Steal my sunshine- Wise Project 2019 #Naked Wednesday

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I had a great day yesterday, one of those days that makes you feel filled up. I was talking with a friend that has a lot of exciting things going on and then I met another friend for coffee that is on a new and exciting journey and I felt such immense excitement for the two of them. It was a powerful and thrilling feeling and as I sat with it I was immediately taken back to a time when those electrifying feelings were not possible for me. There were many times throughout my life that the world around me felt very out of my control. I subscribed to the belief that life was happening to me, not through me or for me and my best defense was BRACE. DUCK. COVER. ENDURE. During those times I saw people in my life having better luck and getting things that felt impossible for me. I am sure I feigned some sort of halfhearted interest but I am being honest in saying that I did not always feel it. Sometimes your good news and your accomplishments made me feel small and diminished. That shook my confidence and though I desired things as much, or even more than I do now, they felt very unattainable.

I am delighted to be able to say that in the last couple of years I have realized that I am in charge of my life. I am not always in charge of circumstances but I am in charge of how I react to my circumstances. Life is at all times happening for me, and it is not happening to me, it is happening through me. I am the co-creator of my life. This has been huge. I have made some huge changes in my life and most of them started with something very simple, choosing me. I had to believe that I was worth the investment and a great deal of that, I will admit, is because of my children. I am their teacher, the person they will look to as they grow and spread their wings. Sometimes it does not matter what I tell them, yet it will matter what I show them. If I never choose me, if I never deem myself worthy of good things, I will teach them the same. I will raise people pleasers that gage their self-worth against how much they can do, not on being who they are meant to be. Being yourself is the greatest revolution, it is something that can never be taken away from you and once you know yourself and love yourself and choose yourself you open up a world of opportunities. You start to connect the dots that the universe has laid out and you create a network of people, places and experiences for your highest good. You begin to realize that people are not always in your life forever and you learn to be okay with that. The people that are meant to be in your life forever, you learn to hold them carefully, to support them properly and to find honest ways to share and communicate openly and honestly. You become accountable to the fact that you may have been the toxic one in past relationships. You learn to own that, to learn from it and to move forward gracefully. You learn to say goodbye to the things and the people that no longer serve your greatest good. You choose the things that speak to your soul, you plant the seeds, and you tend them and water them and watch them grow. You feel the energy in that creation and you are inspired to create more for yourself and as you do this you become very captivated by what your people are creating in their lives. You support them and encourage them and you feel this massive enthusiasm for their successes. You feel drawn to lifting your people up when they struggle and it gets less scary to reach out and admit when you are struggling and your tribe is always happy to provide perspective and lift you up as well.

You become very comfortable creating boundaries and you construct a revolving grid of mutual respect and equal parts give and take. It feels amazing and it empowers you to do things that you never thought were possible.

Today I am sitting in a place of extreme gratitude. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have the support and inspiration of some of the most gifted, loving and encouraging individuals. I am also not afraid to say that I feel like I fulfill my role in those relationships and that was not always the case.

Someone else’s talent, dedication and worthiness does not diminish your own. If you are not sitting in a place of gratitude you may been wallowing in scarcity and that is a dismal place to be. Please know that you can be grateful for what you have and still desire more and from there you put in the hard work to make it happen. Generally, when you see good things happening for people, they were not born with a “horseshoe up their ass” as we like to say on the East Coast. Most of them work incredibly hard for their accomplishments and just because you do not see that does not mean it doesn’t exist.

I want to say a huge thank you to my people (you know who you are) I see you, I love you, your support and inspiration means more than I can ever truly express. The conversations that we have had, honest, void of ego conversations that have helped me to grow, your willingness to allow me to express myself without judgement and your loving acceptance of all of me has made all of the difference in my life.

Nobody can steal your sunshine without your permission, even on the days when you feel you are attempting to shine through dark clouds, take all the sunshine you can.

You are great. Go be greater.

You have a cheerleader in me.

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Happy -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards onstage in 1971.
Chris Walter/WireImage

 

Recorded in France in 1971, and released on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main St., Happy is a philosophy for life, albeit not mine particularly but I believe we all have and are entitled to our own standard of Happiness. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the lead vocals were sung by Keith Richards who celebrates his 75th birthday today and one year of sobriety.

If you are a regular here you will notice that most of my Tenacious Tuesday posts are titled after songs and each song has some significance to me. To dive a little deeper into that I may lose some of you and some of you may want to commit me but I know that some of you will understand this on an almost inexpiable level.

