Tag Archives: pausing

Notes On A Good Week

I’m supposed to be working this weekend, finishing off the cookbook I’ve long promised everyone, but life interfered and I got tired of saying no to life. So I said yes for a bit.

Family arrived in town, my cousin I haven’t see in 25 years. He brought his daughter, who I’d never met before, and I’m so glad I blew off work. He’s turned into a great guy, a really loving and positive father, and a generous man. I smiled a lot. It was nice to reconnect.

And so continued what has been a week of epiphanies, small victories, change-making, and forgiveness.

While sailing on BC Ferries this week, I caught some beautiful light.

While sailing on BC Ferries this week, I caught some beautiful light.

Did you know I turned 40 last September? I did. I had very high expectations of this decade. I promised myself this would be the Decade of Steff. Me and my bucket list.

My 20s and 30s got hijacked and I lost my way. I never gave up, but I never saw things very clearly, either. I felt like the guy that gets lost in a jungle full of vines and brush, constantly walking and trying to clear things away, but never really making progress. Well, walk long enough and there’s always an exit.

I’m slowly exiting my back injury. I’m better more often than I’m not. When I do get hurt, even seriously, I rebound in 2–3 days or a week. There’s some kind of Zen lesson to take from serious, long-term injury. There’s a wisdom that comes from overcoming something that had been so debilitating for so long.

(But not all chronic injuries can be overcome, of course. I am lucky.)

When I moved to Victoria, my first chiropractor was trying to sell me on an expensive procedure because he claimed I had a loose hip ligament or something that couldn’t be fixed through exercise. I was already broke and I was devastated that I couldn’t “afford” to fix myself.

Flying on BC's Helijet.com, I got a good view of the slowpoke ferry below.

Flying on BC’s Helijet.com, I got a good view of the slowpoke ferry below.

Then I changed caregivers. Through very good research, I found a team of rehab folks who believed it was something I could overcome both through treatment and old-school work ethic. They didn’t see a fat girl, they saw a girl who once lost 85 pounds in a year, via near-Olympian effort in both sports and nutrition. They saw someone who needed encouragement, support, and challenge. Then they gave that to me.

In some ways, moving to Victoria was about me going somewhere to lick my wounds, keep to myself, and re-discover who I am. I have done all these things in that order. It’s been wonderful.

The Zen of Recovery, I’ve found, is in learning just how tough you are, how much you can overcome. It also puts a lot of life’s struggles into perspective. You learn that trite sayings like “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” really aren’t trite when you’re the one who’s been getting forged like steel in fire.

Cloudy? Or Sunny? Depends on your perspective. I love the unexpected cloudy sunsets.

Cloudy? Or Sunny? Depends on your perspective. I love the unexpected cloudy sunsets.

As I’ve matured, I’ve really allowed myself to own my emotions. If I’m depressed, I’ll let myself wallow in that for a bit. I permit myself to be angry, joyous, neglectful, and all kinds of other things. I’m human. These emotions are a part that journey. It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m really, really present on the ride. I’m there, I’m doing it, I’m experiencing every bump and bruise along the way.

I’ve enjoyed these two years that I’ve made myself the priority and let the rest of life pass me by. It’s what I needed and I wouldn’t change a thing.

But this week has been something of a light turning on. I’ve had some really great project ideas you’ll find out about in coming months. I’ve stopped to enjoy life on the occasions I could. I’ve overcome a couple of struggles. I went away for a weekend, had fun with friends, splurged, and didn’t come home broke. It was a good, good week.

I think it’s important to just press pause sometimes and enjoy the smug glee of getting shit right and living well across all sectors of life. From money to fitness to diet to self-care, I’ve gotten everything right this week. It really doesn’t happen often to us adults living in the topsy-turvy real world, so it’s great to celebrate. Sometimes celebrating it makes it last a little longer, keeps me in the groove. That’s the good of gratitude, man.

Because grateful is what I am. And excited. I feel that my 40th year has been setting a pretty wicked tone for the decade to come.

Just over a decade ago I kicked off my 30s by nearly dying twice in a year. Not an auspicious start! This decade kicked off by finding a wonderful home, fixing my back, sorting out my finances, rediscovering my creative self, and setting ambitious goals for the 10 years ahead.

As a comparison, it’s like I’ve become my own doppelganger in an alternative universe. There’s so many miles between these two lives of mine that it might as well be measured in light years.

A walk at dusk on Wednesday brought peekaboo sun-flares.

A walk at dusk on Wednesday brought peekaboo sun-flares.

When I think of 10 years from now, shit, I can’t even fathom it. How many books will I have written? How many photographs will I have sold? How many countries will I have seen? How strong will I be? What kind of amazing people will I have met and brought into my fold? How many dreams will I have lived through and ticked off my list?

Great questions. I have no fucking idea, man, but I can’t wait to see how that script plays out. Luckily I’m a writer.

Yep. It’s been a good week.

Did you know I’m scheming of many ebooks, the first of which I’m nearly done, and two others I’m already at work on? For the price of a coffee, you can support me while reading good stuff. Sign up for my newsletter, where I’ll apprise you of developments without boring the shit out of you or being spammy.

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Just Like a Cloudy Sunrise

Many a day this winter I have woken to find a cloudy morning outside the glass.

I’ll get up anyhow, resolved to walk the shore, and moments later I’m in pants, toque, and a jacket, out the door.

Living by the ocean is a gift most of us in this area cherish, but we have to live life too. Cloudy mornings seem like an invitation to linger under warm covers, dozing a little longer.

Those are the mornings my walk will be nearly deserted.

I’m learning a lot about life, in a metaphorical sense, from such walks. Those low, cloudy, oppressive mornings often have the most dramatic and violent sunrises, a surprising contrast to the darkness that abounds.

