Good Things

Ahead by a Century

Do you know the Canadian band the Tragically Hip. If not, you should…they’re something so very special. Here’s one of my favorites for you to listen to (the words are pasted below if you want to sing along):

First thing we’d climb a tree
And maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently
And listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday
Cast in a golden light
No dress rehearsal
This is our life

And that’s where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight, we smoke them outYou are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud
And then the day began
I tilted your cloud
You tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time
And rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our lifeBut that’s when the hornet stung me
And I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight, we smoked them outYou are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a centuryYou are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century
And disappointing you is gettin’ me down

Beautiful, eh? I know. ♥️ I came across this article recently and wanted to share it with you:

As an immigrant, I wanted to understand Canada’s fascination with the Tragically Hip. This is what I found

How the Hip gave writer Lindsay Pereira the key to understanding not just a culture, but a people

Posted: March 04, 2021  
Last Updated: March 05, 2021 

Tragically Hip
‘How could a band that had performed for more than three decades, with more than 13 studio albums and 50 singles to its credit, not be world famous?’ writer Lindsay Pereira, who grew up in India unaware of who the Tragically Hip were, asks. (Andrew Chin; graphic by CBC)

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Written by Lindsay Pereira.


Images of a weeping prime minister are what alerted me to the existence of the Tragically Hip, undoubtedly my most absurd introduction to a rock band. 

I see now that it was also fitting for a group fronted by someone as unusual as Gordon Edgar Downie. He died exactly one month and 17 days after I set foot in Canada, so most early impressions of my newly adopted country were crowded with people on the subway wearing T-shirts proclaiming “In Gord we Trust.” I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wept on television as he delivered his tribute on Oct. 18, 2017, the day after Downie died, and one of the things he said prompted me to take a closer look at these musicians: “Gord loved every hidden corner,” said Trudeau, “every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life.”

https://amp.cbc.ca/embed/index.html?mediaId=1076010563796&embed_type=videoplayer#amp=1Remembering Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.  2:51

All around me that week, local venues dimmed their lights and audiences at hockey games stood in dedicated silence. It was the sort of respect traditionally reserved for heads of state, so I began spending as much time reading about the Hip as I did on job hunting. Who were these people, I wondered, and why had they left an entire country so bereft?

I had arrived in Toronto from Mumbai to spend more time with family members who lived here. What I had listened to while growing up reflected only what music companies thought we would all like to hear. There was Michael Jackson, of course, and Madonna, as well as bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses and Scorpions. Bryan Adams was a rare example from Canada, but one so successful that he would eventually add India as a stop on every one of his world tours. Anyone and anything that was commercially successful in America or Britain would inadvertently find its way to our shores, which meant that musicians doing anything out of the ordinary didn’t stand a chance until the internet arrived to save us. 

Every rock band I knew — from Aerosmith to Nirvana — had been created by young people trying to connect with their peers. Few had anything new to say after their third or fourth album, let alone their 10th. What the Hip had done, almost effortlessly, was tap into the collective consciousness of a generation and take them along on a journey as enriching when it ended as when it began. I could list the number of bands with that kind of influence on one hand: maybe the Grateful Dead, the Fall or Phish. If the Hip wasn’t as famous in Asia, was it simply because they didn’t tour that part of the world as often as their peers did? Was it because Gord knew he already had a huge audience for everything he had to say?

The first surprise, once I started diving in, was how prolific the Hip had been. How could a band that had performed for more than three decades, with more than 13 studio albums and 50 singles to its credit, not be world famous? How could I have heard of lesser groups that imploded soon after their debuts and not know about the Hip? The more time I spent looking for an answer, the easier it became to see why these unassuming rock stars from Ontario had turned their back on celebrity.

Over the months that followed, as I adjusted to a new life, two specific songs gave me glimpses of what made Downie so special. The first was “Ahead by a Century” from 1996’s Trouble at the Henhouse, which I was first drawn to by a cover version performed by Tori Amos while she was on tour in Canada. By the time I heard the original and watched the quietly absorbing music video, I knew this was something I wouldn’t forget in a hurry. It was the deceptive simplicity of the writing that moved me, an image of two young people sitting in a tree and celebrating the moment they were in. “No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”

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The second song that gripped me was “It’s a Good Life if you Don’t Weaken,” off the Hip’s eighth album, In Violet Light. I was familiar with the book that had inspired it, a gorgeous graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Seth, but what Downie had created felt like a peculiar list of directives for a way of living worth aspiring to. 

“Find somewhere to go,” he sang. “Let’s get friendship right,” and “Let’s swear that we will get with the times.” It was hypnotic, with phrases like “improvisational skills” and “countervailing woes” thrown in. I had no idea a rock song could do that. This was careful writing, the words cherry-picked by someone attempting to pin down the intangible, the way only hardworking poets managed to do.

