Desperately Seeking…W.I.S.E. Project 2017/Tenacious Tuesday

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I heard an interesting phrase this weekend, “What you are seeking is seeking you!”

It is interesting on so many levels. Saturday night I was seeking low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with strawberries and shredded coconut and a couple of blocks away at Marble Slab Creamery there was a tall, disinterested teenage boy waiting to scoop and mix  yogurt and “fixins” in his sluggish and non-hurried manner. In a way, what I was seeking in that moment was also lazily seeking me.

A better example might be the night that I had just finished Deepak Chopra’s Quantum Healing on Audible and came across an advertisement on Facebook for an Evening with Deepak close by. He was the speaking guest for Edmonton’s Autism Services this year and they were seeking to fill all the seats to raise money for their charity and clearly, I was seeking wisdom and enlightenment. What I was seeking was also seeking me.

Moments like this happen all the time, sometimes they speak very loudly in the form of a 35% off coupon for your favorite online shop while you are late night internet surfing, but often they are subtle and you need to follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

Sometimes we are heartbroken about community or Global issues and struggles and seeking answers to make sense in times of despair and uncertainty. Those same issues are seeking someone like us to be a part of the conversation, to advocate for a group or cause or to play a role in positive change.

We talk a lot about change and how badly it is needed but we fail to see that we are being sought daily. Collectively we can speak up, support, educate, make a lot of noise and help break the unrelenting cycles such as abuse, violence and sexual assault that can lead to the endless pain and stigma surrounding mental health and trauma.

When author and activist Glennon Melton Doyle started the Compassion Collective in response the Syrian Refugee crisis she wrote a simple but touching narrative that merely stated, “There is no such thing as other people’s children. The idea that we can see people in pain, and just look away and not be affected by it, to keep telling ourselves that our silence will not hurt us; is easily one of the biggest lies we will ever tell ourselves.

Friday night I was dropping my daughter off to be with her friends and there were several cop cars and media parked at the Good Shepherd Church next door in our Edmonton community. Forensics was on sight and I knew immediately that something incredibly horrible had happened. I slowed my truck to a crawl and I saw a man carrying a white sheet. I pulled into a parking lot up the road and dug out my cell phone and learned that it was the body of a toddler and that the police were investigating a suspicious death. I was shaken.

Police did not know who the child was and reached out to the public to assist in identifying the child through his clothing. At that point details were very sketchy but this child automatically became the child of the community. There were no such thing as other people’s children, this baby, belonged to all of us as the hours ticked away.

As I lay awake in the still of the night refreshing my internet browser and trying to make sense of a poorly detailed story, my heart ached for the unnamed baby.

An excerpt from my Facebook post on the weekend summed up my feelings well.

“Even in those quiet moments in the middle of the night when the neighborhood is still I couldn’t shake off the extreme heaviness that had fallen across me and wrapped around me like a blanket. I do not know the beautiful soul that met such a terrible fate, I do not know his family or their circumstances, but somehow, he is not just a child of the world, he is every child. He is my child!”

That heaviness continued throughout the weekend as arrests were made in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Rain; and accounts of his horrific last days and the abuse he suffered that ultimately led to his death were revealed. The Edmonton Police said the young boy lived a terrible life of violence. His father and his father’s girlfriend have been charged with second degree murder, failing to provide the necessities of life, criminal negligence causing death and the father has also been charged with assault causing bodily harm. Social media played a large role in the arrest of the accused but whether Anthony will get justice remains to be seen.

On Saturday morning, I had felt unusually connected to this case, I felt like there was a reason that I was there at the exact moment that the lifeless body of young Anthony was being removed. At that point, he remained unnamed and I felt that I was needed in some way. A lot of community members felt that same need, that something drew them to the church yard to be there for the nameless child they felt an un-explainable obligation to. This baby that laid in the cold since early Tuesday, before being discovered by a passerby on Friday. He was strangely unaccounted for and not reported missing during that time.

Sadness, disbelief and heartbreak will surround this case for a while and then sadly as new events emerge that require our attention the memory of little Anthony will begin to fade from our incessant thought.

Unfortunately, there will be other tragedies, other lives lost, other grieving families struggling to find answers while members of the community mourn the losses of people they never met. The perpetual wheel of misfortune will continue to spin.

The last couple of days when I was glued to the computer seeking answers to the myriad of questions that arose surrounding the tragic death of little Anthony Rain, I thought what if this is one of those times that what I am seeking is also seeking me?

I visited his memorial at the church twice, left flowers, placed a teddy bear, said prayers, shared social media posts, but what if I was called upon to do something more? Certainly little Anthony deserves more than a snowy memorial of toys and flowers and Facebook condolences. His life mattered, yet somehow he was failed. What would it take to write myself into this story, and to help affect change so that another young mother doesn’t receive that dreaded knock on her door in the dark of night?

I don’t have any answers; but every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story of Anthony’s life ended in unimaginable tragedy but maybe the story of how his young life impacted others and influenced change is just at the beginning and maybe my community that adopted him as their own, can help tell it.

