Once it boils down, we are all the same

one-and-the-same1

I woke up this morning to a barrage of email that kept me quite busy for the better part of an hour. One of those notes was from a long lost cousin of mine who lives south of me. A while back, I wrote about my Grand Uncle and his mother, my beloved Great Grandmother. Since that post, I have been fortunate enough to connect, or reconnect with countless family members from ‘that side’ of the family. Through many conversations and mini reunions, I have learned – or rather reaffirmed – We are all more similar than different.

My distant cousin wrote this:

I am finding myself astounded from many of your posts on your blog.  So many things you have written about, sound so similar to my interests and experiences.

She wrote many other things that compared our lives, but that is her personal journey, mine is written here. Yes we are similar, so you can surmise what she is like. Another distant cousin on Canada’s East Coast also seems very familiar to me. We had never met, but our interests and life experiences have that same raw familiarity of people who have been through war together. Our wars were separate, yet so familiar and a destruction of trust. Both of these women are people I want to spend time with, get to know what they are like in person and not just in print. I can see myself enjoying them as sisters or the very least friends.

When I first began my Edmonton Tourist Journey in 2010, it was because I was unhappy and felt alone. I set out to change things in my life and have new experiences. This quest has introduced to countless people, all who are so incredibly different than myself, yet we all have one thing in common. We are the same. I am not sure if it is where I am in my life that keeps attracting these people to me, or if it is because there is a global inner drive that requires people to keep searching for ‘it’, but I do know we are more the same than different. Maybe I am wrong and you aren’t the same as me, here is my list of 4 things I think we have in common:

  1. We all want to be loved by someone – kissed, hugged or hair ruffled by someone who cares about you. You want to feel that connected energy. If you aren’t feeling it, perhaps you are not recognizing it. It doesn’t always come in the form of a ‘soulmate’ or great romantic love, it could be from your pup Sparky or your grandma. Still, we all need that feeling of belonging to someone.
  2. We all want to feel good and by good I mean healthy  No want wants to walk around feeling like they are tired or sick all the time. The difference between those who want to feel it and those who do feel it is some of us have figured out the secret. It’s not a big secret, it is more of a knowing. Eat less, move more. Simple formula. Eat real food, not chemical filled. You are  natural, healthy and organic. That means your fuel of choice should be the same. Harder than it sounds, but yet so simple. Move your body. We are biped beings. Walk more, sit less. The more you do it, the better you will feel.
  3. We want the best for the people we love. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, sibling or child. If you love someone, you want the best for them. When you hear happy news, don’t be jealous or envious, smile and bask in their happiness. It becomes contagious.
  4. We all want to understand. The biggest human nature driving force is ‘WHY’. ‘WHY’ is the reason we get up and experience or try things. ‘WHY’ is the reason we strive for more. Learn the answer to WHY to satisfy you curiosity. Read, experience, and listen to learn the answer to WHY. Try all 3 or the learning method that works for you.

Are we the same? I think so.

 

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My hair is nicer than Barbie’s and its about time

When I was 6, I received ‘Quick Curl Barbie’ for Christmas. Likely because she had curly hair like me. I didn’t have friends who had curly hair, they all had the lovely long straight blond hair of the 70’s. The kind that Jan and Marcia Brady had. I was a curly head brunette kid, who looked like a boy because of my short locks (Thanks Mom!).

Quick Curl Barbie was beautiful for one day. She had  synthetic hair with strands of wire woven into it. This was to ‘hold’ the curl in place – kind of like weaving pipe cleaners through your hair for that Pipi Longstocking look. Barbie came with a pink brush, comb and curling wand. Give those tools to a 6 year old and soon the beautiful Barbie had rats moving into her hair. The ends became all matted and knotted. Basically it looked like crap for the rest of the Barbie’s natural life. Funny…so did mine!

Quick curl Barbie #4220
Quick curl Barbie with new hair

Quick Curl Barbie the next day

Quick Curl Barbie the next day

Some time between starting this blog back in 201o and today, I lost my curl. I no longer have the tight curls of my youth except for the nape of my neck. Those critters are still curly like my baby curls. If I don’t flat-iron my hair, I have thick or big hair. It’s still straight but just bigger. Swimming made a mess of my hair and my hair dresser reprimanded me regularly. I decided I needed to let my hair grow out so I could get a proper cut. My hair had become the exact same as Quick Curl Barbie. Wiry, stiff and a weird not blond colour. It had grown past my shoulders – only when I straightened it could you tell it was that long, and I was tired of the ugly hair. Time had come for an appointment to cut it all off.

I went into the stylists and told her what I had been doing and why. Then I said, “I trust you, do what you need to do to fix it and I want to look sassy because, quite frankly I need hair to match my personality.” She told me she loved it when she was given free rein, and off to the sink we went.

