Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt Week 42 – Reblog From Sadje

Our second post for Week 42 post comes to us from Sadje.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sadje always send us top notch poetry or short works of prose for our “Tuesday Prompts.”

This week, her poem will literally “punch you in the gut.” It is that good and so very powerful in the way it speaks to what is important in life.

If you do nothing else today, read her poem.

You can check out her entry here.

Thanks Sadje for taking part again this week. Your poem is so poignant and strong.

Our next “Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt” is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 6.

Thanks.

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Rebirth

It’s an early Friday morning here at the “old homestead” and there is the smell of spring in the air. Not entirely sure “what spring smells like”, but it does feel like spring is slowly creeping up on us.

Spring is the time of year for new birth or rebirth for that matter. It’s this time of year most baby animals are born, and along with that those tiny crocuses and other early spring flowers that pop up through the thinning snow blanket in their rebirth to hearld warmer times are “a coming.”

This picture was taken a few years back during a buggy spring trip to Algonquin Park.

Just off Highway 60, is an area known the the “Old Mew Lake/Lake of Two Rivers Airfield.” The new implies exactly what it is – an old abandoned airfield. A large flat area, surrounded by rolling Algonquin hillside.

However back in 2012, a prescribed and controlled burn was done within the Mew Lake/Lake of Two Rivers Airfield. There was an information board along the trail describing how and why the burn was done by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Unfortunately, we didn’t snap a picture of it.

The following I found from a 2012 local newspaper article

“Prescribed burning was also used on two plots of land in the Pembroke area, covering a total area of 6.2 hectares on the Highway 60 corridor at the Lake of Two Rivers airfield. The objectives of the burn were to assist park staff with habitat manipulation of a grassland area for songbird research and to promote the development of fire management and ecosystem management techniques for the park’s interpretive program.”

As one can imagine, the area would have looked pretty desolate after the fire was extinguished. Burnt and charred trees and the ground looking like a sickened and blackened carpet rescued after a house fire.

But, as the picture indicates within what appeared/appears to be a location of bleakness, life sprang forth. “Life finds a way.” Now, there is a whole science behind the how and why certain plants and trees pop up in a relatively short time frame in an area either from a controlled burn like here or a uncontrolled burn from say a lightning strike.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that for most of the world, we’ve existing in some pretty bleak and shall we say “burnt conditions.” The going global pandemic has certainly “blackened the earth” if we’re looking for a metaphor to describe the situation.

But, as in the picture “life finds a way” or “there will be a new or rebirth.”

My original thought when “birthing” this post, was to tie it into God looking after us and that even in the most dire of circumstances that may blacken our lives, HE is there to help us rise from the blackened and often scorched landscape. That’s good, but for a later time.

Often we need to go through a trial of fire if you will, in order to clean out the deadwood or debris in our lives, to allow new growth to take root and flourish. In a forest fire situation, after the burn nutrients in the soil are exposed, thus allowing new growth to occur. The Jack Pine for example, needs the heat of a fire to get it’s pine cone to expand and allow the seeds in the cone to drop onto the nutrient rich ground – new growth.

Just because it may feel like you’ve been through hell or your life is looks like the “Mew Lake/Lake of Two Rivers Airfield” two days after that controlled burn, and that there is no opportunity for change or new growth. I get that. And often new growth has a certain level of shall we say pain and discomfort associated with it. And has a human species, we do tend to shy away from anything associated with pain. However, the old “no pain – no gain” cliche does hold a bucket full of truth here.

There is great opportunity in front of you. Perhaps what you desire or are striving for, even if you’re not entirely sure what that is yet, just needed some nutrient rich soil in order to germinate. And remember, a controlled burn is exactly what the terms entails, a “controlled burn.” Maybe this is the day to get rid of whatever debris and deadwood is choking or undermining the chance for new growth to occur.

You have the ability to “control burn” whatever amount of stuff – small or large in your life. You decide what and how much.

Remember, given the right and fertile circumstances….”life finds a way.”

— 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 – 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.”

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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 – We’re Not Simply One Layer

Although this is a post I did back in January 2020, the message is still timeless.

People, each one of us(and yes, that includes both you and me), are exceedingly complex individuals. All of us are comprised of multiple layers of “things” that only when taken in totality define who we are.

Often those layers remain pretty constant throughout our lives, while often we work on those layer(s) that need to be changed or eliminated. We are without a doubt – “a work in progress.”

