INSPIRED

library

I have been feeling so uninspired lately. For those of you who follow my blog you can tell because I have been absent. I went on a couple of quick back to back trips so I originally blamed it on being busy but even when things went back to normal I found I was sitting in front of my computer trying to force myself to write. I guess you could call it writer’s block…I was feeling insipid and the more I tried to write the worse it became.

This morning I had a great workout and then met a friend for brunch. I decided maybe I needed a change of atmosphere so I went to the local library. In front of the library someone had written in chalk “The Public Library is the University of the People” That immediately made me smile. People from all walks of life go to the library. I love the library, I love books, I love the big wooden tables overlooking the lake. I loved that there wasn’t any laundry to do, dishes to wash or floors to mop.

I looked around at the people and silently wondered what they were all working on, some were on laptops like me, others were reading, and some were studying. A man caught my eye. Actually a woman caught my eye and she was curling up her nose at the sight of this man. My first thought was that the man was homeless. He had unkempt hair and a very long beard and appeared to be travelling with a lot of bags. He thumbed intently through the shelves of books, wide-eyed as a kid in a candy store. Although the lady with the curled up nose appeared unimpressed I was fascinated. So many people, so many walks of life but this particular man captured my attention. He seemed enthralled by the selection of books at his fingertips. I wondered would he choose a mystery, a documentary perhaps or was he doing research? I thought of the sign written in chalk on the pavement walking in “The public library is the University of the People” I smiled. If he was indeed homeless I am not sure what paths in life led him to that place but I am glad that a path led him to the public library. He wasn’t a man on the street begging for money or my judgment, he was a man searching for a passion, an escape, and maybe characters to enthrall him and take him to different lands he may never find the opportunity to visit. The public library didn’t belong to me or the lady with the curled up nose, it belongs to all of us; the people.

I often get approached by homeless people and though every encounter is different they always make me think,

“How did you get here?”

I believe a lot of them are not so different then you and I. I have made bad choices in my life, none of us are exempt from that. Did a choice or a succession of choices lead to a situation that was so overwhelming and beyond their control that they couldn’t find their way back? Was it an illness, a death, an addiction, a tragedy?

I am not going to pretend to have heart and sympathy for everyone who has crossed my path, I am no saint, but I do believe that everyone has a story, like characters in a book. It is so easy to sit back and be a critic but you can’t judge a person by their appearance anymore then you can judge a book by its cover. All of us are just characters in the book of life, all of us faced everyday with good, with evil, with conflict and choices.

I started writing a book almost ten years ago. I had faced some very difficult marital problems and in writing I found a creative outlet that allowed me to escape from my own problems. I fashioned characters in my head and penned them to paper. I literally penned them (I didn’t have a computer ten years ago). For a while the characters were like family to me. I felt their joy and their pain. At some point, maybe as I began to heal I put the characters on a shelf but they were still very much alive in my head. They were like family to me, I didn’t see them every day but they were always in my heart.

Recently I was thinking of the characters a lot and I looked through my garage until I found a bin of crumpled, handwritten words, lives that I had created and woven together many years ago. It was like being reunited with old friends. These characters faced pain and decisions and they made mistakes. If you drew the wrong page out of the book, without knowing the whole story maybe you would hate the characters, maybe you would think they were hateful, shallow or foul. However, maybe if you read the whole story you would fall in love with them, you would forgive them their missteps and cheer for them. You would long to help set them on the right path because you had faith in them.

When I first found the basket of crumpled papers I became obsessed with finishing the story. At a certain point I became overwhelmed. Years had changed me and the way I think and feel and some of the plot that was in my head was arduous to put onto paper. I had a beginning, a middle and an end but drawing a straight line and connecting that all became so overwhelming that I took something I loved and turned it into a chore instead of a passion.

I would think to a person who has been knocked down in life and experienced rock bottom it must be a very overwhelming place to be and to navigate your way back up. I am sure at some point they saw their way out, could see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe the path was too rocky, too overwhelming. We will never know just by looking at them and turning up our nose. Could a smile or a kindness make a difference? I believe it can.

I smiled at the man and sat down with my coffee. I decided that along with my change of scenery I needed to change my direction. My problem is I couldn’t write in a straight line from beginning to end and maybe that is OK.

On this beautiful fall day I wrote the last chapter of my book. The middle may remain unwritten but that is fine. I wrote an ending that was eloquent and heartwarming. I brought people to life and I will bring them full circle. I even cried reading what I wrote (I am a sap)

One day I hope to share the whole story with you, until then I will take each day one day at a time.

