Attitude is Everything! March 3, 2014Posted by Teresa in Inspired by a book, Ponder This.
Tags: achievement, attitude, Chris Hadfield, goal setting, goals, mindset, olympics, spaceflight
add a comment With the glow of the Sochi Olympics fading, we recall the highlights, the winners, the exultant moments! There are too many to list, but I’m sure you have a few of your favourites in mind. I watched my share of it, which is saying a lot, since I don’t usually watch TV.
You know what struck me the most, as it does every time I watch the Olympics? The incredible composure some of those athletes have. Sure, they are in their prime physically, but I daresay, they are also masters of their mental state as well.
Speaking of masters of their mental state — and inspiring overachievers — I’m reading Col. Chris Hadfield’s book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t tell me how it ends, okay? Here’s an interesting part about attitude.
In spaceflight, “attitude” refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death…
In my experience, something similar is true on earth. Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal. – Col. Chris Hadfield
So, it follows that if I keep a watch on my attitude, I will not tumble out of control, feel disoriented, or stray from my course. I will be on track, feel like I am making progress, and have more overall contentment and lightheartedness. As Chris says, it is more important to maintain attitude than achieve a goal.
A lot of goal-setting, performance-oriented, time-management, efficiency-optimization shtick came out of the late 80′s and 1990′s. This was the heyday of books like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I’m not saying those aren’t good books, but I feel like the collective personal development mindset focused on achieving goals and nothing was said about attitude. And yet your attitude is the key! You can be happy even when you haven’t met all your goals, and you can look at life as an adventure rather than an obstacle course to conquer.
So let’s start a new wave where attitude is everything! I often lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up, just to check my attitude. I would rather go about my day cheerful and grateful, wouldn’t you? The world needs less grumpy people! As Chris Hadfield says, “losing attitude is far worse than not achieving my goal.” Would the world stop spinning if we all just tossed our goals out a window — or put them on the back burner — and started enjoying life? I think not.
How Big Does a House Need to be? February 15, 2014Posted by Teresa in Inspired by a book, Ponder This.
Tags: life, life balance, material things, materialism, tiny houses
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As many of you know, I have two homes, one in High Level and one in Fort Simpson — actually, three places to call “home” if you count the farm I grew up on, which I think of often. Over the last year and a half, I have been shuttling myself and various stuff back and forth from northern Alberta to the NWT. In Simpson, I have a great little room in the attic of an old log house, and in High Level, my honey and I have a small, bungalow-style house.
When in my house, I’m often amazed how much I walk from room to room. Because all 1400-ish square feet of the house is on one level, it makes for a bit of back and forthing. It’s kind of annoying — a huge first-world problem, having to take fifteen or twenty steps to get from the kitchen to the bedroom. I know, it’s silly to even mention, when there are people who have no roof at all over their heads at night.
And then I discovered tiny houses. You see, I was looking for an option for my living arrangement in Fort Simpson — I know I won’t be able to rent the attic room forever. So, I started researching tiny houses, and by “researching,” I mean reading blogs, making drawings of possible floor plans, learning about construction methods, insulation options, heating solutions, and considering storage efficiency, appliance needs and alternative energy sources. It’s been a blast thinking about an adorable little living space I could create, perfect for me and perfect for my environment. I’ve asked myself how big a kitchen really needs to be. How much counter space does it take to make a batch of cinnamon buns? How much room would I need for clothes? Books? Hobby stuff? These are real challenges, since I love reading and knitting, and I have quite a selection of winter clothes for various outdoor activities. How many turtlenecks do you have, because I have 6. How would I pare it down to only the essentials? Why do I own so many bras, anyway? How on Earth would I ever decide what books to keep and which to give away?
As a result, my relationships with stuff is changing. I have started going through old stuff — all sorts of momentos, photos and other schtuff — and I am having fun turfing some of it. Until now, I’ve been a bit of a hanger-on — I’ve had a hard time throwing things out. I thought I needed momentos in order to have good memories; I thought I’d forget the best stuff if I threw out the trinkets, maps and old papers. I am starting to realize that I don’t have to keep stuff to keep memories, and that I am more interested in making some awesome memories in the future than reliving every nice memory from the past.
