A New Year’s Resolution…?

My daughter and I went to a small community Christmas concert that showcased wind instruments. Actually, the Oakville Wind Orchestra is Canada’s oldest concert band (it was created in 1866 and it was sponsored by the Town of Oakville on 1881 and it continues to the present day!) so it was a big deal to have something with so much history in our own backyard.

It’s not like one of those big production kind of things either!  The tickets were $20 per person and $10 for students. So for a total price of $30, we got to enjoy concert band music on a nice wintry evening. The musicians were very talented and you would not have believed that the group of 45, ranging from 16 year olds to seniors, were students, teachers, lawyers, accountants, wives, husbands, etc!  My daughter and I were really quite enthralled once they started playing.

My daughter plays the flute so it was quite understandable that she gravitated toward the flute players and was particularly captivated with how the musicians’ fingers seemed to lightly fly over the little tiny holes in the instrument…

However, what really caught my attention was the percussionist who was playing the xylophone.  Actually, she had different types of xylophones. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Orff-Xylophones.gc. 

I thought, “Wow!  I didn’t think that a xylophone could sound that good!  The only xylophone I know are the ones with the rainbow coloured bars that always seemed to be the favourite of all toddlers! Definitely no rainbow colours here!”

This evening also made me rethink –perhaps learning an instrument in 2017 would be a worthy endeavour.  I’m thinking that it would be a good New Years resolution…

My choices were:

Piano? Nope, I used to take piano lessons when I was small…I have not-so-fond memories of my piano teacher’s stern look when she realizes I didn’t practice…

Violin? Maybe not a good idea since I have this fear that I might get a crick in the neck that I will never recover from…

Flute?  Nope–I already have a flute player in the family…

Guitar? My fingers are not that long…

Ukulele? Hey!  It’s small and compact and short fingers are a non-issue..and I recall I bought my daughter a ukulele when she was somehow inspired by Grace Vanderwaal (the 2016 America’s Got Talent winner)….haven’t seen it lately but I’m sure it’s around somewhere….so no additional financial outlay there!

But somehow, telling people that learning to play the ukulele as my New Year’s resolution seems rather unusual. Not that it should really matter what other people think….

…or maybe I should consider learning a language instead…? French? Spanish? Italian?

Here’s to your New Year’s resolution…whatever it may be!!

Debbie.

2016: the Year of the “Office Rage” and personal reflections..

I came to a realization that 2016 was not such a good year for me. Actually, that is an understatement. It was crap.

I also came to a realization that I have come a long way with my mindfulness journey this year.

Well, okay…if I take those two together and net them, I guess this year has not been so bad after all.

I quit my job of over 10 years and was forced to rethink my future as an accountant. The culture at work had changed and I didn’t like where it was heading. On the positive side, it made me question whether I really wanted to work in a field full of egos, where arrogance masked personal insecurities, where favouritism trumped hard work, where WHO you knew was more important than WHAT you knew.

The stress in the office was too much, not just for me but for everyone. I heard  the saying “I got thrown under the bus by so-and-so” almost daily.

It became every person for themselves.

“Office Rage”, I call it.

People buckled under the stress and in some instances came up with outlandish excuses why things were going wrong.

“She actually did not want to work for so-and-so, that’s why she quit.”

“Only he knows what is going on…”

“She was not doing her job that someone else had to work the weekend for her.”

“I’m going to give her something so difficult so that she screws up and quits.”

“She was not really sick so she had come back to work.”

“The units are all stupid.”

“It’s all her fault…”

“It’s all his fault…”

“Idiot.”

When I recall the instances when I heard these sayings, I cringe. How can people say these things about each other?

I wanted out. I realized I needed to spend more time with my daughter and rethink, regroup, and reconsider what I really wanted to do. I’ve dubbed them my “3Rs”.  Besides, did I really want to work with people whom I had considered “friends” all this time and then find out that they had thrown me under the bus several times!?!? Were they ever my “friends”? Or was I just a pawn in a game of office politics, just as everyone else?

My family was supportive and understood that it was time to leave. I can honestly say that I was so relieved when I quit.

I must admit that it is because I have been in this mindfulness journey that I have survived such a toxic environment.

I too could have played the game and thrown people under the bus. I recall I was pretty good at playing the finger pointing game in my previous life…I could have convinced myself “only the fittest survive” or it’s a “dog eat dog world.”

Yet..

How can one look at themselves in the mirror and like what they see?

How could one not feel as if you sold your soul to the devil when you do something like that?

…and for what, a few minutes of feeling superior?

Is it really worth it?

Perhaps for some people it is a means of getting ahead. But this is definitely not me.

I also believe in karma. It will always come back to you in some form. I remember listening to someone who was going through a rough day. When asked what she should do, I said “Do Nothing. Believe in karma.”  Her response was “Well, I can’t wait for Karma! It takes too long!”

