Born to be Wild- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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In 1969 Dennis Hopper took a maturely modest approach to cinematic shorthand when Wyatt and Billy rode into hearts and homes as two Southern Californian Harley Riding Hippies who complete a drug deal and then ride off on a journey of spiritual enlightenment seeking truth, peace and happiness in Nixon’s America. Watching Western’s with my Dad back in the day I noticed that they always put the good guys in white hats, omitting minutes of unnecessary explanation at the beginning of every movie. Instead of weighting the viewer down with colorless facts, Hopper brilliantly applied this approach to a Motorcycle movie and it worked. The Soundtrack to Easy Rider was a blazing success as well, 49 years later Steppenwolf’s Born to Wild, which was their first successful single, still gets tons of radio play. The minute it comes on the radio I can’t force my hips to stay still and I am convinced, more than ever, that I was indeed “Born to be Wild”

The truth is we all are.

The last couple of days have been extremely uncomfortable for me and influenced by some shitty ups and downs. I have come to the conclusion that often when I feel frustrated and upset I attack myself and I become disappointed in myself. I am beginning to see very clearly that these periods of discomfort are the consequence of a huge inner battle. An uneasy conflict between my comfort zone and my true nature; my desire to grow.  Every time I fight what is in front of me, the path that I am stepping into, I am unnerved.

For years society has put us into well arranged and tidy roles, organized by labels and ill fitting boxes.

I for one feel fucking cramped!!!

Our comfort zone keeps us safe and cozy because it is familiar and even though staying firmly rooted in it may not always be the healthiest or wisest choice, we find relief in what we know.

What happens when we outgrow the box, when jamming ourselves into that stupid box every single day, and lining up in a neat and tidy row makes us sad and sick? Do we shrink to fit; do we dim our lights to fit into a dreary row? Do we trade our freedom for the titles that society bestowed on us? We are men, women, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, leaders, role models…there are expectations and responsibilities for us after all.

I am a wild woman.  My true nature is freedom. I will not be bound by a role that society defined for me. I will not shrink into a well labeled, neatly organized box.

Do you know what I mean by the Titanic pose?

Do you ever imagine yourself as Rose at the railing of the Titanic with your arms outstretched, wind in your hair and that feeling of flying? Rose was fighting against the pressures of a relationship that made her feel dead inside. She was about to trade, liberty and choice for money and esteem, a life that would diminish her in all of the truly important ways. We see it so very clearly on the big screen, cinematic magic sweeps us into a place where for a short time we can imagine being Rose, we understand her restraints and we understand the wild independence she longs for. Alas, the credits roll and we say goodbye to the beautiful fantasies that will live only in our memories because we cannot possibly have everything we want in life and still feel free! Can we?

I think we can. I think it is possible.

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.

~ Stephen Covey

 

When I lost my husband Kirk to the devastating effects of depression and mental illness I knew immediately that to honor him I had to live my best life, a life full of the lasting peace and joy that he so very much desired. The second I knew he was gone I was hit in the face with the reality that it would be me teaching our children how to move forward gracefully, how to embrace life and live big. Every bit of me knew how important it would be to embark on a journey with myself and take the time to fully be with me, void of the labels of wife, spouse or widow. I very much wanted to free myself from the societal fabricated restraints of what it meant to live and heal and grieve.

I learned from Anne Lamont that laughter is carbonated holiness and Glennon Doyle Melton reminded me that there is sacredness in tears and I learned that I can experience both of those things quite intensely without one experience diminishing the other.

Grief has become my teacher.

In the last several months I am working towards who I want to be in the world and sometimes I feel unnerved because parts of me are being stripped away, parts of me that I have held unto with bloody knuckles because it is all I have ever known.

There is a freedom in reclaiming the wild-hearted person you were always meant to be but sometimes you feel unrecognizable to yourself and that can be scary. It can often be mistaken for feeling broken but I truly believe it is healing and becoming.

Grief really makes you take a look at life and consider the impermanence of it all. Life, love, it is all transitional, fleeting.  Like the waves of the ocean (thanks Roberta Shephard) we can drown trying to hold unto all of it, some things are not meant to be bound.

I see my friends in various stages of discontent, holding unto things that cause them hurt or things that take away their freedom, relationships defined by chains, and expectations, magnifying insecurities and creating resentments. We have been doing things all wrong for so long!!

From the time I was a little girl I can recall a saying that I believe my mom taught me,  “When you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was”

I loved that saying forever but I want to change it up just a bit, people do not belong to each other, we are not objects and we belong only to ourselves. If we love someone we should ALWAYS, no matter what the circumstances, want them to feel free. Anything else is not love, it is fear based on attachment and the want for comfort and security. Sometimes our true power lies not in holding on with bloodstained hands but in letting go and finding our own way to create happiness and freedom.

