Top 5 Things I Love About the Rain

top5Looking out my window, it seems like the sky is bathing the West Coast of Canada with glorious liquid sunshine. This morning, I awoke to yet another perfectly gloomy day here in Vancouver, and I couldn’t help but be happy about it (I know, I’m weird sometimes). So I thought I would share the top 5 things I love about the rain since I’m feeling so cheerful about it anyways. I hope you enjoy!

#5 – The luscious aroma of the rain washing the flowers. Because I live in a place with gardens all around, the smell of the flowers can be quite pungent when it rains. The scents of all the beautifully organized flowers fills the air like a natural freshener making me want to take deep, cleansing breathes over and over again.

#4 – How nature uses the rain to scrub our neighborhoods clean once again. Ever looked around on the first day after a big rain session and noticed that everything looks nicer and fresher? That’s probably because the rain has a special way of being nature’s own cleaning system. Ahhhh! Doesn’t that feel nice?

#3 – The rain can be SO romantic if you happen to catch the right moment. Caught in a sudden downpour with a lover or partner? If you’ve not planned anything important, instead of running for cover, take a minute or two to enjoy each other with the sensation of the rain showering upon you. Whether it’s misty out or even if fat droplets are pouring from the sky, kissing or playing around in the rain can be about as romantic as it gets. Take my word for it, if you haven’t already tried it, you should! Mmmmmmn.

#2 – Water brings life to everything we know. Of course, one of the most important reasons to love the rain is that without water, there would be no life. Water is an essential ingredient in sustaining our livelihood here on planet earth, so I think it should be respected and appreciated in a big way.

#1 – It’s the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book and a cup of joe. Is there anything better than being all snug with the rain pattering on the roof or a window nearby? Not in my books, that’s for sure! It’s my number one choice for this Top 5, and for a good reason too. The idea of catching up on my favourite romance novel and spending the day wrapped in a cozy blanket appeals on so many levels, I love it! The rain brings a sense of peace and harmony that can have you relaxing in no time. It’s no wonder I sometimes pray for a gloomy, wet day! The rain truly is ahhhhh-mazing!!!

Do you love the rain too? No matter how the weather is where you are, I hope you have a great TGIFriday and weekend ahead! Cheers all and we’ll chat again soon!

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How To Use Empathy to Rule the World

howtoOxford Dictionaries defines empathy as “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” What a perfect description right? It sounds so simple, yet can seem so complicated; empathy may be a difficult concept to wrap your head around at first.

I first learned the art of empathy when I was about 17 years old. In my thirties now, I’ve had plenty of time to master these skills on each a personal, professional, and social level.

It’s always interesting to me how some people seem naturally graceful when it comes to empathy. Like they came right out of their mother’s womb and immediately aquired the amazing talent of relating to everyone around them.

And then there are the ‘others’. The ones who would have to learn these skills to obtain them because it’s just not ultimately in their personality to think like that. When empathy is used by either party, the results can be the same. The ‘others’ however, will obviously have to try even harder to truly reap the benefits of this gift.

Lucky for me, I’m definitely the type who is naturally empathetic, so once I got the concept of how I could use it to my advantage, it was like a freight train took off and nothing was going to stop it. Lol. Empathy is awesome that way!

So the story goes something like this: I got my very first job when I was about 17 years old. It was a humble position; working as a bag-girl at our local Safeway (a grocery store), but it was great for a beginner in the work force like me.

The funny thing is, working there taught me more about empathy and true Customer Service than I ever thought possible. It opened doors for me I never expected. Let’s just say that Safeway’s 3 week Customer Service Training Program was extremely thorough and definitely world-class, so I got VERY lucky with that one.

It was in one of these training sessions where a supervisor drilled ideas… errr…I mean… taught me (over and over) the most important part of how to function as a truly empathetic person.

More specifically, he told me to, “Walk a mile in the shoes of another and only then will you understand how they really feel.” Now at first, my 17-year-old brain just thought he was being a cryptic bastard. But after a little contemplation, the light bulb finally flicked on and I just got it.

I realized that by asking myself how I would feel as a customer, a friend, or a lover in the same situation, I could better understand the perspectives from all sides of the conflict and therefore come to smarter and more likeable resolutions for my problems.

For example: as a bag girl, I would often have to deal with customers who were extremely rude. Some were so angry or upset that they would be screaming and causing a real scene. In these circumstances, there was a very clear procedure that Safeway taught and empathy played a big role in their success.

