Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'll shift your perceptions for you...

I remember being quite confused when someone told me that perception was reality and that happiness was something I already had, even though I was in the throes of depression. But I let it simmer for a while and tried to see if I could talk myself into happiness using positive thinking, the law of attraction and gratitude. Those are definitely useful tools, but the underlying unhappiness always seems to come back. And that's perfectly normal.  According to this book, the Myth of Stress, heaping positive thinking on top of negative thoughts does not work -- changing your beliefs is your only hope. The book takes a cognitive approach to emotions with a basic belief that our thoughts are at the centre of our being. Shift your perceptions and suddenly everything is a little brighter. A good friend of mine is particularly adept at doing this -- challenge your beliefs by holding what you think makes you miserable under the microscope, put yourself in the other person's shoes, think of something worse and get yourself out of your funk.

I was a bit skeptical at first because everyone seems to have some kind of gimmicky methodology to sell that will fix your problems. But this book's tool appealed to my sense of logic and need for process. The exercise is designed to help you challenge stressful beliefs. You start by stating something that you think is causing you stress -- e.g. "She should see things my way". You write down how that makes you feel, how you react and rate the degree to which you believe the statement to be true. Then you negate the statement, preface it with "In reality, append "at this time" -- e.g. "In reality, she should not see things my way, at this time" and brain-storm all the reasons why that could be true. In this example "In reality, she should not see things my way, at this time because ... I could be wrong, she has a different set of experiences than I do, I may not have all the facts at hand, there are others who support her view, etc. You go back and rate the original stressor statement and find that it's no longer the source of your pain.

What I find remarkable about this exercise is that the process instantly diffuses my stress. If forces me to see the other side and by doing so I realize that what I thought about I situation may not be true after all. It takes a bit of practice and it's easy to turn it into an exercise in making excuses. But if you keep it constructive and dig deep to the source, it's an effective way at challenging your negative beliefs and essentially removing them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Re-thinking a career change

In my quest for happiness ... or change? I decided a few weeks ago that I should seriously look into event planning as a career option. It appeals to my need to get things done, stay organized and execute a well thought out plan. Events happen on time and then they're over whereas my projects drag on for years and never quite finish. I don't have any experience or credentials but I can feel it in my bones that I would be really good at planning events -- galas, races, conventions, ... the Olympics! I'm almost ready to commit to pursuing this. Except for days like today that remind me I am a complete bitch when I am 'planning' for an event like this camping trip. I run around like a mad woman, barking orders, pulling out my hair, screaming in exasperation. My partner and the kids finally left the house, thank goodness. My loved ones who know me best know that when I am in pre-event mode (be it a party, vacation, important meeting) there is no getting in my way. My stress level is through the roof and no one likes me. Is this the career I really want? Hmmmmm.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Story - 4th decade

Motherhood is what's defined my 30s. I've been blessed with three amazing children who have enriched my life beyond what I thought motherhood would do to change me. I have them to thank for re-assessing my values, building emotional bonds and striving to lead by example. I'm finally choosing to live my life according to my own rules, listening to my intuition and striving for inner peace. I'm also living with a gentler me -- less abrasive, judgmental and controlling. I care way less about so many things that used to worry me -- especially other people's opinions. I've re-discovered regular exercise to be my life saviour. I'm also more interesting -- I read more, I'm exposed to more subjects, I enjoy hearing about new ideas. I think I'm more balanced.

Now that I'm past the baby stage, I feel ready to take on a new professional challenge. I know that change is just around the corner. Whether it's fulfilling the dream of running my own business or leading a team, I know I'm ready for it. If I were my own Intuitive I'd say that my 40s will see me fulfilling my own needs more, accepting instead of fighting, continuing to love myself and listening to my Wise Self more. My goodness, this sounds like a 40s manifesto. Can't wait to see if I'll be right!