Hair Stylist – “So tell me, how blonde were you as a kid? Because the blonde is holding up really well!”

Me – “I have never been blonde in my life”

HS – “um…yes you are.”

Me – “WTF? 45 and NOW I get the Long Blonde Straight hair of my dreams? Oh sweetie, that is GREY hair mixed with my BROWN hair.”

HS – “If we add some foils of Dark Brown and Blonde, use your natural colour as the base, you will look like you have always been blonde.”

Me – “Do it.”

So not only do I have the best cut I have ever had in my life (from a girl who was BORN IN THE 90’s!!), I now have long straight hair and will look like I am a natural blonde with highlights and lowlights by Thursday. Dreams DO come true.

Suck it Barbie, my hair is now NICER than YOURS.

Reaching for the Worthwhile

I belong to a fledgling book club – all women and lots of wine. We read books that challenge our comfort zone. We take turns choosing the book of the month and host the meeting in perspective homes. Last night was meeting number 2. I know 2 of the ladies quite well, one moderately well and the other two gals are new to my life. We come from different backgrounds, our children are at different ages and stages, our careers are massively different. Yet we all have 2 things in common:

  1. We love to read
  2. We strive for inner growth and change.

I have been reading 419 by Wil Ferguson. There was a single passage near the beginning of the book that made me catch my breath, the character had the task of compiling information for an obituary:

There were never entries for “memory,” or “regrets,” or even “love,” in the lowercase.
It was always “Education (post-secondary)” or “Awards (see also:Best Debut R&B Country CD by a Female Artist, Solo).” Indexes never seemed to get to the heart of the matter. There was never
a heading for hope or fear. Or dreams, recalled. Smiles, remembered. Anger. Beauty. Or even images that lingered, glimpses of something that had made an impression. A doorway. A window. A reflection on glass. The smell of rain. Never any of that. Just a tally of proper nouns and famous names. And why only one life? Why not the web of other lives that define us? What of their indexes”

This made me think. An obituary is typically a list of accomplishments. I remember reading the Toronto paper and remember thinking this people are success driven, there was very little about love and life and endless lists of job related activities and education. Compared to the obituaries I have read in the Edmonton Paper, it was incredibly different. Edmonton Obituaries are typically a laundry list of who died first and who has survived. It seems to be more of a disaster survival list rather than a compilation of words that describe the person. Rarely do you get a glimpse of the deceased’s passions, hobbies or loves. Ferguson makes the same observation. What are our beliefs and how do we define ourselves?

This topic came up in a round about way at Book Club. A few of us are attending a Belief Re-patterning workshop. From what I understand, we have a set of beliefs that we live by. Good/Bad/Indifferent. It is these beliefs that push us forward or hold us back. The point of all this is to discover what it is we truly belive and then taking steps to re-pattern our habits and thoughts to achieve goals.

The conversation then turned to what is it that we would like to change about ourselves. Good question, where do I start? Standing in the middle of me – I find it hard to see what I am, the real deep me. My friends see it. So then what is my belief and what I am striving for?

Then it hit me…after my friend hit me with it. I want to be accepted as I am and I want EVERYBODY to accept me. I want to be perceived as smart and have it all going on. I like being the star of the Robyn Show! Is it happening for me? No, not really. I see my self taking on tons in an effort to show – I have no idea who, perhaps the world, perhaps my mother – and get the recognition I crave. DING DING – Oprah calls this an “A HA” moment, I call it the lightbulb moment.

I see myself discounting rejection, in both my personal and professional life. If I change then maybe you won’t reject me. Sad isn’t it? In some ways it is very liberating. The point isn’t to dig up all the issues of my past, the point is to recognize the pattern and restructure it. One friend hopes this will be a miracle cure, when I see it as more hard work.

If my life is summed up by an obituary or a funeral what do I hope for? My friend wants a balance between family and work. I have a pretty good idea what I would like, the trick is achieving it. I don’t want to look back over my life and say “I should have taken that path”.

I want to look back and think my life was worthwhile.

Superman is a Tool, Wonder Woman can do better.

There I said it. He is my least favorite super hero. I know 2 men who count Superman as the best hero of all time. I must disagree.

For those of you not in the know, Superman has now hooked up with Wonder Woman and I went on record as saying, “She can do better.”

She can and should.

Here is the deal with wonder Woman. She was created by W.M. Marston based on Greek Mythology of the Amazons. Wonder Woman is a warrior princess of the Amazon, distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a world torn by the hatred of men. All very cool attributes and she was smokin’ hot in a stupid very unfemininest super-suit. Edna would not approve. She was drawn to attract men, the majority of Superhero fans.