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Strewn across the band’s discography were also references to things that were quintessentially Canadian. “I think it was Algonquin Park, it was so cold and winter dark,” Downie sang on “The Bear,” from 2000’s Music @ Work. On “A Beautiful Thing” from In Violet Light, there was, “So randomly somebody calls, the phone rings and it brings Niagara Falls.” “Fifty Mission Cap” from Fully Completely spoke about the disappearance of hockey icon Bill Barilko. Everywhere else were local names and places, from Millhaven Maximum Security in Bath, Ont., to the city of Sault Ste. Marie; Ontario’s Regent Theatre to Quebec’s Lake Memphremagog; Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland to the 100th meridian west through Manitoba and Nunavut.

After months spent listening to this music, I watched Long Time Running, the 2017 documentary chronicling the Man Machine Poemtour. It was legendary, culminating in the band’s final performance on Aug. 20, 2016, in Kingston. Nothing prepared me for the naked outpouring of emotion, with fans singing along at every venue, stopping only to wipe their eyes. It showed me what it must have been like to witness the Hip in the flesh, to watch these unassuming men play the music they had created over 30 years, growing up and old alongside the people who gathered to watch them.

https://amp.cbc.ca/embed/index.html?mediaId=748012611949&embed_type=videoplayer#amp=1Man Machine Poem tour, Kingston, Ont., Aug. 20, 2016  4:48

What the Hip gave me, eventually, was a key to understanding not just a culture but a people. The band’s songs reflected the hopes and aspirations of city dwellers as well as small towners, recognising a commonality in this shared experience that I began to appreciate as an outsider. The people wearing “In Gord we Trust” T-shirts weren’t just fans; they were identifying themselves as members of a club that had used this music as a soundtrack to their lives. 

The songs were like sonic milestones, marking loves, losses and a thousand tiny, incendiary moments. The Hip sang about what it knew, which made its music deeply, intensely personal. Everything the band played celebrated the notion of something eternal tucked away within the perfectly ordinary, which is probably why the Hip’s music resonates with as many people as it continues to. It’s why Justin Trudeau wept.

The nicest thing about the Hip, for me, is how I slowly began to treat the band’s music less as an artifact and more like a living companion. To be able to hum along made me happy, and feel a part of something bigger. That may be what fandom has always been about, of course, but I had never felt that need more than when I found myself in a country and culture radically different from what I had once called home.

It has been three years since I encountered Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, and Gord Sinclair, and I now find myself turning to these songs with the kind of regularity one reserves for comfort food. Snatches of their music now come to mind when I find myself outside Toronto, on long, empty streets bookended by farmland, where it seems as if the big cities have ceased to exist. There is a strange and intoxicating beauty in those moments, as I think of quiet lives being lived behind the townhouses and detached homes that fly past. This is the elusive essence of what Downie spent his life trying to turn into a song; now and again, it feels as if I almost get it.

A week ago, I saw a profile on a dating app with the request, “Will go out with anyone who can converse in Hip lyrics.” 

Yes, I thought to myself. I can see why that makes sense.

Xxx

Good Things

Happy Birthday! 🎂

Happy Birthday to my long term love William Shakespeare!! (it’s also the anniversary of his death, but….we don’t focus on the negative ’round these parts) Our love affair began with me reading “Romeo and Juliet” when I was 8 years old (and yes, naysayers, I totally understood it!)…and continues to this day. We get each other – it’s a pretty deep and real love thing. 🙂 To honor him, I give you some of his finest…. 🙂

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Clearly Mr. Shakespeare knew some of the places I have worked over the years.... ;)
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Happy Birthday, my love! 🙂

xxx

Good Things

Sage Advice

Someone I know posted this online, and I had to share it with you – I seem to think it’s something Drew Barrymore posted on Instagram, but I could be wrong (it’s been known to happen):

How’s that for some truth? My life je more than half over, sadly…and I really feel this need to make the second act the BEST act. I’ve got to enjoy what health I’ve got going on, I’ve got to prioritize the things and people that matter, I need to simplify simplify simplify…and I need to forgive myself for all my wrongdoings. I’ve not turned out THAT bad – but why not use the time I have left to be the very, very best version of me that I can be?

Seems like a good use of time if you ask me. ✨

Xxx

Good Things

What I Know

Yesterday was my 47th birthday – I know, I’m shocked, too…I barely look a day over 35! 😉 It was nice having my birthday fall on a Saturday – and this year’s celebration turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever had. I had breakfast and coffee in bed, a trip to Austin for Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken for lunch (so friggin delicious, no lie!), back to SA for kayaking on the river through the King William district, ice cream BEFORE dinner from Baskin Robbins…and cauliflower crust pizza (with pineapple on it) for dinner – followed by some tv shows at home and just chilling. It was the perfect day from tip to toe – I’m so thankful for my peeps who love me and listen to me enough to know the things I like to do….they made my day simply the best. How lucky am I?

