Best Friends Day? Hmmm … I Don’t Have One.

I just read that today is “Best Friends” Day. Who knew? I guess we all need something to celebrate every day so why not?

Except I do not know exactly who I should celebrate on this auspicious occasion. Because I do not have a best friend.

Now before you go feeling all sorry for me, hear me out. I have lots of friends. Lots and lots. Sometimes I have a difficult time keeping track of all my friends, remembering their birthdays (thank you Facebook!), keeping up with their lives, making time to get together and just, you know, doing the “friend thing” to the best of my ability. Sometimes I’m busy, sometimes I’m lazy and sometimes I’m in full-on cocoon mode and have no interest in socializing. Sometimes I feel guilty and sometimes I feel lucky but I never ever feel like I am lacking in the friend department.

But this “best friend” thing? How do you choose?

When I was a kid I always had a bestie. It was part of growing up, I reckon, having that one special person always in your corner, always with your back, always there to share all your secrets and all your dreams and all your popsicles. I think it wasn’t until my later high school years that I abandoned the bestie concept and adopted many friends, from many groups, for many reasons. I had a best drinking buddy. A best theatre pal. A best cottage crony. A best musical mate. All different people and all “best” at what they brought to my table. I no longer insisted that one and only one person fulfill all my needs. I created a village.

When my son was about 14 he asked me who my best friend was. He knew there were lots of special women (and a few men) in my life. He had seen me interact with them countless times. He understood that some went back decades and some only years and he was flummoxed. He couldn’t figure out which one was “best”. And he needed to know.

“I don’t have a best friend,” I answered. “I have lots of friends.”

“But one of them must be your best friend,” he countered. “One of them must be your favourite, right?”

Nope.

Because much like in a village, every friend performs a particular role. Every friend brings a unique talent to my world. A special perspective, a singular skill-set, an exclusive energy that I desire and appreciate and DO NOT RATE.

And that’s what my son’s 14 year old brain couldn’t comprehend. He could not contemplate a scenario when putting things in their proper order wasn’t necessary. Rank your pals, mama! Know their worth! Anoint someone #1!

Again. Nope.

I had no need to do that at the end of high school, I had no need to do that when my kid was a teenager and I still have no need to do that. There is no “best”. There is only “best for that moment” or “best for that purpose”.

When I need to dig deeper than I want to but know I need to, I go to J. If I needed someone to save my life or at the very least get me to the hospital, C would be my first call. If I need to fill my soul with music and poetry, I will always beckon S. If I need beautiful sisterhood in close proximity, M is my girl. If I want sass and spunk coupled with insightful spirit, nobody beats T. If I want history and all the glorious wisdom that comes with it, I’ve got another T and A and H and F. The list goes on and on and I am overflowing with gratitude for it.

Sometimes it also goes the other way. Sometimes I am the one who is needed. And I gladly show up because those friendships are every bit as important.

I know women who purport that their mate is their best friend. I love my mate but no, he is not. Neither is my sister, my son or my dog. They are all awesome. There just really and truly is no best.

This past week a dear old friend of mine lost her best friend. And my heart breaks for her. I can acknowledge and appreciate their special bond and I can empathize with her pain and I can mourn her loss profoundly. They were twin spirits. And now she is one.

In my own sphere there are so very many whose loss would devastate me. I guess that makes me blessed. To love and be loved by so many? Lucky me.

Most of the special people I thought were twin spirits have come … and gone. Perhaps that is why I no longer subscribe to the bestie thing? Maybe it has let me down once too often?

Nope.

I go back to the village thing. I’m a girl who needs a village. Call me greedy or call me flighty. You can even call my crazy. I personally think I am quite clever. I have figured out what I need and I have created it. With the help of an entire village of beautiful, loving, caring, special, unique, incredible souls.

My village.

You are ALL my best friends. So thank you, each and every one. My heart is filled with gratitude and love.

Happy “It Takes A Village” Day! Thank you for being in mine.

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How Often Do You Mountain A Molehill?

One of the great beauties of getting older (and there are many) is that through all that living we end up with so many experiences to look back on … and learn from. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Some experiences are just meant to be enjoyed. Or endured. But many are suppose to teach us a lesson. Give us a takeaway. So that we don’t, you know, make the same mistake over again. And again. And again.

