Lessons Learned

I Walk for Peace

This year, my focus has been on peace.  As things go, my choice of focus for this year has been spot on.  2020 has been a stressful year for many people and for my own reasons, it has definitely been challenging for myself as well.

Challenges aside, I have enjoyed my quest for peace and have learned a few things in the process.

1.  I have spent sixty-four years battling anxiety and one year focusing on peace.    I have learned that I  should have started focussing on peace sixty-five years ago. 🤦

2.  I have learned to make MY peace my priority.   For the better part of my life, my priority has been trying to maintain a peaceful, pleasant cushion around others to try to keep them happy and peaceful.  My reasoning being, if they were happy and peaceful, they were not making my life difficult and stressful.  In my defense,  I had a very high-strung mother.  My first husband was difficult (such an understatement🤣🤣🤣).  My current husband is a really good man but, after number one, complete trust in any man has been difficult for me.   My children were typical, difficult at times children.  Finally,  as an administrative assistant for the better part of my career, it was my job to keep things running smoothly in my work environment.  I drove myself to be the peacekeeper.  Except, my peace was way down the list of my priorities.    I have come to realize that to enable or encourage peace in any situation, one must first be at peace themselves. 🙄

3.  I have learned that peace makes all of  the best things in life possible.   Health and well-being is difficult to impossible when one is constantly stressed.  With peace, health and well-being come naturally.  Happiness is next to impossible when one is stressed and anxious.  With peace, happiness is natural.   Love is difficult to impossible when one is constantly stressed and anxious.  With peace, one is easily more loving and more loveable.  Relationships are healthier and easier.   Prosperity is possible when one is stressed out and anxious – feeling prosperous is difficult at best.  One never feels financially secure when one is anxious and stressed.  You feel you need more and you worry about losing what you have.  You develop poor financial habits or addictions that undermine your efforts to be financially secure.   Peace brings a feeling of security to all aspects of one’s life – including financially.   

4.  Peace is the gift that keeps on giving.  I could, and I intend to,  make my peace my priority going forward in my life.  I believe we are born into this world to evolve – to become better, stronger, and wiser –  as individuals and as a whole.  I  believe peace is the key to evolution – at least to my evolution. 

Parenting 101

My Parents’ 50th Anniversary (1989)

On January 1st, I made a commitment to make PEACE my priority this year. I have made a strong and consistent effort to stay true to my commitment. In many ways, I have made significant progress in becoming less anxious and in making my life more peaceful.

There is one area of my life where I continue to struggle on a regular basis . My problem area is parenting – and grandparenting – and when the time comes (if I do not pull myself together) – it will be great-grandparenting. 👵

The problem (for me) started with my Mother. She taught me, that if you love someone you care about them. If you care about someone you WORRY about them. I am sure that is what her Mother taught her and, God forbid, that is what I taught my children. 🤦

I love my children and I adore their children. I care immensely about them all. So, when my children or grandchildren face any challenge whatsoever, I worry. If they face a serious challenge, I go into a full-blown anxious meltdown.

I know in my mind that I am over reacting. I have faced challenges in my life. I have made bad choices and I have had to deal with the consequences. I have had my heart broken. I have tried and failed. I have struggled with health and finances and grief. I have survived and, more often than not, I have come through each challenge stronger and better for having been through it.

I know my children and grandchildren are smart and capable and resilient and everything else that they need to be to survive every challenge that they will face in life. I want to stop worrying about them and start showing them that I believe in them. Regardless of the situation, I want to be a strong and calm presence in their life.

I have long believed that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. This quotation has been repeated by many strong men throughout history. It is true and so extremely important! It is the basis of my commitment to making peace my priority this year.

There is nothing more debilitating than fear. Fear makes any challenge – physical, mental, or emotional – all the more difficult to conquer. Fear makes any dream or goal all the more difficult to achieve. I know because I have too often allowed fear to rule me. I do not want it to rule me or my family going forward!

There is no form of fear that is productive or helpful. Worrying about those you love, even your precious children and grandchildren is not productive or helpful. If anything, it undermines their confidence and that is unhelpful and detrimental to their well being! Worse yet, it teaches them to perpetuate this unhealthy form of love when then become parents and grandparents.

Going forward this year, I will continue to make peace my focus – for myself, my children, and my grandchildren. 🕊️

Walking Meditation

Peace is my Path

This summer I have done a lot of walking. What began as a means to improve my health and well being, became my favourite part of my day – rain or shine.

Yesterday I came across an article on walking meditation. I found it interesting because I find walking very relaxing and peaceful and because I have never been able to quite capture the essence of meditation.

