This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Honest about authenticity

Authenticity is the trendiest buzz word out there these days.

Phrases like “I’m living my authentic life” are uttered with regularity over coffeehouse beverages.

If you’re not sure how to be authentic, there’s an abundance of books, talk shows and weekend retreats that will teach you everything you need to know.

As much as I often say I’m not one to join in on trends, I have to admit, I’ve gone full-on trend with trying to live my own authentic life.

But what does that mean? I’ve seen countless videos and public speakers and coaches all cheering me on and assuring me I’m being authentic.

But stripping it down – beyond the videos and coaching and coffee shop talks – what does me living my authentic life really mean and how does it affect my inner circle?

For that matter, what does any of us living our authentic lives mean?

Without speaking for others, for me it really just means honesty, which sounds kind of lame and obvious. Except that it’s honesty on a level I’ve never taken it to before.

It’s not only about being honest with people, but also with myself even though it can be brutally hard sometimes.

In my quiet, alone moments, facing my own questions and then answering truthfully, even in my own head, can be sobering and a huge reality check.

It’s not that I lied to myself or others about these inner thoughts, it’s more that I just didn’t want to confront them because really, ignorance is bliss.

So I would just ignore the issue … the whole “if you can’t see, it must not be there” mentality.

The issues I chose to ignore varied on different days. But my favourites were:

  • my bank account and credit card balance
  • my marital breakdown
  • my current relationship
  • my friends
  • and, most important, what is my purpose in life.

That last one – my purpose – really has me wrapped around its finger. It’s weird to know what you want out of life, but not be sure how to get to it.

What I’ve found interesting is how me “living authentically” has changed how I deal with the world around me.

I’m notorious for not replying to a non-urgent text from my friends till a couple days or more later after I received it. It’s not that I don’t see it right away, but rather that I plan to reply “when I have time.”

But time can be elusive.

In the past, I’d make up a lame excuse like I didn’t receive the text till now or I’d lost my phone.

But living authentically has me just honestly saying “Sorry for my late reply.” And that’s it – nothing else. There’s no point in justifying my laziness or forgetfulness.

As minor as this may seem, it’s empowering. I didn’t reply to you in a timely manner, I’m an ass. It’s nothing personal.

This has also parlayed into other, more significant situations. If I have an issue with someone – be it a co-worker, a family member or a friend, I just call it out directly with that person.

It usually results in me realizing I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Or in the cases where it is something – I now can just confront it head on.

Sometimes it causes a bit of awkwardness, but mostly, people are receptive and willing to hash it out.

Being authentic has also made me be more me. I don’t live a Facebook life, and I’m quite OK with people knowing that.

Even this column … I love writing it, but I struggle with topics when there’s no immediate personal crisis happening.

I read readers comments and see how many views I get — often with my heart somewhere in my throat.

I’m the first to admit that as petty and small as it may be to you – to me, it means something. It’s kind of like getting Facebook and Instagram likes.

It’s validation that what I’m doing is creating emotion for others – be it good or bad.

I guess that’s my life purpose – affecting others. Preferably in a positive manner, but, understandably, not always.

It’s real. It’s every day. It’s who I am. It’s authentic.

Thanks for reading.


Using kids as divorce pawns

Some parents need to grow up and smarten up.

I was told about a couple who had separated — badly — and they share custody of their two pre-teen children.

In an effort to be the “better parent,” both mom and dad have been going to extreme efforts to win the kids over.

Birthdays and Christmases have been over the top at each home with the kids being showered with presents and parties.

Both parents are adamant that they don’t bad-mouth the other in front of their kids, but instead vent their frustrations to friends.

In all fairness, the parents are doing what they think is best for the kids and trying to ensure the kids know they are immensely loved by both of them, despite the marital breakdown.

While the two parents often struggle to keep their bitter feelings toward the other to themselves, they both agree on keeping the kids far away from it. Which is why I was angered when I heard about their latest issue.

The mom wants to take the kids to a friend’s wedding in the United States. She would be travelling with both kids, her current boyfriend and his children.

The problem is the dad refuses to sign for their younger child to get a passport. The older child already has a passport, so that’s not a problem. But the mom wants to take both kids.

Dad is refusing because he says he’s not sure the kids will be safe being that far away from home. The funny thing is that the kids have actually travelled a further distance already with the mom — just within Canada, so a passport wasn’t required.

