Chicken Little

I glanced at the schedule on my laptop one more time. The morning yoga class I wanted to take was staring back at me, but every time the mouse got close to it, I moved it away.

You see, this wasn’t the yoga class I was used to. Normally I grab a mat, find a spot at the very back of the class, and try to blend into the background so both the instructor and other students don’t see me doing the poses terribly, terribly wrong.

This was different. This was Mysore. In this class, the instructor teaches you a sequence of poses, and then assists you as you flow at your own pace. Slowly, week after week, you add more on, but you take as long as you need to move through the sequence.

The thought of being with a smaller group of people and the one-on-one instruction was intimidating, but with most new things in my life lately, I had a little push from a friend.

“Come on, chicken little! It won’t be scary, I promise!”

I had used almost every excuse known to mankind already, “I have to get up too early! The weather’s bad outside! North Korea’s doing something iffy! I can’t find my pants! I accidentally sang a rousing rendition of ‘My Heart Will Go On’ for 4 hours until 3 a.m. using a spatula as a microphone and now I need sleep!”

Alright, alright, I’ll go.

I opened the door and peered around the corner, as if putting only my head inside the building first would somehow calm my nerves. After managing to clearly communicate my name to the nice woman at the front desk, despite it being very early and having no caffeine pumping through my body, I walked over to the room.

Ok, ok. So there’s some people doing yoga, and they all most definitely look like they know what they’re doing. Oh boy. But, at least I’m in yoga pants. And not just *any* yoga pants, but frightfully expensive ones that I paid way too much for. That’s got to give me some credibility, right?

Alright, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, after the instructor introduced herself and gave me a rundown of what I would experience this first class, I genuinely enjoyed myself. I was so happy to have thorough instruction, especially in areas I had been practicing for years, but couldn’t quite figure out. By the end of it, I laid on my mat, blissfully in savasana, grateful that I knew someone who had the good sense to get me to that class.

Life is a state of constant change. Sometimes the steps you take are big, sometimes they’re little. But it’s just that first step, or in my case, making the rest of my body join my head in the yoga studio, that makes all the other steps seem a little easier.

I hope you’ve got people in your life that give you little pushes when you need them, and if not, I hope you find them.

Have a great week,

Diane

 

Oh boy, I’m rich! (Not really)

I caught myself, off in a daze, staring off into the distance. All around me were people, just like myself, zombies looking nowhere, except at the back of human heads.

I was in the Tim’s line, and it was too early in the morning.

As always, once it was actually my turn to order, my expression quickly changed from a look of despair to someone who had just found water in the desert.

“Good morning! I will have one large, regular, please. No wait, make that an extra large. Oh you know what? Just give me that pot. Actually would you just mind……HOOKING IT TO ME VEINS?”

Settle down, Diane, settle down.

I performed this ritual about four times a week. Get up, shower, make myself semi-presentable for the outside world, walk past the coffee maker in my kitchen, get in my car, and then pay five times the price for the same kind of coffee I could have brewed at home.

Why didn’t I just bring my own? Was it the ritual? Did I just feel better buying my coffee in the morning? Do I feel I have too much money? I can most certainly assure you, this is not the case.

Whatever the reason, it got me started on a dark path that I will now call “actually looking at how much I spend on eating out every month and hiding under my desk.”

Dear Lord, make it stop.

I took a quick look at my last bank statement and wondered if my bank thought I was feeding a family of five. Besides the foolish food spending, there were other areas I appeared to lack any sense in, including paying for parking and the very real, very stupid need to buy new clothes when I had a closet bursting at the seam.

Something’s got to give, I thought as I sipped my coffee and ate my $4 bagel.

But what?

Alright, here it is. Since I quit eating meat a whopping week ago (thank you, thank you, I AM a better person) I’ve began to look at what else I can cut out of my life. So, in no particular order, I am writing down a plan to follow for a year. Yes, a year! That’s insane, right? F*%&in’ nuts! I start Monday (give a girl some time to adjust, alright?)