The truth is that death has a lot to teach us about love and living. I feel deep gratitude that I had the opportunity to love a person so deeply, that even in his physical absence he is able to guide, support and encourage me.  I am reminded every single day that true love should feel like pure freedom and the importance of loving and supporting myself so that when the time comes that romantic love comes knocking, I will answer the door because I have love to give, not because I desperately need love.  I think that is a very important distinction in our relationships.

We were not born wild and free only to allow ourselves to be bound by chains. As my talented friend Charlie A ‘Court croons, chains of love, are chains just the same.

Just for a second today, imagine yourself standing at the railing of the Titanic with the ocean breeze in your hair, arms outstretched like you can fly, or imagine yourself on the top of a mountain, lungs on fire but arms in the air, relishing not in just the view from the top but the tenacity it took to climb it, that is freedom. Feel it, love it, and crave it.

You too, were born to be wild.

Make your moments count, make a difference and make sure that you live and love in a way that allows you and others to feel free.

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

~William Glasser

 

 

 

Hungry like the Wolf- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

In 1982 Duran Duran released Hungry like the Wolf from the album Rio. Though they initially failed to successfully crossover to U.S. markets, success was imminent in the U.K. and eventually MTV put the song on rotation earning it a #3 spot on the U.S. Billboards Top 100 in March of 1983 and in 1984 they won a Grammy for best short form music video. I was just 10 years old when Duran Duran won a Grammy and I am assuming I was oblivious to the rampant sexual undertones of the song but the parallels to the Little Red Riding Hood were not lost on me.

I know useless music facts, I have actually forgotten more than I know but I have spent many a late night arguing music trivia with my late husband and I have always been able to relate a song to something that was happening in my life and piece together a timeline. Not everyone who knows me knows how important music has been in my life but I would say most of my people do.

In September 2016 I was at English Bay with Kirk and I got a call from an old friend in Ontario that I had not seen in well over 20 years. She and her husband own an Irish pub in London Ontario, where I called home for a short time during my informative years (party)

It was music trivia night and something was not working properly and my friend was desperate to find out what a video was so that she didn’t disappoint the customers. She described the video to me and feeling a bit overwhelmed and under pressure I guessed that the video was Duran Duran’s Rio. I recall that I was really excited to speak to my old friend but also thrilled that music had made her think of me.

I myself am not musical, I played a tiny bit of guitar when I was in junior high and I played the ukulele as well but I cannot carry a tune in a bucket except for Cyndi Lauper songs and have been known to sing Time after Time on repeat to the point of nausea. However, I love music and it has connected me to the most amazing people and experiences in my lifetime. Those who know me well know that I will often use song lyrics in everyday situations but something that may be less known is that I used healing music extensively after Kirk died; Snatam Kaur’s music got me through some very difficult times. I also listen to many types of music including classical, folk and blues.

I am very open on my blog and you can get a very good idea of who I am from reading what is essentially journal type entries but I am noticing lately that some people seem to be stuck on some sort of idea of who I am that they have created in their head. I think we are all guilty of that to some extent, we glimpse into peoples lives through social media and we are looking through a very small window and then we heap our own ideas and expectations unto a person and we have now decided who they are.

I have often said the truth is expansive and one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my late husband is about judgement. When we offer love and kindness before judgement a whole new world opens up to us. I used to be extremely guilty of putting people in little boxes, labeling them and putting them into neat little piles. I no longer decide who people are, I allow them to show me who they are and the great thing is that when we approach people with kindness before judgment we invite them to be their true selves and we learn that people really can be fabulous and they do not have to be just like us to teach us, to support us and to be in our lives. What a boring place the world would be if we were all exactly the same.

I form deep connections with people, it has always been my thing, I am not immune to physical attraction but for me I really like to know someone’s mind.  I admit I spent a great deal of time wanting everyone to be like me and shunning people that weren’t and I now believe that is an insecurity in us that we will either change to be like others or surround ourselves only by like minded people.

The problem with that is we lose a great deal of ourselves by changing to be like others, we lose the things that make us unique and often we compromise our ideals. We have a great deal to offer the world by  embracing our authentic selves and giving that person to the world everyday, it is really the only way to continue to grow as individuals.

Just last week I told someone that they were into an idea of me, a profile picture and things they had projected unto me because they were qualities that their imagination wanted me to have. It was no better than a fantasy and the problem with that is people are very rarely the people we create in our heads, no matter how great our ingenuity is.

If we take 5 selfies and we post the best one, we may look absolutely stunning but we are more than that one angle. I am a culmination of who I am when I am happy, sad, struggling, creating, living and loving. I am so much more than a perfect selfie. I have friends, family, acquaintances and people I am fond of and curious about. I also have a small group of people that I call “my people”

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

When I was sat smack dab in the middle of black despair after losing my husband I was faced with rumors, judgment and innuendo. At that point I made a decision to continue to be who I am no matter what and if I was someone I was proud of the right people would be in my life and nothing else would matter. That alone has changed my life immensely and allowed me to see and accept myself as well as embrace others, all of the dark and all of the light that makes us fantastically beautiful mosaics.

