Our craving to be deeply seen Is often eclipsed by our fears of being genuinely witnessed…
with all of our invisible stains
and rooted soul blemishes;
to be wrapped in the embrace
of purely humbled affection
both tenuous and rare
is something we quietly desire
without having the courage
to ask for it, receive it, or give
it to others…
I promised a piece on intimacy this week and it has been a little tougher than I thought. Everyone has different ideas about what intimacy means to them and most people relate it to their romantic relationships. Being single, I believe I am able to see a less narrow definition of intimacy, one that is reserved just for romantic relationships, but one that if also often missing from romantic relations.
I believe that one of our deepest desires is to be truly seen and understood, void of judgement. Though we desire this, I also believe it is one of our greatest fears. Even those that shine the brightest lights have dimly lit corners that we they do not allow just anyone to see. We have cravings, wants and aspirations that we estimate we will be judged for so we keep those parts of us hidden.
To achieve complete intimacy in any relationship we have to be willing to trust that we will be loved and accepted for who we are and all of who we are. For our humanness, our flaws and all of the things that make us beautiful. Allowing anyone to see those parts of ourselves, despite any initial apprehension is what creates and builds intimacy.
Though our modern society has managed to somewhat separate sex from intimacy, admitting that intimacy involves both emotional and physical connection and vulnerability, we are often still guilty of confusing the two and end up feeling that horrible feeling of betrayal when we fail to satisfy our desire for intimacy with sex, leading to hurt, confusion and questioning our worthiness. This cycle on repeat can leave us feeling consumed, exhausted and depleted.
In any relationship, intimacy creates better and stronger connections. In a romantic relationship it can be the difference between a good and a great relationship. My friend Charmaine said that to her it’s the freedom to explore one another physically and emotionally without judgement. The comfort to be herself without hesitation. To look into her partners eyes and feel safe. I wonder how many people can boast having that in their romantic relationships. Being able to be themselves and be confident that they are enough at all times; free to desire and want and need and express and explore all of it without shame or fear of judgement. Studies show that about 20 percent of marriages are sexless and 43 percent of women and 31% of men (reported…believed to be much higher) experience some sort of sexual dysfunction. I believe it is safe to say that when intimacy is absent, problems become magnified.
I was with my late husband for 20 years and in the beginning things were tumultuous as we struggled to grow as individuals while remaining rooted together, raising a family and hiding our fears and insecurities. If I am honest it wasn’t until the last couple years of our relationship that we found a place of complete intimacy and unconditional love. It was scary for both of us and it meant seeing and being seen without judgement, it meant no blaming or shaming and to always, in any situation, approach the other with love before automatically arbitrating. There were times in our relationship that we were dishonest, we told white lies or untruths and the reason being is we feared the judgment and shame that would arise so it became easier to eliminate certain things from our conversations or to shave little bits off of the truth to make it fit into a pretty box. I am glad that Kirk and I were able to find that place and I know it will help me in all of my relationships going forward. I can recall in the last couple of years of his life having moments that I felt so close to him, that we were somehow connected by invisible bonds yet still felt free. In glimpsing back on those moments I feel amazingly proud that we were able to fight our own fears to get to that place, I can assure you it was not easy.
I have discovered that being yourself is way less scary than having people in your life that do not see you and that you fear you would lose if they really knew you. The greatest revolution is in being yourself and realizing that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, but the right ones will stay and no matter where they are in the world you will know that a part of them is always with you, and cheering you on, no matter what fucked up thing you just did or said or admitted to.
When someone makes you feel safe and seen and whole and worthy, no matter what, that is intimacy. Not everyone is able to achieve true intimacy and we really need to look inside of ourselves and stare down our own demons. If we fear not being loved for who we truly are, would we really want to be in a relationship with that person? Fears are not always reality, but we create our reality.
I have fears and insecurities, we all do. I work hard on them and at this point in my life I am only interested in investing in people that genuinely care about me for who I am. I do not care about the latest fads or being in the cool club, for me the coolest club is one that you feel like you belong at all times.
In the last several years of my life my experiences have lead me to believe that intimacy is not a passing whim, it is a deep psychological need. Learning to get that need met, in a healthy way in nourishing relationships is a step in the right direction to a meaningful life and happiness in the here and now.
When we connect in an authentic way, from a place of love and vulnerability, we can create magic!
I wanted to sneak in one last Wise Project post into 2018, an opportunity to tell a lit bit more about myself, dispel some myths and say some inappropriate stuff.
I believe people get a certain idea of me from my writing but it is somewhat one dimensional. From my writing you would not garner that I talk about penises way too much to be normal and that I live a lot of my life in song lyrics and movie quotes. Most of you are not even aware that I am incredibly funny; the problem is I often forget the punchline.
I have passed these things along to my middle child Morgan, along with some other great stuff that I am sure she will be eternally grateful for. While students were moving a table in her high school class Morgan yelled ‘PIVOT, PIVOT” in the consummate Ross Gellar voice, Friends circa February 1999. (She would have been four months old when it aired originally) Only her teacher got the reference but in any case that is a parenting win. I also convinced her that in the U.K. there were 8 days in a week, hence the popular Beatles song. Unbeknownst to me, she carried this belief with her like a favorite childhood teddy and protected it fiercely. Despite being bullied for this she stood a firm ground on it because her mama was always right. At nineteen she finally knows the truth. She has known the truth for about nine months now and a lot of truths came out that day, she discovered that the ankles of the bread were actually heels (at least to boring people) and that Chef Boyardee ravioli was not made with horse meat. Perhaps what I should have said is that I find me incredibly funny.
