Sunday, 28 June 2015

Learn it. Change it. Change yourself. Move on.

At every job I've had, there were unhappy people. Some complain regularly about how some aspect of the job they have is somehow "defective". They don't like what they do. They don't like who they work with. They don't like a certain task. They don't like something about it.

I sometimes let myself slide into that behaviour. I sometimes complain about my situation instead of doing something about it. Then I remember what I've learned throughout my years of working. Learn it. Change it. Change yourself. Move on.

Learn it
When I start a new job, the first thing I do is learn what it is. Depending on the complexity of the job, that's either done quickly over a few weeks or it can take longer like up to a year. Once I feel comfortable enough in my job where I can "fly on my own", that's usually when issues start creeping up. Maybe there's a certain task I don't enjoy. Maybe the salary is not worthy of the work. Maybe someone I work with is difficult to deal with. Whatever it is, there may come a point where the issue bothers me too much and something's gotta give.

Change it
If there are things about the job I don't like, I try to change them. I might come up with what I believe are real solutions to a problem and propose my ideas to my boss. If it's something that has no real impact on the business, something that really only affects me, I might just try my idea to see if it works and then discuss it with my boss if I think that others might benefit from my solution. Whatever it is, I'll try to change things to suit me.

However, there might be an aspect of the job that can't be changed. Now what?

Change myself
This is when I'll try to change myself. I'll try to accept it. I'll try to adapt. I'll try to take on a different attitude towards whatever the issue is. Sometimes just changing the way you think about something makes it tolerable, maybe even enjoyable. The issue might actually be something that's good for you. I'll try to change myself to suit the job.

Sometimes, that's not possible. Changing myself might mean that I'm compromising myself too much. If that's the case, there's only one thing left to do...

Move on
That's when I'll move on and find another job. I'll change my circumstances.

Life is way too short to stay stuck in whatever circumstance that's making you miserable. You can't keep complaining about it either. Your negative attitude will affect those around you, and that's not fair. Learn it. Change it. Change yourself. And if all else fails, move on!

Friday, 26 June 2015

The shopping zombies

About a month ago, I went to a certain mall with my daughter because she wanted to go to a particular store that we can only find in the area at that particular mall. So we drove about 45 minutes to get to this place. The parking lot is huge! The biggest I've ever seen for a mall. Despite the size of the parking lot, finding a parking spot was difficult. I had to drive around to finally "get lucky" and take over someone's spot who had just left. "Ugh! I'm not going to enjoy this!"

We get out of the car. My 15-year-old daughter is making little noises of excitement. She's been wanting to check out this store ever since she heard it was in the area.

As we're walking up to one of the entrances, it felt like we were entering a protected village. Kind of like the forts we might see in movies - a big wall around a little village. That's the best way I can describe this mall to you is to call it a shopping village. An open-air mall. The stores are connected by pedestrian streets. If you don't want to waste time, you need a map to get around it. But I figured since we made the trip over and we weren't in a hurry, we might as well just visit it like we would visit a new city.

The pedestrian streets are broken up by clusters of benches surrounding fireplaces. There are other clusters of tables and benches here and there along the streets. This was all surreal to me. Maybe you've seen these types of malls before, but I've never seen anything like this. I truly felt like an alien in a shopper's wonderland. I didn't feel like I belonged there at all! Is it meant to feel like a community? Is that why it resembles a village? Is it meant to trick people into feeling at home so they're more likely to spend hours and money there?

Taking in my surroundings, I looked at the people around me and no one was smiling. They all seemed to be walking around like zombies going from store to store, carrying packages and bags, looking down at their cellphones. Not "present". It was so strange! Even though the shopping village was packed full of people, everyone seemed alone. Even when they were sitting or walking along side whoever they went there with. No one seemed to really be interacting with each other.

A year or two ago, I might have been thrilled to be there. I would have wanted to go check out every store. Maybe come home with a few packages and bags myself. But the feeling of not belonging there confirmed to me that I have made great changes in the past little while. I had no desire to buy anything. I had no desire to be one of them - one of the shopping zombies. I felt completely out of touch with this unreal reality.

Do yourself a favour and don't succumb to this mindless consumerism. Save yourself from being one of the shopping zombies. Make sure you ARE with the people you're with. Don't trade away meaningful human connections for stuff and virtual connections. It's so not worth it!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Perfectly imperfect

I was talking to my awesome friend Christy today at work and telling her about how disappointed I was with myself for the weekend I had. Although I had prepared another essay for today's post, she suggested that I write about these feelings instead. So here it is...
I put unnecessary pressure upon myself to be perfect. And this somewhat ruined an otherwise lovely weekend. Because we had gorgeous weather this past weekend, I felt like I should have taken advantage of it more. I should have gone on an adventure with my daughter. We should have gone hiking. We should have visited a museum. We should have taken a road trip. We should have taken a local boat tour of downtown Ottawa. We should have spent more time outside. We should have visited my awesome friend Christy. But we didn’t, and that got me down.

