The Nose On Your Face (K.Blais)

Image result for nose on face images free

My nine year-old asked me an interesting question the other day.

“Mom, did you know that your eyes always see your nose, it’s just that your brain ignores it?”

Why, no, in fact, I guess I didn’t.

I mean, I knew it. I just hadn’t really ever thought about it much. I don’t always look out of my eyes and see my nose I realized, but it was an interesting question which led to some further questions of my own.

Like our nose, how much do we see that our brain chooses to ignore?

It’s like that with people sometimes, isn’t it? You may hear things about someone, but you do the ‘right’ thing and choose to form your own opinion. This itself isn’t a bad thing. It is good sometimes not to take to heart everything that you hear. You may believe whole heartedly in an individual, you are adamant that he/she is a good person, sometimes even to the disagreement of that person him/herself,  you believe in that fact more than anything, only to find out that you just couldn’t see what everyone else saw all along. Your brain chose to ignore the nose on your face.

Sometimes we are blind to the things right in front of us, even the good things. We fail to see those who truly care about us and who are, and have been, there for us in good times and in bad times (because true friends are there in both). We may forget to appreciate those people and to give them the time and respect which they deserve. (Hint: They are usually the ones who don’t demand these things from us; they are standing back silently cheering for us from the sidelines.) We may also neglect to see what in our life is positive and beneficial for our well-being. We may choose, over and over again, to push aside the things which should be priorities. Again, our brain chooses to ignore the nose on our face.

While it is extremely important not to “cut off your nose to spite your face”, (which itself could be a whole different post), we must remember that even though we don’t always acknowledge its presence, our nose is a vital part of us. While it is good to ignore it sometimes, sometimes it is also good to stare at your nose and acknowledge the demanding presence that it is on your face as well.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, we are given daily reminders of how important our nose is. We are sadly and tragically aware of how precious life is and how important it is to hold our loved ones close when we learn of a friend losing a beloved child. We are reminded of how valuable our own health is when we ourselves become sick, or a loved one does, and we need to seek out medical care. We are reminded of the importance of respecting, valuing, and cherishing our friends and family members, especially when their absence leaves a noticeable void in our lives. We may begin to miss things which once were very important in our lives, without even realizing that we had begun to ignore their importance and significance.

Perhaps we can all think of the nose question as a bit of a reality check.

What do your eyes see?

(image used courtesy of All-free-download.com)

Getting My A@# Kicked (K.Blais)

I was away for a couple of days this week attending a conference for work. It was a great conference only made greater by the fact that I got to visit one of my favourite places in Ontario, got to spend time with some of my most favourite gal pals, and got to reconnect with some great colleagues that I have missed working with. The conference brought back to me the certainty that I am in the right profession, doing what I truly enjoy doing, and made me feel like a thinking professional. It was a nice change from the regular and daily schedule of my job.

(image courtesy of goodenoughmother.com)

I truly enjoyed the time away, even though I did miss my family. But I do have to say that coming back was a bit of a reality jolt.

You see, for those full 48 hours I only had myself to look after. I had myself to feed, to dress, to keep clean, and to clean up after (but in all fairness I didn’t even do that as we were staying in a hotel). I only needed to discuss and agree with others about where and what time we would go out for dinner, and perhaps maybe a few more important things like if the Dollar King sells underwear, what a Foam Party is, and if we are too old to partake in one.

Stepping back through the doorway at home felt surreal. My kids clambered through the house still glad to be home after happily spending the time I was away at my parents’. The house was pretty much as I had left it, which had been fairly clean, but I was suddenly overwhelmed at all the things that I now had to do again. The floors needed to be vacuumed, the laundry needed to be done, lunches were waiting to be at least considered for the next day, and bags needed to be unpacked.