Wouldn’t want to do that. Nope.

But have you ever looked back on an enterprise, one that you thought (at the time) was monumental, life-changing, earth-shattering blah blah and realize (with all your new-found maturity) that it was just a blip? Just a teensy blip on the grand radar screen of your life.

It’s so difficult to recognize those blips when we are in the middle of living them because when we are in the middle of living them they can become all-consuming. Or at the very least somewhat distracting. And so we decide the blip is really a BIG DEAL. Until we come out the other side, shaking our heads and wondering … what the hell just happened? And why the hell did I get so all-fired up about a blip when the grand radar screen of my life is so much more engaging?

Years ago, my long-married friend H engaged in an online flirtation with a man she met in one of those chat rooms. It was thrilling and duplicitous (which made it even more thrilling) and at times she quite seriously questioned if her marriage could go the distance, knowing now as she did that excitement and passion could still beckon. There were many sleepless nights. Many heartfelt bordering on poetic emails. Many tears at my kitchen table. And then a few more sleepless nights until she woke up and remembered that anything new and mysterious is typically more thrilling than something old and familiar. And yet with old and familiar also comes history, trust, truth and dare I say … contentment. She realized pretty damn quick that what she had built with her husband was worth fighting for, not abandoning for … a blip. That online dude was a blip. A wake-up call, yes. But in the grand scheme of her life, merely a blip. Sure, for a few distraught months she mountained the hell out of that molehill. Thankfully she was eventually able to slot it back into teensy-blip-land, where it now remains a teensy episode in her marital saga.

Then there’s my other pal P. P actually did engage in an extra-marital dalliance. The reasons why are many and also immaterial. She ultimately decided to leave her husband and NOT because of said dalliance. After months of beating herself up over her cheating heart (other body parts were also involved) she realized that the affair was merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. A problem that would not be solved by replacing it with another problem. So she ditched both guys and set off on a new solo journey, all the while berating herself for breaking her vows.

Sorry, good Christians. I call BLIP.

Many years (and a new happy relationship later) that extracurricular activity was just a blip. Another wake-up call, yes, but just a teensy blip in the grand scheme of her life. There really was no need to turn into anything more than it was; a half-hour sitcom, not a sweeping epic a la Gone With The Wind.

I have many more examples of people in my orbit turning molehills into mountains. My son does it all the time but really, who can blame him? When you’re in your 20s everything seems monumental. I have friends (and ex-friends) who do it all the time because they either A) have no long-range vision or B) they thrive on drama. And I also know many people who look back on their lives and wonder why the heck they wasted so much time on a fucking blip when the big fat fabulous grand radar screen of their life was beeping. Quietly. Resolutely. Ever-beeping, reminding them that blips are just blips and molehills are not mountains.

I will admit now that I am a full-fledged molehill mountaineer. I have mountained SO many molehills in my time they’re naming one after me. Mount Neverest.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I have turned blips into boulders before my morning coffee and I have sensationalized smidgeons of sandy specks when I should have been sleeping. I am fully capable of magnifying a measly morsel until it becomes a monumental monster … in my own alleged mind.

Until I look back at those hills that used to be alive and recognize the range is gone. It no longer exists. It actually never did. Because what I thought was a mountain was in fact a molehill. And no matter how you dress it up a blip is still just a blip.

I recently found myself spending far too much time, emotional energy, intellectual creativity and just plain old thought on a friendship that, in the end, was unworthy. I am not saying here that the friendship itself was unworthy. I am saying that the amount of time etc. (blah blah) that I was spending on that friendship was undeserving. And when that hit me I started beating myself up for being a moron. I will tell you I can beat myself up over any number of things on a daily basis but the one thing I hate more than anything is being a MORON.

And then I stopped. Beating myself up (for the record I never blame the other person). Because I decided (and it is always our decision to make) that this relationship was just a BLIP. Just a tiny blip on the grand radar screen of my life. It is what it is, it was what it was, it may even be what it will be … but right now TODAY I’m calling it a blip.

