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

Not Going To Be Afraid-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

 

I have been spinning this month. Some days I feel like that little silver ball in the pinball machine, up, down, spinning, spinning, rarely finding a moment of true solace. Thrown this way and that, manipulated into spaces that are scary.

Yesterday a wise friend I only know as The Hook told me he had a feeling that no matter how I was feeling at that moment he was certain it would be a winning month for me. It felt a lot like encouragement, and it was the proverbial kick in the ass I needed. Things have been shitty, I can’t deny that. If you have been here before you know that I have been in a battle with my husbands demons. The gloom of manic depression has cast our lives in a murky black haze. There is a lot of disquiet, sadness and despondency. It is hard for us to find our balance with a colossal cloud of contingency hanging menacingly over our heads. I miss the certainty of a smile and the warmth of laughter, I miss the feeling of being close even when we are miles a part. My husband working in another province adds another aspect which some of you may know well. Staying connected during those times has always been an undertaking but the darkness wraps that undertaking in cellophane and lathers it up with Vaseline. It is hard. It feels about as comfortable as going swimming with your high school class and realizing that you forgot to shave your legs for the entire winter.

I put a valiant effort into trying to stay positive but when times are tough I struggle along like the best of you and even though I pride myself on trudging through and showing up everyday this morning I was faced with the realization that some days I don’t know the person who is showing up for me.

I have this habit of putting others needs and feelings ahead of my own, and changing my behavior based on what I think they need. Everyday I was sending my ambassador out into the world to speak and act for me. There is absolutely no way to win at life by doing that. I know it and I would be the first to pass that advice along to someone else. Everyday I hear my own words of wisdom, the advice I have shared with friends and loved ones, my experiences rolling through my mind on replay but I always answer them with a “but…”

NOT TODAY!!

TODAY I showed up! Today is all me. The very best thing I can do for myself and therefore everyone who depends on me is to be myself today and always.

I was listening to a song this morning called “Not Going To Be Afraid” It is by the fantastic Canadian rock band Finger 11. I am drawing from a recollection that may possibly have been tainted by too many cocktails but if I am recalling correctly they told me that the song was written in the aftermath of their longtime drummer Rich leaving the band and their struggle to move on from that, to go forward with uncertainty, to work through the discomfort and unfamiliarity to get to a place that was all new and to find a way to be themselves in that space and not be afraid. This is a great group of guys that have been together since high school so moving on was bound to stir up some uneasiness. They did it, they showed up, they didn’t try to be something they weren’t. They were just themselves, even knowing that the Finger 11 they had always known was now different they found a place of comfort in their discomfort and they faced every wall of  fear and doubt and knocked it down. In doing so they created their newest album Five Crooked Lines. I have been listening to these guys for many years, since they were playing the bar circuit in Ontario as Rainbow Butt Monkeys. I can say this of the new album; it still has elements of their unmistakable sound but it is different somehow, as are they. There is a wisdom and maturity that happens as we naturally evolve, as long as we can find the courage to be ourselves. That is the only way to win. They have succeeded. That conversation I had in a bar with these exceptionally talented and honest guys really resonated with me. I think everyone can learn from their experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, uncertainty is scary. We all struggle to move forward through fear and be brave when the voices of hesitation and distrust are the voices screaming the loudest in our ear. It is easy to get lost trying to be someone else. The best we can do in any situation is be ourselves, shine with our own light in the unpredictable darkness.

 

I have many wise friends, but a handful of really  genuine ones that are so full of grace and goodness they inspire me to be better. I admitted to one last week that everything felt odd and I didn’t know how to act. She said “Why would you act? Be who you are, don’t change a thing. God gave you this man for you to love and you just keep loving him and being yourself.” My husband himself has told me that the best thing I can do for him during times of struggle is to be myself and to love myself a little bit more than I love him.

We are more than the sum of our fears. We are the valiant and lion-hearted! The only way we can tap into our true strength is to be our true selves. Be W.I.S.E. friends and keep showing up!

