Amazing Grace -Wise Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

Life is a beautiful disaster

Life is a beautiful disaster at the best of times and it is during our darkest times that we are challenged to find some sort of meaning in the midst of chaos. Never is this truer than when we experience tragedy, especially when it is the death of someone we love. So much of our identity, our hopes and dreams and plans for the future are wrapped up, in and around the special people in our lives and when one of them is suddenly taken away from us, looking forward can be a bleak venture.

This weekend was especially hard for me, there is really no rhyme or reason to grief, no magical step by step manual that you can pinpoint where you are and where you need to be. I think for me the best I can do is take things moment to moment, which was how I was trying to live my life way before my husband left this world so tragically.

At the moment, even tomorrow seems uncertain, so it is best for me to honor the feelings that come up as they arise. This weekend everything was wrapped in a blanket of deep sadness. In that regard I would describe grief as being  like the Cha-cha, taking a step backwards after taking a step forwards. Some may classify that as failure or being stuck, but it is movement and I have to believe that any sort of movement is a step in the right direction.

It seems like such a short time ago that I was waking up with happy anticipation and that has sadly been replaced by a blanket of dread. I dread even a day without Kirk so the thought of facing my life without him is overwhelming. I remind myself that moving through the day moment to moment is the best that can be expected of me and at the end of the day I celebrate the small victory that I made it through yet another one. Amidst the bleak despair if I am lucky enough to be gifted moments of light I try my best to hold unto them as long as possible, as it is in those moments that I am able to look towards the future with a tiny bit of hope.

This weekend I had made multiple plans and I was quite excited at the prospect of getting to that point in my journey that I could actually be excited about leaving the house for not one or two but three days in a row. Friday night after work I met a friend and we went raspberry picking, we had dinner and shared some stories over a glass of wine. I was in bed that night exhausted by 10 p.m. I had been having a good time and then all of the sudden I became literally overcome at the thought of never having dinner with Kirk again, never driving in a vehicle with Kirk again, never listening to Kirk bitch when his smoothie had raspberries in it because he despised how the seeds got stuck in his teeth. I woke early on Saturday but I wasn’t able to leave my room. I feel close to Kirk there and the thought of facing anything outside my room made me feel choked.  I was lucky to be given weekend passes to the Edmonton Folk Festival but tried desperately to pawn them off on my teenage daughter. In a reversal of sorts my daughter temporarily took over the role of voice of reason and told me that I wasn’t going to sit around, I was going to kick the ass out of that day and if that was too much to ask for, I could be just as sad at the folk festival as I could at home cleaning the house; only it was less lame. She was entirely right of course and as we weaved our way through Edmonton on city transit I was reminded that Kirk would have told me the exact same thing.

There is nothing lame about the Edmonton Folk festival. It is such a mish mosh of people and personalities that I was immediately reminded of the beauty and the fragile-ness of life.

Life is glorious sunsets, panoramic mountain vistas, ocean spray, sunrises, laughter, dancing, hot sand, cool drinks, loud music,  acne, gas, bills, mortgages, jobs, stress, heartache, birth, death and taxes. Life is all or nothing. There is no promise of a pain free life and unfortunately we need to experience all of it.

Music has always brought people together and we are always aware of how lucky we are to get to experience music live, it is such a connecting experience.

My daughter and I found a spot on the grass to lay our blanket, surrounded by babies, teenagers, parents, grandparents and people at a time in their lives that they can’t recall their age but their toes can still tap out the rhythm of the music. That alone was beautiful and I allowed myself to see and feel that. Music has always brought people together and we are always keenly aware of how lucky we are to get to experience music live. It is such a connecting experience, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate stories brought to life through music and melodies.

Irish Mythen is an Irish born-Canadian Contemporary Folk singer and songwriter with the wonderful gift of comfortably uniting people through her stories and her strong and fantastic voice. In her intro to Sweet Necessity she talked about being a singer-songwriter on the road and discovering the things that were the most important things in life, the things you long to come home too. These sweet necessities are the things that money cannot buy. She followed with a powerful song called 55 years that she had written after meeting an elderly man at a festival that had just lost his wife. They had been married for 55 years and had never spent a night apart and after he wandered off into the night she wondered about how that must have felt for him, the first time crawling into his bed without his true love. Tears were spraying out of my eyes even before the first strum of the guitar and as my daughter held my hand I was once again reminded of how lucky I was to get that kind of love, and that grief is love’s souvenir. I cannot rush my way through it, I need to carry it with me as I move through my days and honor all of the feelings as they come my way. I cried for that beautiful old man that lost his wife, I cried for Kirk, I cried for me and my children and our families and friends and I cried for people that I didn’t even know that would one day be faced with the same heartache. Pain is not selective. It is what we do with our pain that matters.