Their whole slogan was “the customer is always right” so it was my job to make sure the unsatisfied customer walked away happy no matter what. By putting myself in their shoes right there in the store, I quickly learned the truth about how easy it actually was to subdue a yelling or angry customer. It was like magic. Just by simply listening, understanding, and acknowledging their troubles, I was often able to diffuse a difficult customer without too much trouble. I’m telling you, it really does work like a charm.

So in a professional sense, anyone that has to deal with people (whether they are your peers or your customers) will benefit from using empathy. It can increase your interpersonal skills with co-workers. Not to mention that your customers will begin to feel like you really know them and pay attention, so in return they will provide the loyalty required to maintain a successful career. Yay!

Bringing empathy to the table in your social life can also allow you to relate better with your friends. Ultimately, if you are no longer able to understand where your friends are coming from, you will drift apart or cause a rift. It’s human nature.

Empathy is extremely important within the social circle because of this and can be used to make acquaintances feel more comfortable and connected with you than ever before. You might even find that they want you around so much, you’ll suddenly have a hard time choosing what to do each weekend.

Having the new empathetic you around is a real pleasure that they will definitely seek you out again and again.

Note: to really amp up the mystery and appeal here, I always try to exit social situations on a high note. This leaves your friends with the constant impression that they like having you around. This is because you haven’t stayed long enough to get on anybody’s nerves yet. Hehehe.

Anyways, empathy can also bring an intimate relationship to a gratifying new high. Chances are, you are probably more empathetic with your partner than you would be with just about anyone without even thinking about it. This is because you share more of life’s current circumstances with this person, so they are the ones who will ultimately feel the most for your situation. This causes a natural empathetic viewpoint.

When you are consciously using empathy with your partner, they feel more valued, listened to, understood, and loved. It really is a wonderful way to show appreciation for your loved one and helps to keep the lines of communication open and flowing.

Think about it; if your partner was intently listening to you and then showing recognition with their words and actions on a regular basis, you would probably be feeling pretty good about them too. It’s win, win every time. [wink]

So whether you’re dealing with a professional, social, or an intimate partner, I hope you can see just how truly valuable empathy can be. Because it does work so well, it has proven to me (many times) that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a valuable skill to practice.

I hope you can benefit from my lesson, too. Are you an empathetic person or are you someone who views empathy as weakness? Feel free to share your thoughts below. I’m always interested in what you have to say.

Resources:
Oxford Dictionary Online

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What I Love: Confessions

Confessions

“Confession: An acknowledgement that one has done something about which one is ashamed or embarrassed”  ~Oxford Dictionary Online

Confessions can be juicy, exciting, incredulous, or just downright delicious. Once exposed, these secrets can provoke reactions ranging from empathy to cynicism to absolute abhorrence and/or disgust. The most enticing confessions are the ones that most people can relate to but few will actually admit to. Everybody in this world has a deep dark secret to confess (don’t think you’re the only one) and for some, the need to express these feelings on a broader scale (with or without anonymity) is part of a larger healing process.

Whether you confess to a priest in a church, a best friend by your side, or a complete stranger on the internet, the urge to share our secrets is surprisingly strong. The need to be freed from the torment of repeated thoughts and to make things right can be overwhelming at times, to say the least. While I’m not exactly sure why this is, I just know it to be true for some people, myself included.

That’s why I think that the “Confessions” page from Vancouver’s The Georgia Straight is a great sounding board for all the embarrassing confessions of the world. Its format is simple, the premise is clear, and the lure of all the juicy tidbits is intoxicating. Honestly, I spend so much time checking back there for updates, I’ve thought about emailing them to request a warning about their insanely addictive properties.

Reading the often strange confessions and then the even stranger replies, you may feel like you want to laugh in hysterics, cry with anguish, or even just scream right out loud at your computer. This is definitely normal. The Georgia Straight mixes a dose of reality with a hint of anonymity creating a safe (yet opinionated) place to vent your frustrations. A place to let your secrets flow. It’s seriously awesome and addicting too. It’s the only website that I frequent so much my favourites button completely wore out at one point. [wink]

So what is it that I love today? Confessions. The website and the action itself. And both are great, in my opinion. In fact… I might just indulge in some confessions again right now…. Errmmm… gotta run, but before I go – do you like confessions too or are you someone who prefers not to indulge in juicy gossip? Feel free to spill your guts in my comment section. Cheers!

References:
The Georgia Straight Confessions Page
The Georgia Straight Home Page
The Oxford Dictionary Definition of Confession

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What I Love: Sunshine

SunshineHello Everyone! This week I decided to try something new, so I’ll be running a special series on ‘What I Love’. Each day, I plan to discuss something I love and in turn share some happiness and positivity. I hope you will all enjoy getting to know me a little better and I look forward to hearing from you as well.