My life has been huge and full and I’m hoping there is much more huge and full to come. In hindsight I now know that so many what I thought were mountains were really just molehills. I can only hope that this hard-won knowledge won’t be quite so hard-won in the future. The good news is – this most recent experience no longer has a hold on me. I can let it go. Set it free. Banish it from my brain and move forward. I do not regret it, I do not long for it and I do not blame myself for its inception or its demise.

It was just a blip.

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Motherless Mother’s Day … and Passing The Torch.

This Sunday I will experience my first ever Mother’s Day without my mama. I am not sad. Perhaps a bit wistful but I recognize daily how fortunate I am. And was. My mother lived to 93. I got more than most. And when she departed she was ready to fly.

What more could you ask for?

Now just because I’m not despairing doesn’t mean her absence doesn’t catch me up on occasion. Like this past Easter when we were hosting the family dinner and I ventured into the garage to grab something, noticed my beloved’s car and thought “He’ll have to move that before the family arrives so that my mother can use the steps …”

And then I stopped. And shook my head. And fought back a tear. You see, we had installed a special hand rail to help her up the two steps from the garage into the house. And she would no longer be needing it.

You know how I just said I wasn’t sad? I’m going to have to take that back for a moment.

Yes, my new reality is it will be a Motherless Mother’s Day this Sunday. But then again, perhaps not? Because as it turns out … I am also a mother. And I will be ecstatic to celebrate that status this weekend. It wasn’t exactly easily won. I had three miscarriages before Sam finally stuck. And for that I am actually, weirdly, grateful. Because Sam is the one I was waiting for. He is the one who made motherhood (not my most natural calling, truth be told) make sense to me. He is the child I was meant to raise.

Why?

Allow me to sidestep for a moment (Who me? Never done that before.). Sam is a singer/songwriter whose debut label EP will drop sometime (please God!) this year. This morning I was privileged to hear the final mixes of the 7 songs. I have been privy to this process all along so I know these tunes inside and out but to finally hear the end result – what you will hear when you download or stream the EP – was thrilling beyond belief. And then to remember that most of these brilliant lyrics (and trust me, he is a brilliant lyricist) are his – I was overcome with gratitude. To my mother. Because that which she instilled in me, I somehow managed to pass along to my son.

English was my father’s third language, and even though he didn’t begin to learn it until his third decade he became an accomplished author, journal founder, editor and academic. But English was my mother’s first language. And her love of its every nuance, structure, cadence and idiom shaped her very existence. Words were her thing! She wrote essays and poems until her dying day. Literally – she wrote her own homily. She translated novels and stories from their original German, always fastidiously maintaining the colour and tone of the original. She read voraciously, she scribbled incessantly and … she even wrote her memoirs just so that my sister and I could have a true and beautiful sense of her early life … and ours.

And she passed all of this along to me. She was always willing to read anything I wrote. I was recently bequeathed a hardcover journal which I gave her when I was maybe 25? Chock-full of handwritten poems, musings and lyrics that I had composed over the previous ten years. She had kept this and treasured it until her death. I used to write a newspaper column for the Hamilton Spec and not only did she keep every single one, she put them in a scrapbook. She kept every single letter I wrote when I was on the road with my bands and she read both novels I have written and every single blog. You share way too much, Vickie” she would admonish. “But you are a very good writer.” There was no one whose praise I valued more. I was so honoured (and now grateful) that she kept everything.

Much like I have kept every demo of every song and every version of every demo of every song even if this means that my computer in now full to needing an external hard drive of everything that Sam has ever written ever in the history of ever. I mean it. EVERYTHING. Somebody better do a documentary about that kid one day because I’ve got it all here just waiting.

Because that’s what we “word” mothers do. We catalog and keep and cherish and love every beautiful morsel our child constructs. Partly just so we have it. Mostly because we are in awe that the wailing, barfy, poopy-diapered banshee who refused to let us sleep for the fist 14 years (is that just me?) of his life has somehow blossomed into a soulful, sensitive, expressive wordsmith. A true poet. A scribe for the ages. That’s my boy.

So this Sunday I will celebrate my mother with a toast to the heavens. And I will celebrate my own motherhood with heartfelt gratitude to those same heavens … the ones that knew what they were doing and gifted me with Sam. The ones that guided me along the path to guiding him and hopefully nurturing his special gift to this upcoming fruition.