So given those qualities, why is she choosing Superman as her love interest? Lest put the need for D.C. Comics to compete with Marvel aside for a moment.

Superman was a alien baby adopted by American Farmers with a wholesome upbringing. So far so good. Because he was not from around here, he experienced super strength. Also cool. I liken it to Neil Armstrong jumping super high on the moon. The gravitational pull was less on the moon than earth, there for Neil was superman on the moon. Earth does not have a ready supply of kryptonite at it’s disposal. That was Superman’s regular gravity. When exposed he became weak – not even “normal human strength” which was weird and tells me all Kryptopnite men are wusses. They can’t even hold their own heads up? How unattractive. At any rate, this made Superman the MAN here on Earth and more importantly, in Metropolis the Big Peach.

Now, Superman was in love with Lois Lane. She might as well been called Plain Jane. She was smart, top of her field, cunning and crafty. She was a woman who knew what she wanted, set goals and was supportive of Superman. All the things any boy’s mom hopes her son will find. Superman agrees and asks Lois to marry him and she accepts.

He says thaat to her and she says yes????

Superman was never happy with being with a woman who was smart, funny a perfect match for him. She wasn’t stunningly beautiful but he said to her, it’s what inside that counts. Really Superman? You fed her a line and she bought it. She was pretty enough but not quite what Superman was looking for. Sure she went a little Batshit crazy – who wouldn’t? The circumstances were difficult. But underneath it all she was who she said she was and loved him unconditionally. Likely the greatest love he will ever know. Soon Superman became bored with Lois. She challenged him too much, she supported his choices and loved him unconditionally. She lacked the hotness factor. Superman was looking into his past and started to rekindle a love lost. 

Enter Lana Lang, childhood Vixen. Okay, she was sweet and slightly more vivacious than Lois. But she wasn’t as smart, or as devoted. Superman dumps Lois and has an emotional affair with Lana. Lois blames herself, Superman blames Lois, fans think Superman should have never married Lois in the first place.

Not sure what happens next but I woke up this morning to find out Superman was snogging Wonder Woman and all I can think is NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO don’t doooooooo it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He can’t be trusted. Sure his outward persona is all upstanding and honorable, but the man inside is a lying cheat listening to his manparts sans the brain. Seriously! What the hell is she thinking? Sure he is successful – always wins. He works hard, there is no doubt about it. The guy has two jobs and one is physically demanding! If her job is to bring love, peace and sexual equality to the world, why pick a misogynist like Superman? Everyone knows you cannot change your man!

I get the attraction, I get the feelings and emotions, I get wanting to be needed. But a person can only take so much rejection. Wonder Woman would be better off with Batman or Ironman. They are smart, successful men WITHOUT the superhero persona. AND if things go south – and it will, Superman will dump her for not being somethingenough – she at least will get a decent settlement so she doesn’t have to take a shit job to feed her babies. Superman is a journalist. We all know the piece work pay is crap for writers.

See? Superman is a tool. But for the love of smart women everywhere Wonder Woman, start making smart choices!

Fine, Fail and a Few other F words

Sitting in my silent kitchen this morning, I was looking out my window into the back yard. August 27th and my trees have not yet started turning yellow and orange…weird. It usually starts by my birthday (the famed Dead Elvis Day). Knowing that fall is around the corner I got that sick feeling in the pit of stomach.

Not one thing happened they way I had hoped it would.

I had great hopes for this summer and did all the things you are suppose to:

  1. Had a positive attitude
  2. Worked my ass off trying to make my dreams come true
  3. didn’t let grass grow under my feet

Yet failure was a word that kept creeping into my head. Sure I have a backup plan, but the point of this exercise was NOT TO NEED ONE!

A few friends of mine asked me how I am doing. My reply was “this summer has been a soul sucking experience. I feel like a failure.” The responses I received were similar “look at what you have done! I know you are not a failure.” Ya but it still feels like failing.

You see, I have set some pretty high goals for myself because I am not satisfied with fine. I wish I was but I am not. I look at people who plug along doing the same thing day after day and are perfectly happy with the status quo. I would sooner slit my wrists thanks.

I look a women  girls who play the girl card and get what I want. You smart women know what I mean, those girls who tantrum, plead helplessness, stand their ground and have men fall all over them doing their bidding. They make me sick. They are selfish, self righteous and scoop up all the fabulous things in the world because stupid people are blinded by their powers. That leaves women like me to do things the hard way. The sad news is, the girls will have karma down their backs and their world will unravel leaving them with a bitter taste in their mouth while they have destroyed all the good things in their wake and left a pile of hurt and anguish for people like me to clean up and nurture. I can see it coming and it ain’t pretty. Liars, schemers and playa’s is the world I am no longer interested in. Been there done that, own the t-shirt and the battle scars associated with it.