I have tried meditation several times through my life. I have tried various methods. I just never quite get there. I either get distracted, get frustrated, or my personal favourite – I get so relaxed that I fall asleep.

Walking meditation sounded ideal for me. This morning as I headed out for my walk, I decided I was going to try ‘Walking Meditation’. One step, two step – Kat stopped to smell a post. Start over. One step, two step – some guy on a bike came barreling down the sidewalk and tried to run us down. Start over. One step, two step – busy street, have to focus. Start over. One step, two step – Kat stopped to poop. Give it up already!

Kat💞

Obviously, walking meditation is strictly a solo endeavour meant to be done along a quiet beach – possibly at midnight. 🙄

Since we do not have any beaches in the vicinity and I am sound asleep well before midnight (not to mention Kat has a fit and guilts me out if I leave her behind when I head out for a walk), my quest for a workable meditation technique is still a work in progress.

Any ideas? I am open to suggestions🙂

Emotions

Since January 1st of this year, I have been committed to focussing on peace.   I have written pages and pages of positive affirmations relative to peace.  I have walked miles and miles around our neighbourhood and through our local park, focussing on the peaceful ambiance of nature.  I try to keep peace a part of my day from morning to night.

Recently, I have felt that my life has become more peaceful. I am getting better at accepting the things I cannot change.  I am becoming  more patient.  I tend to be less anxious and I worry less than I used to. As a bonus, my physical health has been improving, which makes me feel better over-all.  

It seems even the people around me are less anxious and stressed than they were in the past.  Maybe I was just projecting my stress onto them?  Either way, life seems more peaceful.

Until a few nights ago…  Suddenly I had a dream about my ex-inlaws.  I dreamt that they came to celebrate Christmas with us.  I have not had any contact with them for many years. I seldom think of them. Nonetheless, I dreamt they showed up for Christmas.  I was so angry, hateful and cruel to them that even in my dream I was shocked at how mean and nasty and terrible I was.  I woke up feeling horrid for how I treated them in my dream.

I have no idea what that was all about. I do not know if I was unconsciously releasing all of my pent up unpeaceful thoughts and emotions. I certainly do not know why I would have spewed it all at my ex-inlaws. They have never been my favourite people but I have certainly known people I had more reason to hate on.

Emotions are so strange. Memories, dreams, or even fictional stories about fictional people can overwhelm us with joy or grief, anger, or fear. That is wierd and unsettling in a way. How we feel often guides us to what we say or how we act. But what about when our feelings are not even remotely based on our actual circumstances? Then what are they for? Hmmm….

The Power of Peace

When I retired earlier this year I had plans for a grand and productive summer.   My ‘to do’ list was impressive, to say the least.   I also had high hopes that this would be my year for resolving major personal issues – health, family, finances. 

Summer is coming to a close and my ‘to do’ list is more of a ‘didn’t get done’ list.  My issues are still there – health, family, finances.  My life is not perfect.

But… here is the thing.   I have been having a great summer.  After decades of stress and anxiety, I have actually experienced moments of profound peace.    I have felt totally fearless – in sync with nature and the universe.  This is the most amazing and powerful  feeling and it is becoming less random and fleeting.  My life may not be perfect but it is improving and I am better equipped to deal with any challenges that I am faced with.

I have always enjoyed walking but it is something that I have not done enough of for the past several years. This summer I walked and I walked and I walked. It started off as a means to cope with health issues I was having. Following a bout of pneumonia, I could not seem to recover. I struggled to breathe and my heart would race after the slightest exertion. With respiratory specialists and therapists closed down to prevent the spread of Covid 19, I was left to my own devices. My device of choice was walking. At first, I could barely make it to the end of our block and back. Now I head out before the heat of the day and I walk for miles.

As I walk, I allow my mind to wander wherever it chooses to roam. Whatever chaos my mind decides to pursue mellows as I walk off the miles. Personal problems come into perspective. Global issues fade. There is always a turning point where instead of feeling attacked by fearful thoughts, I feel empowered. I take control and I choose. My choice is always peace.

There is so much anger and fear and hate in this world. I choose to not contribute to it. When my mind pursues anxious thoughts, I focus on peace and love. When I worry about my health, I remind myself that stress will not help my body to recover. Walking will, so I walk. When I get frustrated or concerned about my family, I wrap them in thoughts and feelings of peace and love. When I worry about our finances, I realize how fortunate we are – and I choose to be grateful for all that we have.

When my mind starts rehashing the news of the day or the reactions on social media, I refuse to dwell on these thoughts or add to the noise. I focus on peace and I move on, considering how and why I feel the way I do. I have learned a lot about myself during my walks and have become more focused on my own thoughts and beliefs. It is no longer a matter of fighting the belief of others. It is about my beliefs ringing true. If, or when, I share my thoughts and beliefs, I am no longer seeking validation or holding a do or die attitude about them. They work for me.