I looked at her with envy thinking that that was supposed to be me someday.

That night I was once again exhausted and I faced the same difficult morning; not wanting or ready to face my own reality. My daughter once again reminded me that we had plans for the last day of Folk Festival and that I could be just as sad there as I could be anywhere. The travel through the city was worse on Sunday, I remembered how funny it was traveling with Kirk on City transit and was reminded how we would never do that again. As we laid in the hot sun on our blanket listening to 78 year old Blues legend William Bell I thought of how much Kirk would have appreciated this and how connected he was to music. He communicated with me a lot through music, often sending me songs and always insisting that I listen to the lyrics because they were everything he wanted to say. My eyes leaked all day and it felt terrible. It felt like having annoying eye allergy and your eyes feel constantly wet and crusty in the corners. Tears were imminent.

My daughter nudged me to look at this elderly woman who was wildly dancing to the rock and roll/swamp/blues stylings of Canadian band MonkeyJunk. I looked at her through teary eyes, and my heart did a funny thing, perhaps a pang.  She had white hair, and she was wearing a white short sleeved sweater with brightly colored embroidered flowers, fuchsia shorts and matching sunglasses. If you googled images of smile or sunshine you might find a picture of her. I looked at her with envy thinking that that was supposed to be me someday. I was supposed to be that happy older lady in the brightly colored clothing, dancing like nobody was watching and shining as bright as the sun. I contemplated that for several minutes, turning my attention back to the crooning guitar and the beat of the drum to drown out the breaking of my heart, over and over again. I looked over at the woman again, still dancing as if freedom was her middle name. I estimated her to be in her seventies and I am pretty certain that heartache hadn’t passed over her. In 70 years I am sure she has experienced her fair share of pain, yet she danced as if her heart had never been broken, free from the shackles of emotional torment.

I know if I want to dance with freedom at 70 plus years old I have some work to do, I need to heal my heart and reconnect with my soul. I need to seek and find some grace.

I heard a word last week that is not a dictionary word but Deepak Chopra used it “SynchroDestiny”, alluding to the fact that events and encounters are more than meaningful coincidences; they are actually choices we make that are leading us towards our destiny.

“When we’re aware of our essential nature and the possibilities that are always unfolding around us, we enter a state I call SynchroDestiny. We awaken to the field of infinite possibilities, and are able to apply our intentions and attention to manifest the spontaneous fulfillment of our dreams and desires. “ –Deepak Chopra

I have felt pretty strongly in the last several months that people I meet and the experiences that I have are somehow all connected and leading me towards my purpose. I was meant to be at the Folk Festival and see that woman, dancing like she was eighteen at Woodstock. She was meant to be a part of my journey. I know if I want to dance with freedom at 70 plus years old I have some work to do, I need to heal my heart and reconnect with my soul. I need to seek and find some grace.

Author Anne Lamont presented a Ted Talk where she talked about grace and I searched for it and as I listened a meaning was revealed that I had not embraced on my previous listen.

Anne Lamott says:

Grace.

Grace is spiritual WD-40, or water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin and me exactly as much as He or She loves your new grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and heals our world.

To summon grace, say, “Help,” and then buckle up. Grace finds you exactly where you are, but it doesn’t leave you where it found you. And grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost, regrettably. But the phone will ring or the mail will come and then against all odds, you’ll get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness. It helps us breathe again and again and gives us back to ourselves, and this gives us faith in life and each other. And remember — grace always bats last.

 

So I am buckling up and asking for help and I am also taking measures to discover who it is I am meant to be in the world right now and in the future. I am taking an online Self Discovery course by the Chopra Center facilitated by Deepak Chopra.

Speaking of SynchroDestiny; I met Deepak in the winter when I attended his talk on the future of well-being. I also bought his book “You are the Universe.” I was immediately fascinated with the book but it was a slow read for me as I was underlining and using sticky notes and highlighters and then reading and discussing parts of the book with Kirk so that he could help me understand. Kirk had a brilliant mind and could grasp a concept much quicker than I could, I always put things through the filter of my heart and maybe that complicates things.