My story - decade #3

I'm not having as much fun journalling my life as thought I would mainly because there's not a lot to say -- nothing memorable stands out. My life looks pretty dull and ordinary. But who knows, the process might give me insight. My twenties were both glorious and heart-breaking. I landed a job as a computer programmer for a high tech giant that gave me the best training and experience a 22 year old could ever hope for. Even though I aspired to be a business analyst, I was told that I needed to do time in the trenches before moving up and for whatever reason, I still haven't landed that dream BA job. At about that time I broke up with my first love to be in another serious relationship with a fellow business student. He was a small town, white bread, adorable, super friendly and sensitive guy and we had instant chemistry. But I was too young to live with my boyfriend in a new city with no other friends. And he was an intimacy junkie that lost interest as soon as the shimmer of new love wore off. It took me a full year to get over our break-up. And of course, the most painful experiences teach us the most. I mourned the loss of our future more than I did our relationship -- marriage, a house and kids. I thought the fighting and lack of intimacy was normal and was so fixated on the prize at the end that I could not see the relationship crumbling before me. I took my relationship baggage and started a new -- travelled, got my own place, learned a new technology, developed new interests, dropped 30 lbs and moved back to my hometown. I partied hard -- dated a lot of scrubs before meeting my partner. By then I was ready to trust again. He was the stability that I needed and we spent lots of time playing vb, golfing, running, cooking. He was and still is my #1 activity companion. My career was in full bloom during the high tech boom. I was an over-priced consultant livin' high on the hog in my very own house. Got married a few months before turning 30 and finally believed that happily ever was possible

My story - decade #2

Even though I feel like an ingrate for pissing all over my upbringing, I'll move onto journalling about the 2nd 10 years because it's always fun to reminisce. The teen years were not fun -- acne, perms gone wild, obsessive crushes, marathon phone calls and rebellious drinking sums it up. My first job in retail at the mall forced me to grow-up and learn to find my own way. It was the first time I got to know people outside of my age/socio/eco demographic -- middle-aged divorcees, party-crazed university students, single parents, Lebanese, French Canadians, Pakistanis. These were real people and I'll never forget them. Figure skating, piano, swimming gave way to shopping, working and boyfriends. I was one of those girls who plunged into serious relationships that lasted years. My first love was five years my senior, Persian and an asshole. But he adored me, his trophy girlfriend (hard to believe I was once sweet and submissive) and we were gaga for each other in spite of the crazy fights. I held on for longer than I should have probably because my parents vehemently disapproved of me dating a Muslim. They never even met him in person FFS. I know that I'm supposed to stop blaming my parents, but we lost of a lot of years and did a lot of damage to our familial relationship. I vow to never kick my kids out and to accept whomever they choose. Definitely found my groove in university amongst other capitalist, vocal Type As in B. School. The awkward puritan teen had become a hot (who wasn't hot in their prime) and confident young woman, ready to take on the business world and make a name for herself.
Wow, when I look back at how different my values were and how juxtaposed my partner is to my first serious boyfriend, it's hard to believe that I'm the same person. But then again, I still act and feel like I'm in my 20s.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Story - First Decade

Here's goes my grand summary of the first ten years:
I was raised in a middle-lower class military family by traditional, non-educated, religious and unhappy parents. Afraid of my Dad's iron fist and unappreciative of my Mom's abdication of self for the sake of mother hood, I was always pushed to excel -- in school, figure skating, the piano, swimming. I don't remember ever stepping out of line other than back talking to my poor mother who did all of the child rearing and household duties while my Dad lost himself in TV and the church. My parents yelled a lot over religion -- my Dad pushing us more and more towards right-wing fundamentalism and my Mom trying desperately to maintain some degree of moderation, although her faith in prayer remains strong today. Both of my parents pinched pennies to invest in our future -- university was not optional and figure skating and piano were meant to provide back-up teaching careers. As such, my clothes were often cheap and out-of-style hand-me-downs. That combined with my awkward nerdiness did not set me at the top of the social ladder. My friends were few, but close. I loved barbies, I loved boys. I daydreamed a lot. My mother still talks about how I needed to be 'pushed' and motivated by dessert ... hence the chubbiness, which did not drop off until puberty. I was also raised to be self conscious of my mixed nationality -- kept indoors in the summer for fear of getting too dark, and suspicious of those who were curious about my nationality, I was instructed to just tell people I was 'Canadian'. I also didn't know that I had two half brothers until I was older because my Mom felt she had shamed her Goan family by marrying a divorcee (which 'til this day, I still don't get). I had an imaginary friend and I was happy in my own world with my own rules, where I was pretty and blond.
Whoa! Lots of childhood neurosis here. But who really looks back with fondness on their childhood? There are a lot of happy memories too -- camping, Christmas, playing in my neighbourhood, even watching TV. My parents did the best they could. My Mom sacrificed her life for us and I feel like an ingrate by cutting up my family life with this post. It was typically dysfunctional in the most non-intrusive and non-damaging way possible. :-)


I've been reading a book that strongly recommends journaling your personal history in order to gain some insight on patterns you may not be aware of. It suggests writing about major events in each decade and how they affected me -- when did I feel loved, cherished, angry, betrayed, fully seen and heard? What type of people keep popping up in my life? Who has really influenced me and how? And how have certain parts of my life affected how I carry out my life now?

