Total eclipse of the heart-Wise Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday 

We are all guilty of telling ourselves the same tired stories from our childhood and we so often dismiss how important the dialogue we share with ourselves and others is to our lives and our well-being.

There is a common theme we use surrounding suffering and struggle. We uses words like ‘cope’ and ‘survive’ and phrases such as ‘get by’

As well intentioned as we may be I believe that this dialogue has been exhausted and it doesn’t feel relevant to my rapidly changing situation.

In June I lost my husband, my best friend and the father of my children to a long battle with mental illness. Surviving and coping with his illness was an every day burden for him.  The very first day in the world without him was one of the hardest things I will ever have to face, along with the realization that our family, our children and myself will need to face all of the days to come. Loss makes you realize how precious life is and for me I now believe we should direct our energy into leading the best lives possible. To thriving.

Grief has more ups and downs then the my elementary school teeter totter during recess, but it sure makes you appreciate the value of moments.

On the weekend I was dizzy with grief, feeling one minute like I was floating on a calm ocean at sunset and the next a Tsunami hit. It was overwhelming but not unexpected and I have embraced tear stained as my new make-up trend.

I found myself in a fleeting moment of hope and anticipation and began to contemplate some of the things that my children and I have on the go in the foreseeable future and I realized that those worn out words and phrases do not have to continue to be a part of our story.

A word popped into my head that I was so excited about. I even convinced myself that I had made up the word until google confirmed that another wise person had beat me to it. The word and the concept is THRIVIVAL! The idea that instead of merely existing in the face of adversity that we can instead learn to live vigorously, cherishing each moment of our lives. Instead of just surviving, we can thrive.

Should our goals be set on coping, on surviving this relentless emotional storm, or should we focus on the strength in the inevitable change and commit to living our lives with purpose and intent, choosing a life rooted in love and doing well and being well?

I think the answer is clear. I believe our route is thrivival and though we may stumble occasionally on this hilly path the journey will be worth it.

Kirk would not be content to see us just get by. Nothing short of a life well lived would be sufficient; and with him as our guide we will navigate this new world with intensity.

If you are reading this I hope you will join us; take a look at your own life and make the choice to not only do what you love, be a person you love and put that love out into the world and make it a better place. You are the univere. Brace for THRIVIVAL

xo Michelle

 

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.

 

Ordinary Day! -W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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June. Where did you go? You were full of endless days of tripping the light fantastic and electric summer nights catching falling stars in moonlit fields. Crackling campfires and long kisses on the end of weathered piers, toes in the water as I sought advice from the man in the moon. I blinked and you were gone.

Sometimes I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. It’s all very simple really. Everyday the sun rises in the East, this usually happens way before I am ready for the filtered sunlight that peaks in through the bent slat on my bedroom blinds, before I am quite mentally prepared to embrace the gentle song of the birds, put my big girl pants on and adult. The certainty is, ready or not it comes like clockwork every day. I try to get myself and everyone else out of the house with a chorus of “I love you and have a good day” instead of frantic yelling because we are all running late. We all go to the places we have to be, not necessarily where we would choose to be if we had been born rich instead of so damn good looking, but we try to go with a gracious heart and a kind soul and the choice to make it a good day. Even the good days are tiring and mostly they fly by too quickly. Before we know it the moon has replaced the sun and the darkening sky welcomes it’s best friends the stars. The birds are lulled to sleep by the mystique of it all and out come the crickets to play their favorite summertime melody just as we are pulling cool sheets around our ears and settling in for a hopefully long and dreamy nap. A similar version of this happens on repeat everyday without fail, with some filler in between.

It all goes by so quickly. I just have to remind myself to look around more, breath more, be thankful. Remarkable moments are all around me, it doesn’t have to be about what I look at, but more importantly what I see.

More realistically, June was made up of a bunch of ordinary days and some subtle extraordinary moments,  many that I may have failed to see because I was too busy searching for these moments that would take my breath away, instead of just breathing and being in awe of the simple, wonderful moments that make up my life…the filler.

My principles for June are WOW, Incredible, Serenity and Enthusiasm.  I definitely had a bit of a setback  this month because instead of recognizing the Incredible WOW moments when they found me I went on a desperate search for them. When I didn’t find these ground breaking moments of wonder my enthusiasm quickly subsided. I neglected the whole premise of my own project, being mindful and focusing on the present moment to create a deeper experience of joy. I forgot to practice gratitude and in turn I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress.