The problem is, I can post a selfie and basically tell you what to look at, but I cannot tell you what to see. That is entirely up to you.

Some of you will read this and take from it that Michelle knows useless 1980’s music trivia and that is fine. The reason I chose that song title is that I truly believe that we are all hungry to be deeply known, loved and understood. The thing to remember is that people can only know you and love you as deeply as they know and love themselves. A person who does not love and accept themselves entirely cannot possibly love you the way you want them to and sustain that. In turn if we do not love ourselves entirely and continue to invest in ourselves it is almost arrogant to assume that anyone else should invest in us if we have already deemed ourselves unworthy.

If I could ask one thing of you today it would be to love yourself, not in five years, not when you get a promotion or lose twenty pounds or quit drinking, love yourself right now and grow from there. Love your friends, your family and your co-workers, not for who you want them to be, not for who you know they can be but for who they are. Meet them right where they are and see how acceptance and authentic love encourages them to expand and fill their space in the world.

 

Happy Tenacious Tuesday!

 

Let’s talk about sex baby! Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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“We are no guiltier in following the primitive impulses that govern us than is the Nile for her floods or the sea for her waves.”
Marquis de Sade, Aline et Valcour

I have spent the last week predominantly in comfy clothes (some might call them pajamas) with no make-up and hair piled on top of my head, alternating between Netflix and sweeping dog hair off the floors. It has been an extremely relaxing week off work to say the least. On Sunday I slept late, and during my last hour in dreamland I had convinced myself that I had written this amazing blog post for Tenacious Tuesday, that it was fabulous as well as scheduled to be published first thing this morning. In the Tim Horton’s drive thru I realized that it had been a dream and I searched my brain to recall what it was I had written about in my dream that I was so excited about. Somewhere between scoffing down a horribly burnt medium black coffee and a bagel belt which was weirdly missing the lettuce and tomato, so basically just a bagel be; I totally lost any recollection of the awesomeness I had intended.

I usually do not stress about my Tuesday post; the universe always has my back and a topic always pops in my head at the last minute. Instead of stressing out I indulged in Season 2 of Ozark and I have to say the writers on this show are fucking brilliant. Helen, the lawyer on this season of Ozark has the best one liners and though you recognize that she is appropriately pleasant when the occasion calls for it, you never for one second doubt that she would cut you in pieces and put you in a wood chipper and finish the day off with a nice 18 year single malt scotch without even batting an eye if that is what was needed. Even knowing that, the writers have managed to make her somewhat likeable.

“Hey Helen with the slicked back hair, pale face, black cherry lipstick and charcoal grey pantsuits, I get you. Your composed ruthlessness and ambiguous half smile are kind of sexy in a bit of an alarming way.”

It is stunning to me what a room full of good writers can pull off but alas even this line “It’s the first law of power Marty, those who can; shit on others, those who can’t clean it up!”, did not trigger a topic for me to write about.

I made dinner, watched Haley have a first day of grade nine eve dance party, talked to Morgan about heartbreak, spoke with a friend about exes and then it was an article about a couple in China that went to the doctor after failing to conceive a baby for four years in which the woman had been enduring painful sex, only to find that they had been having ONLY anal sex for four years and that the woman was still a virgin that I yelled “AY CARUMBA” in a loud yet somewhat sexy Spanish accent sounding like a cross between an intoxicated Sofía Vergara and an angry Eva Longoria that I decided to talk about my favorite subject in the entire world ‘SEX’.

So, even though those badasses Salt N Pepa said it said it first, “Let’s talk about sex baby!”

Sex has always been a fascinating topic to me, it astounds me that people are having a lot of sex yet not talking about it and some people are not having a lot of sex and still not talking about it. I have always been extremely open in talking about sex with my children. Ultimately it is something that they are going to do at some point, and I hope that when they choose to have sex that it is safe and meaningful and I also want them to know that it is supposed to feel good for both partners.

The “Me Too” movement has opened up a lot of dialogue surrounding consent, respect and responsibility in regards to sex, however, I know that there are a lot of situations that those engaged in having sex do not actually feel comfortable enough to speak up when things do not feel right, or to ask for consent. I am not a prude at all when it comes to sex, though I do think at the very least a prerequisite for having sex with someone should be feeling comfortable enough to talk about what is happening and whether it is OK with both partners (or all partners, who am I to judge?)

SEX IS EVERYWHERE

In our culture sex is used to attract and distract, entertain, allure and sell. Though we have all been guilty of constant concern and petty gossip surrounding the sex lives of others, studies suggest that partners are not able to talk to each other openly about their own sex lives. Astoundingly, this is not an issue that is reserved for youth or couples in new relationships, couples in long term relationships and those who have been married for decades have a difficult time not only talking about sex but communicating their wants and needs.

