Blind Spots

I was driving out to work on my van that is being stored at my mothers old house. The road is familiar. I have been on it hundreds of times. It’s morning and the sun is shining. I have my Tim’s coffee next to me and running over in my head what can be done today to get us closer to using the van. My mind is exploring options and not really paying attention to the road ahead of me. I am driving a little fast and mostly on auto pilot. All of the sudden before me a hawk swoops its wing in front of my windshield. It comes at me from the south going north. I am driving east from the west. The dark brown hawk lands in the field on the other side of the road and stares at me as I slow down and look back at it. Hmmmm….what was that about?

I slow down and start to pay attention to the road. I take nothing for granted and know that the hawk is trying to tell me something important if only I pay attention to its warning.

I come to a section of road that climbs a bit of a hill and then drops down the otherside. You can’t see over the hill until you get to the top. As I approach the top I see a lady running with her head down listening with earbuds in her ears. She is running on the wrong side of the road and heading straight for me. She doesn’t notice my car until I am almost 10 feet from her. Then she looks up a bit startled and proceeds to move over to the other side of the road and pass me by.

This particular backroad is usually empty this time of day. I can cruise to town without encountering a soul. Today I encountered the lady and then a man on a bicycle again coming toward me on the wrong side of the road. You just never know when you will not be able to see what is lurking in your blindspots.

Blindspots are an interesting occurrence. Since we can’t see what occupies that space we usually assume that there is nothing there. What if there is? Now I know my example isn’t necessarily depicting a blindspot. It’s more about paying attention and focusing on the task at hand instead of multitasking. According to Google,studies show that only 2.5% of us are able to multitask successfully.

So why do we constantly think we can do it with success?

I can’t see what’s happening in my blindspots. I can use mirrors or ask someone for feedback to help me validate what occupies a space I think is empty. Whether that space be in my thinking, my views, my narrative, my memory or whether it actually is something physical. I am not that great at multitasking either. I do better completing something then starting something else.

The hawk was there to give me feedback that morning and I am very grateful for the heads up!

I have been contemplating doing more things one at a time and doing them to the best of my ability. Then I can move on to the next task with confidence that I am more likely to see what’s in my blindspots.

Afterall, what’s the rush?

About Face

A few weeks ago, my sister in law notified me that my face showed up on a Facebook page with someone asking if anyone could identify this person. My image was found on a cell phone I had lost on the summit of Mount Ward in the Crowsnest Pass. It was amazing that they had found the phone as I had lost it descending down on my butt over a mountain side of scree. Here is the remarkable part. I was up there in August of 2019. That’s over 3 years ago. Think back how much has changed in the last 3 years. For me? I lost my mom, I lost my job, COVID happened and I almost lost my sense of self.

As I look at the face staring out from the phone that shouldn’t be working, let alone sporting my face on the cover, I marvel at our ability for resilience. That woman captured is me but yet, is not me. She is restless and ready for change. She is tired and grieving over so much loss in the last few years. She is there with her two great nieces enjoying a warm summer day doing what she loves to do. Exploring uncharted territory and pushing herself to go further and harder.

Phone still works after 3 years!

Sometimes I am not sure where the strength comes from. It just appears and I am always grateful to the universe for providing it to me. I sat on the top of the summit enjoying the sun and view as the girls explored further up and around. I saw 3 crows in the distance. They were making a big racket and circling overhead. I watched them for a bit then noticed behind them that some big dark rain clouds were starting to form. Anyone who has been hiking in the mountains knows to start down when that happens. Hopefully you can outrun the storm, most often I am not that lucky. I was about to holler for the girls to come and they appeared ready to head out. I happened to look down and found the most unique rock I had ever seen. I had been thinking about the crows and their warning that the weather was about to change. The rock appeared to have a crow flying over the mountains on it. It was pale yellow with a black image of a crow. I picked it up and put it in my backpack. In hindsight, I wish I would have done the same thing to my phone which I placed in my coat pocket tied around my waist.

As the clouds got darker, we started to slide down on our backsides. It was treacherous and slow going. Over half way down I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket anymore. There was no way I could go back up and try and find it. We had been zigzagging and moving over a large space of rock and debri. It could have been anywhere. Like a needle in a haystack. I resigned myself to either come back a different day or say “goodbye” to the pictures from that day.