For my first installment of ‘What I Love’, I had no choice but to express my feelings for Sunshine. Living in one of the rainiest cities in the world, sometimes it feels like the sun is never going to come out to brighten my day. Lucky for the city of Vancouver, I awoke this morning to a glorious ray of sunshine shining down upon me through my half-open blinds.

Because warm, spring-like days are a rarity for us this time of year, you can almost feel the mood lift. Suddenly everyone walking around is just a little bit happier, a smidge friendlier, and a whole lot more optimistic about things in general. It’s a wonderful sigh of relief for a city that usually basks in the soggy weather brought about from being a Northern Rainforest.

Today’s sunshine brings the extra vitamin D we need to replenish our moods and spirits alike. For that, I can honestly say I love and appreciate the sun more than even words can express.

So I hope you enjoy your day as much as I am, today. I’m off to get my fill of the gorgeous sun now, so until tomorrow everyone… Keep smiling! 🙂

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Crazy Girl Stories – My Obsession with a Flower

PrimulaPot

I have strange obsessions with a few different things, but nothing caught me more off guard this week than a 99 cent Primula advertisement on a sign outside my local nursery.

Now I guess it may not seem that strange to be obsessed with a flower to some. There are many people who find gardening and flowers to be an amazing hobby, a chance to escape, or even just an object to love. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people.

I’m a little different that way because while I love to appreciate the beautiful artistry that is Mother Nature (at any chance I get), it turns out that I’m just plain old terrible at managing to keep anything plant-like alive. The truth is, I don’t really know what my problem with plants and flowers is. I just know that I have not ever been able to tend to them properly, so there are always unfortunate mishaps.

For instance, one time I purchased an orchid from another local nursery because I was told they would be easy to maintain. I got some plant food (like they advised me to) and I took it straight home. I was so excited to have such an exotic new friend! I was SO happy! I decided then that I needed to do my best to try to keep something alive. It was my new mission.

I diligently fed and watered it daily. I put it in a window so it had lots of light. I talked to it and loved it every time I walked by. I was giving it tons of attention. And I thought I was going to win this time. This exotic lil thing was going to last awhile, or so I thought.

If you happen to know anything about Orchids, you will be able to guess what happens next…

My gorgeously tended flowers wilted and died within a week. 😦 All I was left with was a tall stick poking out of the soil. It broke my heart. It destroyed all my hopes of finally being able to keep a plant alive. I was devastated.

It turns out that Orchids are very easygoing flowers. They thrive in indirect light and don’t like to be watered too much, so I unknowingly had loved them to death. And I cried. Let’s just say that after that, I became more of a Cactus kind of girl… until now.

Now, it’s been years since the pain of that moment has passed, but I will never forget how awful it felt. So I found it very strange and intriguing that this advertisement for 99 cent Primula, Primroses seemed to be calling my name whenever I drove by.

For a week, that sign silently tortured me until finally I couldn’t take it anymore. Out in the car with my nephew yesterday, the lure was too much and I went inside to get a nice, new friend. This time I was better prepared though. I discussed the care of the Primula thoroughly before I made the purchase and was told that these really are cold weather flowers, so they would have to be outdoors.

Excitedly, I gathered up a potted set including 4 different colours and just knew they would be bright and cheerful on my balcony. They looked amazing!

Less than 10 dollars and 20 minutes later, my new Primula pot and I are back at my place. I watered them once (as directed) and placed them outside for some cool air enjoyment. I hope they like their new home. I named them the Lucky-Bunch, took some pictures, and here I am now.

I feel happy as hell that my obsessive thoughts were quenched and am optimistic about keeping them alive for a long time. Now I think I’m starting to understand that sometimes you just need to brighten things up and enjoy what life has to offer. Maybe this obsession will pay off after all. We’ll see…

Wish me luck! 🙂 I’m seriously going to need it.

Cheers!

PrimulaPink

Taboo Raindrops – Why I Love The Rain

Why

What would you do if faced with a bad weather forecast containing heavy rain?

Love it or hate it, the falling rain can be as sexy and fun as it is wet and miserable. I learned this first hand growing up in a city that boasts twice as much rainfall as London, with an average of 161 days of the wet stuff per year. The “temperate rain forest” that is Vancouver, British Columbia has ingrained in me a unique fondness for rainy days that when expressed out loud, has my friends wrinkling their noses at me with disbelief.