If you have spent any time with me at all you know that I care about my undergarments a great deal and I believe they should match. The last thing I want is to end up in a car accident and the nurse’s judge me for granny panties and a ratty old bra. I also had embarrassing incident in my twenties where I ended up in a compromising scenario wearing no underwear, the day “el fresco died” To me, mismatched undergarments is like going on a hot date that has the possibility of ending in sex with unshaven legs.
I went on a coffee date a couple of weeks ago and I had on a nice designer sleeveless dress that I managed to score at the thrift store. My entire outfit cost about $18.99 but I felt like a million bucks until I discovered I had forgotten to shave my armpits. I have multiple Groupon’s to use and had intended to get them waxed when I took care of the rest of my personal business but alas I sat outside of Starbucks and dry shaved my armpits with a razor I picked up at Sobeys on the way there. Sometimes looking good comes with a price.
Last week my daughter was watching “How I met your mother” and Robin was on a date with a hot surgeon, she had not intended on it going so well and had not shaved her legs. I was watching this intently as I sat there with my overgrown jungle woman legs. She somehow convinced her bitchy waitress to go buy her a razor but she did not grab shave cream. Robin was shaving in the bathroom using butter as a shave cream, some dropped, and she slipped on it and knocked herself out. Meanwhile the waitress picked up the hot surgeon. I had never felt so deeply seen and understood in my life. I am Robin and Robin is me.
On a previous waxing appointment I had not let the hair on my legs grow out long enough and it hurt like a motherfucker and grew back patchy. The last time I thought they would need to use a lawn mower on it. As a lady who likes to parade around in her fancy matching bra and undies, appreciating my smooth, daily shaven limbs the grow out period is painful for me. I feel like my relationship with myself suffers immensely. I am avoid things like good night cuddles and admiring touches. Weeks pass where I do not wink at myself or slap my own ass. My love meter drops into the negative. Last week Kelsey at Bodhi Spa helped bring me back to myself. I came home that night, put on the Rose Royce classic “I wanna get next to you” and I felt a great love for myself.
Not that that is relevant to anything at all but I am not a swinger. I am finally at peace with the idea that everybody you meet creates a different version of you in their own minds so if you have created me as a swinger I hope I am at least a good one, whatever that would mean. After my husband passed away one of his old buds’s started that rumor and I am sure it was tossed around a lot over drinks. As the case is with small towns and possibly all towns, people talk more than they listen and they just adore gossip. I am glad I gave them all something to talk about and I am sorry to disappoint. I do rather respect swingers for their ability to just be themselves and no matter how you or I or their parents feel about it, adults can and will choose the sex life that feels right for them. Anyway, I am sure the rumor morphed from a story about the time that Kirk and I accidentally ended up at a Swingers bar and as he recounted it I am sure he had no idea that someday it would be twisted and turned into something it wasn’t. We sat in the corner eating donairs because we are nothing if not East coast classy and then we decided to make the most of it by playing this match the boob’s game. They had a huge poster board and rows of boobs and below those, rows of faces to match them up. There were some interesting boobs, let me tell you. I will never forget my late husbands face when a woman came over offering for him to squeeze her tits to be of some assistance. That is almost the extent of Kirk and I’s swinger lifestyle. In fact, until we moved to Edmonton in 2008, I thought Swinging was just something you do at a park. I do appreciate boob’s though, one of my fondest memories is Las Vegas in 2009, at a huge, I believe they call it ‘Gentlemen’s Club’, I was telling this young, beautiful Latin girl that her boobs were just perfect and she did not need a breast augmentation. Somehow this led to a fun game, as most nights involving tequila shots do, next thing you know I am the resident boob expert and I get to decide real or fake for a succession of amazingly beautiful women with boobs of all shapes and sizes. No jury needed, real always wins. It is difficult to recreate the squish, the bounce or the gentle curve of a real breast. Breasts really are art come to life. I suppose I just started a new rumor that I am a lesbian, which no disrespect to lesbians, I just do not like cats that much (according to Ellen to qualify you need to own three or more) and I have a great love for penises and sometimes the interesting men attached to them.
I share a bathroom with my fourteen year old daughter Haley and she could tell you a lot of stories I am sure. I am grateful that she taught me how to contour and highlight, I did it all wrong for several years and the results were atrocious. She didn’t outright tell me I was doing it all wrong but after about a year of her horrified sideways glances I finally asked her for advice. She has watched countless hours of YouTube videos and basically knows everything about everything.
My son Jeff is a younger, less jaded version of me and it is very difficult to say no to him. I like to think that everything I do is rooted in love and then Jeff visits and he is so magnanimous in his affection and capacity to love, minus the lackluster, world-weary, cynical bullshit that I often have to wade through. The way he goes through the house picking out things he would like to take home reminds me of how after I moved out I used to go to my moms and I was constantly in her cupboards, “WTF Mom, when did you guys start buying Nutella?”
My kids are amazing and I have a tiny fourteen year old cat that slithers around like a thief in the night, continually begs for canned food and stares at me while I am sleeping. It is quite romantic when I wake up at 4 am to the muted sounds of The Police ‘Every Breath you take and my cat; Aulie staring creepily into my eyes. I make excuses for Aulie because she was thrown out of a moving vehicle when she was too young to be taken from her mother, my late husband rescued her and she picked me to be her person. She has trust issues, anybody would.
My dog Buddy is a rescue as well and he was abused. He was anxiety ridden when he came to us, however he is the most loving and gentle beast. He is a Collie/Cross who hates to be brushed and even if I brush him three times a day he sheds an entire other dog. Due to early mistreatment Buddy came to us with early onset arthritis and is currently experiencing pain. He likes to chase the cat up and down the stairs and his pattern seems to be chase, hurt, rest for three weeks, REPEAT. I have a handful of people in my life that I feel truly get me and love me without judgement and Buddy is definitely in that Tribe. Aulie is not, Aulie does love me, in her own way, but I know she judges me constantly, even while I am sleeping.