I got a new phone and reclaimed quite a bit of my pictures, chats and music as I usually back up stuff to the cloud. I was missing the photos we had taken that day which was too bad. When I reloaded my messenger chats I was heartbroken to see my conversation with my sister who had passed away in 2016 wasn’t coming back up. It took some letting go to say “goodbye” to the conversation I had treasured.

Time goes by and I have had 3 phones since then. Every once in a while I would think about the phone and wonder if it was still alive. What view it had looking out over the barren terrain. Saying good morning to the crows and other creatures who passed by. My face is smiling out on that mountain side I thought. Never did I think it still worked after all that time.

I have been in contact with the mother of the guy who found it and will go pick it up some time soon. She said that several people had recognized the woman in the photo and let her know the phone belonged to me. The hat I am wearing I have taken on so many adventures. It’s kind of my signature look for exploring…lol.

Thinking about the phone and it’s adventures, I happened to glance through my messenger chats. I was drawn to the one with my sister, hoping that for some miraculous reason the conversation would reappear after all this time. I was amazed to see that it had. Everything was there again. My history with my sister has come back to me now. Years and years of conversation came tumbling down the mountain side to land at my feet.

Why now? So much has happened since 2016. I thought that was my low point but it wasn’t. Both of my parents died in the years after my sister’s passing. Despite all of the pain, grief and loss, I feel more alive today than ever before. I am living life on my terms in my own way. Choosing my adventures, love, spiritual paths and sense of self.

I am awake. I have lived many lives since I lost that phone. I am grateful for it’s reappearance to remind me to be grateful for what I have.

Once again the energy shifts and tilts the balance back.

I have a desire to put the phone back on the mountain. 

Stay tuned to see what I decide….lol

Love you all that keep reading our posts and coming along on our journeys through midlife.

Light and love.

We Are Family

I got my brother and sisters with me…

I decide to pull out the old rotten carpet out of the cab of the van only to discover that the floor has some serious looking rust spots. It’s been a couple of weeks since I came upon the damage and it’s been a cause for concern. My whole career has been based on solving problems. Taking complex learning and translating it into easy to follow steps for others to understand and use. This situation is no different. I got a hole and it needs to be fixed.

My sister and brother in law just happened to be down for the weekend. They are a handy pair. I have always admired my sister’s choice of professions. She had spent many years in the Canadian Air Force as a metal fabricator working on airplanes. I found out my brother in law has some experience with welding. My brother, well he is a jack of all trades and has been helping me with the project since day 1. So, in true project management fashion, I assembled the very competent team of experts who are up for the challenge and we get to work. 

With resources and know-how in place we decide a change of clothes is necessary to tackle the potentially dirty job. My sister bought my mom’s old house and some of the contents are still there. My mom’s coat still hangs in the closet next to the kitchen door. It’s coming up on the two year anniversary of my mom’s death in September. As I stand in her bedroom looking for something to wear in the closet I am overwhelmed with her presence. I take a couple of shirts off the hangers and smell them. Oh mom, they still smell like you. You are still here. Tears well up as I close my eyes for a moment. This is a pretty big hole we are trying to fix. Not just on the van floor but my heart. I hear my mom talking to me from other rooms as I walk through the house. She would call from the living room when you entered from the kitchen door to welcome you. Sometimes I can hear her voice echo through the space.

The family has had its share of challenges over the last few years and yet here we are coming together to problem solve and rebuild this van. I have heard you can’t choose your family. I am glad for that because you never know what you might need at any given moment. The universe is a way better judge on future needs than I am.

It takes some discussion and a few brainstorming sessions but finally we get to work patching the worn floor. Grinding away the rust where we can and applying new support when needed. I can’t help but make the comparison between the work on the van and work being done to heal our family relationships. You have to clear away the toxins that eat at your dynamics. Find new ways to communicate and come together. Mom would be ecstatic to see us all collaborating and getting along.

The van has helped us to find ways to connect again. It’s been a new beginning for me too. I am using tools I never thought I would have the confidence to even try. A little patience from my brother and determination to continue the work has made me excited about the possibilities for future projects and work.

We are family, I got my brother and sisters with me. I am truly blessed.

