January 9, 2017

Sometimes you need to compromise in life.

A very wise woman once told me that it’s totally acceptable to take a day and just recharge. Sometimes our bodies and minds need a break. Life can get pretty crazy and if you don’t take some downtime your health an suffer. Thank you JoAnn.

This is contrary to how I was raised. I was taught, through observation mostly, that an idle day was a wasted day. The only reason to be at home and not accomplishing something was illness. And it better be a serious illness. The kind that keeps you in bed. Thanks Dad.

So today I compromised.

Dad, you would be proud of what I achieved this morning.

Jo Ann, you would applaud my slothness this afternoon.

January 6, 2017

Oh Friday how I love you.

Even though it was a short week I am still so happy to see you.

It is no longer the promise of two days of relaxation as it used to be as anybody with young children knows. Weekends can often mean even more activity and work than week days. Early hockey or soccer practice, dance lessons, ski trips, birthday parties and more.

So why is Friday such an oasis at the end of the week?

Could it solely be the fact that nobody is going to judge me if I don’t make dinner but instead order sushi and grab a bottle of white from the cold beer and wine store? Is it really that simple?

Yes. I think that’s it.

The Best Thing in Life is a Friday evening with my family eating sushi, drinking wine and watching HGTV.

Coincidence or Kismet?

piano

Do you every think that things are just meant to happen when they happen? That the universe has a plan and you just don’t know about it? Today was one of those days for me. At a time when I was lacking motivation, questioning my decisions and wondering if the direction I was going in was leading me the right way, I had an Oprah moment. You know the one. The quintessential “aha” moment. I wasn’t unhappy, I was just unsure of where things were going or if they even needed to go anywhere. Should I soldier on or reevaluate and make a change? I felt I was lacking a focus. Then I had lunch with a very wise and lovely friend that I had been trying to connect with for months. Coincidence?

A classically trained pianist who grew up in, of all places, Prince George, Stephanie and I met when our kids attended the same pre-school. She started playing the piano when she was two and her piano teacher recognized her talent early on. By the time she was fourteen she was flying down to Vancouver once a month for lessons. She was accepted to Juliard, Peabody and Eastman – the creme de la creme of music schools in the US. After choosing and studying at Eastman she was destined for a career as a concert pianist. She, however, had a defining moment when her panic attacks started to get the best of her. She also never felt the pull that many performers feel for an adoring audience or a standing ovation. Many performers continue for the ego boost, but she realized that the direction she was heading was not meant to be. What was meant to be, was to bring the pure joy of music, that she felt, to others. As a teacher.

Her approach to teaching is truly organic. As I ate the delicious spicy Mexican soup she had made us for lunch, I listened to her explaining how learning music is not just about the notes and the technique, but the feeling you get from playing. She has been known to tell a student to “go and watch water”. The point being, to teach the lightness and finesse of playing the notes. To mimic the way the water flows and bubbles. “Some kids get it, some don’t”. She went on to say, that teaching young kids comes with a unique opportunity to mold the way they approach playing and practicing. Most would start with the easy stuff and go on from there. She encourages them to start with the most challenging part. That is a difficult thing for anybody to do at any age.

water

The most important thing she tries to instill in her students is that music should come from a place of happiness – not from a place of ego. You could win a hundred music competitions and still not understand the meaning of the music you have played. Some of the best musicians play for the pure love of it. If they are able to make a living doing it, then it really is just icing on the cake. The need for a gold star or, in my case, verification that somebody is reading my blogs and that I am making a difference, is a huge stumbling block for me. She reminded me that perhaps there was somebody out there reading my blog and thinking “wow, that’s exactly how I’m feeling too”. I could be making somebody think a different way or see a different side to something. Maybe I’m just allowing somebody to steal a few minutes from their day, read a story and enjoy the way it makes them feel.  Like a piece of music.

As usual I went into this situation with one idea and came away with a completely different point if view. I started out being envious of my friend’s passion for music and the way that she had been able to take that and use it to teach children and left feeling like maybe, just maybe, I too had a path to follow. An opportunity to catch up and learn about her music career turned into a life lesson for me. Go figure. I left her house feeling inspired, rejuvenated and happy to have reconnected with such a kind and insightful friend. Even if nobody is reading my blog, I am doing what makes me happy. Perhaps I am not “over achieving” but my family is happy too. I need to live my life for the joy and not for the gold star. The Best Thing in Life is just letting things happen the way the universe wants them to happen and enjoying the kismet.

November Challenge Completed

The life you want begins when you start embracing the life you already have.The Best Things in Life are right in front of you

At the beginning of November I challenged myself to find one of the Best Things in Life every day and document it on Twitter. So, the first day I did it and thought, piece of cake. Day two I forgot and had to get out if bed at midnight and find my phone and send a tweet. The next day I set up an auto reminder on my phone so that every day at 5:00 pm until November 30 I would be reminded to stick to the challenge. That was the only hard part. Finding something each day seemed to just…..happen. Some days it was obvious and some days I had to think about for 10 seconds before it came to me.

