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 šŸ˜‰

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 theĀ goodĀ 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, Ā 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 haveĀ 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.Ā 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

 

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