It can't hurt, although I think my life is pretty nondescript. Thankfully I have not known any real tragedy. Nor have I ever had to do without. I am truly blessed. Writing out my personal story should also give me a better appreciation for all that I've been through. This book even promises a profound sense of self-love. Might as well jump start any therapy I'm headed for. :-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Three small squeezes

I heard a personal story on DNTO this afternoon that I can't get out of my head. A woman was talking about the first time she told her husband (then boyfriend) that she loved him. She knew he was the one and blurted out her I love you, only it was not reciprocated (ugh, been there!). The rest of their walk home was awkward and silent. When they finally reached home he told her that he loved her as well and had been telling her so for weeks with a small non-verbal gesture -- when they held hands, he would give three little squeezes - I, Love, You. Years later, they still use that gesture to take them back to the early beginnings of their romance, especially when the kids are squirrely in the back seat, he'll reach across and quietly remind his wife that he loves her. I started to cry, it was so sweet. Absolutely beautiful.

Friday, July 22, 2011


When I heard myself go off on how miserable camping is the other day I couldn't help but wonder why we subject ourselves to this misery. I detest the planning (even though I am a planning freak), the packing, bugs, sweat, grime, discomfort, boredom. It's really not fun. But I know why we do it -- it's the challenge that I enjoy. Sometimes I feel like we are too soft in the city. We need to get away from the comforts of home, even if it's for 3 days a year. We need to connect with nature and disconnect from our amenities. Really, the best part about camping is pulling into our driveway and stepping into our beautiful home after three days of 'roughing it' in the bush. I love the feeling of gratitude that washes over my entire being. Any complaints I have about how messy and run down our house is are instantly replaced with an immense gratitude for a hot shower, comfy bed, clean clothes and yummy supper. It'd be nice if I could just skip the camping and jump straight to the gratitude. I certainly try, but it's not the same feeling as depriving yourself of pleasure and then rewarding yourself afterwards. So that's why we are camping -- it's tough medicine, but it's worth it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's in the box?

Any day now the SharePoint team is going to traipse over to my desk and ask me what metadata to apply to information stored in SharePoint -- not just the fields (that's the easy part), but the controlled vocabulary too. What's in the drop down box D? Panic attack. I haven't got a clue. I have a better sense of what might work, but I have no idea how to get there. So much pressure to create a bullet-proof solution -- the right combination of terms that will let users find exactly what they are looking for, understand it's raison d'etre and allow us to systematically know when the information is no longer of value and can be removed. Oh, the fucking pressure! I can't go back to the users. It's too humiliating. How many times have we asked them to tell us about what they do, the information they create and use and how long they need it for. So I have to figure this out for the entire company on my own by reading and interpreting confusing legislation that requires focus which is not my specialty. I know I can do this but I don't like doing it and I'm motivated by work that I like. But there's no way out here. My career is on the line. I've got to just put my head down and get through this. Dig deep and interpret the legislation to the best of my ability -- don't be afraid to ask questions and just make a lot of assumptions. It's better than stalling, which is what I've been doing for the last 9 months. Oh the fucking pressure. Gotta take my medicine baby. xx

Monday, July 18, 2011

Losing my religion

My not-so-silent Sunday protest is doing more harm than good unfortunately. The kids see their mother balking the church -- outright ignoring the rituals and even falling asleep (I couldn't help it yesterday). My blatant disrespect is worse than not attending which is ironic because the only reason I go these days is to lead by example. Special thanks to a good friend of mine for helping me realize this today. I've got to make peace with religion -- figure out where I stand and be consistent with my practice or non-practice. Right now I'm really torn between going out of obligation to my partner and his family and bailing. Problem with the latter is that I'm left practicing zero spirituality -- at least as a weekly ritual. Maybe that's the problem. A good friend of mine suggested finding another practice to demonstrate family values -- a round table of gratitude, or brain-storming and doing good deeds together or even saying grace at dinner. I like these ideas, only I know we won't stick to them. Why make this into some kind of public display anyway? Shouldn't my daily behaviour be the best way to demonstrate altruism, patience, empathy, self-discipline? K, stop laughing (crazy lady here talking to my 2 readers out there). I'm done with organized religion. I don't believe in it and I'm not sure what I do believe.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Outdoor Summer Concerts

