Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Let It Shine

Two weeks from now many of us will be putting our feet up and heaving a sigh of relief.  We'll be dining on leftovers from the big feast, enjoying the company of family and friends, and feeling grateful that all of the holiday hype is behind us.  

But is it?

Seems to me that no sooner has Christmas passed than we are inundated with advertising for 
weight loss and fitness programs 
(with the accompanying guilt inflicting messages about all those holiday treats we worked so hard to produce), 
credit counselling ads 
(to deal with the overspending encouraged by all that 
pre-Christmas marketing), 
and ads for tax preparation companies 
(because it's never to early to start worrying that the tax man cometh.)  


We'll read more than our fill of print and on line articles about New Year's resolutions.  

Some of us will even make a resolution or two, but most of us will just feel saddened by our lack of resolve.

No thank you.

I mean, seriously:  No. Thank you.

Let's take a good long look at where all this messaging originates:  

Marketing companies and advertising agencies have discovered that guilt sells.  If we are made to believe that we're less than what we should or could be, a market is created for products that promise to help us be better, be more, do more.  
If a need is perceived, they are certainly happy to fill it.

Don't get caught up in all that hype.  
You're wonderful just the way you are.
You are enough and do enough
- and even more than enough -
all the time.  

Every single one of  you does at least twelve 
remarkable things every single day.  

They may not seem remarkable to you because you do them all the time, but to the family you love, the friends you support, the children you encourage, and the community you serve, they make a huge difference. 

If you weren't there, you'd be missed terribly.  

For the first time in many years, I'm making a resolution.  

It's a simple one.  

I'm going to embrace positive thinking.  

Instead of listening to all that negative messaging, I'm going to focus on doing the things I do well, and on enjoying those things while I do them.

I'm going to be grateful for my friends and loved ones 
and I'm going to encourage them too,
by praising them for their positive actions and attributes.

It's simple, really.  

Happiness begins with me.  

I am enough.  

I'm going to let my little light shine.  

Hopefully it will brighten the days of those around me too.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Be The Good

image source:  The Blooming Homestead

You know how sometimes someone makes a passing remark in the course of a conversation and it just sticks with you?  That happened to me in the course of a conversation with my friend Jo last year.

Jo has Multiple Sclerosis and is on social services disability assistance (welfare), which provides her the princely sum of $625/month on which to live.  The rent on her bachelor suite apartment (one room and a bathroom) costs her $540/month.  

Jo earns an additional small sum each month by vacuuming the hallways of the apartment building in which she lives, and by helping to clean apartments when they've been vacated.  It's physically exhausting work for someone with her challenges but she's very grateful to have it.

By most standards, Jo is poor.  She lives very carefully and has no room at all in her budget for luxuries.  Every scrap of food she consumes is carefully planned for and nothing in her fridge ever goes to waste.  She drinks water most of the time because coffee and tea are too expensive.  Her clothes are purchased at thrift stores or found in the free store in her building's laundry room.  She walks everywhere because she can't afford to take the bus.

And yet Jo still finds the means to help others she considers less fortunate.

All year 'round, my friend Jo collects bottles and tins.  She picks up returnable containers she finds by the road when she's out on her walks.  She retrieves containers from the trash bins in public spaces in her building, and from the recycling dumpster in the parking lot.  If it can be returned for a deposit, she'll pick it up.  When she has a garbage bag full, she walks to the recycling depot and turns the containers in for money.

I thought that Jo used the money from her bottle returns to help stretch her meagre budget, but I was wrong.  She puts that money aside and then, when the cold weather comes, she walks to WalMart and uses it to buy the single-use heat packs they sell in the sports department. These plastic packets contain two chemicals that, when combined, generate heat.  The user applies pressure to break the packet's inner capsule and then tucks the packet inside gloves or boots to provide a few hours' warmth on a cold day.  Jo distributes them to homeless people in our town when she's out on her walks.

Jo doesn't talk about her gift to the homeless.  I found out about it quite by chance, because it was raining and I had the opportunity to offer her a ride to WalMart.  When she explained about the warmers I asked her "But shouldn't you be using that money to help make ends meet yourself?"

Her reply?

"As long as I can help someone less fortunate than myself, I am never truly poor."


Looking for ideas about how to make charitable gifts while on a budget?  Find them at A Word From Aunt B.