Me+Us+I+You=We

As a coach in my previous life in corporate banking, I became very accustomed to using first person pronouns to describe who was the owner of actions or feelings. I have been thinking about relationship dynamics and the intersections of “Me” to “US” and “I” to “You”. 

My daughter told my husband that we are both very stubborn people. I agree and we are both very strong in our opinions. We both have known we are very different and yet, in the past, have found ways to connect. As we get older and more set in our ways, it has become harder to compromise and find our way to a common grounding. I admit we have struggled and sometimes it feels easier just to throw in the towel and move on.

I can’t help but think I am not yet done learning all I can about myself and behaviors from this man. He challenges me in my core thinking. We expressed our feelings to each other in letters, texts and some verbal. I didn’t like what he said and he didn’t like what I said but we both listened, asked questions to clarify what we meant and then spent time trying to figure if we could still be compatible together. 

I get his points when he says that I feel I can express my feelings and he should respect and accept them because they are mine. He does stuff I don’t like, he says things I don’t want to hear. I asked him to apologize for things he has said to me and he asked if I feel like I should apologize for the way I feel and things I have said? 

I said “no” I meant what I said. At the time, he meant what he said too. So where does this leave the “US”?

I know that I respect him for his honesty towards me.

Can I keep the “ME” in “US”? We seem to be in different stages of life. I have decided not to go back to work anytime soon. He works full time. I want to travel and explore the world while our health is good and we are mobile. Can we create our own balance without driving each other crazy? We both have agreed we don’t know. We have been figuring it out one day at a time for over 36 years. For us, we know that we are at our best when we are connecting on every level. We travel well together, we have built a life together. We are unconventional in our partnership management system but so what?

Neither of us want to end this story yet so we have agreed to continue. To find ways to build our new chapters that include the “Me” in “US” and the “I” and “YOU in our “WE”

Blank Canvas

Starting from scratch. Am I crazy?

I sat in the van the other day and stared at its current state. My old thinking is still wanting to rule the day. The interior is good enough just do some cosmetic stuff and move on. I struggled with those sentiments for a few more minutes and then all the sudden the sledge hammer in my hand found a purpose. Before I knew it half the walls were down and the van had twice the space.

Sometimes you fight change until the urge to shift within just can’t handle it anymore. Picking the option that makes you feel like you have settled in life only delays things. It never really sits right until you do “that thing”. You know, that thing that is whispered in your ear over and over again. There was a wonderful lady I got to interview at the ashram named Jean Roberts. She wrote a book about her life as an island girl growing up in Grenada. How she grew up in oppression and decided to run away at a very young age.

I left home at 16 and lived with a couple of sisters. I worked and supported myself through high school. It seemed so much easier then to make decisions without worrying too much about how they affected others around you. The world revolved around my teenage life and I was creating canvases by the dozens. Thought nothing of painting over them and moving on.

I will be 57 in 2 months. It’s been a lifetime of changes. I am not my 16 year old self for sure. Thank heavens!

Sharon’s latest post talks about living adventures through my posts. It’s not lost on me how she and I are always peeking over the fence at each other. I envy her ability to make decisions about relationships and move forward in that regard. Put on her big girl panties and move into a better light. I understand the hesitation to make the first strokes on the canvas. I ask myself often what I am afraid of when it comes to being alone. If my partner doesn’t see my vision and has no desire or interest to explore the possibilities with me then ….what am I waiting for? A sign? Hmmm I have had plenty of those, a sledge hammer in my hand? I have one of those too? A push? Maybe.

My friend Sharon and I are at that place in life where our whole world is about to change. The post COVID blues I think. The universe is opening up again so now what?

For me? I have an empty canvas in the form of a tiny home to consider how “I” for the first time in my life want to create a haven just for me. Sharon has a new condo, new job and new life. I am excited for both of us to face our fears and build our confidence in ourselves. Maybe even build a bit of confidence in others. My brother has been helping me with the demolition. We have barely spoken over the last 40 years. Now we are collaborating almost daily. I am finding my voice and figuring out what I want to say. I am exploring new pallets and variations of light and color. It is changing my perspective for the good.

It’s healthy and positive to clear space. So many possibilities to explore now that the demolition has started.

Are You Retirement Compatible?

When it comes to retiring are you and your significant other on the same page?