If you have spent any time with me at all you may have heard me say that sex is like pizza, “When it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad, it’s still pizza and you will have a second slice!”

That is actually complete bullshit, it is 2018 and there is no reason for us to be having anything but fantastic sex and damn good pizza. I like all sorts of pizza but my favorite is thin crust veggie pizza and I am not afraid to tell Pizza Hut how I like it.

Remember during the Clinton scandal when Barbara Bush said Clinton lied because a man never forgets a blow job, even a shitty one? I think if we are going to make memories they should be memorable for all the right reasons. Almost as good as great sex is our recollection of it later.

If you choose to have sex it should always feel indulgent, but not like that extra cookie before bed because sex is actually good for your physical and emotional health in many surprising ways. It should feel indulgent like an extra scoop of french vanilla ice cream on your pumpkin pie, minus the guilt but double the satisfaction.

You don’t go to Fatburger for the garden salad, if you are in, be all in!

Sex should be empowering but should never be used to wield power over your partner or to shame, blame or hurt.

Sex and death remain two of the top subjects that people have the most difficulty talking about and understandably so, even those that believe in heaven are in no hurry to race to the pearly gates, but people seem to want more and more sex yet are less and less willing to have honest conversations about it.

I guess in a way, talking candidly about sex may present opportunities for embarrassment or ridicule but that has never been my experience, either in talking with my late husband and/or friends. I find it surprising how openly people can talk about sex when they feel like they are in a safe place of non-judgement yet for some reason they are not always in that place of comfort with their sexual partners. Without that level of comfort they fail to reveal their secret desires as well as their likes and dislikes and therefore sex can quickly become stale, almost as exciting as folding laundry. We will do it because when all the baskets are full we have to but we are not doing it as often as we should and we are not feeling fulfilled.

Intimacy was a huge part of my marriage and for that I am thankful. My late husband and I were together for twenty years and sex was not an issue for us though we did struggle through those early years with babies and full time jobs when sometimes the promise of extra sleep was a bit more alluring than a midnight romp. I realized quite quickly that good sex doesn’t have to take a long time and nothing makes you sleep better than the big “O”

I remember the one and only time that my late husband turned me down for sex saying he was too tired, I remember everything about how that made me feel, I even remember details of that day because I had changed our bedroom around and our bed was in a different location. I was so sullen, and it made me feel hurt and unwanted. We were having problems in our marriage that were not related to sex, in fact, with the stress of children and full time jobs we had almost lost our ability to communicate and if it were not for sex we may have completely lost our connection to one another. I believe that sex between lovers can be a language all on its own and if we are not able to effectively communicate, problems arise. There are times in our intimate relationships that we will inevitably face challenges, sex shouldn’t be one of them but it is right up there with finances and can cause the same degree of stress and discontent if left unattended.

I read a really interesting article relating to the impact that sexual rejection has on relationships and what was really interesting to me is that if women were the initiator’s of sex and were turned down they felt justified in their hurt and frustration but failed to see the same effect when they said no to their male partners because of the belief that the male need and want for sex is largely desire based and for females it is believed to be emotionally centered. Interestingly enough though; men experience the same amount of hurt and negative emotions when their sexual affections are dismissed, often affecting their confidence, ego and desire for their partners.

Sex is a wonderful expression of love between partners but sex and love can also be very separate things. They are not mutually exclusive and the outdated idea that it is supposed to be touching for the woman and gratifying for the man and that men should always initiate sex are things that I was never told by my mother during that awkward conversation about sex that we had all those years ago while sitting in my teenage bedroom surrounded by Jon Bon Jovi posters, yet they are things I spent a great deal of time believing nonetheless.

Intimate love and sex go hand in had, I believe that to be true, but I also believe that there are people having great sex without love and commitment and though I think that is wonderful for them I think that there is an important distinction that should be made when entering into sexual relationships, sex is a beautiful and healthy way to express and celebrate the love we have for another person but sex does not guarantee that someone will love us. I think this is an important discernment for all sexually active individuals. In healthy relationships, whether they are committed or not, sex should not be used as a commodity.

Everyone has their own opinions about sex, intimacy and its importance in relationships and the great thing is that none of us are wrong in our personal opinions but i believe that both partners views about sex, the importance of, and the frequency of should be considered, and even in the most casual of sexual relationships; safety, comfort and pleasure should always be priorities. If sex is on the menu, serve it right!

Our sex lives are heavily shaped by culture, perception and expectations, some of what we know or have come to expect is clouded by Harlequin romances or better yet porn, both are for entertainment, not education. The best way to know what your partner is turned on by is to ask them because nine out of ten times Fabio hair and fisting is not it.

I encourage you all to be tenacious this Tuesday and initiate a conversation with your significant other about sex. I wish you good luck and great sex.

“The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.”

~Marcus Aurelius

Just the way you are -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

“Love is not about being the same. Love is about two humans appreciating each other.”