Share your smiles today, someone needs one more than you know

Outside my local library today

My life in song

I was sifting through photos on my phone and realized that three times since Labor Day I have worn white. Not just a little white, white from head to toe. In my defense until today the weather in Edmonton has been in the high twenties so it has been difficult to accept that summer is over. Anyways, I am not sure who I am to apologize for this fashion faux pas but here it is my sincerest apologies. I hope that my oversight can be overlooked.

Now that that is out of the way….I am supposed to be starting a Time Management course but alas I will do anything to waste time and I am at my daughter’s Voice lesson with no Wi-Fi. So there!

I had mentioned in my Hole in the World post last week (if you haven’t read you can read HERE) that most of my life could be described in an Eagles song, whose couldn’t really? Always up to the challenge I drew some random Eagles songs out of a hat and I am going to type the first thing that comes to mind.

  1. The Long Run– I hate to run out of toilet paper. It’s one of those things that I don’t like to even get close to running out of. I can let the milk run out, but not the toilet paper. It stems from having roommates throughout the years that NEVER EVER bought toilet paper and if I went away for a couple of days I would inevitably come back to NO toilet paper. I always wish there was a “Long run” of toilet paper, the roll never emptied, it would never run out!
  2. Victim of Love-We have all been a Victim of Love at one time (or several). I became a victim when I was about 12 weeks pregnant with Morgan. I started to turn my nose at things that I once loved. Friday night Nacho night was banished from our house altogether and smells that once soothed me made my stomach sour. I can’t remember how it happened but I fell hard and fast. The object of my affection was Heavenly Hash Ice Cream with sliced up bananas. Yummm. Calcium and potassium. Our food affair continued every night until after Morgan’s birth and then eventually fizzled.
  3. After the Thrill Is Gone-As you can see from above the delectable affair fizzled, “After the thrill was gone” the affects were lasting. They lasted on my stomach, ass and thighs.
  4. I Can’t Tell You Why-There are lots of things about me that I would like to examine but I just “Can’t tell You Why”. Why do I cry at sad movies, why do I cry at happy endings, why do I panic when approaching a traffic circle, why do I dream that I am a CIA agent and then wake up exhausted with bruises? Why do I still have a sooky blanket? I Can’t Tell You Why!
  5. Wasted Time-Nobody knows how to waste time like me but “sometimes wasted time can be time well wasted” If I enjoyed it was it really “Wasted Time”?
  6. Take it to the Limit-I got my first credit card at 19. I had it for quite a while before I used it. I thought it was a good idea to keep a hold of it for emergencies. One day Visa called and asked me if there was a problem with my card. I explained that I was just saving it for emergencies. The lady on the other end of the phone seemed mystified, maybe even a little offended. I waited for two days and then started spending. I decided to “Take it to the Limit”.
  7. Busy Being Fabulous-This is the reason why I have trouble managing my time “I’m just too busy being fabulous!”
  8. New Kid In Town-I have been the New Kid in Town. It can be exciting and scary. It is what it is. When I was in grade three I moved and started a new school. There were already two Michelle’s in my class so the teacher decided to call me by my middle name which is Anne. I hated it, I was Michelle, not Anne. I felt so out of place and I was miserable. I didn’t tell my mom so she wasn’t aware for several weeks until the teacher called because I had locked myself in the class washroom crying.
  9. Get Over it– Marital advice “Get over it” I wish I had had this advice years ago during the early years of my marriage. I spent so much time holding onto hurt and anger that I never allowed myself a lot of room to be happy. If you want to be happy “Get Over it or Get out!”
  10. Tequila Sunrise-Who hasn’t seen one of these? I was about 20. I lived in London, Ontario and I was crazy about this guy I was dating. My friend and I joined him at a hotel bar one night where his friend was bartending. Someone mentioned tequila and I was game. We started with shots and then his bartender friend just started free pouring cups full. That is really all I remember except for waking up in my shower in the wee morning hours. Tequila makes me feel dirty! Our romance eventually faded away but we would always have “Cuervo Gold”

That’s all I wrote.

TRUTH OR DARE

PicsArt_1379054275909

My friend Chris Thomas over at On the Light Side of Gamification posed some questions to me on my post Game called life. If you haven’t read the post check it out and you will see why he asked me these questions. I encourage everyone who reads this post to answer the same questions. Even if you are shy about posting the answers I think that they will really help you if you truly desire to be happy. I am a firm believer that everyone has obstacles in their lives but sometimes the biggest obstacle to our own happiness is the person we see when we look in the mirror. The happiest people in the world are those that build bridges and “get over it!” So take five minutes to truthfully answer the below questions, you may be surprised about what you learn about yourself.

