Advice to Past Me

94X Q

My favourite local radio station (#rockradiorules) asked a question this week. It got me to thinking. Because it was inspired by the high school (and post secondary, conceivably) graduations of 2016, it got me to thinking about my own high school (and post secondary, actually) graduation and who I was. The answer came easily.

If you could give “past you” one piece of advice, what would it be?

You are enough.

I’ve never thought very much of myself. Have we discussed this? Probably, I’m not really shy about it.

At any rate….

You are enough. Those are the words I would whisper in my own ear.

See, I like to live for other people. I like to make other people happy. I like to think about life and decide what would impress other people, what would gain me the acceptance of other people. Other people. Other people. Other mother fucking people. It’s bullshit, folks. Utter and complete bullshit.

You do you, honey.

I don’t know what life would have looked like for me if I had disregarded the bullshit of other people and marched to the beat of my own drum, but it would be different. I don’t know why I listened to and believed whole-heartedly in “you are ordinary, just like everyone else. Don’t shoot too high, you’ll just fall,” but I did.

If you’re listening to that bullshit, stop. You’re not ordinary, just like everyone else. You’re you. You’re the one and only ever you. Shoot high. So you might fall, it is what it is, but you ought to shoot for what you want. (imo.) If you fall, you learn. When you fall, you tend not to step in the exact same places again. Next time you walk that path, you have a better idea of how to get where you’re going while staying on your feet. That, or you find a new path, one you may not have seen before (had it not been for the fall). At the end of the day, you’ll honour you and you’ll honour your life. That’s worth a lot.

Foreigner – Cold As Ice

UNT.

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Survey Says: 7 life questions to answer [whenever you want to]

This article – 7 Life Questions to Answer Before You Turn 30 – passed over my social media desk this week. I thought it was a fun, useful read. I also thought it was a good excuse to answer some questions (that can be answered whenever you want, not just when you’re on the cusp of 30). Because I love to answer questions and explore things.

[Qs]

  1. If I were to die tomorrow, would I feel satisfied with my life?

Yes and no.

My family and friend Self is incredibly fulfilled. My husband and son are amazing, I have so much love, support, and fun from and with them. My friends (my tribe) are amazing. It’s the very same, there’s just so much love, support and fun in those relationships. I’ve learned what real love is, what real support and encouragement looks like, and who I truly want to spend my life with.

My personal Kim-centric life is lacking. I am awful at self-care and I sacrifice myself and my wants (and needs) altogether too often. I put things aside for A Different Day and look longingly on that “different day.” It never comes, because I don’t make it come. Different days aren’t real until you make them real.

My professional life is severely lacking. I have a great job in an amazing institution. I am super thankful for it and I appreciate it and the opportunities that come with it, daily. I do, however, worry that I will always be “stuck” in the Monday-Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm world, doing things for other people. Not helping the way I want to help and not impacting the way I want to impact.

So, yes and no.

  1. What is my unique value proposition?

I care. Does that count? I care about people and I want to get to their core. I want to understand why they think the way they think and act the way they act and speak the way they speak so that I can help them (if/when they need help). I have experience with shitty people and shitty situations and the most important thing it’s taught me is that everyone has a story. It’s that whole book and cover thing, you have to read the text. Sometimes there’s astounding beauty beneath the haggard and sometimes what lies beneath surface beauty is vile.

  1. Who inspires me most?

AC. She is amazing. She is a gifted teacher, a supportive friend, an enthusiastic encourager, and she loves with every fiber of her being. She lives her life the way she chooses, following her heart and her passion. She has an outstanding support system who is unconditional in their love for and encouragement of her. Seeing her with her family, listening to her speak about them, sharing stories of experience and life, and just watching her interact with the world is inspiring. She makes me want to be a better person, to be a more caring person, to live life less judgmentally, to find stories, to share stories, and to hug often. She is my friend, my sister, my mentor, my heart. (And now I’m crying. Moving right along…. )

  1. Why do I get up in the morning?

To hear a chipper “hi momma!” and have a toddler cuddle. Because in those moments, the world dissolves and I understand what’s important. I truly do, because here’s a thing about toddlers (and babies): they demand the world. Everything is about them. When they want a hug, you damn well better give them a hug…or else…. I’ve learned a lot about life and how to see the world from my son, but what I’m learning now is the importance of self-care. If now is the time to drop the book and play with the Bruder skid steer, then now’s the damn time. If now’s the time to write, then the dishes/laundry/vacuuming/whatever can wait, because now’s the damn time. I get up in the morning for more lessons for my life, from my life.

  1. How much did I learn today?

A lot. I find, especially in the last two and a half years, that I learn a lot in my day-to-day. Not a day goes by where there isn’t some valuable experience, or learning opportunity.