~Waylon Lewis

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My late husband used to take his socks off at night and drift them across the room. It used to drive me crazy as he was always looking for socks and complaining that someone was stealing his socks and then he would buy more socks and the cycle would consistently repeat. I used to try to get him to put his socks in the laundry basket, but my efforts were always fruitless but at this moment I would give just about anything to be sitting on the couch with him while he takes his socks off, rolls them in a ball and drifts them across the room. Looking back, it was never worth a sigh, a raised voice or nagging. My husband has been gone for just over fourteen months and it has become something I recall with a smile. It is something about him that made him who he was and if I could have him back I wouldn’t try to change it.

The most loving thing we can do is love and accept people exactly as they are but as humans we have this insane need to change people. Whether it is our friendships, family or intimate relationships we are attracted to the raw reality of people until it is not convenient for us, until they do not fulfill our expectations and we try to “fix” them and “change” them, hoping they will fit our ego’s best interest.

It is okay to set boundaries in our relationships and we do not have to minimize the impact that other people’s actions have on us but within our boundaries we must be able to love our people from a place of non-judgement and find peace in accepting them just the way they are.

I just realized today that I have been finding this difficult. I have learned some very valuable lessons in my life, some of the toughest in the past year. I have this wisdom that I want others to automatically have and it is hard for me to accept that they have their own journey, their own wisdom, their own struggles. We cannot hand someone a lesson we learned, life just doesn’t work like that and let’s face it we are all just doing the very best we can at any given moment, facing our own shit and working our way through the stuff life throws at us. In the madness and chaos, we all come out different but I think for me I need to check my ego and let go of my inferiority complex that says I am more evolved spiritually and emotionally and therefore capable to decide what is best for someone when our stories are different and even though we are characters in other people’s stories, we cannot rewrite theirs to suit us.

There is nothing like the death of a loved one to the beast of mental illness to have you look back on your entire life and grasp a hold of this immense and immeasurable wisdom and do your best to move forward boldly and fearlessly, never missing an opportunity to fight for what you want, to tell people how you feel about them and to open yourself up to happiness and love even if it means being vulnerable and risking all that is comfortable. I want people to realize how short life is, how this is our opportunity to be happy and live our best life but the best I can do is live my truth and hopefully that inspires others to do the same.

Often, I find myself disappointed in others, sometimes frustrated and desperate when they do not react the way I want them to or make the decisions that I think would be the very best for them. It has caused me a lot of hurt and anguish and the reality is it is not and never should be my job to place expectations on the people I love. Sometimes the very best thing we can do in the moment is the next best thing and that may look very different for me and you. It is never our job to pass judgement on how others manage their lives.

I am learning to love and accept people where they are and to offer understanding and compassion void of expectation and judgements. Our job is to unfailingly live in our truth, to shine our light and fill ourselves up with so much love that we can genuinely give that to others.

When we consistently live in our authenticity we give others permission to do the same. When we accept people as they are we encourage them on their own journeys and to find their own truth. Acceptance is not the absence of healthy boundaries, but we must allow others the space to find their own lights to shine.

Hey “you”, I love you, just the way you are!

 

Black Hole Sun -Wise Project #TenaciousTuesday

 

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leapfrog in 1908 | City, History and Child, new York, New York

I am great at awkward conversations and weird hugs are my specialty. Sometimes I overshare and I can be honest to a fault. The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that I have a lot to learn.

I feel like I just met myself recently and I have barely scratched the surface of who I truly am, and who I am becoming. I not only have a lot of things to discover, I have a lot of things to unlearn.

I am unlearning that certainty and routine, that we often think of as comfortable can be suffocating. The first day I had to face the world without my husband, the father of my children I realized that the expectations and plans I had for our lives together had the potential to tear me apart and leave me torn limb from limb in a mess of heartbreak and loneliness. I have since begun to awaken to the idea that learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and not attaching myself to ideas of the way things “should be” is the truest path to freedom and fearlessness.

“She was tough

but her edges were not

they were softened by grace

and she had a great affection

for every inch.”

~ M DeBay

I fall a little bit in love with anyone that is vulnerable enough to show me their soul. I have realized that the greatest thing is not to be known but to be understood and the truth is we have a great deal of people that have knowledge of us yet very few that truly understand us.

When someone exposes themselves to me, speaking to me from a place of raw authenticity it touches my heart and reserves a space for that person always. When adversity has softened their edges, despair has cracked but not shattered them, when they believe in love despite being hurt countless times and they know how important it is to love themselves first, when they have been brought to their knees by suffering but have found a way to stand with the weight of the whole world on their shoulders, these are my teachers.

I am at a place in my life where I don’t love small talk and casual conversations; I want to know who you are. Share your struggles with me, tell me how you lost yourself and how you are finding yourself, we have so much to learn from each other.

I am drawn to people who were once consumed by darkness but picked up their sword and tirelessly sliced through the dismal blackness until light burst through the obscurity.  I know longer want to save these people, I see and understand the importance of them continuing to save themselves but I want to learn from their passage through that struggle. I want to know how they continue to hold the light.

