Thursday, 25 November 2010

The "Other" Family

It seems that every fall I have the splendid opportunity to reconnect with old friends from university. Okay, well, maybe just the last two falls...and the fall before that was only my second fall out of university, so there was very little reconnection required. Alas, I like this new trend and hope that it continues into 2011.

The most rewarding aspect of these reconnections is that I am provided with the opportunity to reflect on a skill I finally mastered towards the end of university. Hmmm...well, the skill may not yet be mastered, but it was definitely acquired in university. This skill is invaluable to me, wherever I go from now, and probably something some people take for granted. I'm talking, of course, about the ability to create support networks out of complete strangers.

I remember how I met very few people in my life. The people that I do remember meeting, I will never forget because they have come to mean a lot to me. For instance, I remember the day I sat down beside Heidi in our Anthropology class. I had made it a rule to talk to at least one person in each of my classes in university, even if it made me uncomfortable to do so. To cope with this uncomfortability, I tried to pick people who appeared friendly and were not already talking to somebody else. (I've always been better at one-on-one conversations over group discussions, at least when talking is involved.) Heidi fit both of those traits, so I struck up a conversation with her.

I don't remember all of the details of that conversation, but it began a beautiful friendship. Our time in the same city was short-lived, but our friendship has proven anything but that. When she left, we both promised to keep in touch...but we both go months (or once even a year) without an email, wall post, or a good old-fashioned phone call. Regardless of our time apart, when we do reconnect, it's like no time has passed. Our friendship stands as an example that true friends know not distance nor time but one another. Or something else whimsical like that...

Reconnecting with Heidi last November started my annual tradition of uni-reunions. It was a remarkable reminder of the friendship's ability to remain the same without extensive work. This fall, with the big 2-5 approaching, I planned my trip a bit earlier, but it has continued for the last two months!

In September, I flew out to Vancouver for a mini-Honours get-together. I kept hearing about these get-togethers in Vancouver, and felt slightly left out. This one made up for it, though. I arrived on a Sunday, and that night we hit the town, SATC-style. Sushi was eaten, girly drinks were shared, four delectable desserts were devoured, and gossip was shared! Three years had passed since the four of us had been together, and everything seemed different. Everything that is, except our friendship!

Some friends have been besties since birth; some since kindergarten; even more from high school. I have wanted a best friend since birth, kindergarten, and even in high school. That was when I gave up on the idea of just one best friend. I have very high expectations of people, and one can only imagine that wanting something as badly as I wanted a best friend only increased the expectations I put on whoever was closest to being my best friend at any given time. Don't worry, I still cherish the good times we had together growing up, but I know that I never really understood what a best friend was until university. And then, suddenly, I created several of them. That's why i now relish the fact that I get to reunite with these people once a year!

I wish that I could explain to you how I did it. Just last night, I was watching The Big Bang Theory on DVD and came across the episode where Sheldon discovers the algorithm for creating a friendship. Not best friendship, but friendship. Now, if I could tell you how to do that, I would sell millions of books and how-to videos and be world-renowned, I'm sure. Sadly, that best frienship wouldn't be worth it. The beauty of best friendship, I've found, is that it's inexplicable and random. It's a little bit like true love. You can't plan it or manipulate the other person to get it; you just have to let it happen, and be satisfied with the results.

My ability to find best friends has not faded away. I continue to find people that allow me to be myself. These are people I can count on to be there for me when I need them. They have become my secondary family when my family isn't there (like uni or England), or a sounding board when I'm having difficulties with my biological family (although rare, it happens to everybody). And it makes me feel safe and secure knowing that I have the ability to create this kind of a support network wherever I go. Sometimes it can happen in a few days, like when I was travelling in Morocco; sometimes it takes a few years, like Edmonton. Eventually, though, I know, I'll have a support network all over the world...but then, I'll probably be strong enough on my own to not have to lean on anybody (NOTE: sarcasm!)

