I’m Happy For You

JealousAre you really? Or is there a small piece of your heart that sinks to your gut when you hear my news? Do you justify that sinking feeling by telling yourself that my news is not good, not smart, not socially responsible, or not financially sound?

Maybe you want to have the same news. Or any good news.

I caught myself doing exactly this. I have to watch it because life has a way of bringing things full circle based on the attitude you put out there. Are you really well off, don’t work, but take all the credit for what you have? Did you get pregnant immediately after ditching the pill? Did you get that fantastic job even though I know you’re not that talented? Did your parents leave you a massive inheritance but you talk as if you earned the money yourself? Does your kid get to go to private school? Did your husband do something super thoughtful and you are super vocal about how great he is? Did you pick the absolute right stock at random?

I think very few people deal with that sinking feeling, I think most of them believe the justification. Shame.

Be happy for people. It’s good for you.

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I Doubt It

DoubtingI doubt myself. Life rarely offers you a package that fits perfectly into your circumstances. This is especially true the older you get. I think that’s because as you age you take on more responsibility, you have more issues, you have a story, you have circumstances – aspects that just don’t exist to that degree in your youth. Those elements make every decision that much more important.

When you’re young you can better afford to fly by the seat of your pants, try new things, be stupid and take risks. You can even do that in relationships because time does wonders to heal the heart so there’s lots of time to get past brokenness.

Getting more experience in life means you either understand things better, or you’ve just had more time to get a complex about stuff. Usually it’s both, though I hope I am not one of those people who has no self-reflection and can’t see how I’m becoming more anal, scared, unreasonable, illogical or closed by the minute. That is enormously unattractive and it ages you. The people who stand out the most as they get older are those who have an uncanny joy about them. And joy comes from taking life’s crap and learning from it instead of becoming bitter and closing in.

I have made decisions about things that I am extremely double-minded about. In the past year, I have been on the fence about many things. I always think you know what the best is deep down, at your core, or in your spirit. But sometimes, both Option A and Option B feel right. In those circumstances I think you have to try both until things become clear. I’m rarely confused, so being so unsure is unsettling for me. Not to harp on Christians (as I know I often do), but they are quick to judge anyone in this unsettled position, thinking that the person is just not listening to God. You know, sometimes God just doesn’t speak to you. Did you know that, Christians? Maybe not knowing the answer for a time serves a person better.

So I guess what I’m saying is it’s okay to doubt yourself. It shows you’re evaluating things from all sides, which people often don’t do. In which case, I congratulate myself.


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Flirting With Cops

I’m flirty like anyone else, I suppose, in that I have on occasion used my feminine wiles to get what I wanted. But I think I’ve learned when to let it loose, and when to reel it in. Otherwise, you’re displaying all your goods inappropriately or toward someone who is clearly uncomfortable.

Take my Sunday speeding incident. I was racing down the highway at 8:30 in the morning, trying to get to church on time. I hate being late for things, especially church because then you can’t get a good seat and then it’s easier to let the mind wander. So, of course I get pulled over. The man was older, and gruff. He really lit into me about being irresponsible with my “precious cargo” (aka my daughter), at which point I started to tear up. He barked, “Do I have to remind you how unsafe you were being with that little girl back there?” I shook my head, no, my eyes wide and wet. “Do you even have a driver’s licence?” he snapped. I nodded yes (maybe blubbering like an idiot makes you appear younger) and produced my card. “Which part of all those signs back there did you not like? Do you know you were in the excessive zone? That’ll cost you $360 and I’ll give you another for making a sloppy lane change. Is that worth it now?” I looked down at my lap and shook my head again. I honestly almost never speed. “Where were you going so fast anyway?” he yelled. I paused several beats, then answered, “Church.”

