Is This Really Necessary?

Is this really necessary?

Is this really necessary?

This year, the New Year Eve festivities in Paris will be a laser show from and on the Arc de Triomphe.

One Parisan lady, obviously not impressed, expressed her dismay by simply stating, “Is that really necessary?”

My daughter and I both laughed and it has become our touchstone quote throughout our whole Christmas trip to Paris. And it got me wondering, what a fabulous way to live, always asking if something is really necessary.

Think about it – how streamlined and efficient your whole life would be and become, only by using four simple words.

Buying something new? Is it really necessary?

Spending money on frivolity? It is really necessary?

Have someone in your life that is more effort than they are worth? Are they really necessary?

Name brands? Are they really necessary?

The amount of food/snacks you are about to eat? Is that really necessary?

A full cart at Costco? Is that really necessary?

That bottle of supplements? That new exercise fad? That diet book? Are they really necessary?

Adding to your debt? Is that really necessary?

Another glass of wine? Yes.

And so on.

By removing the unnecessary from your life, you allow the necessary more room to be useful, pleasurable, and balanced.

In debt? This question alone will help you magically return to sanity, help you to stop spending, using the extra money to pay down your balance and then to stay out of debt.

Overweight and out of shape? Is it necessary to eat so much, rely on the magic diet/gizmo, taking the escalator/elevator or vehicle everywhere? Even ask yourself if the gym membership is necessary.

Stressed to the max? Is it necessary to work so much, take on so much, get involved so much?

In a bad or one-sided relationship? Is it necessary to keep this person in your life?

House full of stuff and cluttered? Is it necessary to keep buying more? Is it even necessary to keep it all?

Who needs resolutions when you have one guiding question all year around?

Using the “Is this really necessary?” as the first and most important question for everything you do, you will find that when it comes to yearly New Year’s resolutions, they won’t ever be necessary.

Why I Give #Selfies

forgetmenot

I take a lot of selfies. A lot.

I don’t share them all, of course.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I have less than 20 photos of my whole childhood. And 12 of those are school photos.

No family vacations, no birthday parties, no standing by the TV photos and no Christmas photos. The only photo I have of myself with Santa is when I was 21.

In 27 years of marriage, I was the photographer in our family. At least 90% of our family photos are three or fewer people. [Once in a while this blonde shows up, standing beside the children. I’m sure my grandchildren will think my children had a nanny growing up.] The majority of our family vacations, birthday parties, standing by the TV and Christmas photos are of my children and their father. Very few include me.

Since I’ve been single for the past two years, and travel solo, who else to record my adventures? The dog? Selfies it is.

Thanks to selfies, I finally get to record my life, my way. So, I’m taking a lot of selfies, proving I was here, there and everywhere. I’m chronicling what remains of my life. Because if I don’t, no one else will.

And no one can take those selfies away from me, they are mine.

Besides, the first 50 years of my life are barely visually documented. I have a lot of catching up to do.

I don’t publicly post selfies for adoration or comments. I do it as a self-confidence booster. The first selfie I posted publicly took me hours of self-talk and a trembling hand to click the ‘post’ button. Actually, the first twelve to twenty were mostly like that.

Now, I don’t care, I post away, proving that I’m still here. Proving that I exist, existed, and I am living, doing, smiling. I’m posting my selfies for me. Not for comments, admiration or ego.

These days, I don’t take selfies, I give selfies. For me.

IMG_5544

Know the Difference

My knowns have disappointed me far more than my unknowns ever have.

What I thought was reality, was an illusion. A construct of so-called knowns that came slamming down on me, one painful block at a time.

I don’t care for knowns anymore. I don’t care for routine or structure, either. They scare me because they can all be taken away, and without my wanting nor permission.

I am more comfortable with unknowns and not knowing where I am going. Nothing can be taken away from me. Nothing is ever cancelled. Everything is changeable. Everything flows from better to better.

I can’t get anxious about what I don’t know. I can’t be worried about missing out because I don’t know what I’m missing out on.

And you know what? So far, so good.

When I let go of the oars (or house, or job, or partner, or stuff), and quit trying so damn hard, the flow is more enjoyable; it brings me to places I would have never contemplated stopping for a break.