My reunion d'automne 2010 continues. Just over a week ago, I saw two of the three friends I met up with in Vancouver. One was in Edmonton, visiting her bf and I stopped in on the other in Saskatoon, while I was visiting more family. Both visits were a necessary bookend to the personal growth that began on my trip to Vancouver. But that's a topic for another post... I'm just glad I have such great best friends to help me out when life seems just a little bit tougher than usual. Thanks to all of you! :-D

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Fence Sitter

"I sit on the fence so much somedays that my ass cheeks have dents in them..."

I wrote this in an email, meaning it as a criticism of myself. Having thoroughly enjoyed the phrasing of it, I have stored it in the back of mind ever since. The thought reappeared the other night and I ruminated on it, understanding this time that it is not necessarily a bad thing to do.

The discussion turned to the dairy industry, and my one rant against a barista at a cafe that will remain nameless. I was angered by the fact that I was being charged an extra fifty cents for the substitution of soy for my dairy in the drink. His comment was that soy was more expensive. My retort was that not really, it's just not helped out by government subsidies: a claim that, truthfully, I have no proof of, but I spoke as if I did. (As a sidenote, this is, of course, how many ranters irritate me into not listening to them, if I don't like what I'm hearing.) I left the cafe that day feeling a bit ashamed of myself. That, I remember thinking, is not how I want to win this war. I do not like confrontations.

After sharing the first half of the above story with a fellow vegan, I was corrected. The dairy industry doesn't get money directly from the government, she pointed out, and I shut down. I back-pedalled slightly, but still pointed out that milk does not cost what it actually costs to produce it. And, actually, soy probably doesn't any more, either; even it is probably a victim to subsidies now, too, but I haven't researched that. I dropped the argument - which is more important to the point at hand - because I don't like confrontations. As much as an activist as I probably always will be, I hate to tell somebody that I disagree with them...and so I am a fence sitter.

But, that's not a bad thing. I don't think that the argument will actually be won through confrontations. This is not a civil war, this is a change in ideology. And, like success, the best changes are the ones that take longer to come. I believe that, in the long haul, Grass Roots projects are more effective than corporate marketting, and change from within will last longer than change from without. And, so, it's a good thing that I sit on the fence, looking at both sides, trying to mediate between the two.

Perhaps, though, I should gain more of a backbone to my arguments... That will come, ... when I'm ready to be a stubborn ox.

Alas, that is not me. I am change. I do not wish to wake up suddenly one day and say, "that's me. That's who I am." And from that moment on, stop questioning myself, pushing myself forward, reflecting on both sides of the argument to get a deeper understanding of the world. When we stop changing, we stop growing. Life is not about 'finding' ourselves, but CREATING ourselves. So, I sit on the fence so that I can use parts from both sides to be the person that I am at this time.

This song came on while these thoughts were uploading from my mind to the computer. I found it fitting, if you don't, keep reading. One day, you'll understand enough of who I am to understand why Corb Lund is appropriate for my rant on Fence Sitting...

Corb Lund - This Is My Prairie

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

How To Be Alone

This post was originally supposed to be published on my music blog, ; however, I am tired and did not select the right blog when sharing the link. Regardless, this artist is SOOOOOOOO good, I would like to include her on this blog as well.


Tanya Davis' third album was released last week, and as it happens with indie Canadian artists who rock, her single was featured on CJSR's Top 30 List this morning. She is my artistic discovery for the day...and what a fabulous find!

This "song" borderlines on song. There is music, but it is merely the background. The song is spoken word, which often makes the best song anyways. For those who love lyrics, I'm sure you'll love this poet.

If I could draw this song, it would be a sun dollar...luckily for us all, a fellow artist created this video to go along with the song. Together, they have created a much better image than a sun dollar. This is why collaboration is important. But she's is also important to know how to be alone...


