Living in The Past

Everyday, everyone lives in the past.

You live in the past every waking moment.

I live in the past every living moment.

The past surrounds you. Everything around you is the evidence of the past. Of your past. Every. Little. Thing. So stop telling me to quit living in the past. Even you can’t stop living in the past.

“Wait,” but you plead, “I live in the present, in the now. Like Oprah told me.”

You don’t. You live in the past. Living in the now is a huge New Age lie. It’s impossible to live in the now.

The now is now. Now. Now. No, now. Now. Now. Urgh! Now…

Living in the now is unobtainable. You can live for this moment and in this moment, but you don’t live in the now.

You live in the past. Even tomorrow you will be living in the past.

Every decision and choice you have made in your past, you live with. Now. Now. Now.

Everything you are happy with, you made that choice in the past. Everything you are not so happy with, you also made that choice in the past.

Look around you; your body is based on the choices you made yesterday, last week, last month, last year. Like what you see? Great! Keep it up. Don’t like what you see? If your body is not the way you would prefer, it’s only because of the choices you have made in the past. Change your tomorrow’s past for your body, today. Start some type of improvement today and the evidence of your better choices in the past will come to life tomorrow.

A hangover is the best analogy I can think of for this. That moment you woke up, you did nothing wrong. You were sleeping, how could you have done something wrong? Living, or rather sleeping, in the now shouldn’t have given you a headache and upset stomach. Yet you wake up with a hangover because of your past choice to drink alcohol.

You are living in the now with a hangover from drinking in your past. If you could live in the now, wouldn’t you just erase your hangover from your mind by living with a bright, shiny morning? Impossible. Your day starts out living in your past.

Happy in your relationship? Great! Keep it up. Not so happy or not in a relationship? What choices did you make in the past that have you were you are today? Did you realize you should have left years ago? Are you single but not mingling? Have you let things slide?

Career? Yep, all past decisions. Did you drop out of school? Did you pass up that promotion? Did you work hard at a degree that was viable? Did you work those extra hours that are paying off now? Did you enter a questionable business model? Did you follow your heart?

Finances? Did you ring up your credit cards? Overextend on your mortgage? Gamble? Overspend? Start a savings account? Diligent with a budget? Financially secure? Your finances are directly attributed to your past choices and decisions, good or bad.

The money in your bank or not in your bank is one of the clearest material indication of your choices, hands down. (Even a sudden lotto winning is proof you bought a ticket, a past decision.)

Every waking hour is a reminder of your past. Every breathing moment is living in your past. Consequences of your choices, good or bad. Without exception.

What you choose this moment, this now, will be birthed into the next moment, next day, next week, next month, next year.

So you don’t live in the now, you choose in the now.

You don’t live in the moment, you choose in the moment.

But you always live in the past.

Everything You Did Not Say

You never asked.

In your not asking, I have my answer.

When it’s all about you with never a queery about me, I have my answer.

This isn’t assumption; it’s an observation.

I waited for you to ask and you didn’t. Not once.

You spoke a thousand words to give me the answer I already knew.

➵ It’s probably the most honesty I have ever taken away from one of our conversations. 

Take good care.

The Better Question

If you knew you only had one more year to live, what would you do differently, if anything, than you are doing now?

⇒Would you travel more?

⇒Would you call that person?

⇒Sell all your stuff and pursue a dream?

⇒Take that painting/writing/singing/acting class?

⇒Write that book?

⇒Take a risk?

⇒Spend more time with loved ones?

Quit that job?

⇒Stop that draining friendship?

⇒Dance more? Sing more? Party more? Read more?

⇒Laugh more? Cry more? Love more? Hug more?

⇒Live each moment and take it all in?

⇒Record your life moments with a diary/photos/video?

⇒Leave a legacy?

⇒Remove everything that wasn’t necessary so you can concentrate on what is necessary?

The better question is: How do you know you don’t only have one more year to live?


Please Stay

After 27 years of being told the ultimate lie – ‘I love you’ – please forgive me if I no longer hold those three words in high regard.

Of course I love my children and I tell them I love you as often as I can, but that’s a sacred bond between parent and child, where the love is pure.

As for hearing it from someone I don’t share DNA with? Not so much. Will I ever trust those words from a man again? I won’t know until it happens.

Besides, there are far better ways to tell someone they are important to you. The one that sits on top of my list is ‘please stay.’

Please stay trumps I love you in so many ways.

When you sincerely ask someone to please stay, you are making a choice, not tossing meaningless words out of your mouth.

Please stay implies that when you are here with me, my life is more enjoyable. You matter to me. I enjoy you. I enjoy being with you. You are wanted and I want to be with you. 

“Must you go already? Please stay”, to someone who has come to visit you is the best approval rating for their visit you could ever offer them. It tells them you enjoyed their company and you don’t want their visit to end.

