Break Free- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I woke up yesterday to the devastating news of the Greektown shooting in Toronto Sunday night and though my instinct during these tough times is to dwell on the horrifying nature of people and to find myself in a state of overwhelm, I resisted that urge, took a couple of moments to contemplate and send love to the people of Toronto and consider how we are becoming way too conditioned to accept these things as normal. It seems that we are less shocked and appalled than we once were and the alarming part of that is that we have begun to acknowledge these unthinkable acts of violence as customary. We are suitably upset but not astonished. I am not exactly sure what the answer to this is but I feel like there is some danger in our growing indifference and the fact that the most common reactions to mass violence these days seems to be to perpetuate fear against certain groups of people instead of sitting with the discomfort of what is actually happening with the world around us.

I do often prefer the solitude of my own personal bubble, it is quiet and loving and I feel safe there. The past several weeks I started to feel the opposite of all of those things. There was a lot of noise in my brain and the love I normally give myself was a bit absent. It is no secret that I like to feel a certain way. I have a bright and sunny personality, I work really hard to put a positive spin on things and I understand the significance of self love and self care. The thing is, it has been an incredibly tough year for my family and I; and for me personally everything has changed. Though I can dig very deep to find courage, gratitude and create happiness even during times of struggle, I can also find my changing disposition deeply uncomfortable, so when I am not in the sunniest of places the feeling is so unnerving for me that I judge it and myself harshly. The truth is I am not incredibly loving and accepting of cloudy day Michelle and I cast a lot of judgement upon her and can very quickly find myself in a very unfamiliar and exceedingly uneasy place.

I spoke a lot last week about our tendency to cast judgement upon others without looking inward to see what it is in ourselves that we are trying to avoid confronting. I think the flip side of that for me, which has been an interesting and unpredictable shift is that I realize that I am often accepting of others, seeing them as beautifully messy and evolving individuals but there are times that I allow myself to be overpowered by self judgment and my refusal to accept myself as I am, where I am and give myself the same love and space to grow that I am willing to give to others.

I reached out to one of my oldest friends on the weekend because I was feeling such a disconnect with who I was as a person that it had me in a terrible state. My friend has a brilliant mind and he is constantly growing and evolving. He is not a perfect person, and even writing these nice things I fear his head may swell,  but honestly the thing I admire about him is that he has never feared discomfort. He has been a touring hip hop artist, dancer, actor, writer, director, choreographer and teacher. He has never gotten comfortable and thought, OK this feels good I think I will stay here. I know he has felt fear and unease, I am sure there are days it feels like his skin is on fire but he continues to be and to do. He continues to grow. To me, he will always be the little boy that came knocking on my door everyday to come out and play but we have both faced our own personal demons throughout the years and though we have continued to quietly support each other, it is sometimes easy to forget that despite our differences some of the things we face as humans are universal. It is nice that the person who knew you before the world wrapped you in chains of fear, judgement and expectation can remind you that you are a person first and sometimes you just have to let go or you will never be free.

“The world is small, but it’s also big and sometimes life is like a snowsuit you can’t get off on a really hot day!”  ~ Cory Bowles (Hip Club Groove)

I am learning to surrender to the discomfort. It may be clearing me out and bringing about positive change. I do not want to be small or live my life on auto pilot. I want to break free from generations of chains. I am a deeply feeling person in a noisy and messy world, sometimes I will feel unnerved but I will not be defeated.

I am not “just a person’ but I am a person and maybe to be the best version of me I need to find a little bit of comfort outside of my comfort zone.

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,

Ballroom Blitz- Wise project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

“To err is human, to forgive divine”

The following post is dedicated to a beautiful soul; my late husband Kirk. For years he has implored me to love more and judge less. I finally get it, it is a constant and life changing lesson.

I have a dirty little secret that I have never told anyone but I am about to share with all of you.

