Friday, August 27, 2010

Meet a Lively, Helpful Blogger

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where I live, it takes nine or ten hours to catch a movie. The other day, three women friends and I decided to get off the rock and see how well Julia Roberts would bring off the movie Eat, Pray, Love. Two hours to drive to the city, about three hours for the movie, and two or three more for a meal and stops for errands and city-coffee, then two more hours to get home. Fun, but we sure don't do it very often.

One of the women I'd met only once, and I'm really glad I got to know her better on our movie jaunt. Why? Because Christine is a woman who knows  how to have fun, work hard and live her life in meaningful and positive ways. She's an ESL (English as a second language) teacher, a writer, mother and wife. And that's just the stuff I know about.

As we were getting acquainted, I learned that she has a blog, too -- actually two or three of them. Her main blog is called Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island -- Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country. Christine writes about her adjustments as she moved from Toronto to marry a beef farmer and live on a backroad of our beautiful island. She writes about her risk-laden pregnancy, the birth of their daughter three months early, and two months' worth of life in the NICU. She includes tasty recipes, too.

Everything I liked about Christine when we spent our movie day together comes through in her blog. She's real. She's lively and smart and funny. Without being a navel-gazer (which I certainly am at times), she manages to convey the challenges and the joys in her life in a straightforward way. Like many before her, she took on the major changes required to move from a big city to our small rural community...and she has done so with flare.

If you'd like to hear from another passionate Manitoulin Island resident, a young woman who loves family and friends, then check out Christine's blog: Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island -- Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Word Wonder -- serendipity

Monday, August 23, 2010

The faculty of happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them. -- Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary

"Serendipity" is one of my favourite words to say and one of my favourite surprises to encounter. It moves around in my mouth and my life in such wonderful ways. Until I decided to write about it here, I'd assumed the word was related somehow to "serene" or "serenade," but it isn't.

It was actually coined and then written for the first time by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter to Horace Mann, Walpole described his new word and where he got the idea for it. He told Mann about a 16th Century Persian story called The Three Princes of Serendip in which the king sent his royal sons on a journey. Along the way the brothers "were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

The word has proven so useful and descriptive of common experience that it has been absorbed into many languages. I've experienced serendipity many times myself, and I love the feeling!

One thing I like about Walpole's original definition is that it included not only a happy accident but sagacity, which means "shrewdness and wisdom." That adds a dimension to serendipity I hadn't thought of before.

The happy accident part means that when I'm headed toward a destination with some, or no, goal in mind, I might happen upon unexpected bonuses or brand new discoveries.

The sagacity part means that I would use wisdom and good judgment to string together the factors I already understand with the unexpected treasure.

Here's a small example: One time I was making potato salad and realized, after everything was ready and company was coming and I couldn't get to the store, that I didn't have enough mayonnaise. Groan... But then I saw some plain yogurt in the fridge and thought I'd try that. The sagacity part of this homely event was reasoning that since yogurt and mayo are both creamy white substances, the yogurt might be a decent substitute. The happy accident part was that the combination tasted great and was lower in fat than it would have been if I'd used only mayonnaise. Serendipity!

A bigger example: I was once asked to facilitate a micro-employment program. The job offer came at a good time for me, and I was looking forward to doing the work. The happy accident part came when I learned that I'd be co-facilitating with a former colleague I really liked and respected. The sagacity part came after the end of the program when I evaluated a number of factors and accepted the opportunity to expand our great working relationship into a personal relationship that is still solid and happy ten years later. Marvelous serendipity!

Look around you. Open your heart and mind to serendipity -- happy accidents blended with wisdom and good judgment. Notice and be grateful for all the lovely happenings that are possible for you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't Abandon Yourself

Saturday, August 14, 2010

First I apologize to my followers and random-finders for taking so long between posts this month! If you're still checking back, I want to tell you how much I appreciate that. And of course, I hope you'll continue.

Today I want to talk about something I learned this morning from a wonderful young friend of mine, Kerry. We were talking about relationships and personal choices and other good stuff. She used an expression I'd never heard but instantly loved: Don't abandon yourself.

We often hear recommendations like: Take care of yourself. Listen to your inner voice. I say things like that to myself and others, so I obviously believe in such concepts. But "don't abandon yourself"?

Here are some ways I see this affirmation playing out for me:
  • When I'm feeling intimidated by another person, I can remind myself that we are both equally loved, loving and lovable. I can choose whatever I need to to lovingly act on that reminder.
  • If I feel like I have less value than another person, I don't have to give in to that fearful belief. I don't need to give up on myself or give in to old thinking.
  • Sometimes I feel tempted to copy the way someone else does something, even though it doesn't feel right to me. By not abandoning myself in that situation, I would remember to trust my own ways and feelings first. Then, if the other person's method can provide a useful example, I may choose to follow it or adapt it, but not because he or she is better than I am.
I have a feeling that as time goes along this new saying will deepen for me and show up in useful ways. I hope it does for you, too.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It'll Come Out Okay

Monday, August 2, 2010

This weekend has been a busy and fun one because our house was filled with visiting family members -- lots of laughs, conversations, walks and outings. During one of those conversations with my brother-in-law, we moved into the territory of family relationships and other close ties, as he and I like to do. We discussed ways in which tensions can build and explode as well as some less hurtful ways of dealing with those tensions.

Having published a book about difficult close relationships, I sometimes unconsciously (and often consciously) expect myself to respond in the best possible ways at all times and in all situations. As if I know what's best. As if anyone could do that, even if they did know what's best.

So talking with my brother-in-law did, as it usually does, enlighten and lighten me. Here's how he did it this time.

We were talking about a troublesome situation with some people we know, a situation that's been going up and down for quite a while. What happens sometimes affects the two of us directly and sometimes doesn't, but it's generally difficult to witness. At one point he said to me, "It'll come out okay." My immediate internal reaction was, Don't think so.

After a while he talked some more about his optimistic opinion and, fortunately, I was able to hear him with a more open heart and mind this time. It felt like a little tiny door opened up inside me, and I was able to let go of the pessimism that had crept into my thinking. I felt better, and though I have no idea if he's right or not -- it might or might not come out okay -- something of value happened there.

I was reminded that even though I am generally a positive, hopeful, helpful person, I make negative judgements against others. I sometimes assume I know how things should turn out and what people should do or stop doing. Finally recognizing that I don't know all the factors or what's in other people's hearts and minds, I became more able to let go of the outcome.

Stuff like this is great (even though I don't like it when it's happening), because it gives me opportunities to walk my talk, which strengthens my own emotional and attitudinal "muscles." My talk often revolves around people's struggles with relationships and with ourselves. I advocate open-mindedness and open-heartedness and letting go of what we can't control. I co-wrote a book called It's So Hard to Love You -- Staying Sane When Your Loved One is Manipulative, Needy, Dishonest, or Addicted, so if what I write and talk about means anything, I'd better be willing to apply it in my own life.

My brother-in-law's gentle words helped me to do that this morning. I was reminded that it will, in fact, come out okay...even if I don't like or control the outcome. I hope it means greater happiness for unhappy people and clearer thinking in muddy situations, but that's not mine to decide. I can choose, and I do, to enjoy my renewed freedom from resentment and a desire to control others. That enjoyment, in turn, frees me to enjoy my day, mentally get off somebody else's case, and do the best I can for now.

Now, that's walking my talk. Thanks, Bro.