In life and relationships we talk about a lot of things in regards to goals, religious beliefs, values, children and who is going to clean the toilet…lol. Most often, we gloss over at what age we are going to retire as it seems so far away when we are young.

These days though, many partners are talking about taking a break from their jobs for a year or two fully expecting they will find another job eventually. Some are trying to catch up with retirement funds, paying off debt that was unexpected and dealing with the cost of relationship breakdowns. Life can get complicated and a large amount of people put time away from working on the back burner. We live in a world now where you could be working into your seventies.

So, have you had the talk with your partner? Are you retirement compatible? What if you aren’t aligned on timing, expectations and lifestyle?

I remember thinking in my twenties that I would retire at 65. I would work, most likely, at one maybe two jobs. I would have a pension and some savings and life would be awesome when I turned 65. Well, we all know what happens to life while we are living. So many things are unexpected and not planned for. You wake and realize that those you love and expected to grow old with or around have either passed away or in bad health. You feel older. You slow down when you are hiking. You are weaker and feel pain in your joints. When did I start to get older? I thought all those things happened in your seventies not your fifties. I watch those around me and I realize my window of opportunity to live with abandonment is shortening. I can’t rely on being in good health when I am 65. I know my abilities today and I feel that if I can continue to build strength and endurance now that as I get older the longevity should hold. At least that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.

I have been talking to many friends and family about their plans. Some wanted to take time off to travel now and then maybe go back to work when they get tired of doing that. Others plan to work until they can’t work anymore well into their seventies or beyond. Others plan to work and play and juggle the two. What has been a common theme though is that most find themselves in a bit of a pickle when it comes to agreement from their partner as to both being on the same page.Life throws us curve balls. I am a firm believer that the universe shakes things up when we get too complacent. 

My universe is telling me to squeeze the lemons now. Get as much juice as you can out of this existence. My husband is planning on working another 9 years or so.I am hoping he will decide that there is more to life than stock piles of money and things. You can’t rush someone else’s discoveries. You shouldn’t wait though to “do you”. It’s scary to venture out on your own. It’s even scarier to sit and wait for someone else to get on board.

Life’s obstacles are constant and ever coming at you. I had journeyed with an eagle in the past and it had shown me to put the chaos in my palm and squeeze out order and decisions from it. It’s an exercise I can do physically to help me focus on which direction to follow. Mistakes will be made, that’s how we move forward. It takes more courage to act than to stand still and watch.

Next week I am taking a break from van renos to hang out in Banff with my sister in law. We have decided to go tandem skydiving and caving. The waivers are signed and the deposits are given. I am making lemonade with the sweetest ingredients I can find. I am not saying that finding common ground with your partner isn’t important. It totally is. Respect for each other and practical goals are key. Time away from work doesn’t have to be expensive. I find a balance of things I do that are free and things that are epic adventures that may cost me a bit. It’s the doing that counts. The sharing of the experience. We all relied heavily on our memories during COVID of things we had done in the past to get us through the rough patch. I thank my lucky stars that I was blessed with so many adventures in my life so far.

It’s funny how the biggest regret in life is usually the ones that involve not doing something rather than taking the leap and trusting you will land safely. The journey is worth it!

Hopefully your partner agrees that taking breaks sooner rather than later is the way to go. If they don’t then it’s up to you to decide whether you stay put and wait for them or…

Get into that harness, secure the lines and find someone who is compatible with the here and now of your awareness.

Vantastic!

Everything is fixable….it’s my new mantra

Ok, eventually I promise, I will run out of puns here but in the meantime….

I believe in synchronicity. My life has been full of experiences that seem to appear custom made to help me learn something about myself, teach me an important lesson or skill or heal a whole in my spirit or heart. Sometimes, the crisis or drama is created for me to enjoy until another event happens to get us back on the right track. There are no coincidences in my life nor the people that appear out of nowhere to join me on my latest adventure.

The pandemic has been hard on families. Mine has been scattered and a bit disconnected. My mom died at the start of it all and we are all still grieving that loss. I parked my van at her house in a nearby town. I plan to work on it there with my siblings and extended family. It has been a way for us to reconnect and find some comfort in each others presence. Humans need humans. We are all lonely even if we have people living in our houses. It feels right to rediscover their gifts. To get to know them again and understand their point of view. The van has given us an opportunity to move forward in our new space that doesn’t have our mom to keep it all together.