I turn into a completely different person when Ballroom Blitz comes on the radio. About four months after my husband passed away I was wandering aimlessly around the Superstore when Ballroom Blitz came booming from the sound system. For the past several months I had been holding my life together with double sided sticky tape and the good thoughts and prayers of the lovely people that never failed to support me during the darkest time of my life. Sure I laughed when something was funny and I was doing my best to put one foot in front of the other but that day was particularly dark.

I recognized the song in the first couple of bars and my left foot started to tap uncontrollably, followed my the unmistakable sway of my hips and that shoulder shimmy thing I do that makes my breasts move in a way that is illegal in some parts of the world. Without a conscious thought I grabbed a can of cheddar cheese soup and started pretending to sing into it ‘OOOH YEAH,” as I grooved through the aisle. I shimmied and I shook and I lost myself in wild abandon in that grocery store while strangers looked on in a mixture of confusion, judgment, amusement and quite possibly admiration. My limbs became one with the music; I was no longer in charge of anything. It was as if I the grieving widow was standing there quietly broken watching this badass, slightly crazy woman treat the grocery store aisle like the dance floor cage at her old small time haunt. I was in awe to be honest. Looking back it is likely in the top five of my most magnificent moments ever.

The song ended and I abruptly put down the soup can, smoothed out my polka dot dress and walked out of the store without looking back. I got in my truck and started driving as aimlessly as I had been wandering through the store and though monstrous tears spit out of my eyes and threatened to drown me I felt much lighter than I had in months, I felt a spark of my old self that if ignited could erupt into a full blown flame. It was a reassuring feeling. It felt like a promise that I was still in there, amongst the wreckage and if I kept digging I would emerge, bruised and bloody, but still fucking fabulous. Those people in that store that day, even if they repeat what they saw in late night conversations, over drinks, or around campfires will likely never know how important that four minutes of intemperance were for me. I abandoned my grief for four whole minutes and I was reminded that one day I would dance again, and sing, and laugh, and love. In four minutes I felt everything I was not able to feel for what seemed like a lifetime.

Their judgement, whatever it was didn’t matter, I pleaded with myself to not to fuel that fire. The only judgement that mattered in that moment was my own and I got to tell you that there was a little girl inside me shaking pomp oms and doing cart wheels.

I have found myself in the midst of many contemplative moments lately. I have been quite vocal that my late husband implored me to love more and judge less and that one thing alone has been nothing short of life changing. I try to be fair with people, I try to understand that humans err; I find myself frequently exploring the depths of forgiveness.

I am learning that there is a beautiful lesson in forgiveness, for both the person we forgive and the person we ask forgiveness of. We realize that we are not perfect and we shouldn’t ask that for that kind of perfection in others. We cannot claim to be attracted to the raw authenticity in people and then turn our backs when shit gets too real. There is something exquisite in seeing someone emerge from a mistake, owning the entire script of their life and working hard to write a better next chapter.

The thing that has struck me more than anything is that when I find myself sitting in judgment of others I am also forced to face my own shit and that is not always easy. It is however enlightening.

I realize that we are not always a victim or a product of the things that happen to us, but what we call into our lives and what we allow. We all have patterns, draws and habits and we are all perfectly imperfect. We are flawed, bruised, real…figuring this shit out as we go along. I find myself constantly reminding myself that when I dare to judge others that I better hold myself up for judgement as well and that is not always fun.

I have patterns of attraction that have been with me so long that I am reluctant to work on them. I feel that they are such a huge part of who I am so I struggle with what belongs and what is a security blanket for me.

My first step is owning that I am responsible for what I invite into my life. I have a pull to certain things that challenge me but also have the potential to hurt me and I wonder if I could ever be completely satisfied without that push/pull.

So much of my identity is wrapped up in the awareness that the people and experiences that have challenged me the most have also taught me the greatest lessons about life and about myself.

However, does this draw towards hard things mean that I am inviting difficult things into my life to avoid boredom?

The truth is I quite enjoy peace, and I quite enjoy being around people who expand my mind and fill me up without sucking away my energy. I can’t help wonder if I have been confusing things. I very adamantly told my friend that I had a healthy relationship with “hard stuff” because I knew that life would be hard, it is inevitable; and I was able to face the hard things head on. She gave me something huge to consider that has been nagging me, like a fly buzzing around my head for the past couple of months.