  1. Who do I love, and have I told or showed them lately?

I’ve mentioned my people, I love them. I do tend to tell people that I love them, because I love to tell people I love that I love them. But I like to show them, too. I like to bake for them. I like to buy coffee for them. I like to show up unannounced, not to be a pest or take up their time, but to leave a bag of cookies on their doorstep first thing in the morning. I like to buy a magazine or sour candies (kryptonite) for my husband when I grocery shop. I like to take those forty minutes of time between arriving at home and going in the door of our house because my son loves to scoot along the cul-de-sac on his little “bike.” I like to (try) not rush through life from one “should” to the next.

  1. What is my definition of success?

Fulfillment. I know I won’t love every day when I find my spot in the world, because that’s unreasonable. Bad days happen and Depression is my albatross from time to time. Some days suck and that’s okay (because there’s coffee in fox mugs for those days). But my definition of success is not having that itchy, crawl-out-of-my-skin feeling. Being able, allowed, and encouraged (by myself) to evolve. Success is making the opportunity to explore my passions and discover my life. Success is passing the value of my life and well-being (physically, mentally and spiritually) to my family. Success is seeing my sons grow into their own beautiful people not because I told them to be themselves, but because I showed them to.

What does this mean? That I’m on the right track, I think. At least in the theoretical. I’m learning what’s important and I’m learning that ignoring that for “The Norm” is useless. I don’t want to be that “when I’m retired” person. I don’t want to save up my dreams and goals and aspirations for A Different Day. I’d really like to learn how to make Today that Different Day and take time for the things that are important. Dust bunnies and grass stained knees be damned.

Have you answered these questions? Will you answer these questions? If you do, I want to read your answers.

Amanda Palmer – The Killing Type

UNT.

Success

Your success isn’t my success. The system you use to measure your life’s worth is not the one I use. Your experiences aren’t my experiences. Your life is not my life.

I was having a(n email) conversation last week in which a pretty awful event was described to me. The short of it is that a person’s life and worth was called into question based on a system of values that this person simply does not subscribe to.

I can see both sides of the coin here. (Seeing is not agreeing, let’s keep that in mind.) What I struggle with is not the wisdom and fairness of questioning someone’s value (which is a huge “nooooooooooooooope!” in my books to begin with and truly deserves no discussion time), but ascribing your system of weight to them. They are not you. They do not live the way you live. They do not believe as you believe.

I’ve lived in a world where the esteem of higher education, high financial gain, highfalutin jobs, and a house filled with KitchenAid and Bosch are pillars of success. I think those things are awesome (and I do have KitchenAid things. Plural. More than one), you go make yourself happy. But that’s not how I measure my life.

I live a successful life. I believe this because:

  • I have a marriage I don’t foresee ending. Tragedy can strike at any time, and that would be devastating, but beyond that, at our current speed, my husband and I are doing really well. We communicate well, we respect each other, we discuss all the things, we laugh, we get angry, we have shitty days, and we need time away from each other (which we take). We’re an awesome team
  • I know that if tragedy did strike, I would be okay. Again, I would be devastated, but I am secure and confident and know that I would make life work.
  • I have an outstanding support system. I have found my tribe and I am thankful. I have amazing people in my life, respectful, supportive, encouraging, loving, honest, real people.
  • My son is amazing. He is bright, kind, cheerful, he has a beautiful heart and soul, he loves to cuddle and read, and he is most reassured through hugs. I love him and I am so proud of him.
  • I have dreams. My own dreams. Not only dreams, but projects borne of those dreams. I am not sitting and waiting for retirement to realize my potential in my interests. I am working on my passions now.
  • I have built an amazing professional life. I have taken jobs I maybe should not have and I have learned from them. I have quit jobs I maybe should not have and I have become more me in the process. I have taken chances to pursue my passions and further realize my Self.
  • I understand that I am important. That my life doesn’t belong to anyone but me. I am a friend, a mother, a wife, but those are not who I am. I am Kim and in order to be everything else in my life, I need to be the truest, most pure, most successful Kim I can be. (Constant work in progress that will never be truly met…which I kind of really love.)
  • …I have KitchenAid appliances…?

That is how I measure success. My life, my success.

How about you? How do you measure your life? How are you judged in your life? What have you fought against to get to where you are, or what’s bogging you down right now?

I feel for you folks, and I won’t say that I’ve never judged. I have. I’m pretty sure we all have. I just try really hard not to, now. I’ve been through enough shit to understand that everyone has their own shit to deal with. (I vastly prefer when they focus on dealing with their lives and not go out of their way to be mean assholes, though.) I’d rather focus on what’s important to me than what I envy, or what pisses me off about others.