Our natural state is that of joy, creativity and abundance but throughout our lives we are reminded of our limitations and live within those constricted beliefs.

Through this course I am learning to honor my feelings but to let go of old hurt and anger that traps me in old experiences. Our natural state is that of joy, creativity and abundance but throughout our lives we are reminded of our limitations and live within those constricted beliefs. As a young child our lives and the opportunities available to us seem boundless but as we were educated about our limitations our possibilities became narrow and confined. Stored emotional pain can also significantly limit our potential to create and seek unlimited joy. For instance holding unto anger traps us in the past and clouds our perception of unison and doesn’t allow us to see the signs that the universe is offering us.

I know that dealing with the pain and trauma of this loss now is the the very best thing I can do for myself, my children and my emotional and spiritual well being. Otherwise I run the risk that the pain will resurface as aggravated poison at an equally inopportune time-showing up as hostility, anger, anxiety or fear. My goal is to deal with the feelings now as they come and begin to slowly take those hard steps towards emotional freedom. If I allow myself to let my mind take over I very quickly find myself trapped in a Karmic prison, a prison with no walls or locks but the trappings of my own terrified mind.

I am also taking a 3 day Meditation course at Lifestyle Meditation, to learn to fully integrate meditation into my lifestyle. Meditation has been a go to for me for awhile now, saving me from myself on several occasions; but I would like to fully immerse myself in the experience of meditation and mindfulness and connect to the science and philosophy in a solid way so that I can not only continue to evolve in my own personal practice but I can confidently influence others that can benefit from incorporating meditation and mindfulness techniques in their own lives and wellness.

Often what we are searching for is searching for us as well and I believe that grace is seeking me and I am indeed seeking grace.

Be Wise friends xo

Michelle

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Life in the Fast Lane-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

 

Saturday afternoon as I padded around the little cabin in my bathrobe, a leftover cheddar smokie drizzled with mustard and rolled up in a napkin in one hand and a Krispy Creme donut in the other I felt content. I unabashedly slept in, waking to roll over, stretch out and sleep again on repeat. It seemed like it had been forever since I had been able to do that and I wasn’t going to ruin it by feeling guilty. I happily had no responsibilities except to relax.

I had gone to visit my husband out of town and meet his work crew. He convinced me to stay an extra night but in the interim I had a whole day to myself to do as I wished. I was in the middle of nowhere so there wasn’t a whole lot to fill my time so I decided to just slow down and enjoy the quiet.

I was watching a Ted Talk with Carl Honoré about his bestselling book In Praise of Slow, about the slow movement. Carl explores the idea that if we actually slow down, in our speed obsessed society, we can actually accomplish more, be happier and create greater success.

Our culture of speed takes a toll on every aspect of our lives; living in the fast lane is damaging to our health, our diets, our well being, our communities and our relationships.  When we live our lives in fast forward, we are missing some of the most important things.

“Everybody these days wants to know how to slow down, but they want to know how to learn to slow down very quickly!” ~Carl Honoré

In the last couple of years since I started the W.I.S.E. Project one of my greatest challenges and desires was to be more mindful and learn to live in the moment. My entire life needed a complete overhaul to learn to live in the present moment instead of speeding through to the next. I learned that I wasn’t really connecting to myself and to the world around me, I was literally racing against time to accomplish everything I could possibly get done in a day. It made me ill, unhappy and detached. I longed to have deeper, richer and stronger relationships and wanted to take an active role in my own well being and pursue activities that I was passionate about but the truth was that I didn’t have time. To be clearer, and more honest; I didn’t make time and I equated a great deal of my self worth with how much I could do and how much I could achieve in a short amount of time.

The message of ‘less is more’ has many meanings and can seep into several areas of our lives. We collect things, more and more things that don’t matter; that clutter our lives and fill voids. We subscribe to the notion that time is money and we race against the clock, busying our lives and barely taking the time to just breath.

I do believe it is possible to slow down but it is an undertaking that requires careful thought and an honest desire for change.

“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Personally, one of my greatest tools in my battle against time and practicing mindfulness has been meditation. A daily meditation practice has allowed me to achieve something that I have always longed for; a strong and resilient mind among the chaos that is my life. I have discovered the luxuriousness that is silence and I crave more and more quiet and unhurried moments to ease my burdens and feed my soul.

