Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Dance

"My life is better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss The Dance." - Garth Brooks

Is it better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all? A question that is constantly debated. For me, the jury is still out on this one.

For most of us, each and every relationship we embark upon is part of our journey, and usually gives us something we need, or are looking for at the time we made the choice to enter it.

Sometimes that really was the right choice for us at the time we made it. Sometimes though, youth, inexperience, insecurity, proximity, and or chance are what led us to that choice.

Does that mean it was the wrong choice? Sometimes yes. But not necessarily. Sometimes a friendship that ends badly brought us years of laughs and good times. Sometimes a romantic relationship that we'd rather forget about now brought us many good years before it went bad or perhaps brought a child into the world that we wouldn't be able to imagine life without.

Sometimes I believe love never really ends. Where does the love go when the relationship falls apart? Underneath all the hurt, is the love still there? Were we better off for having had it in our lives for a period of time? Or would it have been better not to have gone down that road in the first place and now have to deal with the pain that comes with loss of love?

I don't have the answers to any of these questions. I do know that not all love stories are novels. Some of them are closer to being short stories, but that doesn't mean that there is any less love involved.

And at the end of the day, the only person we know for sure will be with us come what may, is ourself. So whether we have a love interest in our life or not, whether we had love and lost it, or if we are still looking for it for the first time, we might as well learn to love ourselves. As Oscar Wilde said, "To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance."

Saturday, 16 April 2011

What a difference a year makes...

"Will the future ever arrive?...Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguised? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it, nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds."


Three old friends had dinner together on Thursday night at Milestones.

For the past couple of years Milestones was "their place", ever since two of them met up for that first summer patio lunch, spent catching up and drinking red wine and blackberrytinis, after they had both suffered devastating loss.

The third member of the group was there for the next Milestones visit, and three friends who hadn't seen each other in a long while were reconnected. Every second Friday became "therapy night" and the rest is history.

It was the perfect idea really, having a group of friends close enough to tell your secrets to, yet far removed enough from your life to alleviate any worry of your own personal hell being leaked to the masses.

During the past two years, at different times, one or the other of them has lost family, friends, relationships, a marriage, a baby, faith, jobs, homes...it was probably one of the hardest times in their lives, although we know there are always many more challenges ahead that will demand to be met.

But I think it's a testimony to the human spirit that even after all of that suffering, on Thursday night, they could sit there with their 1) Bellini 2) Blackberrytini 3) Red Wine and Laugh.

And look at the progress they've made this past year: there has been one wedding, and one beautiful baby girl. Another relationship was solidified, and a house has been bought so they can build a home there together. As for the third member of the group, we're not sure where she'll land just yet. But things are getting better and she's moving on. She's meeting new people, taking on new challenges and apparently she looks really, really happy these days. She's finally ready to stop crying and start giving back again.

The funny thing about the future is that it will be what it will be. Some things we can control, some things we can't. But the future will come eventually, and it is always filled with possibility for something better, brighter, happier.

Two years ago, this - this good place right now - was going to be their future, even though they had no idea at the time. All they had to do was keep moving forward, even when it was so dark that it was impossible to see a path forward, and trust the sun would shine again someday soon. :)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

For my friend

When disaster strikes, a city, a country, a people, we are often amazed at the efforts that tie people together to help those in need. Heroic, self-sacrificing efforts, at times even putting themselves in the line of fire to save others.

Imagine if we had the same line of defense for emotional crisis. If, when we saw someone drowning, as it were, in the tsunami of life, we would jump in and save them the same way we do for someone who is actually drowning, in a real tsunami. Clinging to a tree, holding on for dear life.

The problem, of course, is these victims are not as easy to spot. They might be covering their physical bruises with makeup. Or covering emotional pain with external smiles. They might pretend to hate the very thing they are, unable to look life in the face and love themselves. They might show love to those who constantly hurt them, reject those who could be of service, and in the end, wind up alone and unhappy.

The best we can do for these ones is NOTICE them. It doesn't matter if they accept our help or not. That is their choice, their journey. The most important thing is that it was offered to them, so they know that when, if, perhaps, they ever want a hand to hold, it's there reaching out to them. Not expecting anything in return.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

It aint no thing but a chicken wing

One of my good friends recently went on, what would go down in history as the best first date ever.

They met up at the distillery district (she was late but looked really cute).

It was one of those dates that was easy to get out of at one hour intervals - walk around a bit - still staying? coffee for an hour or so - do you want to go home yet? walk around some more - shall we do dinner?

So they ended up at a pub (where else would you go in the distillery district) with the "big platter" (or whatever they call it these days) with all sorts of messy things that should never be eaten on a first date. Quesedillas, onion rings, chicken wings, fries, the list goes on...

At this point the date was about 5 hours in, she thought she really liked him but wasn't sure yet...and right in the middle of dropping a messy, sauce coated wing all over herself, he leaned over and kissed her, right there in the restaurant. He said he couldn't wait any longer.