My mother’s was Sam’s biggest fan (if you remove me from the equation). She truly loved to read his words and hear him sing them. And so a few weeks before her death, on one of the last days she got out of bed for any length of time, he and I visited her and he sang for her. The song he had written for her.

It’s called “Mother Of My Mother”.

The torch has been passed. And will still blaze brightly this Sunday.

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What Is The Perfect Relationship?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. I mean A LOT. Like more than my usual boatload. Not really sure why? Have I ever told you what the three most important things in life are (in my ever so humble opinion) – relationships, relationships and relationships. I’m not just talking about romantic attachments or family alliances either. I’m talking about how we connect with everyone who crosses our path. Friends, colleagues, fellow hobbyists, blood family, adopted family, neighbours and lovers.

And so I got to wondering, if you could only pick one, what would you name as the single most important aspect to a successful relationship? What is that one special thing you yourself could bring to every relationship; that secret (or not) ingredient that would propel the mix to fruitful and rewarding heights.

For some it may be passion. Not just sexual passion but that joyful intensity one might bring to the arts, sport or vacationing.

For some it might be intellectual harmony. It’s pretty hard to have a thriving union when you’re either way smarter or way stupider than your partner.

For some it might be emotional compatibility. If Johnny’s empathetic sensibilities are securely locked away while Mary revels in daily discourse about how she feels, I fear their prospects of flourishing together are fairly slim.

Then what about commonality? I remember my parents counseling me back when I was in my 20s, advising that a similar background and lifestyle would greatly benefit my choice of a life partner. I found out the hard way they were right. I was dating a guy at the time whose family reckoned Christmas Day was an optimal occasion to inflict full-out psychological warfare on each other. I had never in my 28 years experienced a Christmas Day that wasn’t loving and joyful (or at the very least loving and calm) and I can tell you this new “normal” shocked the hell out of me. Needless to say, the guy and I did not last.

And then there’s everybody’s favourite – the ability to compromise. The hardest damn thing to do for sure since far too many of us are more interested in winning the battle than the war. We allow Pride to dictate our intentions, Stubbornness to influence our actions and eventually Hubris to win the day.

So I’m looking at all these elements and they are all vital and viable and I’m still not seeing the ONE big thing that is the key.

Until I do.

You see, when it comes to relationships I think the one thing I am sure we are ALL guilty of is this: WE HAVE AN AGENDA.

Yep. There’s always a desired end-game that leverages every thing we say, every thing we do, every thought we share and every secret we keep. We want something from this relationship, damnit, so we are fully prepared to play our part with award-winning flair to win whatever prize we have conjured.

Case in point: years ago after sustaining my big fat broken heart, I met (online) a lovely man in … Vancouver (why make things simple?). After much communication we decided to meet and explore possibilities. The big difference between J and me was that he decided to meet me and explore possibilities. I, on the other hand, had already (subconsciously) composed the Disney ending. We would meet, fall in love, I would move to Vancouver (already in love with that magnificent city) and we would live happily ever after.

We did meet and sure as shooting fell in lust. And we had fun. And adventures. And stimulating conversations. So I figured we must be in love.

Except we were not. And he knew it.

So there I was going all Disney and he kept trying to reign me in, saying “Vickie, can’t you just live in the moment? In the reality of the moment? Why isn’t that enough for you? Why are you so insistent on painting this picture that actually doesn’t exist? What is so very wrong with living the picture that does, even if it isn’t in technicolor?””

Yeah, thanks. Good questions, J. Where the hell were you when I was growing up with Cinderella and Snow White?

So now, all these years later, I actually get it. I actually have learned (the hard way) that the best relationships are the ones that you are in exactly as they are. The ones where you have no agenda and no pre-planned conclusion. The ones where you always tell the truth because you know you have nothing to lose or gain. The truth is the truth is the fucking truth (one of my favourite sayings). You’re never afraid of saying too much or too little or the wrong thing or even the right thing because guess what? The only thing there is, is the truth. And as long as you are checking in with that every day you truly can do no wrong. Your truth is your truth. You can own it with dignity and share it with confidence because it IS your truth.

I’ve lost a few “friendships” over these past years because apparently my truth did not fit someone else’s agenda. And believe me, each of these “friends” had an agenda. When I stopped fitting it, they stopped wanting me.

