Something more than free -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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Several months after Kirk died I was catching up with an old friend and I found myself describing this fleeting feeling that I had been having, this feeling of freedom, this feeling like I could spread my wings and fly and live a big bold life in amazing technicolor. Saying it out loud to someone for the first time felt kind of liberating, as did being in the company of someone that I felt certain at that moment wouldn’t judge me. Typing that feels rather silly but death can bring out the worst in people and rumors were rampant in my small hometown and I faced a lot of judgment for every decision I made after Kirk died, even imaginary ones. I was only choosing to live while I was alive, something that Kirk wanted desperately for me, so it seems outlandish that anyone could find fault in that, but unhappy people can find fault in the best of intentions.

We think we can never face the hard things, and often when we are onlookers to the pain or suffering of another we wonder how they are able to endure it. The truth is we either do or we don’t. They are our only two choices. No matter what tragedies and challenges we face in our lives we all have the same opportunity to move through or get stuck. Most of what we go through, we grow through.

In the past several years I have been doing some work on relationship studies. Robert Waldinger’s Ted Talk and Harvard studies on what makes a good life led me to want to improve the most important relationships in my own life and as I dug deeper into relationships I was introduced to the concept of attachment and the strain it can put on our relationships, whether they are friendships or intimate’s ones.

While studying attachment it came up time and time again our attachment to material things as well. I thought I had mastered that years ago when I sold my house in Nova Scotia, the house that Kirk and I got married at, the house we brought our children home from the hospital to, the home where learned to love each other, even during the times that we struggled to like one another. What I learned the day I stood all by myself in that empty house will never leave me, once you took the people out of the house it was just four walls. It really wasn’t that important. The memories got to come with us on our new journey and they were the most important thing.

The lesson of attachment as it pertains to relationships is a tough lesson, one that I couldn’t completely grasp or understand the relevance of. What I was about to find out is that experience would bring me wisdom that I would never find in a book. The significance and truth in attachments I would discover through my own volition.

Your identity, your self-worth, and survival should never be bound by people or things.

Attachment and fear-based love can put a lot of pressure on our relationships and the people that we love and support. When there is jealousy and possessiveness in our friendships or relationships we are not acting from a place of love, we are acting from a place of attachment. Attachment is needy, insecure and repressive. Attachment is a terrible substitute for love, but in the end, some people want security more than they want freedom.

Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
No, not tying, no, not tying

~ from Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden

A defining moment in my life is when a boyfriend that I had once been madly in love with and thought I would spend the rest of my life with told me that he wanted to own and control me. I had a new job and new friends and I was happy and growing as an individual and his fear at me finding my wings and his reluctance to love and support me in my growth destroyed our relationship.

Love is spacious, it should never make us feel caged. Love and friendship is an incredible thing if we can love and be loved in such a way that makes us feel free.

I have not mastered this intelligent free flow in all my relationships, but I have a good realization that not everyone is supposed to be with us for the duration of our lives. Some people come into our lives to teach us or to challenge us for a very short time and others though they may come and go are meant to be in our lives in some way; always. There is an ebb and flow to these things that will most often manage itself if we give up our need to control every little thing.

After Kirk passed away people said and did the strangest things. I felt like a lot of people tried to take a weird ownership of him, as if their connection or experiences with him diminished all his other relationships. I also saw a very beautiful thing, I saw people who genuinely loved him forging friendships with others that loved him in a very simple, loving and honest way.

I am a better person for loving Kirk and I am richer from being consumed by the depths of his love. Death has surprisingly taught me more about love than I could ever conceive of. Death ends a physical life, it does not end love. Kirk’s love lives inside of me, in my limbs, guiding me and helping me to see and experience things in ways I could never even imagine. Our love is not dependent on bonds and it knows no bounds. It is how earthly love should be.

Have you ever hiked to the top of a mountain and when you got to the top your legs were like jello and your lungs were on fire but the view from the top was incredibly breathtaking and you stood in the freedom pose with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and you just felt so astonishingly free you wished that feeling could last forever? Imagine if our love could make someone feel like that? Wouldn’t that be powerful?

“The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.” – Thucydides (460 BC – 395 BC), Greek Historian

Love Story- Wise Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

The very best kind of love should feel like freedom. Love shouldn’t feel weighty or reserved. It shouldn’t make you feel shackled. Love should make you feel like you can fly.

