Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Creating Instead of Tearing Down History, Slavery, Edison, Aspergers and Ableism, Racism and The Dangers of 'White Privilege.'

Building and Creating instead of Tearing Down History:

Are we living in a generation where the choices to tear things down are trumping the beauty of creating healthy alternatives? A statue of John A Macdonald was removed from Victoria recently (click) in the name of 'reconciliation.' That about sums up our current culture. Have we not taught our citizens the importance of CONTEXT? At what cost are we erasing history and ignoring both the bad and good that built today? How does taking down a statue make amends of the past? Why are we not concentrating on creating instead?

For his time, John A. Macdonald did what he did. Some of it was terrible, but much of what was done during that time period was within it's context of time. Some of what he accomplished for Canada was also good.

What if instead of taking down statues, we build beautiful monuments next to them, from our generation, showing how history has evolved? Instead of choosing ignorance, and erasing both the good and the bad, we can choose to BUILD and CREATE instead of destruction?

An extreme example of this concept, would be if we destroyed the concentration camp monuments from history. They are an atrocious memory of what humanity is capable of doing. Yet, we keep these up. Why? Because, they are reminders of where extremism can take us. They ask us to look deeply into our humanity and ask tough questions. We are reminded of our past so that hopefully we don't repeat the past the same way twice. When most look upon the rows of baby shoes in these monuments, they are often asking themselves, "How?" "How did it come to this?" And overwhelmed with grief or questioning, most resolve in their hearts to make better decisions.  In order to evolve as cultures we need to not bury the past. We have to acknowledge it. It is important to remember who we are, what we have fought to come to the freedoms we have, and how we have messed up. Obviously a statue of a man is not going to give the same results as the Holocaust Monuments, but if next to him, there is a new monument the celebrates the very people he marginalized...well, wouldn't that say more to future generations about hope? About the evolution of equality? About thinking twice before forcibly changing any people group? And would it not also show that context and history are everything and we can not judge a past slight through our opened eyes? We can only go forward to built a better future. Creation says more about a person, a culture and community then destruction. Why are we choosing to be defined by the latter? I would rather be remembered by what I created than what I destroyed. Aren't we told more about a soul by their innovations of hearth, home, artistry, child rearing or any births of creating? And with creation there is always a certain amount of failure involved.  In essence, if we put Edison's perspective on it, we just find a multitude of ways that won't work.

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”  Thomas A. Edison
“We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work” 
― Thomas A. Edison
“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”  Thomas A. Edison
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”  Thomas A. Edison

If a statue is a reminder of what went wrong, next to it should be a creation of what went right. Or how things have changed. The beauty of the earth is often from creating, protecting and building. There are occasional times and places that call for destruction or starting fresh, but before that happens, it is important to try to restore before annihilation. Because when will it stop? Already school text books have been changed to the advantage of political systems or whoever is in power. Already we choose ignorance because it is the quickest path to entitlement. Justification is easier without research and the work that goes into perspective, context and building.
But I digress.

The Myth and Dangers of "White Privilege"

First, let's get this point out of the way. ALL societies have had slavery. Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans/Whites ect. Whites have enslaved Whites and other people groups. Africans have enslaved other Africans ect. and so forth. Native tribes in North America enslaved other Natives and so forth. Indians, Europeans, Hispanics, South Americans, Australians, Russians, Ancient Egyptians/ Mesopotamians, Greeks, Arabs, Romans...the list goes on but ALL people groups have had a history of enslavement to degrees (whether of their own groups or others.) Slavery is as ancient as mankind. Does it make it right? No. But it does bring up an important fact. Slavery did and does not just belong to Europeans.

In fact, one of the first people groups to FIGHT against slavery, were Europeans. Many 'white' people risked their lives in other countries to give freedom and many still do. Yes, there was a large part of recent history that belonged to Imperialism, but that also has to be taken in the context of population, industrialization, and economy... and there were other people groups besides whites who played parts in snuffing out life. Before Imperialism there were many other cultures who also tried to take over the world, including Ancient Egyptians and of course Rome as larger examples but history is littered with outcomes that are not optimal but still part of our collective past.

Even though I am not a claimed Christian, some of the credit to abolish slavery also has to go to Christianity and Missionaries of various Religions of Peace, for the path of freedom. (I am citing Christianity because that is the history I personally know but insert or feel free to leave in the comments other Religions who have done the same.) The ethics of freedom from these people gave a lot to the fight for equality in the ancient world and throughout history, even if there were also some terrible things done in the name of Christianity and other Religions as well. There is always a "BOTH." When we highlight the bad without the good, we do ourselves and all people groups, a disservice.

I am considered Caucasian. Really I am a melting pot, like many other "whites." I have my Native American/ Spanish grandfather whose family suffered prejudice and my Romanian Grandmother whose family had to flee generations ago because of their "Gypsy" ways. I have my German ancestors who chose to come to America when their rights to religion were being threatened during a time period where freedom in certain countries was sanctioned. The list goes on...but I come from a rich history that built from the bottom up. As recent as my grandparents, our history involves poverty and sometimes prejudice. My maternal grandpa did not finish grade six. He went to work at a pulp mill for bed and basic food at the age of twelve. In Canada. My "privilege" is partially built upon his 12 year old work ethic. I have much because of what he gave. My paternal grandmother lived in a tiny sod house not even half a century ago. My maternal grandmother lived off of lard for weeks before slowly starving and was saved just in time by a visiting uncle who brought some fresh fruit. Poverty does not belong to one people group. The same history and sacrifices can be said for the rest of my relatives on both sides. We live in a generation that has access to more food, resources and helps, then ever before. We are lucky to be standing on the shoulders of those who came before. That said, I also play my part in sacrifice and work ethic to give my children more than what we started out with. That truly is a "privilege" in itself.

Complexity is a large part of this "white privilege" conundrum. Do I have some privilege? Of course I do, simply because of where I was born. But my grandparents or their parents CHOSE that place or gave great sacrifices to end up where I am. Somebody paid. I still pay in varied ways. It should not really be compared out of context. For instance, my sister in law is from the Philippines. Often she sends large boxes of stuff to her home country. She pointed out that there are higher needs in many regards but healthy food is more accessible and cheaper. Many fast food joints sell organic well sourced food items in comparison to our filler meats and high cost salads. Her husband mentioned that the cost of living is lower and it can not be compared to here.  There are rich people who are dis- eased and impoverished. And people with no income who eat well, live well and are engaged in rich community. Quality of living is not solely based on money. Because if it is, then we have to discuss life insurance, cold weather costs, fuel, taxes, housing, food ect. A wage typed into a global comparison scale tells NOTHING of what life is actually like in a place. Sure, in comparison to most of the world I am in the minor percentage of being considered well off. I am grateful for that fact. But in Canada, I am considered below the poverty line. Does that mean we suffer? No, I love our life. We have learned to live well, beautifully and richly within what we have. But I am not going to compare myself out of misplaced shame and guilt to another situation that is not my own. I will give when I can give and receive when I can receive. It is not all equal but that does not negate the beauty in exchanges.

Racism IS an issue. A sad, unjust issue that will take centuries to undo in many ways because it took centuries to overcome. This is also true of disabled people being seen as fully human and any other groupings that were discriminated against due to factors beyond control ect. But we will not solve these issues with more Racism or forced rhetoric. Which is what White Privilege is. (See more in links below.)