The sign in the title image was made by Marie, at Blooming Homestead.  You can find more images of the sign, together with information on how she made it at Thanks, Marie, for letting me use the image.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Super Hero Boots

My husband was born in 1939, near the beginning of the second world war, and grew up on a farm in Richmond, on BC's lower mainland, near the Fraser River.

Families in farming communities were better off than many during the war years.  Their farms provided them with food that city families couldn't access, but farm families were still challenged by rationing. Gasoline rations prevented them from traveling any distance, and there were limited supplies of everything from parts for repairing farm equipment to the shoes and clothing much needed by growing children. 

Despite the war time challenges his parents must have faced, my guy had a happy childhood.  He grew up with a pack of other farm kids, all in similar circumstances.  They ranged far and wide on their bicycles, fished in the river, built forts in the wooded areas at the edge of the peat bogs, and played together rough and tumble, like puppies.  

Except for one child.

Down the road there lived a little boy named Barry.  He was an only child, a surprise gift to his parents, a menopause baby who arrived almost thirty years into their marriage.  He was a tiny child, and developmentally delayed, but never was a boy more loved.  His parents cherished him, and the neighbourhood kids were very protective of him. 
Even back then, my husband was a great big guy - a boy's boy, bluff, loud, and popular with the other children -  and Barry idolized him.  He followed my guy everywhere, not really joining in the play but smiling from the side lines, and trailing along like a little shadow wherever the day might take him.  

Although the neighbourhood kids were protective of him, Barry endured a lot of bullying from other children at school.  His differences from the other kids became ever more apparent as he grew up - especially when Barry refused to relinquish gum boots.   

During the war years, pretty nearly every farm kid on the coast wore gum boots: black rubber boots with bright red soles.  They were often the only pair of footwear a child possessed.  They wore those boots from fall through early summer, rain or shine.  When it snowed, they wore their gum boots still, with layers of socks inside.  When the summer sun shone, they went barefoot. 

In the 1950's, people once again began to see new clothing and shoes. Farm boys accustomed to gum boots or bare feet suddenly had access to canvas high top running shoes, and wore leather dress shoes to church on Sunday. 

But Barry loved his gum boots and would wear no other foot wear.  

And, because of his gum boots, the bullying increased.  

My fella was often kept after school for engaging in fisticuffs in Barry's defense.

After a particularly difficult month at school, Barry fell sick and his parents kept him at home for quite some time.  My guy and his sister went to visit Barry and found him reluctant to return to school.  He had no understanding about why kids were being mean to him but he certainly knew that they were being unkind.  He didn't want to go back where the mean boys were.

My husband and his sister hatched a plan:  

They asked Barry's mom if they could borrow his gum boots, brought them home, and headed for the barn.  They opened all the cans of paint in their dad's workshop until they found a tin of red paint and another of yellow, and they painted lightning bolts on the sides of Barry's boots.

My fella's dad was not best pleased to find out the kids had been in his workshop without permission, but Barry was delighted with his embellished boots.  They were super hero boots that gave him special powers.  

Like all super heroes, Barry must keep his special powers secret but if the kids at school were being mean to him he could close his eyes and imagine that he was flying away to a secret hideout.  He could use his super powers to steal their voices, making them so quiet that no matter what they said he wouldn't hear them.  

The bullying continued.

My husband continued to be kept after school for defending Barry with his fists.

But Barry?

Barry was no longer afraid to go to school.


This has been a long story and I do thank you for reading to the end.  I hope you'll hang on just a little longer, because there's an epilogue:

Barry got a paper route as a teenager, and loved his job.  

His parents passed away when he was in his 20's, but they had appointed a trustee to watch over their boy.  

The farm was sold, except for a half acre and the house.  

Barry lived on in his childhood home, and the revenue from the sale of the farm helped to provide for his care.  

Barry continued on with his paper route, proud of his job and secure in the belief that he was doing something useful.

We returned to the neighbourhood for a visit in the early 1980's and came across Barry one day, delivering papers.  He was wearing a light blue leisure suit and a brand new pair of gum boots.

My fella stopped the car and asked him "Do you remember me?"

Barry's face lit up in a huge smile.  

"Look!," he exclaimed, "I have new boots...but they're not as nice as my super hero ones."

This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife.

Gallery of Favorites

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hope Is The Thing

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson

Hurricane Sandy has blown her way across the northeastern seaboard of the U.S. and is now carrying diminishing winds and a burden of snow into Canada’s eastern provinces.  She was a big girl, and an angry one, and has touched literally millions of lives. 

