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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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 – “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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.”

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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.

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“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

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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

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Trust Your Struggle

I’ve heard said and I’m sure you have as well, that when we’re in the middle of a battle, it is often hard to know if we’re winning the war.

And if we’re brutally honest, all of us are in right at this present moment or have been in and/or will be dealing with some struggle, or issue within our life of some description and size.

In 2020, they seemed to arrive on a fairly consistent basis. One might even arrive 15 minutes from now.

The reality is, I don’t know many of us out there, that are true fans of the “struggle.”

I suspect that most of us would be quite content and happy to truck along through our years and not have any serious struggles show up on any regular or semi-regular basis. Ya..right.

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The truth, however, is that struggles do show up whether we want them to or not.

Some might be minor like waiting for the bus in the rain, while others will be much more serious and traumatic within the context of our lives.

Trust your struggle, because it reveals something yet to come.

As they say in the maritimes…Whaaaaaaaaaa! What? Why?

Why “trust your struggle?”

struggle

The obvious answer is – “why not?” 

But, come on, there has to be a better response than “why not?”

At some level, the struggles we go through at least from my perspective are not the same as difficult events that arrive on our doorstep unannounced.

Although an unexpected and difficult situation that suddenly arrives in our life can be full of challenging struggles for sure.

I’m not really talking about that in this post, so here are a couple of points in regard to this struggle of “trusting your struggle.”

Trusting Your Struggle

One

Ever notice it can be the same freaking struggles that keep showing up again and again.

Often referred to as “the same shit; different day.” 

The circumstances may be different; the people involved may be different, but one particular struggle or problem occurs exactly the same way each time. It is like the universe has pre-ordained that this struggle is the burden we have to carry.

Well, perhaps it is the universe with a tad of a “hate-on” for you. But, I doubt it.

But more likely it is this.

We(and I have myself at the top of the list here) can have a really hard time acknowledging the struggles we deal with. In other words, we refuse to take ownership of them or see what our role is in the struggle we find ourselves in. We can get trapped in a cycle of resisting and denial for a wide variety of reasons.

We get stuck in the struggle. Sort of an endless-loop.

For example, you get pissed by the same things again and again in each relationship you find yourself in. Or perhaps it’s the story you tell yourself and others if they will listen, that you will always be on the lower economic end of the scale because you continually tell yourself “you’ll always be on the lower end of the economic scale.”

I get that admitting we may have a role in the struggle we’re in, is a difficult and many times virtually an impossible reality for many of us. I include myself in this particular group.

But we do need to get a handle on our responsibility in what’s going on.

Although a challenge at best, we need to examine what our own accountability is in those situations. Perhaps it means working at developing greater tolerance and empathy towards ourselves and others. Maybe, we need to be more cognizant of opportunities that surround us and seize one, before it passes us by once again.

Trusting our struggles, means we’re taking the “bull by the horns” and working towards growing as a person that will allow us to move beyond some “endless struggle loop” we’ve dealt with in our past.

Two

The second point and the first point, go together like “ham and cheese” in a sandwich.

As such, the only way we can grow from our struggles is to really be in the struggle.

sherlock

Brilliant deduction there Sherlock.

In other words, when you are in the middle of the struggle, show up, kick it in the “nards” and be aware of what is going on.

“Stay with the struggle” might be an appropriate phrase right here.

If we hang there and are truly working on getting a handle on the struggle and how to get out it or smash that crap out of it, that’s where you want to stay.

That’s where the growth occurs.

Bailing out of the struggle by distracting yourself with substance abuse, or perhaps crazily spending money, or mindless time spent on social media or any other number of ways of numbing the “old mind” is bad.

Stay is good; bailing/distracting is bad.

Hanging in there may allow you to grow in ways, that well, you likely have needed to grow and change all of your life.

In order to grow and win the battle, you need to be in the battle and doing the work/fighting in order to win.

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Can you “trust your struggle?”

You can if you really want to.

The most difficult and often challenging, yet life-transforming endeavour before you, may end up being to do the dirty work of looking at and examining who you truly are in the reflection of life’s mirror.

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Do you have the guts to take a peak?

That is often the biggest struggle of all.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Slip Sliding from 2020 to 2021

The year 2020 was 365 days that none of us would have predicted.

