Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Change...It's possible

I often frustrate myself (and maybe others ;) by reacting to things in the same way over and over again when every time I vow that next time I will react differently. When I WANT to react differently.

I resolve not to scream at the kids and then I find myself screaming again.  And regretting again. 

I have done enough therapy and read enough Brene Brown to know how to connect rather than isolate when I am angry with my spouse.  And yet we go to bed angry and lonely after a fight.

I vow I will be more organised, start Christmas shopping earlier, be more present with friends.....and weeks pass and I allow myself to be caught up in the busyness over and over again.

The gap between the ideal, mature me I imagine and the regular, fallible, me that most often shows up is often a yawning chasm.  Frustratingly so.

This week I was gifted a really messy, nasty situation.  A lot of accusations and anger was hurled my way.  Delivered with a threatening tone.

I read the email on my phone while I was out of the office.  Later listened to the angry voicemail.

The familiar feelings of shock came quickly, the shaky bones feeling, the lagging brain trying to keep up with what I was reading (that blessed fog that gives you a few minutes to gather yourself before the reality sinks in), the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears.

I walked out of the restaurant to my car somewhat numb and something interesting happened.

My usual default reactions are A) Defensive anger leading to impulsive action (possibly vindictive if I am going to be honest) or B) allowing the gremlin voices of shame and doubt and unworthiness take over leading to shutdown and inaction and hit to my self esteem.

But in THIS moment I was able to hold myself from going in either direction.  

Three things happened: 

1) I prayed for myself and for the attackers  - for grace for all involved.  2) I recalled a segment from Elizabeth Gilbert's new book that I am reading (Big Magic) that asserts that my job is to DO the work, whatever it may be, and that I should not base my self worth on the reaction of anyone to that work.  That the work is worthy in and of itself and to allow others to determine your worth based on their reaction or perception of your work is, at best, unhelpful and at worst destructive. 3) I held on to the perspective that those who launch such attacks reveal more about themselves than they do about the person they are attacking.

And in those moments I let the anger and the self doubt come in, to visit for a while and then I showed them the door - the door out of my head and my heart - in quite a conscious way.  My heart stopped pounding and I felt the dispassionate calmness that allowed me to carry on.

After a brief cry because some things don't change it seems. Tears are tricky things - they sneak over the barriers we erect. Maybe that's ok too. I wiped the tears.

So despite a pretty jagged day I am comforted, if not downright delighted, that I didn't sink into 
old patterns.  I found a new way to react to a trigger.  It felt SO good.  I gave myself time to react.  
I carefully considered the person/s I was reacting to while checking in with my own values about people and communication and in this case my work - I wasn't about to let them drag me back to old reactions, even towards them.  Even if it would have felt justified.  Even if I had a LOT I could have said.

So as if often the case when adversity comes, I learned a lot.  I learned I can change. I learned I am not hostage to old, unhelpful patterns of behaviour.   Maturity is not a mirage, it is attainable .(THANK goodness for that right? Phew!)

And that my friends is BIG Magic! 

PS - I also learned that my FB peeps are always there for me - you guys are an army - you make me feel strong and loved!! THANK YOU! xoxo

Sunday, October 18, 2015

To plan or not to plan

There is a theory in manufacturing and production called "JIT" or "just in time".  Inventory arrives "Just in time" so no need to hold a lot of inventory or store much etc.

It has always made me uneasy.  "Just in time" leaves too much room for "out of stock" or "sorry no product available", not to mention things like power outages or zombie apocalypse...

However I assume minds much brighter than my own had looked through all the contingencies and logistics and economics and who was I "woman of plan B, C, D, E and F" to argue?

In my own life planning is my thing.

I not only plan for the actual event or thing but I also plan for (not just think about but actually plan for) a range of eventualities like variables in weather, attendees, souffle collapses, nose bleeds, zombie apocalypse etc.

And yet lately an odd thing has started to happen.

I have been very busy and my planning ahead has suffered.  Of course scaling back on the number of things I had to plan didn't occur to me.

As my planning time became constrained I ended up doing things rather last minute or "just in time".

It has been amazing to me that on several occasions I had the exact bright idea or found the thing I needed with only 24 hours or less until I had to deliver/show up.

And shockingly the result was pretty much as good as if I had planned it for weeks, at least to those on the receiving end!


Last night was my annual Art Auction Fundraiser for work.  An event that requires me to be Executive Director-ish in behaviour and appearance.  I usually get a dress.
I did try on 5000 (I wish I was joking) dresses with a few days to spare and nothing worked.
So with a little over 24 hours to go and despite the recent lessons of "Just in Time" I had little expectation I could actually pull this off - I had a back up outfit picked out.  But I found myself with 20 minutes to spare, within shooting distance of a dress shop, which had not other customers.  So I  walked in and declared to the two delightful ladies working "Hello!  I need a dress for a smart work event. Tomorrow.  It needs to fit perfectly and cost no more than $xx and I have to like it. GO". 20 minutes later I walked out with 2 /TWO/ DEUX dresses and some serious underwear to suck and lift in all the right places!

Just in time.

So here I am left with a dilemma.

Can I trust this "Just in time" method of living life or shall I revert to my old (over) planning ways.

I suppose there is a middle ground in there somewhere?