There is a raw beauty in people that have lived in black and white but refused to accept it and found their own paint brushes and created vivid new canvases.

“Show me your soul and I will show you mine. ” ~ M.DeBay

Sadly; beginnings are always built on endings but hardships are a breeding ground for opportunity.

I remember being a kid and playing leapfrog with my friends on hot sunny days where we played till our Moms called us for supper and we ran home with dirty knees and faces that were kissed by the sun. I remember never fearing taking a leap and erupting into fits of laughter, rolling around in the grass, never suspecting that life wouldn’t always be this way. At a certain point in childhood we become so aware of ourselves that the games that brought us so much joy become wrought with fear and ambiguity. We want to know that we are not going to land on someone’s head and they are not going to land on ours, that our ass crack is not going to fall out of our pants and nobody is going to laugh at us.

Oh the irony!!!!

The unknowns that once had us dissolving into giggles with our friends became our greatest fears. When did laughing with our friends become being laughed at? What changed? What kind of shame have we forced ourselves to carry for years that turned something as wonderful as laughter into something petrifying? How do we get back to that place where we took the leap without being one hundred percent certain of what would happen upon landing?

Every day I apologize to that little girl I left behind. I say I am sorry and I forgive myself for all of the fears I heaped upon her. I miss her wild and childlike abandon and her fearless laughter; I miss her optimism and her wide open heart.  I am unlearning. I am learning. I am forgiving.

It is OK to not know what comes next. When the wind changes directions we don’t give up, we adjust our sails.

We spend a great deal of time planning for days that we are not promised and robbing ourselves of the pure joy of the moment we are in.

For me, meditation keeps me in the now but also helps me access a quiet place of non judgement where I remember who I was supposed to be before I allowed life to happen to me.

Are you interested in knowing more about the law of detachment and how it can help you?

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

Learn More HERE

The Climb- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

It has been thirteen months since I lost my husband to the unfathomable darkness of depression. I know nobody would say thirteen months unless they were referring to a baby, they would just say a year but in this case the distinction seems important.

I grabbed a glass of wine after dinner tonight and came out to the deck to watch the colorful sky. It had been a hot day; there has been a heaviness to the heat the past couple of days, almost as if it was sitting on top of you. I had come home early to enjoy the sun in my backyard and almost immediately the sun vanished beneath a gray mass of clouds that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I put some shoes on and played catch with my youngest daughter until we decided to beat the rain inside as the sky hinted that there was an impending storm, possibly a good one.

We watched some TV till Morgan came home with her friend and I went upstairs to make dinner. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I made spaghetti tacos for the girls. Apparently, it was a thing on ICarly and Haley has been asking me to make them. Morgan was initially as freaked out as I was at the idea but seemed to enjoy them and Haley seemed beyond enamored by them. I opted for a stir-fry with this amazingly flavorful cauliflower rice. It just seemed like a normal day, almost an unfamiliar normal, one I truly haven’t seen in a lifetime. I did the dishes after supper, still peeking out the window occasionally to see if it had begun to rain. The rain was still holding off, and the sky beheld the same dismal color it had been earlier perhaps just a slight shade brighter. I decided to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine and Morgan and her friend appeared and chatted a bit before going to meet another friend. At eighteen Morgan keeps busy with her crew, avoiding quiet times that make her think and feel too much on bottomless repeat. She is not ready to release the pain and sometimes I think we get so used to pain that we wrap ourselves in it like an old blanket and its Saturday night on the couch with your favorite Netflix series. It’s worn and not entirely cozy but there is a certainty to it at a time when everything feels uncertain. Tonight, she came out to the deck and we shared some laughs. She looked nice in her Halifornia Baseball Tee and I wondered for a second if it was mine because we have the same one. The sky had started to darken again just before they left but I found myself moments later staring up at it, a tiny bit confused. The sky had completely changed in a moment that I somehow missed; it was almost like a seamless day to night transition during live theatre. Somehow I blinked and missed it entirely. It was pretty in a weird sort of way, it was like the colors of the bags of cotton candy hanging on the side of the food trucks at the summer fair, the colors started to merge together, like the faces and the people that flock to the little food mobile all day to buy water and French fries. All of the sudden Haley burst out the door running into the lawn and standing on the fire pit, rambling about the sky and how she always used to stand on the fire pit in Grade 7 and take pictures of the sky. She just finished grade 8, probably one of toughest years in all her academic ones but she pulled through it and kicked its ass on the way through. I realized that I used to take a lot of the pictures of the sky as well and besides our recent vacation in the Okanagan where I dedicated time every day to stare up into the sky picking out the funny, dirty shapes in the clouds I had not been doing so. I stared at the moon and the stars at night and meditated fresh air every day of my holidays, yet it is July 30th and this is only the second time this summer that I have sat in my backyard. That feels important. It took thirteen months.