Despite my lack of accomplishments this summer, I feel good about how I have used these pasts months. I feel that I have evolved into a stronger, better person. Hopefully, I will knock a few projects off of my ‘still to get done’ list in the coming months. Hopefully my life will continue to improve and my issues will gradually resolve themselves. Either way, I will continue to move forward – one step at a time.

Take care out there💞

Tranquility

Nature makes peace and harmony and tranquility appear so easy. When I look at a bed of ferns and and clover, I see peace. When I see trees, I see peace. When I look up to a crystal blue sky and watch fluffy white clouds drift by, I see peace. When I see gentle ripples on a body of water, I see peace. When I see a perfect blossom, I see peace. I can hear and see and feel peace throughout nature. More than anything, I want to look within my mind and body and soul and find peace. I am a part of nature. It should be so easy. 🤦

I hope that today, whether you look without or within, you find what you are looking for. 🕊️

My Priority is Peace

I have lived a stressful life.   There have been countless ‘situations’ in my life.  Through good, bad or ugly, especially the ugly, my response has been to stress out. 

I am turning sixty five years old next month.  I cannot handle the stress any longer – not physically, not mentally, and not emotionally.   I am done.  

As so often happens when one decides to give up an unhealthy lifestyle, the universe seems hell bent on dragging me back to the darkside. Currently there a number of potentially stressful events affecting my life and the world in general.

1. Family issues. My daughter got upset with me last August.  Typically, I have been labelled toxic and she has cut me out of her life.  Except she doesn’t cut anyone out of her life. She keeps the anger and the hurt and the hate going.  She cuts her entire family out of the life of anyone she has turned against, hurting them as well as herself and those she has shunned. Presently she has cut out her father and his wife, her ex-husband, her ex-husband’s family, her stepdaughter, her brother and his wife and their five year old son, most of her inlaws, Dan and I, friends too numerous to mention, and a few distant relatives.   As far as her problem with me, the truth is she cannot cut me out of her life – she is a part of me.  She cannot stop me from loving her and her family, she cannot erase the  memories that I have of her and her family – all of the good times we have shared and the difficult times we have survived, she cannot erase all that Dan and I have done for her and her family nor the things that her and her family have done for us.  We are a part of her life and she and her family will always be a part of ours.

2.  Finances. I am recently retired.  The plan is for Dan to work for another four years and retire with his full pension.   Lately the plan isn’t looking good.  Dan works making pipe for the oil industry – at a time when the oil industry is struggling and a time when big companies are working to destroy the unions that protect their employees.   Our finances could potentially be adversely affected.   Dealing with financial problems at this point in our life could be serious.  As tempting as it is to start stressing out over this situation, I realize that will not protect us nor in any way improve the quality of our lives.

3. Global Pandemic.   Everything is at stake.  The global economy, personal finances, health, lives around the globe,  lives of loved ones, the viability of the food chain – the potential fallout is endless and astronomical.   There are countless reasons to stress over this situation but far more reasons to keep a level head and potentially become a part of the recovery.

4.  The murder of Floyd George and subsequent civil uprising. I can’t even.  At first this was shocking. At first the peaceful protests and the support by so many were powerful and moving.  At first there was a glimmer of hope that we could overcome the invasive bigotry that courses through humanity.   Now this movement is slowly being crushed by those who believe violence is the answer and more insideously by those who prefer the status quo – those who feel threatened when others desire the rights and privileges that they have always enjoyed. That is all sad, painful, and potentially stressful and I have no answers.

5. Social Media. I have been on Facebook for years. I joined to share pictures with family, keep up with friends, read the jokes, and play the games. Now it is a source of animosity, ‘alternate facts’, disrespect, insults, and those trying desperately to justify hate and ignorance. Instagram is almost as bad but that is due to its ‘Look at me I am Better’ format. People want to be ‘influencers’ in a race to want more. It is a race all will ultimately lose. There are still good, human, beautiful posts on both Facebook and Instagram, but one has to expose oneself to so much negativity to find them.

I could stress out for countless reasons – but stress is not an option. I have done enough stressing. There is enough stress in our world – it is a violent and destructive force that helps and heals no one. Going forward, peace is my priority. Peace is the healing, constructive power that I need. Peace is what our world needs.

Peace is Possible 💗

Seclusion

When I created my blog, I was focussed on my impending retirement. WordPress had other plans for my blog. “Instead of Retirement 101…”, My blog website became “Seclusion101….”. As strange as that seemed to me, it was actually a perfect fit for me. According to Wikipedia “Seclusion is the act of isolating from society”.