  1. No new clothes for a year. Those are big words coming from a girl who has used Instagram direct message to ask a store to put items on hold for her, but with all of the clothes I already own, a year should be easy.
  2. Lunch out only once per week. Yes, I was going to make myself bring lunch from home 5 days per week, but let’s get real for a moment – it might be asking for failure to go from lunch out everyday to none at all. Plus, TREAT YO-SELF.
  3. Farewell, my morning cup of incredibly expensive coffee. I have a coffeemaker. I have a coffee cup. I have a desire to stop spending $45 on coffee every month.
  4. Hair dye. Whoaaaaaaaa whoa whoa. Back up. My hair? MY HAIR? I was going to make an appointment the other day when I told my partner I was going to get it dyed. “Oh, what colour?” “Brown.” “So….the same colour it is now?” “yes….I…..have to cover up the 12 grey hairs I have. It will cost me $170.” Ya. Time to stop that and accept the fact I might be *gasp* not 18 anymore.
  5. Speaking of covering up, as I’ve previously written about, I am on this new “feel good, looking how I want to look” natural skincare kick. And honestly, it’s changing my life quite a bit. So, while I’ve already saved tons of money by switching over to local stuff, I am also going to continue to use a fraction of the makeup I used to, which should save me some serious dough.
  6. Get on the bus! Paying for parking downtown is ridiculous, and I’m even more ridiculous for continuing to do it. It’s one bus from my partner’s place to work, so minus once per week, I am going to start hoping on the big yellow vehicle of fun.

Alright, that should do it for now. I imagine my blog posts for the next little while should be full of side-effects from this plan, so please be patient as I navigate life without swiping my debit card six times a day.

Have a wonderful rest of your week,

Diane

 

 

Well, well, well

We meet again, blog that I said I would write on every Wednesday.

It is crunch time at the university. And by crunch time, I mean I am currently wearing sweatpants that probably should have been laundered days ago and just had dessert and tears for breakfast. It is 1:50 in the afternoon.

I adore the people out there who appear to handle everything with ease. The ones who wake before the rest of the city, do fifty things with their day, and look like they’re ready for a photoshoot while they stand in the supermarket, deciding which avocado has the right amount of firmness. They make dinner from scratch and have everything cleaned and ready for the morning, just in time to sit down and watch Jimmy Fallon laugh outrageously at his own jokes, before they settle into bed for their allotted eight hours of sleep. They wake in the morning relaxed and refreshed, ready to take on the next day.

I fell asleep last night covered in a cocoon of books, paper, and clean laundry I had been too tired to put away, waking from a nightmare at 3 a.m. with thoughts of everything on my To-Do list for the next few weeks. My mind was a mess, constantly sorting tasks into categories, from which they seemed to crawl out and pile themselves on top of one another in a heap on the floor, causing me to mentally try to separate them again.

Furthering the stress were the gentle¬†relentless reminders of a year quickly coming to an end. Lately every regular website I visited online featured the same prodding question, “What have you accomplished from your New Years resolutions for 2017?”

I looked at my resolution list, which, because I have this blog, can be found here, and had myself a good, long laugh.

The first one, and perhaps the most ambitious, was failed within record time. Giving up alcohol? Seriously, Diane. In fact I’m staring at an empty wine glass as I type this. Well I rarely overdo it, the glass of wine after a long day policy is still strictly in place.

The workout goal wasn’t completely lost. I certainly don’t exercise as much as I used to, but I don’t let more than a few days go by without getting my heart rate up. Even if it’s only attributed to checking my bank account.

Cheese. Cheese? I wanted to give up cheese? Oh right. Yes, I did. I believe it was dairy in general. This is going to be very hard to explain to my new pet cow, Tonya. “It’s not you, Tonya, it’s me! I didn’t know what I was talking about! Don’t walk away, Tonya! Moooooo!” Alright, it’s still bad for my skin, and I still need to say goodbye to it.