I would appreciate a day like that any year – but, in light of all that’s gone down in the past 13 months, yesterday was truly so special. My one takeaway (apart from the fact that I could work from home forever and be a-okay with that) from all of this is a sincere appreciation for the little things – I don’t need grand gestures to be happy. What I need is those I love, doing the little things that I love – that’s it. That’s all. I used to think that grand gestures were all that really mattered – they aren’t. Happiness is receiving coffee in bed, made just the way you like it. It’s time set aside in the day to cuddle puppy dogs. It’s getting dessert before dinner (always a winning idea, btw). It’s time spent with people who understand you – and love you anyway. Hurray!

Come on, 47…let’s do this. 🙌

Xxx

Good Things

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth

Some folks operate on a completely different frequency from most everyone else around them, they just don’t connect with the masses…and I believe that I am one of those people. I don’t think like most others do, I don’t do the same kinds of things as other people are inclined to do…I’m just basically an odd duck. I have tried to do a better job of fitting in with the world around me, but the results of these efforts have been bloody disastrous, not to mention more than a lot comical. I guess I was just born to stand out – and not fit in.

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I have come to accept this, and most of the time I revel in my weirdness. I am flattered when someone comments on the odd uniqueness of me, and if I was to be called boring, I would probably weep real tears. However, I have come to realize that while I may think this is an awesome way to be, it is not awesome even a smidge to have to try to deal with me. The people around me have had to put up with a lot of shit from me over the years,  and….well, that’s probably not fair. I’m not entirely sure why this has come to my attention recently, but it has. I feel like I should contact everyone I’ve ever known, everyone I’ve ever dated (now there’s a list), everyone I’ve ever worked with, and try to make amends, AA-style. I need to somehow tell them that I’m sorry that I’ve been strange, odd, and difficult to tolerate. I need to apologize and acknowledge that my quest to find my best self has interfered/wreaked havoc on their existence…and I need to say sorry for that. I don’t really know the way to fix all of this, but believe me, I would sure like to. I know some very kind people, it seems….and they all put up with me. Angels, every single one of them – thank goodness I found them at just the right time.

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Speaking of time….so much of life and your success in it comes from timing. I have notoriously BAD timing….no joke. If there was to be a super-great life opportunity about to happen, I would show up when it was over…not because I’m not punctual (because I totally am), but because that is just me. My timing is almost never right. I have struck gold with this issue the odd time – I had my daughter at the perfect point in my life, and she has been the most beautiful gift every day of her nearly 15 years. I happened to be at exactly the right place (working next door to my dream school) at exactly the right time, and I fell into an AMAZING position that changed my life in so many ways: helped me become the professional I was meant to be, helped me find the friends that make up my tribe, set me up for the work I’m currently doing, and showed me the way to my happily ever after. That was really fantastic timing….but that is the exception, not the rule. To deal with all of this, I have really worked hard on adopting an attitude of gratitude, and embracing the idea that at least something really great came along….even if the timing wasn’t quite there. I’m grateful for the opportunity. 🙂 Besides, when things are meant to be, they will find a way…good stuff will win. I believe.

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How do you see the world, my friends? Is your glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is generally half-full…with plenty of room for more vodka! 😉 I talk about this idea of being different with my little one all the time…she fluctuates between wanting to fit in with the masses in school, to marching to the beat of her own drum and letting her tiny freak flag fly any old time she pleases. I’ve worked in Education long enough to know the vital importance of acceptance from one’s peers during the tumultuous adolescent years, but I so hope that she holds on to some of that uniqueness, that vibrant personality that is coursing through her veins. Those are the things that make her sparkle…and what could be better than that? 🙂

xxx

Good Things

Rainbow Connection 🌈

Do you find it easy to connect with people? I do – on a surface level. I’ve never met a stranger, only friends I haven’t met yet. I can find common ground and something to talk about with pretty much everyone…which makes life really super-fun. However, as friendly as I am, I have a lot of difficulty finding people that I can connect with, that I feel that I can trust, and that I feel safe, comfortable, and happy with. Those people are super-rare, unicorns walking amongst us – they are really hard to find.

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How do you know when you meet someone that they are going to be good and trustworthy peeps that you want to have on your Phone-A-Friend list for ‘Who Wants to be a Millionnaire?’ I have done A LOT of thinking about this issue, and have spent considerable time researching this idea – because, obviously, I have made some grave errors in judgment in this area in my lifetime. I’ve trusted people I shouldn’t have, I’ve been wary of people who were probably very worthy of my trust – and I blew it because of my own stupidity. I came across this article on trustworthiness that touts the “CRAC” method : Credibility, Reliability, Attention Ability, and Communication Ability. The author suggests using these 5 core questions to guide your assessment of someone’s trustworthiness when it comes to figuring things out.

