Tuesday, April 29, 2014

this may come as a surprise to many of you, but i hate carrying a purse [and not because it's 'too girly' either]. truth be told, i hate having to carry anything; i would much rather throw some cash in my pocket and walk out the door.

but a lot of us walk out the door each day with a lot more 'baggage', don't we? stuff that weighs us down? stuff we could do without? stuff like unnecessary relationship drama, conflict, pain from our past, and the list goes on.

as some of you know, i take pride in the fact that i've been on 62 flights in the past 13 years. that's 62 take offs, 62 landings, and 62 times where i've had to check my baggage through customs, and unpack it when i arrived at my destination.

but there's a time to check your baggage in life, too.

i'm sure you've all heard your boss or a co-worker say, "leave your baggage at the door". i know i have. "i don't care what you're going through, you better walk in here with a smile on your face and get to work". while these words may sound harsh to some, they do carry some weight.

the truth is, no matter how much pain we're in, we have to be able to function.

[disclaimer: before i go any further, please know that i am in no way, shape, or form downplaying things that some of you may be going through. i understand that there are times in life where this doesn't come easy, or where an extended period of time is needed for grief etc]

but for the rest of us, we can't be walking around moping all of the time and letting our past affect our future. [i'm talking to myself here]. there are times where we need to 'leave our baggage at the door', and check it.

but there's also a time to unpack it, and put it away. for good.

we live in a world of self medication; we're constantly avoiding our pain by doing drugs, drowning ourselves in netflix, or by pulling up the nearest bar stool. but, if you're like me, you've learned that your pain is waiting for you when the novelty of your choice of medication wears off. naturally, the cycle continues; we pick up another bottle, pop another pill, or turn on another movie, when the truth is, we have to work through our junk. we have to take time out to reflect and think it through, recognize patterns, talk to someone, cry it out, whatever we need to do to let go of it.

our generation's whole 'just be strong and move on' facade is not only unhealthy, but it's dangerous. perhaps it's time we change our thinking, start unpacking our baggage, and travel light ... you know, without a purse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

someone i know tried to take their life recently, which served as a huge wake up call and reminder to me of how many people suffer from depression/despair, how many people walk through it alone, and why i should write this blog.

as most of you would know from reading previous posts, depression is something that i battle myself. i've seen some inexplicably dark times over the past 21 years, admittedly, as recent as this past easter weekend, and if i'm being honest, even a little bit today.

that being said, i know that there isn't a formula to getting better, but i've included a few things below that help me get through the rough patches, in hopes that they will help those of you who 'get it' through yours, too.

1) get up and get out

i know how much energy it requires to get out of bed some days, let alone the energy it can take to even think about such a daunting task, but hear it from one who has stayed in bed one too many days in her life, getting out of bed is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, and health, period.

so get up. go for a walk. jump on the treadmill. watch a funny show. cook your favourite meal, or better yet, cook mine for me [chili, in case you are wondering]. but seriously, whatever you do, just get up, and get out.

2) celebrate the good.

no matter how dark your life may seem at the time, there are always things to celebrate; like sports victories, good weather, or in a literal sense, your nephew's 10th birthday [love you, matthew]. whatever your 'good' is, find it, and celebrate it.

3) treat yo self [before you wreck yo self].

yesterday, i treated myself to two of my favourite things [at two different times of day, of course]: booster juice and sushi. and today? today i think i'll treat myself to a pedicure, and maybe, just maybe, a blue jays' game or a movie. after all, i deserve a treat once in a while. and so do you. so treat yourself.

now if you'll excuse me, i must eat my own words and 'get my feet did', so i don't sit here feeling de-'feet'-ed.

until next time, friends.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

wyerton willie is often the bearer of bad news. we see sun one day and pull out our flip flops the next, only to find out that a groundhog - a stinkin groundhog! - is calling for more snow. 'it's april 15th!. are you out of your mind?', we think. i can't deal with this wind. my back hurts from shoveling. it's too dark. i'm cold!

we have time frames in place for the four seasons. winter should end by march at the latest. spring, june. summer, september. and so forth.

and such can be said about the seasons we face in life, too. relationships should last longer. we've been unemployed too long. sick too much. stuck. poor. depressed.

but i'm here to bring you good news! no matter how long winter lasts, spring is guaranteed. no matter how long you've been unemployed or depressed [a blog on the latter coming soon], the sun is due to come out!

so ... don't give up. keep going. press on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1) "it's okay".

i was out in public the other day and had no choice but to listen to a mother try to calm her screaming baby down. "shhhhhh, it's okay", she said, "don't cry".

somehow, in this random brain of mine, i started thinking about how you and i often comfort our friends.

sometimes, our friends need to talk. other times, they need a distraction. some fun. laughter, you name it.

but sometimes, just sometimes, they may need to cry. and that's okay.

i find that our natural reaction to someone crying can be harmful at times; we, like that mom and her baby [which, i acknowledge, is a totally different story], are quick to try and stop our friends from crying, and do anything we can to 'cheer them up'. "it could be worse" we say. "you have so much to be thankful for".

while statements such as the above are true, they can be quite damaging.

next time your friend needs you, try and gauge what it is they actually need, and do your best to help them accordingly.

2) monkey see - monkey do.

my team and i were enjoying a lovely breakfast on a hot summer's day in malawi a few summers a go when my eyes were drawn to the rustling i overheard coming from a tree near by. to my surprise, a monkey climbed down the tree, jumped on a table next to me and stole a piece of toast out of the hand of a fellow traveler. i clinched my toast and laughed. seconds later, a second monkey came down, jumped on the same table, only to leave with some jam. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?", i thought. "if that third monkey comes down and grabs a knife, i'm going to die" [of laughter that is, not from a monkey stabbing].

this whole experience baffled me for years until my friend reminded me of the familiar saying, "monkey see - monkey do" the other night. those monkeys had been up in that tree watching us humans lather our toast with strawberry jam, and expected nothing less for their breakfast.

and somehow, in this random brain of mine, i linked this whole thing to leadership.

those you lead don't listen to what you say, they watch what you do.

i can't tell you the amount of times that i've been told to do something, only to have the one who told me to do it turn around and do the complete opposite, leaving me feeling confused and wondering whether or not i could trust them as my leader.

the truth is, we've all been there.

your boss stresses the importance of showing up to work on time, and comes in 20 minutes late each day himself.
your mom tells you to hang up your jacket, but throws hers on the kitchen chair when she gets home from work.
your prof emphasizes deadlines, and yet hands your paper back three months after you handed it in.

you get the picture.

truth be told, true leadership isn't proven in one's ability to 'talk the talk', but in their ability to 'walk the walk'.

because, well, monkey see - monkey do.

Friday, April 4, 2014

our 'behinds'

i was driving my sister's car the other day and it hit me; i spent way more time looking through the windshield than i did the rear view mirror. what was ahead of me, the cars,[ahem, parked cars], stop signs, snow banks and the like, were more important to me than what was behind me.

shouldn't the same be said about life?

sure, in some ways we can't escape our past, after all, it's responsible for shaping us into the person we are today, but we can't live there; we have too good of a future ahead to worry about ... our behinds.

our 'butts'

i should really study for my exam, but ... i'm tired and can do it tomorrow.
i should call so and so to see how she's doing, but ... she's probably busy.
i'll go to the gym, but ... my legs are sore from yesterday's work out.
i should eat these carrots, but ... this crème egg looks good.
i should, but ... but ... but!

you get the picture.

truth be told, our 'buts' get in the way of doing the very things we need to do to ensure a better life and future, and so can our 'behinds' if we let them.

"let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you" [proverbs 4:25]