Yes, I did pretty good with the meditation part and being present. I still catch my mind running laps (like this morning) but at least I’ve found some tools to help myself get grounded a little quicker than before.

As for the rest of them, it’s a work in progress, or rather, I’m a work in progress. And, as I look at the calendar, I notice there’s still a solid six weeks of 2017 left.

Just enough time to stop drinking alcohol, give up dairy, donate everything I don’t really need, and reintroduce my body to vegetables.

Ya, I’ll get back to you on that.

Have a great weekend,

Diane

 

 

 

A Day

My alarm went off at the usual time, while there was still a blanket of darkness over the city and the only sounds that could be heard were the quiet hums of a neighbourhood beginning to wake.

This morning, however, was different from what I was used to. This morning, as I pressed the “off” button on my alarm instead of indulging in an extra ten minutes of sleep, I was utterly and positively ecstatic. This morning, I enthusiastically threw the covers from me, as if being underneath them a moment longer was a restraint I couldn’t possibly bear. This morning, I was already smiling, before I had even reached for the lamp on my bedside table to fill the room with light.

Then I stopped for a moment.

This morning didn’t hold anything different for me. I didn’t have some sort of fantastic plan. There wasn’t an event that I was excited for. I wasn’t about to get on a plane and jet off to a beautiful, exotic location.

No, I was going to get up, hop in the shower, and belt out my usual tunes on my way to school. I was going to sit in class for ten hours, run around the university, and consume an ungodly amount of coffee to keep me going. I was going to walk sluggishly to my car at the end of it, bracing myself for the feel of the cold seats. I was going to wash the day off my face, while glancing at the clock and counting the hours of sleep I could get before my alarm went off the next morning. I was going to crawl into bed, relishing in the feeling of letting my body rest after a full day of running from one place to the next.

So why, with an impossibly normal, tiring day ahead of me, did my heart feel so full? Why could I not stop smiling, even as I moved around my bedroom, gathering all my schoolwork in my backpack?

Because it was another day. A day I got to go outside. A day I got to look at the sky. A day I got to inhale fresh air. A day I got to feel like myself. A day I got to see family and friends. A day I got to complain, to laugh, to love.

A day that was like so many other days in so many ways, and yet a day unique in itself. A day I won’t get back.

It was, today.

 

Have a day ūüėČ

Diane

 

Go with the flow

I gazed out my office window at the snow gently falling on downtown Winnipeg, either exciting or wildly disappointing the people walking below. The past week, as was becoming a theme in my life, had flown by with the introduction of a new job and what felt like a buildup of everyday adult problems. Exam stress and car problems are things I should count myself lucky to deal with, and I felt foolish letting myself get caught up in the negativity when so many good things were happening all around me.

I thought back to one of my psychology classes I had taken in college, where the professor had touched on a theory involving the need for humans to maintain a levelled state of emotion, almost a flatline where you’re not too happy, not too sad. That means, if things are going poorly and you find yourself down, your mind will try to create ways to bring you back to a level of contentment. However, in the same regard, if you are too excited or outrageously happy (wouldn’t that be lovely?) then your subconscious will look for ways to bring you back down to your natural state.

I remember thinking the theory was silly, and that from personal experience, I always strived to make decisions that would allow me to be the happiest I could be.

And yet, here I was on my lunch hour, sitting at a desk for the new job I was absolutely thrilled to get, only to find myself fixated on everything that had gone wrong this week.

I called my best friend on the way home, eager to unload some of these problems and get her perspective. The issues in my head had snowballed, and I allowed negative feelings to spill over into other areas of my life.

“What if, what if, what if….,” I found myself saying to her. She stopped me for a moment.

“Diane, what if this all doesn’t go wrong, and goes incredibly right?”

I sighed. This silly theory that I had written a paper arguing against was unfolding in front of me. I have had far more positives in my life than negatives in the past few months, yet I had shrunk the positives small enough to put in pretty little boxes and set aside, in order to let the negatives grow until they shaded over me.

Yes, sometimes things go wrong. They don’t go the way we expect them to, and we end up frustrated with having to be in situations that seem to overshadow the goodness in our lives.

But maybe if we stopped fighting things, if we rolled with the punches instead of running so hard against them, we could take things a little easier.

So, I will try my best to go with the flow. And tonight, the only flow that’s happening is the lovely bottle of wine I picked up after work into a glass big enough to fit the entire bottle.

 

May your week be peaceful,

Diane

 

 

Painted On

I splashed water on my face and pressed the towel to my skin as I exhaled. This was the part of the evening where I stripped off the layers of makeup that I had walked around with all day, the part of the evening where I was sure no one else would see me.

I was never certain how I felt when I looked in the mirror. Everyone has aspects of themselves they love and hate, but ever since I was a teenager, my face without makeup was something I sooner kept to myself; it was reserved for nights in and only to be seen by family members that had been around long enough to know what I looked like before I began painting the foundation on in the first place.

And painting is what it really was. My morning routine slowly became longer and longer, with new products being added in to deal with the mess I was creating by layering all sorts of concoctions on my skin. After slathering on moisturizer and primer, I took a brush and swiped the same liquid foundation on my skin I had been using for the past ten years. Now I looked like a pale canvas, and it took blush to add back the rosiness to my cheeks that was hiding underneath everything. Eyebrow powder and mascara were added, of course, because without it, I simply didn’t feel pretty. It was rarely over the top, but just enough to make my eyes a little darker.

“Funny,” I thought, “that I’m using all this makeup to try to make it look like I’m not wearing any at all.”

The thought of leaving the house without makeup was horrifying. I had even been known to run away screaming “not it” when the pizza guy rang the doorbell, leaving a previous partner to answer the door so the delivery man wouldn’t have to bear witness to the horrors of seeing my face in a natural state.

After years of this, I was starting to grow tired of it. Maybe it was the dry, flaky skin that was revealed after washing off the chemicals with more chemicals. Instead of simply letting my skin breathe and come back down to a state of equilibrium where it produced the right amount of oils, my solution was to keep painting on the hordes of products and hope that adding in some more moisturizer would magically help.

I was done now. A couple of weeks ago, I began talking to a friend about all of this, and she recommended I try some natural oils. The thought of it was both intriguing and scary at the same time. Yes, I wanted to stop putting unnecessary chemicals on my body, but the concept of leaving the house without first producing a mask to hide behind was still a foreign concept to me. As I brought the natural products home, I placed the four items in the same spot where twenty had previously sat, and made a note of the outrageous amount of money I could save if this actually worked.

The next morning I woke up, splashed water on my face, and…..didn’t do anything else that I normally do. I threw on a tiny amount of eyebrow powder, if only to make them visible so that people would be able to see my expressions. I grabbed my keys and left for school, wildly aware that I looked a little different in public than I had in the last fifteen years or so. And with that, something amazing happened….

Nothing. Nothing happened at all. The sky didn’t fall in. No one looked at me like I had two heads. A “please make Diane put her makeup back on” petition wasn’t being passed around. I even told a friend about the whole thing and her response was “huh, I honestly didn’t really notice.”

And there you have it. This may seem silly. In fact, it felt quite silly writing it. But the message of needing to slather on a bunch of makeup to leave the house, or even to feel human, is thrown at us from every direction at much too young an age. It was one that stuck with me through the years, only allowing me to feel attractive if I first turned myself into someone I wasn’t.

So, although this is all very new to me, I will take these warm feelings and continue to fly with them. Sometimes I leave the house and still feel a little off, but I only need to remind myself that it’s my thinking I need to change, and not what I put on my skin.

A few days after I started my new routine of having less of a routine, as the first morning light poured into the bedroom on my bare face, I opened my eyes and looked at my partner.

“You’re beautiful.”

I smiled, closed my eyes, and slipped back into dreamland.

 

Have a wonderful weekend,

Diane

The Good Kind of Stress

I sat in the lobby, relaxed, waiting to be called for an interview. I was dressed in the one professional outfit I still owned, and I was seriously hoping it would help me nab a job I very much wanted.