Haley and I continued to chat about the sky and take pictures of its rapidly changing color. It was not the most amazing sky I had ever seen, it wasn’t even close to being great, but it was beautiful in its unique normalness, changing quickly into moodier cotton candy colors. Almost immediately upon noticing the temperamental palette the curtain dropped abruptly leaving the evening sky draped in a deep navy velvet. I am listening to Ben Caplan crooning and sipping on a glass of red wine and kind of swaying in my seat and writing and figuring it out and sharing it with you almost simultaneously. After all we have been in this together, for a while, you and I. You have told me that sometimes my pain has been an escape from your own and that my healing makes yours seem hopeful and possible. You cry with me, remember with me, laugh with me and sit and hold space with me just as you would for your oldest, dearest friend. In most cases I am not your friend, most of you don’t even know me personally and even those of you that would say we were close if I won the lotto or became famous, you may not recognize me anymore. When I put my shattered pieces back together I had to put them back differently. I was forced too, everything was different, as am I, and sure as shitheels I am never going to be the same again.

Like I said, you are me and I am you. Our struggles are different but we both bare the scars of black nights and early mornings on no sleep. The memory fades but you remember how easily you can slip back into that hole. You are also starting to see how easily you can stop that manipulation, the lure of familiarity, and the decent into the darkness. You are starting to see that tomorrow is a new day; you get one every 24 hours. There are days that are easy and days that are hard, none of us are immune to those.

I walk on my lunch hour at work and I am lucky to live in a city with a large urban parks trail system surrounding our river valley. I have become a creature of habit and I take the same route 5 days a week finishing with a ladder. Every day I climb the ladder. When I first started I had to catch my breath several times and then I just stopped halfway through to suck in some air and then as time passed I made it closer to the top without a pause. Some days now I don’t stop at all and some days I stop out of habit. Some days are just hard, unexpectedly, as if I cannot get enough breath into my lungs and the air feels like a massive weight sitting on my chest. I have no explanation except for sometimes life is unexpectedly hard.

I realized that very day that I have been climbing for what seems like forever and it seems like I start over at the beginning every single day. The beauty in that is that I do, I start over every day. Nothing is permanent, no feeling of despair or hopelessness or heaviness that threatens to suck you in. Joy is not permanent either; it weaves in and out of our lives, knitting our memories into stunning tapestries. The magic happens when we realize that we choose how we feel in every single moment and we can chase the bleak shadows deeper and deeper into a pit of desolation or we can follow the wonder, the pleasure and delight as it unites our memories with the sunrise and launches our hopes into the sky to land on the brightest star. Our inner world is married to our outer world and what we give our attention to sets our intention. If our intention is to seek and create a life filled with joy and to meet the highest version of ourselves, if we continue to make that choice in every moment, commit to that climb, the universe will feed on that energy like a hungry traveler and lead us and guide us and move obstacles out of our way.

We are not alone. We are never alone. Just as you and I share in our most difficult struggles and laugh together during times of joy, the universe; the birds, bees, mountains, ocean and trees move simultaneously in a hypnotic dance to produce love, joy, creativity and gratitude in our lives. When that awareness is present I believe anything is possible.

There are times in the last year that I believed life was merciless, torturing me and feeding on my agony like a vulture but a very wise man told me that Kirk would heal through my healing and that one thing has been everything really. My husband spent a great deal of his life in pain, unable to achieve the peace he desired. If I chose to sit in the blackness would I keep him there with me?

Acceptance is vital. There are so many things in our lives that can be changed that we nonchalantly accept but we fight so damn hard against the mountains that are impossible to move. We use all of our strength fighting battles that cannot be won while laying our swords down during the most important of all crusades, the fight for our lives.

I realized one day that Kirk was not going to join me in that pit of despair but his spirit along with so many loving and kind people was offering me a hand to pull me out, I just had to grab unto it every single time I started to fall. The hand was always there, it would always be extended. I choose to fall or climb, that realization has been profound.

In those early days I believed that if I allowed my self to heal that I wouldn’t feel Kirk with me anymore, that he would sense that I no longer needed him and his presence would quickly fade away. I sought some guidance and I depended a great deal on faith and trust and what I learned was that as I continue to heal not only are my memories more vivid but my awareness of his existence in my life is unmistakable. Our souls are eternal and I am confident that he will encourage me always. I know he will be with me no matter what but when I find myself in a dreary place I imagine him sitting there with me saying “C’mon pissy pants, snap out of it!” he much preferred fun Michelle, who doesn’t?

It is those times when I feel happy and free that I feel him the most. I was at a concert last week and I had so much fun and danced non stop. I felt surrounded by his love and approval and I feel like, without earthly limbs I dance for him. When I love and laugh and dance, he does the same, just as when I cry and sit around in my jammies eating endless carbs and feeling like crap, so does he. There is an amazing amount of freedom in knowing that I am guided and supported, always, I just need to continue to climb.