Maybe I will find it, just in time?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thankful I am

This weekend was long anticipated when we waved Lindsay goodbye at UVic and she said - "See you at Thanksgiving". 

It seemed a long way away and thankfully she made it home unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago for a flying visit.

But this time 4 night as a family of 4 again!  

After a challenging journey of buses and ferries she made it home Friday night and catches the ferry back early tomorrow.

We've had a typical busy long weekend.

David had 4 soccer matches in a tournament that was frustrating as they played two teams "below" them and won handily and then play two teams in the division "above" them and lost very physical and hard games. One played in sideways driving rain.  His body was unsurprisingly tired and a little sore last night!

Allan had Masters class all day Saturday so Lindsay and I and our buddy Emily headed downtown Van on a variety of errands and explorations. Once the rain started we sought shelter at Burdock and Co for a delicious brunch.  We did a little more shopping but decided a cozy afternoon at home seemed in order.

Once all the Byres were home from school and soccer and shopping we decided to reprise our 15 year tradition of "Family Feast Night" ...a meal of several small plates and a movie. It was a lovely cozy evening that filled up my heart,

Sunday started early with waffles to fuel a full day of meal prep, more soccer and Lindsay's first participation in a Federal election.  She voted in an advanced poll.  

By 5 o'clock the kitchen was full of family and friends and the smells from the oven tantalizing.  We convinced my Dad to give up on turkey this year in favour of prime rib!  I am seldom happier than when my kitchen is full.  3 generations,  wonderful friends, good food, good drinks, music and the chatter of various conversations filling the air... spontaneous hugs, lots of laughter. 

THIS is my happy place!

We enjoyed a beautiful meal at our newly (if hastily) expanded dining table.  Lindsay topped the meal with this beauty!

We all have so much to be thankful for...our friends placed cards on our seats with greetings as well as the information that they had made a gift to Union Gospel Mission on our behalf...a timely reminder that to whom much is given much is expected.  On my own heart is the plight of so many refugees in Europe and what I, we, might do in response to those with so much less, in so much suffering.

The holiday monday heralded a very very rare day that no alarm was needed.  Hallelujah!  And a lazy morning was had by all as the rain fell. 

Lindsay and I made a brief foray to the Mall in search of an outfit for me to wear to our upcoming Art Auction next weekend but alas we struck out.  Allan took David for a driving lesson and as I type Lindsay is making gnocci for a casual dinner.

Ahhh....democracy, friends, family, home, food, conversation, connection...and SO much more!


Monday, October 5, 2015


A couple of times each summer I get up at an ungodly hour and take my kids to a boat on which they sail away to summer camp.  They have the best time. Good friends, good food, lots of activities, good discussion and conversation.  They come back tired yet refreshed, sun kissed and exuberant and content.

In many ways this past weekend was an upscale adult version of camp.

We got up way too early on Saturday and sailed on a ferry on a crisp but sparkling October morning to Nanaimo BC with our dear friends.  Over a delicious and nutritious BC ferry breakfast (wink wink) we chatted, caught up on our weeks, discussed the coming federal election and much more.

After arriving we made a short detour before the lake to visit the hunting, fishing, camping mega store Cabelas where the boys were lost in fly fishing world for a bit while I helped nature educator extraordinaire EV chose a knife and merino socks for future forest adventures. I think my forbearance in a store holding practically zero interest to me earned me some friend/spouse brownie points!

Soon we arrived at the beautiful lakefront home of friends newly relocated to this part of the world. 

What a spot they have! And what a great time we had.

Good delicious wholesome food with unrivaled views, sun on our faces, content chattering.  

Some napped, some watched soccer on TV, some sat on the dock... Everyone relaxed.  

When energy returned we went out in the boat to tour the lake, the boys took to the water in search of fish , the girls kayaked....and as afternoon slid into evening a fire was made, more food prepped and decent bottle or two of red wine were cracked.  The incessant rising of fish lured the fishermen back to the dock, Guiness in hand, as the sun set and the fire crackled.

A glorious meal was enjoyed and the Whitecaps cheered as we nodded off on the couches.

A truly lovely day was declared done at fairly early hour and we headed to bed.

Early to bed meant early to rise and soon the smell of coffee lured even the reluctant out of bed on another crisp sunny day. 

Boys headed out in kayaks with fishing rods ever optimistic in their quest. The girls headed to the ocean to walk along the harbour while our host cooked up a pile of waffles, and bacon.

A leisurely brunch of delicious fruit and yogurt and a spirited discussion on the merits of maple vs Aunt Jemima syrup (just to reassert our Canadianess) and then decisions on how to spend our remaining few hours...the boys roamed the neighbourhood and the girls retired to the dock. When the boys returned everyone was on the dock and for a very brief few minutes everyone just sat and enjoyed the sun and water.  But soon the boys were back at the fishing and finally a pan-fry-able trout was hauled in and camp was sadly over.

We left our dear friends at their gorgeous spot, grateful for their warm and unfussy welcome and hospitality...and headed to a very full ferry ride home.. Still with much to chat about over burgers and fries and a sit in the sun.

I felt like I escaped to camp for a while.  It was delightful and relaxed and just what I needed.

I'm so grateful for friends to share life with, to explore with, to cook and kayak and chat with... Thank you Vera's and Jacques ... I heart you.

Let's do camp again... Soon!