I'm not a big believer in love anymore, but it seems to still be out there, or at least some tiny slice of something that feels strangely like love. And to those people who can deal with starting over and trying to trust someone new - good for them! I'm not there yet...but maybe one of these days. :)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Loss

So I put on my big girl shoes (4 inch heels) and a polka dot dress, red nails and lips and stood in my apartment thinking "I can't do this".

You know you have a really good friend when you're half an hour late, standing in your bathroom arguing with yourself about whether or not you can actually leave the apartment and go to this wedding, and he texts you from the car downstairs saying "If you are giving yourself a Liz Lemon pep talk in the mirror, wrap it up. It's time to go."

And I'm glad I did. My very good friend looked very happy, came over and gave me a hug when I walked in (I think everyone was taking bets on whether or not I'd show up) and then married a beautiful girl I introduced him to two years ago.

The funny thing is, all along, I had the whole thing wrong. Yes, it was hard to see people who used to be good friends who I haven't seen in a couple of years and feel personally betrayed by. Yes, it was hard sitting through a wedding, performed by the same man who married me to my husband.

By not all that hard.

The hard part about walking out the door, I realized, standing there in the mirror this morning, wasn't about anyone else. It was about me. It was accepting that this is my life now. That I'm divorced. That Travis isn't waiting for me in the car, won't be sitting with me at dinner or dancing with me later on. I'm single. My life will never be the way it was before.

And yes, I get all the reasons why I got here, and some of the reasons it's better this way, but the girl in the mirror this morning did not want to walk out the door and go to a wedding without her husband.

Ex-husband.

All those people there today, who used to be my friends, I loved them. But, I really, really loved Travis. I still do. And he's not trying to hold me back in any way. I'm the only one standing in my way.

What's next? I'm still figuring it out. While I'm at it, we'll start with dinner and dancing. :)

Being Brave

I would rather be a coward than brave because people hurt you when you are brave.
- E. M. Forster

Courage is a quality that is difficult to develop, because it forces you to look in the mirror and realize who you are, and then have the balls to go out there and be better than that.

I know many courageous people. And being brave doesn't mean we always succeed. Sometimes it just means we take on a task, not knowing if we'll be good at it or not. Not knowing the outcome. Maybe we even think we will fail. But we show up and try.

This happens in careers, in families, in relationships, in finding peace of mind, in overcoming addictions, in marrying someone with three messed up kids, in ending a relationship that's not working and being alone again, in confronting an important ex, in applying for a job you know you won't get, in pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and meeting someone new, in telling your family the truth about who you are, in going to your very good friend's wedding and facing 200 people who have labeled you in a negative way. In being true to yourself.

But we find courage and bravery in that part of ourselves that we didn't know we had.

And if we were never brave, no one would make friends, become lovers, get married, have children, follow their dreams, because we could fail. Sometimes it's our mistakes that shape our future and, in the end, make us successful.

And hey, at the end of the day, if our attempt at being courageous doesn't work, we have a friend who will give us a hug, a cat who will sleep at our feet, and maybe even a glass of wine to sip as we look out the window of our fabulous but very expensive apartment, and think about how to wake up tomorrow and try to be brave all over again.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Hope for sunshine, bring an umbrella

HOPE springs eternal...

Today started off really well. I met a friend for coffee this morning, who I've been doing some mentoring with and encouraged him to do something he was afraid of doing. Do I know if he'll be successful? Not at all. But I believe he should try and we worked out a game plan for doing that. And I HOPE. :)

Then I met someone I've never met before for lunch. I was nervous, but they turned out to be a really genuine person, we had a nice time and I'm happy I faced my fear of meeting someone new.

Then everything went to shit.

After lunch, all the work, meetings, events I had carefully planned since last week, slowly unravelled. IT problems, incompetent help, missing tickets to the AGO and yes, even not enough space for everyone to sit around the table at dinner.

Isn't there some saying about the "best laid plans"?

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

He was Scottish. And lived in the 1700's. English Translation:

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Robert Burns knew what he was talking about. And not just a planned field trip with one of you boss' teams. Sometimes things go wrong in real life.

You HOPE that you're making the right choices. You HOPE your choices will work out, your parents will be proud, your friends will approve, and everything will be perfect.

But if it doesn't, is it really that you made wrong choices, or is it just the Universe telling you weren't where you were supposed to be in the first place? Telling you not to take it too seriously, because after a couple of pints, Stuart will love you again anyway. :)

I did everything "right" for a very long time in life. But maybe it was wrong.

They still have HOPE for me. But only if I go back, and change my opinions, go back on all the progress I've made. They "HOPE" I'll see the light, I'll be ok.

But I already am ok, all by myself. I believe in who I am, and that girl, she HOPEs for the best, but brings an umbrella. Because even if this morning is great, this afternoon could bring the shit storm.

"Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them - even when you're in the dark. Even when you're falling." - Morrie

We're all doing the best we can. We love, but we hurt too. All we can HOPE for, really, is that we "land on our feet".

The Bible says: "there remains, faith, HOPE, love, these three..."

The greatest of course, is Love. But HOPE is important too. Without it, where would we be? :)