When I was growing up, I could ask my mom where anything in the house was — “Mom, have you seen my Merlin game?” — and even if the item hadn’t been seen or used in years, she knew where it was — “On the shelf in the basement, beside the box of Tinkertoys.” I think I may have inherited my mother’s ability — I usually just know where stuff is. Lately, however, with all my travel between two homes, I am losing track of things. I spend more than a little brain power trying to remember where stuff is. “Didn’t I used to have a blue toque? Where is it? Didn’t it used to be in the box of winter stuff? Maybe it’s in Fort Simpson…” Maybe for other people this isn’t a big deal, but it can get pretty frustrating for me.
I am definitely realizing I don’t need as much stuff as I think to be happy; in fact, I feel lighter and happier owning less stuff. Over the last year or so, I have been gradually getting rid of clothes I don’t enjoy. You thought I was going to say “clothes I don’t need,” didn’t you? Well, those too. For me, clothes used to just be something to cover me up (or to keep warm). Sure, I gave some thought to being dressed right for meetings or whatever, but it was never about fashion for me (I guess I’m a tom boy that way). I like eclectic stuff from second hand stores, but that’s mostly about not dressing like everyone else. As my relationship with stuff changes, I find I want to keep only the clothes that I truly enjoy and appreciate — only my favourites, things that make me say “yay! I going to wear THIS today!” The clothes-purging process is going to take some time, but since I’ve started, I really like having a little empty space in my dresser and closet.
Which, of course, won’t last if I move into a tiny house! Most houses I’ve seen — the ones that are being lived in 24/7, not just used as RV’s — are filled to the gills with stuff, tucked into every nook and cranny. And I’m okay with that too! As I think about layouts and storage, I am reminded about how, as a teenager, I used to design houses. I considered going to school to become an architect, but pure science called to me instead.
So, I leave you with a few images, scribbly drawings and such! Is it crazy to think of living in a space 200 square feet or less? Maybe… Do you think you could do it?
(click for larger versions)
(Yes, they are rather scribbly… sorry!)
Am I Part of the Problem, Part 2 January 28, 2014Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: attitude, chip on his shoulder, co-operation, conflict, LoA
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Normally, I get along really well with those around me. Throughout my life, I have learned how to communicate with different kinds of people, although I have to admit, it comes pretty naturally. Even from a young age, my family would call me the peacemaker — because I was always liaising between my two sisters, because I could naturally see both sides and communicate to both. My dad once told me that he thought it was neat how I could talk to anyone about anything.
Lately, though, I’ve had occasion to not see eye-to-eye with one man who comes in to my workplace periodically. I’m not the only one to not get along with this fella — he has a chip on his shoulder, that’s for sure. I’ve caught myself thinking about the next time I have to interact with him. What will he say? What will I say?
Last time, I had to strongly defend a friend of mine whom he started to put down. That’s not something I have to do very often. It was a slightly heart-pounding experience; it was a conflict-creating move for someone whose nature is much more about conflict-avoidance. Although I learned to deal with conflict in my first marriage, it still makes my heart thump a little harder.
So what’s the deal with this guy? Why is he so obstinate? I was thinking that in our next conversation, perhaps I should try to be more understanding, try to see his side. And then I recalled something he said that really struck me. He said “people are always keeping information from me, so that I can’t do my job properly.” At the time, I proceeded to tell him more about how his job interfaces with mine, explaining things that might have been “kept from him.” Later I thought, buddy, it’s your responsibility to find out whatever you need to in order to do your job. In future conversations, perhaps I could try and explain that if he could do away with that victim-stance, and the chip on his shoulder, he’d do better. His air is so confrontational, perhaps he could try a co-operative mode instead.
But I don’t think he can do it. It’s too far from his modus-operandi. It’s too big a stretch. I don’t think he knows how to co-operate. I honestly don’t think he’s learned how to work co-operatively with others… which is too bad, because the pattern for his life isn’t likely to change otherwise.
Of course, I always like to turn the tables, look in the mirror and see how this applies to me. Is there something that I don’t know how to do, which affects the direction my life is taking? Is there something that I would benefit from learning?
Hmmm… does accounting count? That’s certainly not one of my strengths! But hot damn, I’ve been learning! How about you? If you could step outside yourself, what advice would you give yourself? What might another person — a wise, helpful person — suggest you try doing?
I also have to ask myself, am I part of the problem? Wouldn’t this man’s experience be different without me here? Kind of turns it upside down doesn’t it? He and I wouldn’t be having this conflict-filled experience if I weren’t here, or if I were different… So, I must have some conflict in me, which isn’t a bad thing or a mortal flaw. I simply must have been sending out some fightin’ vibes the day he talked bad about my friend. I haven’t had any run-ins since then, which I take as evidence that I’m feeling better about life now!