A former boss once said to me “A day doesn’t make a week, a week doesn’t make a month and a month doesn’t make a year”. That being said as June winds down and July lies in wait, I did learn some very valuable things about myself during month six of the W.I.S.E. Project and I have been reminded once again to stop complicating things.  I need to give up on my urge to fix things and as much as I can just let things be. If I spend too much time focusing on what is going to happen next I am missing what is happening now.

Those moments when I am blown away by the candy pink sky or enthralled by the uncomplicated relationship between the moon and the stars or I see a glimpse of my children’s budding character and the people they are going to be in the future, those things are gone in an instant but will find me if I am being mindful.

I am still finding out who I am and who I want to be. The W.I.S.E. Project is my Journey. May the crooked roads it leads me down be paved with white gold and swiss chocolate, curiosity, patience and gratitude.

And may it all slow down just a little bit….

never been kissed

 

Take on me-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Photo credit: Louie Schwartzberg
Photo credit: Louie Schwartzberg

Beauty and seduction are nature’s tools for survival because we protect what we love. ~ Louie Schwartzberg

You may have noticed that a lot of my blog titles are also the titles of classic songs. Yes this is on purpose. I love music and usually the title is something that just pops in my head very quickly. Take on me from the Norwegian band Aha is out of the 1985 vault. That is how I feel today, telling the universe to Take me on, because I am happy and nothing that happens today is going to change that.

Often when I write to you I have these A-ha moments and yesterday I said that I was once told that you will be what you think of most of the time and I always wanted to be happy. In seeking out those opportunities to create happiness every moment of every day it changes your entire focus. It doesn’t mean that I am never sad or angry but it means I know what happiness feels like and though I experience sadness  like everyone else I no longer dwell on it. In the dictionary dwelling is described as a place of residence. Do not dwell in a place of sadness and anger. These are places you visit quickly and leave.

Once again this  months W.I.S.E. Principles are WOW, incredible, stimulate and enthusiasm.

I found just the thing today that was expressive and awe-inspiring, it encouraged further interest and activity and I intensely and eagerly enjoyed. Not bad for day two of June.

Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.

~Louie Schwartzberg

I want to share it with you and I am asking you to take ten thoughtful minutes and watch this. It will stimulate your brain, bring beauty to your eyes and calm over your entire being. If it doesn’t you are cold and dead inside and I cannot help you. Not that I can claim to help you anyway, I am not a doctor. As a regular person giving advice to another regular person here is my prescription for joy today. You’re welcome!!

Red Red Wine-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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This morning I found my crumpled up paper that I had handwritten the entire years W.I.S.E. principles on back in December and discovered that June’s principles are WOW, Incredible, Stimulate and Enthusiasm. I had my first WOW moment around 3 am when I got up to use the washroom and noticed through groggy, half open eyes that my underwear were covered in red wine stains. I was initially confused and then I had a moment where I whispered to myself “WOW bitch, time to get your shit together!”

I am pretty sure that when I set out in December that was not the type of WOW moments I had intended to have upon entering the sixth month of this journey.

In all seriousness though, before my family thinks that I have turned into Chelsey Handler with a blog, I had a rough couple of “lady-time’ days and I had given myself a time out in the rec room with fuzzy blankets, Crave TV and wine. I discovered on my couch-side table that I had three bottles of wine with a glass to a glass and a half each in them because apparently I can never finish what I started. I thought it would be best to drink them before they evaporated and at some point I forgot that I didn’t have three hands and spilled wine all over me while adjusting my blankets. The couch is leather and my pants were black so I grabbed some Kleenex and put minimal effort into the clean-up, poured another glass and put it out of my mind entirely until the witching hour when I discovered that I looked like I just left a college frat party instead of the comfort of my bed.

All things considered it gave me a “WOW’ moment early in the month, an incredible laugh, it stimulated my imagination and I was wanted to enthusiastically recall the story for all of you. So I have used all of my June W.I.S.E. principles in one day so yay for me. I am going to celebrate with ice cream and call it a month!

I am happy to report that I am feeling much better today. I actually put on real clothes and lipstick for work which admittedly was not the case for the first two days of the week. That is in the past though, lets leave it there.