After I lost my husband to suicide in June 2017 writing was a solace to me but at times it was also very difficult. For a short while I had set my intention to have my Tuesday post written by Saturday, I dedicated one hour for editing on Sunday and Monday I would schedule the post to be published on Tuesday. In theory this worked extremely well but this dedication only lasted for a short time. I started to have a lot of trouble focusing to write at night and I would end up frustrated and I would not be happy with what I created.

I enlisted the help of Kirk, my late husband. Yes, you read that correctly. Kirk left the world physically but I became aware of his spirit presence very soon after he took his last breaths. If you know Kirk, I am sure you have had similar experiences and had zero doubt that Kirk would be an amazing spirit, just as he was an amazing human. Anyway, Kirk communicates with me through music a great deal and he is extremely crafty. It used to bring me to tears frequently; however it has easily become a natural part of my life. What usually happens is that I am driving in my truck with no solid idea of what to write about and I say “babe, play me a song, I need an idea!” A song plays, there is usually a memory attached and the very title spins the web of creation and bam I have an idea. Kirk likely wants ghostwriting credits, however, “to be fair babe, you are my prompter, the ideas and writing are all my own.”  The day that Kirk is able to communicate to me in a way that I can write about his spirit experiences I am going to be stinking rich, or sitting in an asylum, one or the other.

I have been reluctant to write about any of this for a long time and I understand that people can only understand as much as they are able or willing to.

Immediately after Kirk passed away I couldn’t listen to music. Music was a huge part of our lives and Kirk never missed an opportunity to pull me into his arms and dance. Kirk really enjoyed Country music and when I got the guts to turn the radio back on I would only listen to country. That ended up being a disaster and I arrived everywhere with tear stained eyes and mascara running down my cheeks.  I was also never able to go back to my regular radio station. I was a huge fan of Now Radio 102.3 and the morning show with Crash and Mars and the Ginge, I spent the drive home with Ginge’s wife Rachel Day. I cannot explain why I cannot go back to that radio station, I really have no explanation. I started listening to The Locker Room on 95.7 Cruz FM.  I immediately disliked Lochlin Cross, Grant Johnson and James White, especially Lochlin,(mostly Lochlin)  however I was drawn to that station and that was that. I have know come to enjoy the guys and Lochlin has grown on me, I actually see similarities to Kirk in his brash sassiness.

I started hearing Trooper every time I got in the truck “We’re here for a good time, not a long time,”  would play for me several times a day. The simple message “So have a good time, the sun can’t shine everyday” has not only been instrumental in my healing, Kirk and I met at a Trooper Concert so it is completely fitting.  I truly feel that the message in the song is a gift to me, reminding me frequently that life is short and I need to live it now. It became uncanny how many times that song would play just as I was getting in the vehicle and I immediately became aware that it was for me. I dislike it when anyone changes my radio station!  My daughter is impatient and hates listening to commercials and we got in an argument one day on the drive from the South side and I made her turn back to 95.7 and as she complained and grumbled through the commercials I said ‘Kirk, play your daughter a song so she will understand and the song that played after the commercial was “Just like heaven coming down,” by the Tea Party. That is now her song and it comes on frequently, too frequently to be a coincidence, when she is in the truck.

I talk to my mom a lot about the magical happenings surrounding my new relationship with Kirk and the things he does to get attention. I have always wondered if she thought I was losing my mind even though she humored me. In June she flew to Edmonton for Morgan’s high school graduation and at the airport I went to get the truck and grabbed her bags and just as she was getting into the truck Trooper came through the speakers loud and clear ‘We’re here for a good time, not a long, time, so have a good time, the sun can’t shine everyday.” Mom and I both burst into tears and of course I thanked Kirk for showing my mom that I wasn’t crazy. It was an emotional moment for us and we knew that we were in good company.

Flashback to this morning, I am driving to work and I  still have no clue what to write about and I say “

“Kirk, play me a song I need an idea.”

Two amazing things happened. Last night an old friend and roommate from Ontario messaged me, she has been so good to the girls and me, and though we had some issues to overcome when we were young and foolish, we have remained friends for all of these years and she is someone I love and respect. This morning at the red light as Lochlin was introducing the WTF track of the day, Jacqui popped in my head and an extremely vivid memory catapulted me back to Toronto, December of 1994 and Jacqui and I rocking out to one of the most amazing shows ever, The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour which incredibly replaced Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour (saw that too) as the highest grossing tour ever.  The song that Lochlin played, as a tribute to Keith Richards on his 75th birthday was played during the second set of their Toronto show, all those years ago I will never forget, Keith Richards, illuminated in light as he sang  “Happy” and every distinct line on his face telling a story of a life lived.