As usual, I just enjoy giving you some things to think about!
You Know It’s Cold When… January 6, 2014Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: keeping warm, long johns, surviving the cold, top-ten, winter
I’ve been saving these up for a while, so here goes! (I’ll spare you the boring stats of how cold it’s been here… I think pretty much everyone has been dealing with crappy weather of one kind or another!)
Teresa’s Top Ten: You know it’s cold when…
10. Pushing the clutch in on the Pathfinder (to start it) is like doing leg press exercises… for one leg.
9. My front teeth have been aching a bit lately (as if I had braces), and I couldn’t figure out why until I went for a walk with friends. It was the cold making them ache! (One of my friends said he’s had this too.)
8. Donning of long johns* becomes regular practice in October, but these days, it’s double long johns and triple socks, always (two plain, one wooly).
7. I went for 4 consecutive days to work wearing wind pants over double long johns and fleece pants. Mind you, that might just say more about my work place or my sense of style than the temperature!
6. I can easily run out to prestart my vehicle in just the long-sleeved thin shirt, turtleneck, and wool sweater I’m wearing. As long as the wind isn’t blowing. (And yes, I am one of the poor saps who still doesn’t have remote start.)
5. Everybody knows not to touch your tongue to cold metal… but fingers on a cold doorknob, I keep forgetting about that! Ouch!
4. I can gauge how cold it is by how long I go humpin’ down the road! (i.e. vehicles have “square tires” for the first couple of km when you start driving. The colder it is, the longer it takes to round them out. :))
3. Freezers feel really WARM! I keep wondering if they are working properly… and they are.
2. The house furnace can’t keep up, resulting in… an unpleasantly cold toilet seat.
1. When looking though the back of the vehicle for something, I caught myself sloshing the little bottle of gasline antifreeze to see if it was still liquid! Sheesh! That stuff is NEVER supposed to freeze!
Stay warm everybody!
*I am a bit of a “long john connoisseur” (but not the snooty kind). I have tested several types, and have my favourites… but they all have a place in the world! Hmmm… maybe I will do a long john review in a future post.
What Me, Wear Make-up? November 14, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: beauty, changing my thinking, make-up, natural beauty, women
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I know I’m not like everyone else — okay, no one is. Let me explain. I voluntarily quit a very good job to start my own business and make no money. Once the business started making money, I decreased my business activity and took on a new job — and had to move way up North, to a village of 1,000 people, over 1400 km (nearly 900 miles) from the nearest Starbucks. Oh, unless there’s one in Yellowknife — then it’s only 630 km (390 miles). Nevermind Starbucks — I am 430 km (270 miles) from the nearest clothing store, shoe store, or place where one could buy make-up (in Hay River, NWT).
But I don’t mind, because:
A: I don’t buy clothes unless I really need them, because I’ve worn out what I’ve got — it might be time for new skidoo boots this year, and
B: I’ll show you my shoe collection at right (not all of them, mind you… just the ones I wear 95% of the time), and
C: I don’t wear make-up. I mean I’ve worn mascara about 4 times in the last 4 years.
So, like I said, I’m not like everyone else. I am not a major hippie or tree-hugger — okay, ya, I hug trees — I just don’t like a lot of girlie things. I object to make-up primarily on the grounds that women are beautiful without it.
I may, however, be rethinking my views on make-up slightly. Here’s my thinking.
Everyone ages. You know who suffers the most, in some ways? Hollywood stars. I feel kind of sorry for them, in particular when it comes to aging. They are immortalized in their youth — 99% of them — when they are at their prime, young, beautiful, fit and lovely. Then, they age. But everyone who watches re-runs, or their favourite movies over and over again, is shocked to see them age. They don’t look anything like they should — like the young and pretty image we all have burned on our corneas! Admit it, you have images of the first James Kirk, ahem, William Shatner, burned on your corneas, don’t you? (Okay, maybe it’s just me.) But look at him now!? Gads.
So, it’s not easy being green, or being famous and getting older. But at least women have make-up to turn to. I mean, Nichelle Nichols has undergone the same time frame of aging, and look at her.