As individuals though, each one of us needs to look inward to see how we “define others in our life?” Do we slot them into some cubby space based on just “one layer” – which tends to have a negative value assigned to it. Or do we honestly look at the person in front of us in the totality of all the layers?

Remember – when you define me you are often simply defining yourself.

From January 2020 – with love

Somewhere along the way, I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase(s), “they’re such a multi-layered or multi-faceted person.”

And did you know, that if you start typing “a multi-layered or multi-faceted person” into a Google search you get “multi-layered” and “multi-faceted” answers? In other words, Mr. Google ain’t much help this morning.

2020a

The photo here clearly shows the growth rings of a tree.

What is in the picture is actually a very old beam that is somewhat rotting.

The beam is or was part of a weir in White Falls Dam that controls the flow of water from Six Mile Lake to Gloucester Pool in the Muskoka area, not far from where we live.

In simple terms, each growth ring shown in the picture represents one year of growth for a tree before it was cut at some point in the far distant past in order to be shaped into the beam that is in the photograph. In other words, each growth ring or year of growth represents one layer within the life(multi-layers) of any tree.

But, a tree isn’t necessarily defined by one growth ring.

It isn’t defined by one smallish growth ring or layer, that occurred during a rough summer of little rain nor is it defined by several larger consecutive growth rings which were due to near-perfect growing conditions.

The life and substance of the tree are defined by all of the rings(multi-layers) when taken together.

So, back to the “multi-layered or multi-faceted person” phrase.

I’m finding arriving at any reasonable and easy to “get a grip on” definition of the two terms is difficult.

The phrase “multi-layered” seems to refer to personality traits, while “multi-faceted” has this vague definition of “something comprising many parts.” All of which might very well when lumped together, might not a bad definition of who we are as individuals after all.

It goes without saying, that of course, as individuals, we are multi-layered and multi-faceted for sure. It is also for sure that we ARE NOT simply defined by one single layer.

Or are we?

onion

Who and what we are, in other words, our whole being is the totality of all of these layers. Some are good; some are great; some not so good; while most may be neutral.

One analogy that often gets used is that we are akin to the layers found in an onion.

All of this is fine and dandy, except for one thing in my mind.

How often do we get defined or that others see and view us by only looking exclusively at one layer?

judge 2

People see us; judge us; make assumptions about us, through a myopic view focussing on one layer and one layer only of our multi-layered and multi-faceted make-up.

Often the layer those around us bite into and hold with a vice-grip like tenacity, is one that is generally seen as negative or certainly not one that has much of a positive attribute attached to it.

Honestly, who wants to be defined or viewed by only a single and often negative layer of your multi-layered and multi-faceted being?

But that happens, doesn’t it?

You’re seen and viewed as cold and distant person; or seen as far too emotional; perhaps viewed as way over the top; viewed as too quirky; still seen as a bit of a “mental case” because you had some emotional and mental-wellness concerns years ago; or people still define you by something that happened in your past that you are desperately trying to move on from.

All those and other things may be true, but that one layer doesn’t define who we are as individuals.

Honestly, we need to move way beyond seeing, defining, judging others simply by the one layer we see or that one layer “we want to see.”

That one layer you see; that one layer you define me by; that one layer you only “want to see” – it hurts.

I know, and my wife can certainly attest to it, as much as I have wonderful qualities or layers about me, I also have layer upon layer of qualities that can be viewed with a negative lens to them. Most of “those other layers” tend to deal with emotional and mental wellness issues.

Unfortunately, there are many who have or continue to this day to view me as a person defined by “those other layers.” Too bad, because in reality, I’m not such a bad guy.

judge 1

It is a terrible shame, that we can fail to see and experience the whole person because the best we can do or the most we will try to do is view only one layer of a person.

You see, the problem isn’t you or me.

The problem is this.

Everyone else assumes they’re perfect.

If people only view and see someone as this single-layered individual and not as a wonderful multi-layered guy or gal, that narrowness of scope actually kind of backfires. It reveals something dark about them.

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I guess many have forgotten or perhaps don’t know or often have chosen not to know this simple, yet powerful truth.

By defining me or others, you’ve just defined who you are.

Something perhaps we all need to, is step back and examine within ourselves are we defining who we are by defining; viewing or judging others by only one single layer of who they are?

That’s a good question.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

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.

mirror

Do you have the guts to take a peak?