I can do hard things. I can face hard things. I am a badass. Do I want to? Should I need to? Am I provoking the universe? Am I asking for hard things to prove that I can keep conquering them?

It is not a bad thing to confront you, to question yourself and get to know yourself.

We spend way too much time with an eye on other judging what they are doing without considering what leads us to do the things we do. If we want to sit in the seat of the judge why are we so reluctant to turn our inquisitive minds to ourselves?

Sure, we judge ourselves right?! I am bad, I suck, I messed up, I could have done better, I will never be who I want to be…but how often to we consider the choices we make, why we make them and what would change if we genuinely believed that we were worth the world and made all of our decisions based on what was best for us.

We spend a great deal of time in our lives trying to find someone to spend our lives with and once we find that person we try to be right for that person but too often we forget how important it is to be that person to ourselves. You are the person you will spend the rest of your life with. Our journey in life is not about finding “the one”, the journey is about becoming “the one”

I believe that once we learn to love and accept ourselves and own our own bullshit everything else will fall into place just as it is supposed to.

It takes time and patience is a virtue, sadly not one of mine but I am working on that one too. I indisputably believe that we can all have the life that we were born to pursue, but it takes work and part of that is allowing ourselves to see and meet ourselves and others with love first, before judgement.

Not everyone belongs in our lives and I am careful to weed my garden of people that don’t add value to my life in some way, that is not selfish, that is self care. I am also learning that when someone hurts me, it is very unlikely that it has anything to do with who I am and everything to do with who they are in that moment. Good people do bad things; sometimes our gardens are not full of weeds, just unique flowers that need watering. We can judge them as bad and throw them away or we can show them a little love and see if they bloom.

Life is weird. We are all on a journey. We all have scars and bruises. The very best people I know are made from life’s lessons, emerged from struggle and stitched back together with love and forgiveness.

Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Once you are able to love yourself where you are and how you are you will be a lot more willing to meet people where they are on their journey. We are not the judge or the jury, we are the witnesses.

Bloom -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

My photos from Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton Alberta

Just as the breaths we take can occur so effortlessly, it’s not necessary to summon energy to stream through us.

Dynamic energy flows through channels in and around our physical body naturally, however, we can choose to enrich and elevate our natural energetic state, for health; both physical and mental or for spiritual growth and development.

I believe that I inherently have good energy and I used to spend so much time giving it away, along with my time and bits of me, little by little until I was so depleted and unhappy that I didn’t even know who I was. All the little things I thought I did for myself, that once gave me joy began to thieve from me, the expectations I placed on myself to be everything to everyone while never filling up my own cup led to a deep black void in my heart and soul.

I was off balance. I was not at peace with myself and my mind and my body were living in the same house but like angry lovers they had lost their desire and capacity to communicate in an effective way.

We want to give the very best of ourselves at all times, sometimes the pride and accolades we get from that alone, fuels us for a short time, but the reality is we need to give to ourselves first or we will end up in a place where we have given everything we had to give and we are not of any good to ourselves. If you have ever flown you will know that the flight attendants always instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before attempting to help others. If you cannot breath, you will not be able to help anyone else.

In December of 2015 I reached a point in my life where I had nothing left to give. I am a giving person by nature and I don’t think anything will change that but after spending two weeks in desperate anguish, crying for seemingly no reason and realizing that I was sick and depleted was a huge wake up call for me. I lost my dad as a teenager to a heart attack and I realized that he didn’t know how to relax. Don’t get me wrong, I can be as lazy as the best of you but I didn’t know how to sit back and enjoy that. If I wasn’t doing physically, my mind was making lists of all of the things I should be doing instead of relaxing. I barely slept, I used to think that going to bed was the time you planned for all of the things you didn’t get done during the day.

Those two weeks were a huge wake up call for me. Looking back I think I kept myself really busy to fulfill my need for validation. A lot of my self esteem was tied up in being and doing for others. I placed a lot of expectations on others as well and when those expectations were not actualized I spent a great deal of time disappointed which led to resentment.