May’s W.I.S.E. principles (warmth, intimacy, serenity and enrich) have changed my life. I discovered so much about myself and relationships,took time to myself to recharge and refuel and discover the power of vulnerability. I have enriched my life immensely with the books and talks by the fabulous Brene Brown. I am currently reading Daring Greatly and taking her CourageWorks e-course on the anatomy of trust. I know I mentioned this in a previous post but I am clearly telling you again for your own good. Give her a listen, her Ted talk on Vulnerability was life changing for me and I am not even being a little bit dramatic, it really has profoundly changed me and the way I see myself.

I am loving the W.I.S.E Projects Facebook page. If you haven’t followed please check it out. It is just a place to share inspiring messages and you can interact with me there.

Visit me on Facebook

Let’s be wowed this month, whether it be by kindness or the beauty of nature or by knowledge, lets embrace the moments that make us say “WOW’, let’s seek the “incredible” and find it in everyday things, laughter, stories, art and music. Lets stimulate our minds and our bodies with good news, great messages, learning, good food and activity, and let’s face each new day with spirited enthusiasm, living, loving and learning moment to moment, day by day! This is a pivotal turning point for the W.I.S.E. Project, when we complete June’s principles we will be at the halfway mark of the 2016 W.I.S.E. Project. I don’t know about you but I feel great!!

I have learned so many great things lately but one thing that I wanted to share that I was once told is that you will be what you think of most of the time. when I started this project I just wanted to be happy…and I am.

Think about happiness, seek it, create it, enjoy it!

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

 

Friday I’m in love -W.I.S.E. Project 2016-Journal Notes

It is really freeing to be able to be open and honest in a relationship and to be all in, to know that you are worthy of love and therefore you can give it freely as well.

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My W.I.S.E. principles for the month of may are warmth, intimacy, serenity and enrich.

I feel like I should get a sticker and a high five for not just chooosing these principles but for taking them seriously and learning so much.

Warmth is that good feeling you get by sharing and being kind to others. I have done well, except to bad drivers and the plumber that showed up at my work with just a flashlight to fix a leak and asked me what I wanted  him to do. I myself am not a plumber nor do I claim to know anything about plumbing but I will say that waving a flashlight around a well lit room doesn’t seem like the way to fix a leak. But all in all I have had some wonderfully warm encounters so far this month.

Intimacy is something I really wanted to work on. My husband and I have been together for 18 years and we have had a huge transition with him working away for 8 years and now being home every night. There is a huge difference in the dynamics of a relationship that is lived in stolen moments than one that you struggle to keep connected even though you are together everyday. I am focusing on relationship studies and have had a million ‘aha’ moments. It is really freeing to be able to be open and honest in a relationship and to be all in, to know that you are worthy of love and therefore you can give it freely as well. I had an incredible epiphany this month about the power of vulnerability and I discovered a Researcher/Storyteller named Brene Brown who does a wonderful Ted Talk on the subject. It is life changing.

Serenity-I have continued to go floating and I am continuing to meditate. I try to add five mindful minutes each day and I have found a wonderful guided meditation that is calming and helps to centre me.

Enrich-thinking about, working on and creating happiness has been very enriching. I love Robert Waldingers Research on What makes a good life, I am studying relationships and emotions as well as meditation which has led me to research Budhism.  I signed up for Brene Browns CourageWorks ecourse on the Anatomy of Trust. I have seen her Super Soul Sunday talk on Trust and it was fantastic. I put together an actual binder and a journal about The W.I.S.E. Project but my purse, desk and bedside table are full of hand scribbled notes I have jotted down.

I feel good. There were some trying times this month and I feel like I have learned and grown from them. I feel that knowing how I want to feel and recognizing what it takes to make me feel that way has and will continue to have a huge impact on my life.

As you continue your mindful and happy journey this month don’t forget to visit the new Facebbok page https://m.facebook.com/WISE-Project-236710606685815/

It is a place where we can share wisdom, happy thoughts and interact. I am sharing a couple of links below to some amazing content that has changed my life.

Remember that happiness doesn’t find us, we need to create it and choose it, every moment of everyday. Be W.I.S.E. friends.

Brene Brown on Vulnerability

Robert Waldinger on What makes a good life.