Not Going to Be Afraid
I watched the bridges burn,
I see the pages turn my story’s ready to unfold
Even though it’s so dark,
I see one last spark maybe holds not far away
Heaven can help me, but courage could sell me on one last chance I should take
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same, I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
Gone to a different place so far from yesterday
Changes is all that remains
Whoever I am now
I am without you, I’ll do my best to be brave
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
Whatever this life will bring, I’m not gonna be afraid
This moment means everything, I’m not gonna be afraid

Walkin After midnight -W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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It’s just another midnight walking through the shadows of my mind, sifting through memories and collecting my strength. There is something about the midnight hour, the moonlight, that makes me feel comforted and safe. Sometimes life seems cold and unfair but these are opportunities to be our true selves and hold unto the things that are legitimately necessary.

A week ago my boss handed me a pink journal and she said “You haven’t been writing. You always write. I notice. Write something, anything, a note, a poem, swear words. You will feel better!”

It’s nice the little ways that people show you they care. It is nice to know that when the clouds get dark there are people with umbrellas who don’t want you to get wet.

It rained that day. All the best and the and the worst days do. I walked outside and the rain was so cold against my skin that the last thing I felt like doing was dancing. It wasn’t that type of rain, the dancing kind. It was the tortuous, mocking kind that comes when your life is falling apart and mine indeed felt like it was. I stood there collecting myself by my truck and I struck the warrior pose in that cold fucking rain. Only seconds passed but in those seconds I knew that I was going to be OK. I am a warrior and I may scream, cry and fall down but dammit I always give everything I have and I always get back up.

Fast forward a week later. I woke to snow and optimism. The day didn’t end as I planned. My life is not going anywhere near according to plan. Plans don’t always go according to plan. So now what?

A couple days later the sun is shining and though my life seems to be a huge unanswered question I feel encouraged in knowing that often when we think things are falling a part they are really falling into place.

I looked back on my W.I.S.E. Principles for October which were whole, involved, spirit and engaged. Without a doubt in my mind I can say that I put my whole heart into my life, I injected my spirit into everything I did. I was involved and fully engaged. I showed up every damn day even when it was incredibly hard.

Sometimes things will still fall apart despite your best efforts. In my case I have been fighting the demons of depression for several years now and though I never once gave up this is one of those battles I cannot fight alone. They are not my demons, I hate them like they are but they do not belong to me.

The days to come already feel overwhelming. That is what happens when we get ahead of ourselves, when we don’t live in the moment. There are feelings I would love to fast forward through but  unfortunately we can’t skip over pain. My pain is my proof that it all matters, that it is real. In the hurt and loss and torment I will one day find a lesson that will make me stronger and I already know that the most important things in life can’t be taken from me. Life moves and changes so fast that you have to keep moving with it or get horribly lost in the shuffle.

I don’t do well in times of uncertainty so I am trying to focus on the certainties of the near future so I made a list of things I can be sure of:

1. A lot of people will see me with red rimmed eyes and smudged mascara and wonder if I am on drugs.

2. I will say things I don’t mean and immediately regret it and a short while later say things I don’t mean.

3. I will cycle frequently between laughing and crying

4. I will either eat a lot or nothing at all.

5. I will equally love and hate 80s love ballads.

6. I will struggle between being my authentic self and being the person who I think is needed right now.

7. I will try to focus on the things I can control like brushing my teeth, combing my hair, making sure that my pants are not inside out and backwards.

8. An episode of Bob Ross painting will always calm me down.

9. No matter what life serves me it will be better if I melt cheese on it.

10. Though it is possible to laugh or dance yourself to death nobody has died from crying.

Novembers W.I.S.E. principles are Winning, Intention, Smart and Efficient. I have been working on these essentially for the last eleven months of this project.  To have a “Winning” life I have to live with intention, my intention is to seek happiness and joy and to do that I have to choose it every second of every day, even when it is hard. When dark clouds are sitting over my head I need to stay in the gratitude line and find reasons to be thankful. That is the smart and efficient way to live. More gratitude, less worry. I got this and so do you.

If you are anything like me there will be times that it is difficult to find your comfort in the discomfort. These times can make or break you. These are the times to focus on the things that are certain in your life. Besides death and taxes what are the things you know to be a certainty in your life?