I'm a late-bloomer when it comes to concerts. Always thought live music was poorly sung, over-priced and crowded. That was until I discovered outdoor summer concerts. Just typing those three words puts a smile on my face. First the weather -- warm with a hint of cool breeze, dark skies, stars, moon ... heaven. Then there's the buzz in the air. Young and old -- people are out to have a good time and their mood is contagious. I love every part of it, even standing in line for a beer with anticipation, debating whether I should double fist it or be lady-like and drink one at a time. Then the show -- the music and effects when done well are mesmerizing. I enjoy watching the band playing with passion and really getting into their act. I enjoy watching the audience bop to the music and sing-along to their fav song. The smell of cigarettes and dope also adds to the ambiance. And luckily for me I get to round out my concert evening by biking home in the dark. FUN! I'm sitting here tonight listening to some 'Deathcab for Cutie' wishing that I had seen them at Bluesfest as well. Sadly, my outdoor summer concert experience is over for another year. It's a definite summer highlight for me that I will always look forward to. Bliss.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Laws of the universe

Even though none of what my intuitive told me five months ago has come true, her advice to 'look for the signs' has really stuck. When I hear of something more than once, I start to pay attention -- this can only be a sign. So tonight when I flicked on the TV, a therapist was telling a patient about the law of attraction. You get what you give. All you need to do is ask. This is the second time this week that I am reminded of this simple and powerful law. So what does it mean to me right now. K -- I feel stuck in my relationships and career. I'm wasting way too much time 'suffering' instead of just being happy. Be happy D. FFS, this constant state of brooding, the continuous complaining about everyone else, it's just got to stop. I can't stand to hear myself go off anymore. I have to take control of my life and force myself to either a) accept (and I mean truly accept) or b) make changes. The universe is giving me more of the same. By focusing on my unhappiness, I am finding more things to be unhappy about. Positive thinking, where are you? What I'd really like to do is forget about putting my happiness at the feet of my boss, or my partner. I'd like to tell them both to fuck off. K, not quite. But I'd like it if I was in my own world and not bothered by what they are doing or not doing. Being happy about myself -- proud of my actions and choices. This is what will bring me happiness.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lady killer

My 2 year old is going to be an amazing lover when he's grown. I can tell by how affectionate he is. First the touching -- he loves to touch women especially their legs and arms. It surprises people at first, but then it becomes rather addictive, his gentle caresses. The female daycare providers even comment on how much they love his touching! Next are the hugs. Those little arms wrapped around my neck fill me with joy. And then the kissing -- my boy loves to kiss people -- full on, straight and centre. He is one Casanova.

Doing what you love

I'm always blown away by people who really know their trade -- who know it, love it and love talking about it. Like tonight, I attended a wine tasting fund-raiser for our community association. Local wine writer Peter Ward was the star of the show. The way he spoke so fondly of his career and love of wines was infectuous. Hearing all his wonderful stories of the wineries he's been to, ineteresting people he's met and wines he's savoured was more enjoyable then the wines themselves. How sweet it was too to see him banter with his lovely wife -- they were such a cute couple, obviously still in love and so happy! Wow. I can only hope that someday I'll feel the same way about my own career and that I'll have a shared history with someone I still love and who still loves me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary

"I can't believe we've been married 8 years already (12 since we first met!) - I am the luckiest guy in the world to be married to you. Thank you for everything you do and being who you are. Love."

When I read this on FB today I nearly puked. And then I felt green with envy. While I am happy that my friend is happily married (I know for certain that he is), I know that this kind of public display of devotion will never happen to me. I don't even get it in private. But let's be real, my partner's not feelin' it either so if he ever posted such words, I'd accuse him of an ulterior motive. At least we are honest with our disappointment. I deserve someone to be over the moon about me and be proud to be my partner. This is what I want.