Context is everything. What we have in riches here, another country will make up for in riches otherwise. I have been to the mountains of Nicaragua where poverty broke my heart. I gave all that I could. Yet, the people I met there gave me a richness I did not get up in Canada. Some of the food that was found was fresh and the community was welcoming and warm. It can't be compared. Does this mean we do not help when we are able, to those who have less than us? No. But it does mean we must consider carefully and contextually what we have before we disparage what others have in the name of "equality."

We all have some form of privilege, to a degree. But our privileges should not be held against us. Instead they should be used in gratitude to make a better world. For ourselves and our futures. Along with privilege comes great responsibility and also downsides. In MOST circumstances, each person has some good and some bad. I would not slap "white privilege" on to any of my personal labels nor anyone else's. It's actually racist in it's own right because it is dividing people, once again, by colour. No thank you. Honestly, most of us are not purely Caucasian nor 'White' just like most Asians (or insert any other people group here) would not want to be grouped together instead of honoured for their personal stories, the cities they are from, and the places they have worked hard to overcome or to be in.

(There are other people who cover this topic better than I do. There are the left liberal articles, the conservative articles and the in betweeners. But before anyone makes a decision on where they stand on this, they should not solely be educated in the left or the right. They should listen to BOTH sides of the equation with an open mind and heart. Because the left is so easily accessible currently, I will leave the opposing links on the bottom of this post. I shouldn't have to state it, but in our current explosive culture where people are losing their jobs and reputations based on what they say politically, I will state that the links I leave are not fully my opinions, but just important food for thought.)

Basically, I am asking ALL people groups, myself included- to consider- with logic, historical accuracy, and generous kindness- BOTH sides of the matter. We all lose if we are trying to "win" some imaginary battle of staked out lines. Human lives can not be reduced simply to an "either/or." We owe it to those suffering and those who have suffered for better paths of peace and justice, to look adequately, fairly and without bias, to the full spectrum of human belonging. This includes contextual history, the yin and yang (the opposing dark and light of every situation), and the fact that fairness is not equality.  There ARE differences in people groups, demographics, economics and environment. Those differences should be celebrated first. Next, it is important to acknowledge what is strong about a culture and what are the weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and strengths. More injustice happens when we do not give consideration to both. Often, each answer, in each circumstance to issues, equality, freedom and abundance will be different. Because one size fits all should NOT be the standard.

We can not sum up the abundance of one people group with a derisive "that's white privilege." It's astounding to me that the statement is considered socially appropriate. I hear Caucasian people say it sadly about themselves. At one point, I did, at the beginning, because I had this misplaced idea that the only way to become myself was to give that sanction. I thought I could only be good with this guilt induced statement. But truly it does only harm. It marginalizes again. Reduces people to race. We are more than that. We are complex and most people I know have worked hard and with great sacrifices to get what they have.

Similarly I had to step out of some aspects of the Autistic community because some of the blogs I was following had a huge focus on Ableism and proper rhetoric. To the point that no one could be themselves and Aspies were marginalizing 'normal' people and doing what had been done to them! Ableism was an important concept for me to learn. It helped me realize some of the injustices that happened in my life...to a point. For instance, I get watched with suspicion often because I present differently and do not give natural eye contact. My gestures often make me stand out in a bad way. But then I had to step back and look at the context and culture I was in...and realize that I can affect change, occasionally talk about Ableism, but more importantly, I can just tell my stories in my own spaces and the people who listen will be the people who are on my team. Truly, that is the best way to affect change. Not by enforcing advocacy language. But by showing I am a worthwhile human being with Aspergers Syndrome. Yes, I have written on my spaces, about eye contact and my story, but I do not expect all people who do not have Aspergers to give full understanding or to feel privileged because they are 'normal.'  I have had some bad experiences based on the biases that come with who I am and also some good ones. Some people won't like me which is good because it shows I am being authentic in the world. Be suspicious of people who everyone likes because truly, it is a human impossibility. However, respect can be taught and become universal. Words are important, but the intent, context and story of a person is everything.

It is important that we build instead of destroy. We need to give grace in our words instead of poison. We should create beautiful alternatives instead of flinging useless actions against what we perceive as cause. Yes, we need to stand up to injustice but often this means personally, in small ways, on our own forums, writing letters, speaking rationally and kindly to those who oppose us or trying to build a life around them instead of with them, and loving the people in our lives. When we start small we become large. For the single people this can mean being Mother Teresa in some form or another...and for those with families in their care it means taking Mother Teresa's words, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family."

Links:  There ARE definitely downsides and upsides to each way of Being. Some more than others. There are ALWAYS two sides. I have been constantly hearing the opposing side of this issue, which lead me in search of these few articles...I do not adhere to all that is said from other points but I do give consideration. Perspective, consideration and context are crucial to understanding and respect. Injustice does not solve injustice. We can not fix racism with more racism.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5lnZeAGd3g (Jewish Perspective)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDsoyyJn1jU ( Asian Perspective)

Song Choice: "Life is waiting for you, It's all messed up but we're alive..."- Our Lady Peace/ Life.

To be Free- Passenger 

Monday, July 30, 2018

"Images Passing By- My Love, My Life." A Place of Belonging. Home and Family Magic.

*All Quotes from ABBA Mamma Mia 2 songs "My Love, my Life" "Andante Andante" and "I've been Waiting For You."

"I've never felt this strong. I'm invincible, how could this go wrong. No, here, here's where we belong. I see a road ahead, I never thought I would dare to tread."

Carved out from my soul to my life, is a place that I belong. Where there is always an array of good music playing, companionship in the form of laughter, tears or one of us dramatizes it (because occasional drama gives life such flavour!), where there is understanding because communication is continual, and where I feel free because wheat fields and sunsets abound. This place of mine is both practical and magic. It has a bit of logic applied to romantic whims. It's a place where my child captures a picture of my husband going in for his end of lunch kiss, and I ask him to quickly take another one in case it was blurry, and they both turn out lovely. The goodbye lunch kiss combined with "Honey how are you?" afternoon texts help keep our romance alive. Because sometimes it feels dead. Thus, the daily deeds and epic movie moments should make at least a few photos for posterity sake...

"Like an image passing by, my love, my life. In the mirror of your eyes, my love, my life. I can see it all so clearly. All I love so dearly. Images passing by..."
This place has impromptu dance parties and moments when we decide to take photos and dress up because we feel gross. The pictures above were taken on a day when I had a massive headache, and for a week I had felt slightly depressed and meh. Luckily, MammaMia 2 came to the rescue, and my daughter and I decided to blast the tunes and take life in it's scope of beauty. What followed was one of THE BEST afternoons of my life. I still had a headache, but we laughed till our sides ached when we staged some photos. We chatted about hopes and influences. We were inspired by the songs. It was magic.

"Like reflections of your mind, my love, my life. Are the words I try to find, my love, my life. But I know I don't possess you. With all my heart, God bless you. You will be my love and my life. You're my one and only.."
Because the magic kept sparking, my husband and I decided to spontaneously take a mini shopping trip, that ended up being hugely successful. I felt like pretty woman. Is there anything quite as sexy as a man carrying full shopping bags? Well, maybe there is, but at the moment my was heart quickening and I thought there was nothing sexier. Now and beyond to backroad driving and stolen kisses.