The first 60 or so of them weren’t so bad. But, as we reflect back over 2020, every 24 hours that we moved closer to mid-March last year, things started get a bit dimmer and blecker as each day passed.

I’d been pondering over the last remaining days of 2020 on what type of retroreflective “gobbly-gook” I might be able to crunch out. All of this is assuming that I want to “crunch” said post out.

And then the “aha!” moment sprang forth.

2020 can’t just simply be about the dumpster fire of a global pandemic. News story of the year? I would suspect so. But, 2020 can’t just be that.

One thing that COVID_19 did for most, if not all of the world, was to slow down and stop.

Literally stop. Put the breaks on and go home.

Most of you reading this were involved in some type of lockdown; shelter at home; quarantine enforcement.

For many of us, the things we took normally for granted vanished more or less overnight. Big vacation plans, big events or simply time spent with distant family and friends evaporated like water sprayed on hot concrete during a scorching summer afternoon. Even going out for a meal – gone.

Most of us learned that what “might be here today could be and was gone tomorrow.” We learned a hard but necessary lesson in “taking things for granted.”

But, having said that we also learned or re-learned a few good lessons along the way.

I think one of the most important lessons to learn is that, at the end of all days it will be the simple pleasures we remember. Those memories not of the big events(don’t get me wrong, those events are vitally important), but the memories of the seemingly small and often perceived as insignificant events or things.

The point is to make memories. Memories falling out of big events or tiny coffee date with someone it doesn’t matter.

Let’s finish by saying this, ““your most valuable possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link our hearts together.”

The following was my retrospective look for last year. I’ve gone through and changed dates and updated a few things to make it appropriate for this year. Let the message of it, flow through your body and soul.

With love…..

hangover3

There is right this very moment, some exceedingly groggy and perhaps hungover bloggers that are unsteadily and perhaps with a significant level of befuddlement, typing away at a retrospective post on the year that was.

On the opposite side of the coin, however, given the expertise and professionalism found throughout the blogosphere, many of you will have your ever so thoughtful and sombre retrospective of 2020 done already. Written last week utilizing a sober-mind(or at least semi-sober) and now have it scheduled to hit the blogging world at some point today, if it hasn’t already been published by now.

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I can confidently and with many self-indulgent congratulations admit, this retrospection was written during the week between Christmas and today, January 1, 2020. Having said that, it is entirely appropriate to recycle it again for looking back at 2020. And forward to 2021.

So, not so much groggy typing this morning.

Most “year in review” posts that I’ve read and I haven’t read all of them(insert your sarcastic voice here), often follow a semi-predictable pattern of focussing on highlights of posts throughout the year and then followed by goals, dreams and aspirations for the year coming up.

Realistically, in any “year in review” post, I’m not sure one can follow any other basic template, other than simply presenting a review of your past year. We may add to the mix life events that occurred and such, but in the end, it is still a review.

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Honesty time here.

It’s the “basic template” and in some respects the whole “year in review” post thing that has my “pantaloons in a twist.”

And in that regard, I took a stab at starting to untangle my “twisted pantaloons” in this post last week(written in 2019).

Nevertheless, one thing that did come to me while thinking about putting this retrospective together was the word “theme.”

“Theme”, when used as a noun, has two meanings:

  • “the subject of a talk, a piece of writing, a person’s thoughts, or an exhibition; a topic”
  • “an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature”
making memories

Both meanings fit perfectly with a theme that seemed to evolve throughout this year – making memories.

Making Memories

As I scrolled through the posts, I had written throughout 2019 and 2020 for that matter, and while pondering each one(some had more pondering than others), the theme of making memories seemed to rise to the surface.

Making memories when stripped right down, involves people. Our spouses, our children, our families, our friends and perhaps those we don’t even know.

It’s the people we love that are the most important. In fact, people are the most important things in our life. Not the gifts, nor the house or the “stuff” we work ever so diligently to acquire through our lives.

It’s people and making memories with them.

So, here’s my retrospective look back on 2019 and now for 2020 from a theme of “Making Memories.”

Be sure to click on the highlight links to read the full posts.

February 6 – “Making Memories” 

This entry is important not just because I wrote it, but I believe it has a couple of universal truths attached to it.

And it is these particular truths and the meaning they hold, that one day we will either be thrilled to look back on them or exceedingly disappointed we don’t have them to reflect and celebrate on.

The choice though is entirely ours to make.