Credibility: Does the person speak truthfully? Not in partial truths, but in complete truths. Does the person speak with accuracy? Can the information shared be verified? Is the person consistently and proactively transparent? Do they proactively share ways for you to validate their credibility? Can what you see and hear from them be validated by others? Do they demonstrate competence? Do they provide information in simple, uncomplicated terms – terms that you understand?

Here are some questions to consider about a person’s Reliability: Does the person consistently do what s/he says? Is there consistent follow through? Does the person have a reputation for being reliable? What do others say about the person’s reliability? You can often glean great information on reliability via comments made in various social media channels, especially Facebook. Is the person consistently on time? Look for patterns of meeting/not meeting time commitments and deadlines. Are they surrounded by other reliable people (social network)? If not, watch out. People of a feather tend to flock together.

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Here’s a few to think about when determining a person’s Attention Ability: During conversations, does the person consistently focus on him/herself? If someone shows strong signs of inward focus (overuse of “me”, “I”, and “them”), be careful. Trustworthy people demonstrate an “other” focus by using terms of inclusion and collaboration such as “we”, “our”, and “us”. Does the person consistently do brand promotion (lifting other people up) or brand assassination (tearing other people down)? Does the person demonstrate under-appreciation for your thoughts, comments, and ideas while over-promoting the value of their own? If so, you have a clear warning sign of concerning behaviors.

Finally, one of the greatest ways to determine if someone is trustworthy is their Communication Ability: Does the person demonstrate active listening? This is evident by virtue of the person… Restating what has been said to check for understanding Demonstrating appropriate body language such as navel intelligence Asking open-ended questions during conversations Does the person set expectations that are clear and specific? A bonus question that is also a great one to ask involves availability.

This list is by no means exhaustive….there’s a lot of other factors at play. Think about the person you’re wondering about – are they consistently available? Availability requires intentionality, and people who can be trusted always make themselves available to invest in others. Think about how you feel when you’re with them – do you feel comfortable? Safe? Content? Engaged in the conversation? All of these are good indicators of comfort and trust in someone. Some people just feel inherantly more trustworthy, and you pretty much feel it from the first moment you lay eyes on them – others take awhile. (they’re the grow-ers not the show-ers…surely you’re familiar with them 😉 )

I often wonder how I come across to other people. Do they think I’m friendly? Open? Trustworthy? Honest? The kind of person that they want to be around? I hope so. What does it mean to have a sense of presence? I have always wanted to be one of those people who makes a place better simply by being there. I’m just not sure how to make that happen? Maybe I’m just too hard on myself, which made me think of this article that I read awhile back: 29 Signs You’re Doing Fine (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It)

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You have the freedom to live your life the way you want to live it. – If you often worry about what you’re going to do with your life – your career, your family, the next step, etc., be grateful. All details aside, this means you have ambition, passion, drive, and the freedom to make your own decisions.

You are courageously walking your own path. – When people argue with you and challenge your decisions, remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if some people disagree.

You are making difficult decisions and acting upon them. – How well you play the game of life comes down to the sum of your choices. You know this. Whatever you decide, don’t be the chess piece, be the chess player.

You are working hard for people and causes you believe in. – Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something you love is called passion.

You are choosing to be happy in your own way. – When you stop chasing everyone else’s definition of happiness, you begin to see that the decision to be happy has been available all along.

You see obstacles in front of you because you are not settling. – If you settle for just anything, there wouldn’t be any obstacles in your way, but then you would never know what you are capable of either. Because your obstacles are your opportunities. Obstacles are put in your way to help you determine if what you want is really worth fighting for.

You have made the best of some tough situations. – Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy with everything. Sometimes it just means you’re strong enough to accept it and make the best of it.

You have come a long way. – Do not judge your failed attempts and mistakes as an indication of your future potential, but as part of your growth process. Your past has given you the strength and wisdom you have today, so celebrate it and use the knowledge you’ve gained. Don’t let it haunt you and hold you back.

You haven’t quit and you aren’t planning on it. – People rarely quit over the last thing that happened. Instead they quit a tiny bit each day. Trying to fix the last thing misses the point. Keep this in mind.

You do your best to accept what you can’t change. – Moving on is never an easy thing, but if you start accepting things for what they are it’ll be a lot easier. Acceptance is always the key to moving forward and making positive changes that are within your control.

You aren’t scared to fail forward. – The biggest difference between wildly successful people and total failures is that successful people fail more often, instead of just once.

You haven’t let fear get in your way. – You have to wonder how many people are afraid to die, in part, because they often realize too late that they were afraid to live.

You still believe in the possibilities that lie ahead. – Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what could be. Remember, life does not have to be anywhere near perfect to be wonderful.

You dare to dream every day. – Dr. King gave the famous “I have a dream” speech not the “I have a plan” speech. It’s our dreams that change the course of history, not just our plans. Keep dreaming.

You have a vision for your future. – “Vision” is the ability to talk about your future with such clarity, it’s as if you are talking about your past.