I used to be a fairly judgmental person and I took a long hard look at that and I make a conscious effort to always offer love before judgement. I am human though, and therefore I err. Just a second ago I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a model who was advertising a new hair color and my first thought was her nose was horrible and then I metaphorically punched myself in the mouth and decided promptly that the model was beautiful and her nose was not the problem, it was the angle and then I swiftly judged the photographer for his terrible eye and the advertisers for accepting the picture. I like to think of myself as a work in progress, constantly making an effort and calling myself out on my own bullshit.
I believe the best we can do in any given moment is the next best thing. Life is just one moment. Then the next… I do not believe in coping mechanisms, I work hard on thriving mechanisms. I am an introverted extrovert who overshares.
I am sure my mom is reading this and saying to Papa “Jesus Gord, does she really have to talk about penises? Maybe the right penis would shut her up!”
I see you Mom, I see you. 😉
2018 brought me the most amazing experiences and I thank my children for constantly dragging me outside of my comfort zone. If it were not for them I might spend all of my free time curled up watching Drop Dead Diva reruns. They show me everyday what is possible in life and how important it is that I do the same for them.
Like all of you I am sure, I had experiences in 2018 that brought me heartache and lots of tears, those experiences also brought me lessons that I really needed to learn. Society would have us believe that if we are single we are somehow less than and what I learned is that my heart is expansive, I have a huge capacity to love, though it is not my job to be enough for anyone or to make myself small to fit into a box that is not for me. Being single teaches you a great deal about yourself and what is important. When I find myself succumbing to loneliness I become curious and observant. I learn from others. The one thing I am very aware of is that I do not want to settle for someone that does not tick all of the boxes for me. In the future, if I commit to being in a romantic relationship with someone else there has to be an intimate friendship; they must be my best friend and be able to communicate with me even when things are tough, there must be mutual respect, we do not always have to agree but we should respect each others differences and while we remain rooted together we must also be free to grow individually. They also must be an animal in the sack, no exceptions. (My mom is now either fist bumping the air and saying “yes” I made her or crying and tearing her hair out” This is not negotiable! I have a great relationship with myself and I have lots of fantastic people I can spend time with, if I am going enter into a serious relationship or lets be real, even a casual sexual relationship, it must meet this criteria “GREAT SEX”
I think sex is an important criterion in a romantic relationship as it distinguishes it from all our other relationships and that intimacy that is created between couples can be powerful, should be powerful. You can all send me hate mail if you like and tell me all the reasons that there is more to sex in a relationship. I agree, there is more, lots more, however it is my fake relationship we are planning and this box must have a big, red check mark beside it (the bigger the better 😉
As I marinate in all that was in 2018 I realize that I did not become a “new me”, I did however dust off and polish some layers of me that were blanketed under the weight of burdens, expectations, old vows and beliefs, fears, shame and insecurity. As I move forward into 2019 I want to continue to shed anything that is no longer useful.
It is hard to narrow down the life altering events in my life in 2018, if was full of organized learning opportunities, courses and workshops, art, theater, ballet, music, friendship, love, loss and heartbreak. All in all I feel incredibly blessed.
I have started courses working towards my certification in Life Coaching and I just finished a 30 days of Sensuality Course with Ev’yan Whitney, who penned the piece titled “Too Much Woman” which shifted my entire perspective. I am hoping to work extensively with Ev’Yan in the coming year to heal and step fully into my own personal power and the full expression of my own sensuality so the niche of my future coaching can be focused on helping other women to do the same. I feel like I have been blessed with some special gifts that I am compelled to share with others and I know that as a woman who has suffered past trauma that we often allow our fears, shame and insecurity to keep us small and silent and that prevents us from embracing ourselves as beautiful sexual beings and enjoying amazing and fulfilling sex lives. Pleasure is our birthright and I believe great sex is an integral part of the mind*body*spirit connection that keeps us physically and mentally healthy.
I hope the year ahead for you is filled with magical madness, great literature, art that makes you ponder, movies that make you cry and moments that make you want to sing. I hope you kiss someone that thinks you hang the moon each night, I hope that same person would hoist the sky into the sky each morning if it meant brightening your day. I hope your love for yourself is profound and I hope you find healthy ways to fulfill all of your needs and that you chase your dreams instead of just living the same day over and over. You are about to be presented with 365 new opportunities. Do something amazing!!
Have a safe and wonderful end of 2018 and a fantastic beginning to 2018.
Recorded in France in 1971, and released on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main St., Happy is a philosophy for life, albeit not mine particularly but I believe we all have and are entitled to our own standard of Happiness. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the lead vocals were sung by Keith Richards who celebrates his 75th birthday today and one year of sobriety.
If you are a regular here you will notice that most of my Tenacious Tuesday posts are titled after songs and each song has some significance to me. To dive a little deeper into that I may lose some of you and some of you may want to commit me but I know that some of you will understand this on an almost inexpiable level.
After I lost my husband to suicide in June 2017 writing was a solace to me but at times it was also very difficult. For a short while I had set my intention to have my Tuesday post written by Saturday, I dedicated one hour for editing on Sunday and Monday I would schedule the post to be published on Tuesday. In theory this worked extremely well but this dedication only lasted for a short time. I started to have a lot of trouble focusing to write at night and I would end up frustrated and I would not be happy with what I created.