I wrote a letter to Mayor Don Iveson this morning and I am hoping that the anger and sadness that we are all feeling can in some way be redirected to help create change in our communities.

Are you actively passionate about a cause at the moment?

Do you feel drawn towards a global or community issues that break your heart?

How do you write yourself into the stories that are close to your heart and help affect positive change?

 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. SeussThe Lorax

 

Chasing the sun-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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Is confidence important to you?

Nineteenth century philosopher and psychologist William James once said “Most people live in a restricted circle of potential”

This remains true today though some would prefer to believe that intelligence, opportunity and resources play the largest role in determining ones impending possibilities, rather than an evident lack of belief in ourselves.

Though popular opinion might lead us to believe that confidence was handed out to a select few at birth it is simply not true. Confidence is not something that is reserved for the wealthy or for those with luck, quite the contrary; it is simply the result of our thoughts and actions.

Too often my children have heard me quoting Henry Ford by saying “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right either way. “

If we truly believe we can’t we will not bother to try, our thoughts become the director of our actions and these actions become the sculptors of our lives.

Confidence is not something we either have or we don’t have. That is not the end of the story. Psychologists describe confidence as volitional in nature; therefore it is a cognitive process by which we as individuals can commit to a particular course of action. Purpose striving is one of the primary human psychological functions.

Without getting too deeply rooted into the science of it, like so many things we can make a conscious choice to build self confidence, we can practice it and over time it will become a habit. This is really good news for all of us! It means that confidence is a choice, with effort and the courage to take risks we can grow our self confidence and continue to build on it.

As humans we need to be mindful of the extent that we rely on outside affirmations for our confidence as we get a quick boost when our efforts are praised but we are hit quite hard when despite our best efforts we fall short of reaching a goal. We need to put more value on taking risks and putting the work in and if we do not achieve the end results we had hoped for we need to be proud of what we did achieve and use that foundation to continue to develop our ideas and work towards our ambitions. Every journey begins with that first step and every step in that journey counts.

Our self confidence is directly related to our self worth, we need to believe that we are enough, that our efforts are enough and when things don’t go the way we had hoped we need to be our own best friend. We need to immediately silence our inner self critic and instead give ourselves the same support that we would give to a friend in the same situation. Most likely we would tell them things like, ‘you did your best, don’t give up, keep working on it, learn from this…”

Focus on what you really like to do. When we have an active interest in something we are able to face the work with optimism and enthusiasm and therefore get better results. However, it is essential that we step out of our comfort zone as much as possible. There is minimal risk of failure in our comfort zone and that alone makes it attractive but there is also very little opportunity for growth. Taking small risks and lifting up the security blanket that we have draped over ourselves can lead to bigger successes and in turn a greater boost in confidence.

Often we focus on the possibility of a negative outcome instead of focusing on what great things could happen. We automatically set ourselves up for failure. If we train ourselves to focus on the positive things we can achieve we will be inspired to put in a greater effort.

Comparison is indeed the thief of joy, if we continually compare our lives to the lives of others we will come up short and feel bad about ourselves. It is okay to look to our role models though. Perhaps we like the way that they speak or handle tough questions, we admire their tenacity and their willingness to embrace new opportunities. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery then it is more than okay to emulate these qualities that we admire in others. If we take baby steps and we are able to successfully reproduce these merits of tenacity, courage and persistence we will not become the people we admire; but by radiating some of the qualities we hold in high esteem we will harness an energetic and dynamic new boldness that will leave us feeling poised and self assured.

Confidence, like all of the emotions, leads to the production of more confidence. The very word itself “confidence” is hard to put into mere words, but we recognize it anywhere, in ourselves and in others. When we feel confident we will say yes to new opportunities and take on bold new challenges and without it we will keep giving into that nagging little voice of self-doubt that tells us we can’t.

Oh baby, you can and you will! If you want something bad enough and you are willing to put in the hard work, you can work towards it, one important step at a time! You can chase the sun, you can dance in the rain!

Voices Carry-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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“Over the moon” by Rob Gonsalves http://www.huckleberryfinart.ca

Whatever funk I was in yesterday has seemed to have subsided. An angry mood erupted in the wee hours of Monday and hung over me like a storm cloud all day long. Today I am back to a better version of myself; a hurricane of joy, kicking Tuesday’s ass like a champ!

I am involved in this project called #100virtues4100days. The virtue that chose me was self discipline. I recall having a slight moment of disappointment. I am not certain what, if any virtue I was hoping for but self discipline chose me and I committed to sitting with this virtue for 100 days.

It is officially day number two and I have to say that it is surprising the way that this virtue is speaking to me.

I shared a quote the other day by Aristotle that says ‘What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”

I know I am going to rely very heavily on this quote throughout my journey with self discipline. Last year during year one of my W.I.S.E. project I was studying relationships in an effort to improve my most important connections  and one thing that kept emerging for me is that “every action, does not require a reaction” Trust me when I say this little mantra has served me well, especially in my marriage. It does require a great deal of self discipline to be able to take that pause and not overreact to situations. There also has to be a choice as to when action is necessary. There are times where it is OK to be silent and there are others that we absolutely should speak up.