"I held you close to me. Felt your heart beat and I thought: I am free. Oh yes, and as one are we in the now and beyond. Nothing and no one can break this bond..."
Lately we have been savouring our place of being. Participating in parades, walks for water, philosophy book studies and summer movies. The right path is the one we choose to walk, dance or claw our way into looking at our life and realizing it is worth living.

"Like an image passing by, my love, my life. In the mirror of your eyes, my love, my life. I can see it all so clearly. All I love so dearly, Images passing by.."
The bittersweet beauty of growth, means that each moment is passing by. Yet, the moments matter. In the magic and mundane. It is part mentality, part actualization, part inspiration, part privilege and part pulling one's life up by the boots straps.

"Like reflections of your mind, my love, my life.Are the words I try to find, my love, my life. But I know I don't possess you. With all my heart, God bless you. You are still my love and my life
Yes I know I don't possess you.."

"With all my heart, God bless you. You are still my love and my life. You're my one and only."
I know I don't possess them. I am fully aware of that fact. With all my heart I put my hopes and blessings into their futures while slightly guiding their present, and ultimately taking what is currently gifted to me.

" I, I have known love before. I thought it would no more, take on a new direction. Still, strange as it seems to be, It's truly new to me. That affection."

Even though I have been with my husband 17 years, and have had my daughter 15 and my sons for my entire adult life, what still shocks me is their affection for me. My mom often will say to me, "They adore you." And I simply say, "Yes they do." Because I know it. Like I have never known anything else. In fact, it makes me grieve for my future self which I should probably engage in therapy for. Because I need to just enjoy what IS now. But my therapist pointed out that I have an unusual relationship with my children, and with my world. He said I have never truly felt acceptance or full safety in my life, then suddenly after the tougher years for babes under 6 were over, I had built in best friends. Who not only like me for quirks, but celebrate the way I move in the world. And they have taught me and given to me as much as I try to teach and give to them. Every day that they have this affection for me, I am surprised and delighted.

"I, I don't know what you do. You make me think that you. Will change my life forever..."
"I, I'll always want you near. Give up on you, my dear? I will never."
"You thrill me, you delight me. You please me, you excite me. You're all that I've been yearning for."

"I love you, I adore you. I lay my life before you. I only want you more and more
And finally it seems my lonely days are through. I've been waiting for you."

I didn't realize how lonely my life was before my husband. I had a ton of wonderful friends and family, but I never felt fully seen. Understood. Heck, I didn't even know myself as an undiagnosed Aspie, INFJ and person with chronic illness. Once those pieces fell into place, my life immediately became calmer. I became more steady in whom I am because I finally figured out I wasn't crazy, just different. But my husband created a place of belonging and safety within the first few months of association. He protected and cherished the parts of me I long kept masked.

"I'll carry you all the way. And you will choose the day. When you're prepared to greet me. I'll be a good mum, I swear. You'll see how much I care. When you meet me."

I needed a project recently so my daughter and I painted the kitchen. My husband and I bought Home Sense decor ( he found those fabulous magical signs on the wall) and my boys helped me re arrange the Living Room and Library while I was immersed in the chaos. Two glorious whirlwind days. I live for creating in my home. The months before I re did both my children's closets with my hubby helping lay the new flooring. The following weekend a gal whom I have known almost my whole life and have been good friends for over 25 years came to spend the day with us. I felt encompassed with delight that this is my life sometimes where past, present and future meet.

"You thrill me, you delight me. You please me, you excite me. You're all that I'd been yearning for. I love you, I adore you. I lay my life before you. I only want you more and more."

Where I live, I can walk to see endless oceans of prairies. A passing friend snapped a photo and texted me, "Took a total stalker photo of your family for you because you all looked so cute walking together and I thought you might like that memory captured!" That night we could hear the coyotes yipping in the fields which made my book loving heart sing because I wasn't just reading a novel- I was in it.

"And finally it seems my lonely days are through. I've been waiting for you. Oh...I've been waiting for you." My son thought I was quirkily adorable because I accidentally wore my plaid pants with my plaid coat. I just happened to match and I didn't notice till I was walking down the street and he spontaneously hugged me with comments on my unique self. I laughed and was going to change when my children asked me to stay in my Santa's helper outfit...in July I looked like a plaid candy cane walking down the street but it made them happy.
 It feels like these few short years, where I have finally found myself, and my delight, are quickly passing by. I was shocked to hear I am in my mid thirties this year! When did that happen? I feel like I just turned thirty. I felt my biological clock ticking. I even looked into having a few more children as I always wanted six, but I don't think I could do pregnancy/baby/ under six again nor put that on my family if they are not fully on board. So I had to work through that and realize just because I had joy, did not mean I needed to add more...It feels like my children are slipping through my fingers. In ways they will outgrow me. Luckily, with their diagnosis they will also remain forever young in some aspects but each will be different in their own way. I try to remind myself that it's not up to me to worry about that. Maybe I won't even live to see that day? Regardless, I am here. They are still here. And my husband and I are renewing our relationship.

The picture on our fence is one of my favourite photos ever, captured by my youngest ( most of the photos on this page were taken by my youngest son), because it shows the delight I often experience from my family. I honestly never thought my life would end up this way. Where I would be a woman who lived for family, and my children would co exist with me in a Gilmore sort of existence. I have had a jealous soul once tell me it can't last and that it is unhealthy. Why is lasting always the ultimate goal? How about savouring what IS and that is it? I think we look like our specific type of health. And that is all that matters. I still give them space, what they need to grow, and luckily I also need mountains of alone time. But, hearing them play or talk down the hall is a special type of soul medicine I savour.

"Andante Andante, And watch me float away. I'm your music, I'm your song. Play me time and time again, and make me strong. Make me sing. Make me sound. Andante Andante. Tread lightly on my ground. Andante Andante. Oh please don't let me down."
Having my husband as my teammate and loyal partner is fabulous, but I also love that every now and then we aspire to romance novel status. That part of life I DID dream of. I always wanted a musical sort of romance. Sometimes I have it. Occasionally it's sizzling hot, sensual, and dramatic. While sadly, at other times it feels like the song "One of Us." (Abba.) Most of the time it's a mellow sort of soul connection with friendship lost and found. As long as we try occasionally to keep it fresh and rejuvenated, that for me, is enough. "Andante Andante."

Song Choices: I've been Waiting For You- MammaMia 2 Version, My Love, My Life- Mamma Mia 2 version, Andante Andante - Mamma Mia 2 version

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

About Friendships; Spontaneity, Personal Responsibility, The Diminished Soul, Jordan Peterson and Friendship Reciprocity.

The Importance of Spontaneity Within Measure:

Being an Introvert and a Planner, it would surprise most people to learn that I need spontaneity in my life within balance. One evening my grandparents texted and asked to come over within the half hour. Luckily, it was just enough time to tidy up and mentally prepare before we spent a lovely two hours chatting about their lives growing up in the backwoods during the 1950's. While I would not welcome numerous drop ins at my home weekly without at least a half hour notice, this had me thinking about the community of souls I am a part of.