I enlisted the help of Kirk, my late husband. Yes, you read that correctly. Kirk left the world physically but I became aware of his spirit presence very soon after he took his last breaths. If you know Kirk, I am sure you have had similar experiences and had zero doubt that Kirk would be an amazing spirit, just as he was an amazing human. Anyway, Kirk communicates with me through music a great deal and he is extremely crafty. It used to bring me to tears frequently; however it has easily become a natural part of my life. What usually happens is that I am driving in my truck with no solid idea of what to write about and I say “babe, play me a song, I need an idea!” A song plays, there is usually a memory attached and the very title spins the web of creation and bam I have an idea. Kirk likely wants ghostwriting credits, however, “to be fair babe, you are my prompter, the ideas and writing are all my own.” The day that Kirk is able to communicate to me in a way that I can write about his spirit experiences I am going to be stinking rich, or sitting in an asylum, one or the other.
I have been reluctant to write about any of this for a long time and I understand that people can only understand as much as they are able or willing to.
Immediately after Kirk passed away I couldn’t listen to music. Music was a huge part of our lives and Kirk never missed an opportunity to pull me into his arms and dance. Kirk really enjoyed Country music and when I got the guts to turn the radio back on I would only listen to country. That ended up being a disaster and I arrived everywhere with tear stained eyes and mascara running down my cheeks. I was also never able to go back to my regular radio station. I was a huge fan of Now Radio 102.3 and the morning show with Crash and Mars and the Ginge, I spent the drive home with Ginge’s wife Rachel Day. I cannot explain why I cannot go back to that radio station, I really have no explanation. I started listening to The Locker Room on 95.7 Cruz FM. I immediately disliked Lochlin Cross, Grant Johnson and James White, especially Lochlin,(mostly Lochlin) however I was drawn to that station and that was that. I have know come to enjoy the guys and Lochlin has grown on me, I actually see similarities to Kirk in his brash sassiness.
I started hearing Trooper every time I got in the truck “We’re here for a good time, not a long time,” would play for me several times a day. The simple message “So have a good time, the sun can’t shine everyday” has not only been instrumental in my healing, Kirk and I met at a Trooper Concert so it is completely fitting. I truly feel that the message in the song is a gift to me, reminding me frequently that life is short and I need to live it now. It became uncanny how many times that song would play just as I was getting in the vehicle and I immediately became aware that it was for me. I dislike it when anyone changes my radio station! My daughter is impatient and hates listening to commercials and we got in an argument one day on the drive from the South side and I made her turn back to 95.7 and as she complained and grumbled through the commercials I said ‘Kirk, play your daughter a song so she will understand and the song that played after the commercial was “Just like heaven coming down,” by the Tea Party. That is now her song and it comes on frequently, too frequently to be a coincidence, when she is in the truck.
I talk to my mom a lot about the magical happenings surrounding my new relationship with Kirk and the things he does to get attention. I have always wondered if she thought I was losing my mind even though she humored me. In June she flew to Edmonton for Morgan’s high school graduation and at the airport I went to get the truck and grabbed her bags and just as she was getting into the truck Trooper came through the speakers loud and clear ‘We’re here for a good time, not a long, time, so have a good time, the sun can’t shine everyday.” Mom and I both burst into tears and of course I thanked Kirk for showing my mom that I wasn’t crazy. It was an emotional moment for us and we knew that we were in good company.
Flashback to this morning, I am driving to work and I still have no clue what to write about and I say “
“Kirk, play me a song I need an idea.”
Two amazing things happened. Last night an old friend and roommate from Ontario messaged me, she has been so good to the girls and me, and though we had some issues to overcome when we were young and foolish, we have remained friends for all of these years and she is someone I love and respect. This morning at the red light as Lochlin was introducing the WTF track of the day, Jacqui popped in my head and an extremely vivid memory catapulted me back to Toronto, December of 1994 and Jacqui and I rocking out to one of the most amazing shows ever, The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour which incredibly replaced Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour (saw that too) as the highest grossing tour ever. The song that Lochlin played, as a tribute to Keith Richards on his 75th birthday was played during the second set of their Toronto show, all those years ago I will never forget, Keith Richards, illuminated in light as he sang “Happy” and every distinct line on his face telling a story of a life lived.
It was not a huge moment or revelation, as I mentioned, this has become a natural part of my life. Though this happens frequently, it will never cease to make me smile and be remarkably grateful. There were a lot of rumors after Kirk’s death, rumors and assumptions about our life and the truth is, if you read backwards on my blog I was always very vocal and honest about Kirk and my marriage, our struggles and our triumphs and the unwavering love and connection that we continue to share. Our connection now is an extension of that. Kirk left his pain; it was never his intention to leave the people he loves. I hesitate to talk about him in the past tense because in my reality he is still a part of my world.
I get that some people find that weird. That is OK.
Someone asked me last week if I felt that my connection to Kirk would keep me from moving on and the answer is “hell no” Kirk wants me to be happy and free and he will never stand in the way of that. I feel that the universe will make it difficult for me to walk into situations that are not meant for me and I also feel that sometimes the things that are meant for me will take patience for it to be the right timing. I know that Kirk can see that all very clearly from his spiritual perch (his high horse) however he will allow me to make my mistakes and continue to root myself in love as I grow and expand. His presence is not a hindrance or obtrusive, it is just something I am aware of, just as you are aware of the sunshine. I know that he is incredibly proud of me. Those messages have come to me through numerous earth angels.
The loss of loved one will teach you countless lessons. Kirk unfortunately spent too much time in a place of pain; it is the very last thing he would want to pass on to the people who loved him. My awareness of his spirit and my connection to him serves as a driving force to keep moving forward even when things feel tough.
