The weather shouldn’t dictate our moods and activities, but winter in Nova Scotia often does. Due to snowstorms, dangerous road conditions and cold, I have spent too much time indoors and just doing my thing alone, rather than getting out and being with people. It’s sometimes easy to become negative when you isolate yourself too much.
The other day I made a coffee date with a friend that ended up getting cancelled because of, you guessed it, weather. I was a little disappointed until I opened an email from another friend to let me know that the Knitting Ninnies were still going to meet.
So I braved a raging snowstorm to go to her place to knit. On Wednesdays, four or five of us gather with our knitting projects and eat, chat, compare notes and learn from each other. One is making a doll’s blanket while another works on a sock monkey. Yet another woman is learning how to knit a pair of socks. Baby clothes, infinity scarves, slouch hats and shawls have all been created, discussed and shown over the course of time we spend together.
And while all this creating is going on, there is an exchange of ideas about friendships, grandchildren, husbands, healthy meals and snacks, and the latest sales at local shops. There is usually a fair amount of laughter as well.
Being part of a knitting group is one of the best things I have done for myself as a knitter. While I am not new to knitting, it’s been a great way to pick up new tricks and always have someone at the ready to help me through difficult parts of patterns or explain a new-to-me technique. But it’s also the friendships.
It’s sort of like the men going out for beer and wings on Thursday evenings, except they’re probably not talking about knitting and recipes. The camaraderie is the same.
Yesterday I met up with a quilting friend. She’s the expert and I am the rookie, so as we cut out pieces for our latest creations, she showed me techniques or color combinations that I hadn’t thought of before. We talked about life in general, and nothing in particular, but I came away feeling pretty good and I know she did as well.
Now I have a complete quilt cut out and something to work on at home over the next couple of weeks, but I also have just spent an afternoon nourishing a relationship and chasing away the negativity.
You could say that we have a lot in common aside from the quilting. A couple of years ago we were both at a supper and I was telling about my Divorce Fudge and the story surrounding it. She thought that was quite something, as there were things in my story she could relate to. A friendship was born.
It’s a positively wonderful thing when you get to hang out with people who love doing the same things that you do.
Do you have a friend or a mentor like that?
Today I am grateful:
1. For the beautiful friendships I have in my life
2. For the confidence to drive in winter conditions
3. For a good laugh with my Mom last evening
4. For my lavender and blueberry plants peeking out from under the snow
5. For wool, with all its textures, colors and possibilities
Moving on to the last five days of this No Negativity Challenge, I want to share with you a question I ask myself when I’m in a stew, when I’m upset with someone and when I’m worried about something. These are all negative feelings, by the way.
I thought of the question this morning and I remembered using it on my children when we were all at home together. Back then the concern would have been a fight with a friend, a job not gotten, a lost wallet, or a flu that made them miss an important event.
Asking the question won’t solve all your problems, but it will give some much needed perspective. Are you ready for it?
What will this matter in a year’s time? In five years? Eternity?
Chances are, in just a few week’s time, you won’t even care. The situation that is so big right now would end up being an irrelevant detail of life. I find myself laughing at some of the things I fretted about last year. Actually I realize that many of the things I fretted about since starting this No Negativity Challenge either never came to pass, they resolved themselves or I found a solution for them. Now, some situations are serious and their consequences are earth shattering, but most of the time they are not.
My son’s concussion is finally starting to get better and his focus is coming back. Yes, he lost his university year but his health is so much more important. (It could have been better, but it could have been worse)
My Mother has started getting much needed medical treatment for her condition and the whole family is relieved that she is starting to feel a little better. She’s getting some of her Mojo back.
My car sold after many weeks on Kijiji. I didn’t get the price I wanted, but I was just so happy to have it sold before the winter settled in. (I could have gotten more for it, but I could have gotten less)
So rather than taking up precious energy feeling worried, angry, overwhelmed and afraid, I can use it to spend time with the people I love.
So, what happened at church a few days ago has been discussed, forgiven and classified. Will it matter in a year’s time? I don’t think so.
How about you? Is there something you are stewing about these days? Can you ask yourself the question, What will this matter in a year’s time?Is the answer, “It won’t matter at all.”?
Today I am grateful:
1. For the most beautiful sunrise
2. That Justin Bieber is finally being called to task
3. For a day out with a friend
4. For the people who contacted me after my last post
5. For the friend who remembered the time, many years ago, when I stood up for her
After yesterday’s lighthearted interlude, I am going to come clean on my negativity/positivity.
I have been in a negative mood for the past couple of days, and it’s been difficult to shake it off. Sometimes it takes me a long time to process things.
On Sundays I go to church. I like going to church; people at my church like me, or at least I think they do. When I moved to Nova Scotia four years ago, one of the very first things I did was to find a church community to be a part of. It was a great way to find a sense of belonging, a community, a safe place to be myself and a place to reach out to others.
A place to sit quietly and listen for God’s still small voice as I adjusted to this new life.
Over these past four years I have very slowly gotten involved in some activities, made friends, and a couple of months ago I finally became a member of my church.
