Stop Asking “Am I Enough?”

“Am I enough?”

For years, my answer to this question was “no.” It didn’t matter what I was measuring – bravery, courage, smarts, sex appeal – the answer was negatory. Well, until last Saturday.

Last Saturday, I dressed up in a red skirt with black polka dots, a set of wings and a headband with antennae to catch a ferry into downtown Vancouver for the World 7 rugby tournament. This event is a two-day series of 15-minute rugby games between 16 countries where people dress up in costumes. It was more of a stadium Halloween party with a dash of rugby.

I was wondering if my 43-year-old self had enough courage to rock a ladybug costume for the event. The truth of it is, at the stadium, I will be one of the thousands dressed up. Leaving on the 8:40am ferry from the Sunshine Coast, it would be me and my husband. The further from the “tribe” the more one stands out among others.

On this particular morning, when I asked myself the usual self-esteem eroding question, I realized that it wasn’t something that needed to be answered. I don’t need to dwell on my internal fears or count the ways this could go wrong.

In fact, I questioned why this question was something I needed to ask myself? Who does that? Really?

It’s residue from low self-esteem. It’s the leash that fear uses to reign me in even when I am in my fourth decade on this planet.

I once read that “You control yourself or you love yourself. It can’t be both.” Perhaps it was time I stopped trying to reign myself in and let the ladybug out.

I am enough. I’m strong enough. Brave enough. Courageous enough. Smart enough. It comes down to what I choose to think and believe and I think enough with the questions for I believe in me.

And . . . I rocked the ladybug costume all the way from Gibsons to Vancouver, with a 44-year-old neon frog. I believe we could and we do.

Words are our world. Create the story you want to live.

“Ain’t Waiting” – A Lesson in the Moment

One of my favorite workout songs is Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.” I love the tempo shifts and the energy of the lyrics as the songwriter recalls a woman from his past after putting on a record to start his day.  But to be honest, it’s the image of Ewan McGregor running towards a wall at the end of “Men Who Talk to Goats” with the song in the background that gives me the most inspiration. If he thinks he can run through walls, I can make it another 2:15 on the Stairmaster.

It’s no secret that music can unlock our inner muse. It taps into the root and allows inspiration to blossom. It allows our minds to play and our spirits to soar.  I blog to music. I develop websites to music. I vacuum to music. I clean toilets to music.

About seven years ago, I  stumbled upon a song called “Ain’t Waitin'” by the talented singer and songwriter Justin Townes Earle that continues to haunt me today.

It’s a wonderful blend of folk, blues and country mixed with a vivid story about a man’s return home from the road and enjoying his much needed downtime.

It’s Sunday mornin’,
fryin’ chicken
Watchin’ baby workin’
in the kitchen
I got in late last night
And I’m movin’ a little slow

He paints a beautiful picture that evokes all of one’s senses. You can smell the fried chicken, hear the sizzle of the meat as it hits the fryer and see his wife making the Sunday meal for the man she loves. It’s probably a moment he had been missing during his tour and he’s fine just watching it play out in front of him.

So I got a pocket full of money
Shopping I wanna do
I had my sights set on a pair of
white buck shoes
But another day
ain’t gonna hurt a thing
No, baby

Near the end, he lists what is on his to-do list but admits that “another day ain’t gonna hurt a thing.” He’s content for living in the moment. The most inspiring line in the whole thing is how it ends —

I ain’t waitin’ on nobody
Nobody waitin’ on me

When was the last time when you just enjoyed the present, taking it all in and wasn’t trying to look ahead to the next event, item on the agenda or to do list? I admit. I sometimes get lost in what I could use, need to do or must get done. Sometimes I’m looking so far ahead that I fail to notice the smell of frying chicken.

I have recently been thinking about how much we spend “waiting” in the current age. I’m not talking about waiting in line at the grocery store. I’m talking about the “waiting for better” we do everyday in our lives.

How often have you replied “interested” to a Facebook event because you weren’t sure if something better may come along. Or do you find yourself scanning the “help wanted” section of the newspaper hoping something better will appear than what you are currently doing? Or do you find yourself avoiding a long term commitment with So & So just in case someone better enters your life?

We are always waiting for something better — but what if it is in this moment, right now?

“Touch it once,” is advice I read regarding email or invitations. Make a decision in that moment rather than wait for “just in case.” It’s about taking control of your own life, knowing what you want and taking action.

This week, I won’t be waiting. I won’t be waiting for the next best thing or item on my agenda. I will not be waiting for “just in case” but enjoy just this moment in time.