We are not meant to be happy 100% of the time. It would be unrealistic and unhealthy. There are feelings that demand to be felt and unfortunately not all of them are joy. A lot of people ask me how I maintain happiness and I would say minute by minute. Life is never happening to us, it is happening through us so awareness of our choices and acceptance of our feelings and how we tie ourselves to certain outcomes is the key to understanding how and why we feel a certain way and the barrage of emotions that can overwhelm us and pull us off course. Accountability is a word I have thrown around loosely for years while being minimally accountable for any of my actions or feelings. If we are never able to assume any responsibility for our emotions we will sit in a place of judgment of others, instead of a place of love and that UN-leveled playing field makes honest connections difficult. I find that we often get stuck in this place where we believe everyone is crazy or stupid or rude, everyone and everything is the problem and we are so set on that, that we barely take a moment to self reflect on what energy we are bringing to the table. Commonly, the things we dislike in others is mirrored back at us, and we are being given an opportunity to examine our own behaviors.
Gratitude is the number one component to living a life built on happiness. No matter what other emotions we move through with grace; anger, sadness, fear, shame, pity or love, if we remain deeply rooted in gratitude life will be easier and joy will be imminent.
I realize that we are very quickly coming to a close of year three of the Wise Project and the end of 2018. To each ending there is a beginning and I am so grateful that you continue to share in my life and my experiences and share your fears and your triumphs with me. You have lifted me up on the days that I was feeling low, straightened my crown and threw some glitter on me. Your genuine passion for life and for kindness will never be forgotten.
As we enjoy these last weeks of 2018 I would like to invite all of you slow down and enjoy the moments of your life. There is impermanence in life that can work for or against us, the choice is really ours. When we live in awareness with the fact that no life or feeling is permanent we choose to live out of fear or love. Each choice comes with a wildly varying result and neither determines a pain free life; however a life rooted in love will always attract joy.
I choose to live deeply rooted in love and richly infected with gratitude. I hope you will do the same.
“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
The tale of Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my favorites, it toys with reason in what is described as the literary nonsense genre yet there was a time that fantasy was so very real to me and I still trust that the curious characters that assembled for the Mad Hatters Tea Parties were some of the most beguiling characters ever written and though I have wondered often how high on life Lewis Carroll was when he wrote the classic fable, I have always held it in the highest esteem and considered it to be fictitious genius.
The truth is, like Alice, I was a wildly imaginative young girl and I miss those days when I sought guidance from the man in the moon and I imagined Mother Nature as an untamed spirit with bruises on her feet. I believed that the trees were my best friends and each day I abandoned all logic and ran through the woods, hair blowing all over my face; barely able to contain my excitement over my next adventure. There was a large stone I passed everyday, I called it my “Blarney stone” and I would kiss my hand, touch the rock and make a wish.
As I grew older I quietly maintained some of my foolhardy notions, I admit to occasionally talking to the man in the moon, wishing on stars and I still have mad respect and affection for Mother Nature. When putting together a list of some of my favorite movies and coming up with classics like Pans Labyrinth, Spirited Away , Alice in Wonderland, Bridge to Terabithia and Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I realized that though I miss that wild hearted, untamed girl with the gigantic imagination I believe that she still very much exists inside of me.
I still go back, I still remember….
The past was gone but a trace, the future was irrelevant, nothing was done in haste. With a furiously beating heart and dirt on my cheeks I discovered that the world was alive and that somehow, I was important to all of creation…
Looking Glass Girl
I counted sheep and wished on stars. Heaven was a place that wasn’t so far.
He was a dancer and I sang off key, he was an artist and I was the sea.
The storms made me tremble, yet he was so steady, coaxing me forward when I didn’t feel ready.
We read by the light from a sweet cherry moon, escaping to magical places, smiling at mysterious faces.
Our creation was small yet spanned worlds and realities. Joy was as common as a mid day breeze.
Skies were marshmallow and rivers were gold, it was a place where we would never grow old.
Boredom….never. Youth lasted forever.
…and love was as boundless as our imagination. Life was a wild vacation.
Animals were pets roaming free. You were never limited to have just three.
Rainbows WERE the treasure, their candy store colors brought us great pleasure.
You were the King and I was your Queen. We sailed on ships to islands that had never been seen.
I made you a crown from branches and leaves. Together we collected happiness like a small band of thieves.
We lived by the sun and slept by the moon. I’ll never forget that endless sunny June.
You were the photograph, I was the flash, we were snapping for glory, stacking up cash.
You trained the army, I waved the flag, I wore pretty gowns made from a discolored rag.
You said I was beautiful and handsome you shined. We were a poem that never quite rhymed.
We skipped through the dessert and sailed seven seas. You brought the sparkly juice, I brought the cheese.
Summer, it ended, as quick as it came. We traded our wonder for a new type of game.
We traded our crowns and carried our books. We stayed up to late and studied in nooks.
It didn’t feel real or inviting or free. I missed my soul, I longed for the sea…
I woke up this morning in a very good place, I was vibrating at a whole new level of awesome and I was thinking how amazing it would be if I could bottle that feeling and drink from it on the days that I wasn’t feeling so shiny. The truth is, I can, in a way, I know all of the good things that I put into place to harness this powerfully incredible energy. I drank the kool-aid and I want seconds.
I came across a sticky note on my desk on Monday, it has been there for months and I cannot recall what circumstance had me write it, I generally write sticky notes hoping that later it will trigger a memory for me and though this is not bringing me back to a particular memory it has resonated with me in numerous ways. It is four scribbled words, barely legible, scrawled across a pale yellow sticky; forgiveness, connection, healing and hope. The words are then encased in a loosely drawn semi-circle with an arrow that says love.
