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

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Artist unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have I learned about myself?

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

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

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

~Arthur Rubenstein

 

Happiness doesn’t happen by accident

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

 

Seven Bridges Road-W.I.S.E Project 2016

“The sun shows up every morning, no matter how bad you’ve been the night before. It shines without judgment. It never withholds. It warms the sinners, the saints, the druggies, the cheerleaders- the saved and the heathens alike. You can hide from the sun, but it wont take you personally. It´ll never, ever punish you for hiding. You can stay in the dark for years or decades, and when you finally step outside, it´ll be there.”
Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed

 

The splendid sunshine is abundant today in the Edmonton sky; and though it is slightly crisp the radiant heat of the sun and the feel of it on your face gives the illusion that it is much warmer. It is like a warrior booster for my day and I appreciate it immensely!

It has been a difficult week and I would be a fool to not mention that the last several months have been troublesome. When your spouse suffers the devastating effects of manic depression and struggles to get through each day you will struggle right along with them. You will pull yourself up, you will dig your way through the wreckage and you will fight harder than you have ever fought for anything in your life. You will feel raw and cheated and sad and angry and all sorts of emotions that you never even knew you had or experienced before. When the person you love is dancing with their ghosts it is very likely that they will not feel your arms around them, they won’t feel your love and tireless support and that can be heart wrenching. If your sadness turns to anger that is your heart putting on armor, bracing for battle. They say there are six degrees of separation and five stages of grief. I have felt all of them and a combination of them all within a five minute period. I have held on to the threads of hope until my hands were bloody.

My husband described it in the most descriptively terrifying way “You feel like someone has pulled your heart out of your chest, filled it with hornets, set it on fire and pulled the rug out from under your feet but you have no choice but to keep swinging”

I guess in reality there is a choice, you can stop swinging, stop fighting and stop holding on. You can give up on yourself or on the person you love and walk away from everything that was ever important to you. Maybe in time one of you will feel better, possibly both with some very hard work but in my case I know with certainty that I am going to put in the hard work either way and at the time when the bumpy road smooths out I want us to be travelling on it together.

Whether you are the person that feels like their mind is being held together with a weak adhesive and you fear that it could break apart any moment, you feel dead inside and unable to make a decision, you are so broken and you feel like you will never be worth fixing or you are the person who feels everything, you try so hard to be that adhesive that keeps your love together just enough to keep from breaking beyond repair and you pray to god everyday and you hope beyond any hope that you ever had, that your love can fix this, it is all consuming and sometimes your days will be in color and some days they will be enveloped in blackness. Either way it can be scary but I think for me, one huge difference is that I see a light at the end of the tunnel at all times. I know it exists and I know that I need to stay in that light at all times. How terrifying it must be to live a great deal of your life in darkness, unable to see or feel any sort of light, to not know with certainty that things will get better one day, instead of continuing to spiral into a wretched abyss of murky dead space.

The decision to start this little project called the W.I.S.E. project stemmed from a couple of things. Last Christmas I saw a baby picture of my son that I had given up for adoption when I was sixteen. Being reunited with him has been a miracle, he has been such a blessing in my life but seeing that picture sent me into a tailspin. I was once again a scared and uncertain 16 year old girl, in love with a little baby that I knew in my heart deserved a life that I couldn’t give him. I felt devastated all over again and I knew that if I didn’t deal with that, if I didn’t feel every bit of that heartbreak that it would revisit me time and time again for my entire life. So I laid in my bed and I cried for days, I wrote down my feelings, I talked to my husband and I talked to God. I sought and found forgiveness and redemption and I embraced all the love that I finally believed I deserved. I knew how lucky I was and how much I had to be grateful for but for some reason I still felt miserable. It was the end of 2015 and my mind was still very stuck on period of gloom in July when my husband had suffered the worst depression that I had ever seen. I had known for years that he had an issue, I knew that he suffered childhood trauma and that his demons followed him into adulthood and often took up residence in his tired mind. It seemed that his demons had grown with him, they were bigger and stronger now and more aggressive. The harder he tried to make the right decisions for himself and his family the more they pushed back. The person I laid down with every hot July night was not the person I married and had spent almost half of my life with, he was a stranger, a terrified little boy crying on the inside and outside he looked like a ghost. His beautiful soul was tortured and his fierce and loving heart was in the cruel hands of ruthless apparitions that neither of us understood. Even though he tried to get help he was somehow dismissed as if he was just a number, a space to fill on the appointment book and a check to collect at the end of the hour. Somehow, some way we seemed to overcome that horrible time, or least things seemed to go back to resemble some version of normalcy. I never stopped waiting for things to go wrong again and in doing that I wasn’t living. At best I was existing, going through the motions. I wasn’t happy and finally the time came that I realized that I had all the pieces of the puzzle to construct a happy life but something was not fitting together properly. Unlike people who suffer the debilitating affects of depression, happiness for me was a choice and I became committed to seeking it, learning the science of it and choosing it at all costs every single day. It doesn’t mean that I spend every day farting rainbows (only some days) but it really does give me a lot of perspective. Had I not embarked on this project I would be a crying mess on the floor and that is not an option for me. I cry and feel everything, make no mistake about that. There have been weekends recently that I didn’t even leave the house or get out of my pajamas but I have to say that there has been a power in knowing that know matter what that I can lift myself up and be OK. I practice gratitude daily and I try incredibly hard to stay in the moment.