Okay, maybe it’s an unfair comparison! In any case, women, perhaps, have decided to take matters into their own hands and do what they can, using nature, originally, to enhance their beauty. I think some of the first make-up was invented by the ancient Egyptians, was it not? Certainly black eyeliner was!
So, I stumbled on a website, makeupgeek.com, because the geek part drew me in (that’s probably why I even stumbled on it, what with Google controlling what I see…). “What’s geeky about make-up?” I thought. Well, the girls who are featured (or perhaps own it, run it, whatever) are really into make-up — for effect (no major objections here), for artistic expression (which I approve of), and for the fun of it, too, (which I wholeheartedly approve of). So, hmm. Make-up might not be so bad after all. In particular when it uses natural, non-animal harming ingredients. I mean, putting make-up into bunnies’ eyes is horrible by anyone’s standards.
Maybe I’m not so different at all! I just had a phase of a make-up free life… maybe I’ll play around with it a little in the future. Now if only there was a store where I could buy some!
P.S. Men, there are things you can do, too — that we can all do, I think. Try not to be chronically overtired. Drink plenty of water. Try not to rub your face unnecessarily. Eat living, non-processed food as much as possible. Get enough sleep (did I mention that already?)
Living in a World of Contrast November 2, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: arguing, bubble, Chris Hadfield, comments, conspiracies, contrast, happiness, internet, Movember, mustahces, NaNoWriMo
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Welcome to Movember, peeps! It’s the month of inappropriate and unpleasant facial hair (unpleasant for those of us who might be kissing those mustachioed men). If I can be so bold as to ask — can we keep it PG, folks? No porn star stuff, okay? I cringe at that slimy look! Let’s go for the tasteful and moderate look of Col. Chris Hadfield (one of my personal heroes).
Do you know what else happens in November? It’s NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, which is actually international! So, I’m getting my creative juices flowing again and cracking my knuckles over the keyboard.
Speaking of reading and writing, I read something interesting yesterday. It was posted in response to a story about the latest troubles at the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Apparently, some radioactive water was spilled into the ocean. The article was extremely well-written and described what had happened at the reactor since the tsunami. The author explained that the radioactivity was nothing to be worried about, which was interesting because that’s the exact opposite of what many other people are saying. It makes me wonder how two opposite views occur — the scientist in me says that only one can be correct. Who has the real facts? The language barrier complicates the issue; for those of us who don’t speak Japanese, whatever info we get is always second-hand. The philosopher in me knows that both sides can be correct in some ways, and I can usually easily see both sides. I’m sometimes surpised when others can’t — everyone believes they have the facts and they are right, dammit!
What an interesting world of contrast we live in! So many issues have two opposite, arguing sides. We can celebrate men’s health issues, the freedom and thrill of writing a book, and spend time remembering those who laid down their lives in war, all at the same time. I wonder if Movember is as big a deal in the US, where the government seems intent on proliferating Remembance Day. Do countries at war still worry about the health of their citizens? Even if the US isn’t at war, it does have a much bigger war machine than Canada. How come we make heroic efforts to save one person’s life yet premeditate on taking others? How can we care so deeply about our pets and eat the meat of animals not cared for at all? How can one person passionately argue against the logic of voting while enjoying the benefits of a democracy? (Fantastic video here.)
Yes, it’s a world of contrast, and I’m still figuring out how to live in it. I have a sympathetic ear for conspiracy theories, but when I heard that sunscreen causes cancer, I just didn’t know what to do with that information. At times, I can ignore that sort of info, and stay happy in my bubble. (Those of you who know me well may have seen the bubble.) Other times, I have to take it in and try to process it. Do I have to choose a side on these contrasting issues? No. I don’t have to always be an activist, and I definitely want to disregard the things that are most fear-inducing. I don’t like the way they makes me feel — sunscreen causes cancer?!?! The bastards! Now what? UV rays cause cancer, too! So, I’m supposed to just stay in the shade? Or never go outdoors? Forget it!
So, perhaps it’s just me conserving the environment of my bubble, to ignore some things, but it’s what I have to do to maintain my happiness. I mean, why not ignore it if it can’t be proven either way? On the whole, I think all this contrast is caused by free will — we have a lot of it, and I wouldn’t want to do without it, so I guess I had better learn to enjoy the contrast. I really try not to get wrapped up in the drama of arguments with people who aren’t interested in seeing another point of view (which is a lot of people, I’m learning). In fact, I’ve created a new personal rule for internet usage:
Never read the comments.