Following that experience, I was reading my typical blogs and Mr. Money Moustache's newest post cited this HERE, "People would show up in the morning and just linger and come and go all day, swimming in the pool, grilling up lunches and dinners, playing cards at night or watching movies in the impromptu movie theatre I had set up in the old detached garage. There were last-minute multi-person sleepovers every weekend. Leftover spicy bratwurst for breakfast cooked over an open fire in the morning. The fond memories from this early-nineties teen utopia live on in all of us*. So naturally, I have wanted to find ways to recreate that carefree feeling ever since. According to people who actually study this stuff, the key to a really happy community and warmer friendships seems to be you need to run into people unexpectedly every day, and then do fun stuff with them. To facilitate this, you need to live close enough together that you encounter one another when out for your morning stroll. "

I also grew up in the nineties and my parents house was continually used for massive sleepovers, BBQ's, movies and the door was constantly open last minute to my friends. I needed loads of downtime afterwards, but I also loved the safety net of community. I enjoyed my friends and flexible excursions into connection. I thought that would be what I would provide for my children. Our house is amazing and children LOVE it when they come to it. But society has changed. Children are constantly in organized events. When they are not micro managed, they crave downtime or need family time. Our children are generally the exception and not the rule in this regard.

Over the last two years death happened, depression happened...and we had to keep a tighter closed door for a few years. We still like to keep our spaces pretty protected, but for the few people I allow into our lives, I like the concept of a flexible place...to make room occasionally and to SHARE in the experience of living together...(within balance for this Introvert of course.) Those whom have invested in us and want the best for us deserve some of our time. Especially if both parties genuinely enjoy the other's company. Luckily, we have some friends who feel the same and occasionally call up on a Sunday and ask if they can come chat. I think it's a brave thing to do- to risk both time and rejection for the off chance there may be space for one's soul. Sometimes we say no, but more often than not, we try to say yes. Instead of being irritated by the interruption I try to see it as an honour that they feel comfortable enough with us to ask. The dad of the house knows my husband from small group and is a few decades older than us. He remarked once, "It is so rare to find a family who is as welcome and flexible as you guys are. In the lonely winters I feel lucky that I can just text you the day of and come over to chat for long hours as our kids play. We can talk philosophy or general life and it's engaging and feels like a second home. Thank you for that provision. It is rare. Especially in people your age."

There are times in life when we need to be protective of our time. Perhaps even a little selfish. But there is also a time when we should question our own patterns too. There are seasons for everything. Whatever season we are in, it is important we balance ourselves with the perspective of the other side. For myself, this next decade encompasses the last few years of my children officially in my home. I intend to take this time as much as possible. But I also want them to look at what we provided for others, what we shared, and how we did not always require people to meet our time tables. Recently our children were sponsored to walk for water. We were asked two days prior to the race (short notice.) We said yes. Yet, the same week, we said no to an amazing offer to have our daughter be in extra in Carmen the Opera. Why yes to one and no to another? For us, it comes down to the amount of time commitment. Honestly, it is also sometimes easier to do the last minute engagement. Why? Because we know how we are feeling IN THE MOMENT.

Spontaneity is important due to this factor. We are who we are RIGHT now. We honour that in others by allowing them to show up in the world as they are to us in a certain moment. We honour it in ourselves by living life to the fullest. We prepare for the future, memorialize the past, but also have to maximize the present. Sometimes that means making room for quick interactions that build meaningful inspiration later. Some of my best moments have not been planned. Life happens whether we plan for it or not. What is important is if we can take the moment, once it is presented and make the necessary adjustments.

That said, I also love to plan. I am an INFJ after all. I have lists, budgets for following years, goals and time lines. Some beautiful moments in my life have also been planned. It's a tightrope of balance. Lately, I have been challenged in my flexibility. To still allow myself to be ME, but take myself into uncomfortable circumstances occasionally. Sometimes the pay off is more than worth it. Other times it is a learning experience I would not repeat. The autonomy is important. So is the perspective and freedom to say no or yes without bitterness or resentment from either party. The beauty of freedom is aptly expressed in this give and take. Not only is freedom reflected but love, respect and trust. When we have relationships we trust, we don't tie them to schedules, but we also allow for schedules too because BOTH are part of the existence in this life. I am trying to work on my flexibility, being on the receiving end of tight schedules that were not my own, made me realize that I did the exact same sort of rule to others...and that I needed to take personal responsibility to let the people in my life know that I am open to change and balance. I am open to sharing my time and giving it, within what I can.

Personal Responsibility:

There is personal responsibility in every relationship. Even in a "helping" relationship, we need to ask ourselves if we are really lifting someone up out of their own muck or taking away their personal autonomy by 'rescuing' them. Sometimes we accidentally strip victims of their power by taking away any agency they had in helping themselves. "Vice is easy. Failure is easy too. It's easier not to shoulder a burden. It's easier not to think, and not to do, and not to care. It's easier to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today, and drown the upcoming months and years in today's cheap pleasures... How do I know that your suffering is not the demand of martyrdom for my resources, so that you can oh so momentarily stave of the inevitable? Maybe your misery is your attempt to prove the world's injustice, instead of the evidence of your own ... missing of the mark, your conscious refusal to strive and to live....Maybe it's your revenge on Being. How exactly should I befriend you when you're in such a place? How exactly could I?" (*Citation below)

The Diminished Soul:

Recently I have been reading Jordan Peterson. Before my readers jump to any conclusions, let me state that I started reading him because I was opposed to him. I heard about him through my husband who really liked JP. I read articles and then I made a judgment. But, whenever I make judgments I feel I should at least know thine enemy in context and give a fair trial. It's who I am. Thus, I watched some Youtube videos, and read the book, "12 rules of Life" and changed my position. I don't agree fully with Jordan Peterson. In context, I find he has some wisdom to share and some needed (sometimes harsh) words for our current culture. On the flip side, I would not always take his cause either. (A blog post for another time methinks.)

I was brought up short numerous times while reading. Rule number 3 is "Make friends with people who want the best for you." In it he states. "Success; that's the mystery. Virtue; That's what's inexplicable. To fail, you merely have to cultivate a few bad habits. You just have to bide your time. And once someone has spent enough time cultivating bad habits and biding their time, the are much diminished. Much of what they could have been has dissipated, and much of the less that they have become is now real. Things fall apart, of their own accord...I am not saying there is no hope of redemption..." (*)

I realized, I have allowed my soul to be diminished over the last few years. In some ways I gave in to some bad habits. I gave away my autonomy in the name of peace and harmony. I forgot that my way of BEING in the world has to be both freedom and responsibility. And I became less. I spoke up less, I asked for less, I gave less, I had less energy and it created a vicious cycle and the habits I started out of desperation became a REAL part of me. That reality point was tough to face. Over the last few months I have taken baby steps out of my own chasm. I came up with a plan that was flexible but also required discipline of myself. We began the Whole30 and my eating habits changed, which then helped my attitude change, which then helped my energy change, which then brought about change in how I showed up to those I loved. While I am far from perfect, I feel that my diminished sides have begun to fade into new blooms of growth. I still have chronic illness and struggles, I am still odd in a world of 'the norm', but I am taking back what I can. Establishing new habits, challenging my own ones, facing the hard truths and finding redemption.