The beautiful thing, though, is that for every friendship I have lost, I have gained two. And these new friendships are born of my new reality; there is no agenda. I do not expect you to “act” a certain way or “be” a certain person or even “respond” to me as I might choose. I am simply curious to learn who you are and then curious to see where that knowledge takes us. Eyes wide open. Let the adventure begin.

I am so grateful for the teachers I have met along the way, and those I continue to meet. I’m also hoping that somewhere along that same way I may have imparted a lesson or two.

As for today’s takeaway – take a good close look at all of your relationships and decide if an agenda (on your part, you sure can’t control theirs) exists. And if it does, please banish it to the Disney Kingdom of Bullshit. Bu-bye. Try approaching that same relationship with no program. Just be honest. Speak your truth. Own your truth.

And then let the chips fall where they may.

Doesn’t that sound exciting?

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How Much Do You Deserve?

I’ve been having a bit of trouble sleeping lately. You know, so many thoughts, so little time. So many questions, so few immediate answers. So many aches, so little head.

Well, that’s not true. I actually have a big head. I mean physically I have a big fat German head. But thanks to a galloping horse (off of which I tumbled, onto my head) and a rogue Mack truck (which rear-ended the van in which I was seated, causing nasty whiplash amongst other things), my head sometimes aches beyond what Tylenol can handle. Weirdly, this works out quite well for all those thoughts and questions swirling about because if I can’t sleep I might as well contemplate, right? Or stew? Or just lie awake tossing and turning until the rooster crows?

Anyhoo … it all works out symbiotically for my head and my thoughts and I’m a little ~yawn~ tired in the morning.

So the most recent question has to do with that oh-so-tricky word “deserve”. I ask this because a friend of mine just told me that she “deserves” a vacation. Down south. On a beach. Palm tress and all that. Now, I just returned from such a holiday and it was delightful and I sure did love most every moment of it. But did I ever even in my drunkenest revelry believe that I “deserved” that holiday?

Of course not. I don’t even know what a person would have to do to actually deserve a southern sojourn. Work more hours then everyone else? Work smarter than everyone else? Win the lottery or inherit money? What if you haven’t ever had a beachy blast? Do you then deserve it, because by golly it’s got to be your turn?

I’ve traveled more than most and certainly enjoyed many lovely vacations. Beaches. Sunsets. Margaritas. Now, here’s the thing. Should I be feeling guilty because I know a lot of people who have never ventured south? Or only twice? Or not since their honeymoon? When exactly will I know what I deserve and what they don’t? And how exactly will I know it?

This past January my beloved and I jetted to England to visit family. Not really the best time to travel but the price was right and we were long overdue. The day before we flew one of my very sweet friends said “Have a great time … you deserve it.”

And I thought “I do?” Hmmm. What exactly have I done to deserve this holiday and that great time? Did I spend last year volunteering at the blood bank and feeding the homeless? Did I donate thousands to charity? Was I nice enough to my mother? What exactly prompted my pal to tell me that I deserved more rewards?

See what I mean. “Deserve” is a very tricky word.

I once read a quote (and wrote a blog about it here) – “When you settle for less than you deserve, you end up with less than you settled for.”

That one I like, and I think I understand. At that time I was in a relationship that wasn’t exactly going as planned (do they ever?). And the more that that pesky man removed from my table, the harder I struggled to maintain my seat. It was (for me) a lose/lose situation. And that quote (thankfully) was the giant wake-up call I needed. Because the less HE could get away with, the less HE offered. And the less I accepted, figuring in my heartbroken, semi-abandoned state that any crumb was better than starvation.

Pardon me while I throw up.

I do not, will not, can not live in that Victim-land anymore. All you got is crumbs? Well baby, look at all those other restaurants! I deserve a full meal and damnit I’m going to go get it.

I believe that. I believe with all my heart that we ALL deserve to be sated. By relationships. Relationships that we choose. And that’s the kicker. Because WE choose our relationships and then WE decide if they are providing enough of what we DESERVE for us to stay in them. THAT is when “deserve”makes sense to me.

I’d really like a horse. Or a sports car. Yes, neither of my early misfortunes turned me off riding or driving. The question begs – do I deserve a horse? Or a Mercedes 450SL (is that too specific?).