When everyone is lined up in the complaint line for hours waiting to growl and whine about how unfair life is, never deviate from the gratitude line. Be gracious and thankful for your many blessings. When you are faced with difficult times, be yourself, don’t let the world change you, don’t let how people treat you change you. Be your authentic self and that will always be your salvation. When crisis hits and you are left to sift through the wreckage of your life you will find that when everything falls away the important things will remain. We spend our lives gathering what we need, our true friends, our family, our wisdom, our strength. That is why when you push the rubble aside you will find that you still have everything you need to survive.

Be W.I.S.E. friends. This is the 11th month  of the W.I.S.E. project. Lets make it a WINNING month!

“I realized, through it all, that…in the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer and that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there’s something stronger, something better, pushing right back.”

~Albert Camus

 

 

Learning to fly-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

A soul in tension that’s learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try

~ Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

My husband always tells me I have a beautiful soul. He said if he could describe me in one word he would use sunny because I always try to bring the light and see the bright side. I do try to be careful about that when the darkness comes, when the demons of depression have their arms around him, because I know that sometimes looking on the brighter side of things is just not a choice for him the way it is for me. Also, nobody likes a Pollyanna. Pain matters, sadness is for a reason.  If we constantly brush off our pain and don’t allow ourselves to feel sadness we will dismiss the lessons that those feelings bring.

I asked him this morning if he thought that the intensity of our love for each other has to do with living through the dark days of depression and learning to solidly grasp unto the good times. He thinks our tendency to love each other so profoundly has more to do with us living a great deal of our lives separately due to work.  I think there are elements of both in the way we relate and he is certainly right that we spend too much time apart; this conversation took place over text from separate provinces.  It really is a challenge and a choice, at the best of times to live our lives “together” while living separate.

Over the years, a lot of our friends have seen us in a certain way, they see this deep and passionate love that they envy, they see a couple that laughs together at ridiculous things, dances cheek to cheek to classic ballads, makes each other handmade cards, and goes on romantic getaways at a moments notice. They don’t see the other side of that. There is loneliness and a sadness that is not portrayed in our social media feeds. If what you see is a couple that is unbreakable; that loves each other but disagrees on almost everything social, political, economic, parenting, morality…I could go on. A couple that carries the scars of our histories together and separately, and even though most wounds have healed the pain sometimes bubbles to the surface, a lingering pain that reminds us that we are alive, and that we feel.  A couple with longing and regret and struggle than just maybe you are seeing us. That is how we see us, as beautiful survivors.

I often wonder if other couples feel the same way. I have talked about the space and the distance that depression puts in between us.  It’s excruciating and strange and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I have woken up and had my husband looks right through me like I am a stranger and nothing hurts more. It never gets easier, but there are other times that even living and working provinces apart you couldn’t put a handkerchief in the space between us. We are fully engaged in each others lives, we fill each others spaces with light and hearts with love. We are lovers, friends, cheerleaders, champions.

My husband sent me a picture the other night and I wanted to touch his face so badly. When things are ‘normal” and I use that term loosely, there is a comfort and warmth between us that feels impenetrable. Do the rest of you feel that belonging?  Certain  you are where you are meant to be and you are safe and happy there?

Life is so goddamn weird, it really is.

In 2016 we talk a great deal about being authentic, being true to ourselves, being real. We talk a good talk as we post flawless selfies of ourselves sipping Starbucks lattes, on our beach vacations with the perfect Margarita, our bedhead and make-up free selfies that we primed and prepped the greater part of half an hour for. This realism, this credibility that we speak of has become a bit of a joke quite frankly and it incites comparison. I think there is a lot of unnecessary comparison among friends, family and co-workers. The way we portray our lives or better still perceive the lives of others can separate and segregate us.

I want to be genuine and to do that that I have to be honest.  I do my very best to stay in the light. I choose happiness at every opportunity and sometimes it is really friggin hard. Some days I would rather stay in my pajamas and eat chocolate bars and cry because adulting sucks. Some days I don’t feel that confident and I want to hide from the world’s judgmental eyes. We should start an honest movement that when challenged you have to post a selfie of what you are doing that very moment. “Dear World, this is me, I am sad today and too emotionally drained to make supper, I have managed to feed the dogs and cat, the kids are having Kraft Dinner and  I just polished off a 250 gram bag of sour cream and onion chips and a glass of cheap Merlot. I am now sad and bloated and I have a pimple.” hashtag #truth