So if THAT is not an option to achieve my goals, then I guess I need to keep doing what I am doing. That sucks because I am tired of trying.

I am tired of trying.

I am not all about instant gratification. I understand the hard work involved to make goals happen. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that feels better than achieving your goals. Not achieving them feels like failure, even when it’s not.

I havent reached the point where I have been told my goals are not achievable. I never will reach that point because the honest truth is, my goals ARE achievable, they are just long term. You have to make goals that are reachable. There is no point in making a goal that says “I will be the Queen of England.” That is impossible for me, but not so for other people. Why you ask? Because I am not willing to do the work involved to become Queen. That whole Royal Courtesan life is too incestuous for me. Do the work that is right for you.

I have done a pile of self-reflection and some of that was a pity party. When I need a pity party, table for one, I indulge in TV. I never watch TV, so I just lied. I did watch youtube via apple TV and watched it on the big screen in my living room instead of the iPad. Why? Because when I spend time with my future ex husband George, bigger is better. I have loved that man since Facts of Life and The Return of the Killer Tomatoes, I even liked him in his nipple suit in Batman.

I don’t like George for his good looks. I did at first, but then I saw interviews and read stuff and the nobel prize didn’t hurt either. I love him for his drive, risks and ability to do the right thing. He isn’t dazzled by stupid helpless girls. He likes to sleep with them sure, but then he moves on. Men don’t confuse sex with love. They know the difference. How can you love someone when they don’t share your passions, support your goals, and help you dissect a problem so you can find an answer? He does 2 out of 3 for me, and if he knew me, he would support my goals too – well he would in my fantasy.
Any man that stands before the Nobel Peace Prize contingent and say’s “I stand before you today as a failure” gets my vote as sexiest man alive. He set out to help people live and nothing changed from the time he started to the time he spoke to the Nobel Peace Prize UN contingent. Yet, that hasn’t stopped him from trying. The dude bought a ssatellite to take pictures of mass graves, deaths and injustices. If a country does that, it is spying. He does it and he is a guy with a lot of money. Although he admits to selling coffee and other stuff in Europe because it pays the bills. His movie career is mostly scale because he chooses films that have meaning and purpose.

Meaning and Purpose.

I told the fellow who hired me 8 years ago “I have to work to feed and cloth my family. If I have to work, then I want to do something that is meaningful and serves a purpose to society.” I think that is why he hired me.

Values.

The biggest reason I have set new goals is because of a clash of values. My values no longer line up with the work I do. That is not entirely true, some aspects are exactly the same, meaningful and purposeful. There are other aspects that clash and frustrate me. This has been my learning lesson. But I am 45, when do I get to stand up for my values and support them instead of being supportive of other’s values? This is where I struggle. This is why I search for new endeavors. This is why I fail, of feel like I am failing.

Then I heard George say this on Inside the Actors Studio, “You have to look at auditions like you are gambling with house money. You really want to nail the audition, you want the job. You don’t have the job to start, you try out, then you don’t get the job you never had. It wasn’t yours so why get upset about it.”

That was a lightbulb moment for me.

My sister said to me, the universe has big plans for you but it isn’t lined up yet. You still need to be patient and work towards your goal.

Both she and George are right. I want to be rescued, but the achievement of attaining the goal doesn’t feel as good as when you rescue yourself. Those girls who play the girl card are missing out, just like those boys who fall for their games.

So here is me, standing before you filled with anxiety about the coming year because I am not where I thought I would be by now. Time to turn on the Edmonton Tourist Show, be the person where fine isn’t acceptable, do my work with purpose and make some things happen for me as I reach my goal. THEN there will be some celebrating to do.

That is something that girl will never be able to experience.

 

 

The Edmonton Tourist Birthday Indulgences that are indulged in all year because once you hit 39 birthdays happen quicker and there is not enough time to get them all in List

My buddy Paul sang this for me today:

That’s right, shameless plug, I am having a birthday. Half of 90, so I guess it’s official – I have reached the middle-age plateau.

There are a few birthdays that stick out for me, only a few because as you get older the memory fades and everything blends together. I cannot for the life of me remember what I did on my 40th. But I remember my 21st like it was yesterday. I was a camp counsellor and was thrown off the pier by my pals. All the little campers made me pictures and the I received a special camp cake – it was gross but oh so special!

I remember my 16th birthday. I sat on the steps of the paramount theatre in a mini skirt to watch Risky Business, they over old seats so I sat on the sticky floor with my best friend. We went of for drinks – the alcohol kind and I had a Chi-Chi. My first underage public libation – good times.