You haven’t let the judgments of others stop you. – Keep listening to your intuition, and make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.” Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in.

You are doing what you can with what you have. – The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams, right now, to any degree that you already can.

You are doing your best to provide value. – No one is entitled to success. To remain successful, you must constantly find new ways to add value. Keep putting your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is one of the great secrets of lasting success.

You go out of your way to help people. – Service is not doing what is required of us. Service is doing more than is required of us. Remember, successful people are always looking for ways to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”

You aren’t scared to express your love, openly. – Love is great when spoken, but greatest when shown. So if you care about someone’s wellbeing, show it. Keep doing little things daily to show the people around you that you care.

You continue to make a difference. – Have you ever thought about how much your actions mean to others? Maybe that smile you gave to a stranger today made their bad day better. Maybe that hello you gave to a colleague today made them realize people actually notice them and care. Maybe that money you gave to a homeless man today gave him hope. Maybe spending time with someone special today made them forget their problems for a while. Keep it up.

You have enough right now to live comfortably. – You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night. You awoke this morning with a roof over your head. You had a choice of what clothes to wear. You have access to clean drinking water and electricity. You are online right now. You have plenty to be comfortable. Being wealthy is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more.

You haven’t let rampant materialism get the best of you. – Our lives are not defined by the things we possess. Our lives are defined by the things we pursue. Make sure what you own, never owns you.

You are reasonably healthy. – In other words, if you got sick today you could recover. Never underestimate the gift of your health. It’s the greatest wealth you will ever own. It’s the foundation for every chance at happiness and success life has to offer. Your body is the only place you will truly ever live.

Your relationships are less dramatic than they used to be. – Keep forgoing the drama and ignoring the negativity. Don’t let ignorance stop you from being the best you can be. Just keep doing what you’re doing – being sincere and kind, and promoting what you love, rather than bashing what you hate.

You have escaped from some very toxic relationships. – Don’t worry too much about people who don’t worry about you. Know your worth! When you give yourself to someone who doesn’t respect you, you surrender pieces of your soul that you’ll never get back.

You know deep down that you are not alone. – Next time you feel all alone, remember, again, that you are not.

You have great people in your life who are standing beside you. – Know that it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones. And remember, it’s during the toughest times of your life that you’ll get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you. Don’t take these people for granted. Look around and appreciate them, right now.

You have a home. – A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul. But a home isn’t always a physical structure, or a specific location on a map. Home is wherever the people you love are, whenever you’re with them. It’s not a defined place, but a space in your heart and mind that builds upon itself like little bricks being stacked to create something stable that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.

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I’m pretty crazy about this list, because it brings up a lot of great points – especially for someone like me who is so bloody hard on herself all the damn time. When you think about it, I have a roof over my head, a beautiful family, a great job, and a pretty decent life. Maybe I do bring a certain presence when I move through the world around me…and maybe I’m not doing half bad, after all. 😉

xxx

Good Things

Accentuate the Positive

I wrote what’s below about five years ago; I’m so happy to see how far I’ve come in that time. Let’s walk down memory lane together, shall we?

I marvel sometimes at the level of sheer stupidity that walks around us…if you ever need confirmation that you are smarter than the average bear, read the annual Darwin Awards coverage – you’ll feel like a Mensa candidate, guaranteed. I, too, seem to attract more than my share of stupid people and things – and this is something that has got to change. I’m done wasting my time on people who are unworthy. Done. Finished. Kaput. Life is way too damn short – as I have been reminded of too many times. I’ve not a second to waste.

I’m interested in the idea of attraction, and how we can attract the things that we want into our lives. However, my wee brain happens to play host to some ugly-ass little demons with vulgar mouths, so attracting positive things to come my way when I keep hearing a soundtrack of negative thoughts running through my head is really difficult. So, I’ve decided that the best way forward with this is to work on removing the negative things from my life, toss those demons out of my head once and for all, and then I can focus on attracting the good stuff in. It’s a multi-step process, but I’m up for the challenge. 🙂

So….let’s start with some ways to remove negativity from our lives! Now, let me preface this by saying that I am not an expert in this area, and I don’t play one on TV. However, I do seem to have an amazing arsehole sonar that brings all the jerks and jackasses to my yard (in droves), so…I certainly have picked up a few tips to chase them away over the years.

Here are my suggestions:

Don’t spend time with people who are toxic – if you’re related to them and kind of stuck with them, I’m sorry….get in, get the visit over with, and get the hell out. Carry Jackass Repellent in your bag (take a can of Deep Woods Off and make your own Jackass Repellent label – the smell is offensive enough to scare away most people, plus it’s an excellent conversation starter), don’t listen to a word of the crap that spews from their mouths, and just be your usual, awesome self. Don’t spend a second more than you have to around people who harsh your mellow – it’s not worth it.

