Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lamenting the Loss of Summer

Lamenting the Loss of Summer

My son recently got a job. His first job ... ever. He was not really looking for a job; he was quite content to pass his summer in idle pursuits, like computer games, hanging out with friends, or creating a permanent indent in the couch. But when a wonderful opportunity landed in his lap, he changed his mind and became genuinely interested—the gobs of cash he would make with a full-time position over the entire summer was not lost to him. He went to the interview, landed the position, and started the next day. As we were traveling home from the interview, he was elated and excited until I mentioned he couldn’t go to Canada’s Wonderland for his brother’s year end band trip (they always invite siblings to join the trip—since it’s the parents that do all the driving.)

I watched this news sink in, and then sink in further still, and his mood became somber, disappointment written on his handsome face. This was not a fleeting ‘ah bummer’ sort of mood, it was a deep disappointment—a lament for the loss of his summer. Most would say he had been lucky. At nineteen, we had never pushed him into getting a job. We told him, his school was his career, and as long as he applied himself and succeeded, we would give him the jolts of cash he needed to have a respectable social life. However, that was all before university. University sucks a lot of money into its sizable vortex, and Mom and Dad are not made of money, so a job was very much a necessity. But as I watched him realize that his entire summer was now to be spent working, I couldn’t help but feel his pain.

This was not just a job. It was a symbol of his youth disappearing. The days of idleness and carefree sojourns, free of responsibility, were coming to an end. He was moving into the adult world, a world typically comprised of hard work, long hours, ambition, expectations, pressure, and stress—definitely not the world of his youth.

How many of us lament the loss of our own summer? We get swept into a life that may not look like the one we had imagined for ourselves. We get swept up in the want to prove, the want to keep up with the Jones, the want to establish ourselves as successful in the eyes of others. And often, we lose ourselves and our dreams, our desires, and our sense of fun and playfulness in the process. We can become automatons just churning out a good wage, chugging through the daily grind. We can become stuck. And when we are stuck in a situation we are unhappy about, we will often look to that grass on the other side and lament what we don’t have, or lament what we have lost. 

That lamentation is a glimpse into our soul, our true nature; it is a peak into our deepest desires: long since relegated to the back seat. It is our passions trying to re-establish themselves, trying to let us know ‘hey, this is not all we are.’ It is an invitation to try and incorporate some of the things we love back into our lives, to take a moment each day to follow what feels good, instead of what is expected of us.

Summer doesn’t have to be lost forever. It is a choice to let it slip through our fingers, becoming a figment of our past. Summer can be now: every day. Remember what it felt like to just lay around, free of responsibility, to go swimming, or hiking through the forest, running through the fields, or climbing trees ... rekindle that sense of fun, that sense of joy and peace. Make happiness a priority. Make engaging in activities that make you happy, your life’s pursuit. We can’t always pick up and change our life completely, but we can make small changes every day that move us closer to a glorious summer.

I’ve encouraged my son to put half of the money he will make toward his university fund, the other half is for him to live—and I don’t mean on things like food, board, or utilities, it needs to be spent on him, on things he will enjoy, that will make him happy. Things like trips to Canada’s Wonderland with his friends or something as grand as a vacation in Europe.

We get caught up in the necessities, putting every cent we make toward just carving out an existence. We need to start a ‘Fun Fund’—a little something for a ‘rainy mood day’ so we can do something to make us feel good. Fun Funds can go toward a bouquet of flowers, a new mani/pedi, an hour at the library just basking in the silence, curling up with a good book by the fire, or in bed, going to a movie—yes, even alone, buying a new electronic toy, or new shoes, tinkering with a hobby. The list is endless, and obviously very personal.

The key is to take some ‘me time,’ whenever you can eke out a moment and toss any feelings of guilt whatsoever out the window and just enjoy yourself. You are entitled to happiness. You deserve happiness. Happiness is your birthright; make it a priority—make YOU a priority. And no matter where life takes you, don’t compromise that happiness.

Enjoy your summer!
In gratitude,
Marissa xo

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Passionate Life: June 5, 2012

Life at Toronto's The World's Biggest Bookstore!
On Saturday June 2nd, Annemarie and I were signing books at Toronto's The World's Biggest Bookstore, and we completely sold out! The staff even gave us a clap out.

What we love most about book signings is the people we meet—readers who tell us how much our book has touched their lives, and new friends who have yet to delve into the pages of our book—nothing is more rewarding and fulfilling to an author!

