Posts Tagged ‘life’


We’re not supposed to be ordinary. We’re supposed to be something more, something bigger, something better.

We’re supposed to be extraordinary.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

I thought ordinary meant I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I thought ordinary meant I didn’t have high enough expectations or big enough dreams.

I thought ordinary meant I should be doing more, being more, anything more than what I am right now in this moment.

But I’m tired.

I’m tired of trying to be extraordi‎nary; of assuming I’m supposed to want to be extraordinary. I’m tired of feeling like what I am is not enough, of being dissatisfied, of constantly measuring myself and always coming up short.

Because for right now, maybe ordinary is enough.

Maybe ‎the very act of succeeding at being ordinary is enough.

And maybe it doesn’t mean I’ve given up or I’m settling or accepting or that I won’t do amazing things.

Maybe it just means that I’ve finally realized that on a lot of days, ordinary is pretty great.

Ordinary is two unique and inherently magnificent kids and a man who has held my heart in his hands for more than half of my life.

Ordinary is a house in the burbs and a minivan littered with half-empty juice boxes and cracker crumbs.

Ordinary is messy closets and scuffed shoes and wrinkled blouses that I don’t wear because I’m too lazy to iron them.

Ordinary is ‎toothbrushes beside the sink and towels on the back of the door and a favourite ripped t-shirt folded in a drawer.

Ordinary is a calendar on the wall filled with hockey games and soccer practices, dentist appointments and birthday parties.

And maybe from the outside ordinary seems small and simple and boring. There are even times I have wondered if that’s what I should think.

But that would mean that I’ve forgotten how much work it has taken to get to where I am; that I choose not to remember how much I always wanted to be exactly where I am right now.

‎Because it has taken a lot of extraordinary things to create this ordinary life of mine.

And maybe it’s time to be okay with that.

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If only I could have 15 more minutes of sleep. Just 15 more minutes and I would be ready to face the day, and all the moments it holds. If I had those 15 more minutes I could be happy.

If only you didn’t say those words, in that tone, with that look on your face. If you would just take back those words and replace that look with a smile, then I could be happy.

If only I could find that library book, the one that’s due today. Why isn’t it right there on the table where I left it? If only I could keep track of the million pieces of my life, then I could be happy.

If only the kids would just do what I ask, when I ask the very first time. Put on their shoes when I ask, pick up their toys when I ask, go to sleep when I ask. If they would just listen, then I could be happy.

If only that thing that happened all those months ago didn’t happen after all. Then the memories wouldn’t run around in my head on a constant loop, over and over again, and then I could be happy.

If only I could get over it and move on like I’m supposed to. I know that’s what I should do, what I want to do, but I just don’t know how. If only someone would teach me how, then I could be happy.

If only tomorrow was Friday and not Monday. If only it was two weeks from now instead of this week. If only I could fast forward, then I’m sure I could be happy in that moment, as I can’t seem to be in this moment.

If only it were this time last year instead of this time this year. Then I could avoid all the mistakes, all the choices and decisions that led me to this spot. This spot where everything seems difficult and bumpy and foggy. If only I had avoided this spot, then I could be happy.

If only I knew where I was going, knew which path to take, which door to open, which question to answer. If I knew, then I could be happy.

If only things were different; not the things I don’t want to be different but everything else. If those things were different, then I could be happy.

If only everything that was wrong ended up being right, and the sun was shining and I was wearing the right shoes and the sunglasses that don’t rub my nose, then I could be happy.

If only I could stop letting all these little things in life get in the way, because life will always get in the way. Because I know happiness doesn’t come in place of all of those things, it comes in spite of them. I know that, but knowing and doing are two very different things.

If only I could.

If only.

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I want to have more, and do less.

More time, more money, more freedom, more laughter, more breath, more clarity, more quiet.

Less work, less chaos, less hurrying, less mess, less waiting, less misunderstanding, less loud.

That’s all I want; not too much to ask?

Only I don’t know how to get more of this, and less of that.

Because the more I try, the less I do. The more I think, the less I understand. The more I question, the less I answer.

It really should be simple.

Or maybe it is.

Maybe it is, but I make it more difficult.

More of the good stuff; less of the bad.

Words to live by.

More or less.