Whether in her path or not, we watched, transfixed, as she tantrumed her way along coasts and through cities. 

She frightened the dickens out of us.

Because the storm was so huge, and because it moved through such densely populated areas, it will be some time before a full accounting of the damage can be done.  For now, it’s enough for us to know that, in her travels through the Caribbean and through the US, she took more than 60 lives and destroyed billions of dollars worth of public and private property. 

My heart goes out to those affected, as, I’m sure, does yours.

I’m not saying anything new here, I know. 

Why, then, am I writing this?

Because when a disaster of this magnitude occurs, we become so overwhelmed by events that it’s easy to forget that there is always an element of hope. 

We humans are remarkable creatures.  We’ve survived and prospered in a large part due to the way we respond to disasters like this, for not only do we strive to rebuild but, in rebuilding, we almost always strive to make things better than they were.

Please don’t think that I’m minimizing the impact of this event:  I know it’s been catastrophic, and that millions of people are affected.  I know that things are looking awfully bleak for some of those people right now.  I know that it will take a long time and a Herculean effort to clean up the mess and begin putting things right. 

But it will happen.

When an event like this occurs, we discover our compassion for our fellow man, our determination to go on, and our optimism that things can be made better.

It’s true that it will cost years of effort and billions of dollars to put things right, but that effort also means years of meaningful employment for a great many people.  Those dollars, spent to repair and replace what the storm has damaged, will be paid in wages to workers in affected communities.  Those workers in their turn will spend their wages, and those wages spent may become the breath of life sorely needed by a choking economy.

Because we learn from events like this, engineers and scientists will be studying Sandy and the destruction she left behind her.  The new buildings, roads, and public structures that arise in the hurricane's path may well be stronger and of better design than the ones they are replacing. 

One day, folks will look back at the hurricane, and at the rebuilding time that came after it, and point with pride to their achievements.

It will happen. 

I’m holding on to the hope that thought provides. 
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife.

Gallery of Favorites

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Merry Hallowthanksmas?

Does anyone besides me feel like we're rushing the seasons these days?

I was seeing Christmas posts on Pinterest and on Facebook in July.  

August found me drowning in pumpkin..  Not just recipes either:  Heck! There was pumpkin everything on line, in magazines, and on those "how to" shows on TV.

Now that pumpkin time has actually arrived, food and craft blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook are awash with Christmas posts.  Christmas magazines fill the racks at the newsstands.  Papers are publishing articles on planning for the holidays.

I get it.  Really, I do.  

If you're going to make stuff yourself, you have to allow enough time to do the work, and that means planning ahead.

But Costco was selling Christmas ornaments in July, and the Sears Christmas Wish Book arrived at our door in August.  

Winners had Hallowe'en stuff in August but now that I might actually want some of it, 

there's not a Hallowe'en item in sight.  
(They do have some cute New Year's Eve items if you're looking for them.  ;)


Aren't we missing something with all this looking ahead?

In July and August, I was enjoying summer.  

You remember summer, don't you?  That season of warm weather, breezy clothing, and picnics that everyone was busy writing about last March?

In September I enjoyed watching yellow school buses drive by after a couple of months' absence. (July's back-to-school posts were but a distant memory.)  I made the most of the harvest, and spent some time preparing for Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October - six weeks earlier than American Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving posts written by forward-planning American bloggers started appearing in numbers around mid-September.  

For once I was enjoying seasonal posts during the actual season when I might use them!

Rejoicing was heard at my house.  

Now I'm thinking about Hallowe'en (wondering whether I should bake some Tim-Burton-inspired cupcakes and considering whether it's appropriate to wear some sort of Hallowe'en costume to work on the 31st) even while reading about Christmas decorations and festive recipes on line.

My point?

It's great to plan ahead - smart from both a time management point of view and in terms of budgeting for big events - but this unending stream of months-early holiday information and promotion can suck the joy out of things.

A little anticipation is a good thing, but too much is just...well...too much.

We all understand that when kids hear about Christmas from August 'til December, when they are subjected for months to marketing hype about Christmas toys, Christmas lights, Christmas food, and Christmas movies, Christmas day itself can seem anticlimactic.  

I find that sad.  

How on earth can any one day live up to the months of build up, promotion, and expectation we build around holidays, on line, in the media, and in our stores?  

It can't.  

Even for us grown ups.


By all means, look forward to the next big thing.  Have fun reading about it and being inspired by all the creative thinking out there.  Enjoy the shopping trips and the planning, 
and the food, and the sparkly stuff.  