The concept of "Helping Others"

Jordan Peterson finishes his chapter by writing that a person has to WANT to be improved, and help themselves a bit first before anyone can truly come alongside the journey. And for the helpers who wish to walk alongside the suffering, we must ask ourselves the tough questions first. Are we maybe trying to be too good of a person? Do we wish to see ourselves in the powerful light of Helper instead of the helped? Do we console ourselves with this type of martyrdom instead of doing the hard work of being honest and leading by example instead? While it is important to help those in real need of help, we must look at what exactly that constitutes.

"Here's something to consider; If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn't recommend to your sister, or you father or your son, why would have such a friend for yourself? You might say out of loyalty. Well, loyalty is not identical to stupidity. Loyalty must be negotiated, fairly and honestly. Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement. You are not morally obliged to support someone who is making the world a worse place. Quite the opposite. You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse. It's a good thing, not a selfish thing, to choose people who are good for you. It's appropriate and praiseworthy to associate with people whose lives would be improved if they saw your life improve." (*)

The above statement had me thinking for quite awhile. I used to attract everyone who needed help. In my early twenties I was constantly giving our limited time, resources and money away, believing it was what was required of me to be a good person. Plus, I tend to have a bleeding heart when it comes to some causes. Then I had to learn boundaries. Now, I am in a new cycle, learning to incorporate both sides of the coin. Yet, maybe withdrawing help sometimes gives help? I know, in our circumstances of early life, when the church refused to help our desperation, we did what we could, and over the years we learned how to be independent and thriving. We needed that hard lesson. I am thankful the church refused. Some may think I am bitter for remembering, but even though it hurt, it was one of the moments that helped define our autonomous future. Did it create more suffering and heartache at first? Yes. Did I have therapy for some moments of trauma during that time? Yes. But I am here, now, who I am in a beautiful life, partially because of that moment of refused help. It's tricky. I do believe in helping the truly vulnerable, needy and innocent...but often those who ask for our help have some responsibility of their own. I find that a tough lesson to learn.


"If you surround yourself with people who support your upward aim, they will not tolerate your cynicism and destructiveness. They will instead encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you do not. This will help bolster your resolve to do what you should do, in the most appropriate and careful manner. People who are not aiming up will do the opposite. They will offer a former smoker a cigarette... They will become jealous when you succeed ...withdraw their presence or support or actively punish you for it..." (*)

I have had to ask myself, if I am that friend (cited above) to my husband first and foremost. Do I celebrate his upward aims? Do I not allow him to engage in his own self destruct? Do I encourage him to be healthy and do what is good and create boundaries when he engages in self harm? Do I do this with my children whom are also my friends? Myself? My other friend circles? How can I be more brave with honesty and not just harmony, while still incorporating the harmony of myself that I also need to honour?

Jordan Peterson ends the chapter on Friendship with this;
"It is for this reason that every good example is a fateful challenge and every Hero, a Judge. Michelangelo's great perfect marble David cries out to its observer: 'You could be more than you are.' When you dare to aspire upward, you reveal the inadequacy of the present and the promise for the future. Then you disturb others, in the depths of their souls, where they understand that their cynicism and immobility are unjustifiable... You remind them that they ceased caring not because of life's horrors, which are undeniable, but because they do not want to lift the world up on to their shoulders, where it belongs... Don't think it is easier to surround yourself with good, healthy people than with bad unhealthy people. It's not. A good, healthy person is an ideal. It requires strength and daring to stand up near such a person. Have some humility. Have some courage. Use your judgment, and protect yourself from too uncritical compassion and pity. Make friends with people who want the best for you." (*)

What a challenge to live up to! To lift the world on one's shoulders like Atlas but not because of punishment, but because it is part of being a good human being. If I look around at who I surround myself with, within this lens, I realize I have a lot of work to do on myself, while still accepting whom I am and what I have been given.

Luckily, I am grateful for those who are in my small circles. Many of them inspire me to be a better person. Either in body, soul or spirit. Each person has a different set of ideal gifts to learn from. It is humbling to stand next to a beautiful friend who takes the best care of herself that she can. I admit that it inspires me to look into skin care, keep up my work outs and eat better. NOT because I am comparing. I may not look like that friend at all. But because I see the love she has for herself and it is contagious. It is also humbling to stand next to my friend who is honest when I ask her opinion on all matters but gives the news with grace. I find myself wanting to be more truthful in speech and brave in my bearing. Not to be her, but to find my own way of being brave. It is humbling to be friends with someone who asks me to do better, to work with her quirks or schedules but also makes way for mine. That kind of acceptance asks me to be both considerate and self giving. I am no longer off the hook with excuses but gloriously thought of as independent. It is humbling to see my gal friend be on time and show up in her busyness because she committed to me. It makes me question my integrity and how I show up in the world. Sure, I will probably always be a little late to some places, but her presence makes me question how effective I can be in managing my time. It is humbling to hear my best friend celebrate me when she is struggling. It makes we want to be a kinder, non jealous person when I am struggling and others are succeeding. It is humbling to see someone be themselves even though the world around them judges because of preconceived notions of what is good, but they are who they are, regardless. This makes we want to stand strong in whom I am.

I want to make friends with people who want the best for me. I also want to be the friend who wants the best for those around me. "Well, you came and opened me, and now there's so much more I see, and so by the way I thank you...Keep smiling, Keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure, that's what friends are for. In good times, and bad times, I'll be on your side for ever more. Cuz that's what friends are for." (**) I want to not only support my friends, but call them to make the world better. And if I am not doing that, maybe I should scrutinize if I am even being a friend. I also want my friends to not only accept who I am, but encourage me to be as much as I can be, to make the world better. It’s both acceptance and responsibility...

* All quotes taken from pages 80- 83 of Jordan Peterson's book "12 Rules for Life. An Antidote to Chaos."

** Song Lyrics from "That's What Friends are for"- Dionne Warwick's official music video for 'That's What Friends Are For' ft. Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Moment I Fell Back In Love with My Husband, Why Marrying Young is Often an Excellent Choice for Committed Partnership and A "Just Checkin In Sort of Love."

(Disclaimer: *I want to express here to my friends who are divorced or separated, that I acknowledge your immense pain and heartache. This post is not focused on that aspect of understanding and perhaps is not meant currently for your eyes if you are in a tough spot right now. While I understand those tough spots and I currently never wish to be in those moments again, I know that both partners have to be willing to get back to a place of being in love. One person's love is not enough for both. I am so incredibly sorry for the one whom loved, but it was not enough to carry, and that pain can be worse than death when it's fresh. Miserable marriages are the worst, speaking from experience when one particular year was so heartbreaking...I had PTSD for the next full year...in a small part I understand but in another aspect- I don't...because my journey is suddenly in happiness again and this post is about that reclaiming and giving advice to couples who are on the precipice but have choices...)

The Moment I Fell Back In Love with My Husband

I have alluded to the fact that my husband and I recently had 2.5 tough years in THIS and THIS post. In our 17/18 years together, we have had some terrible years, epic times, and neutral moments, but currently, I am celebrating that thus far, this is becoming one of our together times. 

