Stormy Day Equals Drawing and Painting Day

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

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

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

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

Where does this leave today then?

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

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

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Happy and Grateful or Grateful and Happy

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

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

grateful1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

grateful3

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

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

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

pooh

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

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

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

Conclusion – gratitude is associated with happiness

Okay then.

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

Likely not.

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

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

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

It is grateful people who are happy.

gratitude 1

It’s as simple as that.

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

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

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

Let’s get things moving along here.

So, what are you making me read?

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

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

How are we holding up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So…how are we/you doing?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, there you go.

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

–as always with love–

— get outside; find inspiration; discover yourself —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

That’s the post.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Focus and Motivation

Sitting at the keyboard this dark, yet warm(ish) November morning, I’m not entirely convinced that focus and motivation are intrinsically linked together.

Yesterday, however, I would have suggested or even firmly stated that motivation and focus are definitely linked in some abstract form.

Why the abrupt change from yesterday to today?

I can’t answer that, because I’m not sure why.

Yesterday, I published a post that left me quite motivated and honestly feeling pretty upbeat for most of the day. In a nutshell, it dealt with my struggle and current ongoing quest(which might be too strong a word) to find my “path in life.” You can read it here “Pick A Lane Buddy.”

This morning, however, I’m perplexed as to why everything(motivation and focus-wise) seemingly has shifted 180 degrees.

I think in a big way, part of the issue is where I am within the context of my own mental wellness. I just don’t feel that I’m in a very good spot for the most part. Some days are great; some days are so-so; some days it would have been more productive to stay in bed. It can be crappy in the morning and way better in the afternoon.

I’m sure many of you have heard, read, or been exposed to quotes or life “hacks” along the lines of “do more of what brings you joy” or “find the thing that excites you out of bed in the morning and make that your job.” You get the idea.

The problem for me at the moment is the things that get me excited enough to roll out of bed in the morning with a distinct spring in my step are more fantasy as compared to something that resembles reality and can pay the bills.

Before the post heads off in a completely other direction, let’s try to bring it back to the original intent of “focus and motivation.”

Over the years, I’ve used a fair number of these cute “quotes” and “life hacks.” And obviously, several have made it into the narrative today.

The one directly above, for some unexplainable reason, seems to resonate with me. None of the words or content in the graphic are new; nor is it bordering on, “hey this is rocket science.”

But, it does resonate somewhere within the depths of my psyche and soul.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, it appears you are blessed with a determination to persevere through this to the end or you’re tuned in watching and waiting for what happens next to this dumpster fire of a post.

Where am I going with this?

Yesterday, after writing “Pick A Lane Buddy”, I was quite motivated and in some ways thrilled and excited to sketch, draw and paint at some point during the day. And after a bit of yard work and a 5km walk to visit with friends who recently moved, I did manage to sit on our front deck in the warm sun(in freaking November) and do just that. Lynn kept at the yard work.

And you know what?

It felt good. Real good.

Focus and motivation. Are they tied or linked together in a baffling yet beneficial relationship?

Well, of course, they are.

Perhaps part of the path I’m searching for is one that requires you to simply at this stage to focus on, “doing more of what brings you joy.”

Unashamedly immersing myself in those creative streams that soothe and heal my soul.

Seems like a good place to start.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Next Number Please

I originally punched this one out way back in November 2019……you know before the world caught of fire with a global pandemic. I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now.

Regardless, the holiday or Christmas season for 2021 is upon us. As a side-note, if I’m in a “poopy mood”, I often refer to it as “the season of excess.”

Given the craziness that can surround and potentially trap us until at least New Years Day, it is almost enivatble that one can start to feel lost. Not necessarily in a physical sense, although I suppose that is certainly possible, but more is a sense of “you” – who you are as a person.

Although it can be challenging, you are more than a number on a shipping reciept or more than a lost face in a crowd of lost faces.

Read on.

Whether we like it or not, the holiday season is upon us.

Not to sound like an old curmudgeon, I suspect that most of us are starting or will soon feel just a bit warmer in the depths of our hearts. That warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing that Christmas, friends, family, food, parties and such are peeking their noses out from around the corner. All of it ready to explode upon us a furry of activities and diarrhea-related overindulgences resulting from the numerous trip to the party buffets and pub crawls.

crazyWith the craziness that can surround the next six weeks or so, it is easy to get lost or certainly feel lost.

Not in a physical sense, but in the sense as a person, as “you.”

You know, waiting in line for “your number” to be called. Not your name to be called, but some random ticket you’ve yanked out of a machine of the wall “to be called.”

The delivery company asks for the shipping number when the package you order isn’t delivered on time or gets lost. They don’t care about your name necessarily, because “the system only tracks a number they tell you.”

This can be the season to feel lost in a crowd. Just simply a number in the mass of humanity.

But, you do have a name. Others have a name as well.

And we know that people are much more than numbers. Our name is “who we are” to some extent. It can provide a glimpse of our heritage, where our family might be from.

There is a lot associated with our name.

With being more than simply a number; than simply being lost in a crowd.

lost 2

But, what if for eternity, all you are known for and remembered as is simply “a number?”

From June of 2017 – Just Another Number.