I remember my 43rd very well. My kiddos brought me breakfast in bed that was cooked! When they were little they were not allowed to turn on the stove so they made “egg bread” soaking bread in raw egg – the preamble to french toast. My kids have always been so thoughtful.

Typically I have always been on vacation for my birthday. Not this year, I’m just back. I share this day with Fess Parker – Davy Crockett and of course it is Dead Elvis Day. All Elvis All Day – bring it ON!

I often indulge myself on my birthday, I never use to but I treat myself now to only do things I want to do. This includes NOT HAVING A PARTY. I hate parties. But I love spending time with a few well chosen chums and loved ones. I love little surprises like birthday fairies leaving treats on my porch without ringing the bell, magical coffee appearing and free junk. Sephora sent me an email to pick up lip balm from them today – free! Sure it will be a tiny sample, but it’s free!

Today I will go for a bike ride, spend some birthday money on an umbrella stand for my Mary Poppins Umbrella (Thanks Mom and Dad!!!), have dinner at the Keg, go Fringing, eat cake pops and perhaps read in the tub with candles and bubbles up to my eyeballs.

There is one thing I want for my birthday. I wish on a star for it every year. I have told the universe about it. I will likely never happen, but I keep hoping. This might actually be the year. However I am patient and can wait another 45 years for it. I will never speak it out loud because that will ruin it. People who know me well will be able to figure it out. When it happens I will cry. It costs nothing. There is not a dollar amount to be had, yet it would be priceless to me. I tear up thinking about it. Sigh…..

Meanwhile, I am thankful for so many wonderful friends and family, my cup is really over flowing. Now that I am 45 have figured out what is important to me, what I dislike and will no longer tolerate and what I cannot live without. Well… I could live without it but I choose not to. Here is my list, The Edmonton Tourist Birthday Indulgences that are indulged in all year because once you hit 39 birthdays happen quicker and there is not enough time to get them all in list:

  1. Long lovely chats with friends. I have a few friends who I NEED to spend time with. I need it like I need air to breath. I will stop everything to answer their call, text or email. I will not give them up in spite of how crazy they make me. I love them and they love me. I will defend them to the death and I know they have my back too. In fact I have had war of words and made enemies with people because of my need to defend and protect these 3 people. I won’t say who they are, they know it and that’s all that matters.
  2. Music. I had lost music for a while and I blame myself when I want to blame that fellow who TOOK my stereo to his office to use for the switch board and never replaced it until a decade later when I received my first iPod. But really…I should have told him to fek off and demand music in my life not TV. I am  not a TV watcher. I watch movies and news and even not so much news because I read my news on social networking sites. But Music is my passion, it lifts me, it relaxes me, transports me to other places, dimension and feelings. I have everything from Disney to ZZ Top in my rotation and tons of other genres in between – except Michael Jackson. I never enjoyed his music, even when he was a black dude. His “woos” and “aaahhhhs” make me want to punch him in the face. I endured 2 showings of Captain EO and that is 40 minutes of my life I will never get back. NEVER. Today will be about some Disney ride soundtracks and park loops so I can reminisce about birthdays past and future.
  3. Bikes. in high school I would ride my bike from Sherwood Park to Edmonton through the river valley. My babies stopped me for a while, mostly because of cash to have the proper safety equipment. I gave up my career to be the best mom I could for them, but that meant giving up other stuff so they could stay healthy and have things like food and shelter. I’m going for a bike ride today and I cannot wait! I’m taking Chatterbox’s bike because Genetic offsprings bike is too big and he doesn’t share. I have no idea where I am going but that is part of the adventure of cycling.
  4. Books. I am reading my 30th book of the year – not including text books and books for my classes. 30 books for pleasure. |I have expanded my genre horizon and tried books that scared me before. I read books that bored me, scared me and horrified me. I read books that made me weep, made me explore my sexual side and taught me new lessons. I read books that made me want to travel to distant places and stay away from places. Today will be spent with Steve Jobs. I am half way through his biography and am shocked, enthralled, inspired and motivated.
  5. Arts. Today is about dramatic Arts. I will fringe today. I haven’t been able to get to the art gallery in quite some time, but i am going on Monday. I write daily on my book, blog and in letters to friends. I am working on a painted piece for a friend. I draw, sketch and paint on a regular basis. Being creative releases the ugly and keeps me smart and focused. I use it to take my mind off anxiety causing events, to be closer to people from my past and present and people who are no longer with me. i do it because i think of them and in return, they inspire me.
  6. Snuggles. There is nothing finer than having your kiddos meet you at the airport and hug you in public, except when they let you kiss them on the cheek.
  7. Laughter. I had lost this for a bit during my depression. I would laugh, but never hard. I missed it. I get the occasional note or text from a friend that makes me howl and brings tears to my eyes. Keeping it light and silly is fun for me. Now that I have climbed out of the dark abyss I am laughing again. Love it!