I started looking for a van at least three years ago. Even before the pandemic, I was longing to go on a roadtrip with a house on wheels. To be out in nature with my musical instruments, creating art, discovering plants and wildlife is my jam. I love to hike and explore the mountains. Heck I grew up in the foothills of Alberta. The Rockies were my nursery and then my playground growing up.

I started to gather my board of directors and advisors for the Van-Essance build. Everyone I have contacted so far has been so helpful and eager to try their hand at creating an epic home away from home with me. I take great stock in symbols and appreciate the universe’s lessons.

The key to the ignition of the van broke off in the ignition. I could have taken the whole van to a locksmith and got them to get the key out. I had some anxiety about it being bad and stuck and costing me lots to get fixed. Fear is an interesting thing. 

False Expectation Appearing Real. Have you ever noticed that when we face our fears they are rarely as bad as we built up in our head? My helpers popped out the container for the ignition and I took that part into the locksmith. Within an hour I had it fixed, two new keys and it cost less than twenty bucks. 

I have a feeling that this is only the start of me facing my fears. A few blogs back I wrote about a dream I had in a vacant pool with a cobra and a snake charmer. The snake kept pressing it’s snout into my cheek. I knew it meant I had to face my fears head on. It was no longer serving to sweep them under the rug. 

What do I fear? 

Failure. What if my husband is right and I am not mechanical? That the skill can’t be learned? What if I bought a lemon and it turns out to be a mistake? So many what if’s running in my head. I can let them paralyze me or I can conquer them one step at a time.

What is failure? To me, it’s not trying at all. I have lived many years in a place surrounded by bubble wrap. I created that place. It’s safe, it’s comfortable but it’s missing a key. The key is broken in the lock. I think that getting a new key and starting a different narrative in my head is what is needed.

One step then another. Have courage to move out of the bubble wrap. At the ashram I really enjoyed walking meditations. It’s moving with awareness. Take a step, connect with your body to intentionally shift your balance as you choose your direction. Those teachings are coming in handy now that I am back in the “real world”. 

Time For Fessing Up

I have a confession to make. I have a phobia about asking for help, for things or even directions when I might be lost. Where does it stem from? Well, I can probably spout many options to answer that question but I won’t. What, for me, is important is what to do about it.

The van purchase has motivated me to get past my fears and tackle speaking and asking for help as much as I need to. I think it’s going to be good for me. Part of me really wants to try my hand at doing some of the work on the van. As a woman who grew up in the era that girls didn’t “fix things”, girls didn’t sign up for automotive classes or wood working in high school. I got the option of home-ec and/or band. I won’t tell you how bad of a sewer I am and the tragic nightgown that I threw away right after class was done. I think the flannel beast weighed close to a 100 pounds. I can cook but we didn’t really cook that much in class. I always walked past the shop and peeked in. Envying the opportunity to learn a skill that would be very useful right now in my fifties ambitions.

My husband is very handy but not really thrilled that I bought an old campervan. He has basically stated I am on my own. I am ok with that. The anxiety level is through the roof with getting it right or at least making sure any thing I do doesn’t fall apart around me as I travel. I have watched tons of restoration videos so far and those people don’t fool me. I know the art of editing and angles to make the most of making it seem simple while hiding the big flaws.

What a trip though if I can pull it off no? Renovating a piece of classic Americana that has remained functional and desirable. So, for the big stuff, like appliances, electrical and vehicle repairs I will leave it to the experts. What about the things I can learn to do like making a slide out bed or building cupboards or trying my hand at sewing again? What is life without a challenge?

It would be so much easier to pry my wallet open and dole out the cash to someone else to do it for me but my spirit tells me I at least have to try. I do have a handy crew of relatives who I might be able to bribe to help me. My brother use to work in a trailer factory. I have a niece who is partnered with a heavy duty mechanic. A sister who used to fabricate fixing airplane bodies for a living. So expertise is there. We are not without resources for sure. This winter could be an interesting time where I could gain huge confidence in my abilities and finally learn how to use power tools.

Stay tuned to see who wins the argument my spirit, my sanity or my husband (scenario where I just resell the beast and call it a day).