I guess you could say I finally decided to call it home. Home is where you are accepted and loved and where you can be yourself without having to pretend to be someone you are not. Home is where you are comfortable and at ease no matter what is going on in the outside world.
I find that people at Kings are friendly, helpful, accepting and positive. When I go there I feel at peace most of the time. If I go there with hurts or angst or troubles, I find a measure of peace, and I come home feeling uplifted.
So why did I come home from church on Sunday and hide in my office for two days?
Something happened that burst my bubble. Someone spoke harshly to me on Sunday at church. My peaceful sanctuary had been violated and I’ve had a hard time to accept that fact. It made me feel all those negative things: unworthy, small, broken and sad.
Why is it that I let someone elses personal problems invade my happiness and positive attitude? I guess it’s because the words hurt me. Should I let those words be like water on a duck’s back? Just let them roll off?
So I’ve been trying to listen to that “still small voice” within. It’s telling me to forgive that person and just move on.
However, I am still fabulous and I know that! So I will do what I have to do and get on with my life. If not for this No Negativity Challenge and God, I don’t know if I would be able to do that.
Don’t you just love a story that makes you smile? As we head into the last mile of the No Negativity Challenge I will share with you a couple of true stories that have a positive spin on life. Today’s account is something that happened to my sister a couple of years ago; it’s kind of cute, and gets better with each telling. My sister is so good-natured there is not much that ever bothers her and she’s quite appreciative of anything that is done for her.
The Executive Lounge = Free Food
She was having a hard time flying from Ottawa to Deer Lake, Newfoundland for Christmas that year. She had a stopover in Montreal for a couple of days to visit her sisters, but as luck would have it, or as Murphy’s Law would dictate, the day of her flight from Montreal to Deer Lake dawned with a blinding snowstorm that cancelled all flights in and out of Trudeau Airport. It was December 18th. For the next three days her sis Sheila alternated between the phone and the Internet trying to get Gerri a flight out.
Her ear was sore.
She had a headache.
Her kids felt neglected.
She was about to give up and have Gerri stay in Montreal for Christmas when finally something gave way. They got her on a flight to Halifax and then on to Deer Lake. Because of all the mess, or for lack of another seat on the plane, she was granted a first class ticket.
Gerri had never travelled first class before, so Sheila explained to her that she would get to sit at the front of the plane, she’d have a wider seat with more legroom, and free drinks. But the best part was that she would be able to go into the Executive Lounge at the Halifax airport. Now, what exactly did that mean? She was thrilled to learn that she could avail herself of free food because of her first class ticket!
On arriving in Halifax, Gerri went straight to the nearest airport restaurant. After all, she had a two-hour layover. After perusing the menu she decided on surf ‘n turf with baked potato and salad, and she finished up with a decadent piece of cheesecake for dessert. She savored every succulent bite, knowing that it was all free.
“A good thing”, she thought, “that the airline wants to compensate me for three days of waiting for a flight.”
All too soon the meal was over and she was presented with the bill. $48.72, not including tax and tip.
Smiling sweetly, she said to the waitress, “Oh I don’t have to pay. I’m flying first class today.”
Smiling just as sweetly, the waitress replied, “Oh yes you do dearie. There is no free food in this restaurant.”
Poor Gerri, she hadn’t understood that the free food was peanuts, muffins, and juice in the Executive Lounge, not at any restaurant in the airport. Sheepishly, she paid her bill and thought to herself, “Oh well, another lesson learned, and it was a great meal.”
Ironically, she never did find the Executive Lounge, and she never did make it to Deer Lake that year. The plane overshot to St. John’s.
Do you remember writing letters when you were younger? Thank you letters to Aunt Adele for a birthday gift, letters to a friend who was away for the summer and notes to pen pals around the world kind of dominated my letter writing back when I was an adolescent.
The letters usually, went something like this:
How are you? I am fine. It has been raining here for three days. We had Kraft Dinner for supper last night and Mom ruined it by putting peas in it. We’re going to the beach tomorrow and I will try out my new bathing suit. Tommy is driving me crazy with his new Monopoly game because he buys all the best properties first.
I miss you.
They always started the same: “How are you? I am fine.” Isn’t it the same for us as adults? When we greet someone we ask how they are doing, and they answer with “Oh I’m doing fine”, and then they might mention something about their health. Or not.
Fast forward to last evening.
We were at a Bobbie Burns potluck meal with some friends when Peter came in bearing the Scotch Broth. So I said, “ Hi Peter, how are you doing today?”
He turned, looked me in the eye and answered, “I’m magnificent! How are you doing?”
I was so taken aback I asked him why he was magnificent. He told me that he was tired of saying he was fine. ‘Fine’ is such a boring word. It’s much more fun to be ‘magnificent’.
He was right. I’m not sure anyone was interested in hearing a litany of complaints, an accounting of his health, or how his son disappointed him that day. All through the evening, through the recitation of the “Ode to the Haggis”, the “Toast to the Haggis” and the ensuing meal I thought about what Peter had said. Being Magnificent sure does conjure up a different impression of a person than being fine does. Words have power.