Seven things that I indulge in always. I know the list will grow as I figure out stuff. I indulge in things that make me smile and say no to those things I hate, that I use to do because it was expected. Well I am I 45 now, time to put on purple lipstick and get my cranky pants on because just because YOU expect something from me doesn’t mean I will indulge you. Find the things that make you happy – they are events, circumstances not stuff you buy, things you make people do. Having someone do something for you un asked and uninvited is lovely beyond words. I have discovered my life is to short to waste on things that have no meaning for me. 45, my life is half done – if I am lucky, so I will spend the next 45 years extending my 64 days of awesome into a life time of awesome.

I need to share what one of my awesome friends sent me for my birthday. He lives in Argentina and we share a love of vintage animation. His humor comes through in  translation, Mr. Google translator is our friend to keep the conversation going. Yet Mr. Google is not the best at helping us, it gets the point across. This little song he made for me made me laugh. I can visualize the animation sequence that needs to go with it.

Vocaroo Voice Message.

 

My life is rich and full with family and friends. Happy Birthday to me! I am one very lucky girl.

 

 

 

The Edmonton Tourist’s 2nd Blogiversary: 11 lessons learned

Tomorrow is my second blogiversary as The Edmonton Tourist. Unreal! I never thought I would get this far, I told myself I would but back then I wasn’t so great with follow through. I was very happy to make it through a year, yet very amazed with myself. I learned that given the right motivation or goal I could be quite driven.

Motivation is the wrong word. I no longer believe in motivation. It isn’t something that comes to you through divine intervention, it doesn’t come in a magic pill that lifts you up to get things done. Motivation comes in a form of achievement. Setting a goal, seeing the finish and figuring out the steps to get there is goal oriented, not motivation. At least in my circumstance, motivation has never been a factor. you want to do something or not, you want to achieve something or not. Motivation never helped me out for long and it abandoned me when the going got tough. Goals were always there. Figuring out how to achieve them was the key.

When I started this journey, I was miserable. I was deep in depression. My good blogging friend wrote a brilliant description about depression here. She eloquently explains the difference between sadness and depression. Depression is not sadness. It is dark, cloudy and soul sucking. Sadness is an emotion. huge difference. Depression is not an emotion, it is a state of being, like hunger or tired. Those are not emotions. there is a big difference.

I wanted to climb out of my depression and change my life. I was living in my imagination for a long time and decided it was time to make my imagination a reality for me. I knew I would need to take risks, try new things, say yes more often and no more often too. I needed to become a tourist in my own life.

I achieved that. Funnily enough, there are 11 major lessons I have learned through my Tourist Journey. All of them have leadership qualities like my Number 11 Hero.

1. I was always disappointed that I never finished my degree. I am 5 classes away from my undergraduate degree. I have the intention of getting my MBA in Leadership, but for now that is a distant goal, I am focusing on my first one for now. I have learned not to be afraid of hard work because I am smarter than I give myself credit for and I can figure out or research anything.

2. I never lived on my own, unattached long enough to experience serious solo travel. I experienced it several times of late. By solo I don’t mean just me and the road, I mean not being responsible for anyone but me. I traveled with my cousin, and I traveled with girlfriends. One of the best trips I ever had was with my sister, when we went to Seattle for the weekend. It was freeing. I took one child at a time on separate vacations. That gave me a chance to bond and laugh and really focus on them separately rather than a unit. This was invaluable. I learned to relax on holidays, not over plan and enjoy the moment. I needed the solo vacations to learn this.

3. I became a tourist in my own city and went to every festival I could. I discovered lots of them were crap, and a couple were brilliant. Now I just go to the ones I love and will continue to try out new festivals as they pop up. Edmonton is Festival City, every week – or there abouts – is another festival to attend. This week is my favorite festival of all time, The Fringe Festival. The largest Fringe in North America. I am doing some improv with my son (who is a improv comedian himself) and I will call my Gran to go to a drag show or two. I took her at the age of 84 to her very first drag show last year, because she is cool like that. Then she asked if we could go again, YA WE CAN! Drag is super fun and fabulous! I think I have to see “BitchSlap!” the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford saga. Darin Hagen is just simply wonderful and I am a huge fan. I learned that new adventures are in my own backyard. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was right.

4. I learned that I needed to make the outside me match the inside me. So I started the Just Me and Mo journey about weight-loss and fitness. This saw me swim long distances for 1.5 hours on Fridays and an hour the rest of the week. I trained for and completed a half marathon – 13.2 miles or 26.1 km. I did the last 7km with a stress fracture on my left foot. It took strength of mind to get to the finish. I now know mentally what I am capable of and yet I sense I haven’t even scratched the surface of my mental possibility. I belive there is more there, I just haven’t been tested hard enough yet. Running consistently will help me figure out that tidbit.

