Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Listening to Books.

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I love to read. I end each day snuggled under my shabby chic bedding, with my head propped on a stack of soft marshmallowy pillows, reading glasses perched on the end of my plastered-in-night-cream nose, tea, warm milk or water on the bedside table and a good book in my hungry hands. I can’t think of a better way to end the day.

But I also enjoy listening to books.

This simple pleasure dates back to the last year I lived in Toronto, the one and only year that I drove in that fabulous and fatiguing city. Back then I particularly enjoyed listening to Wayne Dyer during my drive time to and from work. His soothing and reassuring voice comforted me during many difficult days, and gave me the courage I needed to move 4,000 miles across the country with two kids and 3 cats, and with absolutely no prospect for work. Nada. There was only this inexplicable and powerful yearning to go west, the kind that I imagine the early pioneers must have possessed. And there was also the unwavering belief that a better life waited for us on the other side of the mountains, next to the big blue sea.

Plus, I just had faith. Faith that if I did this very big and scary thing, it would all turn out okay. That God and the Universe and my Fairy Godmother would provide. We 3 Kings would be taken care of. And we were.

Some of my favorite audio books have been Christmas gifts from my son. There have been a few where I’ve thought, “this can’t possibly be something I’d enjoy. What was he thinking?” But those were often the very ones that I’ve enjoyed the most. Like Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter or The Elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine or the one he gave me this year Brief Encounters by Dick Cavett. All really wonderful books that I probably never would have even given a second glance had he not been given them to me.

I just finished listening to Bossypants by Tina Fey. I read the book when it first came out in paperback and it was an enormously entertaining read. But listening to Tina read her own words, was nothing short of brilliant. I realized that the voice inside my head reading Bossypants was all wrong. It was me doing Tina. So to hear the real McCoy was heavenly and a much richer experience.

The thing I like the most about listening to audio books is the intimacy of being alone in my truck while someone’s reading to me. There’s just something precious, no matter how old you are, about having someone read to you. For that brief encounter, I am able to suspend all disbelief, and imagine that I’m sitting with Barack Obama or Steve Martin or Bill Bryson or The Beatles while they tell me – just me – a very personal story about their life. It’s beautiful and lovely. I highly recommend it. Not as a replacement for reading books. I would never in a million years suggest such bibliophilic blasphemy. But in addition to reading, and especially if you’re crunched for time.

You can listen and learn something new. Listen and laugh out loud. Listen and cry your eyes out. Listen and ponder the wonders of the universe.

Or you can just listen. And enjoy.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Hang Out With Animals.

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Girl Warrior.  Hang out with animals. It’s next to impossible to be in a foul mood when you do. They have an infinite capacity to lift the spirits of their human friends. You’ll be happier and healthier in their furry or feathery company. Your beaming joyous face is proof positive.

Pet a dog when you’re anxious and within minutes you’ll be relaxed. Watch a cat chase a light beam around the room and you’ll find yourself giggling hysterically. Cuddle a bunny and you’ll know instantly why good things come in small packages. Sit in front of a fish tank for ten minutes and without effort you’ll be meditating. Listen to the birds sing and you’ll know what real communication is all about. Get on the back of a horse and you’ll understand the true meaning of balance and strength.

If you’re feeling blue, they’ll brighten your day. If you’re lonely, they’ll be there. They’ll teach you things about loyalty, faithfulness, dedication, steadfastness, resilience, trust, courage and bravery.

And most importantly, about unconditional love.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Open Your Heart Wide and Let in the Love.

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Girl Warrior. Go where your heart leads you. And don’t run from its softness. Let it be tender. Kind. Compassionate. Gentle. Extend your hand to another and grab on tight. Then let go. Therein lies your strength.

Love again. Then again. And again. You don’t have to get it right. Or perfect. Just let love come naturally. Accept that sometimes it will hurt. Don’t let this frighten you. Don’t push it away. Or turn your back. Don’t give up on it. Most importantly, learn to recognize love when it comes your way. It doesn’t always come gift-wrapped.

Your power to love is your secret weapon.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Get a Kick Out of Life.

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Girl Warrior. Get a kick out of life. Have fun. Find things that amuse and delight you. Not just once and awhile. But every day. Don’t put it off for the weekend. For vacation. Or another time. Hoot and holler right now. Find your zippity doo dah.

Make a joyful sound. Cause a ruckus. Bang on your drum all day. Laugh your guts out. Until you cry. Embrace happiness. Enjoy the people you’re with right this very second.

Let them see your playful radiant blithe heart.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Power of Music.

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Lately every time I hear two particular songs on the truck radio, one particular person comes to mind. My first big love. You know what I’m talking about. The one you’ll never forget. Ever. No matter how hard you try. No matter how many times you tell yourself you’re a fool to feel this way. A foolish young girl then. An equally foolish old broad now.

I’ve also learned recently that time has no affect on this kind of love.

Chances are, I might never have realized just how big a deal this guy was to me had I not bought a truck. And had that truck not come loaded with six-months worth of Sirius Radio. And in case you’re wondering, six months is just long enough to become addicted to the billions of stations Sirius carries. You name it; they’ve got a station for that. Let’s just say I’ve listened to a lot of good music over the past five years.

Last summer I discovered a station called The Bridge. This station features mellow classic rock and ‘70s folk rock. There’s a lot of acoustic stuff from guys like Jackson Browne and James Taylor. I had no idea I liked their music so much until I started tuning into The Bridge.

In addition to discovering a ton of fabulous old-new music, I’ve also taken a few trips back to another era in my life, all the while driving in this one. It was bound to happen. I’d hear a song or two that reminded me of him. Ones that would fill my spirit with doleful lamentations and serve as poignant reminders that even the passage of time and tornadoes, the heart simply remembers what the head discards with yesterdays old love letters.