Being still can seem strange at first. Most of us run on autopilot and we are trained to constantly be doing. For me, I often have to overcome the guilt that I should be doing something. Slowing down is healthy, silence is golden.

The World Health Organization has identified noise pollution as a global health hazard affecting both developing and developed nations. The impact includes hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, mental-health effects, hypertension and increased blood pressure. People surrounded by noise are often in constant states of stress, which can degrade their immune systems.

Slowing down and taking the time to embrace a quieter and yet more fulfilling existence is a healthy escape from the everyday that can be life changing for you and your loved ones.

Do you think your life could benefit from learning to slow down?

How do you find moments of calm in your busy life?

What do you value above all else in your life?

 

Bucket of Fucks-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 Tenacious Tuesday

DISCLAIMER- I apologize in advance for the use of the word fuck, I am struggling to find another word that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, an interjection or an adverb. If it bothers you, you can replace with the word flower or meatloaf.

“Now, while not giving a fuck may seem simple on the surface, it’s a whole new bag of burritos under the hood. I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t give a fuck. A bag of burritos sounds awesome, so let’s just go with it.” ~Mark Manson

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I was ever given was to give up all my expectations of people. It took me a very long time to get behind that advice, the thought was foreign to me. I was heavily into volunteering at the time and I expected everyone to have the same level of commitment that I did, and because that didn’t happen often, I allowed it to cause me a great deal of stress. When I learned to stop expecting things of people it was a step in the right direction, I stopped taking it personally when people didn’t step up or follow through. Eventually I decided to move on to other things myself and albeit that was initially a difficult decision. When you put your heart into something and dedicate countless hours to a cause it is hard to walk the other way and not look back. That was the day I decided not to give a fuck. Too many fucks had been given and I was simply out of fucks to give.

I teetered through life with my bucket of fucks, giving fucks to things that really didn’t deserve a fuck. I gave a fuck if the cashier at the grocery store was rude, I threw another fuck at the driver that cut me off in traffic, I was handing out fucks to strangers and events that in the grand scheme of my life didn’t matter all. One day I found myself scraping the empty bottom of my bucket of fucks. I had given out fucks like they grew on trees, here a fuck, there a fuck…everywhere I am tossing a fuck, fuck!

I had one fuck left to give. It turns out fucks don’t grow on trees and if someone didn’t throw a fuck my way, I was going to be fuck-less!!

Simply not giving a fuck at all, ever, is apathetic, and that type of indifference is reserved for people that are lazy and uninspired. However, it is absolutely okay to not give a fuck about every little thing. It is fine to cache our fucks for things that are important, like family, friends and wine.

Younger me gave a fuck about everything and everyone. I was a people pleaser, I wanted to be liked, I gave a fuck about what people thought of me, what they said about me, whether they thought I was smart or funny or they liked my hair. I had a ton of fucks to give and I was handing them out all over town like I was that stranger with candy that your parents warned you about.

Age and maturity has taught me to be selective with the fucks I give. It is a work in progress but I find that I am certain of my identity, surer of myself, and I able to reserve my energy to give a fuck, only when it is important.

I went through this period of uncertainty not so long ago where I really struggled with who I was and how to be happy. I had it in my head that I wasn’t enough, that I was meant to do more with my life and I desperately wanted to have some sort of skill that would make that happen. After some soul searching I realized that I am never going to be a National Geographic Photographer or a Pulitzer Prize winner. I am not going to heal people or co-host a show with Ellen. I am OK with it. I am OK with being who I am and where I am in my life and as I sail through the days with my dwindling bucket of fucks I realize that it is alright not to give a fuck about every little thing. I am enough. I have everything I need and I am happy not giving a fuck a lot of the time!

It is not easy. There are days when I want to give a fuck about everything.  It gets tiring though and I find that at my age, the more fucks I give out, the less fucks I can dedicate to things that really deserve my time and energy. My goal is not to simply “not” give a fuck at all but to learn to redirect my fucks to the right people and things.

“The point is that fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely. Fucks are cultivated like a beautiful fucking garden, where if you fuck shit up and the fucks get fucked, then you’ve fucking fucked your fucks all the fuck up.” ~Mark Manson

I have come to realize that when I am giving way too many fucks to insignificant things, even things that bother me like the toilet paper not being changed, the drive through attendant’s lack of enthusiasm or whether there is toast crumbs in the butter, I am lacking something in my life, something that I genuinely give a fuck about.

