Category Archives: Moving up in the world

Some things make you smile whether you want it to or not. Hopefully I can too

One Step Forward

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87ef4bb5285651aac583cf360568816fThe other day I was feeling intense panic. Panic, anxiousness, nervousness, stress…whatever word you want to put to it, but the reality is that I was prepping for a big weekend of hosting and starting to run out of hours in the day. The need to go to the pet store, liquor store, grocery store and Asian veggie vendor was suddenly intensely, ridiculously, unnecessarily necessary and the seconds were ticking down on that old mental clock of mine.

The thing is, I realized that a lot of this was pressure I put on myself. When family visits does your place need to be perfect? And by whose standards is perfect measured?

This little scaredy-cat approach was handed to me by my social anxiety momma. Her heart is in the right place, but maybe not always her head. The need to do every little last thing humanly possible before guests arrive seems to be one that I was inherently taught and inherently think is a real thing.  Truly, they are there for you, not your food, not your clean sheets, not your vacuumed rug or newly trimmed cat. It’s nice to be cleanly, but it’s cleaner to be nice…at least for your brain. (Sure, let’s pretend that one was witty).

I decided in that moment, the intensely asthmatic moment… as I was getting into my car after my final errand, knowing that I may leave myself short on time and scrambling amuck… that I was going to take a step back, lock the car, cross the street and go to a yard sale. A plain, simple, off-the-beaten-path yard sale was enough to bring me back to my youth, to a simpler time, a time where I bought things used, bought them cheap, relished in haggling off 50 cents and simply enjoyed the moment, the weather and the promise of the future. While there, I met a la75489809dy who realized I was having an off day and what she said to me was “one step forward” little girl. There are no steps back.

That’s an interesting take on things. Maybe it isn’t two steps forward and one back, just smaller steps forward. What if there were no such thing as steps back? Would it change your outlook on the world? Either way, it sent me away with a sweet little message, a reassurance that nobody is alone, that we keep trying and no matter what, you need to keep walking ahead…no matter how detoured, shaky or limping that walk may be….

The Ginga Ninja

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The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free

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x354Money makes the world go round. It’s sad, but hell, it’s true. Truer than true in fact. There are so many old sayings about money that it’s not even funny (maybe I should go back to sad), but that’s because it is so integral to our everyday life. Long gone are the days where you forage the land for food, trade services for survival or even when just having one income, one car in the garage and a roof over your head were the definition of success.

No, today success comes in many forms. Unfortunately the most obvious being vacations, wealth and things. Do we really need so many things? Should there really be at a minimum THREE television shows about hoarding?  And since when did “likes” on Facebook mean more than actually liking your own life? Who cares if somebody else likes that you went to a concert or how you set up your new coffee table, isn’t all that matters that you do?

I’m as guilty as the rest of them. I’ve had periods of being pretty “modern-day” poor and I can worry like a champ. I can splurge and spend as well as I can save and thrift.  The funny thing when it comes to wealth is it’s all about liquidity. How much do you have access to at any one time? For some reason that integral point seems to be the defining factor between perceived wealth and actual.

I am as poor as I’ve probably ever been – don’t own a house, still have loans to pay, yet for some reason have started handing out dolla bills as though I’m a big deal. I think it’s because suddenly that money is in my hand and it is my choice as to whether it goes to debt, vacation, entertainment, stuff or savings. It is up to me what percentage goes where and for some reason, this empowering feeling is a misconception of being successful. In reality, I am no better off than when I made less money and spent less on things, food and “stuff” – but it’s all about quality of life, all about how much it feels like I have, not actually about how much I have on paper (well, online statement, let’s be green here).

It got me thinking. I have a very wealthy family member…remarried and up to his eyeballs in debt, yet the fact that he has an enviable yearly income makes him seem untouchable beyond compare. On a daily basis I also see homeless vagabonds – holes in their mittens, scuffs on their shoes, pride on their signs; begging with their coffee cups. That hobo, that scruffy bum with $10 in hand is in truth wealthier than that lawyer, doctor, entertainer or dentist with debt. It’s not about what you have on paper, but in theory, right?

Well, once upon a time credit wasn’t accessible, credit cards didn’t exist and people didn’t need so much space or so many things. Toys were baseballs and ragdolls, cardboard swords, tree forts and old bicycles. Once upon a time there was no social media – nobody cared about your boring trip to see your grandparents in Florida, or the time you went camping. Vacations for me were roadtrips, summer jaunts, campgrounds and cabins. There was no European cruise, or South American jungle tour. There was no credit card for kids or even education funds to prep us for the all important (and expensive) education we are now forced to obtain.