The most tedious travel I have ever encountered are trips that were carefully planned out, researched and on a schedule. I wonder how much I missed by seeing it all? [Site-seeing should be reworded to site-glancing.]

How many sunsets did I miss because I had to be somewhere?

How many people didn’t I meet because I didn’t have the time to chat?

Have I met – and passed over – the true love of my life because I was on a schedule?

How many hole-in-the-wall authentic restaurants did I miss because I was told where and what to eat? (Along with hidden gem wines!)

How many smiles, connections, nuances, details, doors, paths, smells, sights, colours, observations, mysteries, experiences, wanders and emotions did I miss because of shoulds, must-sees and preplanning everything down to the last minute?

My favourite travels have been journeys, where I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to see. The unknown pleasantly surprises at every turn, when you don’t know what you think you should experience.

The unexpected has created fabulous memories; and indeed, those are the best kind of souvenirs.

How else could have I dreamt up a pyjama party in the main lounge in one of the most luxurious hotels in Japan, if I had bus tour dinner plans? The opportunity to encourage everyone to come to the lounge in his or her pyjamas (wearing the hotel provided housecoats), to drink champagne with me would have not presented itself. We all joked and laughed and laughed and laughed and co-created so much joy and we grew to such a size the hotel actually ran out of champagne! I’ll never forget that evening, and I’m sure they won’t, either.

IMG_0824 - Version 2

My favourite conversations when I return from travelling are, “Oh, I was there as well. Did you see Blank Museum/Church/Tourist Trap?”

“No. But I did see the last eight remaining wild rhinos in Zambia.”

23399_10151177966415108_1812344921_n

Or “No. But I did have an authentic hours-long Egyptian lunch with an Egyptian family in their home, just off the Giza Plateau. Then we watched the sun set behind the pyramids, right from their balcony. They called me their sister. I’ll never forget it.”

1377205_10151630965470108_779561425_n

Or with my daughter, stopping for a break in Vienna for a ‘quick glass of wine’ at 3 p.m.; by 11 pm and three bottles of wine later, slurring to everyone in the elevator, using a fake British accent, “Please don’ t make me laugh. I’ll pee my pants.” If we were on a tour bus, we would have missed that golden runaway – a memory that we will giggle about the remaining days of our lives.

I don’t know where I’m going, what’s next, who will be with me, when I’m going (if at all) and why my life has turned out the way it did – and that is so exciting.

Admittedly, it took a while to get to this podium. I clutched, cried and fought hard for my knowns, as if I’d die without them. How was I to know I was already dying with them?

My known life was full of problems verses possibilities. My unknown life is full of possibilities verses problems. Know the difference.

Life is one big wandering adventure when you think about it. You can either grab the oars, and make it full of what you think are knowns, musts, pressures, schedules, commitments, bad food, less wine; only to leave a bunch of crap for your children to throw out (or fight over) after you die.

Or you can embrace your life as overflowing with unknowns, living in the moment, and making memories -leaving a legacy with the most amazing obituary.

I know what I’m leaving my children. And that’s the one and only known that I’m comfortable with.

My Bucket List Kicked the Bucket

IMG_8892I’ve deleted my so-called ‘bucket list’, the list of things I wanted to do before I kicked the bucket, or left Europe; whichever came first. And so should you. Why? Because you tend to ponder on what you haven’t done or is missing than appreciating what you have accomplished. The list haunted me and pulled me in a direction that invoked inadequacy attitude and feeling.

One year after we sold everything and left for Europe, I was still fretting over what we haven’t set out to undertake. Can you believe that? Do you know how many people have let me know they envy what we have done and they wish they could do the same, only if… (fill in the blank)? I wonder if all those people would like to shake me and yell, “Get a grip! You are living a dream life!” And I would warrant that response and would like to think I would thank them for pointing out the obvious.