It got me down because I was aware of all of this weekend’s possibilities and I didn’t do any of it. I had also told myself that I would have perfect healthy food at every meal, but I ended up having take-out for some of my weekend meals.

All of this made me feel like a fraud because I’ve been writing about living my life and getting healthy, yet I didn’t do much “living” this past weekend, I didn’t exercise enough and my food intake wasn’t perfect. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to be the person I write about being – the person who’s getting her life together. I fool myself into thinking that I can achieve perfection. That I will live every weekend to the fullest and that I will always eat the best healthiest foods. And when I inevitably don't reach this perfection, I beat myself up about it.

The thing is that that’s not reasonable. There will be weekends where it seems like the only thing I can manage to do is breathe. There will be off days. I just have to remember that having a bad day (weekend) doesn’t mean that all of the progress I’ve made is out the window. I have the skills to get back up and get back at it.

When I stopped beating myself up and thought about some of the things I did, I realized that my perception was wrong. This past weekend, I went through my filed paperwork and got rid of more unnecessary documents. I made a batch of healthy Paleo morning glory muffins. I took my daughter to get a haircut while I got my nails done. My daughter and I went for a walk Saturday evening. I spent a little time with my daughter, sister, niece and mother on Sunday. And I wrote. My actions may not have lived up to my grand expectations, but they were positive actions nonetheless. It's not like I did nothing. But even if I didn't do anything, that would have been perfectly fine also.

I must accept that I'm perfectly imperfect.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The qualities of your faults

I recently had a job interview. The job involved interacting with many different people, and some from a different country, a different culture, a different way of doing business. It was going to be a challenging rewarding high-pressure job.

My interviewer asked me which aspects of group work I enjoyed the most, and which aspects I enjoyed the least, what I might need help with. I paused for a few seconds and answered "It would have to be the same answer to both. You can learn so much from working with many different people. The different personalities and points of view can open your eyes and enrich you. And working with many different people can be frustrating BECAUSE they have different personalities and points of views." "Good answer! I like your honesty!" she said.

I truly believe this though. And not just about working in a group. I believe this about qualities and faults. My mother often says "We have the qualities of our faults". I have to agree. Think about it...

You might meet someone who's very opinionated. She might argue with you. Challenge your beliefs. But instead of getting upset with this person, try to learn from her. It doesn't mean that she's right. She may be terribly wrong. But look at that passion! Do you care enough about something to defend it with such conviction?

You might meet a very caring man. He makes you feel like you can ask him for a favour any time and he'll drop everything to be there. You envy his selflessness. You wish you were as giving as he is. But he's running himself ragged trying to please everyone. He suffers great anxiety because he really can't be there for everyone all the time.

After the interview was over, I started to regret applying for the job. Even though it seemed like an interesting and challenging job in which I could learn much and grow, it would have delayed me from working towards the life I want to lead for a few different reasons. Luckily, I didn't get the job. Life has other plans for me!

So remember that something that seems good for you could become bad, and something that seems bad might be the best thing for you.

A quality can become a fault, and a perceived fault may actually be a great quality!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Announcing structure

Writing this blog has been a great experience for me! When I started writing, it was just for me. I wanted to keep track of what I was going through, thinking and learning. I thought maybe a few of my friends might read my blog. I really wasn't expecting to get so many readers from all over the world!! I've had readers from the United-States, Russia, France, Singapore, India, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Serbia and the United-Kingdom, just to name a few countries. Some of you have been giving me really good feedback! Thank you!

As I've been developing my blog, I've been trying to come up with some sort of structure for my posts. Not only in content, but in frequency. So I've decided that I will publish a post every Friday and Monday. This way, you'll know exactly when new content will be available. I will also try to focus on one maybe two topics per post at the most.  

Just to let you know 
I've been having issues with comments. I know for a fact that I haven't been getting all of them. I really want to hear from you! I will try to correct the issue, but until I do, please feel free to email your comments to me directly. My email address is jolymots [at] gmail [dot] com. (I've written it this way to try to prevent spam. I've seen someone else post their email address this way. I hope it works!) And please feel free to also sign up to receive my posts by email. Hopefully that function works well. If it doesn't, please let me know.