Just don't forget to take time out from all that looking ahead to enjoy the good stuff that's happening now.  

Right this minute.  

Take a walk and look around you.  Feel the autumn air.  Enjoy the scenery. 

Look up from your Christmas magazines for long enough to appreciate how excited the kids are about trick or treating.

Don't miss the fun.  

It's right here.  Right now.

Image information: 
Cartoon by Jim Hunt, and used with his kind permission.  Jim has a website, Jim Hunt Illustration, on which he shares more of his wonderful work.  Stop by and check it out.

Thanks to my friend Heath Rosier for bringing Jim's work to my attention.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Dreaming of Pancakes

I am fantasizing about pancakes this morning.

True story.  

No one told me how difficult it would be for a woman with no thyroid to lose weight.

I mean, seriously:
I'm exercising every day
(unheard of for me)

and trying hard to stay within the 1200 calorie limit my doctor suggested

and yet,
this week, 
I lost not one single pound.  

Not a one.

I ate four cookies yesterday,
and I took Jack out for a birthday lunch last weekend,
and ate a whole burger and some onion rings.  

All by myself.

(Pure heaven, by the way, after so many boring salads!)

But surely,
even so, 
making myself exercise every day
and eating salads,  
and giving up butter and whole milk and sauces and pasta and pancakes 
should amount to SOMETHING!

Shouldn't it?

I made a promise to my doctor that I'd lose 42 pounds
and that I'd aim for a pound a week.

So far I've lost 8.

I'm not trying to change my habits just because I made that promise,
- although I'm glad I did -
(It gives me incentive to live up to my commitment)

I'm doing it because I'm tired of being tired,
because it would be nice to be able to wear clothes I actually like,
because I don't like the way I look,
or feel.


I'm fantasizing about pancakes
while drinking black coffee
and eating two boiled eggs and an orange.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Aunt B Has Left The Building

Some days are good days, others are hard work, we can feel like we're swimming up stream, or wading through porridge; but those days are valuable too. Those are the days when we discover we are uncomfortable enough to re-assess where we are investing our energy, those are the days when we are forced to look at the cold hard facts and decide whether we are serving our best interests by continuing”
-Hayley Darby 

This quote struck a chord with me.

I've been feeling like this about Facebook.

Ever since Facebook instituted Timeline and began deciding who would see my posts based upon some mathematical formula, I've been struggling to keep interaction with those who follow my page at some sort of meaningful level.  

It's not easy.  Facebook decides upon the number of people who see a post based upon the number of likes your earlier posts have received, the number of people not following your page who see your post because it is reposted, how frequently you post, and how often you like and comment on posts made by others.  

In order to show my posts to anything more than 10% of those who subscribe to my page, and in order to keep interaction with my subscribers at a level where more than 25% of them are talking about the page, I have to post at least hourly, and I have to post seven days a week.  

That's more than a full time job folks, and it's a job for which I receive no pay.

I'm not saying that a full time job is bad thing:  particularly when it's work that engages your mind and brings interesting people into your life.  But - just like everyone else - I need to pay the bills and put food on the table.  I work full time for wages, and the hours needed to maintain my Facebook presence are becoming problematic.

I find myself getting up three hours before work in order to get my blogging done and to set up timed posts so needed to ensure my Facebook presence throughout the work day.  I find myself spending my evenings and weekends working on my blogs, editing photos, and catching up on comments on my page.  I find myself with no time for the pastimes I love to share.  Worst of all, I find myself neglecting family time and friends in order to maintain my on line commitments.

Not good.

I've realized for some time that I need to make some changes so, in September, I took a couple of weekends off.  I spent time with friends and family.  I took a look at what life would be if I said goodbye to my Facebook commitment.  

I really enjoyed those weekends.  

As much as I enjoy my interaction with my Facebook friends, my family, my everyday real-life friends, my creative pursuits, and good old-fashioned leisure time are more important to me.   

It's time to focus more on what makes me happy.  

I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Gift of Gracie

I visited with my friends Karen and Gracie today.  I haven't seen them for a while so it was lovely to have an opportunity to spend time with them.

Gracie wanted to watch "The Lion King," so Karen and I sat down with cups of tea and caught  up on each other's news.  From time to time, Gracie would break away from her movie, come give me a big hug, then return to her chair in front of the TV.