Image Credit Pave it Forward-Tumblr

the love

we were promised in fairy tales

was never something

for us to find

it has always

been something

for us to create

~ Tyler Kent White

I was the little girl that believed in fairy tales. I had an eager imagination and I was captivated by the notion of grandiose castles in magical places, of tiny fairies, fearless knights, fire breathing dragons, beautiful princesses, handsome princes and of course happily ever after.

I still believe in a certain type of fairy tale, In fact I believe I have lived one, but the problem is that we get our idea of fairy tale love from a ninety minute children’s movie, and though we see struggle, and the all-consuming love that we are told lasts forever we are not shown the day to day challenges; the in-betweens. We don’t get to see what happens after babies, financial struggle, pimples, snoring, weight gain, exhaustion, lack of faith, loss of trust, anger, infidelity, disrespect, failure to communicate and a myriad of other issues that plague modern-day relationships.

We are also never shown the most important love of all, the one that makes everything else possible.

There are indeed romances that withstand the test of time, of bruised hearts and saggy butts, though I am sure they do not happen by accident. To anyone who has looked at another person and truly felt that they loved them head to toe, inside and out; no matter what, and meant it, I am certain that the one thing these relationships had in common was that they loved themselves first.

It is categorically impossible to love another person entirely without first loving yourself.

I lost my husband, my great love, to suicide in June of 2017. I have since realized that nothing in this world has taught me more about love, than death.

Death doesn’t end love, in fact, I have said many times that if you ripped me apart limb by limb you would find the residue of our love on my skin, in my bones and in every drop of my blood pumping furiously through my veins. I will love Kirk always and it is that very thing that propels me forward.

In the last several months of our earthly love affair, I learned to love Kirk unconditionally in a way that I never thought possible. I studied a lot about depression, anxiety and trauma over the years and though I could never understand how it felt from the inside, Kirk and I had finally come to a fearless and brave understanding that landed us in a place of complete vulnerability, a place that for most of our twenty year relationship I wasn’t able to visit because I didn’t love or trust myself enough to allow myself to be wide open.

I know that towards the end, Kirk kept a lot from me. I know now that he was inconceivably terrified of what was happening to him. Even amid soul crushing sadness, I never loved him a bit less for leaving.

This time last year Kirk and I were sitting on a patio overlooking the city lights of downtown Vancouver and having a huge discussion about the possibility and probability of unconditional love. From the beginning of our romance, there was never a shortage of love, but there was also anger, fear, resentment and walls that we built to protect us from hurt. For a long time, we depended on each other to provide all the feelings we desired to feel because we never learned to create that joy for ourselves. Desire morphed into entitlement creating huge issues for us.

There were times over the years that you couldn’t put a breath in the space between us, I can recall laying in this very bed I am writing from and feeling so close to Kirk I felt like I was inside him. As strange as that may sound I don’t know another way to elaborate on that kind of intimacy. There were other times that I feared loving him too much or giving too much of myself. I always wanted something in return for my love so in those times when Kirk was internally struggling with himself, I struggled with just loving him right where he was.

When I started The Wise Project I genuinely learned to love myself as I was, for who I was, every step of the journey. That unapologetic self love finally allowed me to love Kirk right where he was, all his lightness and even the horribly scary darkness that he tango-ed with. I didn’t just love him on the days that he was lovable or on the days when I could feel his love for me, I just loved him. I realized that any decision or choice he made was not a reflection of me or my worthiness and it didn’t affect my love for him or myself. I just kept loving him, even on the difficult days.

When a life ends you will never wonder if you loved too much.

Most will say they have loved with their whole hearts and most of those will even believe that they have. Often in our relationships we will feel unsatisfied or even slighted. We may feel unloved or unlovable, but it is important to remember that the person you so desperately desire to love you can only love you to the capacity that they love themselves.

If you do not love yourself unconditionally, your heart will not be open to receive all the love waiting for you. We are not taught self love in school and few of us can boast being taught it at home.

Kirk’s illness robbed him and everyone that loved him. He has a beautiful soul that will live through thousands more journey’s, bringing love and light and wisdom to others.

His tale is a tragic one.

Our tale is heartbreaking; and you may wonder how I could ever talk about our love and fairy tales in the same story. After all, where is the happily ever fucking after anyway?

