The sun will come out tomorrow…

The last day of 2012… wow!

When I think back to the first day of 2012, and all that’s transpired in the 12 months since, I realize I didn’t have a clue how the year was going to unfold.  I’m glad I didn’t know because, as much as I had to look forward to, there were challenges and hurdles that were best left unforeseen, and tackled in the moment.

In 2012, my beloved dog died suddenly at the age of 7.  I was laid off.  I fled an abusive marriage after 11 years.  I moved three provinces away to start over with basically nothing.  I found a job… then a better job.  Lost that job.  I’ve been unemployed with no income and no fixed address for 60 days and counting.  The past four days, I’ve been stuck on the East Coast due to flight cancellations.  If my flight leaves tonight, I’ll have 3 flights, 13 1/2 hours of travel/layovers, and then 2 hours of driving to look forward to.  I’ll be celebrating New Year’s Even on plane somewhere over the Prairies.  Hopefully they have champagne.

2012.

A year of firsts.  A year of challenges.  But also a year of growth, insight, strength, focus, faith, and hope.

I’ve been stuck in the Maritimes this holiday season because of one storm after another.  My life in 2012 held one storm after the other.  But, storms eventually end.  The sun comes out.  Life moves on.

I don’t know what 2013 will hold but I believe with all my heart that my storms are about to end.  I believe I’m going to get the 6 month contract with the provincial government that I interviewed for two weeks ago.  I believe my unemployment is about to end.  I believe I’m going to be able to stop bouncing around, living with various friends, and have my own little place by February.  I believe I’m going to be able to pay off my debt so I can just live within my means.  I believe I’m going to be able to put down new roots, make new friends, and find a great new church.

I believe.

Will things happen exactly that way?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But, one thing I’m sure of is that it’s going to work out.  A new year.  A new start.  The storm’s going to end.  The sun’s going to come out.  Life is going to move on.

I’m looking forward to a 2013 filled with sunshine.  Farewell 2012.  The sun will come out tomorrow…

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Take the weight off…

I’ve done a whole lot of packing and unpacking in the past week, and it got me to thinking about baggage and luggage and how the first is weighty while the second is simply heavy.  Two very different things.blog 2

I tried to pack as efficiently as possible but my luggage was still pretty heavy.  Thank goodness for pull handles.  But it really didn’t matter one way or another because I was packing for a positive reason… to go visit my son and his fiance for Christmas.

Having luggage generally isn’t a bad thing unless you have too much, in which case it costs you financially if an airport is involved.

My luggage was heavy but it thankfully didn’t cost me a penny.

blog 1On the other hand, baggage is rarely a good thing.  People generally think of it in the context of emotional ‘luggage’.

If you tell someone you have too much luggage, they’ll usually offer to help carry the load.  But, if you tell someone you have too much baggage, they’ll usually run for the hills.  Baggage is weighty.  Weighty for the person who’s carrying it.

Baggage.

  • things that encumber one’s freedom, progress, development, or adaptability.

Encumber.

  • put a heavy load on; burden.

Weighty stuff.

blog 3Here’s the thing.  Live long enough and you’re going to end up with baggage.  It’s inevitable.  It’s what you choose to do with baggage that makes all the difference.  If you don’t deal, feel, and heal, it’s going to cost you emotionally.  And it’s going to cost everyone close to you simply by association.

I’ve been through a lot in my life.  I know what it’s like to have baggage.  I know what it’s like to be stuck with baggage.  And I know what it’s like to get rid of baggage.  I really can’t recommend it enough.

Deal… feel… and heal.blog 4

It’s not easy.  Some baggage is easier to deal with than others but most of it is pretty tough (at least in my own experience…).  It takes honesty, time, commitment, perseverance, determination, and forgiveness.

It’s a journey, not a destination.

But, consider this truth.

No one else can do it for you.

That’s not to say you have to do it alone, you just have to do it yourself.

Lose some baggage and I guarantee you’ll feel a whole lot lighter.  If you make no other life resolution for 2013, resolve to take the weight off and dump that baggage.  You’ll never regret it.

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Life resolutions for 2013…

18 days until 2013.  It seems like just yesterday that we were on the eve of 2000, with all the millennium doomsday predictions that never even remotely came true.

2013 sounds very futuristic in a “Jetson’s” sort of way.