5. I learned that people are hugely disappointing. I cannot expect people to have it all together when I don’t even have it pulled together. I no longer expect things from people. If great stuff happens, terrific! If there is no follow through, oh well. I need to make my own fireworks and magic happen. I learned to be grateful for what it given and don’t expect more.

6. I learned there comes a time in everyones life where you need to take responsibility for your own life. This time should happen when you are 25 and your brain is fully developed. Sadly this never happens. It takes becoming a parent or growing up to figure this out. We all grow up at own rate. I know men who haven’t grown up yet and feel quite sad for them. They still blame their parents for the life they have. Here is what I know and have learned. Your parents love you and agonized over making the right decision because they know it can affect you for the rest of your life. They made the best decision they could with the skills and knowledge they had ( okay, there are parents out there who never grew up and yet still had kids. They made and continued to make poor choices. This is the exception to the rule.) You cannot make choices based them. You are not your Father/Mother/Grandmother etc, you are you. Their DNA does not make choices. DNA provides allergies, eye colour, height etc. These are factors that cannot be changed. Education, experience and choices + DNA make you the person you are. Suck it up and grow a pair. Quit blaming your Mom/Dad/Wife/Husband/EX-whatever because the choices you make are not right for you.

7. I learned that kindness will take you very far in life. Empathy, caring and kindness in general are the key to meaningful relationships. I use to be cranky. I often see glimpses of my dark angry side when someone annoys me, but instead of the knee jerk reaction, I am now quiet, contemplative and reflective. I try to stand in their shoes and figure out why they are reacting in that way. Seeing things from someone else’s perspective has been enlightening. I still feel frustration at choices people make that I think are wrong, but it is not my choice. I no longer judge and rant, I will say I disagree or we need to agree to disagree. On occasion I will be asked why, then I will say why. But if someone doesn’t ask my opinion, I won’t give it. I do here on my blog, because it is my forum. It isn’t a two way conversation until the comments roll out. Then you will notice I usually respond in kind. Everyone has an opinion. Force feeding someone your opinion is not going to change theirs, it will just have them think ill of you. So perhaps tolerance is the lesson learned here.

8. I have learned people are starved of kind words. If someone does something I think is fantastic, kind, loving cool or positive – I now will tell them. They may not know it, or ever hear they are doing great work. I tell them with words that are specific to the job well done. This has opened doors for me. It’s true! People remember the nice things or compliments that are genuine and will reciprocate in another fashion, like introductions to new possibilities. The new possibilities have been mind blowing awesome and have changed me life. It is true when you give of yourself, you receive ten fold. I can vouch for that.

9. I have learned that help is available if you ask for it. I always wanted to be independent and do it myself. I can’t always and failure hurts. So I now ask for help. I have learned that people LOVE to feel needed. Help can also be in the form of things. I have something and you don’t. I don’t need it so I give it to you. I don’t sell it. I wasn’t using it. You need it, you can have it. My mom is the master of this skill. She is the kindest, most generous person I know aside from my daughter. Kindness becomes a wonderful two way relationship.

10. I learned that everyone is going through varying degrees of struggle. You do not know what their journey is, so don’t assume theirs is harder/easier/insignificant compared to yours. Listening to others struggle has given me great insight. Truthfully, we are all the same. We all have fears, hopes, dreams, disappointments and tragedy in our lives. The point or lesson is how we deal with it and how we learn to benefit from it. Some of us figure it out, and some of us never do. But we are all the same.

11. I learned Failure is the best way to learn stuff and have it be meaningful. I needed inspiration yesterday. I texted my friend and said “Quick, I need something inspiring.” They texted me back  without asking why, “If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough” then they sent “or this one ‘fall 7 times and get up 8′” This was what I needed to hear. I have had a summer of failure and disappointment. I fell 7 times and got up 8. If I fall again, I will get up 9. I will keep getting up until I reach my destination. I learned a valuable lesson every time I fell. I tucked it away and kept getting up, dusting myself off and moved forward because my dreams are so huge they are scary.

So there you have it. 11 things this tourist learned over 2 years. What I thought was going to be a short term movement has ended up being a lifelong journey. Learning doesnt end. In fact, the more you learn, you realize the less you know. I wonder what will happen next? All that matters is, I need to be aware and present when it does happen.

Putting My Best Foot Forward

While I am away, I am reposting some of my olders blogs from 2011. It is interesting to see where I have come from. This is from /2011/02/28.