I am listening to Mozart piano Concerto No. 23 while I type this. The grace and lightness of the piano is helping to even out my late night 711 coffee high.

If you don’t know what Gamification is don’t feel bad, neither did I before I became acquainted with Chris. In short Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage users in solving problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning. You can learn more HERE

Chris is an enthusiastic, engaging and conscientious young man. I am pleased whenever he visits Dancing In The Rain and leaves me imaginative comments. He has endured and overcome a lot in his young life and he is someone I admire. Chris has been very supportive of my blog so I was pleased that he posed these tough questions to his audience and to me directly.

I think we all need to be idealists and realists. Idealists when we think about our aims and about the world we define our aims on. Realists when thinking about the steps we need to do to get there. You see, Idealism without Realism is dreaming and Realism without Idealism is dry, uninspired, never innovative, never leading to a better world, simply good work. Only by dreaming and breaking down your dreams to realistic steps you will really make a difference and enjoy a meaningful activity -Chris Thomas

HERE GOES

1.What are my personal aims?

My personal aim at the moment is to find a good balance in my life so that I give as much to myself as I do everyone else. Therefore I will be happier, less stressed and accomplish more of the things that are important to my me and my well-being! I would like to be more active, take care of our money better and finish something that I started years ago that is very dear to my heart.

2.What are things that I like to do?

I love to spend quality time with my family, read and write and invest time in the relationships that bring me joy.

3.What are things that I don’t like to do?

I do not like to put the laundry away, wash floors, pick up after my kids constantly and I don’t like to tire myself out getting stressed about these things. I also dislike driving in roundabouts (rotaries, traffic circles) which makes driving certain places a challenge because they intimidate me and I will avoid them whenever possible!

4.What am I good at?

I am good at writing (I believe) I find being honest very freeing. I am also good at supporting people and things I care about and putting people at ease in stressful situations.

5.What am I bad at and do I want to change something about it?

I am bad at keeping promises I make to myself due to my terrible time management and I am making efforts to change! I am also bad at hole punching which my former boss and friend likes to remind me. I have no desire to change this because I never desired to me a master hole puncher and every time she punches a hole in a piece of paper she will think of me fondly.

6.When do I feel happy?

I feel happy most of the time but mostly when I have fulfilled my commitments and everyone around me is pleased and happy.

7.What is it then that makes me feel happy?

Being present in my life, managing the details so that everything gets done and my family is satisfied and I am content. Spending time with family, friends and writing!

8.Is there any chance to trigger the reason for that happiness more often (e.g. by changing your workplace, join your working place community (or found it) or invest more time in a particular spare time activity)?

There is definitely a chance for me to be happier more. I need to be accountable to myself, keeping promises I make to me, managing my time better so that I get to do all the things I want to do and saying no to things that I do not have the time to take on. Being productive makes me very happy but I often let my noisy brain slow me down. I often plan too many things at once resulting in me getting emotionally tired!

9.When do I wish to change something and why do I think this change is impossible instead of trying to go for the change?

I don’t think anything is impossible. The word itself says “I’m Possible”, Audrey Hepburn Quote. As I said above I am my biggest roadblock. I need to hold myself accountable for making the necessary changes to make all the pieces of my life fit together like a completed puzzle. I have made some steps, the biggest one was quitting my job 15 months ago but there are other changes that I need to make. I am fully aware that nobody is responsible for my happiness but me!

10.When do I blame others and could I not do something about solving the problem myself if it is that important to me?

I try not to blame others for my problems except if they are not contributing their share, therefore making my job more difficult. I have high expectations and I feel a responsibly towards things (for e.g. my volunteer work) I think this is a weakness for me because I sometimes bite off more than I should be comfortably chewing and inevitably my “time management” goes out the window.

Chris’s original post HERE

THE IN CROWD

TASTE OF EDMONTON 2013

The time has come, I am no longer a part of the in crowd. They allow me to hang out with them at mealtimes, probably because I make them the meals. Sometimes they endure my sarcasm and my attempts at hip humor but one by one they disappear because I am apparently not as cool as them, except when i am baking or handing out money. You know the time is going to come but nothing can prepare you for it. One day you are all of the sudden on the outside looking in. My teenage daughter now prefers the company of her friends.