He eyed me, I think a bit taken aback that I would try that. I opened my palms upward and shrugged my shoulders a little. I think we could both appreciate the irony. After a pregnant pause, like he was considering what to do with me, he snarled, “You’re getting a warning for this run around, and I want you to think real hard about what you’re doing with that little one in the back. Do you hear?” I nodded and looked away, my tears set to betray me. I didn’t want to push my luck. “Have a good day,” he finished and sauntered back to his cruiser.

I could hardly get control of myself as I pulled back onto the highway with excessive caution. My daughter was perfectly silent for fifteen minutes. Later that day she asked, “Mommy, why were you speeding?” Because speeding plus crying plus religiosity equals ridiculous.

So what was my point? Ah yes, I ended up doing what most women typically do to get out of tickets, without even trying. So, is it flirting if my efforts produce a slobbery, unappealing mess in lieu of a desirably distraught woman?


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Taylor Swift Is A Wise Woman

So she has this song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and I am very impressed. This girl is, what? Twenty-two? I wish I had had her insight at that age. There’s one line that says “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights, And me, falling for it screaming that I’m right”. I didn’t know picking fights was a go-to code of conduct for the emotionally incapable. See, what these people do is exactly that: pick a fight, say something mean or anything to get you going. Then, expecting exactly the reaction they receive, they are perversely satisfied. Because they have to be pissed off at something, and you’re an easy target.

I’m not sure what gets these people off. Why would you want to have a fight or hurt someone? I’m a pretty passionate gal, but I don’t enjoy fights. The thing is, people like this are so pissed off at themselves they have to direct that onto someone else. Then, when they snag you into having a fight they can say to themselves, “See? This is why I’m angry. It’s THIS person’s fault.”

The thing is, you react in indignation “screaming that you’re right” because you feel the need to show the other person the illogic of their position. And what an immature person doesn’t realize is that the person picking the fight does not care about logic, nor can they recognize it.

What fight-pickers don’t realize is that even if there is a thorn in your side, a legitimate ongoing hurt for which no one would fault you for having a hard time, your happiness is solely up to you. You choose whether you’re going to treat people in love or not. If someone calls you an idiot every single morning, you can choose to get hurt by it or you can choose to be happy in spite of it. If your spouse screws off, you have a choice to forgive that person and not let it ruin your life, or be fearful of being in another relationship. Even if someone kills your loved one, you still have a choice. Your choice is just harder.

I’m not making light of true challenges. However, if you’re picking fights with people just because you feel discontent, you’re just proving you’re not a strong person. And for that, you deserve to be pitied.

Taylor Swift has it right, and I congratulate her for learning that lesson more than a decade before me. Silly.

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I’m So Busy

I’m not the kind of person who always says how busy I am. In fact, I’ve come to strongly dislike the phrase.  I’ll say that I had a really busy day, or that I haven’t had time to do a given thing, but I never utter the words “I’ve been so super busy” to explain myself away.

I mean, it’s true, I’m busy. I have a kid and more than full time work. But most busyness is self-imposed.

Parenthood is another ball of wax. In fact, unless you’re a parent who takes care of your children the majority of your “free” time, you don’t understand the busyness that parenting involves.

But it’s probably less busyness, and more fatigue. Parenting, particularly for children under school age, is a whole lot of emotional energy spent. It’s not like you DO much when you spend all day with a young child. In fact, if you wrote it down on paper it would almost look like nothing at all. But it’s the fact that with particularly young kids you are ON ALL THE TIME and that they demand so much of your attention that leaves you spent at the end of the day.

I remember one person in my life saying that looking after a kid is easy. Okay. And I know there’s something to be said for stay-at-home parents who feel they have to justify their occupation as if it’s a contest. But now that I’m a parent OF ONLY ONE TODDLER I can fully understand parents stating how “busy” (tired) they are.

When you’re childless, your time is your own. Even if you have a lot filling your day, you’re filling it with activities that are your choice, and for your benefit.

I’m not going to throw in a caveat about how much I love being a mother and that I adore my girl; that’s a given. It’s just if I can make time for other people I certainly don’t want to hear how you can’t because you’re so busy.