Be back in an hour

Lies. We purposefully underestimate how long something will take to make it seem more saleable. When I tell my partner that I'm running an errand at the mall and will be back in half an hour I know that I am outright lying because it will take me that long in travel time alone. But I lie regardless. When he did this to me this week, I completely lost it. Not only was I caught off-guard with his sudden departure when I was expecting his help with the kids, I felt completely disrespected -- that it was somehow acceptable to ignore my needs and devalue my time. Yes, I blew this WAY out of proportion. But the silver lining here was that it made me realize that I DO THE EXACT SAME THING. I think that my white lie eases the pain of my absence when in fact it only makes things worse because it sets expectations that will not be kept. Another opportunity to improve D. Thank you universe!

The Good Marriage

This is a book that was referred to in another pop-psyche book I'm reading (asside: I've got to invest in reading something different for a change). Apparently this book looked at several successful marriages to see what they had in common. The author's study found that the majority of these relationships put their union as a high priority. They treasured being married. Most also had a romantic relationship -- intense love is what kept them together. That also included lots of sex. According to this book, my relationship is more of a companionship -- lots of commonality and a strong committment to raising a family together. But we've become like brother and sister because of it. And apparently that's typical. Can we get that dose of rommance if we never had it? Not likely. Are we doomed? Time will tell, I guess.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Men Cheat

Big article in the Citizen this weekend on cheating. Not surprising, men cheat for sex and power. They seek what they are not getting at home. In a related article, a researcher explained that "Cheating has nothing to do with another person looking better -- it has to do with the need for feeling good". Local sex therapist Sue Mc Garvey weighed in to say that roughly "a quarter of women don’t like sex, a quarter can take it or leave it, a quarter want it a couple of times a week, and the remainder would give it once a day. That means that about half of women want sex once a month or less." Yikes, no wonder men cheat. Not fair -- lack of sex does not justify infidelity. Nothing does really. I guess what I don't get is the ignorance -- that people honestly believe that their affair will not end their marriage. Mc Garvey went on to say "Men are loyal. They will go back to the woman who has washed their underwear for the last 20 years." How could you really respect yourself if you allowed your partner to cheat? They will cheat again. I sound pretty self-righteous here. I know there are a million reasons to stay married. I just can't imagine the self loathing I'd feel living the rest of my life with a cheater. This is why I believe that "what you don't know can't hurt you". If 3/4s of men cheat then, wouldn't it'd just be a lot easier for everyone if extra-marital sex was mutually agreed upon? No dishonesty or hurt feelings. Then again, maybe just opt out of the relationship altogether and have sex with as many people as you please?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I want to hold Mommy

When my 2 year old told me this tonight, my heart melted. It's one of the sweetest things anyone has ever told me. I keep re-playing his words in my head. We love our kids regardless of how they feel about us, but being on the receiving end of their affection is a definite parenting perk. I will miss these days. I already miss never having another baby. What made today extra special was that my boy and I really bonded. We played together in the park, one-on-one. I gave him 100% of my attention and did he ever soak it up. It was difficult to ignore the other parents but I am so glad that I played with my child. I've got to do more of this before it's too late. Already my eldest is spending more time on his own or with his friends then with us. Here's my answer right here in front of me. This is how I can give back to the world.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Financial independence

A few times a year I do a financial sanity cheque to make sure we are still on target for our goals -- pay down debt as quickly as possible, live comfortably, save for the future. When it came time to renew our mortgage a few weeks ago my partner suggested upping it by $100 since he got a small raise. Sadly, I had no idea if we could afford that or not -- in fact, I have no idea how much of our income goes towards housing! So I sat down and crunched the numbers and while it would be great to be mortgage free one day, it doesn't eat away as much of our income as I thought it would. And there's no way that one of us could afford to quit our jobs when that fateful day arrives. So what does this pie chart tell me. Vacation is embarrassingly low until the kids get older. They are plenty happy doing little day trips around town, camping or weekends in Mtl -- all of which are super economical. I have not added in rainy day savings because we just drained our emergency fund to cover our solar project -- but we should start re-building it soon. I feel guilty about how little we give to charity. In fact I'm ashamed. I also feel badly that I haven't kicked my restaurant habit, eventhough I feel chained to my stove. Is there any wiggle room? Can I afford to get a housekeeper @ $240/month? FFS, I'm a Business student. I'm supposed to be good with money. Maybe I should just hand it over to my partner. He's really good at scraping pennies. He'll have us on Mr. Noodle and canned peaches in no time.