So there you have it. Out of respect for you, my reader, I'm bringing more structure to my blog. I really appreciate you and I hope you continue to enjoy my writing!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Make stuff happen!

I had a conversation with someone I've recently met. As we're getting to know each other, he asked if I travel often. "Never have unless you count Quebec City and Montreal. I don't even own a passport yet. But I'm planning on taking my first trip during Christmas break."

Then we discussed summer plans. I told him about the stuff I want to do this summer. Mostly tourist type activities around town. Walking tours. Boat tours. Bus tours. Air tours. Hiking. Road trips. We live in such a beautiful area and I barely even know it even though I've lived here all my life!

"Where do you hike? Gatineau Park?" he asked. "I haven't hiked in years, but yes, that's where I'm planning to go. See, you've caught me at an exciting time for me. I'm finally going through with many of my fantasy plans. No more waiting for things to happen. I'm making them happen!"

"What pushed you to make stuff happen?" Good question! Let me try to figure that out...

The early years
I remember being a child (probably around 8 years old) trying to figure out what the purpose of life was. I would actually worry at night thinking about it all. It caused me great anxiety. I'd fall asleep exhausted from over-thinking. So from an early age, I've been trying to figure it out. How to live it well.

My teenage years
As a teen, I wanted to be an artist. Painter. Sculptor. Singer. Writer. But I didn't have much to say at that time. Or maybe I didn't know how to say it. Regardless, the drive was there, but the expression wasn't. After about a month of visual art courses in Cegep (about the equivalent of college), I quit and decided that I would work and be an artist on my own time. I didn't need school to tell me how to hold a paintbrush or how to mix my colours. But I soon found out that 40 plus hours a week working in retail drained most of my inspiration and creativity.

My twenties
Working became all about the pay check. Don't get me wrong, I'd do my job well. I wanted to contribute to whoever my employer was at any given time. But I was so focused on getting to a point where I was making more than minimum wage, more than what I needed to get by, that I didn't notice the years passing by. Also with my daughter's birth when I was 25 years old, I needed to be a responsible parent making sure that I met all of her needs. Keeping my nose to the grindstone. Earning a living. Retail and call centers.

My thirties
When I finally landed a job with the federal government, I was then able to stop and look around me a bit more. Not that I wasn't working. I was and still am. But the hours are way better than in the service industry. The health and retirement benefits are better also. So it gave me time to breathe and reflect. However, the more I reflected, the more I realized that this isn't the life I want. I can't keep up this pace of work-home-work-home until I retire. There has to be more to life than this!

As I've mentioned, my dad passed away on October 11, 2014. That was a devastating loss! I'm still trying to come to terms with it. Just yesterday I caught myself thinking that I should go visit him while I was in Aylmer. My heart sunk when I realized that I couldn't.

Dad worked hard all of his life only to be forced into early retirement because of his COPD. That just reinforced this feeling of something missing. I wasn't living a fulfilling life.

Driving to work, looking at the people in neighbouring cars stuck in traffic with me. The same look of discontent and fatigue in their eyes. What are we all doing? Why are we all doing it? I can't go on like this. It's absurd! I need to make stuff happen!

So this is what I started this year. I'm trying things I've never tried before, but always wanted to try. And why not? I can!

I don't think there's any one thing that pushed me to make stuff happen. I think it's a series of events and realizations. There have been many contributing things. Deaths. Heartbreaks. My daughter. Meeting interesting people. Realizing that people are more interesting than they may seem at first. Letting go of my ideals. Learning to accept the things I can't change. Changing what I can. Getting out of my comfort zone and seeing that it's actually not that bad and can be quite enjoyable.

Nothing lasts forever. Not the good. Not the bad. Our time on earth is limited. There's so much to see, do and learn! Don't you want to make the most of it? I know I do! What have you always wanted to do? Why haven't you done it? Is that a good reason or is it a fake obstacle you've created? Make stuff happen!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Decluttering update

Decluttering has been going great! I’m so excited! I actually do see progress. Seeing what's left neatly arranged makes me happy. The best way to organize your home is to get rid of stuff. The more I give away, the more I want to give away! When you keep only what brings you joy, you realize there's really not much you want to hold on to.

My kitchen cupboards are in order. My paperwork is down to one filing container. My basement is coming along. I had way more than I thought I did. I don't really want to bring any of it with me when I move. But I will keep a few tools. I also have a few pieces of vintage furniture that need repairing. But now that everything is out of the way, I can finally take care of them.
I got rid of most of my Christmas decorations. I've wanted to do that for a long time. I don't like going through all of the trouble to decorate for a couple of weeks. Moving stuff out of the way to make room for the Christmas tree and other decorations. All this for a couple of weeks to then take everything down and put it away in boxes making more of a mess to clean up and taking up space.

