I Don’t Care If You Like Me

Whistler 50

I used to walk into a room full of people and wonder if they liked me……now I look around and wonder if I like them.

Last weekend I spent three days with fifteen women.  It was a girls weekend in a local resort.  A few of us spent most of Friday relaxing in Whistler.  Shopping  and drinking beer at the pub. Or both.  A few more arrived in the early evening after work, more than ready to decompress after a long week.  A few more didn’t make it up until the next morning.

Mexican Corner

By Saturday evening sixteen of us were sitting around two tables at a great Mexican restaurant swapping stories about everything from work to kids to travel.  Collectively we had run 160 km (99.5 miles)that day.  Some of us were tired.  Some of us were exhilarated.  Some of us were just happy to be sitting up and awake.  The margaritas were flowing freely.

This was not the first time we had done something like this.  Over the past five years a core group of us, plus a few willing ( and not so willing) additions, have ventured out of our comfort zones to run (notice how I didn’t say compete) in a relay race each year.  Really it’s just an excuse to go away for the weekend without our spouses and kids.  It’s not really about the running any more.  Last year we spent 33 Hours in a Van.

Chick Peas

But here’s the thing.  It wasn’t that long ago that I would have fretted for days about doing this.  Not the running or being away from my family, but spending that much time in close quarters with women that, sometimes, I don’t really know very well.  I would have worried about whether or not I was interesting enough or whether I was accomplishing enough in my life.  I would worry that, perhaps , there would be somebody that would disagreed with my opinion and (heaven forbid) wouldn’t like me. I would worry that I wouldn’t “fit in”.

Now, to quote a wise running companion, I don’t give a rats ass.

Don’t get me wrong.   These women are incredible and I enjoy spending time with each of them for various different reasons.  But do I spend time worrying about whether they like me or not?  Nope.  And I hope that they feel the same way.  The more time you spend worrying about whether or not people like you, the less time you have to get to know them.

For example, I now accept that it’s okay to be away from the pack sometimes.  In fact I’ve found that it can be a saving grace.  It is not unacceptable for me to say “Hey! I’m just going to go for a walk and I’ll meet everybody back at the room”. Maybe you just need some space or maybe you want to hit up the bakery without letting anybody know that you are secretly craving a slice of coconut cake.

Not that I’ve ever done that.

I guess what I am trying to say (not very eloquently) is that it is one of The Best Thing in Life to be able to experience all that this type of weekend can bring by simply being yourself.

PS – that’s not me in the opening picture.

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TBT – Where It All Started

As I sorted through my box of photos and tried to decide which would be my choice for Throw Back Thursday, it struck me that I have had a good life. Not extraordinary, but solid and well-rounded. I’ve travelled, I’ve had (and still have) many good friends, I’ve had some adventures and I’ve grown up in a stable environment. While my early years probably may not be interesting to anybody but me, its my blog and I can write whatever I want. That’s just the kind of girl I am.

So here’s how my life got started…..

pregnant granny

When my mom got pregnant with me she already had two kids. Three year old twins. A boy and a girl. She herself is a twin so the odds were pretty good that it would happen. Why she tested fate by getting pregnant again with me, we will never know. The picture below was taken when my mom was about seven months. I’m not sure where it was taken. They lived in West Vancouver at the time so I’m guessing it was somewhere in that vicinity. How cute are they?

hospital

I was born at Lions Gate Hospital, as were both of my children. Why mess with something that works? I’m pretty sure that the flooring is still the same as it is in this picture though so they may want to think about some updates. According to my mom I was the perfect baby. Quiet and smiley. I liked to sleep. Some things don’t change.

first brithdaybirthday group
Looking at these pictures of me on my first birthday are bitter-sweet. They were taken in the dining room of the house I grew up in. My parents sold the house a couple of years ago and I kind of miss it. The view through the trees out to the water. The old style windows that opened up to a fifty foot drop. Looks like my mom made my cake that day as she always did. The flower floating in the brandy snifter is something my mom always did for special occasions.

The group birthday shot includes my aunt and my godmother. My godmother passed away about twenty-five years ago but she was a lovely woman. She was kind, made awesome cookies and loved a good giggle. My aunt, unfortunately, I don’t see any more. She and my mom and dad had a falling out about fifteen years ago and she refuses to speak to them or anybody in our family other than my sister. LOL. My sister looks totally bored. My mom’s hair? Nice.

bum on beachbum with hat

It didn’t surprise me when my daughter exhibited a strong love of being naked. She had come by it honestly. I, apparently, did not enjoy being clothed either when I was little. The first picture was taken at Boundary Bay Beach in Tsawwassen. There are more. Many more. In particular there is one of me lounging by the side of somebody’s pool wearing nothing but a white flowery swim cap. I’m saving that for its own post.

england
When I was eighteen months old we all went to England. The pictures was taken at my grandparents house. The house was called Hook Cottage and it had a huge English garden full of fruit trees. I love that my dad is wearing a tie even though it was probably just lunch with my grandparents. Very English.