Set boundaries with everyone in your life, even those you like. In order to get people to respect you, your needs, and your personal space, you must make sure that everyone knows where your personal ‘bubble’ ends. We all put up with too much shit from those around us (says Understatement Queen herself), and the only way out of this kind of hole is to be very clear about your expecations. Stick with them! If you say that you aren’t going to be treated like shit anymore – don’t. It’s as simple as that. Say what you mean and mean what you say. 🙂

Like attracts like, so….find some positive people! Don’t join the Moaning Myrtle Club at your work place – instead, find the most optimistic people around and pull your chair right up beside theirs! Call those people who always have nice things to say to you – and, for the love of all that is sweet and holy, stay the hell away from the chronic complainers!! They suck the life out of EVERYTHING!! For realz!!

Don’t worry about things until they are real – this is rich coming from me, I know. I am the fretting queen, and if catastrophizing was an Olympic sport (is it even a word?), I would be a multiple medallist. However, there really is no point in worrying about things that might happen – that only cultivates further anxiety and misery, and who wants that??! Not this girl! When you find yourself fretting and feeling crappy about what might be, take a moment, step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, ‘Is this the hill I choose to die on?’ The answer will likely be no (since nobody really aspires to bite the dust on a hill) – so just let it go. Worry about things when and if they become realities. It’ll save you a lot of misery, heartache — and wrinkles! 😉

Spend as much time as possible doing the things that you enjoy. While I know that very few of us will ever choose to devote our days to housework and other chores, they are necessary evils – but get in, get ’em done, and get out…and do what you love! Read the books you fancy, go to the movies (whether you’ve got a date or not!), window shop, try clothes on your pets (maybe it’s just me that really enjoys doing that….), whatever it is that you like to do, be like a Nike wearer and JUST DO IT. Find ways to do the things that make you the happiest every single day – and, if there are people who try to stop you from doing the fun things, tell them to go to hell. We don’t need that kind of crap in our lives. 🙂 One of the things that I enjoy doing is eating appetizers for dinner while having a night in at home – so, this weekend, this is what I shall do! I will hit up Trader Joe’s for all of my favorite yummy goodies, I will put on some of my favorite movies, cuddle up on the couch with candles going and vino in my hand, and just eat, drink, and be merry to my heart’s content. It will be AWESOME! 🙂

Fill your home with things that make you happy, and focus on making your abode a happy sanctuary where you want to spend your time. Surround yourself with pictures of happy times and people you love, paint your walls whatever bloody color you please (if you fancy having a bright orange bathroom, I highly recommend it – one of my amigas from Canada did this in her casa, and it’s positively STUNNING!! Gorgeous – just like her!), have treasures all around you, and let your heart feel super-happy when you lay eyes on them. In mi casa, I have rose quartz crystals all over the house (there are dozens of them, no lie) – they look pretty, they remind me to feel the love that’s all around…and I love them. Yaaa! 🙂 I recently repainted/redid my bedroom, and I’m crazy for it – I still need to finish hanging pictures and sprucing the place up, but so far so good. I love it! 🙂 I didn’t do anything big or fancy, but the vibe in the room has somehow changed, and I’ve been sleeping SO MUCH BETTER lately – woohoo!! Mission accomplished!!! 🙂

Try to love what you do for a living. This one has been a struggle for me over the years – I’ve always loved the work that I did, but I wasn’t always enthralled by the locations where I did it. Thankfully this changed dramatically a couple of years ago when I was hired in my current position. Even though there are days when I am as annoyed as a person could possibly be at my job, I have never stopped loving what I do, and I have never stopped loving where I do it. When I was stuck in my miserable jobs, I worked like a friggin’ mo’fo to get out of there, and I eventually did. Was it easy? God, no!! Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!! If you aren’t happy where you are, do everything in your power – and then some – to change it. We spend more time at our jobs than we do anywhere else (at least I do), so it had better be somewhere that we don’t mind to be. Do what you love, and love what you do – and you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s the truth. 🙂

How do you combat the negativity that seems to thrive everywhere around us these days? What do you do to make your home a retreat from the madness of the world around you? I can’t wait to hear from you – hit me up with some comments! 🙂 xxx

I’m so happy to report that I have made SIGNIFICANT progress with this over the past few years – wow. It’s humbling to see how far I’ve come – we should all find ways to check in with ourselves like this, you know? I have become greatly more discriminating when it comes to how I spend my time – if I don’t enjoy someone’s company, I don’t see them. Simple as that. Of course the pandemic has helped with this considerably, but I was already well on my way. I’ve learned how to say no to people and mean it, and I’m really getting good at setting boundaries. I rarely have to deal with toxic people anymore (apart from the ones in my family), and I minimize contact and always approach like Teflon, ensuring that their bullshit bounces straight off me. And it feels GREAT. Highly recommend!

I’ve tried finding others who are as positive as me, and while that has presented some challenges, I am making progress. Being around optimism is EXHILARATING, and we all need to do it more often.