We follow the unspoken rules of the world to be polite and go along with the crowd as to not rock the boat.  We proceed, like good little soldiers, one foot after the other, and left over right, heal, and toe. Smile, look pretty and never let them see you sweat. What a load of authentically revolting bullshit. When did we become so afraid to shine, to fly, to reach for the stars? Probably the same time we became afraid of being different, afraid of failing?   This is the reason why the world is  sadly lacking in original content. We are remaking movies and songs because everyone is afraid to step out of the box and present new ideas but people are buying memoirs as fast as fiction because we are craving something real and we desperately want to know that there are people out there that are just as fucked up as we are! It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book “Good people don’t” It’s about farting. We all fart. We all love, we all struggle, and according to REM everybody hurts…sometimes.

Let the world know you fall, show them you have learned to get back up again, show the world that it can knock you down ten times and you will get up 11. Sometimes you will fight a losing battle, but if you keep fighting you will never fail. You are enough, you are more than a perfect selfie on a white sand beach, you are a warrior and sometimes warriors have pimples and messy hair. Some days are hard and some days the sun is on your face and the wind at your back. These are the days of your life, full of hope, full of wonder, full of struggle. Be grateful for your life, it is not a retouched photograph, it is real and honest. It is beautiful even when it is callous. The days full of sunshine make incredible memories; the darker days are full of lessons. Breathe it in, every bit of it, live your life, moment to moment. Today is a gift, tomorrow is gone, the future is uncertain. You have today, this very minute. Embrace it, and don’t be afraid to step out of line, fight your way out of the box,  and  be you!

xo Michelle

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

~ Peter Pan

DISCLAIMER “A couple that carries the scars of our histories together and separately, and even though most wounds have healed the pain sometimes bubbles to the surface, a lingering pain that reminds us that we are alive, and that we feel.”

When I speak of wounds and scars I am speaking metaphorically, there has never been any physical aggression, wounds, scars or the like in my marriage.

That summer feeling: W.I.S.E. project 2016

In Don Henley’s 1984 classic Boys of Summer, “The summer’s out of reach” and so is the lady in the song that crushed his heart. “Those days are gone forever,” Henley croons. “I should just let them go.” The wistful lyrics gently remind us of the past slipping away, which is what the end of summer is really all about. However; with every ending we are offered a beginning as well and let’s not forget that Don Henley indeed saw a “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” which gave us us one of 1980s most iconic song lyrics.

The blazing evening sun hangs in the sky just a little lower than the days before, warm nights awaken to cool mornings and the emerald green of the trees has been dulled by hot days, some of the leaves have already turned to yellow, curling up around the edges. The summer of love will inevitably give way to the fall of responsibility, to sweaters, fuzzy blankets and pumpkin spice lattes. It is a time for long walks, thick socks, big books and new ideas and inspiration. Don’t mourn an ending but rejoice a beginning some would say. The promise of fall is just around the corner.

We always have a plan of what our summer is going to be like and I think no matter what we did it never seems enough. We long for just one more warm night, walk on the beach, hike in the mountains, skinny dip in the lake. It is a feeling of incomplete-ness that leaves us longing for more. Wet bathing suits wrapped in damp towels, dripping ice cream, sandy flips flops and iced coffee step aside for cardigans, hot soup and long pants. The change is inevitable, it happens every year but somehow we find ourselves not quite ready.

Fall is a beautiful time in Canada though. I felt the hint of it in the cool air this weekend as we visited Victoria. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. Victoria has a temperate climate and boasts rugged shorelines and beautiful beaches. Some of the trees have already started their decent into the gold hues of autumn and tourists line up at downtown restaurants and ice cream shops for tasty eats and cool treats, one last taste of summer.

Summer slows down at my work so the shift between seasons is quite significant. Fall means more responsibility, longer hours but less daylight, more to do lists and less quiet time.

I do enjoy seasons. There is something subtle in the intervals between the changing climate that makes you cling to one while at the same time longing for what is to come. For instance I hate shoveling snow but I sure love the way street lights glow against the diamond like powder of a fresh snowfall.