Of course not. I guess if I worked really hard and made tons of money and did good deeds and paid off all my debts, THEN I could go purchase that pony. Even then – would I deserve it?

No.

No more than my single-mom friend supporting two sons on one income deserves her dream month in Italy. I may have earned it. In the way that I do hope one day she (or her kids) earn her Italy vacation (and she takes me with her). But just because she has sacrificed TONS for her kids, does she now deserve something special?

Again. No.

Because that’s just part of the job description. Sacrificing for your offspring. It’s what we parents sign up for. And once you’ve signed up, well damnit get ready for the long haul. With gratitude.

So why does my friend believe she deserves a holiday?

All I can come up with is this – we have become a society built on quick fixes. Instant gratification. Addiction and relief. Right fucking now, thank you very much. We have also become a nation of expert rationalizers. My son took a little holiday earlier this year and literally told me that he couldn’t afford NOT to go. Yep, it was such a bargain he couldn’t afford not to go.

Okaaaaaaaaaay.

Apparently my friend also can’t afford not to go. Her overall financial situation isn’t much better than my kid’s but … she deserves it. She has sacrificed oodles and now she deserves it.

Okaaaaaaaaaaay.

My feeling is that if WE feel compelled to publicize what WE think we deserve, then we most likely deserve far less than we assume. I am a huge believer in the Universe and Energy and Karma. What goes around comes around, what you give you get – all those platitudes became platitudes for a reason. As soon as you feel the urge to rationalize ANY decision you have made, all bets are off.

Because (in my humble opinion) IF you truly deserved whatever it is you think you deserve, that need to rationalize wouldn’t exist. You would just quietly go about your business not giving a Kentucky fuck about what anybody thinks.

And maybe, just maybe, that tricky word “deserve” would never even show up? Maybe you would just allow the Universe to decide what you deserve and be grateful for those blessings whenever they arrive? Maybe you would allow Energy to determine what rewards you shall reap, based on what you have altruistically sewn? And maybe Karma isn’t actually a bitch after all, but a loving, rewarding Goddess, more than ready to treat you to a palm tree or two?

Maybe.

I probably have a few hours tonight to dwell on this further so feel free to ask me in the morning.

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Are You A Traveling Fool or A Traveling FOOL?

I recently returned from a lovely one week stay on the island of Roatan. Well, actually one week and one extra day and we’ll get to that in a moment. Just in case you’re wondering about Roatan (most people do) it’s an island off the coast of Honduras. Home to the second biggest coral reef on this planet. And therefore a (relatively) new hotspot not only for sun-seekers but especially for divers and snorkelers pursuing an exquisite aquatic experience.

We lucked into an incredible week. Loads of sunshine every day, calm waters for fish-viewing, a first-rate dive operation for my beloved, new friends and restaurants and a charming villa overlooking the pool for us to enjoy. The sunsets were spectacular. The beach walks (for me) restorative. The people friendly and helpful.

On our first morning I sustained a nasty burn to the bottom of my foot. In hindsight I reckon I stepped (barefoot) onto an exposed nail head on the wooden pool deck. My sole literally sizzled (sounds like a song). Naturally this injury turned into a blister which most definitely impeded my enjoyment of that beach walk twice a day. Ouch.

On evening 3 we dined at a gorgeous garden cafe which came highly recommended. With good reason. The food was divine and the puppies meandering about a welcome delight. The mosquitoes also meandering (with menace) well … maybe not so much. The next morning I realized that both my legs had provided quite the feast for those hungry mites. I counted upwards of 20 bites, soon to itch like crazy and then fester and ooze. Fun, right?

I was very diligent about sunscreen and shade so even though my beloved (Mr. Un-Diligent) sustained his first-ever sunburn, I survived that flame unscathed. Poor baby him. Welcome to the real world. He also suffered with an ear issue which kiboshed diving for 2 days until he finally believed me when I said it’s probably just wax stuck to your eardrum and we syringed that beast outta there. Voila – he was cured and back on the boat.