I finally realized that it is not about the view from the top.

Grief is an unimaginable journey, but it is not something to get to the top of. I don’t think you ever stop grieving someone you love but I do believe it changes shape, it cloaks you in a weighty and gloomy sadness but over time instead of wearing it like armor you gracefully drape it over you like an elegant shawl made of courage.

The top just seems final, like a place where you stop learning and I feel like I have a lifetime of learning to do. Death has taught so much about love and living but it feels like there would never be an end to what I could learn about my purpose here in this astonishingly big but enigmatically small world.

Every day, all day, it is a journey, it is a climb.

I feel like slowly, grace and healing is making its way through my house and the last couple of days it has planted itself in my backyard. I can’t even believe how absently I was ready to accept that there would no longer be laughter back there, no welcoming the sun or bathing in moonlight. It is amazing the things that we will accept when we have the power to change them.

How ironic that it was a perfectly normal day that seemed so extraordinary in my heart.

Our journeys are unique to us but often they intersect at the crossroads and we lean on and learn from each other. Shared wisdom and vulnerability is significant and valuable to healing and growth.

Sometimes the first step is the most important part of the journey.

“There’s no glory in climbing a mountain if all you want to do is get to the top. It’s experiencing the climb itself- in all its moments of revelation, heartbreak and fatigue-that has to be the goal.”

~Karyn Kusama

Break Free- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I woke up yesterday to the devastating news of the Greektown shooting in Toronto Sunday night and though my instinct during these tough times is to dwell on the horrifying nature of people and to find myself in a state of overwhelm, I resisted that urge, took a couple of moments to contemplate and send love to the people of Toronto and consider how we are becoming way too conditioned to accept these things as normal. It seems that we are less shocked and appalled than we once were and the alarming part of that is that we have begun to acknowledge these unthinkable acts of violence as customary. We are suitably upset but not astonished. I am not exactly sure what the answer to this is but I feel like there is some danger in our growing indifference and the fact that the most common reactions to mass violence these days seems to be to perpetuate fear against certain groups of people instead of sitting with the discomfort of what is actually happening with the world around us.

I do often prefer the solitude of my own personal bubble, it is quiet and loving and I feel safe there. The past several weeks I started to feel the opposite of all of those things. There was a lot of noise in my brain and the love I normally give myself was a bit absent. It is no secret that I like to feel a certain way. I have a bright and sunny personality, I work really hard to put a positive spin on things and I understand the significance of self love and self care. The thing is, it has been an incredibly tough year for my family and I; and for me personally everything has changed. Though I can dig very deep to find courage, gratitude and create happiness even during times of struggle, I can also find my changing disposition deeply uncomfortable, so when I am not in the sunniest of places the feeling is so unnerving for me that I judge it and myself harshly. The truth is I am not incredibly loving and accepting of cloudy day Michelle and I cast a lot of judgement upon her and can very quickly find myself in a very unfamiliar and exceedingly uneasy place.

I spoke a lot last week about our tendency to cast judgement upon others without looking inward to see what it is in ourselves that we are trying to avoid confronting. I think the flip side of that for me, which has been an interesting and unpredictable shift is that I realize that I am often accepting of others, seeing them as beautifully messy and evolving individuals but there are times that I allow myself to be overpowered by self judgment and my refusal to accept myself as I am, where I am and give myself the same love and space to grow that I am willing to give to others.

I reached out to one of my oldest friends on the weekend because I was feeling such a disconnect with who I was as a person that it had me in a terrible state. My friend has a brilliant mind and he is constantly growing and evolving. He is not a perfect person, and even writing these nice things I fear his head may swell,  but honestly the thing I admire about him is that he has never feared discomfort. He has been a touring hip hop artist, dancer, actor, writer, director, choreographer and teacher. He has never gotten comfortable and thought, OK this feels good I think I will stay here. I know he has felt fear and unease, I am sure there are days it feels like his skin is on fire but he continues to be and to do. He continues to grow. To me, he will always be the little boy that came knocking on my door everyday to come out and play but we have both faced our own personal demons throughout the years and though we have continued to quietly support each other, it is sometimes easy to forget that despite our differences some of the things we face as humans are universal. It is nice that the person who knew you before the world wrapped you in chains of fear, judgement and expectation can remind you that you are a person first and sometimes you just have to let go or you will never be free.

“The world is small, but it’s also big and sometimes life is like a snowsuit you can’t get off on a really hot day!”  ~ Cory Bowles (Hip Club Groove)

I am learning to surrender to the discomfort. It may be clearing me out and bringing about positive change. I do not want to be small or live my life on auto pilot. I want to break free from generations of chains. I am a deeply feeling person in a noisy and messy world, sometimes I will feel unnerved but I will not be defeated.

I am not “just a person’ but I am a person and maybe to be the best version of me I need to find a little bit of comfort outside of my comfort zone.

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,