This helps a lot — most comments, whether on Facebook or blogs, are just not worth the time it takes to read them! I can easily spend 10-15 minutes reading comments by strangers that neither enlighten me nor contribute facts to an issue. I appreciate free speech, but that doesn’t mean I have to read it all. Okay, yeah, sometimes I break the rule, but hey, you know what they say about rules…
So, grow some fur on your face and I will try to remember not to make fun of you! It’s your choice to do so, just like everything else you do, and I won’t belittle you for any of it. Free will, baby! Roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with your life — it will get messy — just keep your dirty hands off of others’ lives, please. Thanks!
It Might be Time for a Change October 23, 2013Posted by Teresa in Adventures, Ponder This.
Tags: birds, compassion, courage, grouse, humility, intelligence, nature, outdoor adventures, outdoors, sacrifice, wildlife
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A few months ago, on one of my little adventures in the bush, I had an experience that I just can’t forget. I had decided to go for a walk to explore the bush along the edge of a clearing. The clearing was roughly square-shaped, and I walked along one full edge, intent on checking out the corner, which had some vague interest for me. As I walked, I was pleased to find an abundance of wild strawberries growing in the clearing! I stopped to pick a few, savouring their intense flavour. Along the way, I came across a little pile of cut firewood; someone was obviously going to come back for that some day. The bush was pretty thick, but to be honest, I wasn’t looking into it much. I was distracted by the strawberries.
As I got close to the corner, I could see that there was a little opening in the trees where a couple of them that had fallen down in a wind. With one more step, a flurry of activity erupted from the bush. Grouse — local people call them “chickens” — flew every which way, as though with that one step into the bush I had tripped an invisible laser-alarm, and they could not sit still. I hadn’t seen any of them until they all moved — their camouflage is excellent — and after they flew away only one remained.
This one, lone bird did the strangest thing, this thing that I cannot shake the memory of. It was crouched on the ground, among the fallen leaves, again invisible against the background. It shuffled forward and I could see it again, and it made the strangest sound — exactly like a puppy whimpering. It did it again, a little shuffle and a distinctive whimper. I couldn’t believe how much it sounded like a puppy. It did it a third time, which allowed me to reassure myself that’s exactly what I was hearing.
How strange, I thought, and then realized that there must be a nest of young ones nearby, not yet able to fly away to safety. I was pretty sure I knew where it was — to my left, behind a log and near the point I had seen all the adults fly away from. I was very tempted to walk over and take a look, but the pitiful display of this lone grouse made me hesitate and ultimately change my mind. It had intentionally stayed behind when the others flew away to sacrifice itself to this strange, upright predator. It drew attention to itself with its cries and movement, making sure I could both see and hear it, the pathetic whimper as if to say “eat me, I’m weak and defenseless — an easy meal.” I just couldn’t satisfy my curiosity — to find the nest and see the little ones — after what this adult bird had done for its young.
But not just for its young; for all the young that were in nests nearby. I knew from the number of adults that there must be at least three nests, and this one stayed behind to save the young of them all. You know, all around the world we see incredible acts of sacrifice by people for their children, but not as often for others’ children. I, for one, had never seen such a display first hand, of an animal so willing to die that it would call out to the predator to ensure its strategy of misdirection and ultimately, its sacrifice, would be successful.
There is not much I can say. It was humbling. That grouse showed intelligence, compassion and courage. And it’s just a bird, with a brain no larger than half a walnut. I guess courage, compassion and intelligence don’t have anything to do with brain size, but it does make me wonder if I have been letting myself off easy, not demanding much of myself lately. My idea of an act of courage these days is to go into a crowded room where I don’t know anyone. Compassion consists of smiling respectfully at strangers, whatever state they are in (i.e. sober or not, poor or not), and my intelligence has been primarily engaged in knitting and dreaming up floor plans for tiny houses. I think it might be time for another challenge. I think it might be time for an extreme compassion adventure! It might even be time for a sacrifice, and damn it, I had better not complain, because I’m pretty sure I won’t be whimpering on the ground, hoping the predator will eat me instead of the children nearby. Wow.
My Superpower August 28, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
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For this special blog post where I reveal my superpower, I thought I’d make an audio recording — sort of a mini-podcast. Enjoy!
Duration: 4:00 minutes
*If you are on a slow connection, you may also choose to read the post instead, here.*