And then came departure day. After a full 7 days of glorious sunshine, our final morning dawned wet and wild. I’m talking about non-stop torrential rain, high winds, crashing waves and general bedlam. Whilst all the while, back home in Ontario, the winter’s nastiest ice storm had pretty much shut down the province. We ended up sitting in the tiny (and I mean really tiny – only 3 gates, all in the same room, no bar and just one kiosk for refreshments and only 1 usually malfunctioning bathroom) airport for the entire day. We were given very little information (aircraft rotation problem?) and one $15 food voucher. The WiFi was so overloaded it worked only sporadically and the place was so jam-packed people had to sit on the floor.

So why am I telling you all of this?

I am telling you all of this because I am a traveling fool. I love to travel. I love to see the world. I love to discover new places and I also love to return to places that I, well, love. I like airplane food, I like getting tipsy in an airport bar, I love the smell of jet fuel and I love the excitement of a new adventure. And so every time I am blessed with another opportunity to indulge my wanderlust I remind myself that this is a privilege. A bonus. A gift. An opportunity to enjoy what many do not. I am LUCKY!!!

So what about those traveling FOOLS? I’m sure, if you have traveled only once, you know who I mean. They are at the airport complaining because the plane needs to be de-iced. They are on the plane complaining that a baby (or two) is wailing. They have to wait too long for their luggage. Their room isn’t big enough or cool enough or beachfront enough, you can’t get a latte in the restaurant, the bed is too hard, the eggs are too soft and it’s raining. Blah blah blah.

Now, I’m not saying we don’t have a right to speak up when we’ve paid good money in good faith for certain things. Even luxuries. We do and we should … IF we truly have been slighted.

What I am suggesting is that we sit back, take a few breaths, maybe listen to some music in our headphones and remind ourselves how fucking lucky we are. To travel. To see. To experience. To taste. To seek … and enjoy.

My friend L is a seasoned traveler and lover of exceptional experiences. As we languished in that Roatan airport and my random Facebook transmissions actually hit their mark, she suggested we might take our leave of the airport and wait out the endless delay at an airport hotel. In the bar. With wine.

Fair enough. Except there are no airport hotels in Roatan. We are talking third-world country quite new to the tourist trade. Trust me, it is SO worth visiting but don’t expect Cancun.

Her response made me chuckle. And then I closed my eyes, shifted uncomfortably in my hard plastic seat, turned my music back on and played another game of Scrabble against my iPad. My ass had been in that same hard plastic chair for over 7 hours. I had already played 37 games of Scrabble. And even though I do have enough padding to support that physical discomfort I was more than ready for either a cramped flight home or a beach bar and bed.

The beach bar eventually won. We all got shipped back to West Bay (best beach on the island) and one more night on stormy Roatan. It was a lot of driving over bumpy, pot-holed roads. It was two nondescript buffet meals at a nondescript all-inclusive. Another night in a foreign bed and another wait the following day at the fabulous Roatan airport. Before we finally got to board the plane in the pouring rain. Have you ever sat on a plane for over 4 hours soaking wet?

You know what I say?

I say ALL GOOD. All part of the adventure. ALL part of the great fortune of my life that I GET TO TRAVEL!

How lucky am I?

Well … 24 hours after we returned I developed the worst cast of “traveler’s tummy” (in the olden days they called it Montezuma’s Revenge) I have ever experienced. I was really, really sick with fever, chills and, well, you know. On the bright side it was an unintentional cleanse that helped me lose whatever weight I may have gained on vacation and then some. On the not-so-bright side it was just plain horrible. But you know what?

I am still not complaining. Nor will I. I will sing Roatan’s praises to any who will listen. I will gaze upon my holiday photos with delight. I will cherish the memories for as long as they burn brightly in my brain. And I will give thanks to the Universe, daily, for the gift of travel.

Because I am a traveling fool. A fool who loves to travel. But I am no traveling FOOL. I will never take my journeys for granted and I will never assume my adventures OWE me anything. They are MY adventures, to make or break as I see fit. And with them come the good, the bad and even the ugly. And even the ugly is only as ugly as I choose to define it.

My foot has pretty much healed. My bites are just teensy little scars now. The Roatan airport is a distant memory surpassed by the memory of all those spectacular sunsets. And my belly is … getting better.

You know what? In a month or two I will be more than ready to travel again. The planet beckons. I love that the planet continually beckons. So many destinations, so little time. So beckon away, dear planet.

