I woke this morning with a warm puppy snuggled into the nape of my neck. This tiny bundle of caramel coloured fur always makes me smile. As I scratched his belly, I heard the click of my coffee maker come on and smiled again, proud I had remembered to set the timer.
I wandered to the kitchen, poured a cup, turned on the fireplace, settle into my favourite chair with puppy in my lap, took that first bless’ed sip, and listened to the silence fall around me.
Most mornings start this way, calm, peaceful and reflective.
There was a time when my life was busy and noisy. I didn’t always appreciate the colours of the day, or have the time to slowly sip my coffee and gaze out the window.
Decades were spent on the move, hustling my boys to and from day-care, school, sports, and other activities. Bouncing between work, community services and my own educational pursuits, always busy, always rushing, always something to do, somewhere to go or someone waiting for something.
The “busy stuff” is the means needed to build our lives, but, the busy stuff doesn’t define our lives. It’s the simple beautiful moments that bring us joy and give meaning to the journeys we’re on.
Moments watching a child fall asleep in your lap because that’s where they feel safe, moments making messes and allowing pumpkin guts to fall on the floors and get stuck in your hair because they’re having fun, moments spent with two little guys on a skip-out day appreciating the wonder and silence of the forest or sitting in an open field, feeling content watching birds glide on the wind.
Then, there’s the quiet morning moments, when all the busy is behind you, those two little guys are grown and now its a puppy falling a sleep in your lap.
We need a balance of busy days and days when we’re able to just “be”. Days when we don’t just count our blessings, we live them, being fully present, taking in all the magic and meaning they bring. Because these are the days we will remember, these are the moments that will warm our hearts for ALL THE DAYS of our lives.
As we begin the slow descent out of the dark clouds of 2020, and prepare to launch a new year, things are still not right with the world.
Covid continues to wreak havoc across the planet and is now way to close to home. Election chaos continues to play out for our friends in the south. There is civil unrest breaking out in several countries around the world. Wind and rainstorms are keeping people hunkered. Christmas is pretty much cancelled and there will be no fancy festivities to ring in 2021.
People are out of work, many businesses have shut down, we can’t travel, and we miss our families and friends. Add to that, many of us haven’t touched another human in months, haven’t gone to a concert, a play, a restaurant or a celebration, wedding, birthday or graduation for almost a year.
However, amidst all the chaos, I’m still happy, really happy. My spirit is light, my heart is settled and my mind is peaceful. I find multiple reasons to smile or laugh out loud every day. My inner child is as goofy and playful as she has ever been. I’m truly grateful for this life despite what’s going on around me and the rest of the world.
This feeling of contentment is proof (for me) that happiness comes from the inside. No matter what is going on around us, we still have the capacity to feel joy and be grateful. What happens inside us, not outside us, is what regulates our happiness meter. In my case, having hobbies, exercising daily, eating right, meditating, spending time in nature and engaging in creative activities, all fuel my sense of positivity and well-being.
This sense of happiness and well-being doesn’t mean I’m not affected by what’s happening around me and the people I love and the world, of course I am. It means I won’t let it unravel me or get me down, because that serves no purpose.
When the weather outside is turbulent, we generally seek shelter from the wind, rain and the cold by coming inside and creating a cozy internal retreat. When the world around you is turbulent, seek shelter from the chaos by creating a cozy, peaceful place in your mind. You can do this by engaging in positive and creative activities, practicing gratitude, staying physically active, being kind and carrying out random acts of kindness, celebrating small successes, eliminating toxic people, toxic media content and toxic substances from your life. Read uplifting information and listen to uplifting music. Make your mental wellness your first priority.
Life’s storms can not rain on your peace of mind, unless you let them. Don’t let them.
Walk quietly beside her so she can feel your presence. Hold his hand for a little while until he asks you to let go. Wrap your arms around her while she weeps. Be their Peace. Leave the light on and stay with him until he falls asleep. Sit with them in silence, so they don’t have to feel the emptiness that surrounds them. Don’t ask her what’s wrong, because she’s not sure. Stop talking and listen, not only to their words, but their actions, their silence and their tears. People in pain, suffering grief, depression or anxiety don’t always know how to ask for what they need. Don’t make them ask. Toni O’K~🌹❤️
You’re allowed to stop, to rest, to reflect, and catch your breath. Go find your sanctuary amongst the trees, under the stars, next to the lull of moving water or in a field of wild flowers or tall soft grass. Somewhere tranquil, uncluttered, and away from the noise, where you can surrender to the sound of your soul whispering all that she wants you to know. You’re allowed to step away from everything that ails you and everything and everyone that demands something from you. You don’t have to explain why, you may not even know why. Give yourself permission to take a break from all of it and drown yourself in peace. It’s in this peacefulness that the answers will come.
I’ve often wondered why certain people have come into my life, or why I stepped into theirs. Some have turned my world upset down leaving me to clean up the rubble and put the piece of my shattered self back together. Others made my think, made me laugh, made me shake my head, inspired me or loved me just enough and then they were gone. I have come to understand and appreciate that sometimes we’re meant to step into someone’s life for barely a moment. Just long enough to leave a small imprint and change each other in ways we might never know. We walk together from one place and time to another, and then, head to separate shores, knowing with great clarity that we’re profoundly different, although not quite sure how. Be grateful for everyone that comes in and out of your life. Wish them peace, happiness and love. Each of these beautiful souls brought you something magnificent, even if it was painful. They helped shape you into who you are. And who you are, is wonderful.