“Ain’t Waitin'” — By Justin Townes Earle (Hear it)

It’s Sunday mornin’,
fryin’ chicken
Watchin’ baby workin’
in the kitchen
I got in late last night
And I’m movin’ a little slow

I ain’t waitin’ on nothin’
I just got nowhere to go

I need a haircut
I could take a shave
I could stand to hear my baby call me
by my name now
Put on a country station
On that satellite radio
Yeah

I ain’t waitin’ on nothin’
I just love her so

Well now I’ve been working
I’ve been gone for a couple weeks
Now I got nothing but time
And the only thing that I’m worried about
Is keeping that woman right there in my reach

So I got a pocket full of money
Shopping I wanna do
I had my sights set on a pair of
white buck shoes
But another day
ain’t gonna hurt a thing
No, baby

I ain’t waitin’ on nobody
Nobody waitin’ on me
No I ain’t waitin’ on nobody
No one waitin’ on me, baby

Adding Bass to Our Retirement Track

Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.

I’m not sure who wrote or uttered these words of wisdom but it resonated with my husband and myself.

In one of those “is the universe trying to tell me something” occurrences, I had a discussion about the hardships of retirement with FOUR different people in ONE WEEK. Each conversation centered around how retirement was falling short of their blissful expectations.

The general gist of the conversations was “what to do with the free time?” that retirement offered. Some people were finding the freedom to do what they want eventually wore off and they were going stir crazy in their homes. Others were finding that their spouse didn’t adequately plan for their downtime and their spouse was finding the situation a bit irritating.

Either way, I saw the writing on the wall. If my hubster and I are going to enjoy our golden years, we need something to keep us busy.

I have read the success stories about people who didn’t take up acting until their fifties or write their breakout bestseller until they were collecting government cheques. I always chalked it up to finally being comfortable enough with yourself to express yourself. Or the desire to leave a bit of yourself behind after the final act.

But perhaps it is just needing something more to do.

For the hubster and I, we share two of the three hobbies. The two of us roast and sell coffee beans at local farmers’ markets (one to make you money). The two of us dig hiking and walking around town (1 to keep you in shape). But the third one was tricky.

My creative outlet is writing. I journal. I write blogs. I write short stories and short novels. I am always writing or thinking about plot lines. It keeps my mind active and in the creative process even when I am selling coffee.

However, my husband was struggling with his creativity. He tried photography but that endeavor stalled out. It’s one where you either need to continue to purchase equipment or software in order to create. Yes, he could take pictures but the set up for the perfect picture wasn’t what he enjoyed.

One to be creative. My husband spent a few weeks trying to think of what would engage his mind and make his inner creative soar.

“Bass guitar,” are the only two words he said to me one morning. He liked the idea of practicing an instrument and hearing the instant feedback on what he was playing. He spent A LOT of downtime researching what he would like to play (instrument wise and within the bass guitar family).

That is how we found ourselves in a guitar store in downtown Vancouver thirteen minutes after they opened last Saturday morning. He tested bass guitars, amps, and shoulder straps. He talked about filters, fades and tuning. He practiced strumming and slapping.

I never got the picture of pure joy on his face when he heard the first bit of thunder that rumbled through the small store with a flick of his fingers. But it is a look I will NEVER forget.

We got the bass home and set up in a room where he can jam after work, on the weekends or during moments that his daily schedule allows. He’s already got one or two chords that he can strum from memory.

Sidenote, chores and projects are getting done faster because both of us have a hobby we look forward to at the end of the day. We connect over dinner, knock out a few things and then the two of us part ways to work on our creative side. Rather than sinking into the couch to watch the creative output of others, we are ending our day on a high note of self-expression.

Like I said, I think the universe was telling us something. Or perhaps it was asking us for our creative sides.

We’re golden with our three hobbies. What are yours?

Kind of a Big Thing – Taking Action When I Don’t Want To

I learned something about myself yesterday – I’m kind of a big thing.

Yesterday, I woke up to about a centimetre of snow on the ground. Pretty, but it wasn’t going to derail my day. Not at that depth.

I got dressed and headed outside to roast coffee for the next day’s market. I, like everyone else in my area of the world, figured it would turn to rain around noon and melt away.

However, this heavy, slushy snow continued to fall all morning. The one centimetre grew to about 10 in a very short time. My steep driveway that goes into the unplowed laneway was starting to accumulate this wet snow, which could freeze if the temperature wavered a touch below freezing.