Sometimes I feel like I have this huge magical secret about love that I want to share with the world. For a brief time, I loved another with all my heart and soul, from head to toe, void of ego or chains. The magical feeling it gives me to recollect it is indescribable and the only thing that made that kind of love possible is that I gave it to myself first, that is the big secret. If we do not love ourselves entirely, how can we seek and expect that love from others?

I can remember the exact moment I achieved that boundless and profound love. Blanketed in fearless courage and wrapped in delicate vulnerability, never did I imagine having to say goodbye to it so soon.

That type of love is so huge that it will never truly leave you and you will carry it with you everyday and use it to light up the sometimes cold, dark world around you. It feels like I imagine a bird would feel being released from a cage.

The physical love Kirk and I shared is no longer possible, but the love remains; as dazzling as a star-filled sky on a cloudless June night. It ebbs and flows with the pull of the moon, retreating to the sea to renew and restore and wash over me again and again to remind that I am a love warrior.

I have loved.

I have lost.

I am love and I will always return to love.

I came from Love, I am Love and I will return to Love. Love casts out fear. A woman who has recovered her true identity as a Love Warrior is the most powerful force on earth. All the darkness and shame and pain in the world can’t defeat her.

~ Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Kirk often told me that his depression put chains on our relationship, on our love. I finally realized that the very best kind of love should feel like freedom. Love shouldn’t feel weighty or reserved. It shouldn’t make you feel shackled. Love should make you feel like you can fly. A love driven by value and desires should be liberating.

I know Kirk didn’t want this, but I also know that he guides me, and he knows that this gift of love that I give to myself every single day makes me unfuckablewith. I cannot be twisted, damaged or broken because I am strong enough to bend.

I am imagining a new type of Fairy Tale, one where the heroine saves herself because she is a bad ass fearless warrior. I created it myself and I get to write the ending and erase and rewrite the ending…and rewrite the ending again as many times as I damn well please!

Love is something you share

Because you have it, not

Something you give desperately

because you need it.

~ Humble the Poet

Flower in the sun-Wise Project 2018 – #TenaciousTuesday

Good Morning,

Today is a bit of a cheat day, we are fresh off a long weekend here in Canada and I spent yesterday being incredibly unproductive and eating everything I could get my hands on. My girls and I were having a hilarious conversation about crushes and asking for what you want and my oldest daughter said I was a Badass because I wasn’t afraid to ask for what I wanted and my youngest remarked that I had so much confidence that no didn’t bother me, I just bounced right back. Sometimes I wonder about the line between Badass and just plain ass but I am excited that my perceived badassery might inspire them to go after what they want in life and not just in love and relationships but in every aspect of their lives. No is not always a rejection, sometimes it is merely a redirection and in any case no does not have to reflect poorly on anyone; the person on the giving or receiving end. That being said I was writing a bit of fiction, fiction is actually one of my great loves, I love creating characters and scenarios. The one I have created below is very light reading but it is cute and fun and if it inspires one person today to find their version of brave and put themselves out there, without fear of the word no but in awesome anticipation of what grows on the other side of our fear than it will be a great Tuesday.

Thanks for visiting and go get what you want today!

xo

Michelle

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Ed’s Diner, Photo Credit Telegraph U.K.

She was cute and fresh looking with just the hint of freckles across the bridge of her nose and scattered randomly on her face as if a happy accident with a brush and paint had lightly splattered them there. Her dark wavy hair was so shiny he could almost imagine how it would feel between his fingers. She had it pulled it back in a ponytail that moved from side to side as she talked and laughed. Her knee length floral dress hugged her in all the right places, showing off her small waist and fuller bust and then flaring into a flirty swing skirt. She could have effortlessly played the part of the girl next door in a 1950’s chewing gum commercial.

She smiled easily at everyone she encountered, her gentleness drawing exuberant smiles from even the most unlikely of candidates. Watching her from a distance he felt like a bit of a voyeur, peeking into her world uninvited.

He sipped his coffee, accepting a refill as the waitress walked by and loading it with full cream and sugar. It was still early, and the sun was just beginning to peak above the horizon, sending filtered light bursting through the restaurant windows. A rush of cool late summer air announced the opening of the door every few seconds and as he glanced in that direction he noticed that the sky looked like a tequila sunrise, a glorious golden peach color drizzled with hot pink throughout.

“Pretty sky this morning,” the waitress remarked following his gaze as she arrived to set down his scrambled eggs and brown toast and refill his coffee once again.