Same thing with focusing on things that make you happy – I’ve struggled with doing what I think I should do, or being what I think others want me to be for years…and been so miserable. I’ve made real headway with this one in the past couple of years – I’ve taken up painting which I love, I’m signed up for Transcendental Meditation training this weekend (SO excited!), all sorts of things designed to make just me happy….and I’m so much a better person for it. Funny how that works, eh?

I would love to hear from you, and hear what you do to focus on YOU – drop me a line, friends! ♥️

Xxx

Good Things

Speak Up

I came across this article today and wanted to share it with you. For a person who has no trouble speaking up for others, my default setting is always to keep quiet when it comes to advocating for myself. I fall into the ‘polite Canadian’ trap and say nothing…which isn’t helpful and doesn’t serve me well. This is a common thing with women, sadly….and it’s gotta change for all of us, don’t you think?

Ten Steps to Being an Effective Self-Advocate

Sometimes you may feel as if you have lost control over your life, your rights and your responsibilities. Regaining your sense of control by successfully advocating for yourself will give you back the hope and self-esteem you need to work toward recovery.

believe in yourself

1. Believe in Yourself
You are a unique and valuable person. You are worth the effort it takes to advocate for yourself and protect your rights. You can do it! You may need to work on raising your self-esteem to really believe in yourself and become your own best advocate.

2. Know Your Rights
You are entitled to equality under the law. Some of us who have had mental health challenges erroneously believe that we do not have the same rights as others. I did for a while. I allowed people I did not know well and did not trust to make decisions for me and take control of my life. I now have systems in place so if I am not able to make good decisions for myself, others of my choice will make them for me.

3. Decide What You Want
Clarify for yourself exactly what you need. This will help you set your own goals and help you be clear to others about what it is that you want and need for yourself.

4. Get the Facts
When you advocate for yourself, you need to know what you are talking about or asking for. The internet is an excellent source of information. However, you will need to check its accuracy by looking at several different references to see if they agree. Check with people who have expertise in what you are considering. Ask others who have issues similar to yours. Check references in the library. Contact mental health agencies and organizations for information and support.

5. Planning Strategy
Using the information you have gathered, plan a strategy that you feel will work to get what you need and want for yourself. Think of several ways to address the problem. Ask supporters for suggestions. Get feedback on your ideas. Then choose to take action using the one that you feel has the most chance of being successful.

6. Gather Support
In advocating for what you need and want for yourself, it is helpful to have support from family members, friends and other people who have similar issues.

7. Target Efforts
Who is the person, persons, or organization you need to deal with to get action on this matter? Talk directly with the person who can best assist you. It may take a few phone calls to discover which organization or person can help, or who is in charge, but it is worth the effort. Keep trying until you find the right person. Maybe the right person is your spouse or another family member. Perhaps it is the head of the local housing agency, your doctor, a case manager, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, or a state legislator.

8. Express Yourself Clearly
When you are asking for what you need and want for yourself, be brief. Stick to the point. Don’t allow yourself to be diverted or to ramble on with unimportant details. State your concern and how you want things changed. If the other person tries to tell you reasons why you cannot achieve what it is you want for yourself, repeat again what it is you want and expect until they either give it to you, help you get it, or refer you to someone else who may be able to give you what you need. If you feel this may be difficult for you, you may want to role-play different scenarios with a supporter or a counselor.

9. Assert Yourself Clearly
Don’t lose your temper and lash out at the other person, their character or the organization. Speak out, asking for what you need and want and then listen.Respect the rights of others, but don’t let them “put you down” or “walk all over you.”

10. Be Firm and Persistent
Don’t give up! Keep after what you want. Always follow through on what you say. Dedicate yourself to getting whatever it is you need for yourself.

Good suggestions, eh? I know! I find myself getting stuck with clarifying exactly what it is that I truly WANT…which should be the easy part.

I was talking about what I want to do with my life with someone recently, and I confessed that I was still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Which is crazy. My ass is closing in on 50 at a pretty good clip….Shouldn’t I have this shit worked out by now? You would think so. My problem is that I can’t narrow it down – I want to go in to business for myself, I want to open a cheese shop, I want to write a book, I want to become a yoga teacher…I want to do about 3573 different things. But how? How do I stand up for me, put my needs first, and figure this shit out? How do I pick which thing is going to be the right path forward? I don’t want to work until I’m dead….so I’ve got to figure it out.

Argh.

I’m currently accepting suggestions.

Xxx

Good Things

Wannabe

All those years ago (more than I care to count), modern-day prophets The Spice Girls sang, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends (gotta get with my friends) / Make it last forever friendship never ends,  / If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give, / Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is.” Deep stuff, eh? I know. If you take these words as gospel (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t), you would think that it would be super-easy to win a woman’s heart, right? Wrong. It’s much more difficult than this. However, prepare yourself, friends…I have found the definitive list of things that need to happen in order to win the woman of your dreams (or me, whichever) – this list is GOLD. For realz.