 A couple months ago my husband and I were watching a movie together. It was a perfectly ordinary moment in which we both started laughing and I snuggled into his chest naturally. It took a second to register that I didn't have to pre choose to be near him, or force myself to make contact, and then my head popped quickly off his chest and I exclaimed,"Oh my goodness!!! It happened!" And he knew EXACTLY what I was going to say, because at the same time I said, "I'm back in euphoric love with you." He said, "What? You are back in love with me?"

The fact that he had the same realization at the same moment made me love him even more. I felt like I had in years passed. We have always been FOR each other in a chosen partnership, in good times and bad times. We actively choose to get through the hard years, because we know that we would just have to eventually traverse a similar path with someone else. All relationships have their eventual ebb and flow. We knew we valued commitment and nothing barring two definite rules of ours, would be worth losing what we had. In tough times, if we work on our relationship and actively choose to try, eventually the feelings will come back. This time it took almost 2.5 years to fully come around to the feelings of being IN love, but we still HAD love. We chose to have each other's backs despite our issues. 

Why Marrying Young is Often an Excellent Choice for Committed Partnership

Our natural relationship is based on the beautiful ordinary. I often tell my children to try to marry young if they want a lifelong committed partnership. Why? Because contrary to popular advice, marrying young causes the couple to GROW together. It's easier to adapt to each other because from a vulnerable age, both people have chosen to consider one another. It tends to go that these individuals are less set in their ways, there are more options to choose from below a certain age, and if chosen with wisdom and preparation, the couple has more time to bond together for a lifetime of choices. The problems of marrying young are NOT from age. They are from a lack of maturity (maturity is ageless and depends on perspective) when making choices, which can be partially remedied by preparation. My husband and I went to seven different marital counsellors of differing beliefs. SEVEN. I admit, we were trying to make a point that we could get married because almost everyone was telling us it was a bad choice. Which in hindsight, the naysayers gave us a head start by allowing us to "rebel" and figure out how to be stronger in our decision. Overall, most issues in life are not about age. Age is different from wisdom. I know 16 year olds who have more wisdom than some 68 year olds. I see couples who will succeed being married at forty and couples who will succeed being married at 18. It's not about age. But there IS an element of TIME. Being together longer, having moments to infuse love and bond together in almost every decade minus childhood, DOES add a special type of element to love. My husband and I knew each other at 17. We have witnessed the changes from teen hood to young adulthood, early twenties to thirties and thirties to mid thirties together. If you are older than 30, think of all those crucial life moments, skills and wisdom that was gathered through those years. Now imagine sharing them with a life partner in vulnerability and balance. That can either ruin a couple or fuse them so tightly together that it is almost impossible to bring them apart.

What will make the difference between ruination and fusing tighter to each other? This is a complex question. Unfortunately some factors are out of our control. Tragedy, death, and mental illness can change a couple's rate of succeeding. But they can also bring a couple together. It depends on BOTH people. Mostly, in a large generalization, it comes down to communication, humour, willingness to be vulnerable and natural, respect and commitment. If both partners are able to express the truth in love, remain open in vulnerability and share most experiences with each other, most obstacles can eventually be overcome. 

A "Just Checking In Sort of Love."
My husband checks in every day with texts like, "Morning love, How was your sleep? How are you feeling today?" He also calls me during work with his headphones. He can have the worst timing. I will be in the middle of check out at a store, or running to the bathroom, having a serious discussion with my kids, tacking up decor, dealing with broken glass or my arms will be full of packages while I am unlocking my door. Actually, often his timing is "inconvenient." But most of the time, I still answer. Because he is making the time, I need to make the time. I remind myself what I am doing can often wait. Or I can quickly tell him I will call him back. But most of the time, I smile as his ring tone of "At Last" starts to croon and I begin the conversation with, "Hi Babe, what's up?"

Since we were teens together, he has known that I tend to forget the sensory details of the day. He will ask me if I have eaten and make sure that I get food nurturing. I make sure he is covered in natural sunscreen if he is working outside, that his schedule is manageable and that he has drank enough water. During our 2.5 years of chaos, we still made this kind of love a practice.

In general, we have a rule to tell each other important or relevant news first, before anyone else. Sometimes we forget but we actively try to choose to share emotion as a priority. Each morning before he leaves, I will often feel a kiss on my cheek or forehead. If I stir, I will hear the words, "Shhhhh go back to sleep baby." And I will...with a slight smile on my face. When I wake up later I send a text to him with, "Morning love. Hope your day is going well." This routine still happened when we were going through tough times. Because practicing the daily love BECOMES love.

Whenever one of us is going away for the day, we make sure we say, "I love you." It's a habit that has been a part of us since we were 17. We have only had 10 full days/nights away from each other in 18 years together. Even when I feel I hate him, I can't stand to go to sleep without him. When I am super mad, I wait till he is asleep (which doesn't take long) and then I reluctantly move to spoon him, because it is easier for me to fall into slumber in that natural position. He will shift in his sleep to accommodate me and often he will move his arm so that it is holding mine. Even if we were arguing before sleep. Reaching for each other is a habit.

He makes me laugh and I crack him up. We will often be found laughing until our bodies are shaking. Actually the movie "Friends with Benefits" (which I do not recommend if you have issues with sexual scenes) reminds me of my husband and I. We are best friends first. Of course we have our sexy times, but often our private relationship is full of casual friendship moments, laughter, joking and a general comfortability.

The other day I could not stop snapping pictures of him. I couldn't get over how beautiful he was. I am often in awe of his natural facial beauty. I can't compare to him that way. I have to put on make up and effort into my form of beauty. He wakes up and those beautiful smile crinkles light up his face. His faded freckles dot his smooth skin and his stubble highlights his full mouth. He has the most stunning smile coupled with expressive, blue sky eyes. I find him more attractive than any movie star I adore (which isn't many but the ones I do think are attractive tend to look similar to him...except for Blaine in Glee, and he just encompasses my husband's charismatic personality in many ways.) Yet despite the fact that he is prettier than me, every day he tells me how beautiful I am. Often, he catches me off guard. He typically says it when I am feeling at my worst. Often he makes advances when I am in sweats, a t shirt and have barely any make up on or my hair is a rat's nest. I sigh with frustration and say, "Why do you never make these advances when I am in heels and a dress or look better?! Now, it will take me awhile to come around to the idea that I am sexy which factors into our time together..." But he always replies, "I prefer knowing you're comfortable. That's hot to me." Which, let's admit, is a pretty quick way for me to get over myself. It works, but I can tell he is genuine. I can be in a dress and heels like in this photo my son snapped below- when I think I look the best I can be:
... and even though we have time to connect, instead he chooses to focus attention on me a day later when I look casual, probably smell, am in glasses and PJs without make up and my hair is messy (pic below also taken by my son- my daughter snapped the photos of my husband and I.) and it seriously baffles me because it has been the pattern all through our marriage. These moments are not when I would personally choose me anyway...:

Often in Romances or Novels, there is this pressure to have an epic amount of sexiness. The romance hinges on constant sexual advances, hot bodies, or over the top romantic overtures in hot air balloons or exciting, expensive places...Even on Instagram, the trendy couple posts are the ones where two hot people with excellent clothes are taking pictures in stunning landscapes or in the perfect lighting. These photos capture a feeling and are beauty in a different way, but should not be a standard of expectation. While my husband and I have had similar epic moments, and we have a couple perfect pictures together or have had moments of constant attraction...these occasions are few and far between life's ordinary. And the ordinary bliss is truly what romance is about.