Well that’s my trip down memory lane. The first couple of years of my life on a page. I’m grateful to have had such a nice start. Not everybody gets that. The Best Thing in Life is happy beginnings.

Today I Am Fifty

fifty cake

When I was in my twenties I looked forward to birthdays every year. I have always looked young for my age and starting out in my career I never felt that people took me seriously because they thought I was younger than I was. I secretly hoped that some day I would actually look older. I know, a bit weird. So now I AM older ( not necessarily old) and I’m asking myself, as are other people oddly enough, how does it feel? Really it feels like just another day, but that doesn’t make for a very good blog post does it? So, as I sit in my cozy kitchen on this rainy October day and reflect, I have come to some realizations about what it feels like, and means to me, to be fifty.

Over the summer my husband and I were having dinner with some friends, one of whom had recently turned fifty. He told us about the party he had thrown for himself earlier in the year. It was a wild one from the sounds of it. A packed house party with loud music, lots of drinking and the mandatory requirement for any really good party, a visit from the police in the early morning hours. Sounded like one of the parties we had been to in our high school days. The next day he felt like hell, but it was all worth it for him. I am apparently not a party animal because just the thought of doing this makes me tired. I am a social person but I have never been a night owl (ask my college room mate) and am perfectly happy to be in my pajamas by 9:00pm most nights. My husband makes fun of me, but it makes me happy.

For others friends, the big 50 has been marked with a once in a lifetime trip, completing a marathon or overcoming a lifelong fear. When I quit my job last February I decided that this was the year I would train for a marathon. I even wrote a post about it. It took me about two months to decide that it wasn’t going to happen. It took me another month to come to terms with that and be okay with my decision. Now don’t get me wrong, I admire the people who have done these things immensely. I’ve just finally realized that it’s not who I am. I have always thought I needed to show people that I had accomplished some feat in order for them to be proud of me. Why it has taken me fifty years to realize this is not true, I am not sure. I still struggle a bit with who I am supposed to be, but I am getting closer to being happy just being me and realizing that I may not have a “mission” or a “thing”. I may just be…..me.

The past eighteen years of my life has been a bit of a roller coaster. Divorce and single parenthood at thirty three. I remember people asking me how I got through leaving my first husband with a three month old baby. You do what you have to do and you get up every day and move forward. When I did re marry, a few years later, my husband’s work took him 3000 miles away for four years. For anybody who hasn’t had one, long distance relationships/marriages really suck. Then at forty two another baby. Totally planned but nonetheless a challenge. I feel like it has only been in the past two years that things have finally felt settled down. I read a great quote the other day from, of all people, Nancy Reagan. “Women are like tea bags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water”. It’s a good thing I like tea.

I’ve made some changes in my life over the past few months. I quit a job that I didn’t really like and am now able to be more present for my family. I overhauled the way that I eat and now physically feel better than I have in years. I have determine that killing myself trying to run up a mountain really has no benefit and have come to embrace yoga. I have come to terms with my relationship with my siblings and parents and am learning more about myself because of it. These things have made a huge difference in my life and I can say without a doubt that I am happier now than I have been in a very long time. I’m healthy, I have awesome friends, a loving, supportive husband and two great kids. Today, the Best Thing in Life is turning fifty.

Options to Explore

It’s been two months since I left my job. Sixty days. Not very long really. I am almost at the point where my mind has shifted to a new way of thinking. I wonder how I did everything before and stayed sane. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe I was going a little wacky. I read a quote a few weeks ago. “The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a rat.

I do find myself falling back into old patterns though. Feeling like I need to fill every moment with activity and busy-ness. I’ve found that every once in a while I need to look back at my original blog post. Finding My Thing. Why am I doing this again? I’m fifty years old and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? How can that be? I have a son who is almost a grown up himself. That’s when I take a step back and say ” Okay, what are my priorities in life?”

Surprisingly, writing this blog has been a huge source of focus for me. Even it, however, is still a work in progress. Why am I writing a blog of all things? Am I writing for myself or the people who are reading it? Do I really care what people think? Of course! Why do you think they have a stats button on WordPress? It is a bit scary. You’re putting yourself out into the world that everyone can see and if they can see it, they can judge it. While I have been fortunate so far to have only received positive feedback, I know that the day will come that somebody will not like what I have to say. Do they have an Ignore button on WordPress?

path

I read a lot of other blogs too. Some are really journals of peoples lives, some are serious, some are hysterically funny, some are written by truly gifted writers, some are not. Where do I fit into all of it? Do I fit in? Do I want to fit in? I’ve made a conscious choice not to make my blog a place of controversy and as a result probably don’t have as many readers, but that’s okay. Now, I don’t even pretend to call myself a writer but I have realizes that I enjoy the process of writing a post. I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if I HAD to do it. If I had a deadline and was forced to write about something or someone that I wasn’t interested in I’m not sure it would be as fun. Then again, I could be wrong.