Depression robs you of your ability to communicate effectively and as a wife who is sad and my heart is raw, I often take well meaning things the wrong way. It can be frustrating for both of us. My need to decide everything in a moment adds a pressure to my husbands already stressed mind that is not helpful in the least. I have to consciously try to slow down, to live in the present and to be grateful for the good things I have in my life and to seek joy in everything I do.

I know that I have to matter in the equation too and often I have questions that my husband simply cannot answer. This adds another element of discord that we struggle through. I try really hard to be my authentic self and stay true to me and my needs. That is why I ask the tough questions because they are important to me and in order for me to stay connected, healthy and well I occasionally need a little bit of reassurance. I take time to breath, meditate, laugh, rest and cry! Those are the things that I need. No matter what you face and how hard you decide to fight it is essential that you take care of yourself.

I am majorly kicking my ass today because my old co-workers in Ontario are hosting a reunion this weekend and I am not going. Working with them was such a fantastic time in my life and though I had an opportunity to go I didn’t book it because I wasn’t feeling up to being around people. Many of these women helped me through all sorts of things during my young adult years and I should have taken solace in the fact that today would have been no exception. We all struggle and though our problems may vary, the scars that they leave on our hearts are similar and when we share our stories we are able to own them, instead of allowing them to own us. Sharing with the people that we care about strengthens our connections and we let those that we love know that they are not alone in their struggles. This has been a lesson learned for me indeed.

The last several months have been a succession of waiting to exhale. Today I am going to enjoy the sunshine and try my best to stay in the light.

Whatever you are going through, please find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. If you allow your pain to be a teacher you will get stronger than you ever imagined. When your heart is broken that means that you have had the courage to love, to feel. That is so much better than being numb. You are one of the good ones so just breathe deeply and follow the path with the light at end. It may seem far away and it may seem unattainable but as long as you keep it in your sights you will be OK. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but you will be better and stronger in the end.

Every battle I face I tell myself that I just need to build another bridge and get over it. I am currently on what the Eagle’s refer to as the seven bridges road. If I have to I will knock down the bridge, kick off my shoes and wade through the muck; heart, soul and hamstrings to get through and do what needs to be done. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. (pun intended)

 

You may be unsteady but W.I.S.E. friends never forget that you are unbreakable.

xo

Michelle

 

 

Take the long way home-W.I.S.E. Project

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Love and compassion for yourself are necessities

September is always a month where I feel like I am rushing. Summer has faded into fall, the kids are back in school and their activities have commenced, they expect to be fed at a decent hour every night and I am feeling tired. My husband has been working away for about 80 days now (but who is counting) and he is in a different time zone which presents its own challenges. There is that added struggle to stay connected when we cannot see each other face to face. It is very easy to get wrapped up in our own day to day and not realize that one of our most important relationships,  one that should take precedence, is in distress.

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All marriages struggle through the day to day occasionally but there is an added burden placed on long distance relationships as the calamity of estrangement intrudes on the comfort of our kinship and robs from us the luxury of treasured time. Simple things that we take for granted like good morning hugs and bedtime kisses are now moments that we need to squeeze into our schedule sometime between this and that and their offering is now significantly altered.

I have always faced the crushing reality that although I am constantly seeking that balance between being a wife, mother, a woman and an employee; when I am excelling in one area I am most likely dropping the ball in another.When I realize that I have missed something, that something or someone craves more of my attention, I become so fixated on that shortcoming that I lose sight of my most important priority…myself.

I know that I cannot pour from an empty cup yet time after time I neglect to fill my own up first. This time, when the alarm sounded I initially fell into my regular pattern but quickly realized that yes people need me, but I am no good to them unless I am first good to me.

So I took the long way home. I had a relaxing 90 minute float at Floatique, I stopped at the lake to take in the colors of the changing landscape, I got my hair done, I read books, I mediated more, I met a friend to catch up, I took a course and I went to bed right after supper, just to be still. I made sure that “I” mattered. I filled my cup up first so that I had enough to share with the people that matter the most in my life. Loving yourself is not selfish, it is a necessity. How can we expect for others to love us and make us a priority if we cannot even do that for ourselves?

