Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Be in the Moment.

Intimate mother-daughter moment. Photo by Stephanie Hull, Centric Photography.

Intimate mother-daughter moment. Photo by Stephanie Hull, Centric Photography.

Girl Warrior.  Be present. Fully engaged. Right here. Right now. Don’t waste one single solitary second being anywhere else than where you are at this very instant. For this is all you truly have.

The past is done. You can love what once was but don’t live there. Don’t fret over the things you regret. Or worry about all those woulda coulda shoulda things either. They have nothing to do with the way things are today.

The future is out there. Somewhere. But it is not yet yours. It’s merely part of the exquisite possibilities. Not the beautiful bird already in your hand. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have dreams. Or plans. And schemes. Goals and aspirations are worthwhile. And may one day lead to your success. But if you spend all your days living in tomorrow and squander this precious hour, then in the end you have lost the greatest gift of all.

Awaken all your senses to “the now” Girl Warrior. And just be.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Dream.

Scan 6I’m not much of a dreamer. At least not at night when I’m asleep. I do a lot of daydreaming. But the other thing, not so much. I guess technically, I do dream. We all do. I just have poor recall.

When I do remember a dream though, it’s usually a doozy. Nightmares. Being chased and can’t run away or scream for help. Embarrassing. Forgot to dress and find myself on a crowded bus stark freaking naked. X-rated. Stark freaking naked. Enough said. For the sake of my three adult children I will spare all the sordid details. Some make me sad and I wake up crying. Usually involving the death of a beloved human or pet. Sometimes myself. From others I wake up laughing. Like I was in bed with Louis C.K. Enough said.

But every now and again, there’s one that flat-out leaves me believing. In wonder and amazement at just how stupendously miraculous this thing called life and afterlife really is. It’s the stuff of good science fiction. Time travel. Parallel universes. Eternal connectivity. The never-ending story. The stuff that bears truth to statements like, “She/he is still with me” or “I feel her/his presence.”

On Thursday night I had a two-part dream like this. The first part was kind of a silent nightmare. I was in a subway car with my daughter M and her best friend A and we were headed to some unknown destination. The strange thing was that neither girl was talking, which I suppose is proof that I was indeed dreaming. The even stranger thing was that the subway car was actually a rollercoaster car, which I am terrified of. I was sitting between the two girls. We went around a hairpin curve at lightening speed and somehow I flipped out of the car and was hanging on to the side of the car like my life depended on it, because it did. I called out to one of the girls (who shall remain nameless) to hold onto my arm so I wouldn’t fall off and be crushed by a million tons of fast-moving steel. But it was as if she was deaf. Much like our waking relationship. Then I grew very calm. I knew I would be fine, that everything would end up okay. I hung onto the side of the car, cool as a cucumber. Fearless even. I just love how you can manipulate dreams to make them work in your favor. We arrived safely at the next subway stop and all was well. End of part one.

In part two I’m still at the subway stop. My young female travelling companions are gone. They left without a word, which made perfect sense since this was a silent movie. In the next scene, a door opens and it’s The Old Man. Finally someone speaks. He says, “Look who I brought.” He steps aside. And there’s Ma. It was a younger Ma. The one from when I was about eight or ten. She looked beautiful. I ran into her arms. We embraced. I hung onto her for dear life. Just like the rollercoaster car in part one. I could feel her. And smell her. I cried into the collar of her faux fur winter coat. I told her how happy I was to see her. And that I missed her dearly.

And that was it. I woke up crying. But I wasn’t sad. I was happy to have had this moment with Ma. To be hugged by her again. No one, and I mean no one, hugs you like your mother.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve dreamt of Ma since she died 14 years ago. We’ve had “visits” before. Most of the time they are sweet and simple and far too brief. Much like our time together on earth. Sometimes we’re shopping or having lunch. But mostly we’re sitting together at the kitchen table at 204 enjoying a cup of tea and a good chat. Nothing has changed. We talk about the “daily things” that fill our days with meaning, hope and love. She still refuses to tell me why we’re here, what it’s all about, and where we go after this is all said and done.

One of the wonderful gifts of these visits, or close encounters from the other side, is that I get to have “the one mores” with her. One more kiss. One more hug. One more cup of tea. One more conversation. One more chance to say, “I love you Ma.”

Is it real? Is it just a dream? Are we living parallel lives now? Am I able to traverse from here to wherever she is? Cross borders and meet-up with her in my sleep? Slip from this reality to hers? Is this possible?