When the movie was over, we went for a walk on the shady trails beside the river.  That lovely green shade, and the sound and moisture from the river were a delight this hot afternoon.  

Gracie literally ran down the trail, stopping only when we called to her to wait, and then standing, eyes closed, and face upturned to the light.

We headed to MacDonald's after our walk, for cold drinks, and so Gracie could visit the play place.  She particularly loved the slide and positioned herself at the top, greeting every single child who came to use it.  

By the time we parted ways, Karen and I had caught up on each other's news and Gracie had played herself out to the point of needing a good, long nap.

A pretty ordinary day, right?

And yet...

Gracie was born with Down syndrome.  

She has very limited vision.  She's legally blind, seeing from the periphery of her visual field but not the center.  

She's extremely hard of hearing, requiring hearing aids.  Her hearing continues to diminish, and she will probably one day be profoundly deaf.

Because of the way the muscles in her lower back and pelvis have developed, Gracie's hips are splayed.  She walks awkwardly, shifting from side to side as she swings her legs forward from the hip, bending her knees very little.  It can be difficult for her to cope with uneven ground.

Gracie has low thyroid function for which she'll have to take medication every day of her life, and she has a hole in her heart.  She's allergic to cow's milk and cannot eat soy products.

That's a lot of challenges for one little girl to face!  I cannot begin to imagine what Gracie's world looks like from inside Gracie's head.

And yet...

She is joyful.  

I'm not saying that Gracie is happy every minute of every day:  She's a normal kid.  She gets tired, and cranky.  She can be stubborn.  She sometimes acts out.  

But she's happy.  

She greets the people she loves with enthusiasm and joy each and every time she sees them.  She gives the best hugs and, quite literally, does a happy dance when someone she loves walks through the door.

Despite her physical challenges, she enjoys being outside.  She wants to run, and to swim, to play on the swing set, and dig in the dirt, and when she does these things she savours every single moment.  

Gracie may not see everything, but she feels it.  She enjoys the sun on her face more than any person I've ever met, and is intensely aware of the happy shock of cool water on warm skin, or of the sweet smell of the hot forest on a summer afternoon.

Best of all, she expresses her appreciation for all these things, unaffectedly, without expectation that anyone else will share her enthusiasm, simply and purely because they make her happy.  

Being with someone who so clearly finds joy in all the little blessings in her life, I cannot help but find joy in them myself.   Every time I see Gracie, she reminds me to be grateful too, and to remember how very blessed I am to have the life I have.  

It was a wonderful day.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Sunshine and Storms

We’ve all seen them, especially if we spend any time on the internet; those references to life’s storms, paired with assurances that if we can hang on, sunshine is waiting just behind the clouds.  We see them because it’s an apt simile.  Life, like storms, is cyclical.  There are good times and bad, fair weather and foul.

We had an actual, real thunderstorm where I live this week, with dark clouds, fork lightning, and thunderclaps.  It was noteworthy because we rarely see that kind of storm here, and because it was of such short duration.  We for a few spectacular minutes and then it was gone, leaving a fresh scent in the air and a noticeable lightening in the blanket of humidity that had been shrouding us for days.

After the storm moved on, I decided to go for a walk.  It was getting on toward sunset time and the sky was spectacular.  The sun was mostly hidden behind clouds, with some patches of blue sky, and though the clouds were mostly grey the edges were limned with gold and vivid, glowing, peach and pink.  Where the sun did shine through the clouds, it had the focused intensity of a spotlight beam. 

Hard not to think of the storms of life analogy as I walked.

Here’s what I thought:

When we’re in the midst of a life crisis - worried and scared, or depressed and scared, or grief stricken – we don’t want to hear platitudes.  It sounds impossibly optimistic to be told to focus on the sun that we know is hiding behind the clouds.  When people present an image like that to me in times of trouble, I half expect them to change into Annie costumes and burst in to song.

The sun'll come out 
Bet your bottom dollar 
That tomorrow 
There'll be sun!”

It may well be true but it doesn’t address the problems that are causing the storm, or your fear that you may not make it through to the sunshine.  After all, storms can irreparably alter a landscape.  They can uproot strong trees and break them into kindling.  They may go away but that doesn’t mean that they won’t leave you forever changed when they depart.

So here’s the thing:  If you’re in the midst of one of life’s storms and you’re frightened, it’s okay.  It’s okay to be scared and it’s certainly okay to ask for help.  You’d be surprised at how many people would love to lend a hand, and are prepared to do so.  Do whatever it takes to get you through.