Yoga? Yes, I’m still going to yoga. Once or twice a week I try to make myself into a pretzel. I still fall over and I still hate the pigeon pose. What does it give me? (Because for me it’s all about getting something out of what I do) My brain tends to get stuck into a fairly high gear sometimes. I find it difficult to stop and just….be. Yoga has helped with that, but so has writing. I can be doing about five things at once but when a thought hits me and I sit down to write, everything stops but that thought. Yoga still doesn’t do that for me. Randi says I need to find a mantra to repeat during shavasana. Namaste.

One of the huge benefits of having a little more time is that I’ve reconnected with people that I haven’t spoken to in years. I’ve made deeper connections with people who I thought I knew. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone by sitting down and having conversations with new people and people I was interested in but didn’t really know very well. I have learnt so much already about new things yet I’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to determining what my “thing” is. Some say we write what we need to learn. For me, right now, the The Best Thing in Life is having options to explore.

Friends

friends hugging

You know those cheesy posts on Facebook about how you know you have a true friend when you don’t have to talk to them every week, or even every month, yet you still love them? Every time I see one of them I automatically think of Tani. Not because she’s a Facebook over user, but because she’s one of those friends that I talk to maybe once or twice a year but still consider one of my closest friends. We are so different in so many ways but somehow after 35 years we are still close.

We met in grade 9 at an all girls school on the West Side. You know the one. Big ivy covered walls, tartan skirts, stern head mistress. Thinking back, I don’t remember becoming friends; I just remember being friends. We both had a certain sense of adventure. When everybody else in our grade ten class was attending the Governors Ball to be presented to society, we were scoring off sales at a bar on Broadway and going to a party at Wreck Beach with two seniors from Point Grey. Okay, so maybe that was more irresponsible than adventurous, but you get the picture.

I grew up in West Van with very strict British parents. Tani grew up on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island in a family that regularly threw roaring jazz parties. My parents drank sherry by the fire and Tani’s parents drank martinis at the Timber Club in the Hotel Vancouver. When we were all wearing white gowns to our grad dance (private school tradition) Tani had the guts to wear a sapphire blue off the shoulders gown. (I’ve always admired her for that). She’s happy to stand out in a crowd whereas I tend to try and blend in. Also, Tani is incredibly smart and always did really well in school. I struggled in high school and pretty much gave up on university after one year.

me and tani

We’ve had some amazing times together. The trip to Fiji with Tani and her parents is still one the fondest memories I have. Long weekend trips up to Winter Harbour to discuss philosophy with her step brothers. Some creative and champagne fueled Halloween parties at her townhouse. Her wedding to Bill. Although, I still haven’t completely forgiven her for making four pregnant women wait to get to the buffet.

We’ve seen each other through some not so great times too. Lost pregnancies, failed marriages, (okay maybe that was just me) and lapses in judgement (yes, that was me again). Tani was my maid of honor the first time I got married and three years later saw me through an ugly divorce. I wouldn’t have blamed her for saying “I told you so”, but she never did. And then there was the time that we both got called to the head mistresses office after a weekend party in Langley. Sitting on that bench outside her office is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anybody. How she found out what we were up to is still a mystery.

We were roommates in university for a year. Didn’t go well. I wanted to go to bed early and she liked to stay up late playing cards. She liked the apartment to be clean and I would rather go to an aerobics class than clean the bathroom. (Hey, it was the ’80s). We didn’t talk for a long time after that. She moved back East and I went to live in Banff. One night I had a dream about her and the next day felt the need to call her. No, I do not believe in it being a “sign”. I don’t really buy that stuff. Anyways, turned out that she had just moved back to Vancouver and we reconnected.

tani and me in victoria

Over the years we have seen each other less and less. We live in the same city but have totally different schedules and live on completely different sides of the city. She travels a lot for work and I have a young daughter and a husband who travels as well. We have different friends and different interests. Yet somehow we manage to come together once in a while and it’s as if no time has passed. The difference is that now we share stories about raising our own teens. May they never do half of the things that we did.

When I told Tani that I was writing a piece about us, I asked her if she wanted to read it before I published it. “No, I trust you.” And there it was. Trust. Trust, that no matter how bad we screw up, no matter how many times we forgot to call back and no matter how many times we cancel plans, we would be there for each other.  How’s that for cheesy?  Love you my friend. Have an amazing time in Italy.  You totally deserve it!