Sunday, 16 November 2014

Turning 40

As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery.
We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace.
The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as
anger and attachment, fear and suspicion,
while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility
are the sources of peace and happiness.
Dali Lama

I have been wanting to turn forty since I turned 25! So I had been waiting for a long time to get here.

Sign across the street- is has been there since we arrived but still fun!
For me I have always equated age with respect and knowledge. People don't take you seriously when you are in your 20s unless you are incredibly brilliant, and even then I think it is more a curiosity than respect. The darn Gen Ys have made thirty seem like twenty so forty is definitely where it is at.

I also knew I wanted to do some meaningful work before I turned forty. I have enjoyed all my jobs, but at the end of the day that is what they are. I always give anything I do my best, but I rarely feel that those I am working for or with particularly care. It is a small cog in a giant, slowly turning wheel syndrome. So working for Cuso with NEWLO has given me the opportunity to do something meaningful where the wheel is turning fast and I need to hustle to keep up.

Work however is only one component of your life, sadly for a great many it becomes the focus rather than the means to pursue fulfillment. For me my greatest contentment is my family. Loving a partner and learning to balance your needs and wants with someone else's teaches you patience, understanding and humility. The deepest love is really reserved for your children though, they are a part of you and your sense of responsibility to teach them well is both a gift and a burden.

I recently read a great article in a Catholic journal that reinterpreted "spare the rod- spoil the child". In the Bible those who used rods were shepherds. Their rods were not used for beating their flock but by gentling guiding and redirecting their flock when they went down the wrong path. So sparing the rod meant not providing guidance and direction, letting your children do as they wished. In the past I would never have applied this phrase to my parenting style but in this context I think it is exactly how the boys have been raised.

Looking at how well they are doing here in Grenada I know that our decision not to spank and to help guide and redirect them with words has produced young men who are able to adapt without needing threats of force to help them do the right thing. In contrast in the Caribbean "beating" (the word they use for spanking) is accepted and I find that children, teens and to some extent adults are constantly hitting each other- because it is what their parents have taught them. They learned that when you get hit you defer to what the person hitting wants. I see it everyday, both boys and girls. It isn't healthy for anyone as it breeds the fear and suspicion that the Dali Lama notes is an obstacle to inner peace.

My family extends out to my sister and my mom. We were the three amigos when my mom was
brave enough to leave an emotionally abusive husband when Ceilidh and I were three. We went through a lot together and while there were times when our triad didn't feel very stable we knew we could count on each other. Happily I think the competition and frustrations have been worked through to the point where we just accept each other as we are.

In my twenties and thirties friends were something that just seemed like so much work. But then I worked on Canada@150 and realized how great it was to have people in your life who were passionate and interesting and kind, and I have slowly been expanding my circle. Being an introvert is still is nothing like my moms or my sisters but it exists and I have made some friends for life in Grenada. I also got really lucky in having some amazing women in my workplace who, now that I am sooooo done with acting assignments, I can finally call friends.

So I spent my fortieth birthday at my awesome job; I got to talk to my mom, and text my sister (who was in Spain!) and then spent the evening at a lovely restaurant with a new friend Mr. Campbell. Yup life is good!

Mr Campbell and his daughter the chef at Le Phare Bleu

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