Sometimes I am genuinely enthusiastic about so many things that I struggle with giving a fuck to everything , it’s like a big ol fuckstorm, blowing fucks all over the place. When the wind dies down I know that I need to gather up my fucks and put them back into my bucket of fucks and restrict my fuck giving to the things that matter the most to me because handing out fucks like they are mini chocolate bars at Halloween is not only tiring, it keeps me from offering up a fuck to the most important things.

If you are able to achieve the art of giving your fucks out selectively you will have learned a skill that takes others decades to accomplish. Like your favorite little black dress hanging in the back of the closet for the most special of occasions, your fucks to; must sometimes sit on the shelf, in wait until the time is right.

 

Do you struggle with giving a fuck?

Do you give too many fucks or not enough?

Do you give a fuck about trivial things?

Do you think there is a balance between giving a fuck and not giving a fuck?

 

If you want to learn more on the subject I highly recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Related : Shit Shit Shit

It looks like rain-W.I.S.E. Project

Happiness, mindful, marrige, October

Good morning!

Today was a good day or I guess yesterday was because its 5 am on the first day of October. No I don’t get up at 5 am I am still up.

My daughter played High School Football under the Friday night lights and the air was crisp. I got home and almost immediately crawled under my covers with a good book and dozed off but woke much later to chat with my husband. It is work to keep the flames of this long distance love affair  burning bright.

I would love to have a lady’s maid like in Downton Abbey to get me ready for bed. Dress me, turn down my sheets and brush my hair 100 strokes. She could bring me a  bedtime snack of hot tea and a biscuit that was really wine and nachos.We would laugh and carry on and she would fluff my pillow and tuck the covers up around my ears. However, I am neither rich nor royalty so I just yelled to my oldest daughter that I was cold and she brought me a sleeping bag and threw it across me. She moved my book to tuck the sleeping bag around my ears but smashed me in the face with the zipper. My bedtime snack was a bottle of water. All things considered I am feeling pretty blessed even knowing that the only help I am getting to get dressed this morning is my day of the week underwear.

I am laying here listening to Buddy’s stomach making unusual noises, he is probably still digesting the box of pancake mix he and Rocky ravaged last night. Hubby and I were just on video chat discussing how we would love to have a nanny cam to see which one of the dogs is the actual instigator. Kirk is convinced that the cat is the badass leading them into temptation and then sitting pretty while they go down for their dirty deeds. It is just too bad that they couldn’t just fry up some bacon and eggs  but who knows if they would if they could. Dogs will eat a dirty diaper if given the opportunity so I am guessing they will always choose quick over quality.  Animals are so much fun though. They are always so excited to see you and they seem to know when you need a little extra love! I don’t get people who don’t get animals. The older I get the more I realize that I like animals better than most people and the people I do like love animals.

We were also discussing who we would have lunch with if we could pick any two celebrities. Kirk decided to skip lunch and go to the mountains sledding with Jann Arden and Rick Mercer. He would lead them in highmarking on his Artic Cat but he was pretty certain that Jann Arden would put Rick to shame. We used to spend a lot if late nights discussing hosting an All Canadian content radio station and Jann Arden would be our first guest. She is the epitomy of Canada’s musical sweetheart slash warrior slash funny lady. We have such fantastic ideas in the wee hours.  The thing I always adored about Rick and Jann together is that they are not just hillariously funny they are also smart. I admire people that can combine those two elements. I think I am ridulously funny when I recount fart and poop stories but sadly  there is no intelligence to my humor. I think we all can agree though that poop stories are so freaking funny.

I didn’t actually get to come up with my own plan because hubby was fresh off an 18 hour work day and when he gets enthusiastic it is hard to get a word in edgewise but its ok I am happy to hang at the ski chalet marinating steaks and testing the quality of the tequila for our esteemed guests.

My daughter is in the shower now heading to work the breakfast shift at McDs. I was planning to catch a couple more hours of sleep but I would forfeit it for a sausage and egg mcmuffin.

Today is going to be a fabulous day. It is the first day of the month which is a beginning and I love beginnings. It’s like having an empty canvas and paints in front of you, promise and opportunity abounds. It looks like rain. Rain will wash away any bad things left over from last month so we can start fresh.