So I made a decision. From now on I am going to be ‘Fabulous’.
How about you? Will you be
Or will you be fine?
Today I am grateful:
1. For my wedding ring and all it symbolizes
2. To have my own office to write, knit and daydream
3. For the realization of the power of words
4. For making a new friend who shares some of my past
When I was sixteen years old, a friend said to me, “The optimist, when he finds himself in hot water, finds that he needed a bath anyway.”
I thought it was quite funny at the time, but as the years have passed, I’ve often found myself thinking about this line. It usually speaks to me about finding the golden opportunity in a bad situation.
There was one time in particular, when I lived on the outskirts of Montreal that this came true for me. I lived in Deux Montagnes and there was a warehouse sale of Osh Kosh B’Gosh children’s clothing in St Laurent. I had never driven to St Laurent on my own before, but I was willing to give it a try. I set out focused, determined and excited to get the great deals I had only heard about. I had visions of getting overalls and T-shirts for the next few years for my young boys. It was an adventure.
However, being directionally challenged as I am, it wasn’t long before I got lost. Frustration set in and I despaired of ever finding the place.
Thoughts of those great clothing deals faded as I turned corner after corner and came up with nothing. You have to understand that this was before the days of cell phones and GPS, so I was at the mercy of my wits and the map on the front seat of the car.
There was nothing to do but to keep driving. I’m sure I didn’t even know how to get home again at that point. But I did notice that there were many shop signs in Lebanese.
Lebanese? I’m Lebanese. I wondered what was in those shops.
“Oh what the heck” I said to myself as I parked in front of one of them. It was called Adonis. As I entered the store, it was as if I was entering in to my past. It was a Lebanese grocery store! With mouth wide open in wonder and amazement, I combed through aisle after aisle of foods I hadn’t seen in years, not since I was a child. There was baklava, olives, fatayer, Turkish delight, fresh dates, zahtar, dried chickpeas, the ingredients for the foods of my youth, and so much more. There was even fresh pita bread, still warm in the bag. And the cheeses – oh the cheeses!
I thought I had died and gone to heaven. And I didn’t mind so much that I never found the Osh Kosh sale.
So I filled the car with all the fixings for a great Lebanese meal, called someone to tell me how to get home from there, and I was on my way.
The thing is, I had the choice: to keep trying to find the clothing sale and get more frustrated (the hot water), or to make the best of the situation I was in. The ‘bath’ I needed was food for my soul.
Today I am grateful:
1. For the opportunity to taste Haggis this evening
“The flyers are here! The flyers are here!” says Dave every Thursday as he runs out to get the bag of weekly store ads that have been tossed on the driveway. Strangely enough, we both look forward to this event.
And then we sit in the living room to read them. He reads mostly the hardware store ads and I read the grocery stores and Michael’s. We comment on what’s on special that week and one of us starts a list. Ingredients for my famous fudge, meat and produce specials top the items we will be buying. And cheese. Can’t forget the cheese: it’s one of life’s sweet pleasures, right up there with treacle toffee.
Once a week we eat up the leftovers in the fridge, making soup or stir-fry and toss the things that might have gone bad in order to make room for the groceries for the next seven days. Within the next day or so, one of us will go off to Superstore to purchase the week’s provisions.
Every other Friday Dave gets up early and sorts out the garbage. Each item goes into its own container: compost in one, paper in another and plastics, glass and metal in their respective bags. And then it all sits neatly at the end of the driveway waiting to be taken away. Meanwhile, back in the house, all the trash and recycling containers are empty, waiting to be filled up again.
And then we’ve come full circle.
The routines of our days give structure and some predictability to our otherwise chaotic lives. Without them we might not have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
I have found that my morning routine sets the pace and attitude for the rest of the day. On an ideal day, I get up early, make the coffee and then I sit down to write. I am alone with my meditation and thoughts. When I’m done, I do some form of exercise, either brisk walking or weights. Then it is time for breakfast and getting cleaned up, including shoes, ready for whatever the day brings. Just doing this much puts me in a positive mood.
On an un-ideal day, I sleep a little later, decide not to exercise, stay in my pyjamas until 11AM or later, and I just roam around the house, feeling a little guilty for not getting anything done. I might read a book or call someone up, but I never manage to feel great about my day. This puts me in a negative mood.
Can you relate?
It has been said that your day is usually quite similar to your attitude during the first hour after awakening. Getting the day off on the wrong foot can negatively affect your entire day.
I have found that it doesn’t take much to have a positive day:
– Get up when the alarm rings or when you wake up
-Make the bed
– Drink some water
-Do some form of exercise or stretching
– Have breakfast
-Get completely dressed and groomed, even if you’re not going out.
-Put your shoes on. When you are fully dressed, you’re ready for anything
Today I am grateful:
1. For a new knitting project
2. For peaches that were frozen from summer’s bounty
3. For my son Daniel; today he’s 29 years old
4. For the routines of my life
5. For the bags of frozen kale that were a gift from a church friend last September