The first is, that time marches on. It waits for no one. A bit of a cliche I admit, but true, nonetheless. Therefore, fill your time with things that won’t rust or fall away. Things that have true meaning and value.

The second truth is, people are the most important things in our life. Not work, not things, not “stuff.” People, plain and simple.

Lastly, this point is a kind of sub-set of the second one. And it’s a quote, “your most valuable family possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link your hearts together.”

That last point should make it simple and blunt enough that all of us should get the point here.

As you read through Making Memories, it goes on to highlight five elements found or important in “making memories” and why making them so important and necessary.

Get out there and make some memories.

October 27 – “Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life”

Oh, where to begin with this one.

If I had to choose a post from 2019 that would make me the proudest of “hitting publish” it would be this one.

Not because of outstanding writing, content, layout or any of that stuff. It would be all due to the “spot I was at.” Which in all honesty, was and not a very good place.

time

The fall of last year was for the most part, not the best for me in terms of my own mental and emotional wellness.

The nub of it was dealing with anxiety issues on a daily basis, combined with feelings of self-doubt and “where do I fit in; not feeling like I was contributing much; my life wasn’t much to look back on” it all simply left me at a rather low point.

I had heard “Good Riddance – Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life” by Green Day several times throughout the fall months on the radio. Any lyrics, although written perhaps with a specific meaning originally, they can create a wealth of different meanings though to the people who hear and listen to them.

At that time, the song resonated for me along the theme of, “we only have one life to live; only one shot to do it in; so you better get it right.” And that when it is all said and done; and before you take your last breath, you can look back and boldly proclaim, “I did have the time of my life.”

Originally when creating the post, I planned to take the lyrics and intersperse a few pictures that would somehow correspond to the meaning of each verse.

It didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, it worked out far better than I could have ever imagined.

What made it a powerful and such a gut-wrenching post for me was compiling the pictures and I mean the many photographs found in the post. I simply started adding pictures I felt held meaning to me of past wonderful memories. And I kept going and adding until I felt I was done.

Some of the pictures were very important, like our daughter’s college graduation, to those of seemingly insignificant events like a hike along the Bruce Trail.

The point is, all of those pictures represent an incredible memory; lots of memories in fact. And that if today was that day I took my last breath, I could look back and say, not hope, but say, “I did have the time of my life.”

We often get stuck and spin our wheels in the present when things are at some low point. Digging ourselves deeper into some muddy bog, that we really don’t need to be in.

That was me.

So, I absolutely implore you to click the link for the post.

After that, start compiling your own pictures of those wonderful memories of days gone by. They could be from last week or ten years ago. Keep going until you either run out of pictures or emotionally you can’t select another picture.

Step back and take a look.

You’ll then see without a doubt, you “have had the time of your life” to this point.

December 13 – “The Importance of Christmas Traditions”

This one is similar in most respect to the post above from February 6 – “Making Memories”

Where it differs is in the importance of Christmas traditions.

As I wrote in the post if there is one season or time of year that yells out “traditions” it has to be Christmas.

Christmas traditions, like any tradition, involves people. Most often it is those people who are nearest and dearest to us.

In fact, a Christmas tradition can’t exist without the energy and power found within the hearts and souls of the people involved.

Those Christmas traditions we dearly and often eagerly anticipate are fueled by the wonderful and heart-warming memories those traditions have created over the years for us.

Twenty years from now, not many of you will be to remember the presents and gifts you received, but I can guarantee you will be able to remember those Christmas traditions, that became the glue that has bonded the memories and souls of our families and friends together.

So, there you have it.

looking

A slightly different way of looking back at 2019 and now 2020 from where I was sitting.

Obviously, there are other posts that are noteworthy(at least in my mind), as well as events in from last year that could have made the list for inclusion.

I didn’t include blog stats and such, because I’m not sure what they would add to the mix.

Having said all of this, one thing I pray you to take from this particular retrospection is simply this quote:

“your most valuable family possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link your hearts together.”

Go out right this very moment with your family/friends and get creating memories in 2021 that will last a lifetime.

Lynn and I thank each and every one of you who took the time to visit for a while with us at “justabitfuther” during 2019 and 2020.

We pray that you made it through 2020 healthy and well. Now, let’s look forward with hope and anticipation for a brighter future unfolding before us in 2021.

With love……..

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —