Fast, fast awake

My eyes shot open to the roaring sound of a lawnmower. I closed them again, briefly, just long enough to silently curse my neighbours. As I stumbled out of bed, attempting to walk a path that couldn’t have been anything farther from a straight line, I reached for the handle to close my bedroom window.

“Come on man!”, I shouted through the screen. “Is that necessary?! My God, it’s only…..”, I glanced at the clock, “eleven thirty.”

Oh. Whoopsie.

I mean, in my defence, it was before noon.

I have never been a morning person. All my life, less the years I was employed at 9-5 jobs, I have stayed up impossibly late. Truly a display of being my father’s daughter, even in my teenage years it was normal for us to say goodnight to each other around 2 a.m., far past the time the rest of the household would retire. There was, and still is, something I love about being wide awake when the rest of the city is fast asleep.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy mornings. In fact, I love them. If I wake up early enough to get things done and accomplish a to-do list before 10 a.m., I feel that I still have the entire day ahead of me. I’ve embarked on many of these days, and it always seems like an absolutely novel idea to continue the pattern of a regular sleep cycle. That is, until I try to visit dreamland.

My mind races at approximately one thousand miles per hour.

Short of being shot with a tranquilizer gun, I have tried everything to get to a place where I wasn’t staring at the ceiling, wondering at midnight if I could correctly remember how the very last episode of “Friends” ended.

No electronics an hour before bed? Check. Meditation? Check. Chamomile tea? Probably drank too much of it. A somewhat unnecessary body pillow? Check. Adjusting the thermostat so it’s not too hot, not too cold, and apparently just the right temperature in case Goldie Locks makes an impromptu visit? Check.

Lately, and especially with the schedule of a university student, I find myself staring at the clock later and later into the night. “Well, it’s only midnight, I’ll make sure I’m asleep by one, and then I can still get in a solid seven hours.”

Four hours and several google searches on the entire personal and professional life of George Clooney later, I finally begrudgingly close my eyes, mentally adding up how much money I’ll be spending on coffee the following day.

So, does anyone have any sleep advice? A few of you have sent messages, which I love reading, so any comments on how you mellow out for those precious sleep hours we’re all supposed to get would be great.

Even as I type this, the clock reads 1:34 a.m., and I can’t help but wonder…

Was George Clooney on every season of “E.R.”?

Sleep well,

Diane

People Being People

It’s one thirty in the morning, and while I should be fast asleep, visiting dreamland before a busy day tomorrow, my mind is racing, and I am reminded of the challenges that can arise simply from being human.

Sometimes, people come into your life, and make it so much better. Time seems to slow down because of them, and you want them to surround you, if only to bask in the glow of their positive energy.

Other times, inevitably, individuals enter your life and leave you feeling drained. Maybe they do something for the worse, maybe they hurt you on purpose, maybe they hurt you by accident.

We cannot change what others do. We don’t decide someone’s actions, how other people react to them, and ultimately, the consequences they bear. Sometimes these actions are harmful to us, and can linger through time, slowly fading into the background, but never quite disappearing. People have their own reasons for doing what they do, and we’ll never know if their actions spring from a place where they themselves were hurt.

But something that took many years to realize, and will always be a work in progress, is that we get to choose how we react. Will you then, let something gnaw at you? Will you hold it close to you, carrying it with you, while allowing it to take up more space in your life, after it has already taken enough?

Or will you let it go? Will you set yourself free from the actions of others, from the hurt and pain it caused? Will you allow yourself to wake up every morning, a new day, and let whatever happened yesterday melt away?

Your burdens, whatever they may be, can be as heavy as the world on your chest, or as light as a feather. The more you feed it, the more power and energy you give to it, causing it to grow.

So let it go. Let it shrink so small that it becomes that tiny feather, and with one breath of air from your lips, let the breeze carry it.

Far, far away, behind you.

 

Goodnight,

D

 

What do you write about?

I was on my third day of classes, and eagerly introducing myself to another student when a common question popped up:

“So what do you write about?”

“Um, well, kind of everything. Wait, not everything. I mean, there’s no fiction. Well sometimes I change names and locations, obviously. Okay, it’s about my life. But, not ALL about my life. I mean I write about things I experience, but I try to say more than just what happened. Really, I try to keep it interesting, even funny sometimes, although this summer I just could not write anything with any amount of humour.”

It’s around this point that the nice smile on their face gives way to a puzzled expression.

“You know what, it’s non-fiction, let’s leave it at that.”

I should really come up with a more straightforward answer.

After having this exact conversion with probably the tenth person, I realized I needed an explanation that would not only explain my writing, but also entice them to visit the blog.

“It’s about my life,” doesn’t seem particularly mesmerizing, unless I happened to be jumping through hoops of fire and juggling a set of steak knives while I shout that carefully thought up slogan at them.

As I thought back to blogs I had read in the past, I realized what kept drawing me back to them; I was truly interested to peer into a small window of their life.

The same can be said for why the world is so fascinated with reality T.V. While the content may be nothing spectacular or short of ordinary, we as humans are curious by nature, the same reason that many people can’t stop themselves from listening in on juicy gossip.

Reading about, or watching someone else’s life, mundane as it may be, may allow us to temporarily disengage from our own lives, and see what it’s like to step in someone else’s shoes, if only for a moment.

And it was with that thought that I knew what I would say the next time someone inquired as to what I wrote about.

“It’s about my life, really, and it’s mildly entertaining when you’ve ran out of absolutely everything else to do on the internet.”

Enjoy your week,

Diane

 

 

New post, every Wednesday

I skipped down the halls of the university, feeling a wonderful mix of excitement and nerves on my first day in the Social Work program.

“Morning, Peter!” I smiled cheerfully at the man I had seen almost every weekday morning the semester before, while trading a few coins for a hot cup of coffee.

As I stirred in my sugar and cream, we exchanged stories of our summer, and it felt nice to interact with someone I was familiar with. I told him orientation for Social Work began in twenty minutes, and that’s when the nerves overtook the excitement.

I swear, I am an outgoing person. I worked a job all summer where I approached people and chatted with them. This, however, felt different. Perhaps because I know I will have the same classes with the same group of people all year, I wanted to make the best first impression possible.

The doors opened to a large room with several round tables. While there were empty tables, I made myself take a seat at one that was almost full, so as to not purposefully isolate myself within the first five minutes. Most everyone had their heads down, staring at their phones, but it wasn’t before long that I glanced at the itinerary laid out in front of me, and noticed the words “icebreaker.”

Ugh. Okay, okay. Just be yourself. Just be cool, don’t say anything weird, and don’t do that thing where you ramble on about something else when someone asks you a question. And don’t, for the love of God, start with the fact that you just turned 30. Compared to the rest of the group, you look like a bus is going to pick you up when this is done and return you to the old folks home.

The girl to my right suddenly turned to me.

“HELLO I AM DIANE AND I’M THIRTY.”

Smooth.

Thankfully, she chuckled, and I pretended for a moment that my awkwardness was enduring.

The rest of the day went off without a hitch, and left me even more excited for classes to begin tomorrow.

While on my way home, however, I pondered this blog. It’s such a wonderful resource to me. Not only does it allow me the therapeutic action of placing my thoughts into words, but I have also been able to connect with people through it. That’s why I seriously need to get some consistency going, and now that classes are back in full swing, it seems like perfect timing to make sure a blog post gets out every Wednesday.

So, I will see you every Wednesday, and maybe on random days in-between, if the writing bug strikes me.

Have a lovely week,

Diane

 

 

Quick and easy

I stood in the produce section of the grocery store, trying to look like I was fully in charge of the mission I was on. The grocery list I had in my hand had been transcribed from an online recipe, and the basket of items I was carrying was starting to make me seriously regret I hadn’t grabbed a cart.

I looked through the salad section, you know, the pre-made ones for people who are too lazy to buy a head of lettuce and take the time to cut it up and stick it in that tiny rotating bowl that resembles a miniature washing machine for, say, Tinkerbell. My eyes were starting to glaze over. I don’t know if I feel like a Greek or caesar salad, and more importantly, if I’m grocery shopping for the entire week, how on earth am I supposed to know what I’ll want to eat in three days?

Other shoppers were now moving around me like I was a permanent fixture. Yet, as I looked around, I noticed the same glazed eye look in a few other people, and they all seemed to be my age….or younger.

Ah. There it was. I was fortunate enough to grow up during a time where fast and convenient food was available to me 24/7. Have to work late? I’ll grab a burger and bring it back to the office. Don’t feel like cooking tonight? I’ll manage to get off Instagram for the two minutes it takes to order a pizza online. Drank a little too much on a night out with friends? I’ll graciously buy the cab driver his own fries if he takes me through a drive thru at 1:30 in the morning.

Even the food in the grocery store is becoming fast food. Right in front of me, was a container of chopped red peppers. The tag read “Great for stir fry!” and it cost a ridiculous four times the amount of simply buying a red pepper and venturing into the scary part of your house where all the appliances are to find that thing with a sharp steal blade and cut it up yourself.

I lugged my now exceptionally heavy basket over to the under enthused cashier. As he rang my items though with the same amount of excitement as someone watching paint dry, I saw the number on the screen grow larger and larger.

“That’ll be $73.86”

Sweet guacamole!! I could get 50 cheeseburgers for that price! I pulled out my debit card and tapped it as quickly as possibly, hoping that if I kept my eyes closed, the money would somehow stay in my account.

As I drove home with my whopping three bags of groceries, I thought about the differences of cooking between generations. People used to take time when they cooked. It wasn’t just to feed yourself, it was an event, and it ended with family sitting down at a table, with fresh, homemade food, talking about how their day was. It wasn’t just about the food you were eating, it was the bonding that occurred when you broke bread with those you cherished most. It’s something that seems to be occurring less and less these days in our ultra rushed, eat fast-food on the go lifestyles.

“I’d like to get back to that”, I said out loud, as I dialled my Mom’s cellphone number on bluetooth.

“Hey Miss”

“Hey, I’m just going through the drive thru at McDonald’s, you want anything?”

Alberta

Writing down your thoughts, especially the ones you rarely share out loud with others, has a certain vulnerability to it. All of a sudden people have a window into your mind, something to peer through. They can understand your thought process, how you interpret the world, what makes you tick and what makes you smile.

Writing has been, and I imagine always will be, a medium in which I communicate best. It allows me to convey my experiences and all of the feelings that arise from them, whether those experiences are good, bad, or regrettably, boring.

But sometimes, as this summer has demonstrated, the bad experiences overrule the good ones, and I am left staring at the keyboard, consumed with the guilt of knowing that I shouldn’t feel so down over such petty things.

Alberta fixed that. Driving into the mountains reminded me of how small I am, and that whatever problems I thought I had were minuscule in comparison to what others are going through. I struggled through the first week, as one does when they are working through the odd emotions of shame and confusion that come along with feeling sad when you’re not quite sure what you’re sad about.

Relief came in week two, when outings with friends and the warm reminder of my old life in Alberta left me feeling relaxed and more like myself.

After a day surrounded by mountains, I was happily driving along a stretch of highway, making my way back to Lethbridge. As I normally do on short road trips, I was speaking to a friend on bluetooth, catching up on things during the past week. It was dusk, and I was glad I had made it through the mountains before the sun set.

As my friend recounted a story, he was cut off mid sentence by the sound of a loud bang and what I would later find out was a full minute of screaming. The pleasant drive with the picture perfect backdrop in my rearview mirror came to a prompt stop when my car crossed paths with a deer, sending him into my windshield and over my car.

The car was stopped, but my hyperventilating (I know, I know, how dramatic) was in full swing.

“DIANE! DIANE!”  Scott was still on the phone. “Are you ok? What happened? Are you bleeding?”

I looked down. There was glass everywhere. My arms immediately started to burn, and there was blood where most of the glass had hit me. I started to speak, and felt a loud crunch between my teeth, spitting out glass which had found it’s way in during impact.

Luckily, and I’m quite grateful for this, Scott just happens to be a paramedic. He asked me all the important questions, and then told me to hang up and call 911.

After blubbering to the operator, I threw my four ways on. No one had stopped, and vehicles were whizzing past me at 100 kilometres an hour. I knew someone was fairly close behind me when the deer tried to leap over my car, and I had a sad moment for humankind when I realized they had simply kept driving.

As I sat there waiting for the ambulance, assessing the situation for what would be a good 20 minutes since I was aways from town, I began to calm down. I kept looking at the smashed windshield, grateful that the deer hadn’t made his way in. After determining there would just be scrapes and bruises, I clearly remember my second thought:

“Getting this all taken care of is going to be such a hassle.”

For a moment at least, I was thankful to be alive, followed by being more concerned with the headache of dealing with getting my car fixed, and not being able to get back to Winnipeg this week .

My God, had I learned nothing?

Perhaps the unexpected extended stay near the mountains will do me some good.

 

Runaway

I tapped my fingers along the outer edge of the steering wheel. It was six in the morning, and I had about twelve more hours of highway laid out in front of me.

Last week, on a whim, I had decided the best course of action, or rather, the only course of action I could take to keep my sanity, would be the comfort of my second home. Somewhere in between the summer months, stress had started to build. Now normally, and especially during the past year, I would roll with the punches; but there was something about these blows over the last few weeks, maybe in the way they were delivered, maybe because they were from different parts of my life, that left me feeling drained.

Ever the dramatic, it’s hard for me not to wear my emotions on my sleeve. Hiding things isn’t exactly my forte, and I take my greatest comfort in talking things out with others when something is bothering me.

But the pressure kept building, and when an opportunity arose to go back to Alberta for a while, I didn’t hesitate to pack whatever summer clothes I could find and head out west. So there I found myself, music blaring, coffee in hand, cruising along the highway with the sun rising in my rearview mirror.

This morning I woke up in my old bed, my dog staring intently at me, waiting to be walked, and experienced a sense of relief I hadn’t felt in ages. I made coffee in my old kitchen, and I walked around my old neighbourhood, a path I had tread a thousand times. I visited old friends, and I relished in the moment as I watched my dog bound through the grass, eagerly fetching a toy.

I take comfort in the familiar. And the everyday life which I admittingly took for granted only years before was now giving me a sense of peace I had been seeking for months.

While it’s always best to face your problems head on, sometimes, if you know it’ll only be for a little bit, it’s more than okay, to run away.

You’re a little weird

“You’re a little weird.”

I paused on the other end of the phone.

“Um, pardon me?”

“You know, like you are for sure not normal.”

I paused again, unsure if I felt insulted or relieved.

One of the reoccurring struggles in my life, and perhaps something that everyone deals with once in a while, is the realization that not everyone likes you. I wrote about why that is okay, but like any insecurity, it can sneak up on you at the most surprising times.

After I hung up the phone on what would be our last conversation, I was much more bothered by the fact that the comment upset me than I was by the actual comment. I thought I had grown. I thought I had found a confidence in the past year that had finally allowed me to accept, without hesitation, the fact that sometimes people simply don’t get along.

And yet here I was. I felt like a little girl. One that had just sat down and smiled at another child, only to have them promptly walk away. I had gone from “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me,” to feeling about three feet tall.

Maybe this was all coming up because of other lessons I had learned in the past year: I let go of trying to put on a face when I meet new people. I used to mold and twist myself to suit someone, often saying whatever I thought they wanted to hear, which never ends well. Eventually, the real you makes an appearance, and it’s hardly fair to blame someone for falling for a mask, and then being disappointed when you remove it.

So the next lesson, which I feel may never end, will be one of self-acceptance. I look back to a year ago, and I think of the hurdles I’ve jumped through to get to a place where I finally feel like myself.

I’ve changed. You’ve changed. People change. And yes, maybe I’m a little weird. But I’d rather be a happy weirdo, ever myself, than a played down version simply to appease others.

And so with that, I will keep being weird, and I hope you will too.

Have a wonderful week,

Diane

 

 

Is it July already?

This is about the fifteenth time this month that I have sat with my laptop open, running my fingers along the keys, hoping that the mere act of sitting down to write would produce something worth reading.

The thing about writing, once the words flow out of whatever part of my mind they come from and find their way onto the screen, is that all of a sudden it makes everything I’m thinking more……real.

Normally this is wonderful, as I am usually excited to share what I’m feeling and thinking through this medium with anyone that will listen. However the past month has been a mixed bag of emotions, filled with excitement, disappointment, happiness, and peace. It was this reason, among barely having time to process some events, that I wanted to hold onto these thoughts for myself a little longer.

I’ve received a few messages, asking where I’ve wandered off to. I’m still here, taking in summer and trying to enjoy the warm air as much as possible before we begin to wake up to the first few days of frost.

The plan, if I was ever good at following one, is to start publishing once a week at the beginning of August. I have a list of things to write about, and hopefully they won’t be too stubborn as I try to get them onto paper.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer.

Talk soon,

Diane

Things I Learned By 30

What a wonderful weekend. I have been looking forward to turning 30 for a while now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my twenties, but I was ready to leave that decade of growth, uncertainty, and figuring things out behind. That being said, here are twenty lessons I have learned in the past thirty years, mostly by stumbling and finding my way.

1) 99% of what you worry about will never come to fruition. This could not be more true. I used to have this intense anxiety, the kind where I was sure if I didn’t worry about a situation, the worst was bound to happen. I don’t know how much of my twenties was spent thinking up worst case scenarios, but I know that every minute spent in a terrible fantasy, was one less minute I was living my life.

2) There are 3 things you can do when you’re in a situation that makes you unhappy. When I was going through a rough time a couple of years back, my friend Josh suggested I read Eckhart Tolle. At that point in time I was open to trying anything, so I downloaded “The Power of Now” on my Kobo and spent eight straight hours glued to that tablet. Besides realizing the importance of the present moment, the biggest lesson I took away was the choices a person has when they’re in a situation that makes them unhappy. You can either change it, accept it, or leave it. I always try to change it first, accept it if I can’t change it, and then, if I am truly unhappy with it, sometimes leaving is necessary.

3) People will show you exactly who they are, all you have to do is pay attention. This lesson was learned early in my twenties. I was in a relationship where I was constantly making excuses for my partner, and the version I had of him in my head was nowhere close to reality. It was partly my fault, as I held onto the sweetness of the start of the relationship, and was blind to the changes that took place. When I left, I was angry, and told him I felt he had taken advantage of me. He replied, “I might have, but you let me.”

4) Talk is cheap. This one my father instilled in me when I was very young. I remember being a teenager, and talking with him about a friend. “Never listen to what people say, Missy, just listen to what they do. People can make all the promises in the world, but it is their actions that show their true intent.” There is a huge difference between someone telling you they love you, and showing you they do.

5) It is okay to make mistakes. Over, and over again. I follow my heart. I stumble sometimes. I make choices that have me banging my head against the wall, wondering why on earth I thought it was a smart idea. I used to beat myself up for this, and then I realized, this is how life works. There’s no instruction manual, and it doesn’t matter how many times someone older and wiser gives you advice. For most things in life, you simply need to see and figure things out for yourself, even if it leaves you a little bruised in the end.

6) Don’t keep up with the Joneses. We live in a society that is in constant competition with itself. Everywhere you turn, someone else has something better, or newer, or different from what you have. This can create jealousy, envy, and the fatigue of trying to keep up with it all. So, relax. You don’t need everything that everyone has, nor should you want it. Which brings me to my next point…

7) Money truly doesn’t buy happiness. I know what you’re going to say. “No, it doesn’t buy happiness, but it certainly makes things easier.” Yes, I won’t argue with you there. It’s a lot easier getting in my car to go to school or work than it is to add an hour to my commute and hop on a bus. But, does that make me happier? Am I smiling that entire car ride to work? Or am I adding up the cost of my car, insurance, and gas that I spend every month. Yes, money puts food on the table, a roof over my head, and gets me from point A to B, but I’d call that comfort rather than happiness.

8) Soak up every minute you have with family and friends. When I was 23 years old, I once again packed up everything I owned and headed to Alberta. Back then, the thought of a new life somewhere else was an adventure I couldn’t pass up, and I remained in Alberta for the next seven years. While I don’t regret my decision, I do feel as though I missed out on a lot here in Winnipeg. Visits home felt like the city had frozen in time, and soon it became harder and harder to say goodbye to everyone. I am always up for adventure, but it sure is nice to have Sunday brunches with the family, and go for dinner with old friends more than twice a year.

10) You need to be happy with yourself before anyone can be happy with you. Ah, the insecurities of my early twenties. Does he like me? Do I talk too much? Am I not interesting enough? Should I laugh quieter? Do they want to be my friends? I have finally reached an age where I can confidently say “this is me.” What you see is what you get, and if it’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, I still get hung up sometimes, but at the end of the day, I am who I am. And if you don’t like it, well, that’s just fine.

11) Not everyone is going to like you. This used to be a huge struggle for me. I like people. I like meeting people. And I like when people like me back. So you’ll imagine my dismay when I meet someone who, for whatever reason, simply doesn’t like me. This usually results in me trying harder to gain their adoration, which, as we all know, works the opposite way we want it to. It was only once I was confident with myself that I realized if someone didn’t like me, it simply wasn’t my problem, or my business.

12) If someone wants to be with you, they’ll be with you. This is more of a dating lesson. I remember teenage Diane, staring at the clock in my bedroom, wondering why ol’ what’s-his-face hadn’t called when he said he would. Listen, if someone is into you, they’ll make time for you. When I’m smitten with someone, I could be rock climbing in the Himalayas and I’d still figure out a way to reach them. Simply put, if they like you, they’re thinking about you, and if they’re thinking about you, you’ll know.

13) Those flaws you see aren’t visible to anyone else. I know this is known advice, but I look back on photos of me from ten years ago and would pay good money to be able to look like that while frequenting McDonald’s. That cellulite that’s on your thighs, or the rolls on your tummy, I cannot express just how much no one else cares. You are your own worst critic, so go easy on yourself.

14) Apologize more, but say sorry less. What? I know, this one’s confusing. I decided to count how many times a day the word “sorry” came out of my mouth, and by the end of it, I was in disbelief. An astounding 84 times, I said sorry for the oddest things. Waitress comes by to take my order, “sorry, but could I have……” Guy holds the door for me, “Oh, thank you, sorry.” Jesus, I need to cut that word out of my vocabulary. Apologizing though, when I’ve truly messed up, is something I am now quick to do. Life goes a lot smoother when you own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for them.

15) Friendships come and go. In high school, it’s almost impossible to imagine not being in contact with those who you’re closest to. Moving a couple provinces away probably expedited this for me, but I have perhaps one friend left from that period of my life that I keep in touch with. People are going to come and go out of your life, just as you come and go out of theirs. As we grow, it’s okay to grow apart from other people, and sometimes wishing them the best and moving on is a better choice than keeping a friendship for appearances sake.

16) Figure out what you like. I have been a relationship person for as long as I can remember. I got my first “serious” boyfriend at 15, and pretty much leapt from one longterm relationship to another. The influence that my partners had in the hobbies or interests I took part in was huge, so you can imagine the wonder that I experienced when I was truly single for the first time a while back. All of a sudden, I was doing things solely for my own pleasure, without the judgement or influence of anyone else. While my last partner was nothing but supportive in whatever I did, this was the first time I was truly on my own. I took up yoga. I grabbed a book and read for hours by the water. I wandered around the city, tirelessly. I jumped out of a plane. I went horseback riding. I started writing. I tried new food. Some stuff I liked, some stuff I didn’t, but it taught me the importance of figuring it out.

17) A little humility goes a long way. Confidence is important, but so is a little humility. I know people who have become successful and let it change them, not for the better. No matter what we have, we are never better than anyone else, and it might be easy to forget that as we reach goals we set for ourselves. It is wonderful when we achieve what we work so hard for, but remember that at the end of the day, we all leave this world with the same things we came in with.

18) Pick up the phone. Texts, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat……are most of the ways people communicate nowadays. With a click of a button you can see pictures of how your friends are doing, or get invited to an event next weekend. Social media has done a lot for us, but it will never replace an old fashioned phone call, or better yet, some good old face-to-face interaction.

19) Tell them how you feel. I have never been one to bite my tongue. I’m not sure if this has helped or hurt me, but I feel it’s important to let other people know what I’m thinking. Maybe I’ve watched enough cheesy romance movies to experience the frustration of two people not being together simply because one of them didn’t pipe up, but I figure it’s better to go out on a limb and tell someone you care than it is to keep it locked up.

20) Do whatever you want. As long as it doesn’t hurt or negatively influence anyone else, just go for it. Live however you want. Love whomever you want. Feel however you want. Know that time goes by so quickly, and to live with regret, is simply not living at all.