Apocalyptica feat. Corey Taylor – I’m Not Jesus

UNT.

 

Obligatory new year post

Or: no fear.

Happy 2016, folks! I hope your NYE was lovely, safe, and well worth the staying up late part (I was in bed at 2130h. Because of course I was). I hope this year brings you beauty, peace, understanding, adventure, and some real, gritty happiness.

I always want to think that I don’t believe in this “new year, new beginning” rigmarole. I want to think that it’s silly and that January 1st is just another day in a long string of days. But I don’t think that, guess I’m just not that cool. What I hope is that it is a new beginning, because I like beginnings. I like endings, too. I like closing one chapter and opening another. I like fresh sheets of paper with no history scratched into them. I like clean slates.

So, whether it is for you or not, today is a new page for me. I literally opened a new notebook and started scribbling in it today, because it made sense. It made sense not to open something old just to finish it.

I don’t have a word for 2016, I have a phrase. I’m harking back to my ’90s teenager self and going with:

No Fear

(Image found @ thepinballcompany.com)

No fear. (Not “unafraid.” That’s not quite the same.)

Fear is a great thing. It’s useful, it’s a warning, it’s something to be aware of and honour. It is not, however, something to hand complete control over to. Heed it and evaluate. Understand its importance and act accordingly.

For instance, I fell asleep the other night to thoughts of “I need to give up this doula dream. I just [have a lot of excuses that I can grab easily].” It isn’t that the excuses aren’t valid, they could be if I wanted them to be, it’s that I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what it means to be a doula, the time commitment, the (very real, very hard) work (of building a business. The supporting of people part doesn’t worry me), what my life will look like when that is a reality. Thankfully I’ve had a few amazing people tell me a few amazing things recently that I have had be releasing some of that fear and continuing forward.

The same can be said about writing. I’m afraid of writing. Again, there’s a commitment there that doesn’t always make me comfortable, I’m afraid that it is as easy as putting one word in front of another and I’m afraid that it’s not. So, like with doula-ing, I let my fear paralyze me.

This year, I’m going to try to acknowledge my fear, but then move forward. If it is more important to change course and avoid The New (and sometimes it is), then I will do that. If I am afraid because I am finding myself a few feet off of my beaten comfort zone path, I’m going to try to look beyond that and forge on.

With that, goodbye 2015. You were a great year. You brought me great dreams, great understandings, great(er) relationships, and hardships to overcome. I appreciate you and I’m thrilled to have known you. Hello 2016, I hope we can be friends. I like the look of you and I see some greatness in our future together.

Happy new year, kids.

Poison – Nothin’ But A Good Time

UNT.

Holiday curiosity.

Guys, I’m tired of Christmas.

Okay no. That’s not quite it.

I love Christmas. I love the lights, the decorations, the music, the snow (I live in Northern Canada, we have really lovely snowfalls), the seasonal beverage choices, the togetherness with friends and family, and the food (oh the food. Baking. It is all about the baking).

I am so thrilled to say that I have my Christmas mojo back this year. For the first Christmas in the last three, I am super excited for the season and everything it means and carries with it.

What I do not love and am growing increasingly more uncomfortable with is buying things for people who really don’t need anything and receiving things when I am a person who also doesn’t really need anything. I know how many people struggle to be warm and find enough to quell gnawing hunger this time of year and it’s stifling and humbling.

It could be all of that “white privilege” and “first world problem” noise, or it could be the fact that I’m not ten anymore. Don’t get me wrong folks, I do enjoy gifts, giving and receiving them (110% giving more than receiving), I’m just more aware of and more interested in giving back. I have a lot, I’m comfortable, and I really love my life. I have a lot to share and I feel strongly that it’s time I did that.

So in a really long-winded way (because obviously. That’s what I do), I’m wondering if any of you have dealt with this before. What I’d like to do is tally my holiday gift expenses and start donating most of it. There are still people I will buy gifts for, but mostly they will be children. Otherwise I’m more interested in gifting baking and time.

Have you made a holiday shift and started donating time, money, services, groceries, toys, etc. to people who need it more than you do? If so, how is it going? Did you come up against any animosity? If so, how did you deal with it?

Thank you, folks. As ever, I appreciate you! I hope you and yours are having a wonderful season, however that looks for you.

The Piano Guys – Carol of the Bells

UNT.

Get out of the way.

I attended an event last night. It was a snacks, liquor and speeches event in honour of my old boss at the indie bookshop. We were not to refer to it as a “retirement party,” so I won’t.