My W.I.S.E. principles for August were willing, idea, strong and evolve. I didn’t focus on these as much as I would previously in the project as I tried to just focus on the good of everyday. I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt like I was focusing so much on the principles that I was losing sight of the present moment, of being mindful and seeking joy in everyday. I do however appreciate looking back on the principles and reflecting on my growth and the areas where I have learned and things I can improve on. The purpose of this project was to be more mindful and find and create a deeper experience of joy in the present moment. Unchaining myself from the shackles of the past and becoming the person I am meant to be. Instead of living in a place of pain or shame I am learning to walk through it, to feel it, to take the lesson and to move on stronger. UN-scarred but possibly with a warrior wound or two.

I visited my husband in Vancouver last week as he is working there and I had not seen him in over 40 days. My second night there we had an argument and it wasn’t awful it was inevitable. I always say that if a couple does not argue someone is getting their own way all the time.

It was one of those times where I feel like I used all of the above principles. I was willing to speak up when I encountered a problem, I had ideas on how to make things better, I was strong enough to say what I wanted and I feel like I have evolved in my fighting style to be less mean and more meaningful. I have never been the type to hold back in an argument but I was the type to hold onto the bad feelings. These are the things I am working on.

My husband has worked away for years and although it has always come with it’s own set of challenges forty days apart has never been the norm for us but it is quickly becoming so. We are at a point in our lives and our relationship that we enjoy each others company, we are not afraid to share our feelings and we genuinely want to share our time. Loneliness has become a very real thing and we are challenged everyday to find the time to stay connected. When my husband worked away in the Oilsands no matter what he told me about the work conditions and living in camps there was an undeniable disconnect between what he relayed to me and what I understood. This year I have been visiting him at his away jobs and I am able to get a sense for the solitary feeling that looms around you when you work and live alone. I want to hold unto him like I want to hold unto that summer feeling and it has had an affect on me to the point that I have to dig very deep everyday to expel the foreboding perception of emptiness that torments me.

For those of you who have spouses that work away I am more than open to ideas on how you nurture your connection during long periods apart. I want to be able to acknowledge that I miss him but I don’t want to be miserable and lonely all of the time.

My September principles are wellness, improvement, savor and effort. I am hoping with some effort I can find an improvement to my current situation of loving and longing, to savor the moments we get to steal together and to continue to journey towards wellness and living purposely in the present.

If we can’t hold onto summer lets try to hold onto that summer feeling.

Be W.I.S.E. friends!

 

 

Naked and Afraid-Marriage in the 21st Century -Podcast 3 part series

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I decided to do a three part  segment on Marriage and some things I have  learned during the last 14 years of wedded bliss and almost 18 years in a relationship with my husband in which we have  faced our share of adversity and struggles.

Marriage can be fun, beautiful and so rewarding, but the one thing that nobody tells you on your wedding day is how hard it is, how much work it requires and if you do not nurture it it can very quickly wither up and die, like a flower in the desert heat!

I entered into my marriage pretty idealistically and with a lot of silly expectations. I brought with me way too much sass and this incredible need to be right all the time. My husband brought his own ideas and idiosyncrasies. Adding us together, mixing us up, throwing in some good times and struggle on top of struggle there have been some dark moments. The thing we are proud of is that though there were times where we almost got lost in the struggles, we dug in, put in some very hard work and today we are lucky to not just call each other partners but we are best friends.

There will be times that we may not like each other but those are the times that we remind ourselves how much we love each other. We have shared some great times together and some times that have made our heads spin. My need, or desire to share this with you comes from a good place in my heart that wants everyone in a relationship that is facing hard times or  daily struggles to know that you are not alone and it is normal. I even share some tips about things that have worked for us.

Join me for a fun and honest look into being Naked and Afraid in a marriage in the 21st century.

Part One- Setting the Stage

Part Two- Stupid things your spouse does and taking the good with the bad

Part Three- Make-up sex, fighting fair and why cuddling has it’s time and place.

Thanks for joining me, I would love to hear your feedback and I adore your marriage stories.

Cheers,

Michelle

The Warrior-W.I.S.E. Project

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As this point of the W.I.S.E. project we are all warriors, brave and experienced fighters, knowing what we want out of life and willing slay whatever dragons it takes to get us through the journey.