I am going to put on my big girl Saturday panties and seize the day. My biggest goal this month is to be fully engaged in my life. To show up and be seen. I hope you do the same.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

Round and round-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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I am just going to sit here for five minutes, if you talk to me please know that I am not listening

I know I keep saying it but I really love fall. I am just as sad as anyone when summer comes to an end, mostly because I know that the bitter cold of winter is right around the corner.

Fall I can appreciate. I like the cooler mornings and comfortable temperatures for sleeping in the evening; I love cardigans, homemade soup and hot drinks. I like the way the trees huddle together showing off their colors, proudly boasting stunning shades of gold, orange and red, and lightly dusting the landscape with a layer upon layer of vibrant color. My shade of lipstick changes, my clothes change, and my choice in foods change but the biggest change of all, one that I can never quite prepare for is the change in my sleep patterns.

Changes to temperature, the amount of sunlight we take in per day, atmospheric pressure, humidity and precipitation influence us in many ways, both positive and negative. For the last three weeks I have been struggling to get up and going but once I do I am happy to enjoy the rewards of a crisp autumn day. I feel grateful and fulfilled and I sail through my work days with plans to be productive in the evening only to be hit in the face with the three o’clock brain break.  So I struggle through my afternoons with tired eyes and big yawns. I am barely finding the energy to throw together meals for my family before putting on my jammies.  It’s hard to be productive when your brain is dormant from 3 pm onwards.

So I give in to the sweet promise of an early sleep, hoping for an early rise but repose is futile. My brain is lethargic, my body is already in a coma like state but something is compelling both of them to get up and move. So I lie there suspended somewhere between awake and dreaming, easy and agitated, tranquility and tempered.

When you go to bed exhausted expecting a soft fall into dreamland that ends up to be a fitful night of  restlessness, it is the equivalent of biting into a chocolate chip cookie only to find out that it is oatmeal raisin, the result is less than gratifying and quite frankly it leaves you a little pissed off.

Yesterday I dragged my tired ass out of bed and stumbled through my morning routine. The kids had made supper the previous evening and promised to clean up so I found the kitchen in shambles, which they refer to as spotless. I picked at the clutter for a bit and decided to leave it till after work and maybe it would be better. I lumbered through my day as sluggishly as the day before knowing that I had a bank appointment to sign papers, I had to drop books at the library and my youngest had voice lessons. I really just wanted to make it home in time to shower and change into comfy jammies and pour a glass of wine in time for Greys Anatomy. I talk about drinking wine a lot; I find the time to drink wine a lot less than I talk about.

I arrived in the bank in lots of time to be able to sign the papers, pick up Haley, run to the library and get Haley to lessons on time. I waited in line at the bank which seemed to take forever and a day. Clearly some people have not discovered online banking. The teller was super pleasant and went on an unsuccessful hunt for my papers. She could not find them and consulted everyone in the building before a kind lady took over and informed me that the papers were at my bank branch 20 minutes away. Why in the world would I have thought I could walk into any branch and sign the papers is beyond me. This branch was close and convenient for me and my brain was already two hours into break. I think the kind lady could tell that I was frazzled and that I my day was a succession of going round and round and stifling yawns. She was able to help me from that branch and I was able to continue on with the rest of my responsibilities on time and they only thing I had to give up was peeing and brushing my teeth. That seemed to buy me some extra time and on the way to lessons and I was able to stop and pick up my very first pumpkin spice latte of the season.

I read a little at lessons and on the way home my daughter was full of stories from welcome week at Junior High. I still have a hard time believing she is now a Junior High student. In my head she is still eight years old. She was talking away and not even breathing in between and I sort of zoned out. I went on a little vacation. In my head I was still and quiet. Then I hear “Mommy, Mom, Mommy…are you there? Why are you not talking? I am talking and talking and talking and you are not saying anything.” I needed to figuratively splash cold water on my face and re-engage. We talked about school and the birthday party she is going to on Saturday and her friend that is a boy but not her boyfriend that she would be upset if any of her friends dated him but only because it would be weird not because she likes him that way even though his name comes up constantly and she thinks he is so funny!

It was late so we picked up Subway as we had a two for one coupon. We got home and the dogs met us at the door, Rocky’s black fur was full of White powder, he had cardboard hanging out of his mouth and Buddy was walking around in circles and hanging his head, the pantry door was wide open and the remnants of Aunt Jemima Pancake mix and an empty box of Trix was on the living room floor. I was so mad but all I could think of was “Silly dogs, Twix are for kids!”