I also feel like I was giving away my energy to people and things that did not fill me up. The transfer of energy between people should always be beneficial to both parties, I learned the hard way that it is not always the case. Some people are takers and they will take and take and take without ever offering anything of value in the relationship.

That is how the Wise project was born.

We are all born fundamentally whole but throughout our lives our individual experiences; whether they be of hurt, trauma or neglect have obscured the natural beauty of our core being and concealed it in layer upon layer of soot and dust.

Unbecoming that person shaped and shifted by experiences, occurrences, and events, and reuniting and restoring our essential mind * body * spirit connection is a trans-formative process in which we reconnect those disconnected parts of ourselves to uncover our authenticity.

Self-awareness, self-evolution, and self-acceptance are all footsteps in this alchemical process.

For me, it required saying the word NO…a lot. It was hard at first but quite honestly it is now one of my favorite words. If something does not fit with my schedule, it doesn’t shake me, excite me or make my heart leap out of my chest, I say NO and in turn I create room to say yes to the things that are truly meant for me!

We breath effortlessly but how often do we actually fill our lungs with the air. How often do we have time to notice little things on our drive to work, like the beauty of the sunrise or the power of nature and the universe working together at every single moment to make it all possible.

This morning for the first time in a long time I noticed the extreme beauty of the fire in the sky, the light creeps in so slowly, the sunrise is like falling in love, it happens so casually and then all at once; the sky erupts and fills with the most brilliant light. It gives my heart pause.

I also noticed a young mom at the street corner, kissing her son on the forehead and waiting anxiously as he crossed the street, I saw an elderly couple holding hands as they unhurriedly walked in the early morning sunshine and as I was sitting at a red light, where I would usually check my phone I saw a couple in their driveway, the woman was in the front seat and the man was buckling their child into their car seat in the back, he closed the door and bent down to kiss his lady before getting into his own car. I thought about all of those beautiful moments in my own life, moments I hurried through, moving from one moment to catapult myself into the next; without a breath, a thought or gratitude for what was right in front of me.

A reminder to breath in the air.

A reminder to take a pause, practice the pause.

A reminder to be grateful and always see what is in front of me.

The universe gives us reminders, signs, that it is always working for our highest good. We often get busy and we ignore the messages, we are guilty of believing that we are a part of an experience or part of the universe. One of the things that was told to me back in 2016 that has had one of the hugest impacts on my life so far is when I was face to face with Deepak Chopra and he said, “You are the universe. You are not part of the experience, you are the experience.”

The night I met Deepak Chopra I was a part of the most moving meditation experience of my life. I learned that in the midst of chaos I could always access the stillness that exists inside of me and that has helped me through a great deal of darkness.

Every single time the blackness threatens to swallow me whole, every time I have the feeling that maybe I am not enough, doing enough, being enough I remember how important it is for me to accept that I will never be perfect and that is OK, this humility allows me to emerge, expand and grow right from where I stand.

I am in bloom.

The journey to our souls optimum evolution will emerge with each step we take , we do not have to struggle through years of trying to find the right path. We are always on the path.

P.S. Around Valentines Day I bought some mini roses for my office. I had intended to re-pot them but forgot and when I returned to work after the weekend they were all dried up. My co-worker caught me throwing them in the garbage and he told me to just give them a little love and they would come back. I stripped off all the dead leaves and was left with empty, sickly branches. I gave them love anyway, I loved them as they were. Today my roses have 5 new blooms, they are flourishing and their branches are adorned with beautiful greenery, growing steadily as if to meet the ball of sunshine through the cracks of my office blinds. Imagine what happens if we give ourselves the same love we give to everything else in our lives. Imagine how we would grow and flourish.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” -Deepak Chopra

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The night I met Deepak Chopra and was a part of the most moving meditation experience of my life. I learned that in the midst of chaos I could always access the stillness that exists inside of me and that has helped me through a great deal of darkness.