For me, it all comes back to love, every single bit of it. None of those other things are possible without love and we cannot lead a truly fulfilling life without love. Love is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
I know I read things all of the time that trigger me and I bet the above paragraph is a trigger for many people, particularly single people because many people would see that as me saying that love is a necessity and without it you cannot lead a truly fulfilling life.
That is absolutely what I said. I stand by it. If you are triggered by it your interpretation of it may possibly be, I am single, therefore I cannot be fulfilled, something must be missing for me.
I didn’t say that, but if you thought something along those lines the important thing to note is I can tell you something from my perspective but I cannot be responsible for how it is received. This revelation alone has been a game changer for me.
I believe that love is the most powerful thing in the entire world. That is not to say that if you are not paired up with a significant other that you are somehow less than or not living your best life. That would never be an appropriate thing for me to assume.
I think that we are way to conservative with love in our society, the very word can illicit fear in people. Being told ‘I love you you” can make some people extremely uncomfortable, almost as if the very word comes with a contract and a whole slew of scary promises.
Romantic love is a beautiful thing but it is not the thing that defines love. Love is expansive, I would find it entirely impossible to define it in a single dictionary definition but I do Know that those four words on my sticky note; forgiveness, connection, healing and hope are not possible without love.
The love we give to ourselves is the most essential thing, and when we are committed to loving ourselves for all that we are we meet others in a very loving space, a place of authenticity and of non judgement. A place that illuminates positive energy and healthy connections and invites growth.
We cannot commit to loving ourselves when we become all that we can be. Loving ourselves fully is what empowers us to become the best version of ourselves and to those of you putting in that work you are fully aware that it is an ongoing process. You don’t become your shiny self and say ‘Ok I am good here, I am going to stop now.” The universe is continually shifting and changing, as are we, and learning and growth is life long.
As 2018 is drawing to a close I was looking back on my year and thinking that one of the very best things I did for myself this year was reconnect with an old friend who allows and encourages me at all times to be my authentic self. There are situations in my life where I have wondered if I measure up, there are others that I feel like maybe I am a bit too much. I had my mind blown last week by a quote by Nayyirah Waheed, author of Salt (Poetry) alluding to the fact that the fear of not being enough and that fear of being too much is the exact same fear, the fear of being ourselves. What a wonderful thing to find a person that invites you to be all that you are, all of the time, without fear of judgement or ridicule, whose acceptance, support, love and encouragement empowers you to be…just you. That simple connection has encouraged me to show up differently in other areas of my life, trusting that when I show up as all of me I will attract the people that are meant to be in my life at this time.
I have struggled this year with the delicate balance of knowing when to hold on and knowing when to let go. Knowing where to put my energy and where to set my intentions and release my white knuckles and allow things to flow naturally.
I have caused myself a great deal of stress trying to manipulate situations to go my way, feeling like my tenacity would always win out in the end. Stress physically manifests in my body and just recently I went to the doctor for a recurring, stabbing pain at the base of my skull. It had gotten quite bothersome, subsiding a bit when the doctor confirmed it was muscular and caused by stress and not by something life threatening. I then went to my Acupuncturist, the amazing Dr. Geha at Wellness on Whyte; Geha is very intuitive and she told me immediately that I needed to get moving. I was sitting there looking at her blankly wondering how she knows that I have not been being active, how does she know that I was internalizing a personal situation and curling up under fuzzy blankets hiding from all of the things in my life that have kept me well. I had an amazing visit and left with a great deal of relief but the pain crept back and began stabbing me again, randomly at first and then incessantly. I went to see Dr. Mailie, my Chiropractor at Wellness Chiropractic and she worked her magic and then looked me in the eye and spoke to me soul to soul, Maillie is very insightful as well and can take one look at me and know that I am the creator of my pain. She gives me an amazing adjustment and then talks to me about my tendency to hold stress physically and makes some suggestions. I left her office with some relief and I went home to curl up under my fuzzy blanket with my cell phone, as if something on Instagram was going to jump out and change my life. That did not happen but what did happen is that over the next few days inevitably, that stabbing pain returned at the base of my skull and even though the doctor assured me that it was not a tumor, I began to wonder if she could be wrong, she had not run tests after all.
In my misery I started thinking of all the things I would be doing if I wasn’t wrapped up in this pain, and a blanket. My mind traveled back to the weeks prior to the pain and all of the things I was doing on a daily basis to promote physical and mental wellness. I had a daily meditation practice that I had abruptly stopped, I was out walking daily and often working out at home.
The situation that was causing me stress was not personal, meaning it was not meant to be taken personally. From the very beginning I knew that and I was also assured that there was nothing I could have done to change it, yet my unwillingness to accept the situation as it was, seeing any sort of repose on my part as giving up on something important, allowed me wallow in guilt and anguish. It allowed me to stay still, to feel sorry for myself and make myself unwell.
A good friend asked me some tough questions that not only led me to some very honest contemplation, it led me to three hours of crying. After that I meditated for an hour. My entire perspective shifted. What I wanted to give the situation at hand was compassion, understanding and love. I was giving none of that to myself. I fed myself that outdated bullshit of self blame, maybe things would have been different if I had been less of this and more of this. I wasn’t sitting in integrity with myself, I was not holding myself in a loving space and in turn my entire focus was skewed. I am happy to say that I am maintaining a daily meditation practice again. It allows me to access a quiet place of non judgement within myself and move through struggle with grace. Letting go does not have to mean giving up. Sometimes it simply means loosening our grip and allowing the energy to flow where it is needed. I have started to move again. I am busier at work and it is colder outside, my daily walks are not as feasible but I have started shaking what my mama gave me at every opportunity. I close my office door several times a day, put on some old skool hip hop and just move. Last night at home the dog and I were grooving to Bust a move as we moved out old energy out and invited new energy in.