Long story short: this boss owned that shop. He built it from the ground up (not literally, the building already existed), after selling another bookshop in another (regional) town. It became “Prince George’s Living Room.” A haven for art, artists, people who like art, and people who don’t like art. It is a safe place, free of judgement, for everyone. It is a cultural hub of this community. I am thrilled, honoured and truly amazed that I have the opportunity to be a part of that.

I digress.

This boss built, worked, and then (in January) sold the shop to his long-time manager (my other boss, obviously).

Last night was a meeting of the minds. Old staff, new staff, old customers, new customers, old friends…a motley family. There were speeches, an original stage play, satirical ditties and a jazz band. I laughed, I teared up, I drank, I ate, I hugged, I reminisced. (Bookstore folk know how to party, y0.)

It’s funny, though. There were so many amazing things said about this amazing man, most in thanks to him for building this lighthouse, but one struck me above all others. In his opening speech, a good friend of The Boss praised his (the boss’s) children. He commented on how inspiring, wonderful, thoughtful, etc. they are (they really are). Above all else, they are themselves. This good friend said that when he had asked The Boss about how that happened, how all of his seven children were such great, unique, self-possessed people, The Boss thought for a moment, shrugged and replied “I got out of their way.”

He let them be themselves. He encouraged their interests and passions and supported their journeys. He cared enough about them to let them make mistakes, brush themselves off (I’m sure he helped them to their feet whenever they needed it), and emboldened them to keep going.

That is my lesson. Get out of the way. I don’t control people, I can’t, I don’t want to and I won’t try. In particular, my son. The one thing I want for that little dude to be is himself. I want him to be the very best and most true himself that he can ever possibly be. If he is that, then I have done my job.

So folks? Get out of the way. (Of your own Selves, too. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a damn important and great one.)

Neil Young – Old Man

UNT.

Why I decided to take a pay cut: An Update

So, remember when I accepted a new position at a lower pay grade in my institution of employment? Remember how my Human Resources representative advised that moving into a job the likes of which I moved in to (at a decreased pay grade) would help me move into The Dream Job with the company? (If not, you can read up on it here: Why I decided to take a pay cut.)

I work in a post-secondary institution. My post-secondary institution. My alma mater. This was the place where my adult life started, where I was able to spread my wings, make mistakes and begin to explore my (fierce) independence. This was the place where I met my (now) husband. This was the place where I earned my (first*) undergraduate degree (in English literature). This is a place that I love dearly.

This institution is also something that I promote in my personal life. I will chatter excitedly about the programs, the atmosphere, the environment, the 10:1 ratio of instructors to students, the fact that the university is only twenty-five years old (this year!), its relationship with the environment (we are Canada’s Green University™), its relationship with the First Nations people upon whose land it is built, its always evolving course catalogue and degree programs, and a smattering of other equally as impressive and important things. In my Dream Job, I would be doing that for a living. In my Dream Job, I would be paid to market the university as a Student Recruitment Officer, attending high schools, education fairs and other universities and colleges to tell people exactly why they ought to consider my school.

Don't compromise yourself(Image found @ think and speak peace)

The job I left the other job for had me next door to the right department, literally and figuratively. The door I wedged my foot into was the door to the Office of the Registrar, where I learned the ins and outs of official transcripts, course registration (and dropping and withdrawing), confirmation of enrollment and graduation documents and just a whack of other really neat things. Not promotion, but fascinating and never-a-dull-moment-ing all the same. But then, as seems to happen in my life, a shiny new Something Special distracted me, and I dove for it.

Long story short, I left my previous (management) position for a lower paying entry-level position in order to pursue the on-the-job education required to get into my dream position marketing one of my favourite and most-important-to-me places. Then, another job opened up (a one-year term) and promised a step up in pay and a set of new responsibilities.

I applied.

I interviewed.

I won.

So, in the last three months, I’ve had as many job titles. But! This job, folks. This job that I started last week. It was described, by the gal doing the same work for our graduate studies program, as student recruitment without the travel. I’m building email campaigns (the thing I love to do for the indie bookshop I moonlight in). People, I am getting paid to do a thing that I love to do – be excited about, promote and passionately represent an institution that I love.

2015 and I? Unless it’s playing a terrible and cruel joke, we’re getting along fabulously. It’s really lovely. It’s also really relieving after the last almost-two-years preceding it. But here’s the thing, it’s because I’m putting in the work. I’m putting this shit out into The Universe, but I’m putting my money where my mouth is (LITERALLY. I took a pay cut for this. …and then I didn’t). It’s a pretty cool feeling.

Bush – Glycerine

UNT.

*I was recently accepted for re-entry as a student and have registered for a commerce course (in marketing) for the September 2015 semester. I may pursue another degree. I may not. Either way, education is fun (and reasonably priced when you work in the institution)!