In today’s society putting the virtue of self discipline to task, connecting with it and calling upon it when needed is significant. I am learning valuable lessons and I am seeing now more than ever how my actions or in-action can and will directly influence my children and their choices now and in the future.

The anger I felt yesterday was justified, anger often is. If nobody ever got angry would we ever create positive change? If nobody ever stood up against injustice and pushed and persisted where would we be?  Acknowledging our anger can be productive, we just have to learn to use our anger properly and decide when and if action needs to be taken.

Do not sit with anger, do not put your anger unto others, and do not let anger consume you. Let anger call on you to act appropriately in every situation and move forward.

This morning I contacted my daughter’s school in regards to an incident yesterday where a teacher told her at the Talent Show auditions that they had to have their outfits approved to make sure that they were not “slutty” My daughter is 12 and I take particular offense to the use of the word slutty in reference to any child, especially when it is used to shame. Apparently the school had a problem last year with some inappropriate outfits and I one hundred percent support the school in encouraging all students (not just the girls) to dress suitably. I do not support the reference to “slutty” which in the dictionary reads a woman prostitute; an untidy dirty woman. While the teachers are so concerned with appropriate dress they should also re-think appropriate language.

Mostly I allow my daughter’s to deal with their own issues. I am not a helicopter parent and though I know that I have a huge influence over them, my biggest influence will always be in my actions. They will learn from those. Self discipline is a great teacher in knowing when to take the pause and how to react after taking a pause.

Knowing when to stay, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to have your say…so much to ponder.

I was out with my husband this weekend and I said to him, while jiggling excitably,

“God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shake ’em!”

That is a quote from Dirty Dancing, circa 1987 by Penny. My husband had no idea what I was talking about but rest assured I have a movie quote that fits into every conversation, but in this case, we were each given a brain, hands and a voice. I think we have a responsibility to use them for good.

Besides the self discipline virtue that I am sitting with for the next 98 days I have a couple of W.I.S.E. principles that will help guide my choices this month and feel free to follow along or adopt your own.

Wealth– Wealth is usually measured as having an abundance of valuable possessions but I think to achieve wealth your abundance comes from being grateful and being true to yourself. When you are grateful for what you have you will want for less and therefore you are inviting abundance in. A life abundant in joy and graciousness is a wealthy life.

Idealism-The belief that things can be better and that real change is possible when people care a whole lot!

Sanguine– Approaching situations cheerfully and optimistically. Instead of thinking “what could go wrong?” focus on what could go right.

Endeavor– The realization of achievements through hard work.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

 

Landslide-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Stevie Nicks

I was driving home from work yesterday and I caught myself singing along with Stevie Nicks on the radio. I kind of startled myself and not just because I have a terrible singing voice but because I was singing “happily”

The last several days had been grey and dingy and I had resigned myself to the fact that we had bypassed autumn all together and were going straight into a buckle down, bundle up Western winter. Then I noticed as I was belting out the line “Can I handle the seasons of my life? That it was sunny, the early snow was melting rapidly and some of the trees were still decorated with the red and golden leaves of fall.

I was a bit taken aback by how quickly I had accepted that fall had come to an abrupt end and that winter was here to stay. It was more than putting on boots and sweaters it was a mindset that I get into to prepare me for the days to come. Hello to the dark, the cold, the treacherous driving conditions, and a lot less sunlight.  Somehow my memory recalls that after I shovel and take off the layers of clothing that there will be cozy fires, warm drinks, soft blankets and good books.

I realized that as humans we handle the changes in seasons the way we do the seasons of our life.  I know that some of us hold onto the longing and regret that comes with change but I am trying my best to handle mine with grace and gratitude.

View More: http://photoswithashley.pass.us/michelledebay2016

When I think of the first hint of spring and the new buds on the trees I think of my transformation from a child into a teen. Everything was new and fresh and endless, from the buds on the trees to my blossoming bosom.

I think of summer as my early twenties when a day at the beach and making memories was more important than bills and responsibilities. With sunshine in the sky and a bikini on my bottom I was ready to take on the world. I think of fall as adulthood, when the days have a more structured routine, they  are abundant with color and rich with opportunity but the hint of winter is in the air, hanging over us like a threat, warning us that we need to be prepared for what may come. I liken the changing trees to our changing bodies, the look of youth leaving our faces. Our wisdom, our happiness, our fears and our worthiness all etched in the fine lines in the corners of our eyes and the edges of our minds.

I feel like the foreboding of winter lurks in the shadows always, we need to be ready and willing to change at a moments notice. Relationships, jobs and experiences are fleeting. Most people experience more than one job and one love in their lifetimes and without that willingness to change, to grow, to risk heartbreak, where would we be? Time makes us bolder, we have seen a lot of falls turn instantly into winter. We know when to bundle up and how to weather the storm.

Enjoy the seasons of your life and don’t spend your life awaiting the storm. Have your boots and your snow shovel in the closet and if the storm should come you will be ready and when it passes you can sip wine by the fire and sing Stevie Nicks tunes at the tops of your lungs. Summer is always just a memory away.

xo

Michelle