“Diane?”

After engaging in conversation for forty-five minutes, I skipped out of the office building and stepped into fresh air. The sun was shining brightly, and I stopped for a moment to close my eyes and inhale deeply as the warmth flooded over me.

Life had been nonstop lately. My classes, extracurricular actives, trying to exercise more than just running up the stairs at school, and working on my writing was starting to consume most of my time. Whenever I began to feel the stress of juggling time, however, I quickly remind myself that this is the best stress to have. It’s the¬†good¬†stress.

Last year around this time I was settling into my classes, but I was still very shaken up. I had made a huge life change, moved over a couple of provinces, and threw myself into university full-time. The stress I felt back then, perhaps added with the air of uncertainty, would keep me up at night. It was one that gnawed at me when my mind was occupied with other things, and I remember not being able to escape it.

But this is different. This I welcome. Even with the crazy schedule, the exams and papers,  running to interviews, and trying to remember to eat during the day, I am happy. This kind of stress reminds me that a good life takes work, and I would rather forever be working towards the good life, laughing along the way, than feeling stuck in a life I was unsure of.

I know I’ll never figure everything out. I know that I will never be one hundred percent sure if the decisions I’ve made are the right ones. But as I walk the path that I’m on, with school, work, and date nights laughing on the couch, I know that even though there is nothing certain in this life, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying everything.

And right now, I’m enjoying every minute of it.

 

Have a wonderful week,

Diane

 

 

 

The Yearly Interview

I sat in the doctor’s office, changed into one of those paper gowns that couldn’t clean up an entire glass of orange juice if it spilled.

It was my yearly physical, and I loathed this day. Perhaps it is my general disdain for any buildings that have needles in them (except tattoo needles – obviously, those are fun), or maybe it’s because every time I have a physical, it feels more rushed than a McDonald’s drive through.

My heart sped up as people walked by the barely shut door, anxiously waiting for my doctor to come in so I could get this over with. I hadn’t had the foresight to eat breakfast before my morning appointment, and my stomach was politely letting me know.

“Hello! How are you this year?”

I smiled back at the middle-aged doctor, who clearly used her gym pass instead of placing it on top of her dresser to look at every time she put on socks, as I did.

She went through the motions, asking me how I was feeling and if there was anything new since she had seen me a year ago. Finally, we got to the fire question round of deeply personal questions, and I was reminded just how much of your personal life they need to know.

“Are you seeing anyone? How long have you been seeing this person? I see you turned 30 this year, didn’t you say last year you want kids? Do you still want kids? How many kids do you want? If you were to have a child right now, would that interfere with your school? Did you happen to have a child in the past year you forgot to mention? Did you happen to have¬†two children in the past year you forgot to mention? What would you name them? Where would you send them to school? DO YOU WANT A BABY RIGHT NOW?

I glanced at my watch. “Well, probably not right now, I’ve got class in 45 minutes and I seriously doubt that’d be enough time for the birthing process.”

Clearly my mother had called the office beforehand to spruce up the question period a bit.

I chuckled nervously, now seriously regretting skipping my morning coffee, although this was enough of a wake up call on it’s own.

She proceeded to discuss the apparently limited time I had left for children as she finished up the exam. Soon, I found myself alone in the room again, thrilled to be able to put clothes back on that didn’t resemble something you wrap leftover desserts in.

As I walked through the halls to my class, I thought about all the kid questions. Did I want kids? How many? At 30 years old, I felt like I should know. Most of my friends had children and were already looking forward to having them out of the house.

The past few years have been such a whirlwind that this particular topic wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, and although I’ve never been particularly good with decisions, I’m hoping I’ll just know when the time is right.

I approached a food counter to grab a coffee and donut before I rushed off to class.

“Hi there, what can I get for you? A donut? How many? What kind? Where will you send it to school?”