It was not a huge moment or revelation, as I mentioned, this has become a natural part of my life. Though this happens frequently, it will never cease to make me smile and be remarkably grateful.  There were a lot of rumors after Kirk’s death, rumors and assumptions about our life and the truth is, if you read backwards on my blog I was always very vocal and honest about Kirk and my marriage, our struggles and our triumphs and the unwavering love and connection that we continue to share. Our connection now is an extension of that. Kirk left his pain; it was never his intention to leave the people he loves. I hesitate to talk about him in the past tense because in my reality he is still a part of my world.

I get that some people find that weird. That is OK.

Someone asked me last week if I felt that my connection to Kirk would keep me from moving on and the answer is “hell no” Kirk wants me to be happy and free and he will never stand in the way of that. I feel that the universe will make it difficult for me to walk into situations that are not meant for me and I also feel that sometimes the things that are meant for me will take patience for it to be the right timing. I know that Kirk can see that all very clearly from his spiritual perch (his high horse) however he will allow me to make my mistakes and continue to root myself in love as I grow and expand. His presence is not a hindrance or obtrusive, it is just something I am aware of, just as you are aware of the sunshine. I know that he is incredibly proud of me. Those messages have come to me through numerous earth angels.

The loss of loved one will teach you countless lessons. Kirk unfortunately spent too much time in a place of pain; it is the very last thing he would want to pass on to the people who loved him. My awareness of his spirit and my connection to him serves as a driving force to keep moving forward even when things feel tough.

We are not meant to be happy 100% of the time. It would be unrealistic and unhealthy. There are feelings that demand to be felt and unfortunately not all of them are joy. A lot of people ask me how I maintain happiness and I would say minute by minute. Life is never happening to us, it is happening through us so awareness of our choices and acceptance of our feelings and how we tie ourselves to certain outcomes is the key to understanding how and why we feel a certain way and the barrage of emotions that can overwhelm us and pull us off course.  Accountability is a word I have thrown around loosely for years while being minimally accountable for any of my actions or feelings. If we are never able to assume any responsibility for our emotions we will sit in a place of judgment of others, instead of a place of love and that UN-leveled playing field makes honest connections difficult. I find that we often get stuck in this place where we believe everyone is crazy or stupid or rude, everyone and everything is the problem and we are so set on that, that we barely take a moment to self reflect on what energy we are bringing to the table. Commonly, the things we dislike in others is mirrored back at us, and we are being given an opportunity to examine our own behaviors.

Gratitude is the number one component to living a life built on happiness. No matter what other emotions we move through with grace; anger, sadness, fear, shame, pity or love, if we remain deeply rooted in gratitude life will be easier and joy will be imminent.

I realize that we are very quickly coming to a close of year three of the Wise Project and the end of 2018. To each ending there is a beginning and I am so grateful that you continue to share in my life and my experiences and share your fears and your triumphs with me. You have lifted me up on the days that I was feeling low, straightened my crown and threw some glitter on me. Your genuine passion for life and for kindness will never be forgotten.

As we enjoy these last weeks of 2018 I would like to invite all of you slow down and enjoy the moments of your life. There is impermanence in life that can work for or against us, the choice is really ours. When we live in awareness with the fact that no life or feeling is permanent we choose to live out of fear or love. Each choice comes with a wildly varying result and neither determines a pain free life; however a life rooted in love will always attract joy.

I choose to live deeply rooted in love and richly infected with gratitude. I hope you will do the same.

Xo

Michelle

Waves -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I had a conversation with a friend the other day that has been facing a serious health battle; she was not only facing her battle with magnanimous grace she had made the decision to live every single day to the fullest. I am so proud of her and many other of my old friends who are facing the blackness of grief and trauma and those that are struggling with their health and facing their own mortality, what I am seeing time and time again is though we have been dealt unimaginable circumstances the universe has also handed us a gift and in that gift is a wisdom that perhaps we were just not ready to see before. There is nothing like tragedy to make you see things in an entirely new way. Life itself is a gift but we rush through the most important moments, always planning for the future or stuck in those places in the past that ripped our souls out, that taught us to be small and fearful, to doubt ourselves and to obey old vows and commitments that have been handed down for generation upon generation, that keep us sick and bound. I remember as young children everything I told my girls they would say “but why?”