I slept amazing last night on freshly laundered sheets, accompanied by smooth shaved legs, such a simple feel good thing. On the way to work I could feel that there had been a phenomenal change in energy. Within moments of each other I got two fabulous messages that lifted me up, one from a new friend and one from a dear friend who was also a close friend to my late husband. Reading those messages assured me that the universe was fully supporting this energetic shift. My stabbing pain subsided and it has been replaced with a feeling of excitement. I am excited about my life, excited to keep growing and learning and to connect with amazing people.
I will struggle, that is inevitable but I am truly starting to see that I am the creator of my experiences and there an extraordinary amount of power in that.
For those of you that are struggling to let go and move forward in your life I have created a quick meditation to encourage you to let go of what is holding you back and move into imagining the very best version of yourself. The very minute my energy shifted I literally spit this out, it was there, hidden under a cloak of fear.
I invite you to get comfortable and take a couple of minutes to relax and empower yourself.
I am not afraid to say I love you.
To the person that is reading this and hoping for me to fail, I love you. To the person who takes the time to reach out to me and let me know that you are encouraged and inspired by me, I love you. To the person who sees the very best in me, even when my fear doesn’t allow me to see it, I love you. To the person who is struggling but still showing up, I love you. To the person who is not ready to let go, who is afraid to forgive and afraid to love, I love you.
Love is not scary. Imagine a world without love. Imagine for a second the atrocities that are happening in the world right now, acts that are born of fear. Imagine waking up and all love has been erased from the world? The absence of love is terrifying.
How many times in our lives have we sat in disbelief and shock, in tears, shaking our heads and saying over and over “I just don’t understand?” No matter how much contemplating and suffering we do, we still cannot figure it out.
When I lost my husband to the beast of depression I had to surrender to the idea that life’s maneuvers operate corresponding to a mastermind that is way beyond anything linear. There are enough challenges while navigating trauma and loss, and as you move through that pain the only thing that is expected of you is to simply take the next best step. There is no map to navigate through grief, you are not expected to control the territory around you, you simply have to take each step forward as it presents itself to you, and if you do that in your pajamas with three day old make up and your hair in a bun trust that that is enough.
When you do not understand, you just need to trust, and I know that when you lose someone tragically trusting that everything will be okay seems ridiculous. To me, the world felt scary and unsafe, although at a certain point I was able to abandon the what ifs and the ideas of the way things should be and slowly and with intent put one foot in front of the other .
“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”
~ Thomas Campbell
I have become very aware of the cycle of life. Death is inevitable and though we are given life, how we choose to live it is optional.
Members of my family on both sides are experiencing grief, loss and heartache today. I come from a small town in a small province surrounded by small villages. Loss has a ripple effect and can be felt throughout the communities. There is a lot of love, and sadly, as always a lot of judgement because judging is always easier than understanding. Empathy is a concept that not everyone is able to grasp.
People treat pain like a hot potato and to avoid experiencing pain they often pass it along to others. It is not right and it is not pleasant, and it is a certain reality that anyone who experiences the loss of a loved one will likely face.
Today I am compelled to share with all of you the importance of holding space for someone, which simply means to be present and to allow them to feel everything that they are feeling. Grief can be uncomfortable, for the onlookers it can be as difficult as watching someone with a bloody, open wound. Sometimes the automatic instinct is to avoid those that are suffering until the wound begins to heal, or at least till the wound has been stitched up and covered. At that point you may have lost a friend. Relationships are severed, formed and strengthened in times of struggle.
For me, the right people showed up, the right people came, the right people stayed and the right people left. It can be hurtful to lose connections at such and important time in your life but it is powerful finding out that the people that belong in your life will always be there, in some capacity and definitely when you need them the most. We are continually growing and changing and it is important to realize that not everyone is meant to be with us for our entire journey.
“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
~ Terry Pratchett
There are some simple things that you can do for people that are grieving. I often hear, “ I do not know what to say”, “ I do not know what to do.” Here are some simple important things you can do.
Show up– let them know that you are there and that you care. There are no magic words and you cannot take away the pain but knowing you want to is enough.
Food is always appreciated. My boss kept bringing a food. I would not have cared if I ever ate again but when someone set a plate in front of me I did. There will also be a lot of visitors and people like to eat when they are sad, just as much as they do when they are happy.
Avoid phrases like, “it was God’s will or “everything happens for a reason” and “don’t cry”. Nobody needs to hear any of that shit when they are grieving. If you are unsure of what to say, just say “I am here.” Or simply just be there.
Recognize that you can ask a grieving person what they need a million times in a million different ways and they will not know. What they need is their loved one back and they cannot see past that. When you are grieving shock suspends you in a weird place for awhile, a place where everything is numb so that the pain does not bring you to your knees. Pick a task and do it. Fold laundry, go get milk and toiletries, make phone calls, assign tasks to other visitors.
Share your memories. People often avoid talking about the person that died which is just weird and creepy. They lived, they existed and they will always exist in our hearts and memories. Share your memories and your funny stories, share them now and share them always.
To all of you that are suffering and finding your way through the pain of loss please know that my heart is with you. You will be ok. There is no timeline, or magical manual to navigate grief and nothing I can say that will make sense or ease your pain except to say that if you choose to, you will be ok.