It is up to me to decide exactly HOW to heed that call.

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Love: Why Your Choice May Be Destined To NOT Work (and there’s a quiz!)

Many years ago I read a book by Helen Fisher called Why Him, Why Her. This very clever woman created a questionnaire which allows you to determine if you are a Director or a Negotiator (one category) and if you are an Explorer or a Builder (the other). These “types” are all based on scientific evidence. As in brain research. You know, the study of neuro-somethings and chemical-something-elses. Okay, let’s establish right here and now that science was never really my forte.

The Explorer expresses traits primarily linked with the dopamine system.

The Builder expresses traits primarily linked with the serotonin system.

The Director expresses traits primarily linked with the testosterone system.

The Negotiator expresses traits primarily linked with the estrogen system.

Naturally, we all demonstrate aspects of ALL of the above but, much like the Love Languages that Gary Chapman identified, we all have “signature” traits that ultimately define who we are and what mate will be best suited to us.

What’s interesting here, though, is that “like” does not necessarily equal “like”. For instance, if you are a Builder, someone who likes to nest, create calm, stay put, harmonious and somehow storm-less, you will not abide well with an Explorer. By very definition we Explorers (yes, I am one) crave adventure. Excitement. Change. Even danger, peril and potential jeopardy. We want all of that and then some and we are usually willing to risk boat-loads to get it. Not that Builder, though. That Builder is content to stay home, you know, building. The slow, methodical (often quite successful) way. Getting things done. At home. Without much risk. Serenity being the goal, and all.

But then we get to Directors and Negotiators. Those Directors are “Get it done!” kind of people. Linear thinkers. Go for the goal and damn the torpedoes! Leaders of men and doers of great deeds! Nothing gets in the way of a confirmed Director. They are take-charge soldiers. Now, that’s not to say that they are only take-charge soldiers, lacking depth or soul or heart or any of those other human attributes than some of us find fetching. It just means they’ve got it (whatever it is) figured out and they are now going to achieve it. Whatever it is.

Then there are The Negotiators. My people. We’re not so much concerned with getting there than we are with how are we going to get there and how is everybody going to feel when we get there and what can I do on the way to make sure that everybody is feeling as good as they possibly can and by the way, how exactly are YOU feeling at this moment reading all of this?

Yep. We are the emotional care-givers of the world. The ones who move this and shift that and give up a bit of this so that a bit of that will have more room to flourish and we do this every single day. Gladly. We negotiate our path through life with perhaps a more pliable set of regulations because we understand that every encounter is just another negotiation. And if we can figure it out with diplomacy and understanding, WE can solve the problems of the world!

Yes, we are that awesome. Or so we think.

But … can you imagine two Negotiators together? Or two Directors, for that matter. The Directors would be fighting constantly for supremacy and the Negotiators would be locked in endless arbitration. Stalemate.

When I was married, everybody thought we were a fabulous match. Sure, we were different (me = outgoing, he = reserved) but still, a great match. Except for this:

My ex is a Director and I am a Negotiator. Yay us!

BUT …

My ex is a Builder. And I am an Explorer.

And when Dopamine challenges Serotonin guess who is staying awake tonight, churning and imploding? Serotonin never stands a chance.

I think we all choose our mates for a million different reasons. Lifestyle. History. Sex appeal. Sense of humour. Timing. Even opposites attracting.

Maybe now we know why opposites attract? On some levels, there has to be common ground. But common ground can never be enough if one of you wants to plant trees and the other wants to explore The Himalaya. Hey, if one of you wants to win the Nobel Prize and the other wants to take care of her girlfriends, it might just fly. But I can assure you, if the Explorer starts getting antsy and the Builder just keeps planting trees (nothing wrong with that, by the way), it’s never going to work. Not in the long run.

If you want to take the test – find it here: Helen Fisher’s Personality Test – The Anatomy Of Love

It won’t take too long and is well worth the effort.

My beloved just did it. When we got together everyone said it wouldn’t last. They all said it was a classic case of “opposites attracting”.

Indeed.

Turns out he is a Director/Explorer. I am a Negotiator/Explorer. We are truly opposite. And yet … the same.

There is hope. And now we know why.

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