If, when the sun breaks through, you find that you are changed, that’s okay too.  Life is all about change.  Some of it’s good and some of it’s not, but change is constant.  Embrace it and remember that if you need help adapting to your new situation, it’s there for the asking.

There are people all around you who love you, and many who don’t even know you but are filled with compassion, kindness, and generosity.  Reaching out to them when you’re in need is an act of courage, but it’s one of generosity too because people need to help others in order to grow within themselves.  Putting aside your pride in order to ask for help when you’re really in need is a means of giving a gift:  You’re giving your helper the gift of trust, and providing them an opportunity to grow and learn.

So hang in there.  Believe that all shall be well, because it's true.  The sun may shine on a different landscape when the storm has passed but it will shine, and the landscape it illuminates will have a particular beauty all its own.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Just What I Needed

Yesterday evening I went to visit a friend.  She lives in a town to the north of me so we decided on a meeting point mid-way, about an hour's drive from home for each of us.  We had a lovely visit and then, just after sunset, headed home.

I rounded a bend in the road and there it was:  the moon.  Not just any moon, either:  a HUGE full moon, hanging just above the tops of the trees, yellow against a sky that looked like it had been painted with a water colour wash.

It was wonderful.

My first response was "Damn!  I don't have my camera with me!" 

Then, as clearly as if it had been spoken aloud, an inner voice said, "Forget about what you don't have.  Look at what's here!"

I pulled the car off the road and sat, watching the moon as it rose higher in the sky, while the water colour wash darkened to blue.

And as I was watching, a feeling of perfect contentment - as fragile and evanescent as a soap bubble - settled in my heart.

I realized that, just at that moment, just in that place, life had provided me exactly what I needed.

Amazing how that happens.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Best Version of Yourself

Because I spend so much time on line, I see a lot of posts urging women to “Be the best version of yourself.”  Invariably these posts are accompanied by photo edited pictures of impossibly thin women with perfect muscle definition, somehow perspiring attractively while maintaining an exercise posture that would send me straight to my chiropractor.  On my very best day ever, I have never looked like that.  (I am the short, round, red-faced woman you sometimes see in the very back row of an exercise class.)
Quite aside from the issues I have with the unrealistic body image these posts project, and with the problems they are causing for our young women, I’m bothered that the “best version of ourselves” is being touted as something entirely physical. 
Don’t get me wrong:  I’m all for healthy living.  I believe, though, that our body is just the physical plant from which our best self operates.  The things that most define us, and most define our interactions with the world around us, are not visible from our exteriors.
My “best version” is about spiritual and emotional well being.  It’s about being compassionate, and empathetic, and kind.  It’s about being patient, and persistent.  It’s about being honest, and honourable, and hardworking. 

I’ve noticed that my “best version” varies from day to day, and sometimes even from hour to hour within the day.
Sometimes my “best version” is the one that, although feeling sick and exhausted rises to meet the chores and challenges of the day while what it wants (and needs) most is to curl up under the covers and sleep the day away.  That version doesn’t care about what it wears, what it eats, or if it gets its daily exercise. It just cares that it accomplishes the bare minimum required to meet its obligations to others.
Sometimes my “best version” is the one that bites its tongue in the face of rudeness, neglect, or anger.  That version doesn’t care if the chores get done, if obligations get met, or if plans for the day are pushed aside.  It just cares that the situation is not made worse, or feelings further hurt, through uttering an angry response.
Sometimes my “best version” is the one that finds the means to help another even while I am struggling to get by myself.  That version doesn’t care about appearances, or about what is not getting done.  It doesn’t worry about tomorrow’s worries or next week’s bills.  It cares about what it can do to make things better for someone right now.
On the very best of days my “best version” approaches the day with energy, enthusiasm and optimism.  On my not-best days, I let the realities of life get in the way.  I get discouraged.  I get grumpy.  I lose my temper.  

Eventually, I pull myself together again and move on.
And that's my point:
None of us are our “best version” all the time. 
All any of us can do is try our hardest in the face of circumstances that are constantly changing for all of us, every moment of every day.
It’s important to strive to be our "best version" but equally important to forgive ourselves when we fall short - and then to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and be ready to try again.
Regardless of what the internet and women’s magazines and TV ads may say, we damned sure shouldn’t be letting someone else define our “personal best” for us!
Hold tight to your own vision of what is best for you.  Then go forward and follow your dream.
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