Look at me. I made chocolate chip pancakes and bought all your favorite snacks. I’m cool, ask anyone. In fact I was cool before it was cool to be cool.

My daughter now comes as a package deal. She no longer wants a quiet night in front of the tele while I stroke her hair. Nights in front of the tele include four texting teenagers and I generally am not invited to hang out.

So now i am going to smother my nine year old Haley with all my love and attention. She still thinks that i am the best date in the world and can’t imagine a time when that will change. I know it will, it is inevitable, but right now i am content to stroll hand in hand with Haleylujah at the Taste of Edmonton, enjoying the sunshine and eating treats till our bellies are full of goodness and our hearts are full of love.

wpid-pad2013.png

Too Close for Comfort

I have personal space issues. I am not sure when it began or how and why it progressed because I don’t remember always being this way. By nature I am an affectionate person and some people can bust through my bubble pretty easily but sometimes contact with people feels invasive. If you are among my closest friends don’t feel offended or worried that you may be smothering me. We both know that after a couple of drinks I lose my filter so chances are I would have said something sarcastic like “Are you trying to kiss me? You would have turned red and blurted out “No” and I would have said “then take a step back because I can see your tonsils when you talk and it is freaking me out!” I have on occasion though endured my discomfort for the sake of someones feelings. I always thought this was kind and mature of me until my friend told me she slept with a guy she wasn’t the least bit attracted to to avoid hurting his feelings. So, in some cases honesty or at least removing yourself from the situation is the best thing for everyone.

Last night I took my girls to the movies and I was happy because we had the entire back row to ourselves, or at least that is the way it began. Moments before the show people are filing in and crawling over me to get to seats. Thankfully there was still an empty seat separating my oldest daughter and her friend from the youngest and I, and there were two open seats beside us. I was so content I ate a box of glosette raisins before the movie even started. I was anticipating the entrance of Will Smith in tight pants when some late arrivals filtered in. Never mind that there was five empty rows to choose from, they sauntered up to our row and hung out awkwardly for what seemed like an eternity while they decided if they were going to sit there. I wasn’t about to give them an invitation or look welcoming or anything. Looking back on the situation I should have let out a guttural growl and told them that the seats were taken. Again the movie had already started so it was annoying to have them stand there and then even more annoying when they decided to shimmy their way into the seats squished between people who were already comfortable. Did I mention there were five empty rows? My mature voice is talking to me and it says “Michelle take a deep breath and enjoy the movie!” I try, I really try but the man is quite large and his arm keeps grazing me and I can feel myself retreating, mentally trying to make myself smaller He is a heavy breather, he sounds like he has been on a ten-mile jog. I am looking straight ahead and doing my best to focus on what I came for, enjoying a movie with my daughters. The smell of movie nachos hits me before they hit his mouth. They are loaded with jalapenos and dripping with cheese sauce. This guy is ravenous. He begins shoving them in his mouth handful after handful, barely taking the time to chew between deposits into his hungry cave. There is cheese sauce dripping off his chin but he doesn’t wipe it. He continues to stuff the nachos into him and I am sure he is going to barf on me. His labored breathing is ten times worse now. It sounds like at fat man on a treadmill. I am doing anything I can to focus on something else. Occasionally he snorts a little, I assume to avoid choking. In my head I am picturing my mother stuffing a butterball turkey with stuffing and she fills it and fills it until the turkey explodes all over me. My head starts to tingle and I pull my hair back tightly into a finger ponytail. Sometimes adding some sort of pressure to my body can help me refocus. I am literally feeling like bugs are crawling on me but I know this will pass. That triple extra large order of nachos cannot last forever. It feels like eternities have passed since this man sat down beside me. I sympathize for anything or anyone who has ever been trapped in a cage for I imagine that this is how they must feel, or dogs on leashes unable to run free. Now I am imagining myself in a wide open field with nothing but green grass below my feet and blue sky above my head. I am barefoot and running with my arms above me basking in the open air. The man puts his Nacho container on the floor. Surprisingly it is not done but he needs a drink. He takes a large swig and then burps and loudly clears phlegm from his throat. I want to be back in my wide open field but now I picture the heavy breather with nacho cheese smeared on his face chasing me through it. He takes another drink, every time he lifts his cup his arm hits mine. He burps again and this time the smell hits me immediately. Spicy jalapeno cheese burp. I jump out of my seat like it is on fire and dive into the seat beside Morgan and her friend. Within seconds the tension subsides and I am free to enjoy the movie.

wpid-pad2013.png