“It is, and thank you” he replied, nodding in the direction of the eggs and smiling.

He devoured the eggs and toast, pushing the plate aside to finish the last couple of mouthfuls of slightly burnt tasting diner coffee from a dingy off-white mug. He checked his phone messages again and took a sly selfie to make sure there was no food in his teeth or beard. He proceeded to nervously fumble with a small tear in the cherry red vinyl seat while avoiding going to the counter and fumbling over his words like many a time before.

Her name was Lily. She had once told him that she was named after her mother’s favorite flower and then looked at him expectantly to tell her his name. He ruined the moment of course and left feeling like a huge jerk but the next time he was in he blurted out “Trey” while she had her head down. She was thrown off guard for a moment, but he continued to speak what he had rehearsed, without daring to take a breath, “I was named after a childhood friend of my parents from D.C. who went on to be a novelist and playwright”

He sucked in a quick breath and looked up. Her eyes, as welcoming as the green fields of Ireland, seemed to be smiling at him as she held her hand out, “It is nice to finally meet you Trey.”

He came in every Tuesday since that day, waking up at an ungodly hour to beat the rush of the city traffic. He sat at the same booth and ordered the exact same breakfast and made the same incredibly awkward small talk with Lily while paying his bill that she rang in on the same outdated cash register.

He always made sure his suit was neatly pressed, his tie was on straight, and he had on enough cologne that he smelled manly but not like someone’s creepy uncle. He was well groomed; he had even started using beard oil and getting his hair trimmed more frequently. He was very aware that his dark skin was quite a contrast to her cream like complexion but he didn’t anticipate that being an issue, as it had been in the past.

As his legs somewhat unwillingly walked him to the counter each week he imagined every time that this would be the day that he asked Lily out and today was no exception.

“Good morning Trey, it looks like it is going to be a beautiful Tuesday!” she remarked, turning the corners of her bright red lips into a dazzling smile and looking straight into his warm chocolate colored eyes.

“Beautiful. Indeed,” he muttered, feeling like his throat was suddenly getting scratchy, and then quickly over analyzing everything he had intended on saying so opting to say nothing at all. He was certain that his brown skin was now a fiery shade of red as he stumbled to form a sentence while using the debit machine. Lily waved goodbye, still smiling at him with her wondrous eyes but looking a bit disappointed he thought.

As he got into his shiny silver Mazda a flood of frustration threatened to drown him. It was August 26 and he had wanted to ask Lily out for the past 35 Tuesdays. Today was supposed to be the day. He was going to celebrate his birthday knowing that he had a date with the girl whose smile had rocked him to sleep every night for the past several months. He completely blew it. He was a 34-year-old man with less courage than a twelve-year-old boy. It shouldn’t be this hard. There were three possible answers she could give him, yes, no or maybe. He had asked out girls before but had never considered dating anyone seriously since Jenna ripped his heart out and stomped all over it. Something about Lily made him believe that being with her could out weigh the risk of heartache. He longed to feel again, and he imagined feeling all sorts of things with Lily. Unfortunately, every time he got close he found himself in the grip of uncertainty and fear.

He realized he had been sitting in his car in the busy parking lot for fifteen minutes and was going to be late for a meeting. He scrambled to text a colleague when it occurred to him that he didn’t have his phone, he had left it on the counter while he paid his bill.

He walked into the diner and was greeted by Lily’s genuine smile and outstretched hand.

“I thought you would be looking for this she said,” placing his iPhone in his hand.”

“Thank-you Lily. You saved me. Have a wonderful day.” he said, turning to leave.

“Wait Trey,” she shouted as he opened the door. She came out from behind the counter and met him where he stood, “I put my number in your phone, and it’s under Lily, same as your pass code. Just in case you ever want to text me.” She smiled again and very softly touched his hand before turning on her heel but turning her head back just slightly, “Oh, and Happy Birthday.”

He was still smiling as he got in the car, even though Lily had out classed him by far. He texted his colleague first and then texted Lily thanking her again for returning his phone and asking her if she had any interest in going for birthday drinks with an adorable but hopelessly immature guy.”

She simply replied “Yes.” And then a moment later “Finally”

Hopeless minds and

hopeless hearts

are haunted places

where

no one loves to stay.

~Kwawaja Musadiq

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!