“I am unworthy” creates procrastination
If one of my inner belief systems or thought patterns is, “I am unworthy,” then one of my outer thoughts will probably be procrastination. After all, procrastination is one way to keep us from getting where we say we want to go. Most people who procrastinate will spend a lot of time and energy berating themselves for procrastinating. They will call themselves lazy and generally will make themselves out to feel they are “bad persons.”
~ Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

I was recently empowered by an organization of positive people. It was the beginning of many positive experiences that I have had this month. I had just left my full time day job, was waiting on clients for my new self-directed business, and struggling to cope with stressful situations in my personal life. The seed to meet these people had begun three separate times in the last five months, and the third and final implantation was lucky enough to be germinating.

The seed that worked had been planted by a member of the past that was calling to me. He walked into my day job and presented me with the opportunity to go on this journey with him. Feeling the strength of my past calling to me, I welcomed the invitation. Within a few days, I met two new empowering people. They were interested only in knowing more about me: who I was, what I thought, and where I wanted to go with my life. Being a self reflective person – and in the midst of a cycle of self reflection and change – I listened to my inner voice and dreamed big. “Well, I’m going to change the world,” I told them honestly. “I’ve known this since high school and I’m slowly getting where I need to be in order to really do it. I’m a member of the vegan movement and I'm going to really push it forward, or at least be a part of the collaboration of people who are pushing it forward.”

The first sentence grabbed their attention but I don’t think they heard the rest of my explanation. Or, perhaps they chose not to hear it; or understand it.

The next people I met in the organization focused on those five words as well. I met them in my first week free from the day job. (Free is the best word to describe my feelings towards it.) Finally, I had opened my eyes up to the opportunities I had before me rather than the limitations. I was primed for my ability to change the world. As I met each new person, I performed my role with confidence. They asked, “Why are you here?” And I replied, “I’m here to change the world.” I was so confident because I believed in myself.

Within a week and a half, I had gone from ‘going to’ to ‘here to.’ The only thing missing was action...
There are many things in my life that I am ‘going to’ do. I am going to:
• Spend time volunteering in an animal sanctuary in Thailand
• Open a vegan restaurant
• Travel to India
• Live with a dog as a fellow companion
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Finish writing a novel
• Finish writing my autobiography
• Fully commit to veganism
• Travel the world
• Etc.
Having this list, I have realized, is not actually helping me get any closer to accomplishing the things on it that I really want accomplished. In fact, I think this list may hamper my ability to get anything done as I feel there is always so much that needs to be done.

When I begin to focus on any one of these things, I do not feel it is “enough.” As I focus, I realize how much more is left to do, rather than focusing on what I am doing. I begin to feel overwhelmed, and, instead of taking each day as it comes and feeling proud of how far I have come, I look forward and feel ashamed that I have not done more to have accomplished more today, this week, or with my life.

That is one negative thought process that is holding me back from success. In one way, I will look back at my life – at the “lessons” that I learned – and feel like all I do is make mistakes. Then, in another way, I look forward at what I still need to learn and feel stunted by how much farther I need to go. I do not always do these things, but I know that when I am procrastinating the most, these are the two thought processes competing in my mind. Instead of doing anything, I stop doing everything and shut down.

The organization of positive people did not turn out to be for me. As I reflected on the situation, I realized that they had missed my initial statement – “I am going to be a part of the collaboration of the vegan movement that will change the world” – and, in turn, missed the fact that veganism would conflict with the principles of the organization. It did sound like a good vehicle to change the world, but it was not my vehicle. I ride a bicycle, I will NEVER drive a hummer. :-D

A few more days of self reflection and I realized this. But, I did not toss the organization out completely. I understood that it had come into my life for a reason. I think everything comes into our life for a reason. Many things that I would otherwise consider a regret, I look back on as “lessons learned.”

Since this organization came to me three times in the past six months, I understand that it was necessary for me to at least peek down the rabbit hole. I peeked, I struggled with the pieces of appropriate cake, and I jumped back out before I began to try the different doors. It’s ok, I took a peek in the doors and realized that what I was looking for within the rabbit hole, I could find outside of the rabbit hole too. And outside of the rabbit hole, I wouldn’t have to eat the cake. You see, all that cake was NOT VEGAN!