You have a name; a history – but no one knows it. You as a person are unfortunately and sadly now and forever known and remembered as a number.

Is that what we would have wanted or desired?

Is that what others would have wanted for us?

If at no other time of year, we need to remember that people, whether they are strangers or those we know, that they are far more than a number.

Far more than a face lost in the crowd.

I think that says it all.

Pick A Lane Buddy

Sometime last night, we changed back over from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time.

In Canada, it is a well-researched fact that no one can explain the genesis behind why the time change in the first place. I think we adopted Daylight Saving Time in years gone by to get an extra hour of daylight through the growing season so that farmers would have more light to get more things done. Not convinced that was fair.

On the other hand, perhaps it was for patio goers at waterfront pubs throughout the country would have more daylight into the evening in the summer months. I suspect it’s this.

Regardless, the change last night gives everyone an extra hour of sleep today. Unfortunately now, the sun starts very early, like at 5:00pm. today for example. Yes, the long dark winter is slowly creeping up upon us. like a freezing dank fog inching across an English moor.

This post isn’t about that.

It would be a massive understatement to state my lack of writing and overall creativity has been at a motivational low point over the past year or so. It’s been way lower than that.

Now, having said that, not all avenues of creativity have been trampled by my overall and continued empty motivation tank farm. I will be the first to admit though, I am nowhere near being a pencil sketch/watercolor artist that could convince or pressure anyone into forking over cold hard cash to pick up a piece to hang on their wall.

But, I do find great comfort and a sense of “zen”(not sure that’s the word I want..but it will work for the time being) in drawing and painting. And not to reach around and pat myself on the back in case I pull something, I will confess I have gotten much better over the past 15 months or so.

Where are you going with this then?

Again, a great question.

The picture above is of Lynn, just as we were starting a hike along the Bruce Trail on the west side of the Beaver Valley about a week ago. A lovely, albeit wet and muddy cut grass path along the yop of the old Talisman Ski Resort.

The keyword that keeps popping out in that last sentence is “path.”

Without going into a ton of over-examination and counseling office analysis, it feels like I’m not on a path of any sort. If by some strange coincidence I am on some random path, I can confidently say, it is definitely a path I don’t want to be on.

Not sure, we’ve made it to the point of this yet. Perhaps, there isn’t even a point to the entire post.

But, assuming that there should be a point or direction….let’s make it this.

I’m pushing myself to find a path. What the path is or looks like I have no concrete concept or idea of. All I know is it needs to be a path. My path.

When you’re lost in the woods, finding a path can be a godsend. It means that others have been here before. In fact, people may have been on the path just a few minutes ago or it may have been weeks ago for that matter. Nevertheless, it does now provide you with some sense that there is a direction to follow.

So, there you have it. I’m trying to “pick a lane” on which to travel. A lane that I feel my life needs to be on, at least in this moment of time.

Might there be a need to change lanes in the future? I suspect so. In fact, I would assume so.

But for now, the hard work is simply “picking a lane.”

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Opened The Gate and Took A Hike

Yesterday, that being Sunday and Halloween, I took some advice(well……my own advice – go figure) and did essentially what I posted about in a piece I wrote called “Thoughts From The Wilderness – The Gate.”

Lynn and I got ourselves sort of semi-organized and managed to hit the Bruce Trail parking area at the top of the now-defunct “Talisman Resort” on the west side of the Beaver Valley at about 1:30pm.

As a bit of backstory here, I had hiked this particular section back in the spring of 2017. And low and behold, it was just as muddy today as it was in 2017.

I’ve popped in a few pictures of the many I snapped with my phone from our outing. Not all of them are necessary or add much to the narrative, given the route tended to be much of the same terrain, with a few interesting features thrown in here and there.

This post isn’t a true trip report in that sense. So what is the point of the post then?

Perhaps the lesson/message is this.

Often for our own self-preservation, also called our own mental and emotional well-being, sometimes you just simply have to open the gate “Thoughts From The Wilderness – The Gate” and step through it.

You see, for many(including yours truly) the metaphoric act of “opening the gate and taking a step through” might not seem like much, but it can be the difference between living and not living. Or the difference between simply existing or thriving.

I mentioned to Lynn at some point early in our adventure, that I was glad I made the decision to head out and then managing to follow through with it. Being somewhat perplexed as to why I would make such a bizarre statement, I replied, “It has been so challenging; often difficult and ultimately overwhelming to make a decision over the past months or even the last year to head out on a adventure and often when I do, I tend to talk myself out of it.” Or something like that.

So, Sunday was a good, if not a great mental/emotional health investment. How long will it last, that I don’t know.

And that’s okay at this point.

And to quote a well-worn and often spouted cliche – “A journey of a thousand kilometres, starts with one step.” Not sure that the quote is appropriate here, but it sounds inspiring nonetheless.

All in all it ended up being a great four hour adventure. The exceedingly end of the day muddy pants and hiking boots were a sure sign of a great hike. As well, we got to see many little “trick or treaters” out and about on the way home which was nice. Brought back memories of 20 to 25 years ago taking our own daughter out on Halloween.

The day was good one.

-as always with love–

— get doors; find inspiration; discover yourself —