I thought briefly about the simplicity of that hotel room. Oh sure the room had its ups and downs and I remembered the point when my roommate unintentionally looked up in the bathroom only to find something unidentifiable on the ceiling (not put there by her). But, despite that, the room was simple and easy to live in. I had two bags and a fabulous purse and everything I needed for my current lifestyle was in there. It was blissfully simple. Here, at home, I had two floors and a basement of a house to look after, filled with many things that weren’t always necessary for life.

As I blundered through putting away things and tidied up as best I could, I remembered the planning I needed to do for work, the Math course which sat drifting in cyberspace waiting for me to virtually pick back up where I left off, and the writing I should be editing to make good on my promise to whole heartedly search for an agent.

My mood was curt and short, in fact, I was now angry. I had gone from being carefree, fun-loving, and laughing to feeling “burdened” by the constant demands of my real life.

Yep. Sometimes reality can give you a real kick in the ass, can’t it?

The next day I awoke to the alarm clock, insanely early it seemed, and started my day off on the right foot, or so I thought. I tackled the Math course as I gulped my coffee, I threw on my running shoes and went out for a jog, and I even put together a platter for the pot-luck lunch at work. That was when I realized – I needed to be at work early for a staff photo. Bedlam broke loose until I realized that there was no way that I was going to make it on time, so I gave up on fighting through the chaos and on making the photo. The reality was that I couldn’t do it with a 20 minute commute ahead of me and only 15 minutes to get there.

Further realities hit as I stumbled through the day at work, feeling like it was Monday instead of Wednesday and trying to tie up loose ends from being out of my little “world” for the past two days. Everything was going along busily but fairly well until I decided to tackle the Math course again on my prep. Suddenly I remembered what it had been like in university when I had been required to read articles which seemed like they were written in another language.

The reality of the complexity of the Math course was now kicking my ass too.

I managed to finish the day, headed home, and then ventured back out again for a meeting. Reality wasn’t finished with me yet, either. The pressures of volunteer work and my sensitivities with appreciation and criticism took root and by the end of the night all I could do was tearfully crash into bed, glad the day was over.

I’ve had my ass kicked before by professors, boot camp instructors, and even critical readers, but the most thorough and effective kicks I have ever received have been from reality itself. Reality, in its truest form, will always bring you crashing down to the level that you’re ‘supposed’ to be at. When I get too ‘high and mighty’ reality will be there to knock me off my pedestal. When I get to thinking that I’m pretty smart and too confident, reality will remind me that I’m not smart enough yet. When I begin to think that things should go the way I want them to, then reality will be there to prove to me that I’m not always doing the best job that I can. Reality reminds me that I can do and try my best, but it will be God who will do the rest.

I’m glad to be home and back to reality. I enjoyed my time away, however brief it was. It is good to go away, but it is also good to come back even when it’s a reality check of sorts. I will recover from the ass kicking that reality has dealt me, at least until I am subjected to another. That’s the great thing about reality. It’s always waiting for us to wake up to it once again, boots on, and ready to kick.

The Bittersweet Bite Of Reality (K.Blais)


(image courtesy of Google images)

 

reality check (noun) : an occasion on which one is reminded of the state of things in the real world. (from Google dictionary)

reality check (noun) : a word or phrase used to bring a person back into the life of those around them, sometimes used to smash hopes and dreams. (from urbandictionary.com)

 

Reality checks can be harsh. In all actuality, I once described a reality check as being similar to a brick to the face. The sudden realization, the slap or bite of reality, can often be a very hard and bitter pill to swallow. (An interesting side note: The idea of the reality pill was popularized in science fiction culture and was derived from the 1999 film The Matrix. The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue). In the movie, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix. The red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the “real world”. information from Wikipedia.org)

From my perspective, I’ve noted that reality checks often occur when we believe things to be a certain way, when in actuality they are not. In our mind (in our world, if you wish), we truly believe these things to be true. Maybe we are naïve, maybe we are wearing the proverbial rose-coloured glasses, or maybe we have even been fooled (tricked, lied to) into believing them. Sometimes reality checks are given out by others, sometimes we arrive at them ourselves. At times, reality checks can be enlightening, other times they can be devastating. The reality pill can be a difficult pill to swallow.