That is often the biggest struggle of all.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

The Fickleness of Feelings

Feelings can be a bit of a “fickle mistress.” They can also be at times our own worst enemy.

Feelings tend to get categorized as either good or bad, which can be slightly misguided, given specific situations. How many of us label feelings such as fear, anger and sadness as bad or negative ones, while labelling others, like joy and excitement as good or positive. But for example, isn’t a feeling of fear that tells us to “get the hell out of there” a good thing in that case? We’ve labelled or categorized the feeling of fear as bad when it was actually a good thing.

Feelings can be that weird fickle mistress.

The reality is that feelings are neither good nor bad; feelings just are.

Emotions are part of your life and to deny them is to deny a part of ourselves.

Let’s continue.

pointer boat

This would be just about the last place to find an abandoned fishing skiff and buoys.

Now, not having extensive experience in abandoned boat finding, I would assume old boats would be more than likely found around a fishing harbour, a marina, some local boat works place, or out in the back forty of a favourite Uncle’s farm. You know, behind the utility shed where Auntie Mae isn’t likely to look.

Nope, this little darling was found in a laneway just off Highway 311 in Prince Edward Island. We were on our way to hike Boughton Island; got lost(not lost in as much as misdirected by technology) and needed to turn around… and there it was.

Lynn felt that this little-abandoned beauty needed to be included as part of our trip, so she jumped out of the car and snapped a couple of quick pictures. And that was it.

Abandoned, but now preserved on film. Well, at least digitally.

Nevertheless, what is the story or history this little fishing boat could tell if it could talk? What adventures did it have over its lifetime plying the waters surrounding Prince Edward Island? Was it handed down from grandfather to father and finally to son? How many rough days on the ocean did it have, trusting it would deliver the day’s catch and its owners back to the harbour and their family safely?

Who knows?

Much like this tiny fishing skiff, there are those days we may feel abandoned, discarded and worn out from life. And for sure, life can wear you out – if you let it.

I’m beginning to wonder if the problem here is feeling abandoned.

Feelings can be a fickle part of living. I wrote recently that sometimes feelings can take us to places that aren’t at times rooted in a strong sense of reality. Feelings are wonderful things, whether they be good or bad and are part of what makes us who we are.

But sometimes they are just that – feelings.

So, maybe we’re not really abandoned, but we feel that way or some reason.

enemyI am and perhaps many of you are as well, our own worse enemy at times.

We feel sorry for ourselves when there is no need too. We work harder than ever expending buckets of energy to have the world revolve around us, forgetting that it also revolves around others as well. We start comparing our accomplishments to those of others with some arbitrary measuring stick, feeling that we’re not good enough and the list goes on and on.

Then there is that day or those days when we wake up feeling like the world has abandoned us. Just like our little fishing boat, abandoned at the end of a laneway in rural Prince Edward Island. The problem is, though the world is still doing what it does – perhaps on those mornings, the real problem is us. We just wake up feeling that way.

And do you know what the funny thing is? How do we really know that little boat is has been abandoned? We feel it’s been abandoned by the story the picture provides. I only said it was on a laneway that we drove into to get turned around. This could have been a long driveway to a very expensive home with manicured lawns and gardens. Perhaps our little fishing boat is a piece of very expensive art commissioned as an entry piece to the property.

Maybe it isn’t or has never been abandoned by anyone.

Perhaps it only feels abandoned(assuming fishing boats have feelings). Maybe it’s been comparing itself to those big fishing trawlers and lobster boats when in reality our little fishing boat was the one thing that gave a father the means to provide for his family. Maybe over its career, our little boat helped that family to send a child off to college or university. Perhaps our little boat is the only bit of history that remains that ties a family together.

feelings1Feelings are part of what makes us who we are. But, they can be just that – a feeling that may not be rooted in reality and that can take us somewhere we don’t want or need to be.

How we feel and why we feel in a particular way, especially when the feeling is negative can be difficult to get a handle on. Feelings are woven into and a complex part of the tight weave of living and life that we are at any particular point in time.

But that feeling maybe just that a feeling and not representative of where we really are at. Even not giving it much of a try, we can find plenty of people to hold us down and keep us back from being all we were created to be. You and I don’t need to be one of them.

Given that, today might be the day to stop being our own worst enemy.

How do you deal with feelings that may take you to a place which is not the reality you’re in?

Something to think about!

Thanks for reading

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

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

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.

You see, 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.

2020q

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.

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.