That brings me back around to where we started – money makes the world go round. Whether you are happy or sad often depends on money, which is too bad. But, all those things that make you happy – books, gaming stations, vacations in the sun, hell, even heat for your house – well, they all cost money. So, though money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you the things that make you happy.

Oh the sad, sad irony.

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”   – Groucho Marx

The Ginga Ninja

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A Mind Unburdened

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redhead writing

A year or so ago I wasn’t as peachy keen and shiny as I am today.  I was hopeful, I was pensive, I was as positive as I could be, but I was a bit lost.  Also, not long ago a fellow blogger liked one of my posts – Coco J. Ginger, and I was delighted as she has an incredibly popular blog.  I hoped to learn something from her – some advice on how to reach people, touch people and relate to people.  The only problem is – she had already healed.

You see, Ms. Ginger started her blog because of a broken heart.  Many years and many posts later she no longer felt a need for it.  It became a possibly cumbersome task that though she loved doing, no longer needed doing.  It had been a place to put her hands, her mind, her time and her heart.

If I’m being completely honest, I do find that a saner, calmer, happier version of me has evolved.  Now, please don’t misunderstand, this wouldn’t have happened had I not gone through lonely nights, uncertain days and a health scare or two.  But, these days, things just don’t seem like that big of a deal.  I mean, I’m more broke than ever, I’m facing unemployment and I just cannot seem to get on top of cleaning or my love life.  Then again, I haven’t really wanted to get on top of my love life.  I’ve been pretty damn content on my own, for the first time in….EVER.

So, like Ms. Ginger, I guess I could say that the line has been cast, I’m not sinking anymore and I no longer need a voice.  But, I won’t.  The reason for that is somewhere along this crazy journey, I’ve fallen in love with writing.  It is an outlet, a surprising passion and a useful waste of my time.  You may wonder how it can be useful if it simply wasting time, but if you break life down to its absolute minimum, well….really everything we do is a waste of time.  But, wouldn’t you like to think you wasted that time well?

This is not to say I am not going to need to vent, or cry, or overthink every now and then.  This is not to say that a bright shiny sun with sunglasses is smiling down at me while bluebirds sit on my shoulder, but it is saying, for today, I’m okay.  And for today, I have no intentions of giving this up.  It has opened up a new world to me; one I didn’t really know existed.  It has actually helped clear my mind and even influence my career.  How many people can say that?  I am not writing out of angst, anger or boredom, but out of love.  It was a loss of love that started this journey and a newfound one that will continue it.

I wish the same for all of you.  I wish for everyone to stumble into something they love and continue to do it simply out of joy.  Not because you are forced to (hello, piano lessons anyone), because it makes you money (nothing like marketing credit cards for a living) or because there is pressure for you to present well.  Who hasn’t put on a beautiful spread or applied to a job at the urging of a partner or parent?  Guilty.  I’m sure you are too.

So, this year I find that I’m my same bumbling self.  I lock myself out of the house constantly and bruise easily.  I gab too much, think too much and pee too often…but it’s different.  It’s better.  So, good bad and ugly, I`m currently here to stay and right or wrong, I hope you can say the same.  There is no perfect version of ourselves, only a good, bad and better and each and every one of those personalities depends on the day, the year, the month even the season.  Remember that the saying, “There’s always tomorrow” was written for a reason, because what you feel today may very well not be what you feel tomorrow.  Remember that when you are at your worst – once upon a time you had a best and one can’t co-exist without the other.

I guess my girl Coco realized that she had found a love too. I don’t think it matters why something started, only why it continues.  10,000 followers strong; her hiatus was short-lived and her blog has lived on. Lucky for us.                                   http://courtingmadness.wordpress.com/

                   Words, words, mere words, no matter so long as from the heart.                                                                                    – William Shakespeare

The Ginga Ninja

The Secret is a Half-Glass of Positivity…or at Least a Half-Glass of Wine

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Hmm…..so, all of those people out there who have read the book “The Secret”….is the ‘secret‘ that you need to visualize exactly what you want and you will get it, or just visualize a happy outcome and things will naturally fall into place because of your positive attitude? What I mean by this is that if you see the world through rose-coloured glasses then maybe even the worst of scenarios won’t seem half-bad….