All too often in polite small talk, I hear people chatting away about the weather. Openly conspiring against the rain; despising the rain; even crying over the ruined plans and inconvenience of it all. Sometimes they speak as if a few raindrops are an impending death sentence or something. Like the world is collapsing at an alarming rate and all will not be right again until the sunshine comes out and saves the day.

Would you sympathize with their bitter disappointment upon hearing that there is nothing but “periods of rain” for the foreseeable future? Not me! And that’s for sure!

Instead, my friends and family are regularly subjected to endless discussions detailing exactly what I love about the rain. Sometimes, they even have to deal with me forcing them to go outside (with or without an umbrella) to take a deep breath or two on the most fragrant of rainy afternoons.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I still feel for all the couples who planned their outdoor wedding only to be forced to move it inside Grandma’s house at the last minute instead. I can empathize with anyone whose travel or holiday plans have been delayed, cancelled, or ruined because of a freak thunderstorm. And I most certainly understand the gravity of a heavy flooding situation and what it takes to clean up after a natural disaster like that (been there, done that).

The rain can be very powerful and so a little advance preparedness goes a long way with smoothing things out. For me, I almost always choose to look on the brighter side of things instead. The silver lining, if you will.

Much to the groans and eye rolls of my loved ones; when faced with a typical rainy day, I regularly go on and on about the rain. With an excitement that is only matched while attending an amusement park, you can frequently catch me saying things like:

• “O-M-G, I LOVE the rain!!!”
• “It’s a perfectly gloomy day today!”
• “Ooooh… big fat raindrops!!- my favourite!!!”
• “Feel the misty rain between your palms — it’s incredible!”
• “Ahhhhhh, the sound of the rain on the windows is SO relaxing!!”
• “Mmmmmmn, the rain freshens up all the flowers! It smells SO delicious!!!”
• And, “Seriously, you gotta get out here and smell this!!!”

My love of the rain started when I was a little child who loved to read. Nothing was more relaxing or exciting to me as curling up in a rainstorm with a great cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Reading for hours at a time while listening to the soothing sounds of nature’s tears cascading upon my window became a regular habit. It created a place for me to let go and slip away from the world. Almost like meditation. Silently, I would hope for a perfectly gloomy day. I would be really happy about a bad weather forecast while everyone else was sighing, sulking, and wishing for something brighter and cheerier instead.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the power and passion the rain could actually bring and I began to see that there is a sexy side to the rain as well.

About three years ago, I found myself about to embark on a camping trip with a new boyfriend who was (at the time) a tenting virgin. Low and behold, the forecast was calling for rain – and plenty of it. So, I’m watching the news channel like a hawk and praying for a change, only to finally have to give into the fact that it was just going to be wet and sloppy no matter what.

Because I am a camping maniac, I had weathered a storm while camping before and I was scared to death that my new boyfriend would turn into a whining, complaining, soggy, jerk much like how most people would react if they were put in that situation.

It didn’t even take us an hour upon arrival and I had already learned that this boyfriend was definitely going to be a keeper. Instead of bitching and complaining about the terrible weather, he did the unexpected and left me with just about the hottest memory any girl could ever have.

All around us, people were hiding in their tents; nobody seemed overly prepared for the unexpected rain and some were even packing up and leaving it was so bad. That’s when my boyfriend asked for my largest tarp and he ripped off his shirt and began to string up a cover for our tent and table. He had never done this before and the trees were sparse so I could tell it was trying his patience, but he held it together admirably. I have to say, in fact, that we were the only ones all weekend who were able to eat outside because of the great job he did.

Because of the almost disastrous rain on that trip, I will never forget two things from that weekend. The first is the way my new boyfriend looked with his muscles rippling away and water droplets washing over him as he put that tarp up without so much as a grunt. He looked so amazing with determination written on his face and not a single word of complaint. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with him right then at that moment.

The second would be the mesmerizing sound of the rain falling on our tent every night while we slept. It was like a symphony of toned droplets and with each one that fell, it created a romantic soundtrack to what could have been a nightmare trip instead. Looking back, I don’t think there could have been a better song to my ears.

So I guess my point to all this is: Love the rain or hate the rain, if you live in a temperate rain forest, you will have to deal with it one way or another. My suggestion would be to try to embrace natures amazing drops as much as possible and make the best out of any soggy situation.

Complaining and whining changes little, but enjoying the rain for what it is might just even make things better than expected. What attitude will you take next time you’re caught out in a perfect gloom?

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Vancouver