The tweets were quite different day to day. Some were simple little things like a cup of cucumber mint tea.

One was recognition of my son turning eighteen. Truly a huge moment in both of our lives.

Sometimes the Best Things in Life turned bad.

Looking back it seems that a lot of things were outside.

A few months ago I wrote a post about being happy. One of the ideas I talked about was called 100 days of Happiness. It’s a similar idea to what I have done but it’s longer and you email your daily happiness point to somebody you don’t know. This, I felt, was a bit more personal for me but also allowed me to share it with my followers. (I always find it weird saying that I have “followers”). At the end of the day it has made me realize that it is extraordinarily easy to find some small things in each day of your life that are special, unique, personal, meaningful and just one of the Best Things in Life. I am resetting the auto reminder on my phone to “never”.  Follow me on Twitter here and see where this takes me.

The Best Things in Life

The Best Things in Life can be small and insignificant or they can be monumental and life altering. They also happen every day to everyone on the planet. The problem is that we don’t always recognize them.

This month, November 2014, I hope to change the way I look at The Best Things in Life. This month, each day, I will recognize some small (or monumental) thing in my life by posting a picture, link or quote on my Twitter account. Follow me at @seymourmommy to see what The Best Things in Life are for the month of November.

In Appreciation of Growing Up

West Vancouver

Do you ever have those days when you are just at loose ends? That was me this morning. I didn’t have a lot of energy, didn’t have anything specific that I had to do and it was a wet drizzly day. I could easily have pulled on my jammies and gone back to bed, but I knew that wouldn’t really help. I didn’t have quite enough energy to muster up a run but knew I needed to get out and get some exercise. Closets are sorted and the yard is ready for the onslaught of November rains. What to do, what to do? And then I knew what I needed to do. I needed to go back to my roots.

Fortunately, my roots, or the area I grew up in, are only a 20 minute drive away. I was headed to Ambleside and a walk on the sea wall. There’s just something about going back to West Vancouver that calms me and in some ways, reconnects me. It’s familiar and holds so many memories and firsts. First school, first best friend, first kiss, first party, first driving lesson in a standard…..you get the picture. For me, going back to West Van and walking the seawall can clear my head and remind me about what is important. Family, friends and belonging.

West Vancouver is not necessarily the same place today that it was when I was growing up. The majority of the ranchers and cute little bungalows are gone. Replaced with huge, gated homes. Not many kids walk or ride their bikes to school anymore. Park Royal Shopping Centre has doubled in size and increased its profile. Bonnie Belle Makeup has been replaced by Sephora and Bootlegger by Banana Republic. Most people I knew have either moved away or, in the case of my parents friends, have passed away. But you know what, it’s okay. Times have changed everywhere and selfishly, West Vancouver gave me what I needed and I’m grateful for that. What did it give me? So many things.

An appreciation of nature. There are so many fabulous outdoor spots in West Vancouver that it’s sometimes hard to know where to go. Not just the sandy, park like beaches of Ambleside and Dundarave but also the rocky, often deserted, beaches between 29th and 31st streets. The trails and rocky bays of Lighthouse Park. For so many years I was convinced that the boogie man lived there. The mountains. A family friend had a cabin up Hollyburn Mt and we would hike up there in the summer and swim in the extraordinarily cold glacial lakes. Access to the island and Whistler were only minutes away. Believe it or not I did my first overnight Girl Guide camp out at the top of the British Properties. Somewhere up there amongst all those new homes is a trail leading up to beautiful wooded spot where we (gasp) lit fires and slept under the trees.

An appreciation of a good school. I still keep in touch with some of the people I went to West Bay Elementary School with (thanks to Facebook) and have such great memories of that school. Sports day three legged races, music class with Mr Rose, the annual track and field day at West Van High track, and of course those after school dances. It was such a simple time in my life but it was also a lot of life lessons. Like the time Katherine Taylor hit me over the head with her metal lunch box. Lesson learned? Don’t be friends with kids with metal lunch boxes. Walking to school, starting in Kindergarten, was not only accepted but pretty much mandatory. Lessons learned? Get over your fear of dogs, loud trucks and the weird kids who lived along the way.

An appreciation of community. May Day Parade 1974. I was one of the flower girls in the parade. Not only did I get to ride on the float but I got to dance around the maypole in my pretty pink dress. My daughter will be very jealous one day. If I ever tell her. West Van in the 70 was really just a small municipality. The ice rink on 22nd street is still there. I wonder if they still have Teen Night every Saturday? The aquatic centre didn’t exist then. If you wanted to take a swimming lessons, the rec centre assigned you an instructor and you went to somebody’s house and learnt to swim in their pool. If you wanted to hang out at a pool you went to the outdoor pool at Ambleside. Kids all took the bus. Everywhere. There were crazy people around then too but we all just accepted them and they lived their lives in their own way.

Really, I could go on forever. So many memories of people and places and events, all just a short drive away yet really so far away. I came home after my walk with a better outlook on my day. For me, The Best Thing in Life today is being able to just go home for a quick visit and a reminder of some of the important things in life.