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my friend

We met by chance on a VIA Train heading from Ottawa to Toronto. We were both getting off at stops before Toronto so we ended up on the same car. As luck would have it there was an empty seat beside me and she politely asked if it was taken. It wasn’t, and invited her to sit down. We did that thing where we looked at each other, trying to place where we knew the face. We went to the same university, were in the same program, had a couple of classes together. We exchanged pleasantries and settled in for our long trip.

It could have ended there. It could have been but a single moment in our lives, quickly lived and then just as quickly forgotten. Instead, for some reason, unknown at the time, it turned out to be not an ending, but a beginning.

That was, if I can do the math correctly, just over 16 years ago, in October 1996. So much of our lives have been lived since then and, because of that chance meeting, so much of it has been lived side by side.

She is my friend.

Today is her birthday.

It amazes me how some friendships start, like an ember burst from nothing, and continue to burn, seemingly without end. I don’t know what brought us together that day, on that train, but some larger force knew that I needed her in my life, then and now.

She is, without a doubt, the best person I know. She is the kind of person who you can call in the middle of the night, no matter how late, no matter if she just went to bed half an hour before and has to get up two hours later. She will answer your call, convince you that no, you didn’t wake her up and yes, of course she has some time to talk. She will listen to your problems. She will probably even ask if she should come over. Do you need a hug? Can I bring you a cup of tea. She is that person. If there is a bed and a couch, she will insist that you take the bed and make it seem utterly absurd that you would even consider the alternative.

I don’t think I could ever be that person. I think mean things about people and I’m not very good at hiding them. I’m moody and sarcastic and if I don’t like you, you probably already know it. However, the mere fact that she sees fit to be my friend makes me feel like maybe there’s hope for me.

I don’t know a single person in the world who has met my friend and doesn’t love her, almost instantly. She is the kind of person who greets you with a hug and tells you that you look great. And she means it; she really does. And because she says it in such an honest way, she makes you believe it too, even if you’re dressed in sweats with your hair in a ponytail and wearing no makeup. She thinks you look great, and you believe her, because she would never lie to you.

She is the most trusting person I know. Her openness and willingness to throw herself out there have always amazed me. She has written a novel; and has actually let people read it. She has run a marathon. She has weathered storms in her life and continues to get back out there, continues to try, continues to find the best in people and, in turn, they seem to give it to her. She is the kind of person you don’t want to disappoint.

She has amazing taste in books and desserts. She is always accessorized to perfection, is a wonderful cook and is the most patient and loving mother I have ever seen. She is perfect in her imperfections. She never makes me feel like there’s anything wrong with me (which, at times, there definitely is) and she never acts like she is a better person than me (which, as outlined above, she usually is). She is funny and witty and makes it all seem easy, although I know it’s not. She has struggles and difficulties and problems just like everyone else and she is not afraid to share them, to admit she doesn’t always know the answers and that makes her real, and human, and accessible.

She is a better friend than I probably deserve, and I consider her a gift. A gift from someone out there who knew that I need her in my life; that I need her there as an example of how to treat people, how to find kindness and joy in life and how to be a better person. She allows me to be her friend, and not just in name, she lets me earn it. She asks me for help and listens when I offer it. Some friendships travel through time without tests, without work, without earning their keep. Our friendship expects more from us. It expects phone calls, cups of tea, glasses of wine and legs folded on couches. We have talked through the problems of the world together and made them better for no other reason than because it confirmed that we are not alone.

We are a long way from being those two girls, forced together by a chance meeting on that train. We both now have husbands and kids, responsibilities and jobs, houses and to-do lists that are way longer than we can ever actually tackle in one lifetime. We have said many goodbyes since then, to relatives and loves, and also to dreams and expectations of what we thought our lives would be like.

But we are still friends. We have seen each other through a lot in the past 16 years and I have leaned on our friendship more times than I can count. And each time I have needed it, it has been there. No matter how much time has past, no matter how much it has been neglected due to busy schedules and conflicting calendars; it has remained. Willing and able to jump up when it is needed, to provide the support and strength that is lacking and then to settle back, a constant.

I don’t know what I have done to deserve a friend like her but I appreciate and never take for granted all that she has brought to my life. And today, on her birthday, I struggle to know what to give her to show her all that she means. It’s not something that can be wrapped in a box and tied up with a ribbon, although she deserves that and so much more.

And so instead I give these words, in the hopes that today of all days she will read them and realize she is special, and loved and thought of, not just today but every day of our friendship.

Happy birthday my dear friend. I don’t know what I would do without you.

