You look like an artist

Over my 35+ years, many people have graciously said all kinds of nice things to me.  Things like, “You look pretty today” or “I love your scarf” or, more recently, ” I really like your writing.”  That’s one of my favourites.  I also love, “Thank you for helping me”, not because I thrive on that acknowledgement, but because it is nice to know that I was there for someone when they needed it.  That means the world to me.

I don’t usually hold up a compliment for too long when I get one.  I usually savour it for a few sweet moments, then store them deep inside in a little gratitude box in my heart.  I don’t wear them loudly, but I never discard them either.  I go back to them when I need to, but usually they stay safely tucked away, never to be lost.

But there is one that keeps bubbling back up – one I can’t just tuck away.  It gives me a secret thrill every time.

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11 Reasons to love the laundromat

http://rickischultz.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/suds-me-baby-ghs-sonny-corinthos/

Confession: I miss going to the laundromat.

I dreamed of having a washer and dryer in my home for a long time, but now that I have them…well, you know me.  They’re not the right washer and dryer.  They don’t work properly.  They don’t look nice.  I don’t like that I have to go downstairs to use them and the carpet on the stairs is always dirty.  I don’t like the laundry room.  Complain, complain, complain.

Okay, I get it. And I’m grateful to have laundry facilities in my basement.  Truly, I am.  And I did often complain about doing the laundry when I had to lug it to the laundromat every week.  But the truth is, I kind of loved the laundromat.  Here are my top 10 reasons why:

1) I could do all my loads of laundry at once, without having to go back and load and reload and reload.

2) I like the hum of all the machines going at once.  I find it very soothing.

3) It was a great excuse to eat a bag of cheesies and drink a ginger ale from the convenience store across the street – all that waiting around made me so snacky!

4) I like the smell of dryer sheets.

5) There was all that space on those large tables to fold my clothes.

6) All that washing and drying and folding and organizing – my kind of fun!

7) Waiting for the laundry meant lots of time to do nothing except read a good book.

8) Jesse, who ran the laundromat, was a good guy, and we became neighbourhood friends.

9) You’d see all kinds of crazies around the laundromat.  I love those crazies.  They reminded me how much I loved living downtown.

10) I got to walk by the pretty wedding dress shop on my way to and from the laundromat, and see the beautiful dresses in the window. The proprietors of the shop were kind enough to change the window display each week, so there was always new dresses to ohh and ahh over.

11) I always wished I’d meet Ron Sexsmith in the laundromat, like Stu did years ago.  Alas, it never did happen for me.  But that dream always kept me going back.

When you stop changing

I had an idea a while back.  It went something like this:  We don’t change as we get older.  We just stop trying to change.  The more we stop trying to change, the more we come back to who we really are.

Allow me to elaborate a bit.

As children, we do what we love without much thought.  We sing, dance, play, create and express ourselves fully and joyfully.  When you are fully self-expressed, how can you be anything less than joyful?  We lean towards those who show us love and kindness, and we avoid those who are mean and hurtful.

At some point as we get older, we start to change. We stop singing, dancing and playing.  We start changing who we are – who we BE – to fit a mould or a stereotype or an ideal or an image.  Our life gets overtaken by shoulds and shouldn’ts.

I should take this job.

I shouldn’t wear stripes and polka dots.

I should study that subject.

I shouldn’t sing in public.

I should.  I shouldn’t.  I should.  I shouldn’t.

And mostly we get so stuck wondering and worrying about what other people think about who we are and what we’re up to, that we forget about I am, and I love and I’m happy.  We change away from who we are, turning into some version of ourselves that we don’t quite recognize.  We accept people in our life who makes us feel bad.  We do things we don’t love – and don’t do things we do love – because we feel like we should.  Or shouldn’t. We have to, or can’t, or not right now, or maybe later.  

And my favourite: One day.

One day I’ll start painting again.

One day I’ll exercise.

One day I’ll have dinner with my old friend.

One day I’ll write that book.

One day I’ll open my own business.

One day…some day…

This leads to all kinds of drama.  All the Who am I? questions and What’s my purpose? questions and I need to find myself inquiries.  And then we read books (and blogs!) and talk to therapists and friends and listen to tapes and listen to Oprah and then something happens…

We find ourselves drifting away from those people who make us feel bad.  We find ourselves colouring again.  Or running.  Or playing the piano.  Or whatever it is that brings us joy.  We stop worrying about what other people will think, and just live our lives with a little more love.

And we’re happy.

People say “You’ve changed.”

No, you haven’t.

You’re back to being you. Back to who you were always meant to be.

You’ve stopped changing.

Storytelling

We all have stories we tell ourselves about the people around us, about the lives we’ve lived, and about what our futures will be.  We create tales based on things people said, things we did, things we saw and things we want.  But of all these stories, the most powerful ones are the ones we tell about ourselves.

We tell ourselves stories about our worthiness, our intelligence, our abilities, our looks.  We make up stories about every single part of our lives, and then we live those stories out.  And too often, those stories suck.

We tell ourselves that we didn’t work hard enough.  We tell ourselves that we didn’t try hard enough. We tell ourselves stories about all the things we could have done and should have done and will never do.  We make up stories – and we believe these stories – about things that have happened in our lives, and then we spin those stories so they ultimately cast a dark pall over us.  Then we hide under this cloak of  stories for fear of what would happen if we came out and stood alone under the sun.

But what if we told ourselves new stories?  Stories that don’t say thinks like “I should have”, but rather, “I tried my best in that moment with what I had.  And that’s good enough.  And I can do it different in the future if I choose.”  What if, in our stories, we were always good enough. What if we were more than good.  What if we were great?

What if our life stories weren’t filled with doubt and judgement and shame and fear, but instead were stories of triumph and effort and heads held high even in defeat.  What if our stories were stories of love – for others, and our lives, and ourselves?

What if we took a chance to stand alone under the sun, faces upturned and smiling?  What if every story we had for our futures started with “I can” instead of “I wish”.  And what would our lives be like if we believed them?

It’s time we start telling ourselves new stories.  Stories where we are the winners.  Stories where we live with love and joy and overcome obstacles with grace and dignity.  Stories where it is okay to make a mistake – or ten – and where defeat doesn’t equal a diminishing of your worth or abilities or future prospects.

Tell yourself a new story about your life.  A story that starts and ends with you being wonderful and perfect and doing nothing wrong.  A story that is full of lessons and possibilities rather than mistakes and missed opportunities.

You will live the story you tell yourself, so tell yourself a story of love.  And believe it.