The World's Biggest Bookstore is a mecca for authors. We met Owen Williams, author of The Relationship Revolution,who was awesome and generous, buying a copy of our book and offering advice and publishing know-how. We met Nejeed Kassam, author of High on Life: Stories of Hope, Change and Leadership. What a phenomenal young man, traveling the world to find outstanding examples of individuals driving social change in their communities. He was shopping with his father, who kindly bought a copy of our book to give to his wife.

We met Elizabeth from Barbados, Shelley with her troubadour friend, who placed one of our flowers in his mouth and danced in the middle of the bookstore. We met Karma, Buddy Jack, and Adelaide: all dogs visiting the bookstore with their owners, who inadvertently bought copies of our book, while the dogs themselves enjoyed delectable ear scratches from yours truly.

Peggy and John, a delightful couple out on a day of shopping, Katie and Janet who were just stopping by the bookstore before catching the show: "Bring it on." Kim who works with horses, Jerry an aspiring author, Franca who wanted to learn meditation, and so many more.

Living a passionate life means getting out there and engaging in the things that make you happy, that bring you joy. Try to do at least one thing each day that makes you feel good. It can be as simple as taking the time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the garden, or taking a moment to just breathe, without anyone interrupting you or feeling like you have to rush off to start the next thing. Or it can be wild like dancing in the rain, or riding a roller coaster with your hands up, a grin stretching from ear to ear.

For me, it is writing. I write every day. Whether I am jotting down notes for my novel, editing said novel, or dreaming of the next one, my writing is never far from my mind. It is a part of me, and if I didn't engage in some sort of activity that expressed that part of me, I would shrivel up and become a mere shell of who I am.

Often, we let the world around us dictate our actions—we ride the wagon wheel strapped to its surface. Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down, but always, we are careening through the events already set into motion, we are just reacting to the circumstances in our lives—we are going through the motions.

At some point, we may say to ourselves, 'I don't know who I am,' or 'I feel like I've lost myself.' This is your Soul or True Essence letting you know that things have gotten off track, that you've been riding that wheel for too long—the wheel of other people's expectations, the wheel of fear of other people's judgments and opinions.

It's time to get off that crazy ride! Find your passion again, find what truly makes you happy, and take baby steps toward your dreams. Do what makes you feel good and never compromise your happiness!

Writing and hanging out with you makes me feel good, it's what I love.
Thanks for reading and sharing this time with me.
In gratitude,

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Passionate Life: June 4, 2012

Creating the right ripples

Wow, what a month. I was sick from the end of April till the end of May! Finally, with the aid of some good medication, I am feeling much better. My life was not any less passionate during my down time; it was just a bit more subdued as I enjoyed the little things, like the perfect cup of coffee, the softness of my favourite pillow, blissful naps, cuddles from my children, and movie time with my family. I gifted myself ample 'me time,' gave my body the rest it needed, and now I am back!

In our book Life, we talk about building a Gratitude Bank—giving thanks, on a daily basis, for all the positive things in our lives. And like money in a bank, gratitude builds and appreciates over time. The more we notice the good things in our lives now, the more we will find positive things to be grateful for, and the more wonderful and wondrous things we will find entering our lives! Gratitude creates positive, blissful ripples into the world, and we will find those effects returning ten fold!

Grace reminds us:

“Remember when I asked you to consider each and every thought you have as a prayer, or a personal wish, that gets sent out into the world and is always answered? If we could all rationalize and accept that concept, we would realize the importance of choosing our thoughts and words very carefully! Positivity begets positivity; negativity begets negativity. When we constantly send out the same types of signals into the world, they begin to coalesce, to join together, and with their combined weight they generate a powerful gravitational force that attracts like to like back into our experience. In other words, depending on what our overall focus is—whether we are feeling and thinking positive thoughts and emotions, or whether we are focused on negative ones—we will essentially have our sentiments, our prayers, answered.

“Gratitude works the same way, except that it adds a kind of double whammy, so to speak, since what we are grateful for, we have already manifested or brought into our experience. Our past thoughts and desires have already brought wonderful experiences into our lives. We already have things, right here and now, that are making us feel good. Like I mentioned earlier, the thoughts we had yesterday create our today, and the thoughts we have today create our tomorrow. Appreciate that—because of some feel good thoughts that we had yesterday, we’ve already created some wonderful experiences that are now present in our lives today.”
Try to take a moment at the end of each day, and come up with at least five things you are grateful for. They can be grandiose, or they can be deliciously simple. What made you feel good today? What made you happy, or calm, peaceful or joyful? If you like, you can start a journal; write down your gratitude list, watch as it expands over time.

I am grateful for my writing, my friends, my family, you—our readers, and this—our time together.
Thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life. xo
In gratitude,