Van-Essance

I have wanted a camper van for some time now. I follow a few vloggers who are living a “van-life” existance on Youtube. I am a realist. I know that vanlife is not as glamrous as some might think. It sounds romantic and care-free but in reality it can be scary and full of hidden costs. Yet…here I am..I bought a van. Not just any van. A 1978 classic Chev camper van. It has low kilometers, fridge, stove, bed, character and is full of potential. It was formely owned by a tattoo artist that used it to travel around to convention and tattoo shows. It’s perfect…for me. My husband thinks I am nuts. Why buy something soo old to which I reply well “I am older, aren’t I worth restoring?”.

I can use it “as is” if I would like as it drives well so far. We (my brother in law) drove it from North of Vermillion all the way to Raymond which is about 550 Km. It was great on the road and handled well.

What do I hope to get out of owing such a vehicle? Quenched curiosity. Have you ever drove on a highway and seen all of those locals attraction signs? Tours of a honey farm or the worlds largest Easter egg lives here or a Ukranian flee market 12 kms that way. I want to stop at them all and be able to say I have been there. Why not? YOLO is a thing.

So, for this year, I am thinking get the van as comfortable as I can and as mechanically sound as I can and hit the road. There is no time like the present to take advantage of good weather, cheap-ish accomodations and the time to explore anything and everything up and down this Province that I live in.

I can’t wait to start the “VanEssance” adventure series. Hope you join me for the ride. If you see me on the road wave or better yet leave me a comment here and perhaps we can meet up and go for coffee or go see what is interesting in your hometown.

Cheers to the adventures of Midlife Arises continuing…

Namaste

Week One

Remember how I said I was going to start Whole30 in July? Well, plans changed. I thought it’d be easier to cut out refined sugar, dairy and alcohol in the summer months, but my boyfriend pointed out that: a) we enjoy going to pubs together and b) I enjoy having a drink with my friends. It would, in fact, be easier to follow the eating plan in the winter. Sure, I could give up alcohol for the summer – but why?

OK – I get that. I also get that I am ready to make a change. So, I’m doing a modified Whole30. I have food allergies (carry-an-Epipen-just-in-case-type-of-allergies) to all nuts, legumes and lentils. Giving those up? Done. I already avoid most grains because they don’t agree with my Hashimoto’s Disease. I feel better when I don’t eat them. So – grains? Done.

I love cheese. I mean, I LOVE cheese!! Giving up dairy? I’m on Day Four. It’s not easy. I also like having fruit and yougurt for breakfast. Not happening. My body knows it. It sent out a craving for ice cream today that was overwhelming. It didn’t help having temperatures in the high 20’s (Celcius) and living in a condo without air conditioning. I was SO tempted. I even drove past the DQ thinking, “I can start again tomorrow.”

I kept driving. If I stopped, I’d be letting myself down. I’d only be dragging out the withdrawal effects. I had a constant headache and extreme fatigue all day. A “quick fix” of dairy would have made me feel better. But, would it? Psychologically, yes. Physically, maybe not. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to cut out things I know to be inflammatory and reintroduce them one at a time to observe the effects on my body and mind.

I’ve also stopped eating or drinking anything with refined sugar. I know alcohol has it, but I don’t drink very much. Reducing by 90% is better than not reducing at all.

Over the weekend, I stocked up on fresh produce. Did you know cotton candy grapes actually taste like cotton candy?? I froze some and it seems to have intensified the flavour. I snacked on cucumbers today. I haven’t done that in ages. When the craving for something sweet got too strong, I made a fruit smoothie. I have chocolate protein powder that is dairy/gluten/sugar free and thought it might help. It did – minimally.

I’m eating whole foods. Nothing refined or processed. Only things found in nature. I’m not counting calories. I eat when I’m hungry and until I’m full. I took the forecast into account and cooked up eight chicken breasts yesterday so I don’t have to use the oven this week. If you knew how much I dislike grocery shopping and cooking for one, you’d know this way of eating is a big effort and commitment for me.

Today was a rough day. My body knows something is changing. I expected it. I was sorely tempted to say “F*** it!”, and I didn’t. Tomorrow might be similar, and that’s OK. Next week will be better.

I hope.