The first song, the happier memory-maker of the two, is Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed. I say this one is happier only because this song was from the beginning of our affair with love. Picture this. A darkened room lit only by a single candle stuck into the top of a Chianti bottle, the kind with the fiasco basket, with rivers of wax dripping down onto the table. This was a classic ‘70s mood-setter. Now tune your ears to this. He puts Maybe I’m Amazed on his record player and says, “This song is how I feel about you. I think of you every time I hear it.” Nice. I was intoxicated. Not only by his earnest declaration of love, that was beyond anything I could have ever imagined, but by the Chianti. I was seriously drunk. Which explains why I thought something like this, “I must be amazing if a guy as cute and popular and sexy as him, feels this way about me. And he played the piano just like Paul McCartney. How did I get so lucky?”

So Maybe I’m Amazed is the happy ‘in the beginning, everything is new and wonderful, once upon a time fairytale’ song.

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And then there’s Carole King’s It’s Too Late. Picture this. It’s the middle of summer. It’s stinking hot and humid in Northwestern Ontario. I’m pregnant with my first big love’s child. And we’ve split the sheets. As in gone our separate ways. Or more accurately, he’s gone touring and my heart has gone in about a million separate ways. Now tune your ears to this. The phone rings. I pick it up. Hear my first big love’s voice on the other end. My heart momentarily lifts to glorious angelic heights. “He wants me back,” I hopefully (and foolishly) think. Then he says this, “I thought of you today. That Carole King song, It’s Too Late came on the radio this afternoon.” I don’t remember a word he said after that. I just remember putting down the phone and lying in the middle of my bedroom floor on my back, staring up at the ceiling. And bawling my fucking brains out. My life was over. Of course, it wasn’t. It just felt that way.

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Eventually I picked myself up off the floor and started the life that would lead to the life I have today. One filled with music. And love. And love of music.

There you have it. Drive time. Two beautiful piano songs accompanied by two bittersweet memories.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Stare Down Your Fears.

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Girl Warrior.  Stare down your fears. Look them straight in the eyes. Laugh at them. Call their bluff. Walk right through them. Don’t go around. Don’t avoid. Face them head-on. Take a deep breath. Or a hundred breaths.

Make your move. And keep moving. Shaky legs, a racing heart, lump in the throat or dry mouth are just the silly antics of fear. Not real. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Find your brave heart and take it into battle. Give yourself a hug.

Then go out and kick some ass.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Be Happy. Dive into the Deep.

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I’m not much of a swimmer. I can dog paddle for very short periods at a time. Otherwise I’m too pooped to pop. Treading water escapes me. There’s a rhythm to it that I just don’t get. Mostly I just make a big splash and call it a fun day at the pool.

I love to go to the beach. But again, I don’t swim. Instead I comb for natural treasures washed ashore by the wind and waves. Bleached and broken bits of shells half buried beneath my toes. Tiny rocks made smooth and shiny by the tumbling sea. I especially love gnarled and knobby pieces of driftwood, torn from the ancient limbs of coastal trees. My all-time favorite finds are the shards of apothecary blue or coke-bottle green glass, buffed and polished by sand and surf.

Whether I’m at the pool or the beach, the one thing I’ve never ever done is dive in. The mere thought fills my heart with terror. Dark, inky, suffocating irrational fear overtakes the part of my brain that knows better. Suffice to say, it’s not on my bucket list and never will be. And I’m okay with that.

For as much as the thought of diving into the watery depths gives me angst, there is one arena that I do dive in without trepidation. Professionally. Over the years I have become skilled at leaping, lunging and launching into the vast unknown. And for some strange reason it’s always been so. My first big leap was into Advertising as a Copywriter. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing at first. I had read Ogilvy on Advertising, liked to write, had watched countless commercials, and actually read the ads in newspapers and magazines. But most importantly, I just knew that if I went for it – hook, line and sinker – it would be, not only a game-changer, a life-changer. So I dove right into the deep end. Head first into a world I knew very little about but wanted to be a part of. And I’ve been dive-bombing ever since. Sometimes I belly flop and founder. I’ve even sunk a few times. But it’s always been worth the plunge.

There are so many benefits to diving into the deep at work. Here are a few that I would like to share with you, in no particular order.

  1. You’ll grow and stretch in ways you never thought possible. Professionally and personally. The new and wonderful things you learn at work will spill over into all the other areas of your life. It’s a lens-changer.
  2. You’ll start to conquer fear. Maybe not entirely, but you’ll learn that you can feel the fear and still do “it” anyway. Shaky legs will get you there, wherever that is. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
  3. You’ll be one of those admirable people who always rise to the occasion, no matter how difficult or challenging. This is the stepping-stone to leadership.
  4. You’ll get to collaborate with really bright, inspiring and talented people. You’ll get to be part of something bigger than yourself. And when that happens, there’s only one word for it. Magic.
  5. You’ll discover that the more you do, the more you can do. You’re capabilities, strengths and wisdom in all areas will increase exponentially.
  6. You’ll get to wear many hats and try your hand at different things. Experiment and test new ideas. Be multi-faceted and express yourself in all your glorious colors.
  7. You’ll gain the trust and confidence of those around you. You’ll become their “go to” person. With that will come more opportunities and increased responsibility.
  8. You’ll go to places you never thought possible. Not just in the physical world. That’s just half the equation. You’ll discover places in your wandering mind that exceed your wildest imaginings.
  9. You’ll start to enjoy the exhilaration of stepping off the edge into whatever is out there. Without hesitation or second-guessing. You’ll become a champion at risk-taking. You’ll understand intimately the meaning of “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” No one will ever accuse you of not trying, of giving up before you start, of being a quitter. Because you will be an extreme diver.
  10. You’ll be happier.

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