I’m told the dad is jealous he’s not the one taking the kids on this trip, so he’s making it difficult. Apparently, he had planned a similar trip just a year prior, but was unable to follow through.

The mom and her boyfriend have travelled together a number of times with all their kids with nary a complaint from the dad. So the mom is understandably frustrated by the dad’s refusal to allow one of the kids to go … and why just one.

It doesn’t make sense.

This has led to yelling matches and threats by each parent to not let the other see the kids. What was starting to become a reasonably managed, post-separation relationship is now completely obliterated by this sudden change in attitude.

This whole situation just makes me irritated. Parents need to start loving their kids more than they hate their ex.

In an effort to “get back” at their ex or “punish” them for long past wrong-doings, the only people who are being hurt in these scenarios are the kids stuck in the middle.

Why should the child have to miss out on a fabulous trip because one parent is jealous they’re not the one going?

The child doesn’t understand the background story behind it – nor do they care. They only know they’re being prevented from going on a fabulous trip.

When a parent is blinded by jealousy or anger – be it over a new partner of their ex, trips or material things – they tend to lose sight of the child’s best interests by trying to justify the reasons for their actions.

And let’s face it, some of these reasons can be pretty convincing and parents have a duty to look out for their kids when the kids are too young to do so for themselves.

But pettiness is not in favour of the child’s interests – it’s just an attempt to hurt the other parent in the worst way possible – through the child.

So I go back to what I say in the beginning – some parents need to grow up. The separation and divorce is between you and your ex – not the children.

Put the effort you’d spend on making your ex miserable into making your kids happy. That will be a far bigger payoff for them in the end – and for you too.

Thanks for reading.

KISSing the basics

You know the adage about going back to basics and keeping it simple?

There seems to be a lot of this type of chatter going around lately. I often wonder if this is typical with every generation as they approach and journey through their 40s and 50s.

Or is it something that seems to be getting harder to achieve, so we talk about it more like we would talk about any other dream?

Many of my peers seem to be in this same thought pattern — going back to the basic necessities and creating simplicity where complexity currently lives.

I consider myself very lucky to have two brothers who are pretty cool. Not only do I love and connect with each of them deeply, but they also keep me realistic and challenge me on my opinions — including this one.

While talking with my younger brother about this topic of simplicity, he really gave me pause for thought.

As I was expressing my unexplainable, intense desire to just simplify my life and cut out the “rah-rah,” he asked me what I was hoping to achieve by doing that.

Well, obviously, I want to have more freedom to live life the way it’s supposed to be lived — with enjoyment and experiences. The way I’m living now is just to literally pay my bills and then go into debt to have fun — except that it’s not fun.

For so long, it was very important to me to have a nice house in a nice neighbourhood and drive a nice car to go to my nice job.

Well, if that was the be-all and end-all to happiness, then call me an over-achiever because I have all of that and then some.

But with all of that came more of other stuff I hadn’t thought about: more financial burden, more comparison to the next person, more rushing to the next best thing and definitely more stress.

All the stuff I’d wanted to attain and that I’d thought would make me happier and more grateful, actually gave me less — far less.

I have less sleep, less vacations, less time to do what I want, less money in my bank account and less connection with the people I love the most.

I recently saw an online video about how we all kill ourselves to go to work for hours everyday to pay for houses we can't spend time in because we're too busy working to pay for them ... how true is that?!

I wrote a couple of months ago about how being in Maui gave me a smack-in-the-face realization that less is more.

With no access to Wifi in most public places, I was forced to disconnect. The reminder of how simple it is to not worry if you left your phone at home was startling.

And it also made me yearn again for simpler times. It made me slow down for 10 glorious days and appreciate life for the moments it gave me — not the Facebook or Instagram post.

Even today, I have these weird, unexplained remembrances of how easy and simple life used to be — way back in the 1970s. Before technology and modern-day influences took over. It can be something as simple as a song on the radio that makes me nostalgic for the ease of those days.

My brother had another take on it. He, too, has a bunch of friends who are wanting to simplify and in his own way, he’s on the same path.

His reasoning behind it though is that it’s for a deeper, spiritual connection — be it religion or ethereal based. We all have the innate desire to go back to our roots at a DNA, molecular level.