I admire people who can walk into any situation and make it better. Some people enter a room and radiate happiness. Others can be caught in the midst of drama, conflict or fear and radiate peace and calm. I am not one of those people.

I am a sponge for the emotions of those around me. By the standard of current terminology, I am an empath. I get close to anyone who is experiencing extreme emotion and I absorb it by default. I do not even have to be physically close to people I have close ties to – like my husband, sons and daughter. I feel off if there is something seriously wrong with them or the situation they are in.

There are occasions, when this ’empath’ way of being is helpful. I can generally feel when people need comfort or support. I can also generally feel when people are in a state where it is best to just back away and give them space. For the most part, being in the midst of extreme emotion just beats me up – regardless of the type of emotion.

I hate parades. I always have. When the planes fly over or the band strikes up and the crowd unites in excitement and anticipation, I am overwhelmed by the urge to burst into tears. Funerals crush me – even when the deceased was not someone I was personnely close to. The collective grief of family and friends suffocates me. Angry outbursts are the worst. Even if people screaming at each other are across the street, I feel terrified. I know these situation are over reactions, but that is how I am.

I would love to live on an acreage surrounded by nature. In the city, I make do. Regardless of where I have lived, I have always had my special place where I could ‘isolate from society’. Back in the days when I was alone with my teenagers, my ‘place’ was a corner of the kitchen cupboards. I could open a window, sit on the cupboard with my feet in the sink and enjoy a cup of tea and a cigarette. Nobody came near me when I was in my corner – until Dan came into my life. He was allowed in my corner. (He wasn’t allowed to put his feet in my sink.)

Now it is relatively easy to seclude myself. I have indoor and outdoor places that are perfect for isolating. Life has never been better – in retirement and seclusion.

Have a pleasant and peaceful day🌞

Peaceful Progress

Enjoying the beauty of nature🕊️

Every year I choose one aspect of my life to focus special attention on. This year I chose to focus on peace. Every morning, I begin my day by copying ‘peaceful’ positive affirmations in my journal. Throughout the day, when I find myself tensing up for any reason, I stop for a moment to focus on peace. When things go wrong, I try to think “Is this worth losing peace over?” At night, I drift off to sleep focussed on peaceful thoughts.

So far, this year has not been perfect. There have been challenges with my health, family issues, employment issues and general life issues plus the uncertainty that comes from such things as a global pandemic. Regardless, I have felt a profound change in the way I process it all. I find it easier to let go of control or expectations. I find it easier to appreciate the moments in life that are worth cherishing. I find it easier to just ‘be in the moment’. I find it easier to laugh and smile and just feel good. I am finding it easier to create a peaceful vibe around me, like the people I have most admired in my life.

I am not always where I would like to be on my quest for peace. There are anxious moments and stressful days, when I feel less than peaceful. There are people who seem intent on drama and creating chaos. At times, I feel more frustrated and annoyed with them than peaceful. However, overall I feel I am making significant progress. I have another 228 days to focus on peace and I know that I am on a good track for a significantly better life experience.

Life is not always great, sometimes it is not even good – but I honestly believe that we can live it better. It takes work and perseverance and time – but life can be better.


Watching Kat Relaxing💖
Seriously relaxing🤣

Feeling Fine – Really!

I had no idea how detrimental my job had gotten to be to my health. Between the stress and the dust, it just wore me down gradually to the point where I had no idea how miserable I felt.

Due to concerns regarding Covid-19, I took sick leave on March 20th. It has been just a few days over a month. Fortunately, I have dodged the virus while I built up my immunity and my health in general.

The weather has been sunny and warm the last few days. I have spent a lot of time puttering around the yard, walking Kat, and generally relaxing.

I have also spent considerable time catching up on housework. I always did the basics but I just did not have the time or energy to tackle the deep clean projects. So far, I have cleaned all of the kitchen and porch cupboards, defrosted the freezer and fridge, wiped down the livingroom walls, cleaned the ceiling fans and scrubbed the floors.

Today while Dan was at work, I took down the window blinds in our bedroom, washed them in the bathtub, took them outside to dry and wiped down the bedroom walls. When I was done, I scrubbed the bathtub, took Kat for a walk, came home to make her a big batch of food and made our supper. I cannot believe I was able to do all that in one afternoon! A month ago, there is no way I would have had the strength to take the blinds down much less anything else.

Needless to say, I am pumped that I have come this far! It is so great not to have to struggle for every breath. It is so nice not to feel exhausted. I haven’t felt this well for years.😊