It's the moment when he tucks me in because I have been doing too much extraverting and he knows that I will crash if I do not have ample alone time in my room. Or when I arrange his schedule and organize his next business venture because I know those details stress him out and cause him to feel inadequate. It's when we run our hands along each other's backs as we pass in the hallway of our home. Or when we quickly peck each other's cheeks as we cross each other's paths. Love is where we are on Sunday mornings, snuggling in bed because we are free in time to enjoy each other. It's the moment when I finish his sentences and predict his behaviour so that I can change our environment to suit his moods. It's trusting that he doesn't cheat in any form including images on his phone, and vice versa. It's choosing each other to fill our needs instead of going to another convenient or seemingly exciting choice. It's when we share a smile over the kid's heads because something they said hit us right in our souls and we both KNEW what the other was feeling. It's him scrubbing the shower because he knows I lack the strength, and me doing his laundry because I know he lacks the time. A large part of this is also sharing our small hopes and dreams together and finding a way to activate our change together. If one of us wants to change our eating patterns, the research is shared and if it's drastic, we BOTH choose to walk the path together because we know that type of change can re set a person, thus we want to re set together. This also applies in financial goals, home goals and child rearing. (Obviously we also have our important separate choices and crucial alone time too.)

"It's ordinary, plain and simple, typical this every day love, same old, same old, keeping it new. Emotional so familiar, nothing about too peculiar, oh but I can't get enough of this every day love. Every afternoon I make a phone call, listen to the voice that warms my heart, I drag myself through a few more hours, and drive home to try to beat the clock, his smile will be right there, just like it was before, and it will be that way tomorrow, like every day before. I wouldn't change one single thing about it, it's run of the mill but I still can't live without it."- Rascal Flatts

P.S. Happy Birthday Baby. I love walking the tightrope with you in our ordinary day love. You are truly the only person in the world who knows me for all that I am. After these last 2.5 tough years I wanted let you know how very proud I am of you. That even in your tougher moments I was pretty honoured to still be your partner. I wouldn't want to go through hell with anyone else but you! But it's also lovely to be back in Ga Ga love with you. "I Hope you're the end of my story. I hope you're as far as it goes. I hope your the last word- I ever utter. That it's never your time to go."- Pistol Annies

From the Kids- Forever our Thor:

Song Choice: Everyday Love- Rascal Flatts , Tightrope- Michelle Williams, End of My story- Pistol Annies

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Other Side of Boundaries: Value Those Who Genuinely Care For You. The Rare Beauty of Deep Connections. Accepting "Socially Inappropriate" Behaviours as Beauty too. Expressions of Gratitude.

Boundaries and letting go are important concepts for an INFJ to learn. They have been my focal points for about a decade. I will forever be learning in the realm of "appropriateness" and proper boundaries. But there is a counter balance to this lesson. Luckily, for me, this counter balance comes more naturally. However, in the past, it threw me often into the deep end of other's grasping hands of use or desperation. So I had to learn to bury my depth of caring. I began burying it with distant friends, then in immediate circles, and finally this mentality even bled into my relationship with my husband. Luckily, my children were always my constant. They continued to allow me to be ME. They adored me as I was and am. If it wasn't for them, I think I may have locked that aspect of myself forever in the dark recesses of my soul.

But they were there. With their unconditional love, support, and acceptance. And I saw that it didn't matter how intense I was, how absolutely quirky or ridiculously animated I became...whatever I was, and how tightly I held on to them- they loved me back or more for it. When I showed them every day how much I cared in varied ways, they didn't ask me to put up more boundaries. They simply accepted. Of course I had a few natural, healthy boundaries, but I didn't have to actively practice "boundaries" with them the way I had to with others. What a relief that was!

Boundaries are important. For the rest of my life I will be writing, implementing and learning about boundaries, letting go, and allowing growth to take me in different directions. But there IS another side. And I will forever constantly be torn between the healthy endeavour of fitting in, being socially appropriate, and making healthy parameters around myself and my family...and being whom I naturally am at my core; an extremely giving, innocent, intense, deep and quirky person who craves time, depth and emotional connection.


A few years back I found a balance between these two aspects. But life is a journey of growth, mistakes and successes. This new season, I am re learning what I already knew. After my aunt died, there was a moment when I realized that, "There is one less person in the world who loved me for ME. Who thought my quirkiness was brilliant, who wanted to protect my innocence, who believed in my words, and wished the best for me. One less person who thought my temper was valuable and amusing and didn't take offence when I was "off," distant or moody. And one less person in the world who I felt the same for back." That hit me hard. 

Recently, one of my former best friends from High School was over. We see each other a few times a year and pick up where we left off for the most part. She will forever be another person who loves me for me in varying aspects. Religiously we are worlds apart and have conflict. But when it comes to my quirks or fears, she has my back. And I have hers. We were talking about her grandparents passing away and she astounded me with saying the exact same phrase I said above. She softly remarked that there were now less people in the world who loved her for HER. Who didn't care if she was fat or skinny, rebellious or kind, successful or failing in any regard...they just loved HER. At that moment I, once again, realized why we are still friends. Our brains often formulate the same response to life. Our ethics are similar even if our beliefs are not. We wish for authenticity and connection, beauty, innocence, sweetness, and family ties. For the most part, we both see value in the same places. We laugh boisterously together and she shares memories with my daughter. That, is invaluable.

This had me thinking about all of the people in my life. It is tough to express, in the busyness of life, how much a person can mean. A single connection out of the blue can change our lives. One text conversation can alter our destiny. People are often conduits of growth. We often forget to thank them. Until one day we realize they are absent. They are either far away or out of this life. If they have passed onward without our expression of gratitude that is a moment that can never be given back.

Luckily, in the cases of my aunt and my mother in law (both of whom passed on in the last couple years) I have text feeds that I went out of my comfort zone to express my gratitude for their role in my life. Because I knew the end was coming. I was able to make a video for my MIL and show it to her in one of her awake moments, of the children and my husband, to a song, to thank her for everything she had done in our lives. With my aunt, we shared a couple vulnerable conversations. These conversations have slowly become an engrained part of my soul. They shape how I am with others. They shape my responses in mind and heart.

Strangers can also change our lives forever. Blog writers, books, music, film, actors, past friends, distant relatives, frenemies, close friends, besties, spouses, extended family, children, children's friends, neighbours...Each of these people may be in need of words of encouragement. Their beauty deserves to be celebrated. Kindness should be acknowledged. Care deserves gratitude. And often I bury my overwhelming gratitude because it is not considered "socially appropriate." Yet, the me before boundaries, regularly gave this without thought. When I was 26 years old, I found out that a gal in town despised me. I was so shocked because I didn't even know her. I knew OF her, but I had never had personal interactions with her. So, I began to watch for her downtown and nod with acknowledgement. When that didn't work, I dropped off a gift at her house through a mutual friend with a note apologizing for anything I may have done to offend and hoping an offering of goodwill would suffice. I didn't want another enemy. I wasn't trying to control how someone felt about me. I just wanted to give peace a chance, because that is who I am.

