates.

At this stage, I don’t have many options available to me in terms of career changes.

Because of that, I work at using the above coping techniques for identifying negative thought patterns and breathing exercises to manage my anxiety episodes and issues.

Final thoughts..

This post is not to be taken as the remedy to fix all anxiety issues for yourself or me for that matter.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or any other mental health wellness concern, you should always seek the help of a qualified medical professional first and foremost.

For myself, I try to practice challenging the negative thought patterns; breathing exercises and identifying the triggers as ways to cope at this stage. Some days I deal with the anxiety stuff pretty good. Other days, I just want to come home; hug Lynn; eat dinner and crawl into bed.

If you have an anxiety disorder, how do you deal with it or deal with anxiety-related issues in your life?

Thanks for hanging around and reading this.

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Soul Place” – What Are They and Do We All Have One?

It’s early on Friday morning(January 15) and we’re well into Day 2 of “Lockdown Light – Part 3” in Ontario.

The emergency measures put in place by the provincial government indicate(which defines out as merely suggested) that we are to “shelter at home” except for getting groceries; essential work; and medical appointments. There may be a few other items to include on that list, but no one knows what they are.

Needless to say, there has been much confusion throughout our “dear old province” as to what is deemed essential or for that matter “not essential.”

For many of us, we can’t even figure out if we’re allowed to drive 15 minutes to the edge of town to hike along some county forested trail. I think we can, but “what we can do and what we can’t do” – seems to be a moving target at best.

It goes without saying that over the past 10 or 11 months, all of us(including the government) have come to realize the mental health impacts resulting from COVID_19. I assume this is why getting outdoors and exercise(like trail walking or hiking as examples) has been included as part of the province’s list of permitted activities – what I’m calling “essential – light.”

Where to go?; how far can we go? Don’t honestly know for sure. Maybe today there will be yet another presser and we’ll get a clearer picture.

Why the exceedingly long preamble?

The mental health aspects resulting from the pandemic, if and when they get media time never seem to get “front page treatment.” It’s always sort of an afterthought or buried so far down your Twitter feed, it never sees the light of day.

But, the effects of and how to minimize the issues resulting from pandemic mental wellness is vitally important.

I wrote the following post a while back.

Each of us, and whether we believe it or not, have a special place we run too at times. We blast our way at all costs to wherever that “place” is to dwell in that sense of “inner peace.” We might not know we’re doing it, but we are.

We’ve all heard or uttered the phrase, ” I feel most at peace when I’m in the forest; or mountains; or at the sea.” Or something similar in nature. It may even be the beachy type waterfront in the large city you live in.

It seems these days, we live in a world where it is exceedingly difficult to be “at peace” whether globally or our own inner peace.

Which makes it all that more imperative to find that place that gives us that inner peace. A place that when we arrive, we know instantaneously that “I’m home.” A place where our soul is a rest.

— as always; with love —

One thing that has been bouncing around in my mind for the past several weeks is the idea of “why are people attracted or drawn to a particular spot or place?” 

Phrases like:

  • “Algonquin Park is my special place; I feel most at peace there”
  • “I can’t help it. When I’m in the mountains it’s like being home.”
  • “The seashore calls me and when I’m there it’s like heaven to me.”
  • “I feel a presence when I’m out in the forest, in the trees, and in the streams. It’s where I’m supposed to be.”

Talking with Lynn about it, I wondered if there any substance to this, other than a purely an intellectual exercise or response.

We often hear from friends or even tell ourselves that, “such and such a place is where I feel most at home.” But, when pressed as to why they feel that “this place is like being home,” all I ever get for a response is “well because it just is.”

For most of us, that answer should be enough, but it got me to thinking that maybe the “why” is much deeper.

12

That the reason why are people attracted or drawn to a particular spot or “Soul Place” is almost or is spiritual in nature.

After doing a bit of reading, I came across this concept or idea of “Soul Place.”

So, what is a “Soul Place?”

Soul Place

Good question and without getting into a long discourse on the meaning of “soul,” this is what I’ve been able to glean about all of us having and/or needing to find our “soul place.”

It doesn’t take being much of a rocket scientist and no disrespect to rocket scientists, but we live at a time where our existence tends to be based on consumption and consuming A LOT, rather than something else.

This “something else” is the idea of each of us being born(obviously), but not to necessarily consume(yes, we need to consume to some extent), but to also engage, serve and nurture our place within the ecosystem of the universe.

As such, our soul is simply not our true nature, but also it is our true place in nature.

In as much as our soul may have a spiritual dimension, it also has a physical domain to it as well.

13

The concept of a “Soul Place” is very personal and will be different for each person.

But, from what I’ve read, we all have at least one soul place on the planet and it will be personal – very personal.

So, a soul place is a special site, spot or location where we experience an exceedingly personal and unique feeling of belonging, acceptance, energy and renewal.

This sounds pretty fantastic to me.

Finding Your Soul Place

Here are some things I came across to help discern if you think you’ve found your “soul place.”