About 5 years ago when this book was flying off the shelves, I opted for another read.  “The Happy Neurotic” was my self-help guru.  It was a great read that encouraged you to relish in your oddities, try to love yourself through self-doubt, and realize that your personal fears are often what propel you to succeed.  I didn’t really buy all that ‘visualize’ and it will just happen mumbo jumbo…I have always strongly believed that action creates results.  Maybe aside from the chapter encouraging me to take up stand-up comedy as an outlet to self-deprecate (who needs stand-up when I have a blog?), the Happy Neurotic was a good read at the time.  It was a true message, not filled with hidden meanings, magic beans, or the belief that just ask and you will receive.

But, now that I’m a bit older, and I like to think a bit (wiser?)…I do think that positive thoughts = positive outcomes.  Not because you visualized something and it magically happened, but because you can see the good in so much more of what you never saw it in before.  I have the option of looking at my life and saying “Single, 31, renting, contract position, debt, used belongings” and create a reason to jump off that ledge.  However, instead I’m kind of looking at this all as a bit of an open book.  I have 2 degrees, a job I’m enjoying even if it’s not forever, am lucky enough to live in my own place, enjoy my own space, and take advantage of all the wonderful friends and family who in the past I didn’t know were always there for me…

They were. I just wasn’t always there for me.  Instead of trying to be the best or change the world, maybe just do your best and let the world change you.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not to say that I’m not incredibly proud of myself for all the things I have gone after and with hard work, dedication, and effort I have achieved.  But, the harder part has been that these things didn’t necessarily make me happier in the end because I had set unrealistic expectations on what they would feel like or how they would change my life.  So, even though I was a success, I often didn’t feel it.  Hell, I battle that still.  I have proven that one can achieve what they set their mind to, but I think the key is to set your sights a little lower sometimes.  Good message to give the kids, right?

Mmmmhmmm. I think my parenting style may suffer some judgement in the future….

In all seriousness, lower may not be the right word, but just make sure you are realistic about what you are reaching for.

I now realize that the whole cliché of “glass half-empty or glass half-full” isn’t just a cliché.  It can’t be forced and it can’t be faked.  It isn’t an instantaneous change and it isn’t a perfect formula.  Let’s be honest, it’s not as simple as just changing your mind one day…there is no ‘on & off’ positivity switch. I think the real ‘secret‘ is honestly, truly, trying to see the glass as half full.  It’s life…and people…and time that can change how you look at things.  I can’t say I won’t have bad days, lonely nights, or things that don’t work out…but I can say that at least today, it’s a little bit intriguing to not know what is going to happen next.  Maybe the key isn’t to envision at all…

I do think that too many expectations or trying too hard to attain something may not always bring about the results you imagined.  There is a fantastic scene in the movie, “500 days of Summer” that shows a split-screen of Tom’s expectations vs his reality.  I, for one think that over-visualizing what you want from life will create a false hope that attaining one last thing will change you.  I’m not saying don’t make goals, I’m just saying, don’t judge who you are as a person by them.   I am over the moon to see what happens when you don’t try so damn hard.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.                     – Maya Angelou 

The Ginga Ninja

There Goes the Neighbourhood…

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So, no matter what country, city, or abode you live in…there are little things that start to make your neighbourhood...your neighbourhood.  Good and bad, crazy or carefree…after a certain amount of time your neighbourhood does become just that.  And this truly does go for ANYWHERE on earth – from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to Khao San Road in Bangkok…some things just start to stick.

I have been in my new pad for around 4 months and I can say that there are already things that I think of with smirk-inducing fondness. We have the worst McDonalds on earth, Mr. Sub around the corner, the toothless Aisan man running the local convenience store, a streetcar within throwing distance for those drunken stumbly nights home…there is always something you begin to connect with and even things you might wish weren’t there, but are all actually part of your new reality.

I for one love all my neighbourhood cats.  There is Scotty Ted, the wide-eyed orange kitten next door who pees in flower pots, perches on my windowsill and scares the bajeezes out of me nightly.  Another favourite is Tom Selleck, a local Oreo-coloured cat who has a white mustache so bushy, I could only think to nickname him after the mustache-master himself, Tom Selleck.  Then there is Tim Selleck, a smaller, shyer, dirtier black and white cat I originally mistook for Tom, so I feel like those of you with a fourth grade education may figure that one out…. Lastly, there is the crazy cat house on the corner that has had no less than 2 and anywhere up to 6 cats (and sometimes a dog) sleeping on the front porch at all times. No, seriously. I find myself inclined to knock on the door one day and ask them just how close to legitimate animal hoarders they really are.