In considering my conversations with friends and loved ones, I have noted that the suddenness of an abrupt reality check has been extra cruel as of late. It may seem that we are cruising along on the highway of life when suddenly we are hit with a flat tire. The reality check is not the flat tire, however, because those things do happen just as life happens. Where the reality lies is in the fact that the help needed to fix the flat tire is not available, or is not willing to be available, to help. That, itself, is the bite of reality; when we are disappointed by the actions of others it is often because we would be willing to do so much more for them.

For some of us, we are givers. We give and give and give until there is almost nothing (if not nothing) left for ourselves. Friends and family may need us and may lean on us to provide emotional or even financial support to them on a continuous basis. We love, so we help. Unfortunately, the reality check of ‘helping’ is that there are also many, many takers in the world. Some will take and take and take from us without ever being thankful or appreciative (or, at least without demonstrating it sincerely), let alone returning any of that good back to us.

There may also come a time when reality hits that we must be willing to see things and people as they are, rather than as we hope, wish, or expect them to be. That also can be a difficult pill to swallow. It is especially hard when someone disappoints and hurts us. Perhaps something has been done that is hypocritical or has betrayed our trust, maybe our heart has even been broken. We may even begin to question ourselves and doubt our own instincts – ‘How could I have been so foolish to have trusted him?’, ‘How could I not have seen this coming?’, ‘Why was I so willing to believe the best about her?’

It could also be that maybe we have invested a huge amount of time, energy, and focus into a friendship or relationship only to be pushed aside when we are no longer needed. The reality may hit that while we truly believed that we could rely on that person, he/she was never capable of being the kind of friend that we were to him or her. This is often a sad, but necessary, realization to face and with it comes a huge amount of disappointment and letdown. We may feel embarrassed for having been played for a fool. Perhaps placing expectations on the friendship or relationship may have even been its undoing. But, having said that, there isn’t anything wrong in expecting fair treatment from others or expecting to be treated with the same respect which we give to others either.

Friends, reality checks are not always bad. There comes with the bite of reality a bittersweet realization and clarity. We may experience disappointment in having put ourselves in the position to be let down, but we can learn a valuable lesson from the experience. We can move forward with our eyes wide open. We can lessen our expectations on situations, friendships, and relationships and accept people and things the way they are, not the way we want them to be. This acceptance may also lead to an understanding that the friendship or situation cannot continue in the same direction as well. We can let things take their course and happen the way the way they are meant to happen, all the while keeping this newfound reality in check. The noise and drama can stop – we can accept the bite, we don’t have to like it but we need to accept it, and move on towards healing in a quieter frame of mind. Life becomes easier when you accept an apology you never got. (Robert Brault)

The bittersweet bite of reality can be an opportunity where we take a closer look at ourselves and how we handle conflict and disappointments in our lives. I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I have been afraid. I am wise because I have been foolish. (Anonymous) The acceptance of the bite may take time, as most things do, but after all is said and done, if we look at the reality check as an opportunity to learn and grow we can become a stronger, braver, wiser person because of it.

Another View From A Glass House : Breaking Patterns and Keeping It Real (K.Blais)

A pattern is a pattern is a pattern is a pattern…

Last week I shared with you, dear readers, the view from a glass house in a hypocritical world, and yes, maybe I went on a bit of a rant. I’ve done a lot of thinking and re-thinking about patterns of behaviour this past week, and I think I’ve come up with a 5-step process for identifying patterns and activating change. (Once again, I’m not sitting in an Ivory Tower here as I’m actually quite afraid of heights. I’m not on any pedestal either – I’ve never been accused of being delicate. Nor am I throwing stones as I prefer to throw words around, in all honesty. This is simply yet another view from a glass house and I’m just Keeping It Real, again.)

Here are my thoughts:

Step 1 : Identify the Pattern and Its Roots.