I've kept it for all these years and even added to it because I felt like it was socially expected of me and my daughter loves it. I talked with her about it and she agreed to get rid of everything except for the lights. She said that the lights are what she enjoys the most out of all of the decorations. "Deal!" We shook on it. She seemed satisfied. So I packed up everything else and got rid of it. It feels great!

I'm not a big meanie. I will make it up to my daughter. Either we take a trip during Christmas vacation or I'll take her around town to visit nicely decorated houses. I think she'll enjoy that experience more than decorating our home. She's always been more appreciative of the time we spend together than anything else.

I've spent hours over a few days digitizing my CDs only to realize that I don't even need a digital version of most if not all of them. My taste in music has changed. I probably won't even listen to most of what I've digitized. And I can listen to any song for free online. Oh well, it's done now.

I was a little more selective scanning my photos. That process was emotional. Seeing photos of the people I love that have passed away. Photos of me when I was younger. Photos of my daughter when she was just a baby. They were all bringing back so many memories. Some good. Some bad. Time goes by so fast!

I was afraid that I wouldn't learn much from going through this process of getting rid of things because I'm giving to charity more than I'm selling. Selling is more work than giving. So donating seemed like "the easy way out". However, I've given away so much and it's been so much work bringing it all to donate that I feel I've learned my lesson. I will not acquire so much in the future. I will not let my possessions get out of control like I have before. It's all just stuff and I didn't realize how much it was weighing me down. The fear of letting go has left me. I'm finally giving myself freedom from it all and it feels fantastic!

I still have more to get rid of. Can't wait to be done!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Oh how my dreams have changed!

A few years ago, my dream was to own a single family home with an English garden inspired backyard, a big kitchen with tons of storage, a media room where I could watch movies and listen to music, one or two guest rooms and a library/study with hundreds maybe even thousands of books.

I used to watch all of the home themed TV shows. Renovations. Buying. Decorating. I was into all of them. They fueled my dreams.

Now even though I had those "dreams of ownership", once in a while I'd start to feel the desire to get rid of everything and start fresh. I had once seen a movie on Mother Theresa's life and I thought her simple room that had just a bed, a nightstand, a lamp, a crucifix and a bible seemed just lovely. I don't think I'll go to that extreme, but I'm finally giving myself permission to go with that feeling and it's the first time I feel this right about a decision. 

Today, if I happen upon one of those shows that I used to watch almost religiously, it all seems almost obscene to me. I just see slavery to stuff. The money, the care and the time that must be spent on these possessions...

Now I watch shows like Departures where the guys travel the world for a year with just what they can carry with them and that seems thrilling and freeing to me. I read blogs like The Minimalists and Miss Minimalist, and I just want to set myself free of everything. I read  James Clear's blog and watch various TED Talks and I want to better myself, try new things and follow my dreams.

Yes, my dreams have changed. They seem more exciting to me than any of my previous dreams. They seem more possible to me than any of my previous dreams. Let's see how many of them I can make happen!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Workout motivation

I've found a new motivation for working out. I've been watching Departures on Netflix. Canadians Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach travel the world with their camera man André Dupuis.

These guys are young (28 in 2008) and fit. I can see how that is a great asset for travel. Especially the way they do it. They don't go to just see the regular tourist areas. They immerse themselves into the country where the natives live. They go into deserts, walk through forests, climb mountains, hand glide, visit ruins, climb trees and bathe in waterfalls. I can definitely appreciate how being fit really helps with stamina and being able to go where they go. Not that I necessarily want to do what they've done, but being able to walk for hours, climb stairs and walk up hills would be great.

Like I've mentioned before, recently I've been having this fantasy where once my daughter graduates high school we would travel the world together for a year. If I want to be able to do that and enjoy it, I really feel like I need to get fit. I can make great changes in 3 years.

This wouldn't just be for travel. I want to experience life here also. Kayaking, zip-lining, hiking, maybe even bungee jumping!

Now again, working out is not about weight loss. Weight loss will be a happy side effect. It's about getting fit and healthy so that I can really experience life to the fullest.

Oh how I hope I can keep this feeling of motivation!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Forced rest

Forced rest can be frustrating.

I hurt my lower back this last Thursday at my last workout. Now I have difficulty walking. I hoped that I could finally tackle the basement this weekend. But that wasn't possible.

To keep the momentum going, I decided to buy a photo scanner this morning even though this was supposed to be a no-buy month. I'm okay with this decision because the scanner that I wanted to buy is currently on sale. Also, since I can't do anything physical, scanning my photos was a good compromise. It was on my To-Do list. 