Of course it backfired. She thought I was weird. She told our mutual friend, "Who does that? Who leaves a gift to someone they don't know? What's her angle?" But I stuck to my guns because I knew I did my best. People will judge or perceive you how they view the world. It's not your job to change that. But it is your job to make sure you are acting within your own ethics. I wanted to try for peace. I wanted to acknowledge that she was a beautiful person in her own way, even if we would never be friends. And I knew we wouldn't be because of our personalities. But I wanted to show my acknowledgement of who she was. Do I regret that action? No. Because I know I went into it with thought out intentions and a pure heart. Did I cry later when I found out that I was labelled a freak even though I had to overcome some cowardice to do the action in the first place? Yes I did. It hurt to be so misunderstood. But I came to the conclusion that I understood myself, I knew why I did what I did, and there will be people who don't get it...and that's ok. I am still glad I did it. To me, it's not about the ending, or hopeful resolution (though both are nice bonuses if given), but trying my best, within whom I am, to acknowledge another's existence in peace and gratitude. 

Those situations happened too many times to count in my past. I still give awkward gifts to my Dentist, my Hygienists and basically any professional that helps me. I don't do this to get anything, but instead to show my gratitude for their roles in my life. I sometimes get weird looks. But most of the time, I get astounded shock followed by, "This is exactly what I needed today." My dental receptionist, whom I barely know but has always been so kind to me on the phone, remarked after a gift, "My niece died this week and your gift was the one unexpected bright spot in my week. Thank you. It had me teary in a good way which was a welcome relief."

We don't always get the privilege of knowing how our words of beauty affect others. Sometimes we do not need to know. But we need to give. Gratitude doesn't just serve the one receiving, but also the one giving. When we acknowledge the crucial words, role or love someone has given us with thankfulness, we also see our own growth, our paths, and the love infused around us.

The lack of these words in our lives is a loss. Some of it comes down to laziness. To combat this, I actively try to write a few words of kindness, acknowledgement or beauty back to someone in text, on Instagram posts, or in email as soon as I read. For instance, if someone writes something vulnerable, I hope to validate their bravery. By writing a few words I am essentially saying, "I see you." That matters. Kind comments matter. Every comment I have received on and off my blog, about how my words helped someone, are now part of the fabric of my being. Some are from strangers I will never see or know, yet they are interestingly a part of me. While others are faces I cherish, belong to, and get to love in a tangible way. Both are of value.

As I have practiced boundaries, I have given less in this way. I used to give gifts, send letters, emails and cards all the time. It wasn't bad of me to stop. In fact, I needed to give myself a new phase with practice emphasized on only giving to myself and a few key people. Yet, at the same time, I have missed that girl a bit. The brave one who constantly stepped out of her comfort zone because she saw beauty and wanted to value it by acknowledging it. A girl who cried in her closet when people found her terrifying or weird, but still stuck to her ways of being in the world anyway ,because she knew it was HER beauty and goodness. A girl who was used to people running from her open arms because they didn't know what to do with her love, but she loved anyway. Maybe it was too intense at times. Maybe "socially inappropriate" too, but it was HER truth. 

The quote above was a phrase similar to what my husband used to say to me when I would cry after these experiences. Sometimes he would sway me from sending an email, not because he didn't believe in my words, but because he knew the receiver would be less than perspective taking or kind. He wanted to spare me more grief. But other times, he knew the grief would come but knew I had to honour who I was. He would wait to pick up the pieces and tuck them back into my soul to be used again. What a lovely expression of love. He would tell me that I was one of the only genuine souls he knew. That my Aspie self gave an alien sort of balance to humanity. He encouraged me not to lose this muchness.

On the flip side, I had to learn how to do this in a less scary way...for the most part. People are scared by genuine care because often it is used to mask sinister behaviour. I had to learn to accept this fact. To work around it. Or to sometimes act in spite of it. But over time I became too socially appropriate. I am often more appropriate in conduct, words and deeds than my "normal" friends. I have become that obedient trained puppy, in some regards. While my behaviour now often gets rewarded from the masses, I have lost some of that joy. That unshakable trust and love given has diminished a bit. And I want it back.

I will not be the same person I was years ago. I have learned too much. But it's time to re adjust my own balance. To value those who genuinely care for me and to just be ME when I give back, regardless of what is thought of me. My biggest gift to those I love is often my words in writing. I need to honour that. Be it in a card, text, email, post, comment ect. I have held back for almost a decade. I learned some good lessons. Many of which I will implement and take with me. As an INFJ boundaries will ALWAYS be needed, necessary and hard to balance. But as an Autistic person, it is important for me to also BE whom I am, which IS socially inappropriate. The few who have seen my genuine soul in this regard, like me even more for this part of me. They may laugh sometimes or get a kick of amusement out of my social blunders, but they find it refreshing too. I need BOTH. I AM both.

If you are an INFJ whom has never practiced boundaries, you may need to go the other way. I have spent a better half of a decade in that zone and I don't regret it at all. But now it is time for a new phase. I am unsure how it will look. I will make mistakes. It will be interesting to incorporate the new boundary filled me while unlocking the hidden intense parts of my soul I buried deep in most situations because I wanted to make other people comfortable. There are different situations for the different sides of persona. My children have taught me that we are most worthy of love, being whom we are. Boundaries are accepting that those who can not see that, can walk away. Being genuine requires us to still be that person that we are regardless.

It is such a gift to have someone see you. In words or deeds. As I am writing this numerous faces are flashing through my head. Elementary and High school friends, relatives, far away friends, Internet friends, called to question participants, professionals, frenemies (people who I may not be fond of or they may not be fond of me but we also played a role in each other's decisions by doing so), therapists, neighbours, parents of friends, children of friends... beautiful, unique souls that are all a part of me...and I am intensely grateful. In this circumstance I refuse to tone down my intensity. I am overwhelmed with teary happiness that I have witnessed aspects of these people's lives and they have witnessed mine.

To all of them, and to you, the stranger reading this blog, I acknowledge you. I wish I could have a deep conversation with you. Be it once and short but valuable or an ongoing friendship. I wish I could express my thankfulness to the unique place you have in my fabric of existence. With some, we have had these conversations and will again. With others, the future is waiting in bravery, and some will unfortunately never have an expression other than this.

With Deep, Intense, Genuine Thankfulness for your place in this world and my place in your world;

"Where there is love, I'll be there. I'll reach out my hand to you. I'll have faith in all you do. Just call my name, and I'll be there. I'll be there to comfort you, build my world of dreams around you, I'm so glad that I found you. I will be there with a love that's strong. I will be your strength. I will keep holding on..."

If Tomorrow Never Comes- Garth Brooks: "So tell that someone that you love, Just what you're thinking of, If tomorrow never comes. Cuz I've had loved ones in my life, who never knew how much I loved them. Now I live with the regret that my true feelings for them never were revealed. So I made a promise to myself, to say each day how much they mean to me, and avoid that circumstance where there's no second chance, to tell them how I feel..."

Glee- You have more friends than you know "Those who love you the most may need more time to grow..."