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According to this article, these are the things that women want – and, to be frank with you, these are EXACTLY THE THINGS THAT I WANT!! The article is right!!! Woohoo!!!! Give it a read! 🙂

1. Humility For most men, our competitive nature and desire to get ahead leave our ego to lead the way. We are constantly trying to prove our worth to ourselves and others, trying to be seen as better than others. In relationships, this is a losing proposition. Women don’t want conceited, aloof, or jealous men. Women want humility, equality, and decency. They don’t want to be put on a pedestal, but they don’t want to be demeaned or looked down upon either.

2. Vulnerability This is something we try to hide, suppress, and run away from. While women don’t necessarily want us to wear our emotions on our sleeves, they do want us to share what’s bothering us. If we’re feeling stressed or upset about something, they appreciate hearing from us. It shows them that we trust them enough to share our emotions. It may be hard for you to do because you’ve not practiced being vulnerable, but the more you open up, the more appreciative the woman in your life will be.

3. Emotional awareness Women appreciate a man who can sit comfortably with his emotions and be open to discussing issues without yelling or running away. Our emotional maturity and growth are what women want from us more than anything else. So, be willing to listen without judgment or trying to resolve a situation. Listening helps her let go of strong feelings that might be holding her down. You don’t have to solve a problem either—just listen with your presence and your understanding.

4. Attention How often are you multitasking when you talk to the women in your life? How often are you working when conversing with them? Women cherish the quality time they spend with us. They want us to be attentive and show up fully when we are with them. When you’re spending time with women, focus! Carve out time when you’re with the women in your life and be as attentive as you were when initially dating.

5. Gentleness It’s not in our nature to be soft and gentle. We grow up learning to value roughness and competitiveness. But when it comes to our relationships, gentleness in words, thoughts, and actions will save the day. Treat women with respect. Be kind. Speak softly.

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6. Love in action While “I love you” is one way to communicate your love, women want to see our love in action. This means showing up for them, planning things with them, and being present with them. Your quality time, presence, and involvement is what women want more than sweet nothings and chocolates. Love in action means being thoughtful, considerate, forgiving, and compromising. Say loving words, yes, but also show it with your actions.

7.Affection Along the lines of love in action, how about some romance? Women like the small things, the thoughtful gestures that show them that we’re thinking about them. Yes, this could be an unexpected text, doing something for someone that’s important to them, picking up their favorite food or running an errand without being asked. It also means a gift for no reason, a greeting card telling her how you feel about her, a love note on the mirror, or a simple lunch date during the workweek.

8. Appreciation So much of what both people do in a relationship goes unnoticed. Couples are quick to pounce on each other with complaints and disagreements but hardly share what they value about their partner. Women usually juggle many things at once and are often taken for granted. Letting her know that you appreciate what she’s doing or that you’re noticing her many sacrifices will help her feel valued and cared for.

9. Acceptance Instead of challenging, making fun of, or questioning the woman in your life, why not accept her? Unconditionally. Don’t point out her flaws, don’t complain about particular traits, or make her feel bad about something she’s already feeling bad about. Women are used to feeling judged. If we simply drop the judgments and accept women unconditionally, we will help them feel loved and safe in our presence.

10. Strength Women appreciate our strength. This doesn’t necessarily mean we need to go out there and beat up someone who got on her bad side or rush to solve every problem that comes her way. A gentle strength simply means listening to her, validating what she’s experiencing, and reminding her that she has the courage and ability to deal with whatever life situations arise. Letting your partner know that you’re there for support but that she’s got this is often all the strength she needs to go forward.

11. Straightforwardness We don’t tend to overthink things or complicate things. We worry less about what others think and don’t spend too much time projecting the unknown. Continue to keep things light by finding the simple answer in complex situations and bringing that healthy perspective to any problem.

12. Humor Life’s too serious already. Women want to laugh. Humor is a great way to reduce tension. If you’re a funny guy, play up the humor in your relationship. If you’re not the humorous type, work on finding what you find funny and share that with your partner. Laughter, more than love, is the shortest distance between two hearts.

YES!!! Isn’t that brilliant???! I KNOW!!! The part about acceptance? Awesome!!! Appreciation?? Affection???! Gorgeous stuff!!!! This list really is great – and, if you’re a dude reading this, please use these strategies to make your woman feel special. It’ll be worth it, I promise. 🙂 xxx

Good Things

Treat People With Kindness

This song by Harry Styles – and it’s video – have been on replay in my head for most of the day, it’s EXACTLY the vibe I need right now. I bet you are going to love it, too!

Isn’t it fantastic??? And yes, that’s the incomparable Phoebe Waller-Bridge hoofing it with Harry in the video….SO great! Good life advice, too. 😉 ✨🌟

Xxx