I don’t know. And I don’t care. I only know that seeing Ma on Thursday night comforted me. Brought me peace. And made me happy. I look forward to one more.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Be Still.

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Yoga Teacher Karen Cooper. Photo by Stephanie Hull, Centric Photography.

Girl Warrior.  Be still. Sit quietly. Spend time alone gazing inwards. It’s a breathtaking sight. Take a moment every day for introspection. Meditate. Pray. Twenty minutes in the solitude of your room is all you need to be transformed. It will change your mind. And alter your life.

Unplug. Turn everything off. Including the lights but especially all your digital devices. No distractions. No diversions. No disturbances. Let nothing come between you and your inner self. This is your time to just be. And get in touch with who you really are Girl Warrior. Deep down in your core.

Shut out the noise and the clatter. Sink into the silence. It is here that you will find peace. Surrender to serenity. It’s as natural as breathing. In. Out. In. Out.

Let the calm beautiful you emerge. Like a butterfly from the chrysalis.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Be Real.

281391_10150234190146266_3548871_nGirl Warrior. Be real. Authentically you. Be the girl you are when you’re alone in your room. The girl who sings into the hairbrush. Or dances like a wild one. The girl who jumps on the bed with crazy abandon. And cries in the mirror so bad the mascara runs like black rivers down her cheeks. A girl who curses at the ceiling and vows to never speak again. The one who drops to her knees and prays that someone or something is listening.

Be the girl who not only hears the music but makes the music. The girl who doesn’t just march to the beat of her own drum but runs, leaps and flies. She’s the leader of the band. Not the groupie. Open the door to your room.

Let the rest of the world see this strong Girl Warrior.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Believe in Something Bigger than Yourself.

DSCN1599Girl Warrior.  Know that you are connected to every living thing in this marvelous Universe. That’s a huge and daunting thought. So take it in. Fully. Breathe life into it. Wrap your loving arms around this notion until it seeps into your DNA and fills every cell. Clog your pores with this concept.

Figure out your place in the grander scheme of things. The beautiful, elegant, ingenious, creative, intelligent and precisely perfect design that dwells deep inside your soul. And that of every single being and creature that ever was. And ever will be. Imagine that.

Honor this exquisite essence.

Whether you call it God or Gitchi Manitou, Divine Intelligence or Great Spirit, Energy or Electricity, Jesus or Jane, it matters not. What really matters is the knowledge that you are a part of it. You are an essential drop of water in the great big sea. A twinkle in the starry night. A slice of light in the infinite sky. Your presence is requested. Here and now. For eternity.

And you are never alone.

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Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Wide-eyed Wonder.

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The exquisite thing about aging is the reawakening of wide-eyed wonder.

All the oohs and aahs of life seen through my own magical gaze. And not those of my children or grandchildren.

For decades I saw everything through the eyes of the young in my charge. Enchanting as the dust of fairies. Dazzling as the diamonds in the sky. All things spellbinding and sparkly, cast from the wands of wizards.

I saw it all through their crystal-clear unfettered perspective. It was a beautiful awe-inspiring view. A sacred privilege, the memory of which I hold dear in my mind’s eye, and as close to my heart as humanly possibly.

But now, all things fascinating, enthralling and magnificent, dreamy and delightful are again fresh and new, heaven-sent and divine.

Like never before.

I see the world around me as if for the very first time, with my own precious child-eyes. It fills my heart with such gladness.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: 12 Ways to Bring Heart and Meaning to Your Work.

DSCN1378dI’m a lucky woman. I was born and raised in a small town in Northwestern Ontario at a time when career options were somewhat limited for women. Or more specifically, my vision for what I could be when I grew up was myopic. Salesgirl. Secretary. Teacher. Nurse. Wife. Mother. It was a time of women’s liberation and world transformation but we lagged behind in our town of early snows and sweltering summers. From that list, I chose Teacher, Secondary Level, with specialization in English and History. An honorable profession, but not for me, at least not back then.

Secretly, I had bigger dreams than the classroom could contain. Write novels. Tell stories. Spend my days in the presence of creative, imaginative and artistic folks. And oddly enough, to carry a satchel-style briefcase made of brown leather to work every day.

Through a series of fortunate events, that spanned the better part of a decade, I landed a job as a Junior Copywriter in a mid-sized boutique agency in Toronto. Thus began a career I never dreamed of but as it turns out was tailor-made for me.