It was incredibly irritating and I usually gave the customary answer that had been handed down among generations of mothers “because I said so”

At some point in adulthood we stop challenging the social and political norms and we follow along like good little soldiers with a little voice in the back of our minds. “mama said be polite, mama said be a lady, mama said don’t get my clothes dirty.”

We stop asking “but why” and we allow life to move us along.

For me, when tragedy hit I was so fucking terrified. My husband was my rock and facing a life without him had me panic stricken but loss brings with it a certain understanding of the world, a thoughtful consideration of the seemingly unpredictable ebbs and flows of life; that move us, cleanse us and guide us.

There is sadness in saying goodbye not just to our loved ones but to all that we believed would be our lives,  just as there is sadness in saying goodbye to the breathtaking magic and fearlessness of youth. Moments, memories and days we thought would never end slip through our fingers; like the sand we packed in our hands at the beach as children and the tighter we held on the more it seeped through the cracks.

It hadn’t yet occurred to us that we would run out of time or that the transient nature of life came with a reckoning so we lived without a fear of dying.

The thing with being a kid is that most of us didn’t know devastating loss and we hadn’t yet been faced with the impermanence of life. We hadn’t said our final goodbyes in hospital rooms our spoken heartfelt thoughts about our loved ones in eulogies. It hadn’t yet occurred to us that we would run out of time or that the transient nature of life came with a reckoning. The beauty in that is that we lived without a fear of dying.

I remember when I lost Kirk there were days that I was overcome with an irrational fear of evanescence. I believed that if I allowed myself to heal and to move forward then his memory and essence would rapidly fade. I wish I could come up with something to say to make everyone that will inevitably face loss understand, that that fear could not have been further from reality. As I began to allow myself to inch forward I began to see Kirk in a whole new way, not his death or the tragic illness that ripped him from us but as a quintessential life, something that could and would always transcend time and space to guide and support me. My memories of him are vivid and though the moments of struggle and fear we faced have insignificance now, it is the laughter and the stolen moments of candor and abandon that live in around me and propel me forward.

The wisdom that tragedy gives us is that we should all live in the wonder of youth.

I will not follow the rules that someone else made and call it living. I will not live to please everyone but myself; I will not rush through my life as if it is a race to my death. I will not allow the death of my great love to be the thing that cripples me and drains me of life little by little until I die. I will let love and death be my teachers; those things that remind me to live big, to laugh and to always choose love. The wisdom that tragedy gives us is that we should all live in the wonder of youth. Calamity knows no prejudice, at some point it will bring us all to our knees, it will not leave us unchanged but we should never allow it to diminish us.

Life, love, loss; it comes and goes in waves.

Let it go- WISE Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

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The gift of our lives should be greater than pain and larger than fear, but when we are in the grip of grief, trauma, depression, heartache, loss or betrayal; fear can be immobilizing.

Pain can be a great teacher

Pain can be a great teacher if we are open to the lessons it brings, if we meet it with curiosity instead of alarm it will teach us and allow us to move through it with grace. One way or the other pain demands to be felt.

There is no promise of a pain free life, pain is inevitable, but if we resist, ignore or fear pain we initiate suffering. Suffering is not necessary.

I knew that the feeling of being enveloped in a dense dark fog was not going to lift overnight

I am not afraid of pain; I held the door wide open and welcomed it in. When my husband passed away in June, pain and plenty of it was more than expected.  I knew there would be an abundance of tears and endless heartbreak and longing. I knew that in my pain that I would find strength I never knew I had and wisdom I never knew I needed. I knew that the feeling of being enveloped in a dense dark fog was not going to lift overnight.

The thing I didn’t count on was how much I would come to depend on the pain. It is my receipt of love after all and I would spend nights wrapped up in it like a blanket. In a previous post I talked about the luxury of hope and embracing and holding onto those moments, but as they started to emerge for me I caught myself chasing them away and holding onto my dark blanket of despair. I had found a new person in my grief and as much as I thought I longed to have the old Michelle back I found myself identifying with the new familiar one and holding space for her and keeping the light out. I found myself wondering who I was in the world without my husband and who would he be if I wasn’t here in this world holding vigil for him. The grief and the unimaginable pain was the proof that his life and his story mattered and I became afraid of letting any bit of it go. I lived in fear that if I softened to the pain and moved through it and allowed the light to shine on me that his memory would fade, the love we shared wouldn’t matter and his spirit that I felt so close to me, guiding me, would diminish bit by bit until it disappeared.