As annoyed as I get with them I love them to pieces and I feel like they are just kids faced with temptation. Like when I was a kid and my mom would bake cookies and tell us we couldn’t have any till later and then she would find the cookie container half empty and at least one of us kids with traces of chocolate on their face. I also like to believe that the dogs love me so much that if they could clean up they really would. I wouldn’t have to tell them the same things over and over.

I gave my oldest daughter grief about leaving the dogs in the house when she left and leaving the panty door open, she quickly informed me that it must have been her sisters fault and recounted to me how she had already cleaned up the garbage they got into. I noted the garbage that was stuffed back into the container so full that the lid would not even latch. More temptation for the dogs, like sitting me at an all you can eat buffet and telling me I can only look.

Nobody would think to change that garbage and nobody had fed the dogs, or the cat, or picked up their laundry off the bathroom floor, or wiped off the stove they cooked on or cleaned the tomato sauce they dropped off the tiles in the kitchen. But alas, I am too tired to even argue so I wiped up the tomato sauce, cleaned off the stove, tidied the counters and  ignore the wisps of dog fur that have collected around chairs and table legs and in every visible and invisible nook and cranny. I pour myself the glass of red I have been promising myself for a month and mentally prepared to go round and round again tomorrow.

I am not going to lie, September was a difficult month for me, but I kept trying and in that there is no failure.

Be W.I.S.E. friends. .

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!

 

 

More than a feeling-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Sunsets, sunrise, high tide, full moons…they are beautiful moments  but like most good moments they are fleeting. Like the wind in your hair on hot summers day with the dial turned up and the open road ahead of you and that momentary perception of pure joy. It’s a feeling, a second, a minute if you are lucky. These are the moments that make up our lives but often we need to coach ourselves to breath in, look around and enjoy them before they are gone. When we practice gratitude we experience more of these moments that enrich our lives.

How often do wish you could capture the feeling of a place? Maybe it’s your lakeside cabin or your grandpa’s farmhouse. It’s more than that initial awe that strikes you when you glimpse it for the very first time; it’s the feeling of unceremonious joy and gratitude you get when you are there that lingers in your memory and beckons you back. I am an East Coast girl living in the big bad West. I am equally torn between my love of the soothing ocean and the larger than life mountains. Every wave in the ocean and every glacial mountain peak cradle a piece of my soul.

Our lives are busy and they go by so fast. I always welcome any opportunity to get lost in a spot away from everyday stresses where time is told by the rise of the sun and the fall of the moon instead of my cell phone alarm.

We had a friend visiting his family in B.C. during his summer sojourn from New Zealand. We knew his time was precious and how hard it is to make time for everyone in a few short weeks. We were planning a little family getaway to the Okanagan region hoping to meet up with our friend before he bounced back to his island nation.

Time was getting short and we had yet to make a plan. This wasn’t my first rodeo so I knew how difficult last minute bookings in the summer can be, especially in the mountains. I was hit in the face with a summer cold so armed with a steaming cup of Neo Citron and my laptop I set out to find a place to suit us that would be a reasonable drive for our friend from Revelstoke, have brilliant scenery and abundant outdoor space, be clean and bright with a generous amount of comfortable capacity and be remarkably “uncommon”.  On top of all of this I wanted it to be fairly priced.

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I dislike hotels and when I go away I appreciate staying in places that have a great story.  I was coming up empty and not feeling very confident in getting what I had envisioned when I happened upon an ad for a solar powered eco retreat in the wilds of Larch Hills which was a twenty five minute scenic drive from Salmon Arm in the North Okanagan region of beautiful British Columbia. We were spending a couple of days in Mara Lake close by so the location was absolutely perfect.

The retreat is called Tin Poppy. It is a 1953, 32’ Travel Trailer built into a sizable, avant-garde abode. The 200 sq. ft. trailer is encased in a modern screened-in post and beam structure bringing the space up to 1200 square feet in total. The structure boasts a myriad of natural light, comfort, conveniences and charm.

The owner Maggie was in France when I contacted her but was very quick to respond and accommodate our request. I had been looking forward to meeting the people that had not only imagined such a space but had brought it to fruition. Unfortunately the day before our booking Maggie contacted me to say that their plane had been delayed and they were stuck in the U.K. but she had a friend make sure the space was ready for our arrival. It was spotlessly clean, fresh poppies were in a vase in the living space and luxurious bath robes and towels were laid out for us to take advantage of the outdoor shower. It was a hot day in the Okanagan so we chose to shower and change before our company arrived.