Fast forward two decades to the West Coast to a small boutique agency nestled in the countryside where fields of green are dotted with sheep, horses, chickens and goats. It is here that I have found my place amongst some of the most talented and creative minds in Canada. It is here that I bring my heart for service, my teacher’s sensibility and a mother’s compassion and love.

I am a Production Manager.

I have had tons of on-the-job training and learning over the years. But so much of what I do professionally, and the way I work, my modus operandi, comes from my personal life and core values. There are so many, I could write a book, but here are a dozen things I’d like to share with you, in no particular order.

  1. Be kind and compassionate. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. The old adage is true. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Walk a mile in their moccasins or mukluks or Manolos. Seek understanding. Express genuine concern. Cultivate a magnanimous spirit.
  2. Treat everyone the same, from the courier to the CEO. Everyone is important and has value. Everyone has a meaningful role to play in your business. Be respectful and appreciative of what each person brings to the table, regardless of their title or station in life.
  3. See the good in everyone. It’s there. Truth is, you may have to dig deep to see it in some. While others it sits on the surface like a shiny penny. You have the power to bring out the best in everyone. But first you have to see it.
  4. Be generous with your praise. If someone says or does something you think is terrific or wonderful, remarkable or just plain nice, acknowledge it. Don’t be stingy in this area. Don’t withhold. Let your colleagues, associates and suppliers know how much you appreciate them and the work they do. Take pleasure in the accomplishments of others.
  5. Think of different ways to do things. Be innovative and creative in your approach to everything. This will add freshness to your daily routine. Be a Curious George. Say, “yes” to new opportunities and challenges, even if they scare you. Zig when everyone else is zagging.
  6. Have impeccable manners. There is no excuse for rudeness. Anywhere. Anytime. Treat everyone respectfully and politely. Please and thank you go a long way.
  7. Fear not and take risk. Fear kills creativity and it’s paralyzing. It’s that simple. Kick it to the curb every time it enters your heart, mind or spirit. Go out on a limb and extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. Don’t listen to the naysayers or the negative noise around you. Listen to the small quiet voice within that cheers you on and propels you to greater accomplishments. And if fear or insecurity does creep in, work with the confidence, faith and belief that others have in you. Remember why you were hired in the first place.
  8. Be of service and helpful. Look for all the ways you can make someone else’s job easier and more meaningful. Lighten their load. Lift their spirits. Be someone who can be counted on, trusted, relied upon, and the wind beneath the wings. The supporting actors always have the most interesting parts. Remember that.
  9. Be smart not a smart aleck. Be humble and gracious. Let your talent and brilliance speak for itself. It isn’t necessary to flaunt your credentials. There’s no need to show off or grandstand. Park your ego and let others shine. When you do, it’s remarkable how smart and wise your colleagues will find you.
  10. Extend grace in order to receive grace. We all make mistakes, for we are only human after all. First and foremost, be forgiving when someone makes a mistake, especially on your watch. Accept that things often go awry. Turn out wrong with disappointing results. Understand that unfortunate things happen, even with the best intentions, the best efforts, the best people on the project. Resist the urge to point fingers, assign blame or throw someone under the bus. Trust me, in situations like this, the people involved feel badly enough. Scolding an adult like you would a five-year old child is demoralizing and doesn’t accomplish anything. Nor does it move the conversation in the direction it needs to go.
  11. Recover quickly from mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll survive. This too shall pass. But first, own it and then move swiftly to repair things. And know this, in the end it’s not the mistake that anyone remembers but how it was dealt with. A bad resolution leaves a bitter taste that lingers in the air. Gather all your resources to help you to fix things. Remember, you are not alone. Most things that go wrong involve several people, all of whom could have prevented it from happening at some point along the process. So rally your troops. Fix it, extend your sincere apologies, learn from the experience, stop beating yourself up. And move on.
  12. Go for a walk at lunch. Take a break. Get out of the office or studio or plant or store, or wherever you spend your day. Leave. I go for a walk every day because that’s what I like to do. I love being outdoors, regardless of the weather or time of year. Walking changes my perspective and opens the window to more mindful ways of working. Helps me to see things differently, more clearly. Unclogs my brain, and possibly my arteries. It eases the stress, fosters problem solving, inspiration and new ideas. I often take an idea for a walk to see if it “has legs” or needs to be tossed. After twenty minutes on the road, I usually know. If walking isn’t your thing, then find something that is. But most importantly, remove yourself from the building. Make this a daily habit. It’s one of the healthiest and most productive things you can do in your day. It’s one of the keys to long-lasting and enduring success.