Peace

I sat on the hotel room bed, somewhere between my old life and my new one. After eighteen hours of driving, I was tired, and I wanted nothing more than the comfort of soft sheets and a quiet room to help me forget my worries.

Unfortunately, I had sprang for a $99 hotel room in Regina, and instead of silence and soft sheets, I was greeted with what sounded like a wrestling match outside my room and the unusual feeling of a bed made from what one can only describe as gently used sandpaper.

I was not having the best weekend. Waking at two in the morning on Friday, I set out on a twelve hour drive to retrieve my car, which had been getting repaired after colliding with a deer on an Alberta highway. Ever since that accident, I had been a little timid on highways, and I wasn’t exactly excited to embark on the start of this journey in the dark.

Working up the nerve to reach the speed limit on the highway was a little tricky, but about an hour outside of Winnipeg I started to feel comfortable. Then, perhaps because I had just reached a point where I wasn’t clenching my jaw, I entered into what can only be described as a deer convention. There were so many of them. I slammed on my breaks, and stopped about an inch short of a doe. She stared at me for a moment, and I quickly looked at my surroundings. It was three a.m. on a Friday, the highway was shrouded in complete darkness, and the only other vehicle I had seen on the road was a semitrailer about fifteen minutes ago. That moment, that very precise moment, is when I allowed myself to have a little pity party. I felt warm tears roll down my cheeks, and the windshield started to fog up in front of me.

I thought back to the past summer. To my desire to go back to the comfort of Alberta. To see my friends, to be in the mountains again, to pretend for even a little while that the last eight years of my life hadn’t been lived in vain. I remember a powerful feeling of safety when I had returned there in August, almost as if the familiar had scooped me up into a cocoon, far away from harm’s reach.

And here I was. I didn’t feel so safe now. Alone, in the dark, on a highway in the middle of the country. Wishing I hadn’t gone to Alberta in the first place, while simultaneously cursing my decision to do so. What I thought would bring me great comfort, had ultimately brought on more stress and anxiety.

Running away can only do so much. It might help you for a while, it may even bring you a sense of peace, but with that peace comes a wakeup call. For me, sitting in that hotel room on my way back to Winnipeg, I realized whatever comforts I thought Alberta could provide to me were gone. They were merely an illusion, one that looked like a warm home, but was cold and empty inside once you opened the door.

I looked out the window at the grey, swirling sky, and took a breath. It was time to stop searching for peace in distant places.

It is time to find it where it has always been.

 

Uh huh

I stood in line, browsing the menu at the university restaurant I frequent. I’m not sure why I bother reading it; perhaps it’s to trick myself into ordering a new dish, but I know by the time I reach the cashier, the huevos rancheros will once again have won my heart.

As I glanced around, taking in the sights and sounds of a busy new semester, my eyes fell upon two people engaged in what appeared to be a spirited debate. Since my curiosity knows few limitations in public spaces, I studied them for a minute, wondering what topic they could be discussing with such passion at 10:30 on a Monday morning.

I admire when people are passionate in conversation. When it is evident that there is emotion behind their words, and they are not speaking just for the sake of speaking, but rather to be heard.

It made me think of the last time I truly had an engaging conversation, without thoughts dancing in the back of my mind, or the distraction of that little glowing electronic thing that I can never seem to rid myself of.

I am especially guilty of it with those I’m most comfortable with. Perhaps it is a habit that we’re all getting a little too used to, but more and more I catch myself scrolling through Instagram as I mutter out “uh huh”, while a family member attempts the now outdated act of speaking to someone’s face.

Isn’t it a shame? Technology, with all of it’s powers, seems to be simultaneously connecting us and tearing us apart. While I’m more than delighted to accept a friend request from someone I haven’t seen or spoken with in ten years (alright, maybe delighted is a bit strong of a word), I also appear to deem it more important to see what they had for lunch today than look directly at my mother while she tells me about her day.

So the next time another human attempts the ancient art of eye contact, I will put down my phone, silence the back of my mind, and be ever present in the conversation.

Have a wonderful week,

Diane