I just lost a friend from home this week to a debilitating disease. She was a powerhouse social activist and really enjoyed life. She also very literally lived to make life fair and equitable for others. Until her final breath, she helped make the lives of women and children around her much better than when she first entered them. She was always spreading little nuggets of wisdom as she went, with lots of laughter and elegance. She genuinely put her time and money where her heart was and created very real solutions for people who were suffering in her vicinity.
when you lose someone, it can be like having a mirror flashed on the corners of your own life.
Death really forces you to reflect on how you are living, whether you want to or not. You remember the times you had with that person. You think about how their closest loved ones must be feeling and wish the most painless of transitions for them as they shift into a life without them. And you obviously think about your own grief and feel the loss of that person in your own life.
If there is a benefit to losing someone, it is in the celebration of their life and further looking for ways to celebrate in your own life. You also think about what kind of time you might have left on this planet and what you want to do with it. Obviously, none of us knows how long we have to physically inhabit this Earth, but I personally don’t want to waste the time I have left.
marching into spring
So we’re almost at the end of the first quarter of the year and at the beginning of a new season- Spring. I feel this is a good time to start shaking the cobwebs out of your past and start looking at clearing out for the future. Right now, my office has a bit of a split personality. I am in the process of clearing clutter from the visible and hidden spaces in my “studio” and getting rid of as much as I can. I know that once it is all thrown out, I will free up more space I my mind and more creative energy for writing and performing. My desk is completely clear of stuff except for my two keyboards (piano + typing), my laptop and my printer. I am a notorious “piler”. I tend to move things into one big pile and allow it to grow until it the stuff in it becomes obsolete- like magazines etc. Because, I like the feeling of clarity, I am in the process of finding homes for the stuff that regularly builds up in the piles on my desk. I want to keep it looking streamlined and clean.
Why do we associate Spring with cleaning? I had a little root through the interwebs to see what the origin of spring cleaning is, guessing that it had something to do with re-birth or cleansing after the winter etc. It seems that the change between winter and spring was at one time seen as the end of the year heading into the beginning of a new year. Though our modern calendar puts the change in December/ January, historically the transition was felt between winter and spring which makes sense. Particularly northern climates where there would have been cold and wet weather, Winter would have had a dirty, sloshy feel about it. Each time people would have crossed the threshold from outside, they would have brought with them slushy mud and grit from the streets. Also while we are cocooning inside during the more fierce storms of winter, there is a tendency to surrender to the cosiness of winter, reading by the fire, Netflixing and chilling, baking and brewing up hot chocolates with loads of whipped cream, which can lend itself to things around us piling up.
Now that the weather is showing some signs of lightening, a lot of times, there is a direct connection to a lightening in our moods. The increased daylight can be inspiration enough for us to start feeling like it’s time to start looking at our spaces in a different way. It makes me feel like it’s time to clear some of the clutter and give the light a little more open space to bounce off.
love yourself again
I often say that I love my own company. I love hanging with my friends and caring for my family, but I am never bored with my own company. I find it very funny when I hear children exclaim there is nothing to do. I can’t imagine what that feels like. It would take a long time before I could run out of things to do when I’m by myself. I have a very rich private life. It’s not always the most productive time, but I believe a lot of success is created in fun private time. As an artist, being open to creating and experiencing fun is really where it begins and ends. Of course, I do a lot of work and I work very hard, but because I take the time to love myself and find what pleases me, I have created a space for creativity to come and visit me frequently.
If you are not enjoying your own company, then maybe it’s time for you to fall in love with yourself again. Most of us experience uninhibited love for ourselves when we are children, even if we had difficult childhoods. We were able to marvel at the world around us and revel in the wonder of learning new lessons. If life is feeling a bit lackluster, perhaps it is time to do this again?
Falling in love with anyone else is darn near impossible if your aren’t in love with yourself. If you have a spouse or children, don’t expect them to read your mind and give you what you are missing. Particularly if you don’t even know what that is. You have may have to become your own secret admirer.
Here are some of the ways I fall back in love with myself:
- take yourself on a few dates–
- 1. a visit to cafe with a book or magazine if you need the crutch. I prefer to people watch. I make up stories about the people around me-”Is this their first date? Have they been together for a while? Are they old friends or lovers?” I have been known to write songs about my people watching.
2. A trip to the salon for a massage or a beauty treatment.
3. A visit to a fancy restaurant at lunchtime, where you can often avail of the early bird menu.
4.Take a ride on public transport to a neighborhood that is different from your usual route. Let someone else think about the driving, you just look out the window at the scenery and the people milling around outside. When you get to the destination, you can either get back on the return journey straight away or get out and explore the neighborhood, try the cafes, window shop, sit in the local park, feed the birds.
- Think back to your childhood and remember the books you read. Go to the library and read through some of them. Or maybe you have a favourite book from your teens, read through it.
- Watch movies that make you feel good. I love rom-coms, pure comedy and “light” heist movies like Thomas Crown Affair-films that have a happy ending and not so much violence that you’re jolted into reality. I love good cinematography and a sensual soundtrack.
- Visit a flower shop. Inhale. If you can swing it, buy yourself a bouquet of your favourite flowers. The lift you get from looking at and smelling a lovely bunch of flowers is immeasurable. Don’t wait around for some special occasion to get yourself flowers. And definitely don’t wait for someone else to get them for you.
You deserve to be treated well. And falling in love with yourself gives your spirit a powerful message of love. Don’t wait for self care. We have a limited time on this planet. Relish every moment you can.
PS, here’s the obituary for my friend for those of you who are interested. She was a great person. It’s worth the read:
Toby Strout, director of Middle Way House