“It’ll turn to rain. It’ll wash away.” It was what I told myself. It was what the weather app on my tablet said. There was a part of me that knew that I should go out and shovel or at least clear some of the snow, in case. What if it doesn’t come out in the wash?

How often do I (or we) do that? Resist conversations thinking it will work itself out? Avoid follow up questions because we figure that “it will pass?”

“That part of me” . . . Whenever I hear that “part” speak, I know I need to act. It is my intuition throwing a vague prediction into the air. It is my gut responding to a higher power than my morning oatmeal. It is telling me to act and step outside of my comfort zone.

I have been struggling with what I call the lazy factor in my life. The shortcuts I take to avoid doing the hard work or the easy way to get things done.

I’m not talking about watching television when I could be writing my novel. Or sleeping in when there are chores and work to do.

It is more about sidestepping conversations that are hard so I can still be comfortable. It’s about taking the reins of destiny to guide it but being flexible about the outcome. It’s about taking ownership of my choices and decisions rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance.

In short, it’s about taking action in my world and not reacting to it. Especially when I don’t want to do it.

“That part of me” . . . .

I suited up and went outside. I shoved my driveway. I shoveled the steps. I shoveled the walkway on the other side of the house.

“That’s a lot of work when it’s about to turn to rain,” my neighbour said.

“It’s all going to wash away by morning,” another one offered.

I kept shoveling. They weren’t saying anything my lazy side hasn’t already repeated multiple times in my head. In fact, I shoveled that driveway TWICE yesterday due to snow accumulation.

It wasn’t about the outcome or the off chance it would come out in the wash. It was about listening to my intuition, making a choice, taking action and doing the work — regardless of other people’s opinions.

Even if it was going to melt away, I was helping Mother Nature to ensure it happened in the areas I need it to happen. I wasn’t along for the ride but steering the boat.

When I was done, I have to say, it felt pretty good. Like I was kind of a big thing. It was empowering to be part of the outcome rather than along for the ride with Mother Nature.

Bringing 2020 into Focus: My Year of More

As the clock ticks down to midnight, it’s a popular custom to make promises of change. These goals and resolutions often focus on behaviours we “don’t want” such as smoking, eating sugar or social media time. We focus on changing the less than perfect sides of us to aim for that ideal we hold in our heads.

2020 is the year I focused on what I want to see more of in my life. It is a way for me to focus on what I am doing right — but to level up these activities, values to the next level. It is my year of more.

This came from a discussion I had with a friend of mine on New Year’s Eve. She mentioned wanting to continue to go green and focus on reducing single-use items. Upon reflection, I realized to do “more” in that area I would have to have a change in lifestyle.

I don’t eat at fast-food restaurants or on the go. I don’t buy a cup of coffee unless it comes in a ceramic mug or I have my handy reusable in my purse. I grab shopping and produce bags when I am headed to the store. I take my own silverware and beeswax wraps for farmers’ market finds. I buy shampoo, detergents, and soaps in glass containers from refillable stores. I don’t buy new clothes or home furnishings when there are so many awesome options at thrift and confinement stores. I walk or bus instead of drive when I can.

But there is one area where I can do more – beans. As vegan (ish), we don’t buy many products in bags or plastics. However, I do purchase cans of beans. Lots of beans. Beans, along with nut butters, is a primary protein source.

My Year Of More - Buying Bulk Beans
My Year Of More – Buying Bulk Beans

It is easy for me to say that a can of black beans isn’t going to hurt. Over time, though, the cans add up. It’s a lot of beans.

And they don’t have too.

This is where I can do more. Soaking and cooking beans I buy in bulk takes about an hour of time. However, it is an hour of time I can do while blogging, vacuuming, roasting coffee beans or cuddling with Random the Cat.

Since New Year’s Eve, I haven’t purchased a can of beans or lentils. I’m not going to lie. It involves thinking ahead to the next meal or the next day – making sure one of the key ingredients has been soaked and cooked before it is needed. I have boiled chickpeas to make hummus and kidney beans to make enchiladas.

It’s a change in lifestyle that enables me to do “more” of what I think is a good thing. Some of my other “more” projects include:

  • More walking – at least 8,000 steps a day but I’m shooting for 10k
  • More healthy eating – I make a lot of veggie-based choices, particularly when out, but I could do “more”
  • More connection face-to-face vs. screen time – I have been stepping away from social media and I’m ready for more
  • More writing – this includes blogging, journaling, and novels
  • More community – giving is the best way to connect with others

What does your 2020 look like? How can you level up?