I'm pretty happy with the scanner I bought. I can scan multiple photos at a time and the software saves each photo individually. Saves time. I was able to scan over 250 photos this morning. I have a few more hundred to go...

                                                                  4-year-old me!

When I went to get the scanner, I also saw an external DVD drive to hook up to my laptop (which doesn't have one built in). It too was on sale. So I got it. I want to digitize all my CDs also. 

Now a beautiful Saturday can't be all about work (even though the work is well worth it), so my daughter and I drove over to my awesome friend Christy's place to visit with her and her little family.

I'm happy with how my day went. Yes I was sore and couldn't do what I had planned to do, but I did get many of my photos scanned and a dozen or so CDs digitized. AND, I spent time with people I care very much about.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Spontaneous summer

When we start getting really nice summer like weather, I start thinking about one of the guys I dated during the summer of 2013. 
He was much different than any guy I’ve ever dated. But then again, I could say that about all of the men I’ve dated. Anyway, I went along with it even though he was much younger than me. I knew it was going to be a fling and I was OK with that. At that time, I didn’t really want to get into anything too serious.  
He was (still is) a mechanic and part owner of the garage he worked at. He had travelled to a few different countries: the U.S., Japan, Russia, and across Europe, and he had plans for more travel. He seemed to be a hard worker, he was spontaneous and quite cute – tall, thin but muscular. 
I experienced a weekend with him that changed me. 
We had gone out on a Friday night. I don’t even remember what we did. Maybe it was a car ride through Gatineau Park because he really liked driving. He ended up sleeping over that night. The next morning, he didn’t seem like he was in a hurry to leave. So I suggested that we go out for breakfast. After breakfast, we got into his car and I expected that he’d just drive me back home and go off to do his own thing. “So what did you want to do now?” he asked. What? Really? You want to continue to hang out? I wasn’t expecting this. Most men I’ve dated, especially short term, didn’t usually prolong dates like this
I couldn’t really think of anything. He suggested we go to Montreal for the day. (Now for those of you who don’t know where Gatineau (Aylmer sector), Quebec, Canada is (where I was living at the time) in relation to Montreal, Quebec – it’s a little more than a two hour drive away.) My heart was pounding. Being this spontaneous was not like me at all. The usual inner fear voice was yelling “What if you need something that you forgot to bring? What if you get uncomfortable? What if you don’t get along with him? What if he’s a serial killer?” But I ignored the voice. “Ok! Take me home so I can get comfortable shoes first.” 
To appease my inner voice, I suggested that we take my car. That way, if things went wrong, I could leave him there and come back in my own car. I had my cell. I had money. I had the means to “save” myself from discomfort if need be. Off we went to Montreal for the day!
Well we had a lovely time. We walked along the streets of Montreal. I think the Jazz festival was on that day. We ate at Schwartz and got bubble tea in Chinatown. Even though I was with him, most of my time was spent in silence with my inner thoughts. We didn’t speak much. He wasn’t much of a talker, so it allowed me to quietly take in what I was experiencing. 
As we were walking along, I got a call on my cell. “Where are you?” my dad asked. “In Montreal.” “MONTEAL?!” My parents were also surprised at my spontaneity. 
I think it was about 8:00 pm when we decided to head back home. Nothing bad happened. I survived the experience. I even enjoyed myself! He slept over again that night.
The experience I had with this man taught me to let go of my fear and live in the moment a bit more. To take a chance. The possibility of a little discomfort should not stop me from experiencing life. Since then, I’ve tried to be a little more relaxed and spontaneous. A few weeks after, I did the same thing with my daughter. I took her to Montreal for the day on a whim. She was thrilled that her mom did something so unexpected. My little adventurer!
So do something that’s “not you” once in a while. Maybe you’ll find it’s more you than you thought.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

"You didn't fail, you chose to stop!"

"You didn't fail, you chose to stop!" Paula said to me as she put her arm around me. She read my previous post about my last Whole30 attempt (actually, she's been reading all of my posts). After reading this one, she told me that I need to better choose my words. That I need to stop being negative towards myself.

I do have a tendency to be a little hard on myself. Actually, from what some of my friends have been telling me, I guess I can be quite hard on myself. I feel like I should be better. Better at every aspect of my life. Smarter. Fitter. Nicer. Friendlier. Healthier. More together. More productive. More effective. Better in everything. Better than what? Better than what I have been so far.

Even though getting better, growing, improving, is what I feel I need to strive for, I shouldn't beat myself up to get there.

You're right Paula. Thank you for reminding me. I need to be better at this too. :)