“All the art of living lies in the fine mingling between letting go and holding on”
Last week I wrote about a workshop that was gifted to me called the Gift, facilitated by Integrity Workshops here in Edmonton. I was really excited about the tools I had gathered to move forward with me on my journey and how I was committed to setting clear intentions, standing in my own personal integrity and being in charge of the experiences I wanted to have in my life. I was expecting to have a much different week, but I experienced a great deal of discomfort, sadness and emotional mood swings. It wasn’t till late last night that I was able to see the gifts amid my struggle.
I have been struggling with something in my personal life that has taken up a good chunk of my head space and after finally reaching out to a trusted friend for some much-needed perspective I felt a bit renewed but at bedtime the monkeys in my head were talking very loudly and I found myself being bullied into feeling bad about myself because what I see as fearless tenacity, society often refers to as crazy, brazen and entitled. How dare I ask for the things I want, how dare I fight for them, how dare I expect them? They say I am messy with all my wants and all of my feelings. I am supposed to take what I get and smile and say thank you. Do not ask for more, that is rude. Why would I imagine that I am deserving of all these things? What makes me so special? I am just a foolish woman, outrageous, irrational, way too wild to fit into civil society.
How dare I?
How dare I not?
I decided to do a guided meditation before bed to quiet the noise and it was something Deepak Chopra said that that soothed my soul “If you want love in your life you need to give love, if you want kindness in your life you need to give kindness….” This was not new knowledge for me at all but in that moment, it was an affirmation.
Society would like us to believe that we only love people that love us back, we are only kind to people who are kind back. It is no wonder that we are living in a time of political unrest, an us vs. them society. We withhold the healing power of love and kindness because of the expectations we hold that we give to receive.
In that moment I realized that in my week of discomfort I was receiving the greatest gift. The unconscious was becoming conscious. I was becoming aware of the old vows, contracts, promises and beliefs that kept me small, that kept me quiet and most of all kept me from growing and giving the best of myself for fear of appearing”too much”. My self saboteur is a mean bully and has always been there whispering in the quiet corners of my mind, but I was somewhat powerless her when I was not fully conscious of her. Now as she roared at me, I hollered back.
One of our most paramount misconceptions I have had is that life is happening to us when in fact life is happening through us. There is a responsibility in that. Everyday we talk about wanting change, but we declare ourselves powerless. I think one of our greatest fears is realizing that we are indeed very powerful. We hold these outdated beliefs about the world around us and our automatic default is to follow along instead of lead. When we heal ourselves, we also heal our ancestors, our lineage; mothers, fathers, grandmothers. Many of us come from backgrounds of generational trauma, abuse, addiction, poverty or some sort of struggle. Healing is not comfortable or convenient, but it is a fierce catalyst in living a beautiful life and it is an amazing gift to give to future generations. There is a formidable amount of power in that. What we create in our own lives not only matters now, it will matter to our sons, daughters, grandchildren and on and on. To say we are powerless is really just shunning our responsibility and in some instances we pretend not to know because we perceive it as easier. We choose to go through the motions three hundred and sixty-five days a year and call it a life. That will not be my choice. When you know, you cannot un-know.
“No matter who our ancestors are, our own personal and monumental task is to become the best person that we can possibly be – someone in whom our own descendants in times to come can take great pride and find inspiration.” ~ Laurence Overmire
I believe people are inherently good, we come into the world that way at least and we also carry the beliefs, attachments, contracts and vows of our fore families and possibly past lives if you are a believer of such. Add on to this our own learned beliefs, behaviors, traumas and struggles there is rightfully a whole lot of shit in our piles. Now pile on expectations, media and societal norms and we feel the need to constantly hide who we truly are to fit a mold that was not made for us. We are told how to dress, how to act, how to get the job, get the girl/guy, appear ten pounds thinner, enhance our breasts and diminish our free thinking. Love, kindness and vulnerability are things the world needs to survive but we are taught that they are weaknesses. They will hurt us. So we suit up in our protective armor daily and call it “being strong” We shun human connection, the very thing that can heal our world.
If we don’t do the work, if we feel powerless, who will step up? Who will we allow to lead us and where we they lead us to?
None of us are safe from what is happening in the world right now. Hate and division is killing people at an alarming rate.
When you know, like I do, it is the end of denial and as I said it comes with a fair bit of responsibility and this almost insane need to be honest, not just with myself but with others. It may not bring me the victory in any popularity contests, but it will help me reclaim power over my own life, heal and transmute old wounds that have been carried forward generationally and alter the path for myself and my family going forward, interrupting generations of trauma and struggle that created restraints, beliefs and blocks. That is how an entire lineage progresses. There is no denying how fucking powerful that is and no amount of noise in my head can convince me otherwise.
When I am not standing in love; love for myself, for others, for creation, for the world, I am sitting in fear. Fear keeps me small and insignificant, it keeps me from taking risks and having the joyful experiences I want to have in my life.
Am I too much? Am I bold? Am I brazen? Am I entitled? Do I want too much? Do I expect too much?
DAMN RIGHT I DO!!!
I am learning to trust in myself and the work I am doing in the world.
I feel a bit like I am standing here naked, stripped of all I once believed to be true. Stripped of vows and contracts and burdens that were bestowed upon me unknowingly. I stand here naked yet more powerful than I ever thought imaginable.
I am expanding, learning to fill my space and to stop hiding behind fears, insecurities and outdated beliefs. I am worthy and what I bring to the table is valuable. I am doing work that is challenging me and it makes me question everything and even when it is hard and everything feels awful I keep showing up, heart open and vulnerable. My courage and strength surprises me.
The noise I now hear is my ancestors cheering for me. My passion and desire is needed.
Find your power. Stand in your integrity. Create the life you want.