I jokingly call them “Mornings by Mordor,” like it’s some kind of exterior decor practiced by a theatrical god.

For others, being anywhere else in the city, they’re likely not seeing any sunrise. Maybe tinges of red and gold on the horizon, but the sunrise is happening so low on the horizon, it’s for those blessed few of us able to make our way to the water’s edge for the show.

This shot included here (by me) was yesterday’s sunrise from Victoria’s Dallas Road. There are cliffs behind me, and even on the clifftops you could easily miss noticing what a stunning sunrise was going on down below. The clouds are low marine cloud, and the diffused light is as a result of a very thin bank of fog sitting on the coastal areas.

With the fog and the low ceiling, there’s all of 15 minutes of exposed sunrise, then poof, the sun’s lost behind clouds for what turned out to be another 4 or 5 hours.

There’s something to learn from this.

Your belief that your horizon is nothing but darkness is probably more perception than it is reality. For those who know where to look, there’s always something to look forward to, and the choice to do this or not is something that’s up to you.

I may not be happy about adversity when it strikes my life, but at least I’ve learned how to look for lessons in those moments, and I’ve tried to take the positives where I can imagine them.

As far as Mornings by Mordor go, a small part of me dreads the perfect blue-sky sunrises of the summer. How dull.

When I go home after another dark-world-sunrise, a part of me feels smug and superior. I had faith. I got a show. Everyone else is at home, grumbling in their slippers about how it looks like another dreary day out there.

Regardless of what our personal futures contain, there’s always a sun, there’s always a horizon, and there’s always a rising and a setting. Life goes on. Our dramas are pretty inconsequential in the big picture of it all.

When’s the last time you watched the sun rise for the sake of watching a sunrise?

It’s the best time of year to catch one. You’re up, ready to go. Unlike June, when it’s at 4 or 5am. Just… stop. 20, 30 minutes. Be there. Enjoy it. Clear your mind. Smile. You’re a cog on the wheel of it all.

Go find yourself an unexpected cloudy sunrise. It does the heart a world of good.

(And sometimes it’ll just be cloudy. But that can be beautiful too. Perspective, grasshopper.)

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Happy? Stopping in the Small of it All

What do we really need for contentment? At what point do our goals cloud “life” itself?

How much work is too much work? How much of something is too much anything? How little is too little?

There’s no universal answer. The less one can live with, though, the more likely one’s chances of finding contentment.

I remember a friend once commenting that the wealthy are more scared of not having money than the poor are of never getting it.

I don’t know, I guess it’s true. I know some moneyed folks who don’t understand the class divide, and when they peer over that pay-precipice, whoo-ee — us little peoples with our cheap-ass wine, “good” and not-so-much-so underwear, “I Need a Paycheck” stack of recipes, and tendency to have to ask “how much” ‘cos we know there’s a price we can’t touch and it’s low… well, we’re a different breed.

Some of us are angry about it, and some of us know how good we really have it.

For all I don’t got, what I got’s pretty awesome — ‘cos it comes with a worldview that helps me enjoy it and not want for more (most of the time, for now). Sure, I stay out of stores and pretend we’re not a materialistic society in order to pull that worldview off when my finances dictate it, but whatever.

I got what I got, and I like a lot of it, and what I don’t got, I tend to get by without.

Soon I’ll be chasing the self-employment dragon with school, etc, and I imagine my desires will be increasing and my quiet, simple life will be shaken up as my needs grow and the corresponding scene develops.

There are some things I hope never change, though.

  • Like knowing a six-pack of beer and a burger-to-go eaten at the beach with a summer sunset, great friend(s), and million-dollar view rivals any experience had in a many-walled 4-star restaurant with entitled waiting staff and hoity-toity diners.
  • Or the delight of ugly boxer shorts, a torn concert t-shirt, and a DVD marathon with blinds drawn on an unapologetically rainy Sunday.
  • Or the here-and-now never-seen-THAT joy that is a road trip instead of flying somewhere, including the neuroses of choosing the music and a route before the trip ever happens.
  • Or knowing moments are built for milking and it doesn’t take long to do so, whether it means stopping to see the stars at night, taking the long way past a sunset, watching life unfold, or smelling a flower.
  • Or loving hanging out with friends who enjoy casual and chill as much as or more than being a part of any scene.

Sure, the media and the fancy folk sell the image of swank-and-busy lives, and how much we should validate our lives by the foods/drinks/things we can afford when with others, and maybe that’s great for you, but, for me, life’s about the simple-and-small moments that fill it all.

Someone once told me it wasn’t the big stars he loved in the sky, but all the little ones in between them.

And I think I look at life like that.

It’s the small things — the moments you pause for, gazes you steal, words you exchange, accidental encounters en route to Your Real Plans, unexpected little incidents that pepper your days.

That’s life, that’s the real deal. It’s the snippets, the moments, that stand out.

There’s a whole breed of world and people that live for the weekend, or the big party, or the next swank thang.

Sometimes I’m guilty of that too, but then I try to remember the moment, the smallness in the bigness. What’s something here, now, that I can notice or experience or remember? A taste, a smell, a sight, a sound — anything.

I want that, for forever — remembering the smallness in the bigness.

I hope my life is never always Big. I hope I always have Moments. I hope there’s forever equal parts of the Small and the Strange while it’s filling up with Big and Beautiful.

These are things I hope on this simple, nothing, every-day-is-like-today kind of Thursday… but a simple, nothing, every-day-is-like-today kind of Thursday on which there’s an amazing marine breeze as sun breaks behind cloudy heat reprieve and my bluesy-funk tunes swell and pound in my living room and my toes are painted pink, and the coffee’s brewing, and the floors are clean and…

Well, for what it is? It’s an amazing day. And I hope I always, always remember that.

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