  • you’ll feel a sense of familiarity
  • a greater sense of harmony and ease
  • might intuitively sense that “you’re finally home and can rest now”
  • if there’s external chaos in this place, you’ll still feel internally peaceful
  • feel inspired and have bursts of creative thought
  • you are content with simply “being there”
  • feel a new sense of freedom and joy
  • feel introspective and will get to know yourself in deeper ways
  • feel recharged and energized

So, what does all this mean?

I think the purpose of looking into this a bit more and then posting about it is to create a dialogue, because if there is one point in the history of humanity that we need to find our “soul place”, this is likely it.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I really don’t know much about “Soul Places”, although I have blogged on something close to it Thoughts From The Wilderness – Why The Outdoors, just a few days ago.

IMG_20170615_085230863_HDR

But, the idea of a Soul Place intrigues me, as I think I have at least one.

So, here’s where you guys come in. I would love some comments on the concept of “Soul Places.”

  • what do you think about each of us having a “Soul Place”
  • do you have a “Soul Place?
  • how do you feel when you’re there?
  • is the idea of “Soul Place” ridiculous”
  • or any other comments germane to the discussion

— as always; with love —

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – A Foggy Day Is Still A New Day

Seems last January was a good month in terms of posting pieces of motivation and alike. More often than not, they were strewn with an abundance of motivational quotes, cliches, along with a decent sprinkling of kitty and puppy pictures to melt the darkest soul of the most hard-hearted curmudgeon.

However, thinking about this for a moment or two, I’m not sure that the word “cliche” is entirely appropriate here.

Cliche is defined as, “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” People have been known to utter that what I write “is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” Hard to argue that point. Perhaps that is best left for another time and place.

Nevertheless, often inspirational quotes and especially when they are combined in a graphic, often create this magic panacea to cure all our low self-worth issues. And as such, they do have a slight “cliche” feel and ring to them.

So, where are we going to on this Day 1 of “Lockdown Light – Part 2” in Ontario?

I’m not sure…… do these motivational/inspirational quotes, graphics and cliches do anything more than present a reality or a vision of reality that simply might not be real. A lot of use of the word “real” here.

— as always; with love —

It seems inspirational quotes and writing in the inspirational genre often appear to be the most fertile ground when it comes to the use of cliches and such.

cropped-sunrise-1.jpg

Obviously, that opening sentence is a massive over-generalization and yes, it may be a somewhat unfair suggestion.

But, cliches and or quotes from those who are famous or the near-famous certainly have found a place within the whole inspirational genre, whether it be in text or some visual representation.

Now, this post isn’t to disparage any of these quotes or cliches or how and why they’re used.

I get all of that, and I understand why people can find solace and comfort reading them. In addition, Even, I find many of them pretty good.

Here are a few quotes or cliches to help illustrate where we’re going.

Night is always darker before the dawn and life is the same, the hard times will pass, everything will get better and the sun will shine brighter than ever.

— Ernest Hemingway

Sunshine always follows the rain

— unknown

Tomorrow is a new day

—  unknown

Each one of these has been used or may even be used by someone today to help people dealing with a period of “darkness”(going through a challenging or difficult period in their life) and that the “darkness” will somehow end and what follows will be a “glorious dawn of a new day” filled with eye-blinding sunshine.

The problem is, when I read these and other quotes or similar cliches, there seems never any middle ground.

You head from one end of some ethereal spectrum of “darkness” and magically overnight awaken at the opposite end having arrived at an “a new and glorious dawn filled with sunshine.”

And often when presented in a visual form, they appear something like this. And again, leave us with the impression of a day dawning with the sun brilliantly coming up over the horizon and a day filled with sunshine.

But, in reality, does it really happen like that?

Do people actually come out of some difficulty or challenging period in their lives and fall into this new dawn of brilliant sunshine where all is good?

I suppose it does happen and for all I know, maybe it happens all the time.

So, here is the crux of it.

Do these types of cliches and quotes, set people up in some way with slight or even gross unrealistic expectations?

What if the day dawns, as it always does, but it is overcast and foggy?

IMG_20170803_070657954

Is this still not a brand-new day?

Did the sun come up or not?

The answer to both questions is, obviously yes.

Even a dull, foggy and dreary morning, is exceedingly brighter than a night that wasn’t even all that dark out!

In other words, even if you went through a difficult and challenging time and start to see a change happening for the better and even if the change was a tad foggy or dull, is that not better than the dark period?

Assuming that it is, certainly, that has to be a “win” for us?

A change for the better regardless of how it arrives and/or how big the change, is still a change for the better.

I suspect that we all want to go from the dark(difficulties are happening) end of the spectrum to the brilliant(all is better) end, without having to travel through the middle part. The problem is, we need to travel through that middle part. Which may be 12 hours or 12 years.

I believe that most of us eventually work through those difficult times, depending on what they are and at some juncture, a new day will dawn for us. That those troubling or difficult circumstances would be entirely gone or at least vanished for the most part. And that this new day will give us plenty of sunshine on some level.

Remember, though, we may have had a few foggy and dreary days along the way before we get there.