Thank you for stepping into my world, if only for a moment.
You were born curious and with a strong sense of purpose. You were also born with authentic wisdom and a knowledge of what’s right and wrong. Then society changed you and slowly reset your original “factory” settings.
Our “civilized” culture has taken us away from our true nature and forced us into activities, learning, jobs, relationships, rules, beliefs and tribes that might not “feel” right for us.
These societal expectations and rules are not the truth, they are merely guidelines to achieve social cooperation. We go along with what we know is wrong for the sake of these societal rules, afraid to speak our truth as we might be shunned, disciplined, mocked, or rejected.
We witness harm, destruction, inequality, environmental ruin, greed and violations to the human spirit and other living beings every single day. Our spirits know these things are wrong, yet, for the sake of societal cooperation, we continue to outwardly accept and live these lies.
You can feel when things are not aligned to your personal wisdom, purpose and joy. When we feel sad, angry, depressed or tired, it may be that you’re off your path, wandering away from your purpose and your personal truth.
Your inner guru speaks to you through feelings, through your reaction to things and through a deep sense of knowing. We all have to tap into this knowing. We can do this by being quiet and listening to our intuition and “feeling” our wisdom.
You deserve to reset to your original factory settings, to be curious again and find your joy, your people, your purpose and YOUR truth. Don’t be afraid to challenge the beliefs and expectations that were draped upon you. In fact, you should, we all should.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a cop, a gas station attendant, doctor, farmer, black, white, brown, Irish, Italian, Asian, catholic, jewish, atheist, gay, straight, male, female, trans, short, tall, rich, poor ~ whatever, We have to stop hurting, judging and killing each other. Because this crap that’s playing out, nobody’s winning. We all have it in us to be kind, compassionate, peaceful and loving, even when we disagree, especially when we disagree. Please try and exercise your kindness muscle today. If you can’t do that, then just stay home, drink beer, eat chocolate, pet your dog, do what you do and stop wasting precious time worrying about how others live their lives. In the end, none of us are getting out of this alive. None of us. Not one. Nope not even you. Love Toni xo
As we age, why do we feel an urge to look back to our youth, to host reunions and reconnect? Is it because we have an innate desire to return to our original social tribes, the tribes that marked us and shaped who we became?
If you and I grew up in the same neighborhood, walked to school together clutching metal lunch buckets, rode our bikes around the same block, played on swings and metal teeter-totters, ran around kicking-the-can in my front yard or shouting “Red Rover” in yours, talked about our childhood crushes at sleepovers, or met up at girl guides, scouts, band, drama rehearsals, community sports, or at the swimming pool or roller-rink, we share a special tribal bond that can never be broken.
Our childhood experiences, whether good or bad, are the foundation on which the rest of our lives are built. We share a profound social history and connection with the neighborhood friends, classmates and cousins we grew up with.
Outside our immediate families, our childhood connections were our first experiences in the outside world. As we were growing up together we were also exploring the world, building relationships, and learning about ourselves through one another. Chances are you were with the people from your youth when you shared your first kiss, had your first beer, attended your first concert, smoked your first cigarette(or joint), felt your first heartache, endured your first body piercing (maybe by me in the girls washroom at school) or drove your first car. These are big events in the life of a young person.
Our childhood friends were the ones we turned to when our lives were in chaos. Whether that chaos resulted from unstable home environments, world events, our own personal struggles or when we had to cope with the loss of a loved one for the first time, we relied on each other to pull through.
Often people that go through traumatic events together, such as a plane crash, are bonded for life. This bond is sealed by the deep emotional experience they have shared. Going through childhood and youth is similar. In our youth we go through a series of significant emotional events usually with our childhood friends and classmates. These shared experiences can seal the connections between us forever.
It is these deeply rooted ties that drive us to seek reunions and reminisce. These reunions allow us to travel back in time, to perhaps see things in a new light and with new wisdom.
Whether you were an all star sports hero, a bully or you were bullied, revisiting these times can allow us to heal, allow us to reflect on how far we’ve come, allow us an opportunity to gain perspective and be grateful for the people and things we didn’t give thanks for back in the day, or apologize to those we hurt.
For those from my era, we grew up in a time when; we knew the people in our neighborhoods. We could safely play hockey or jacks in the middle of the road, hung out at the park from dawn till dusk and played unsupervised in the creek all summer long. We rode our bikes everywhere (without helmets) often with someone on the handle bars. Penny candy was “a thing” and we paid for it with bottles we found as we rummaged in dirty ditches. We were not tied to our phones, but fought over the one phone that hung on the kitchen wall. We passed paper notes back and forth in class and if we missed the school bus we walked home as there were no helicopter parents to swoop in and pick us up.
Compared to a child born today, we lived an unencumbered youth, free to roam and led by our curious nature, youthful energy and each other.
Then, the day arrived when we stood at the doorway to adulthood, stepped over the threshold, and we scattered, taking bits and pieces of each other with us.
As adults our lives got busy building families, building careers, building new communities and new tribes. But always hanging on to those bits of pieces of our youth.
Now as many of us head into retirement we have time to reflect on the bonds we built early in our lives. Our desire to pull out those bits and pieces and revisit our childhood tribe is normal, healthy and can bring about great healing and comfort because only we know what it was like to grow up the way we did and that truth connects us.
To those from my childhood, we’ve come along way together even during the years we were apart. I’m glad you’ve been a part of my story and my Tribe, and that’s the ties that bind us.