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Taken Vs. Single

It’s hard to rid a person from your life. Take romantic relationships. No matter how short a time you’re with someone, there’s a little (or a big) hole left over when they’re gone. Even if you’re angry with them or the relationship isn’t good, there’s still a hole.

I don’t think it’s pathetic to recognize that hole. Some religious folks and others will say that you need to be okay with being alone, or you have to learn to have contentment in the face of that hole. Or better, that God should be the one to fill that hole.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s fine advice. In the words of one fantastic book I read last year, you only have two choices when life sends you shitty circumstances: you can believe that something positive will come out of them … or you can despair. That’s very true, isn’t it? In light of that choice, no one in their right mind would choose the latter.

But I believe all us humans were made to live in communion with other people, and people fill a void not even God can. We’re made for life with other humans, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting that.

To that end, I truly believe that any person (who’s not messed up) wants to be in a romantic relationship. That is, no one really wants to be single.

But when we must be single again, we must get rid…and that’s always weird. A person who is necessarily one of the biggest chunks in your life is abruptly out of the picture. And then you don’t know what to do with yourself.

So next time a friend goes back to an asshole partner, or stays with a spouse who has cheated multiple times, or keeps sleeping with someone who is just not good for them…have some grace. It may be stupid, but it’s understandable, and we all do it.

I have to cut someone out of my life, and only half of me wants to. It’s nice to have someone who’s just…there.


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Why Danes Are Rude Part Deux

By far, the most-viewed post on my blog is Danish People Are Rude. This is funny for me because people have specifically searched for that phrase. Which means that although several people commented saying that, in fact, Danes are lovely, the truth is that they are not known for it. And I think we have scientifically proven that through my blog.

Oh Danes, don’t worry, you are much-loved (if acknowledged at all) throughout the world because of the things I mentioned (good looks, social sophistication, the bright, avant-garde colours painted on your living room walls that you must consider forward-thinking but are, in truth, gaudy). Yes, most people veer to the Swedes. Danes don’t really register on anybody’s radar. Danes are associated with Scandinavia, and therefore also with all the above-mentioned things, but no one really takes notice of them.

My paternal and maternal combination is Canadian and Danish. And those two sources have many things in common. Canadians are to the Americans like the French-Immersion do-gooder is to the cocky, self-assured jock. Everyone knows they’re all kind of one in the same, but nobody pays any attention to the dork. Even if the jock is a jerk, everyone still wants to be his friend. Danes face the same status; official nobodies to the world at large, respected, sure, but ultimately not taken into anyone’s account. Kind of…ignored.

Maybe for good reason? And for good consequence? Personally, I like succeeding in the sidelines. You get most of the same benefits, without anyone laughing at your expense every time you fall. Danes have it pretty good, even if they haven’t succeeded in making much of a mark on the world.

So…rude? I said Danes are rude because they are. And maybe that’s because they have a chip on their shoulder due to being considered the less-polished Scandinavian sibling. They’re just a different breed, and if you live with them long enough you realize they need to be taken with a grain of salt. There. Don’t get mad, my friends. For our part, even if Canadians are thought to be enlightened, inclusive, gentle creatures we are more likely stifled, passive-aggressive, disingenuous martyrs who talk out of two sides of our mouth because we have issues about being overshadowed by our much louder, cooler, popular neighbours. Who knows? We all have our things.


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The Art of Argument

My friend showed me the skit from Monty Python entitled “The Argument Clinic”. It’s brilliant. So many people do not know how to argue. And arguing can be a good thing.

I have talked about arguing in the past, but I didn’t know so many people use a particular strategy. That is, plain contradiction. Saying, “No it isn’t” to absolutely everything without any supporting evidence to back it up. The guy in Monty Python almost ends up going mad because the person he’s arguing with simply says the opposite of what he’s saying.