Or so I thought…

I told all our loved ones that we needed to honor him by being well and being happy, but somehow, even knowing what he would truly want, I was honoring him by holding tightly to my pain as that was the manifestation of the love we shared and the connection between my physical life with him and our lives now. Or so I thought…

So here I am with all of this love in my heart that I want to give him and I think I can’t so as a consolation I close off my heart and I sit in my misery somehow thinking I am honoring the person who meant the world to me, who wanted nothing more for me to feel happiness and love always. When I put it in black and white it seems incredibly strange that I would think that way. I certainly know better, I think we all do. We know that at the deepest level of our soul we are always safe, loved, grounded and connected. Fear may protect us temporarily but it is not a place to live.

Fear should not define us; everything we long for is on the other side of fear

Fear should not define us; everything we long for is on the other side of fear. I want desperately to continue to feel the love that my husband and I shared with each other and with our children; I will not achieve that if I keep draping myself in the agony. In fact, in some conversations with some very wise and inspiring people I have come to believe that as I continue to move through the pain and the grief and as I allow moments of light to energize me, and the cloak of despair to decline, my memories will be stronger and more beautiful than they are now, swathed in a dismal haze.

It is amazing how gratitude can elevate to our highest vibration possible

I was walking through the park the other day with my dog and all of the colorful flowers are still in the bloom but the air is changing, even the copious sunshine couldn’t mask the hint of autumn that blew through the trees. Periodically the wind would come up and swiftly blow through the trees, showering the earth with leaves that had already dried out and curled up. It was absolutely beautiful. It is amazing how gratitude can elevate us to our highest vibration possible and I have plenty to be grateful for. Though my life right now is not one I would have chosen for myself, I got to experience the depth of true love and the lessons I learned by loving and being loved by Kirk, during the good times and the bad, I will hold in my heart forever. For just a moment I let myself feel those winds of change and not be afraid, and in that moment I felt Kirk clearer than I had in weeks, cheering me on.

I have been so afraid of what is on the other side of my fear so I really had to decide what I wanted for me and my children. I want the winds of change to blow me in the direction of emotional freedom, gratitude, joy, health and love. I want to multiply that love Kirk and I shared as a couple and as a family and put it back into the world. This world could sure use a little more love and kindness.

My response to this fear that restrains me is to summon all of the courage I have to not jump over, resist or hold the pain, but to move through it keeping my heart open to the unique gifts of the universe.

Are you holding unto fear? What is it trying to tell you? What is on the other side of your fear.

Let it go-see what remains.

Every single day is a new opportunity, for you and for me. Today lets decide what it is we want to see in the world and lets project that.

xoxo-michelle1

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.

 

All You Need is love-W.I.S.E project 2016

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Artist unknown

I am an just ordinary girl in an extraordinary world but I set out at the beginning of this year wanting to paint my surroundings in bold and vibrant colors and live a life full of joy. Truthfully I know I am not ordinary, I always knew. Even back when I was nine years old sitting on the old wooden step at my country home with a notepad and a pencil and imagining all the wonderful things that I could put on that page…I knew. Somehow with time and circumstance I lost myself or perhaps I gave pieces of me away and I never really got them back. Today I call myself a work in progress but I have reunited my mind with my soul and it is a much nicer place to be.

Thanks so much to the universe for keeping me on my toes with your constant challenges this year. I would like to believe that I have passed all of the damn tests and that we are about done with this nonsense. I “womaned” up! My warrior spirit cannot and will not be broken. I am tired though and never mind that I have been insanely tired since 1999,  the complete mental drain of the past several months has left me a new kind of tired that I didn’t even know existed and no matter how many weekends I spend in my pajamas, curled up in fuzzy blankets the feeling has not been alleviated.

My husband and I realized last night that he has been gone for eight of the last twelve months. His struggle with depression and being away from his family and my struggle to try to be more compassionate than I am hurt and lonely has definitely changed us.  Had I  not began this little project I started  almost a year ago and made a conscious effort to live mindfully and seek joy and be grateful I really am not sure who I would be right now.  Some days were torturous. The loneliness, the uncertainty and the longing has been difficult, but mingled with all of that has been a sense of gratitude for what I have and the people that I love and those that love me unconditionally.