The W.I.S.E. principles for September were not something that I actively focused on but they definitely played a part in altering my path this month. I made my wellness a priority, I made steps to improve not only my knowledge but the way I respond to discomfort, I made an effort to savor in facile delights such as quiet unhurried moments and I put a real effort into realizing what it takes to feel the way I want to feel and how important it is to pursue that. I will always be a giver, it is in part of my temperament, but I need to give back to myself as much as I take.

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For October the W.I.S.E. Principles are whole, involved, spirit and engaged. I simply want to be fully engaged in my life, mind, body and spirit and continue to be mindful of taking care of myself so that I can be of value to others. I encourage all of you to do the same.

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!

 

 

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

braving

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.

Tainted Love-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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Photo Credit : gem fountain/flickr

 

When you are on a journey to be more mindful and happy you will undoubtedly learn a lot about yourself and if you thought you were perfect you will find out very quickly that you are not. Your relationships will inevitably be held under a microscope and if you allow it and are open to growth and honesty this can be a good thing.

I knew from the beginning of this project that I wanted to  look at my relationship. I have been with my husband for 18 years so obviously my relationship with him is one of the most important things in my life. Some of what I have learned has been helpful in other important relationships too, ones with friends and family. If people are important to you it makes sense to want to build stronger and healthier relationships with them.

This month one of the principles I am working on is intimacy. It seems a shame to have spent 18 years with someone without achieving total intimacy with them but I think intimacy is something that you should continue to work on as you grow and change. Seeking improvements in our relationships keeps them healthy and keeps us interested.  Neuroscience shows that the act of seeking itself, rather than the goals we realize, is key to satisfaction.

The innate human desire to seek means that we can never truly feel that every desire and wish has been met. There will never be an end to the to-do list, future goals and plans, the things we want to achieve and see. But the fact that we don’t have everything we want is exactly what makes life so fulfilling. ~ Onward Ho

I think it is impossible to achieve true intimacy without deeply exploring ourselves and examining our behaviors, our thoughts and feelings  as well as seeking our identity and being genuinely curious about ourselves and our partners (friends, family etc).

What I learned very quickly was that pride has no place in an intimate relationship. I would most definitely have once described myself as prideful. I would have held a sparkly, flashing sign that obnoxiously displayed the word PRIDE…boldly and proudly.

For years I thought being prideful was something to be proud of, to me, the notion had a positive connotation. I have learned that being vulnerable (which I always associated with being weak) has been much better for me. Being open and accepting about my own weaknesses is something I was really never willing to do. It was my pride that told me I always had to be right, to get the last word, to win the argument, to have my feelings recognized above all else. By elevating myself that way it made it difficult for people to connect with me on an intimate level. Vulnerability is how we show trust in others and without trust intimacy is unattainable.

I didn’t want to trust. Trust is scary. If you trust people you give them the power to hurt you. I had trusted before and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again! Once bitten, twice shy. What if I did trust though? Was I not also giving people permission to love me? To see me, all of me, not just the filtered parts of my life I show to the world but my true deep self? Would this courage to be myself; “perfectly imperfect’ mean that my connections with people would be unequivocally genuine?

Humility and vulnerability affords us the confidence to be our authentic self. Confidence is that attractive element of pride, but pride can be destructive forcing us to try to uphold an image of  ourselves and our relationships that doesn’t exist. I am not perfect, my relationships are not perfect but I want them to be real and not tainted by the allure of pride and the soul crushing one-dimensional box that crowds you into.

Emotions are a funny thing and very hard to control. They are a natural state of mind derived from our circumstances, our moods and our relationships with others. Unfortunately you cannot pick and choose what feelings you choose to feel. I used to think my pride would protect me from getting hurt and feeling horrible emotions but I was also missing out on a lot of good feelings that come from embracing the uncertainty of vulnerability. Loving with my whole heart, without the promise of what tomorrow would bring protected me only from joy and that powerful connection you have with another when you have the courage to be tender, knowing I am worthy of love and willing to give mine freely, without conditions.

This has been an ‘AHA’ moment for me indeed, a surrendering of sorts. Seizing the certain reality of uncertainty and being ok with it. Loving another person means that sometimes you will get hurt and your heart might get broken a thousand times. That means a thousand times yet get to experience the joy of falling in love with that person all over again…or starting over knowing in your heart that you gave everything you had!

I am human and flawed, I was enchanted by the idea of living pridefully but being true to myself, admitting my mistakes and being willing to compromise, process and move on has made me feel a whole lot better about myself and my most important relationships. This doesn’t mean absolving people of doing their part in a relationship but I think how something looks to you is much more important than how the world sees it.

 

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Be W.I.S.E. friends and as you continue to journey mind fully through your days remember the principles for May are Warmth, Intimacy, Serenity and Enrich.

Chat soon xo