I’ve decided that I’m going to make some life resolutions for 2013.  I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions because they tend to be predictable and repetitive, and ultimately ineffective.  But life resolutions seem more achievable and perhaps more realistic.

So, these are mine…

1.  Pray more.  As I typed this, the news story flashed about the senseless massacre in the elementary school in Connecticut.  26 dead, 18 of them children.  I need to pray more, not just for myself, but for the world in which I live.

2.  Give  more.  And by giving, I mean of myself.  I want to aim to do something every single day to make a difference in someone’s life.  Sometimes the smallest things are the greatest kindness.  We never know what battles others are fighting.

3.  Be more.  I want to be the kind of person that others can look up to.  I want to live my life in such a way that it speaks volumes even if I say nothing at all.

4.  Dare more.  I want to dare to be different.  To know what I stand for, and to stand for it, even and especially when it goes against the tide.

5.  Want more.  I want more from me.  I want to be a kinder, happier, gentler, wiser, more loving, more giving, more forgiving, more adventurous, more empathetic, more understanding, more joyful person.

Sounds like a tall order, eh?  Like any tall order, it’s best tackled one day at a time.  Even if I only succeed 50% of the year, I’ll have made a positive difference 50% more than I did in 2012.

But, I’ve never been one to go half in.  I’m an all-in person.  All or nothing.  So, I’m going to jump into 2013 and have the time of my life… and more!

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Deking discouragement…

I’m at war with discouragement.BLOG 14

I’ve been unemployed for 38 days and counting.  No income.  Still no word from the government about possible interim income.

Oh, I’ve had a couple of interviews recently.  I was even offered one of the jobs.  But, they offered me a part-time job with unspecified hours when I had applied for a full-time job.  When I turned that down, they came back with a second offer but they were so deceptive throughout the whole process that what initially seemed like a great job proved to be anything but.  As for the second job, I’m still waiting on the ‘verdict’.

Discouragement is the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles.  Yeah, that sounds about right.

Feelings.  Bah, humbug.  Who can trust them.  If I’ve learned one thing in my life it’s that feelings are not facts.  They’re just our personal reaction to our immediate circumstances.  Feelings don’t live in the future, don’t consider the future, rarely even acknowledge the future, they just live in the moment.  So, they’re not terribly reliable.

That being said, it’s probably not a healthy thing to deny or suppress our feelings but I do believe there’s great merit in acknowledging the truth of what we’re feeling and, if necessary, going to war against it.

Why war?  Well, negative feelings like discouragement need to be battled against or they will defeat us.

And, make no mistake, I have no plans to concede defeat.

BLOG 8Life is tough at the moment.  It takes an act of will to keep pushing forward, to fight, to believe, to hope, to concentrate, to put one foot in front of the other, to have faith, to get out of bed.

Discouragement is paralyzing,  hope is mobilizing.  I’m somewhere between the two at any given moment but aiming to stay at least 51% in hope’s corner.  I want to keep discouragement on it’s toes, somewhere behind me.  Hopefully far, far behind me.

A deke is a classic hockey term but I think it makes a great war term.  “Quickly changing direction so the opposing player is caught out of position”.  I love dekes in hockey and I love the concept of dekes in war.

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I think it defies human nature to be forward thinkers.  Especially when the present is overwhelming.  But, hope looks forward.  Hope looks up.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.  I never know what tomorrow will bring.

I believe that this too shall end.  I believe there’s no strength without strain.  I believe that good will come of this.  I believe that I have the choice to be bitter or to be better, and I choose better.  I believe my choice to never give up will make a difference in someone’s life.  I believe that the lessons I’ve been learning in the ‘trenches’ will be an encouragement to others.  I believe that who I become through the struggle is far more important than the circumstances themselves.  And, as a person of faith, I believe that God works ALL things together for good.  For my good.  God has a plan for my life and He’s not finished yet.

I believe.

Am I feeling discouraged?  Yes, I am.

Am I defeated?  Not by a longshot.  I might be down but I’m not out.

I might not deke as well as Sid the Kid but I do have skills.  Mad skills too, if I say so myself…

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Reassessing success…

Success has been on my mind a lot lately.  It’s occurred to me that perhaps it’s time to reassess what it really is.

successSuccess is usually determined on a professional level.  One of the first questions people ask is what do you do for a living.  If you say you’re a doctor, you automatically go up in their estimation.  If you say you’re unemployed (as I currently am), you’re generally looked down upon.

