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Prairie girl with a west coast future.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Turning 29 or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Moment

So, I'm officially one year from 30. One year away from being halfway to 60. And I think I found my first grey hair. But I quickly buried it beneath my other hair, as to keep it from glinting under the harsh overhead lighting.

Honestly, I don't feel much different. I look at myself in the mirror and still see myself as a high school student, as a university student, and as someone still in their early 20s. I haven't quite acknowledged that I'm supposed to be an adult.

I mean, I go to work, Monday to Friday, and work a responsible job, just like a grown up, but I often don't feel like I really belong in that world.

Part of it is my constant, forever longing to go back to school. Nothing would make me happier than to be a full time student, fully engaged in learning and challenging my brain.

The one way that I know I'm growing up is that the "worry wrinkle" in my forehead is constantly engaged. I worry about money, about my future, about my loved ones, etc. I have a laundry list of things that concern me, and these are things that I didn't really give much thought to earlier in my life.

I try to live more in the moment, but I seem to be firmly entrenched in my own future, thinking and thinking and spending so much energy on wondering how things will turn out, that I forget to pay attention to the way things are now.

I'm trying, as part of my "29th year resolution", to centre myself more. To be more present and to stop either dwelling in the past, or fixating on the future. I'm going to try and

I'm sure my limited brain space could be better used. For instance, I have several novels half started, but none put to paper. And that needs to change. And the only way for me to really tap into my creative potential, is to stop worrying.

That's way easier said than done, as worrying has become a habit, and habits are hard to break (just ask me how many times I've failed to stop biting my nails...)

But I really want to stop spending time fixating on things I either cannot change or that are beyond my immediate control. These things aren't worth the prime real estate they're taking up in my brain.

Instead, I want to channel all that nervous energy into writing. If I was half as productive at writing as I am at worrying, I'd be a best selling author by now.

So that's what this 29th year will be. It will be a year of learning how to stop worrying and live in the present. It will be a year of re-directing my energy and a year of living in the moment.

And if my 29th year also turns into the year that I write my novel and find my path, then I'm not complaining.

But I'm not going to worry about it.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Eeep. It's been a good long while since I've last blogged (sorry mom!), so I thought I would remedy that situation this morning.

Please excuse any tangential ramblings and other nonsense - I'm functioning at about 67% capacity right now, due to lack of sleep.

But, that lack of sleep was for a good reason.

Adam and I traveled "overseas" to Victoria on Saturday and returned early (VERY EARLY) Sunday morning.

Why the short trip? We went to surprise my mom and help her celebrate her birthday in style.

Dad first approached me with this idea one hot day in July when I was visiting Nanoose Bay. I believe I was basking in the early morning sun like a lizard when he approached, all sly-like.

He told me that this birthday was a big one for mom and he told me, very earnestly, that he wanted to make this year's celebration truly memorable.

As I've hinted to before, my family has been braving some figurative storms for a while now, and dad told me that he wanted this trip to be a nice and welcome distraction for the whole family. He wanted us to concentrate on love and family and togetherness, and not on the negatives that have been at the forefront for far too long.

And, so, as the months progressed in their steady march towards the fall, dad's plans began to take shape.

He planned a trip to Victoria for himself and mom, including reservations for dinner at a very chic restaurant and an overnight stay in a beautiful hotel suite.

He also arranged animal care for the dog and cat - all behind mom's back.

Meanwhile, as the day approached, Mike, Adam and I all fostered and perfected our excuses as to what we were doing that weekend. We figured that if the three of us invented complicated weekend plans, mom would be less suspicious that we had anything to do with dad's master plan.

Dad broke the news that mom and he would be going on a trip on her actual birthday (September 7). He gave her no more hints and I did my part by feigning surprise when mom called to tell me about dad's plan.

I talked to her on the eve of the surprise weekend and put my theatre degree to work.

"Do you know where you're going yet?" I asked mom, trying to gauge if she was cluing in to anything.

She responded in the negative and then asked what I was doing this weekend.

"Oh", I said, putting a tinge of sorrow and weariness into my voice, "I have to work. I have to go to Chilliwack and put on an investor education seminar". I think I played things up by sighing loudly at this point.

I then went on to weave my tragic tale about having to figure out directions to the Chilliwack Rotary club and having to do the presentation myself and telling mom that I was nervous, etc.

Adam was on the chair next to me smirking quite distractedly.

Truly, it was an award winning bit of lying.

And, with that, I told mom to have a good time and to call on Sunday and give me all the details about the trip.

I must admit that I was excited to hear that dad planned to take mom to Victoria. I love Victoria and will pretty much come up with any excuse to wander around that city.

I'm not sure if I would have been able to muster the same kind of enthusiasm if dad had been like "Hey! I'm surprising your mom with a trip to Winnipeg."

Victoria is my heart city. It lives in me and I feel more at home there than I do in Vancouver. I was proposed to there, I was married there, I have lived there and I hope to live there again in the not so distant future. But until then, I have to content myself with small trips to get my fill.

So Adam and I took off on a morning ferry and met up with a friend for lunch. After that, we drove leisurely through the different neighbourhoods of the city and basically reiterated to each other our great love for Victoria.

We stayed at the James Bay Inn, a purportedly haunted establishment that will be celebrating its centennial next year. I think I should demand a refund, as we didn't experience any other worldly visits that night. Not even any suspicious noises! It was a perfectly corporeal room.

We retired to our hotel room after lunch for a brief rest, where I subjected Adam to approximately an hour of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" television show. As evening drew closer we got ready to go and meet my parents and brother at Vista 18 atop the Chateau Victoria hotel.

The plan was that Mike, Adam and I would be at the table at 6:45 and be waiting there for when dad and mom arrived for their 7:00 reservation. There was a kink in these plans, as the table wasn't actually ready until well after 7:15. So we ended up surprising mom in the lobby of the restaurant, right near the elevators! But it still had the desired effect.

We all sat down in the bar area and our table was finally ready. But not before mom had made friends with approximately everyone in the restaurant. I think as she ages, mom just gets friendlier and friendlier. Next year, I'll probably have to keep her from giving out random hugs to strangers.

The meal was...amazing. We stuffed ourselves on fantastic food and mom peer pressured me into having two cocktails. Steph + cocktails = loud, inappropriate laughing.

After dinner, I gave mom her gifts. I had two wedding pictures printed out and framed. One of Adam and I (see below) and one of Mike and I. I also wrote her a wee poem.

As dinner wound down, I looked around and was struck by the realization that I was so lucky. Lucky to have such a wonderful family. Our family may be small, but we make up for it with the size of our hearts. I feel so safe with my family because I know that I'm kept buoyant by their love and support.

I wanted to crystallize that moment and hold it close to me forever, because it was just so indicative of the kindness that we all feel for one another. And how we could pull off this amazing present for mom, despite dealing with setbacks that might have pulled apart a lesser family.

I'm truly blessed to be part of the Butler clan.

Happy birthday, mom. I love you.