This is not to say all things here are perfect.  For instance, had I known there was an abandoned apartment complex or a halfway house at the end of my street, as a single girl I maaayyy have reconsidered this move, but thus far there seems to be no threat or immediate danger.  I joke that one intersection to my right is one of the newest and richest neighbourhoods in the city, and one interesection to my left is the “all welfare all the time” lucky jackpot corner.  I like to think that I’m right in between the rich and the crazy, sadly enough, probably exactly where I belong!

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. – Maya Angelou

The Ginga Ninja

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Moving out, Moving in…Moving up?

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I’M MOVING”.  These must be two of the most dreaded words in the English language that can come from a friend or family members’ mouth. Especially when you’re the one saying them.  In my case, I have moved a lot.  Call it wanderlust, call it immaturity, call it financial burden, call it indecision….in the past 2 years I have moved 4 times….and that doesn’t count the mini-moves between the real moves to brother’s couches and parents spare bedrooms.

Either way, like everything in life, Murphy’s Law tends to play a part on that dreaded day.  The movers don’t show…you hoist your couch up the roof through a window from your new neighbours’ balcony…(yep, that actually happened) and you thank your lucky stars that you haven’t pissed off everybody in your life enough to have to do it alone.

Despite my somewhat cursed luck when it comes to these things, I thank the universe that I have friends and family patient enough to keep coming back through my uncertainty, new roommates, boyfriends, and various cities to lend a hand….even if that hand shines up your kitchen ware with Windex so that everything you drink tastes like poisonous soap.  Yep…that also actually happened.

Thanks mom.  Love you too.

The Ginga Ninja

A Brave New World

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So, the question is…what 30 year old woman gives up a good guy and chooses to be SINGLE?  Egad. Say it ain’t so.  Today’s society (no matter how hard we try) still shuns a single woman over the age of 29.  Who cares if she is divorced by 31, so long as she has snuck that first wedding in , thank god.

Kidding. Well…sort of.

But, what is the definition of Single?  Is it somebody who has never been married, has never had a serious relationship, has never dated, only casually dates, or somebody who has been divorced or even widowed? In a way, I suppose it’s all of the above.  One thing is for sure though, single men are eligible bachelors, and well, single women…..spend their life looking for Mr. Right, or even in the interim, Mr. Right Now.

It is actually so much easier to be a single woman today than ever before as far as the stigma is concerned, but sometimes I think those Victorian women had it the best.  Never had to work, sat around and did needlepoint all day with servants, had people hold doors and throw coats over puddles…and with corsets you never really needed to worry about your figure because it did it for you!  Holy Bosoms batman.  If you are lucky enough to catch a fella’s eye, he’ll take care of you…and if you aren’t…well, then your daddy will.

Today’s women are expected to be educated, employed , financially stable, smart, respectful, sexy….and not to mention possibly eventual mothers.  But, with most of us in schools until our mid-20’s, knee-deep in debt, how can we be ready to settle down by the age of 30, or crazier still, have our careers, relationships, and possibly even a baby popped out by that age!  Thankfully 30 is the new 20….or so I’ve heard.  That decade from 30 – 40 where you are supposed to have it all figured out sure is a bitch.  Damn that biological clock.

Anyways, I have married friends, common-low friends, divorced friends, and even those still looking for that first love.   And ladies, though this is for you, I do have friends in the Lonely Men’s Club too.  Today there really is no true right or wrong, but you can be damn sure for all those empowered women out there, 50% of them are as scared as I am right now and simply putting up a good front.

If you happen to come across a single gal….give her a pat on the back, congratulate her for all she has accomplished thus far, and tell her that the world really is her oyster….or at least her shell.  She could use the encouragement, because behind that big smile, those flirty eyes, that devil may care attitude and insistence she is going to make it on her own…is a little girl who once upon a time imagined that the idea of “once upon a time” really existed…that life really was like a Romantic Comedy, that Prince Charming was really coming, and that you really could do it all.  She’s okay, she’s doing alright and frankly, just getting by in this crazy world.

It’s time to embrace being single. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, I’m not fabulous (though pretty darn cute and not bad in the kitchen if I do say so myself).  But, I’m not saying Single and Fabulous.  I’m saying Single and Surviving.

  “Don’t worry about Life, you’re not going to survive it anyway.”

The Ginga Ninja