Trust is a huge word and it carries a lot of baggage around with it. It is hefty. We put a significant amount of value on the essence of trust. We rely heavily on the word and it’s perceived meaning.

“I trust you. I don’t trust you. I will never trust her again. I would never have a relationship without trust. Trust means everything to me. Why can’t I find someone that I trust?”

The above are all phrases that I have used many times. I have said them and meant them without giving them a significant amount of thought.

The most important part of my meaningful relationships should be trust, including the relationship that I have with myself. By my own admission though, I do have a problem with trust but it is one that I am working hard to overcome.

Brené Brown did a talk on the Anatomy of Trust on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I was shaking my head and really getting it, finally understanding. There is no meaningful connection between people without trust, and lack of trust and authentic connection can affect all areas of our personal and professional lives.

Brené aptly describes trusting as BRAVING and clearly tells us why in an acronym.

B-Boundaries- we need to establish clear boundaries in our relationships. We have to be clear about what our own boundaries are and respect the boundaries of others as they respect yours.

R-Reliability-We need to do what we say we are going to do and to build trust with people. We expect that they will display this same type of reliability.

A-Accountability- We are not perfect, we all make mistakes in our relationships, the key is to own our mistakes, apologize and make amends. In trusting relationships we expect that same courtesy.

V-Vault- We share a lot in our relationships and some of it we expect to be  held in  confidence, in the “vault” if you will. We want to know that the people we put our trust in acknowledge confidentiality. The Vault has many sides, if we are going to trust someone to share our deepest secrets and thoughts we want to know that we can count on them. When they share the confidence’s of others with us, or we share others confidence’s with them our trust is diminished immediately because we know that they do not respect the vault of others. We all do this or have done this in the past and it is interesting when you understand the reasons why. When we share things that are not ours to share it is a way to forge a connection with others but it is not a true connection. It is an assumed trust. The “vault’ is important. We can all work on this.

I-Integrity-Choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy and practicing our values. Brené describes integrity as choosing courage over comfort.

N-Non-Judgement- It is important to know that we can fall apart and struggle and not be judged by the important people in our lives. Brené said we get a certain amount of value from helping others but if we do not allow them to reciprocate than we are not in a trusting relationship. If we think our worth is tied up in needing help, so much so that we expect that our friends should come to us with their struggles, share their pain and ask for help when they need it then why are we sitting alone, crying alone and struggling alone? We fear judgement. If our relationships are important, loving and trusting ones we should be able to seek help when we need it without trepidation because we know we will not be judged.

G-Generosity-Assume the most generous things about my words, my intentions and behaviors and if I screw up make a generous assumption and check in with me. If I miss your birthday or I don’t contact you when something important is going on, generously assume that I love and care about you and check in with me. Don’t ignore my calls or texts and wait to bring it up with me two months later in an argument, confront me right away before animosity builds. It sucks when you are always the one to remember everyone’s birthday and then your birthday comes around and it is just another day. No party, no dinner, no to-do. I think we have to generously assume that we are loved and cared for but not everyone puts the same value on birthdays or cerebrating them after a certain age. Realize that we do things for people out of love but should not do them with the expectation of the same thing in return, not only is that not realistic it puts  a lot of unnecessary pressure on our relationships. If we are offended or feel slighted it is OK to assume the best and confront the people we love and say “Hey it was my birthday and we always do something fun on yours I had hoped that you would have planned something for me.” That can open the door to a generous discussion not a foolish fight.

If we are going to trust others we need to trust ourselves. We need to hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold the people closest to us, braving it out with us. Braving in relationships is braving a connection with others. Self-trust and self love is equally important because we cannot ask people to give us something that we do not feel that we are worth of receiving. If a man was starving to  death but offered me a loaf of bread, instead of thinking he was kind and selfless I would most likely think that there was something wrong with the loaf of bread. I would only have trusted him if he took some of the bread and offered some to me.

I have obviously taken liberties here but most of the above comes straight from Brown’s extensive research. Brené’s BRAVING really helped me to understand trust and how when we break it down we are better able to ask for what we need. It is unfair to tell people that we do not trust them but not be able to tell them why.

If you struggle with trust in your relationships and with yourself like I  do I suggest watching Brené’s talk on the Anatomy of Trust or taking her free course at COURAGEworks.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.