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Pixie using her pixie dust power. Art by Greg ...
Pixie using her pixie dust power. Art by Greg Land. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was wacky. I had a heated conversation with a colleague about what I know and don’t know. I was so angry by the time the conversation was over I wanted to walk out never to return. Instead I kept my composure, defended my position and used conversation skills I have learned in my course. Does it matter in the end? No not really. I was seriously offended though. I put it aside and went swimming instead of stewing about it. My arms hurt but I feel good. I thought about why she might say those things to me. Clearly we do not share the same belief system or values. I was questioned as to why I work so hard at what I do if I am not loving it any more. To me the answer is simple. If you do a job, do it well or go home. Just letting things “go” or ignoring situations is just not how I was raised. My Grandfather would be rolling over in his grave and my mother would ground me. I have set goals for myself and I know I will not achieve them if I do not put my best foot forward. I need to shout those goals to the Universe so everyone knows what my intentions are. Do you hear that Universe? I do not want to keep my regular position anymore, I want more.

To achieve those goals I need to remind myself of beliefs and values that are important to me. Genetic Offspring showed me his Power Point Presentation on Beliefs for his Religion class. It has inspired my list. I am writing them down because I need the reminder.

  1. Family First Always. Sometimes I forget how much my family means to me. I am not just referring to the ones living in my house. I mean the ones down the street, across town, in another city and over oceans. Family is my reason for almost everything.
  2. Doing the Right Thing is hardly ever easy. I wish it was easy. If everything was easy, life would be boring. However, would it kill you universe to make some things easy?
  3. Great Wisdom often comes from children. I have learned amazing things from my children. I don’t just mean the answer to scientific questions, but the maturity my children deal with social issues, personal problems and road blocks inspires me to be better. I think all parents can learn from their children. If you are childless, you can still eaves drop on conversations of children. Not only are the a great source of entertainment but profound things often come out of those mouths.
  4. Trust your instincts. There is a little voice or a feeling. Its something or someone trying to tell you something. Listen to that gut feeling. It is usually right. Trust yourself, you have your best interest at heart. Don’t let yourself down.
  5. Show Kindness to others. You would think this would be easy. I see children who don’t know how to be kind to each other. We need to teach that. It isn’t instinctual. My ChatterBox is the kindest person I know.
  6. Magic/Miracles/Pixie Dust are real if you believe in hard work. All of it will happen if you work for it. Look at me, I am working hard for it, a little pinch of Pixie Dust and I’ll have my goals in my pocket.
  7. Nurture yourself. I never use to believe this. I have started practicing it. It’s true, it makes a difference. You have to love yourself first then other things fall into place.
  8. No is as important as Yes. Learning to say no has been liberating. It ties in with nurturing myself. Hard to do, but essential.
  9. Yes is as important as No. Saying yes to things you normally wouldn’t do is also liberating. Hard to do, but essential.
  10. Family First Always – but don’t forget you are part of the family too.

She Wore Red Cowboy Boots

While I am away, I am reposting some of my olders blogs from 2011. It is interesting to see where I have come from. This is from /2011/01/08.

I was out last night and ran into my Grade 9 Drama and Religion Teacher. I think I had a tiny crush on her in grade 9 – not the “OMG You play for THAT team?” No, the kind of crush girls get on other girls when they are and do so many fabulous things. She was always dressed so stylishly, had a killer figure, was smart, funny and made me think. Reading over this I don’t think you believe me. It does sound like I had the OTHER kind of crush. Not true. She was a significant role model and mentor for me. The year was 1981.

Flash forward to 2011. She has GOT to be pushing the other side of 60. She was wearing knee-high red cowboy boots, a really cute cut above the knee denim skirt, a great rust red short jacket and she had a blonde bouncy pony tail. Clearly she has grayed but dyes it blonde. Same fabulous smile, and same great relationship with her students. I’m crushing again.

As mentors go, I never once saw her sad, angry or depressed. I knew plenty of teachers who were. I loved it when I could please her or make her laugh and it killed me the day I disappointed her. It was wonderful to see her still reaching out to her students and making them WANT to do better. I bet she has touch a 1000 lives and has no idea how she truly affected them in the long run.

Alex Anderson, a man who also had a profound influence on my life so far, explained to me about the ripple effect. A tiny pebble drops into the water and creates a ripple, many ripples grow from there. Each one affecting the before and after. The pebble is you or me. Think about how many lives you have touched. Good, bad or indifferent.

After seeing my Grade 9 Teacher, I thought about how she made me think, and how she may have been disappointed with path my life took after High School. I really hadn’t thought about her until yesterday when I saw her again. Now she is all I can think about. I am thinking about the choices I made and how the ripple effect touched the people around me.

2011 is laid out before me. I have some big choices to make. I hope I make the right kind of ripple.

Maybe I should buy a pair of red cowboy boots.