If I say, “I think A equals B because of C” then I expect my audience to focus on C. Anyone can give an opinion on what A and B are, but answering with, “Well, I think A equals Z” is not a counter-argument.

A similar strategy to contradiction is evasion.

Me: “You say I don’t share my stuff. But I always do. You’re always borrowing my clothes and eating my food. And I never say anything about it. Why would you say I don’t share?”

You: “Laura, you getting in my face about this is really unattractive because it makes your roots stand out and your voice scratchy.”

Me: “But, I take great pride in sharing. You know I am very generous.”

You: “I can’t talk to  you, you’re impossible.”

Me: “How, exactly? I asked you a question.”

You: “I don’t have to answer your question.”

Me: “But you just accused me of something without any proof.”

You: “You’re not generous.”

Me: “But I just told you examples of how I am!”

You: “How can you wear that shirt? It’s hideous. This is what I’m talking about.”

Me: “You’re not talking about anything!”

You: “You really have to get those roots done.”

Do you see what I mean? Maybe people like this aren’t actually listening. What else could their problem be?

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New Buddhists Are Bad

I’ve come to know that Christians are not the only assholes! Man, is that a relief. I have recently spent a lot of time with a man who considers himself a Buddhist. He has not been raised with the religion; rather, he came to it at near middle-age after searching for some understanding of life. And I sincerely congratulate him for doing that. Everyone should seek out the spiritual aspect of existence; it can give you a greater understanding of yourself and bring much peace. And don’t we all need that?

I used to think it was just new Christians who were patronizing. Fifteen years ago, I guarantee I had a patronizing world view myself. The kind of religious person who, when a difference of opinion arises with another person about the deep matters of life, looks on said person with pity. Like, they just don’t have the spiritual understanding to grasp the verity of my position. The person is to be looked down on, albeit with Godly love, and prayed for to receive enlightenment.

But if you’re thinking that your way of understanding spiritual and life matters is the only right way and that anyone who thinks otherwise is pathetic, misled, stupid, or even sinful, you might want to check yourself. You don’t know. I think I understand certain things, and that gives me great peace. But I can’t claim that will bring someone else peace, and I cannot be so arrogant as to assume that I have the monopoly on enlightenment.

Especially if I can’t get along with anybody else as a result.

Yes, I know new religious people can be well-meaning, even delightfully earnest. They’ve just learned something new that works for them. Yay! They want to tell the world about this great new thing! Good for them, I say. I mean, I tell people about my beliefs, too.  Just listen to and respect my way of thinking, that’s all I ask. And I’ll listen to yours.

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My Book & Show-Offs

I’m not much of a show-offy person. This is something most hold as an endearing trait, and few have much patience for the opposite. Especially in Canada, we kind of feel like nobody should stand out. And if you bring attention to something you do well, you run the risk of rubbing people the wrong way.

I’m not sure why we hate show-offs so much. Maybe it’s linked to not being truly happy for other people’s successes. Because if we’re not happy for someone it means we’re mad we don’t have something ourselves.

When I was in Grade 8 we did a gymnastics rotation in gym. Each girl had to come up with a floor routine. I had done gymnastics for years and although I wasn’t fantastic, I was probably better than everyone in my class. I could do flips and walkovers and I was really bendy. But you know what I did? I performed a lame-ass routine that didn’t showcase any skills at all. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. How pathetic.

A friend of mine is always saying what a disservice it is to not bring attention to your strengths. And he’s right. We don’t have to be arrogant about it, we just have to be appropriately proud of our accomplishments.

I have written a book. It is very hard for me to put it out there for everyone to see like this. Not only does it give readers a glimpse into my mind, but it opens me up to be hugely criticized. Some people will like my book, some people will dislike it. I just hope people understand how much work it takes to finish a book, and how embarrassing it is to put something subjective like this out there.


To buy the book, click here (for Kindle users) or here (for other ereaders).

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