Is the pattern positive or negative?
If it’s a positive behavioural pattern – does it improve my life and benefit me and my loved ones? If yes, then I should continue the pattern of behaviour, keeping in mind that if it ever becomes negative then I need to follow the next substeps.

If the pattern is negative – is it interfering with relationships I have with others, my happiness, or my self-confidence? Do I find myself in similar situations as I continue throughout my life? Do I often feel frustrated with “the cards dealt to me”? Do I often feel life is unfair? Do I continue to make decisions quickly (without much thought) simply because that’s the easiest route?

I need to examine where the pattern originates from. Is it rooted internally – in my own desires? Or does it have external motives – am I behaving in such a way to please or impress others, to upset others or to keep them from being upset with me, or for some other external reason? Knowing where my pattern originates from will help me begin to follow Step 2.

Step 2 : Walk Away From Wallowing

I’ve acknowledged the negative pattern and identified its root, now I need to move on and walk away from wallowing in self-pity. I need to let things rest. Sometimes I might be tempted to fixate on the small stuff because it’s easier to deal with than the larger issues. I may overanalyze and stew on the little things instead of tackling the bigger issues. There is some comfort in wallowing, especially if the wallowing is itself part of my pattern. I need to step out of the “wallow comfort zone” and realize that all actions have consequences; if I’ve made bad choices then I need to acknowledge those bad choices and move on with the intention of choosing more wisely next time. Two of the most powerful words are “I am”, because what you put after them shapes your future (I borrowed that from somewhere…). What I think, I am. I will not feel sorry for myself – I will suck it up, re-direct my energy, and move forward to Step 3.

Step 3 : Focus On Today

Acknowledge the past and move forward. I can’t change the past – what’s done is done. I can apologize, if necessary, and make amends, but I can’t change the events that have taken place. If I am stressed about something that has happened, I need to give it a reasonable amount of “air time” and then move on. I need to leave the past in the past, along with its stress and negativities. When I acknowledge my own feelings and then move forward, I am able to keep my next steps clear in my mind. My mind will not be cluttered with garbage from yesterday. I will forgive myself or others for yesterday, but today I will remember in order to learn from my mistakes.

Step 4 : Learn New Tricks

“I’m too old to change.”
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

HOGWASH! I CAN train myself to break out of my old habits and patterns. I CAN make conscious decisions that won’t lead to broken promises and continuous lamentations about life gone wrong. I CAN improve my lifestyle, win back my integrity, and earn back the respect (self and from others) that I deserve. I CAN initiate change. All that is required of me is AMBITION and the DESIRE TO CHANGE.

Step 5 : Shut Up and Just Do It

Talk is cheap. I can talk about it all I want, but if I make no moves and no efforts to actually initiate the change in my behaviour patterns then that’s all I am – one cheap talker. If I make more false promises and continue my lamentations, then no one is going to believe my intentions were honourable to begin with. I can’t be lazy about change. I deserve more than that. But, if I fall down and acknowledge my fall, I CAN get back up again. At this point, I need to stop talking about how I want to change, and work towards the actual change itself. I just need to take the first step.

No one ever said change would be easy. Breaking patterns of behaviour which have been years in the making is no small task. In fact, it’s probably going to be hard – most things that are worth it, are. Some behaviour patterns have been with us since a very young age and may be ingrained in us quite deeply. I firmly believe, though, that behaviours can be modified, that patterns can change their direction, and that new roads can be taken no matter which path has been chosen.

Robert Frost said in his poem “The Road Not Taken” :

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Let’s not waste time or energy in regretting choices made. Let’s not look back and attribute blame to the events in our lives or make more meaning of things than they deserve. The easy road is not always the best road. Change takes time, patterns can be broken, and anything is possible as long as you believe that it is.

At least that’s the view from this glass house.

(Dear Readers, Thank you again and again and again for your reads, comments, likes, and shares! We now have 16 different countries reading Writing For The Love Of It! Please don’t forget to like our Facebook page, Writing For The Love of It. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Love, ~ K ~ )