Now I look at the organization’s presence in my life as a catalyst. They picked up on my desire to get out of the day job and start working for myself, but they were not the answer. The positivity encouraged me when I needed it the most – when the other catalysts were failing – and it bumped me into the right vehicle: veganism. When I jumped out of the hummer, though, I learned the most valuable lesson. I can’t do this thing with a support network teaching me how. That’s not who I am. Yes, I need positivity, but I’m also a very independent person (one of the reasons the other catalyst was failing). In order for my vehicle to get me to my dream, I needed to work on me, trust in myself and support myself along the journey.

That is what I’m doing now. I’m starting with the thoughts. It’s the easiest task to begin with. Since I am always thinking, I may as well be thinking about how capable I am of doing this myself. There is the self reflective syndrome, though, that comes with the constant self evaluation. It is not criticism - as I tell myself that I am exactly as I am meant to be at this very moment - but it is a process of understanding how and why I am holding myself back from success. Why have I held myself back for the last three and a half years, or even the last twenty five?
Procrastination is something that comes up time and time again in my self reflection. I have tried to cure it in the past with scheduling my tasks. I write out lists that never get done. I set unreasonable expectations for what I can get done in my downtime and then feel guilty about not allowing myself to relax. But, that’s ok. Those were necessary actions for me to take in the past, perhaps so that I would have the strength now to overcome them.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Law of Attraction

Mantras, meditation, visualization, confidence, mind over matter, the power of your subconscious mind...

2010 is a watershed year for me. This is the year that I learned how to create my own success. It began with my mom suggesting I read a book of hers. She told me that it hadn't been completely successful for her, but she would return to it frequently and found that when she did, things began to improve once again. Having nothing to lose and everything to gain, I picked it up...and it began to transform my life.

Everything in it finally made sense. My spirit was ready to accept what the book had to offer as truth. I was ready to begin to change my life. I just had to put in the hard work in order to get there.

It began with weight loss. For over half of my life, I have tried to lose weight. I have never focussed on it before, but always wished I could do it. Of course, there were always more excuses than reasons to do it, which is always the path to failure. This spring, though, I was ready for it.

There was initial resistance. I remember the week my sisters began WeightWatchers. I thought, meh, that might work for them, but I'm a vegan, it will conflict with my diet. And then I though, ah, geez, it costs money to join too, well, I can't afford that. My success in joining the program I blame on my sister whose idea it was all along.

They never even asked me to join them initially, but we were all still living together, so I was coming to understand that our entire diet was about to change. Then, after their first weigh in, my middle sister showed me the vegetarian options they had in the first book, and how easy it was to figure out the point system for a vegan diet as well. Man, without cheese, I thought, it will be easy to stick to my daily points level.

Then, they talked about the activity points. Well, with biking to and from work every day, I was bound to get all of my extra points for the week. This might work... or, well, I had everything to gain and only weight to lose.

And I began to - immediately. I lost eight pounds in the first week. Four in the next two weeks, and then I began to slow down to a mere two pounds every week. The initial success spurred me on. It began to show in my face first, and then my clothes became baggier and baggier. I began to believe in myself. I knew this was how I was going to finally do it. I was finally going to be the "healthy / appropriately weighted" woman I saw myself as in my head.

As spring dawned, I started buying skirts, and running in the river valley that I had moved next to. Summer was time for me to show off my hard work, and I beamed with the self confidence that making such a healthy change in my life brought along with it. I was more and more the person that I saw inside of myself. I was no longer a fat slob, but a blossoming, beautiful young woman ready to take on the world.

Then, disaster struck. I hit a rut, and had numerous personal issues crop up. Family members were sick, and my last grandparent passed away. I lost sight of my goals and the weight loss stopped. This week, I sit perilously close to going past a number on the scale that I SWORE I would never get to again. And, so, my soul has been leading me to the inspiration I need to get through this disaster, learn from it and move on.