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Is it just me or has the retail industry gotten a little ahead of themselves lately? I mean obviously they need to have certain items in stores ahead of when they are actually needed but seriously, have the people who look after these things decided that the calendar is now completely irrelevant?

This year the Halloween costumes were in my local store at pretty much the same time as the school supplies. The first time I saw them I panicked – is it that time already? Man, I better pick up the kids’ costumes before they all get picked over! Picked over? It was barely September for goodness sakes!

I used to pat myself on the back whenever I was (surprisingly) organized enough to have clothes purchased and ready in advance of the changing seasons. Now, however, it seems that I’m now expected to be two seasons ahead and have the super hero ability to be able to predict what clothing and shoe sizes my kids are going to be six months from now.

Looking for a winter jacket in November? Too late, all that’s left in stores are extra small or extra large – and both in colours that the kids won’t go anywhere near. Forget that it’s still Fall outside – don’t even bother asking the cashier if they have any more sizes in the back, he’ll look at you as if you just asked him to sew you one from scratch. Apparently the time to buy winter clothes is four months before you’re actually going to wear them.

Looking for a bathing suit in June? Nope, they’re pretty much all gone by mid-April. I live north of the Great Lakes – no one here is wearing a bathing suit in April!!

My local home decor store was fully decked out for Christmas more than two weeks ago; complete with four themed trees and miles and miles of little twinkly lights. What ever happened to waiting until December? Or forget December, what ever happened to waiting until Halloween was done?

I had to send my husband to Costco at the beginning of September to buy new Christmas garlands because I knew they would be gone in less than a week. When he arrived back from his errand he informed me he got the last two. For real. Then I had to find room to stash them in the garage for two and a half months, waiting for it to actually be Christmas time.

I get stressed every time I go shopping now, feeling horribly behind before I even get started. What an awful mother I must be if I left buying winter boots until October. What ever made me think that was an okay thing to do?

It’s November and I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping yet? I’ll never get it done in time now! Is it any wonder that I’m usually tired of the holidays long before they even arrive? Am I the only one who thinks it’s wrong to drink eggnog while wearing shorts and a tank top? How special are the decorations, music and cookies, when you have them for two months instead of just a couple of weeks? By the time December 25 finally rolls around I just want to pack it all away and be rid of the whole thing.

And when I finally get the last box of decorations packed away I will (mistakenly) think I can relax for a month or so.

That is until my next trip to the store reveals that the Easter baskets, patio sets and flip flops are now on clearance.

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She smiled.

When I asked her how her day went, she smiled.

I needed more; I needed details, didn’t she realize the not-knowing had been driving me crazy all day?? I pressed her for more.

“You wore your glasses?” I asked. “How did it go?”

“Fine. When I walked in the door with them on people asked if they were new. I said yes.”

Of course she walked in the door with them already on. No slumping over her desk trying to summon up the courage to put them on; not my little girl, at least not today.

I should have known.

I smiled to myself, shaking my head in amazement. I don’t know where she gets her spunk, her drama, her courage. Sometimes I just stand back in amazement, unsure how this creature, so unlike me in so many ways, actually came from me.

This girl who from a very young age would walk into a room of complete strangers and manage to make a new friend in less than five minutes. The girl who has performed in front of hundreds of people without so much as a quiver in her voice or a hitch in her step.

“Okay,” I said, speaking mostly to her back as she walked away, already moving on to the next thing.

“I’m glad.”

Perhaps this whole thing was much more about me than it ever was about her. I made it a big deal because it had been for me; that didn’t mean it would be for her. I shouldn’t have assumed it would be the same for her as it was for me.

She is her own person and although there may be instances when my experiences may teach her something, it’s just as likely that I’ll be the one learning a lesson.

A good reminder that sometimes the hardest thing about mothering is learning when to get out of the way.

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If I’m being honest I will admit to the twinge of annoyance I felt when I realized he was taking the seat across from me. I was looking forward to a quiet ride, lost in my own thoughts and the pages of my book but I feared that would now not be the case.

Having two children of my own I know they very rarely just sit. Instead they choose to talk, wiggle, fidget and question. My quiet ride to work had just flown out the window.

He was probably seven or eight, although I am notoriously bad at guessing people’s ages. Kids especially always trip me up, some being big or small for their age and all ending up older than I think they should be.