Having a bucket list keeps you from living in the moment and/or constantly striving to the next ‘thing’ rather than relishing the current ‘thing.’ Keeping that bucket list keeps you in the lack mindset rather than the abundance mindset, a much nicer place to hang around. Keeping that bucket list keeps a person in regret rather than appreciation. Besides, keeping a bucket list reminds us there’s an end-point and living in the future rather than the now. IMG_3634

What if you complete your bucket list, then what? You die? Then why the hell would you complete your bucket list – isn’t that a great line for procrastinators! Or what if you have nothing for your bucket list? Is that a wasted life? Are you boring? Who came up with this damn list anyways???

Here lays my European bucket list dated December 2009 – January 2010, gone and forgotten. I hope we never meet again.

1. Move to a new country every 4 months. Fail. Sure, we have visited 6 countries this past year, but shortly after we arrived in Spain, we realized how unrealistic moving around Europe is, unless we want to a) spend tons of money or b) live in hostels or c) camp, none of which tickled my fancy. Cancel.

2. Take in as much as we can in those 4 months so we are experts on said country. Epic fail. (See above.)

3. Learn at least one other language. Review and revise. Well, being a native English speaker affords one the greatest gift of never having to learn another language, and I’m okay with that.

4. Embrace the European lifestyle of walking everywhere; being fabulously fit and well dressed. Double fail. Actually, it’s such a double fail that my recent trip back to Canada I bought two new pairs of yoga pants (good ones, to wear out and about) a size bigger than when I left Canada.

5. Bungee jump. Okay, I was drunk to put this on my list. Delete.

6. Become an expert Mediterranean wine and food connoisseurs. Sort of completed; I’m an expert Mediterranean ‘value priced’ wine and food consumer. Check.

IMG_2312 - CopyLooking at everything I hadn’t accomplished in the past year, and considering I didn’t even accomplish ONE item on my bucket list, I really could consider everything to be a grand waste of time and money. Or is it?

I have grown, stretched and mangled the little box I previously lived in. (Priceless.)

I have become a happier person. (I think so.)

I have learned to slow down. (More than just my drinking a bottle of wine.)

I know more of who I am and what I can actually do. (I can feel the fear and do it anyway and know that it always works out in the end.)

I am okay to sit and be in silence and just observe. (And not only from the next door bathroom stall.)

I get to see my children more often. (They get to ask me for money more often.)

I have discovered that Europe really isn’t that expensive, once you get away from the tourist trappings. (Except for gasoline – everybody gets ripped off there.)

I really AM interested in other’s life stories, because they can teach me something, plus they are all so different and interesting. (When did we become so afraid of our neighbours?)

I’ve learned to be rather than to do. (Not like Frank and do be do be do.)

I’ve learned that everyday doesn’t have to be something worth blogging about. (It’s okay to have pyjama days, even in Spain.)

I didn’t number these because each as important as the other and they showed up in no particular order. Note that none of these gems where on my bucket list at all. I’m not even sure if I would have included them I was so focused on the end result rather than the journey to arrive at said end result.IMG_2020

What’s on your bucket list? Even if you don’t think you have a bucket list, you do. How many of us give ourselves deadlines for marriage, babies, career, success, mortgage paid, retirement, etc. Bucket lists don’t have to be worldly or fabulous to be a bucket list. More importantly, which items on your bucket list are keeping you from living in the moment, from living today, from appreciating today, from appreciating who’s around you and the nuances of simply living.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with goals and dreams and wishes. If we all stood still, we wouldn’t get anywhere as a society or a species. But the real snag is when we step out of today to live for tomorrow. Tomorrow is never promised but we can do our best to make the tomorrow that does arrive worth living. We can work towards that great destination we have in mind by saving a little bit of money today. We can work towards anything by preparing today, that’s still living in the moment because we are doing our best with what we have today. We can study today for a career somewhere down the line. We can do our best today, so the best shows up tomorrow. But to do our best today, we have to live in today. We have to appreciate today and everything it has brought with it, because to dismiss today would be to dismiss everything that we have done that brought us to today. Whew. I think I got that, did you?IMG_3460

If I would have stuck to clearing my bucket list, I would have zoomed past all these significant life experiences that taught me that it’s never too late to grow and learn. I would have zoomed past life with only a few t-shirts, photos and knick-knacks to show for it. And that would have been a big waste of time and money.