And if nothing else, we will have learned a few skills along the way to cope and deal with whatever the issues where and still might be.

Nevertheless, a foggy and dreary day is still a new day and it will always be brighter than the darkest night.

And that in my mind is a “HUGE WIN.”

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – To Colour Or Not To Colour?

I wrote this last January, with reckless abandon and with no clue of what was about to transpire and grip the entire planet is just a few short weeks.

Not that the timing of when it was penned or of what unfolded after really matters. What does matter though, is now is the time, not next week; or next month, but now is the time to start colouring again.

Colour with the joy and freedom that we experienced as four year olds, sitting at the kitchen table with Mom or Dad and with a blank canvas in front of us. Ready to go wild and create the world’s greatest masterpiece.

And that masterpiece is you.

— with love —

A few weeks ago, I was going through some stuff(mostly unknown clutter) that had been boxed away in our art studio.

When rummaging around, I came across a small container of things that obviously had much use and where a well-worn memory from our daughter Sara’s childhood.

Crayons and colouring pencils.

How many of us remember back to when our children picked up that crayon or marker for the first time?

Sitting with them at the kitchen table; your child not even able at this stage to hold a crayon correctly. But, it did it matter? Of course not! They just latched on to it and started wildly moving the crayon across that blank piece of paper, creating in their mind the perfect picture to give Mom to put on the fridge for the world to see.

lines

As things progressed, you likely bought them a simple colouring book suitable for the age they were at. Having said that, a colouring book is a big step up from a white sheet of paper.

With colouring books, the lines define the shape and also where to colour.

But like the blank piece of paper, this is fun. REAL FUN. There were no rules. The sky can be green and not blue; the lines in the book are merely a suggestion; the grass can be red and not green.

And with great abandon and without care for the rules, children colour, create and express themselves in such wonderful ways with a simple crayon. Why? – because they can. And no one stops them.

In fact, we encourage and support them all along the way.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the path we call life, there is a point when society or someone says, “in order to fit in – you must colour between the lines.”

colour3

As the days move along and as we grew older, even though we may not have known it, “colouring between the lines” creates a loss in our life.

The “stay between the lines mantra,” begins to ever so slightly strip or erode away part of who we are.

It takes that “wild child-like abandonment and care-free attitude” from our childhood and slowly over time smooths out those rough edges to create something that conforms to a much more narrowly defined existence.

This underlying and often not so underlying layer of “staying between the lines conformity” ultimately creates a picture where the colours match up(the sky must be blue) and the colours don’t cross over those tiny lines that define the shapes on the page. The result is a picture that all can see and recognize what it is.

Remember though, as a toddler, when starting to colour there were no rules. There was nothing to confine or restrict the crayon crashing across the page in the colouring book.

Did you care? NO!

You were simply being you; being who you are; having fun and living life. You were creating a masterpiece.

But at some ripe age as an adult or even a bit earlier, the mind-set of “colouring between the lines” can take us down a variety of different rocky/tree root strewn and foot catching stumbling paths:

  • do what’s safe or easy
  • don’t be unique or really different
  • be perfect
  • don’t bend the rules
  • keep your creativity in check; no individuality
  • don’t make a scene
  • stay in your comfort zone; take no risks

If that’s where we’ve ended because we’ve been herded into “colouring within the lines,” we can often find ourselves saying, “trying that won’t work” instead of actually seeing if it will work. Or “it has always been done that way” as the only reason to not try and do things differently.

Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 3.22.06 PM

“Colouring between the lines” can bring us to be a near-perfect rule follower, not willing to step out and “bend the rules” a bit. You’re afraid to take or make a path of your own.

You study and become an accountant(not to disparage accountants), but deep within you; your soul aches and your heart cries and screams that you need to be a writer; an actor; or make pottery. And you know it’s true, because you feel and live the ache of your soul and the scream of your heart each and every day.

But how often do you simply end up living life – “painting by numbers.” Number 5 is blue; number 7 is green.

Rigidly colouring within the lines leaves you afraid to be who you are, cut off from your creativity, resourcefulness, and genius.

Source – Unknown

colour2

You see, each of us(and that includes you) was born to create a masterpiece.

And that “masterpiece” is us as an individual.

But in order to create that masterpiece, we need to at times and often all the time “colour outside the lines.”

Life may or may not be a “big wonderful and yummy bowl of cherries,” but it certainly is a big box full of brightly colour crayons.

Regardless of what people around you or even what society says, it is okay to “colour outside the lines” and along with that, it is also okay to use every colour in the crayon box.

In fact, to create “your masterpiece” you’ll need to use each colour; mix them up a bit(make the sky green), and to say “to hell with the lines on the page.”

Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

~ Albert Einstein

Now is the time to open back up that box of crayons that have been put away over the years.

Get out there and colour with “child-like freedom.” Use the brightest and wildest colour schemes you can think of.

Bring perspective to life and things that only you can bring.

You are different, unique, original.

Be you – the world needs your masterpiece.

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Photo Credits: Pixabay and Google Images