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If you don’t know me by now- W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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The W.I.S.E. Project is a journey to self discovery and fulfillment. I am just like you, yet different. I decided to tell you some totally useless information about me and then you will know me better. You may love me, totally dislike me or suggest I seek help. Regardless, if we are going to journey together we should have some dirt on each other in case things go awry along the way!

1.) I love the sound and the smell of rain, if it is accompanied by rolling thunder and lightning lights up the sky I am enthralled. Stormy nights make me sleep like a baby!

2.) I love eggs. Boiled, fried, poached, scrambled or omelets. Eggs are my go to, any day, any time food.

3.) If I have red lipstick on and a flower in my hair I am determined to have a wonderful day!

4.) I love movies that evoke feeling. If they don’t make me cry, scream in anger or recoil in fear then it is not a good movie. If I can do all of that in one movie then it will be my favorite.

5.) I cannot be held responsible for anything I say or do when I am behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. I am a nice person until I am driving and you disregard rules and courtesy. 98% of my swearing takes place in my vehicle.

6.) I like the feeling of being happy. I recognize very quickly when I am not and I have to try very hard to get back to that feeling. Sometimes I have to give myself a time-out!

7.) I love road trips but I also like coffee. It is impossible to combine the two and still cover the miles needed to get where we are going! I am not a lot of fun when I need to pee!!

8.) Sometimes I am afraid to be totally myself because the world has a certain amount of power over me. I try to serve my authenticity but when challenges get to great I tend to panic. As above, sometimes a time-out is needed.

9.) I take a five minutes a day to meditate and be mindful. It is hard. I set a timer. It does get easier and it is helping me to cut through mental distraction and build my attention span.

10.) I used to envy people. Now I admire them.

11.) I used to have this driving need to make a difference somehow. I would spend countless hours being curious and trying to figure out what my purpose was. I found that my greatest contribution could be in changing myself and in learning to be happier, grateful and more mindful I am making a difference in my life and the lives of those I love.

12.) I think identity is something we build on. At 17 I thought I knew everything, including who I was. I am glad that I am not the same person today that I was a 17.  I think the painful experiences that I have had in the last 42 years are the times that I have fought the most to seek my identity, with each lesson, with each trauma, with each survival; parts of my identity emerged.

13.) I sometimes yell at everyone in my house when I am frustrated.

14.) I use laughter to deal with hard situations because someone once said it was the best medicine.

15.) I lose several corkscrews in a month and find them in weird places like my underwear drawer. I love wine 😉

16.) If someone is not nice to my children then I wouldn’t have them around, I feel the same way about my pets.

17.) Sometimes I crave a good cuddle but it is on my terms only. When I want to cuddle and how long I want to cuddle. I have unspoken cuddle rules! I know it sounds selfish and it is not the intimacy of it that I struggle with, it is just that sometimes it sends me into a claustrophobic panic and others it feels like my body has burst into flames and I am burning alive. If it is my way and my terms it can be the sweetest and most calming experience.

18.) I am fascinated by nerds. Most nerds are incredibly smart and though they often lack in social skills; one on one they can be so charming and engaging. I love the way their minds work and they can be really exceptional friends. I had a really good friend years ago that I would describe as the “nerd” of our group. At 20 he was abundantly smart and was enthusiastic about things other than drink specials and wing night. After a night of tequila shots and bad decision making we somehow ended up alone and he educated me in unspeakable ways. He was brilliant and attentive in the bedroom and other rooms. In fact, just to prove it wasn’t the tequila talking we engaged in many more crazy times until he moved across the country to further his education. I would listen to him for hours on end talking to me about amazing things that I wasn’t smart enough to understand, he would ponder, adjust his glasses and thoughtfully explain to me everything I never wanted to know and then when it was least expected he would literally rip my clothes off and ravish me. It could be at the bathroom sink, in the kitchen…in the middle of a math equation. It was so incredibly hot. I thought he was my best kept secret but many monthes later I found out that at least a couple of my friends thought they had the same secret. No regrets 😆

19.) * sometimes my mind wanders mid thought. No nerds were harmed in the making of this blog post!

 
20.) One of the most valuable things I have learned to do is to say NO.

Now you  know me a bit. I would love to get to know you. Tell me a totally random and useless fact about you.