“Please stay, you haven’t told me about your ______ yet”, is the subtle praise of your presence and that you are interesting.

Please stay and work this out means right this moment, you are the most important person in my life. We are the most important thing to me at this particular time and space.

Please stay also requests that you share one of your most precious possessions – your time. It’s a gift that is instantly given and received, no wrapping required.

Also, it won’t take you long after telling the wrong people to please stay, out of politeness or obligation, before you learn to use it judiciously. After a few miserable long-lasting encounters you won’t be throwing those words around again anytime soon. Especially on social media, lest you have your best friend’s Grade Two neighbour’s grandmother’s sister-in-law sleeping on your sofa. For six months.

A sincere please stay is about the kindest thing you can say to one another.

When I left on my latest journey, I got lots of ‘I love you’ and ‘going to miss you’ but no one asked me to please stay.

I have a friend who has terminal cancer. There will come a time I can’t ask her to please stay anymore. That’s where the please stay becomes selfish; I’d only be asking her stay to make my life easier, not hers.

When she can no longer stay, all I will have are the memories of her, and at which time I will ask those memories to please stay.

Please stay, forever and a day.

I will know the moment that I have found The One, when after spending many hours together and it’s time for me to leave, he asks, “Do you really have to go? Please stay – shall I order us one more glass of wine?”

I hope I don’t cry.

Your Greatest Strength is Also Your Greatest Weakness

I didn’t know what she meant when she told me, “Shanta, your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness.” I didn’t understand what she meant, nodded but I didn’t comprehend. I knew there was a nugget of great truth in there and for me to get the most out of it; I had to figure it out on my own.

Roughly a year later, one day walking the dog, I realized I was happy. I was smiling, and happy for no good reason. Content. Relaxed. Cheerful. And the only reason I could come up with why I was happy was because I simply didn’t care anymore.

I didn’t care what people thought of me. I didn’t care what they were nattering about. I didn’t give a rip what they were doing this exact moment. But mostly it was because I didn’t care what people were saying or thought of me.

 There is no moment in time that defined when I stopped caring. Or a death. Or an ah-ha moment. Or an argument.

I was happy. And I didn’t care anymore. Then it came to me: My greatest strength was that I cared too much. About everything. My husband, my children, my house, my volunteerism, my passions, my everything.

 If there were ever a poster child for The Overachievers Society, it would be me.

If I was going to be a wife, I was going to win Wife of the Year. Every year. I was going to care for him so hard, he couldn’t live without me.

If I were going to be a mother, I’d put every other mother in the history of the universe to shame.

If I were going to volunteer, I’d be Chairperson and make record-breaking years. (True story – when I started helping with Girl Guides in Fox Creek, within two years I was running the whole district and we sold record-breaking number of cookie boxes. When I started as a driver for wildlife rehabilitation, within a year I was chair of the fund raising and five years later, they still haven’t broken the record I set. I sincerely wish they could.)

And so on. Above and beyond what was expected. Insisted by me and me only. Like I had something to prove. Or maybe I was hoping that if I cared so much, it would be returned. (Spoiler alert – it never was.)

The problem was, I assume people wanted my caring. I assumed it would be nice to have someone help. I assumed they needed my help. I assumed my blow-it-out of the water attitude was appreciated.

They didn’t and for the most part, it wasn’t.

 My greatest strength, caring, became my greatest weakness.

I over care. I hurt when people hurt. I tried to relieve their hurt to relieve my own suffering.

The problem was forgetting to alleviate my own hurt. I was forgetting to put ME first. I was getting lost in the over-caring. I was losing myself because I never got to myself. By the time everything and everyone was looked after, I was too exhausted to look after me.

And no one was caring for me; especially in the way I was caring for others. When disaster hit, I stumbled, and hard. I had nothing to give myself. I gave it all away. Every last drop. I collapsed because there was nothing to hold me up. I had no foundations on how to look after myself.

It’s been over two years now since that terrible day I was told I was no longer loved, needed or wanted, and I am finally content. Genuinely, smile on my face before coffee, happy. Joyful and positive. And it’s all because and for me. There is no one else here to make me happy.

 And the best part is, because someone else didn’t bring in the happiness, no one can take that happiness from me. It’s all mine.

I gave the keys to my happiness away once and they lost them. I’ve rekeyed and no one is getting these ones. You can play with them but you’ll never get to keep them. They’re precious and they’re mine alone.

have turned my greatest strength on myself. And now I don’t care. And it’s fabulous.

I haven’t lost my empathy, I’ve gained my self-preservation, but without being selfish. Au contraire, generosity still pulses through my veins, maybe even more so now. It’s just altered.

I’ve turned my greatest strength back into my greatest strength. And I can’t imagine living any other way, ever again.


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.