I had my foot up on the air vent at the edge of my seat, as I always do, creating a shelf with my leg that my book rests on nicely. Every day I do the same thing. I’ve done this commute for almost ten years (oh man, has it really been that long?) and every day it is much the same. One trip blending and blurring into the next, indecipherable from each other.

He also put his foot up on the vent, turning his body sideways in his seat to look out the window. He seemed content for a time to just sit and look. I couldn’t help but stop my reading every few lines to glance up at him, curious as to what he was doing.

From time to time he would sing to himself, moving his arms and head as though dancing along with the words. A smile would tickle my lips as I glanced away, hoping he wouldn’t see and become self-conscious, thinking I was laughing at him, because I was not. Rather my smile came from glimpsing the abandon and ease with which he sat and sang, seemingly unaware of all others around him.

He put a second foot up on the vent and slid them both over until they touched mine. If it was someone else I probably would have sighed impatiently, distressed over the invasion of my space. Instead I quietly moved my foot down to the floor, leaving him all the space. I put my open book down on my lap and stared out the window, hoping to glimpse what he was seeing through his eyes.

I wondered what he was thinking, what thoughts, worries, dreams were rushing around in his head as he sat. I wished I could live in his head for a minute, to go back to that age. We stayed that way, looking out the window until the train pulled into the station.

He yawned and shook his dad, sleeping in the seat beside him. He glanced over at me and our eyes caught for just a moment. I smiled, he looked away quickly. I wondered what he saw when he looked at me. I probably did not register as anything more than a woman. In his eyes probably an “old” woman, lumping me together with anyone over the age of 20 in the same way I group together anyone under the age of 12.

I looked down and saw that I had not read a single page in my book.

I smiled, and realize I was not even the least bit annoyed.

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I stumbled across a sign like this in a store yesterday.

I should have bought it.

Actually, I should have bought ten of them so I could put them throughout my house as a constant reminder.

It’s time to stop waiting for someone to tell me that now is the time; the time to do something; to do anything.

Time to realize that I need to stop waiting for someone else to answer the questions.  Time to start making my dreams come true all on my own.

If I was waiting for a sign, I guess I found it.

No more excuses.

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The alarm went off at 6:33am, just as I knew it would. The fact that I was expecting it didn’t make it any easier. At first I told myself that I must be hearing things; that it couldn’t possibly be Monday morning already. I paused to listen again and yes, much to my disappointment, that was the alarm.

I reached over to shut it off before it woke up my sleeping husband. I said a bad word under my breath and thought again about how I should have become a teacher, like him, so I could sleep in every day in July and August. I hated him just a little bit in that moment.

I wished it was Friday again. I thought of the week ahead, another week of all the things that have to be done and buried my head down deeper into my pillow. It had been a great weekend, the perfect mix of busy and boring and I wanted more, just one more day and then I’d be okay to get up, to drag myself out the door, to sit at my desk and stare at the computer.

I cursed at myself for not buying a lottery ticket. I could be a millionaire right now. I could be jumping out of bed with the sheer exhilaration that comes from knowing you get to spend the day doing whatever you want.

Maybe one day.

But not today.

I pulled my head off my pillow and swung my feet out from under the blanket and sighed deeply as they hit the floor.

I am up now. It is Monday.

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I’m horrible at guessing people’s ages but if I had to, I’d say they were probably both in their mid-70s. He was probably quite tall in his earlier years but had now taken on a stooped posture. Stooped though he was, he still stood at least a head taller than her.

I’m not sure what it was about them that caught my attention as I walked through the crowded station but my eyes went to them immediately.

She was pointing to her nose, rubbing, and then shaking her head. He was standing directly across from her, holding a handkerchief and mirroring her actions.

I soon realized that she was trying to show him that he had something on his face. They went through the routine one more time before she got frustrated, grabbed the handkerchief from him and reached up to wipe it off herself.

A childish grin broke out across his face and he pulled away and stood up to his full height, which meant now she couldn’t reach him. She waved at him a couple of times and then dropped her hand to her side, resigned.

He said something to her I couldn’t hear and smiled again. The grin reminded me of the exact same one my son uses when he’s asking for a popsicle five minutes before dinner or to stay up late on a school night.

Then he leaned down and kissed her.

I don’t know anything about these people. I don’t know their story or anything about their relationship but I’ve chosen to believe that they’ve been married for 50 years and have never loved anyone but each other.

Because sometimes it’s nice to believe that love really can last a lifetime.

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