Though private and contemporary with hot water on demand, the outdoor shower is alluringly close to nature. The bathroom and toilet are conveniently located inside off of a spacious foyer between the living space and the stairs to the look-off. There is a door leading to the the bbq deck on one side, the opposite side takes you to the large entryway which leads to the outdoor shower and another separate sun deck. The other side of the retreat is embraced by wild flowers and Hollyhocks, it is reminiscent of an English country garden looking beautifully unplanned as if Mother Nature just happened to wave her wand on that very spot and mesmerized it. There is a huge rock fire pit overlooking the hills that is beautiful by the light of the North Okanagan moon. Tin Poppy also has a 6 person wood-fired Finnish style sauna to the left of the fire pit for some added luxury.

The kitchen is cozy and it is well equipped to cook full meals. The hosts have literally thought of everything.

We had a visit from a large cat that we found out later was named Leo and shortly after our arrival we had a visit from three dogs of varying sizes and breeds. My family loves animals so we were so happy for the company. The one dog had only three legs but a mammoth personality and he loved the interaction and didn’t want to leave us. He was quiet and loving and being around him made me feel peaceful and I wish I had brought our dogs. I spoke with Maggie and found out that they were their dogs and that a neighbor was watching them while they were away. The dog that didn’t want to leave our side was Sammi. As I  mentioned we are animal lovers and were happy to allow Sammi and Leo to keep us company and spend the night. I didn’t have dog food but Sammi seemed to approve of steak for dinner. If you have allergies or do not care for pets your experience would be different and Maggie would not allow the animals to come around but we felt comforted by their presence.

Our daughter had been out of touch with her friends for a few days so she took advantage of the wifi while Kirk caught up with our friend over music and cold drinks and I whipped up a big dinner.

We enjoyed wine and great conversation over a late dinner and watched as the moon slowly fell below the tree line and the temperature fell with it. The hot sun that had streamed in through the screens was replaced by a cool breeze. The guys built a fire in the pit and we spent some time under the mountain moon in a star filled sky with a fire crackling in the background. We felt miles away from the ordinary and I consciously reminded myself to breath it all in.

Our buddy chose to sleep in the lookoff under the star filled sky and our daughter chose the cozy second bedroom in the trailer. Long after they drifted off to sleep my husband and I made snacks in the kitchen and settled in the cozy trailer nook and turned the heat up. We streamed some very old music and opened another bottle of wine, curled up together and wondered aloud how many people had gotten to enjoy this space since 1953. We felt like we were among some great company. Tin Poppy has some great old bones. We sipped and sang until the wee hours of the morning feeling gracious and fulfilled before retiring to the cheerful queen room.

I woke early but the sun rose before me. I made coffee in the French press and started breakfast in the cast iron frying pan while everyone else slept. The light of day at Tin Poppy is as equally impressive as the dark of night. I was as enamored by the expansive light filled Poppy as I was by a crackling fire under the Okanagan moon.

We ate a hearty breakfast before saying goodbye to our friend, a short but sweet visit before he journeyed back to his home on the South Western Pacific Ocean. Though miles and oceans of time may separate us daily we truly felt that we all discovered a magical place together and we know that our friendship coupled with Tin Poppy’s magnetic charm will draw us together there again.

Tin Poppy is perfectly suited to family holidays, a getaway with friends, mountain and or/beach vacations, winery tours, romantic holidays, hiking and biking, ski vacations in the winter…it is multi functional. If you are bored of ordinary, Tin Poppy will not fail to charm you. Thank you to Maggie for providing me with some of the photos, some of them are from our early July stay.

If you are planning a trip to beautiful British Columbia I would definitely consider Tin Poppy. Below I have provided some links for you.

Tin Poppy on Facebook

Tin Poppy Website

Tin Poppy on AirBnB

July’s W.I.S.E. principles are welcome, innocent, special and enjoy. Tin Poppy has encompassed all of those things for me in a short but memorable visit!

I hope you are enjoying a fabulous summer and welcoming time with family and friends, enjoying special moments and the innocence of new beginnings.

I am traveling to Nova Scotia this weekend to properly welcome my new granddaughter and enjoy my own family and indulge in special times and create new and lasting memories. Cheers to you as July winds down.

Chat soon,

Michelle xo