He thinks it’s because it’s where we come from. We stem from simplicity and love. And as we get older, whether we consciously realize it or not, we want to recreate that.

Even now, as I write this, I struggle to make this sound as good as he did. Mostly because I don’t want to tick anyone off by speaking too religiously or too universally. As much as I like to create conversation, I also hate creating controversy.

All summed up though, my brother gave me insight in a different way — always a good thing. Thank heavens for family that can call you on it …

My plans to simplify have gone full steam ahead … I’ve put my house up for sale and have set clear goals to live a life filled with more vacations, less workday. More gratitude, less attitude. More experience, less stress.

And whatever your reason for simplifying — if it works for you, it doesn’t matter what others think.


Let's hear it for Gen Z

Every generation has its “thing.” What they’re known for and how it affects past and future generations.

Much has been said and written about how the Millennials are a lost generation. And the group coming up behind them, Generation Z or iGen are no better off.

These two groups are often referred to as being lazy and unmotivated and lacking direction.

People who are my age — the generation raising these two groups — are in a constant battle with ourselves of how do we fix this and is it really as bad as perceived?

The baby boomers and earlier generations tend to think so. Their rhetoric is often along the lines of “take away their phones and electronics and make them get jobs.”

Before I continue, I feel the need to state I’m not painting every single person of every generation with the same brush – it’s more of a generalization and there are many exceptions.

But I find that amidst all the complaining about the young up and comers, their good traits are often overlooked and overshadowed by their technology obsessiveness.

Traits such as open-mindedness, tolerance, acceptance and compassion, regardless of one’s ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion.

I think from what I’ve observed with these kids, that the change we’ve all spoken of for years, is going to happen with them.

As their demographic group starts entering the workforce and becoming players in the game of life, a shift in the way society thinks will be more prevalent.

As a parent raising a couple of iGen kids, I’m super impressed with how they and the Millennials have chosen to be the most accepting of all generations prior to them combined.

I was talking to a family member about this. While acceptance of everyone has been preached for decades, it was never truly embraced until the millennials and Gen Z kids took the stage.

I was raised in an environment where my siblings and I were taught to be kind to everyone and to always turn the other cheek in times of turmoil.

Yet, underlying that, was an unspoken “look the other way” mentality that if another person were to discriminate or be racially offensive to a person or culture, we wouldn’t say anything in defense of them.

Was it right?

Absolutely not.

But we also honestly didn’t think we were wrong. We just thought we were being polite by not saying anything at all. And being polite was more important than being confrontational.

That’s not to say my parents ever encouraged us to take a backseat if we seen someone being unfairly targeted. Quite the opposite in fact. My dad was a huge proponent of standing up for others, and the Golden Rule was enforced in our house.

But I was born in a time where it was also ok to just simply pretend you didn’t hear it, see it or notice it.

The difference between then and now is the kids nowadays will absolutely not stand for that and are very vocal in being outwardly accepting to all.

If someone is gay, they don’t care — that’s just who they are. Someone dresses differently — what’s the big deal. It’s that person’s choice.

So while I was talking to my family member about this, I was saying the credit should go to us because we’re the ones raising our kids to be like that. And then I was given another spin on it.

Yes, we have done an amazing job of teaching our children from a young age that it’s OK to be you and that differences among us should be celebrated.

We’re that generation that had to make the leap from being raised in households that perhaps weren’t as open-minded, to having to be the household that is.

While it doesn’t sound like a difficult thing to do, it can be exasperating to unravel many preconceived notions of multiple generations – not only in one’s family, but in a societal way as well.

Yet, somehow along the way, that’s exactly what happened. But can all the credit go to us, the parents?

The more likely culprit, or shall I say hero in this case, is social media. Social media has created a whole new form of social justice never known to generations past.

Anything that goes awry can and will be posted on social media for all to witness and judge. And this is making the younger generations more socially conscious and aware on a grander scale.

Because of the amount of screen time kids and young adults log, they are constantly subjected to other ways of thinking, seeing and understanding what may have been misunderstood in the past.

It’s exposure on a global platform.

While much can be said about the atrocities of social media, the negative effect it has had on society (something I’ve written about many times) and what it’s done to the Millennials and iGens, there’s the flip-side that can be attributed to opening their minds and expanding their tolerance.

Dare I say this could work for the older generations as well?

Thanks for reading.

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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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