People make snap judgements about your character based upon your job (or lack thereof).  You’re considered to be successful or unsuccessful based on what you do for a living.

Success is also determined on a personal level.

Are you married?  Do you have children?  If they’re grown, do they have a good job or career?  Do you have a nice house?  Nice furnishings?  Nice car?  Do you live in a good neighbourhood?

The answer to all these things determines if people think you’re successful or not.

Outward success.  It can be a deceptive veneer.

I’m not knocking outward success.  I’m just saying it’s not a complete or accurate measure of the word.BLOG 12

In my opinion, there’s something to be said for inward success.  For what lies behind the outward veneer.

Are you a person of integrity?  Of character?  Of strength?  Of standards?  Of morals?  Of faith?  A person who’s reliable?  Genuine?  A true example?  A positive influence?

If your outward success fell away tomorrow, what would be left?

BLOG 11Would you be considered an inward success?  Would people look up to you for who you are as a person?

Jobs come and go.  Everyone is just one paycheque from being unemployed.  Marriages collapse.  No one is immune.  You can work very hard to keep your job or your marriage but the outcome can be out of your hands.  But, who you are as a person is in no one else’s hands but your own.

If you’re not the kind of person you want to be, you can change it.  It’s hard work but anything worth having or accomplishing is.  If you don’t have the outward signs of success, you can change that too.  More hard work.  But, the main thing is to not lose sight of the inward while you pursue the outward.BLOG 14

I’ve had nearly every aspect of outward success stripped away this year, and it’s forced me to evaluate what’s behind the veneer.  It’s been a very humbling experience.  I’m still working toward regaining some measure of outward success but I’ve never been more aware that the inward is what really counts.  It’s made me reassess success.

My conclusion?  I want to be a success in every sense of the word… but starting with the inside out.

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Enough with the stuff…

Today is December 1st, 2012.

12/01/12.

Not quite as cool as 12/12/12 but close enough.

blogAnyway, now that we’ve officially entered the month of December, what I really want to talk about is stuff.

Possessions. Toys. Books. Gadgets. Trinkets. Clothes. Shoes. Material gain.

I love the Christmas season, and I love what Christmas represents.

What I don’t love is the extra emphasis on stuff.

Stuff is not the reason for the season.

Don’t get me wrong. I like stuff. I just think it’s a widespread western addiction that’s getting way out of hand, not just at Christmas but all year long.

Since June, the total sum of my possessions has fit into a half dozen storage containers and two pieces of luggage. This is the third time in 15 years that this has been my experience for varying reasons. But, what I’ve found most interesting is that, each time I’ve been able to put down roots again, the acquisition of stuff has been less important to me than the time before.

I used to be pretty ‘stuff’ focused once upon a time, I just only realized how much in hindsight.

Stuff can be a burden.  It has to be sorted, stored, maintained, repaired, replaced, and insured.  It occupies a lot of our time and effort.  Most of us don’t even use a frightening amount of what we accumulate.  Sometimes not even once.

Stuff can also be expensive.  It’s amazing how much we buy on sale and yet the average debt load per household is more now than ever before.

We don’t own stuff.  Stuff owns us.

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You may have heard the story of the New York police officer who recently observed a barefoot homeless man in Times Square on a freezing cold night. The officer not only purchased a pair of thermal socks and warm boots with his own money but then he put the socks and boots on the man’s feet. An act of kindness and humility that brings tears to my eyes.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/nypd-boots-homeless-man-photo-145219581.html

It’s hard to avoid stuff.  It’s everywhere.  We’re inundated with billboards, ads, flyers, storefront signs, sales events, internet shopping, coupons, you name it.

How can we keep stuff in perspective?  Maybe by asking ourselves a few questions.

blog-2Do we need it? Really need it? Or do we want it? Will we use it? Can we live without it? Are we buying it for the right reasons? Can we afford it? Do we have room for it? Can we put that money to better use?

I need to ask myself those questions just as much as the next person. Every single time my head gets turned by stuff. Which is still often enough.

The moral of this story?

Don’t be stuffy.

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