In short, I think the project has been a huge success.  Focusing on the present instead of the past or the future is really difficult and takes a lot of practice and though I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination I have made leaps and bounds. Had I not learned to be mindful and practice meditation I would not have been able to sleep at night through these demanding times and the insomnia would have rendered me useless.  I have a job, a family and three beautiful pets that depend on me so I occasionally need to sleep.

I cry and I feel sadness but I also know that I have the capacity to feel immense joy and I  do. I have learned a great deal about gratitude and how it reciprocates.  You will never live a life of abundance until you learn to express gratitude for the great gifts that you already have. I have learned how creativity and purpose in life bring me a great deal of joy. I have learned that the right connections with the right people can energize me and in the same token that time spent on the wrong things with the wrong people can suck the life out of me.  I am responsible for the energy that I put out into the world and eventually I will attract the right people into my life.

I have learned that the wonders of the world are not just places; they can be things that we often take for granted such as touch, sound, smell and sight. The significance of these things may habitually go unnoticed but I guarantee you that it is these little things that you will miss the most if they are suddenly taken away. There were eight months this year that I missed the sound of my husbands voice, the touch of his hand, the smell of him after a shower or the sight of him after a long day. There are days I would have traded anything for just one of those things.

We often look at things without actually seeing them, without appreciating them and we put value on the wrong things.  The sunrise and the sunset are miracles that we see everyday and sometimes we fail to realize their worth or truly appreciate their beauty, the same as we take people for granted because we assume they will always be there. We stop noticing how bright their smile is or how they are always there when we need them.

We undervalue traits such as courage, compassion and curiosity and what would the world be without them?

We think of forgiveness and vulnerability as weaknesses instead of the huge strengths that they are. Having the courage to forgive someone, sometimes even ourselves can be so important. To not forgive, to hold unto negative feelings of hurt and shame can be an enormous deterrent to living a good life. Having compassion for others can help us see the world in a whole different light. I actually dislike the dictionary definition of compassion because it refers to it as sympathetic pity, nobody wants to be pitied, but we could all use a little kindness and concern, a little understanding instead of judgement and someone who genuinely cares for us and our situation.

Humanity needs love and compassion for survival yet we have been treating these things like luxuries instead of needs.  The Beatles told us many years ago that all we need is love.

Generosity, patience and love will take you further than money, education or social stature.

I have learned about the anatomy of trust and how important it can be to set boundaries.     Brené Brown describes trust as BRAVING in a wonderfully authentic way and I think that everyone can learn something valuable from her.

What have I learned about myself?

I have learned that I am a warrior and I will fight for the people I love and the things I believe in until there is no fight left in me. I am an eternal optimist but not in a fairy tale romanticized way. I know there is a lot of bad in the world but I genuinely believe that the world can be better and I know that there is goodness and light in me and if I can affect one person with it that is change.  I have learned that I like myself and that is way more important than worrying about who does and doesn’t like me. The most important thing that I can do for me is to be true to myself and honor my wants and needs and not try to change myself to fit into a box that was not built for me.

My December W.I.S.E. Principles are wonderful, invincible, shining and expressive.  You may interpret these any way you see fit but for me I want to enjoy the most WONDERFUL time of the year with my family. I already know that I am invincible and Christmas will not defeat me. I have learned the importance of time this year and I am elevating that above everything else. I will not be taken in or conquered by commercialism or the need to fill a space under a tree instead of a space in my heart.  I want to be a shining example for my children about the real spirit of Christmas so that one day they can share the same spirit with their family. The most precious gifts we can give each other can never be bought, only given. I want to be able to express my love, my excitement and my joy. I want to express my gratitude and my feelings about the true meaning of Christmas and one day when my kids look back I want them to remember the time and the love that I gave them, not the time I spent at the mall buying them things. My Christmas wish for all of you is that no matter how many gifts you give or receive that you continue to be grateful for the gifts that you already have and that you realize that those who give you nothing but their time are giving you the most precious gift of all.  All we need is love, love for ourselves, love for others, and love for the world we live in.

“I have found that if you love life, it will love you back”

~Arthur Rubenstein

 

Happiness doesn’t happen by accident

I discovered a lot of amazing people on the internet this year, I never found them before because I was not looking for reasons to be grateful and happy. It is phenomenal the things you will discover when you commit to gratitude and living a more joyful life.