Mindfulness helped me navigate the minefields of getting through the days, through the year. Not to say that I escaped unscathed, but at least I stayed true to myself.  I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and say “You are alright.”

Ironically, a few days after I quit, I was offered another job with another company–still accounting related but more theoretical. I guess these things happen for a reason.

I am looking forward to 2017 and I’m interested where it will take me….

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2017, everyone!

Debbie

The “I Wish” Game of a monkey mind…

I played that dangerous game all last week…

It all started on Tuesday morning and  was trying to snuggle deeper into the duvet covers since winter has finally arrived.  I did not want to get up and even as my toes braved the cold outside of my cover’s protective shield, I immediately pulled them back in the comfort of my warm and toasty cocoon.

I whispered to myself, “Self, don’t you sometimes wish that you can sleep in a little while longer and not worry about catching the train to work…?”

“….or even going to work?”

“Could you imagine if I won the lottery and l don’t have to worry about money and work and….I could go on these lavish vacations in some sunny exotic locales…..where I could sample local cuisine….and not worry about getting fat…”

I think I could have gone on and on and on….

…and I missed the train and was late for work.

That was Tuesday…

Then, I think around the time Thursday came around, I was in a meeting with all these smart talented people talking about some issue…and a random thought popped up…

“Wow, they really know their stuff…don’t I wish sometimes that I could sound half as intelligent and confident in front of a conference full of people and not bat an eyelash when someone asks a really complicated question that I’m sure no one really thought of before and…Wait, I’m great too so let’s forget about that wish….I wonder what they do for fun or if they have time to go for a run maybe or maybe just goof around…I wonder when this meeting is going to end since I am so tired and I still have to do the laundry when I get home…wait, is it Wednesday already…no, it’s Thursday…”

I think I could have gone on and on and on…..

….and I missed the next topic of discussion.

It’s a new week and I am still playing it.

Yesterday, I had a coffee with a very good friend of mine and she was talking about her plans for the future. She sounds so confident and so sure about what she wants to do and another random thought popped up…

“Wow!  She really knows what she wants to do…I wish I knew what I want to do in a few years….what do I really want to do? How the hell do I know…I can’t even decide what coffee I wanted …or was it tea?  What am I drinking anyway?  Didn’t I want a hot chocolate? Dang, this tastes like crap…not getting this beverage again…”

…and I could have gone on and on…

…and I think I missed new gossip about how someone did something idiotic….

I realize that really what starts as a wishing game (“I wish I bought vanilla ice cream, I wish can retire now, I wish Hillary won…”) morphs to a totally unrelated topic that sometimes I don’t even remember what started the whole train of thought.

This is what my first mindfulness teacher calls my “monkey mind”…it jumps from one topic to another and before you know it, you are in a trance and people look at you funny…

Anyway, I am thinking that I am not the only one who goes through this…I certainly hope not.

At any rate…

…” I wish I could have a nap right about now since I had a super late night last night… it’s probably that coffee I had…shouldn’t have coffee too late in the day since it keeps me up…maybe I should try decaf instead…maybe organic decaf…I wonder how organic coffee tastes like…does Starbucks sell organic coffee?  Forget Starbucks, my former boss drinks it, I wouldn’t want to run into her, she hates me…”

Hahhaha!

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.

“Under construction…”

I hit a raised maintenance cover today. You know the one that is almost always spray painted orange?   The road to the train station is under construction and being repaved…

It actually gave me a quite a jolt.

My first thought was “Dang, I hope I didn’t ruin the car.”

My second thought was “Where did that come from?! I didn’t see it..!”

My third thought was “I wasn’t really paying attention, was I?!”

My last thought gave me a shocking revelation…I was not fully present when I hit it head on. I don’t even recall what I was thinking at that moment…

I remember a story my first mindfulness teacher once told…you would be driving along and you don’t really realize how you got from point A to point B until you get there. But even then, you are already on the next item on your mental list…

That’s the tough part, isn’t it?

It’s hard enough to stay present…but to be present ALL THE TIME…is almost impossible (well, for me it feels insurmountable!)

The “old” me would have berated and admonished myself to nauseam such that my whole day would have been shot. The words of the day would have been “fail, fail, fail.”

The “newer” me did something that would have given the “old” me an ulcer….I gave myself a break. The words of the day were, “this is not a big deal.”

…and you know what?  It really is not a big deal.

Sharon Salzburg (she is a mindfulness teacher who focuses on how we can practice loving kindness–and no, it’s not the mushy kind of stuff!  Google her. She is awesome! ) says give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

So, there you have it. My secret weapon. I have learned to give myself a break.

I also realized that I will probably be “under construction” for a long time…things ultimately will break down and I would have to rebuild…

Come to think of it, I like “under construction” better than “work in progress” since some days, I don’t feel as if I’m progressing at all…but I’ll save that for another blog…

Have a great week, everyone!

Debbie