Some may scorn the "self help" section, but I've always had a fascination with it. Yes, of course, when I have felt social pressure to joke about it, I have. But, more and more, this fall I have had people encouraging me to return to it. I didn't think I needed it. I was doing well, wasn't it. I was happy. I was making plans for my future. I had the confidence to take on whatever life could deal me.

"Self help" is less about being down on the ground and needing a hand out of rock bottom and more about self improvement. And who doesn't need self improvement? Yes, we are all perfect at any given moment, but what is life we aren't constantly improving that perfection? Or, well, that's the perfectionist in me talking ;-) No, that's actually not right. We aren't perfect. And maybe we won't be. But that's just a problem with the word "perfect." We are exactly as we are meant to be, but the future will be even better. Not to say that the past had anything wrong with it. but, well, now I'm just running in circles... The only thing that is constant is change, and isn't best if that change is something we want to happen to us?

This is the year I learn how to not run in circles. This is the year that I learn that the thoughts I put out into the universe are the actions that I will have come back to me. This is the year that I convince my subconscious that I may not be perfect, but I'm still worthy of the potential all those teachers told me I had. I still have that potential, but....

Last winter, I came across this ad from Nike that inspired me. I ripped it out of the magazine and posted it to my bedroom wall. I'm not sure where it is right now, but its message was ingrained in my head:

If all I am is potential, I'm not working hard enough am I?

So, my mantra will become that...but in a positive matter.

I am more than potentail. I work hard to fill that potential.

So, with less than two months left, I am ready to change my life this year. Yes, there have been challenges, but those were just lessons I needed to go through before I realized my strength. I am strong. I am strength. I am more powerful than I ever imagined. And I will change the world. :-D

And last week I had a sign from beyond that told me my last grandparent was there, making sure I took the right path. Death is much easier to face when you know that your time with that person doesn't end when they leave. They're always with you after their physical body no longer holds them away from you. It's an amazing thing to realize, and I'm glad I've met the right people who have helped me come to that realization.

If interested, here are some books to read:

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind ~ Joseph Murphy

The Secret ~ Rhonda Byrne

You Can Heal Your Life ~ Louise Hay

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Spirituality and You

You are the kind of person, Jodi, who will always be asking that question. You will always be searching for the meaning of life.
~ Michelle MacNeill, spring 2007

Yesterday I had coffee with a new friend. I met her about four months ago through work. She had previously worked for the same company and I had to reverse some charges because things were not managed properly. I never asked at the time, but I was always curious about why she left. Regardless, there was a reason why we met and yesterday this reason began to come to light.

I may not be a religious person, but I am spiritual. We all are, we just don't recognize it.

There are rare moments and rare people that I will remember for the rest of my life. I believe this is one of them. I arrived late for our coffee date, and I apologised profusely. "Not use to this free schedule," was my excuse. (I later admitted that I was in the process of ending a relationship. Her response was that relationships never end. That's a topic for another posting, though...) She didn't mind. Her life is fairly open right now. And she is so at peace. We discussed that peace for the rest of the conversation. I was so inspired throughout the entire conversation that I knew the day would continue to shine.

I've had so many signs from the universe in the last six months. I need to follow them, and in less of a self-satisfying, immediate response. I'm inspired to invest more time in getting towards my goals. I feel like I've coasted along to this spot right here. It's been tough....but boring. I just existed. Now I need to work hard and get my act together. But, I can't push my soul to get there.

I watched this amazing interview of this man who proposes that our soul planned our life before we were born. Every challenge we face is a lesson our soul wanted to learn. These lessons exist on a timeline, but we are not predestined to follow one path. We have free will. If we learn our lesson before we were supposed to, another plan comes into play. I'm still digesting a lot of what the video had to teach me.

I'll discuss this revelation in the next few days. In the meantime, I have to go volunteer. A treat for my soul! ;-)