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 one 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

But, you 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, 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.

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?

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

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

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.”

3Both have a bit of a cliche type ring to them, I think.

In fact, both are great big fat cliches. There is no doubt about that.

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 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.

batshitIn 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, and 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 about something that doesn’t rate the “time of day” for me to worry and fret about it?

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.”

bathsit2When 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.

Sometimes 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.”

3And 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?

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – We’re Not Simply One Layer

Somewhere along the way, I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase(s), “they’re such a multi-layered or multi-faceted person.”

And did you know, that if you start typing “a multi-layered or multi-faceted person” into a Google search you get “multi-layered” and “multi-faceted” answers? In other words, Mr. Google ain’t much help this morning.

2020a

The photo here clearly shows the growth rings of a tree.

What is in the picture is actually a very old beam that is somewhat rotting.

The beam is or was part of a weir in White Falls Dam that controls the flow of water from Six Mile Lake to Gloucester Pool in the Muskoka area, not far from where we live.

In simple terms, each growth ring shown in the picture represents one year of growth for a tree before it was cut at some point in the far distant past in order to be shaped into the beam that is in the photograph. In other words, each growth ring or year of growth represents one layer within the life(multi-layers) of any tree.

But, a tree isn’t necessarily defined by one growth ring.

It isn’t defined by one smallish growth ring or layer, that occurred during a rough summer of little rain nor is it defined by several larger consecutive growth rings which were due to near-perfect growing conditions.

The life and substance of the tree are defined by all of the rings(multi-layers) when taken together.

So, back to the “multi-layered or multi-faceted person” phrase.

I’m finding arriving at any reasonable and easy to “get a grip on” definition of the two terms is difficult.

The phrase “multi-layered” seems to refer to personality traits, while “multi-faceted” has this vague definition of “something comprising many parts.” All of which might very well when lumped together, might not a bad definition of who we are as individuals after all.

It goes without saying, that of course, as individuals, we are multi-layered and multi-faceted for sure. It is also for sure that we ARE NOT simply defined by one single layer.

Or are we?

onionWho and what we are, in other words, our whole being is the totality of all of these layers. Some are good; some are great; some not so good; while most may be neutral.

One analogy that often gets used is that we are akin to the layers found in an onion.

All of this is fine and dandy, except for one thing in my mind.

How often do we get defined or that others see and view us by only looking exclusively at one layer?

judge 2People see us; judge us; make assumptions about us, through a myopic view focussing on one layer and one layer only of our multi-layered and multi-faceted make-up.

Often the layer those around us bite into and hold with a vice-grip like tenacity, is one that is generally seen as negative or certainly not one that has much of a positive attribute attached to it.

Honestly, who wants to be defined or viewed by only a single and often negative layer of your multi-layered and multi-faceted being?

But that happens, doesn’t it?

You’re seen and viewed as cold and distant person; or seen as far too emotional; perhaps viewed as way over the top; viewed as too quirky; still seen as a bit of a “mental case” because you had some emotional and mental-wellness concerns years ago; or people still define you by something that happened in your past that you are desperately trying to move on from.

All those and other things may be true, but that one layer doesn’t define who we are as individuals.

Honestly, we need to move way beyond seeing, defining, judging others simply by the one layer we see or that one layer “we want to see.”

That one layer you see; that one layer you define me by; that one layer you only “want to see” – it hurts.

I know, and my wife can certainly attest to it, as much as I have wonderful qualities or layers about me, I also have layer upon layer of qualities that can be viewed with a negative lens to them. Most of “those other layers” tend to deal with emotional and mental wellness issues.

Unfortunately, there are many who have or continue to this day to view me as a person defined by “those other layers.” Too bad, because in reality, I’m not such a bad guy.

judge 1It is a terrible shame, that we can fail to see and experience the whole person because the best we can do or the most we will try to do is view only one layer of a person.

You see, the problem isn’t you or me.

The problem is this.

Everyone else assumes they’re perfect.

If people only view and see someone as this single-layered individual and not as a wonderful multi-layered guy or gal, that narrowness of scope actually kind of backfires. It reveals something dark about them.

judge 3I guess many have forgotten or perhaps don’t know or often have chosen not to know this simple, yet powerful truth.

By defining me or others, you’ve just defined who you are.

Something perhaps we all need to, is step back and examine within ourselves are we defining who we are by defining; viewing or judging others by only one single layer of who they are?

That’s a good question.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —