Walk this way -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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”

Havelock Ellis ~

 

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Naked -Wise Project 2018- #TenaciousTuesday

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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.

xo

“here’s to being your ancestors’s wildest dream”

~ evyan whitney

 

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Waves -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I had a conversation with a friend the other day that has been facing a serious health battle; she was not only facing her battle with magnanimous grace she had made the decision to live every single day to the fullest. I am so proud of her and many other of my old friends who are facing the blackness of grief and trauma and those that are struggling with their health and facing their own mortality, what I am seeing time and time again is though we have been dealt unimaginable circumstances the universe has also handed us a gift and in that gift is a wisdom that perhaps we were just not ready to see before. There is nothing like tragedy to make you see things in an entirely new way. Life itself is a gift but we rush through the most important moments, always planning for the future or stuck in those places in the past that ripped our souls out, that taught us to be small and fearful, to doubt ourselves and to obey old vows and commitments that have been handed down for generation upon generation, that keep us sick and bound. I remember as young children everything I told my girls they would say “but why?”

It was incredibly irritating and I usually gave the customary answer that had been handed down among generations of mothers “because I said so”

At some point in adulthood we stop challenging the social and political norms and we follow along like good little soldiers with a little voice in the back of our minds. “mama said be polite, mama said be a lady, mama said don’t get my clothes dirty.”

We stop asking “but why” and we allow life to move us along.

For me, when tragedy hit I was so fucking terrified. My husband was my rock and facing a life without him had me panic stricken but loss brings with it a certain understanding of the world, a thoughtful consideration of the seemingly unpredictable ebbs and flows of life; that move us, cleanse us and guide us.

There is sadness in saying goodbye not just to our loved ones but to all that we believed would be our lives,  just as there is sadness in saying goodbye to the breathtaking magic and fearlessness of youth. Moments, memories and days we thought would never end slip through our fingers; like the sand we packed in our hands at the beach as children and the tighter we held on the more it seeped through the cracks.

It hadn’t yet occurred to us that we would run out of time or that the transient nature of life came with a reckoning so we lived without a fear of dying.

The thing with being a kid is that most of us didn’t know devastating loss and we hadn’t yet been faced with the impermanence of life. We hadn’t said our final goodbyes in hospital rooms our spoken heartfelt thoughts about our loved ones in eulogies. It hadn’t yet occurred to us that we would run out of time or that the transient nature of life came with a reckoning. The beauty in that is that we lived without a fear of dying.

I remember when I lost Kirk there were days that I was overcome with an irrational fear of evanescence. I believed that if I allowed myself to heal and to move forward then his memory and essence would rapidly fade. I wish I could come up with something to say to make everyone that will inevitably face loss understand, that that fear could not have been further from reality. As I began to allow myself to inch forward I began to see Kirk in a whole new way, not his death or the tragic illness that ripped him from us but as a quintessential life, something that could and would always transcend time and space to guide and support me. My memories of him are vivid and though the moments of struggle and fear we faced have insignificance now, it is the laughter and the stolen moments of candor and abandon that live in around me and propel me forward.

The wisdom that tragedy gives us is that we should all live in the wonder of youth.

I will not follow the rules that someone else made and call it living. I will not live to please everyone but myself; I will not rush through my life as if it is a race to my death. I will not allow the death of my great love to be the thing that cripples me and drains me of life little by little until I die. I will let love and death be my teachers; those things that remind me to live big, to laugh and to always choose love. The wisdom that tragedy gives us is that we should all live in the wonder of youth. Calamity knows no prejudice, at some point it will bring us all to our knees, it will not leave us unchanged but we should never allow it to diminish us.

Life, love, loss; it comes and goes in waves.

Roar (Too Much Woman) Wise Project 2018 -#TenaciousTenacity

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If you prefer to listen instead of read, you can listen HERE

I posted a piece a couple of days back called Too Much Woman by Ev’Yan Whitney, I shared it having no idea who she was and it was a couple of days later when I found myself going back to the piece to read it over and over again that I decided to look her up. The piece was written back in 2014 and published on Ev’yans blog Sex Love Liberation.

Her blog is stunning visually and it contains a lot of raw truth for anyone who struggles with their sexuality and womanhood. I would even suggest that men read it, if you are in love with a woman who has difficulty accessing and embracing her sexual side you may want to gently direct her to this blog. There is a lot crippling shame and emotional discomfort that plaques both men and women who deal with sexual issues and it can be emotionally draining on the individual with the issue as well as there intimate partner. Relationships are not easy without the added stress and shame of sexual dissatisfaction.

I was lucky to be a part of a presentation yesterday put on by The City of Edmonton and facilitated by ex British Military and intelligence Dave Ainsworth. The course has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality but as all things are relative and I find myself frequently connecting the dots of the universe, David said something that resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you both in the context that it was intended and in the way I feel that it relates to everyday life. It led me back to this piece and how we so often let our fear of embarrassment, our fear of speaking up takes precedence over what we know to be right. The course was an Active Intruder/Shooter course and Mr. Ainsworth took us through multiple scenarios where if one person had spoken up, the outcome could have been different. I was relaying this message to my daughter on a walk last night and she said “but that stuff doesn’t really happen in Canada” and the truth is yes it does. Yes it happens on a smaller scale but Canada has unfortunately had fatal instances of terrorism as well as school, domestic and work related violence. In almost every scenario we were guided through, there was an incident where someone could have and should have spoken up and didn’t and it affected everything. I highly recommend that if you have an opportunity to attend a course in your city to do it but for me this message led me back to Ev’Yan Whitney’s piece “Too Much Woman” because so often it is ingrained in our being to be small, be polite, don’t create waves, don’t speak up…

I am telling you today “FUCK THAT” ‘Too Much Woman” we need you. Keep showing up, keep speaking your truth.

I am sharing this piece below because it means something to me, it reminds that it is OK to be all of me, to be expansive and fill my space, to want, to ask, to seek and desire. To move, to expand, to feel and to be every single bit of me.

I am a “Too Much woman”

Too Much Woman

There she is. . . the “too much” woman. The one who loves too hard, feels too deeply, asks too often, desires too much.

There she is taking up too much space, with her laughter, her curves, her honesty, her sexuality. Her presence is as tall as a tree, as wide as a mountain. Her energy occupies every crevice of the room. Too much space she takes.

There she is causing a ruckus with her persistent wanting, too much wanting. She desires a lot, wants everything—too much happiness, too much alone time, too much pleasure. She’ll go through brimstone, murky river, and hellfire to get it. She’ll risk all to quell the longings of her heart and body. This makes her dangerous.

She is dangerous.

And there she goes, that “too much” woman, making people think too much, feel too much, swoon too much. She with her authentic prose and a self-assuredness in the way she carries herself. She with her belly laughs and her insatiable appetite and her proneness to fiery passion. All eyes on her, thinking she’s hot shit.

Oh, that “too much” woman. . . too loud, too vibrant, too honest, too emotional, too smart, too intense, too pretty, too difficult, too sensitive, too wild, too intimidating, too successful, too fat, too strong, too political, too joyous, too needy—too much.

She should simmer down a bit, be taken down a couple notches. Someone should put her back in a more respectable place. Someone should tell her.

Here I am. . . the Too Much Woman, with my too-tender heart and my too-much emotions.

A hedonist, feminist, pleasure seeker, empath. I want a lot—justice, sincerity, spaciousness, ease, intimacy, actualization, respect, to be seen, to be understood, your undivided attention, and all of your promises to be kept.

I’ve been called high maintenance because I want what I want, and intimidating because of the space I occupy. I’ve been called selfish because I am self-loving. I’ve been called a witch because I know how to heal myself.

And still. . . I rise. Still, I want and feel and ask and risk and take up space.

I must.

Us Too Much Women have been facing extermination for centuries—we are so afraid of her, terrified of her big presence, of the way she commands respect and wields the truth of her feelings. We’ve been trying to stifle the Too Much Woman for ions—in our sisters, in our wives, in our daughters. And even now, even today, we shame the Too Much Woman for her bigness, for her wanting, for her passionate nature.

And still. . . she thrives.

In my own world and before my very eyes, I am witnessing the reclamation and rising up of the Too Much Woman. That Too Much Woman is also known to some as Wild Woman or the Divine Feminine. In any case, she is me, she is you, and she is loving that she’s finally, finally getting some airtime.

If you’ve ever been called “too much,” or “overly emotional,” or “bitchy,” or “stuck up,” you are likely a Too Much Woman.

And if you are. . . I implore you to embrace all that you are—all of your depth, all of your vastness; to not hold yourself in, and to never abandon yourself, your bigness, your radiance.

Forget everything you’ve heard—your too much-ness is a gift; oh yes, one that can heal, incite, liberate, and cut straight to the heart of things.

Do not be afraid of this gift, and let no one shy you away from it. Your too much-ness is magic, is medicine. It can change the world.

Don’t believe me? Check this: All of your favorite women, the ones who’ve made history, the ones who’ve lent their voices for change and have courageously given themselves permission to be exactly who they are. Some examples: Oprah, Ronda Rousey, Beyoncé, Kali, Misty Copeland, Janet Mock, Mary Magdalene . . . they’re all Too Much Women.

So please, Too Much Woman: Ask. Seek. Desire. Expand. Move. Feel. Be.

Make your waves, fan your flames, give us chills.

Please, rise.
We need you.

 

Share this message with your friends, it is important that we not only are assured that we are enough but that we feel free to be all that we are. We are never “too much”

This is no time for us to roll over and purr, it’s time to ROAR

xo Michelle

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Born to be Wild- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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In 1969 Dennis Hopper took a maturely modest approach to cinematic shorthand when Wyatt and Billy rode into hearts and homes as two Southern Californian Harley Riding Hippies who complete a drug deal and then ride off on a journey of spiritual enlightenment seeking truth, peace and happiness in Nixon’s America. Watching Western’s with my Dad back in the day I noticed that they always put the good guys in white hats, omitting minutes of unnecessary explanation at the beginning of every movie. Instead of weighting the viewer down with colorless facts, Hopper brilliantly applied this approach to a Motorcycle movie and it worked. The Soundtrack to Easy Rider was a blazing success as well, 49 years later Steppenwolf’s Born to Wild, which was their first successful single, still gets tons of radio play. The minute it comes on the radio I can’t force my hips to stay still and I am convinced, more than ever, that I was indeed “Born to be Wild”

The truth is we all are.

The last couple of days have been extremely uncomfortable for me and influenced by some shitty ups and downs. I have come to the conclusion that often when I feel frustrated and upset I attack myself and I become disappointed in myself. I am beginning to see very clearly that these periods of discomfort are the consequence of a huge inner battle. An uneasy conflict between my comfort zone and my true nature; my desire to grow.  Every time I fight what is in front of me, the path that I am stepping into, I am unnerved.

For years society has put us into well arranged and tidy roles, organized by labels and ill fitting boxes.

I for one feel fucking cramped!!!

Our comfort zone keeps us safe and cozy because it is familiar and even though staying firmly rooted in it may not always be the healthiest or wisest choice, we find relief in what we know.

What happens when we outgrow the box, when jamming ourselves into that stupid box every single day, and lining up in a neat and tidy row makes us sad and sick? Do we shrink to fit; do we dim our lights to fit into a dreary row? Do we trade our freedom for the titles that society bestowed on us? We are men, women, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, leaders, role models…there are expectations and responsibilities for us after all.

I am a wild woman.  My true nature is freedom. I will not be bound by a role that society defined for me. I will not shrink into a well labeled, neatly organized box.

Do you know what I mean by the Titanic pose?

Do you ever imagine yourself as Rose at the railing of the Titanic with your arms outstretched, wind in your hair and that feeling of flying? Rose was fighting against the pressures of a relationship that made her feel dead inside. She was about to trade, liberty and choice for money and esteem, a life that would diminish her in all of the truly important ways. We see it so very clearly on the big screen, cinematic magic sweeps us into a place where for a short time we can imagine being Rose, we understand her restraints and we understand the wild independence she longs for. Alas, the credits roll and we say goodbye to the beautiful fantasies that will live only in our memories because we cannot possibly have everything we want in life and still feel free! Can we?

I think we can. I think it is possible.

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.

~ Stephen Covey

 

When I lost my husband Kirk to the devastating effects of depression and mental illness I knew immediately that to honor him I had to live my best life, a life full of the lasting peace and joy that he so very much desired. The second I knew he was gone I was hit in the face with the reality that it would be me teaching our children how to move forward gracefully, how to embrace life and live big. Every bit of me knew how important it would be to embark on a journey with myself and take the time to fully be with me, void of the labels of wife, spouse or widow. I very much wanted to free myself from the societal fabricated restraints of what it meant to live and heal and grieve.

I learned from Anne Lamont that laughter is carbonated holiness and Glennon Doyle Melton reminded me that there is sacredness in tears and I learned that I can experience both of those things quite intensely without one experience diminishing the other.

Grief has become my teacher.

In the last several months I am working towards who I want to be in the world and sometimes I feel unnerved because parts of me are being stripped away, parts of me that I have held unto with bloody knuckles because it is all I have ever known.

There is a freedom in reclaiming the wild-hearted person you were always meant to be but sometimes you feel unrecognizable to yourself and that can be scary. It can often be mistaken for feeling broken but I truly believe it is healing and becoming.

Grief really makes you take a look at life and consider the impermanence of it all. Life, love, it is all transitional, fleeting.  Like the waves of the ocean (thanks Roberta Shephard) we can drown trying to hold unto all of it, some things are not meant to be bound.

I see my friends in various stages of discontent, holding unto things that cause them hurt or things that take away their freedom, relationships defined by chains, and expectations, magnifying insecurities and creating resentments. We have been doing things all wrong for so long!!

From the time I was a little girl I can recall a saying that I believe my mom taught me,  “When you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was”

I loved that saying forever but I want to change it up just a bit, people do not belong to each other, we are not objects and we belong only to ourselves. If we love someone we should ALWAYS, no matter what the circumstances, want them to feel free. Anything else is not love, it is fear based on attachment and the want for comfort and security. Sometimes our true power lies not in holding on with bloodstained hands but in letting go and finding our own way to create happiness and freedom.

The truth is that death has a lot to teach us about love and living. I feel deep gratitude that I had the opportunity to love a person so deeply, that even in his physical absence he is able to guide, support and encourage me.  I am reminded every single day that true love should feel like pure freedom and the importance of loving and supporting myself so that when the time comes that romantic love comes knocking, I will answer the door because I have love to give, not because I desperately need love.  I think that is a very important distinction in our relationships.

We were not born wild and free only to allow ourselves to be bound by chains. As my talented friend Charlie A ‘Court croons, chains of love, are chains just the same.

Just for a second today, imagine yourself standing at the railing of the Titanic with the ocean breeze in your hair, arms outstretched like you can fly, or imagine yourself on the top of a mountain, lungs on fire but arms in the air, relishing not in just the view from the top but the tenacity it took to climb it, that is freedom. Feel it, love it, and crave it.

You too, were born to be wild.

Make your moments count, make a difference and make sure that you live and love in a way that allows you and others to feel free.

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

~William Glasser

 

 

 

Hungry like the Wolf- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

In 1982 Duran Duran released Hungry like the Wolf from the album Rio. Though they initially failed to successfully crossover to U.S. markets, success was imminent in the U.K. and eventually MTV put the song on rotation earning it a #3 spot on the U.S. Billboards Top 100 in March of 1983 and in 1984 they won a Grammy for best short form music video. I was just 10 years old when Duran Duran won a Grammy and I am assuming I was oblivious to the rampant sexual undertones of the song but the parallels to the Little Red Riding Hood were not lost on me.

I know useless music facts, I have actually forgotten more than I know but I have spent many a late night arguing music trivia with my late husband and I have always been able to relate a song to something that was happening in my life and piece together a timeline. Not everyone who knows me knows how important music has been in my life but I would say most of my people do.

In September 2016 I was at English Bay with Kirk and I got a call from an old friend in Ontario that I had not seen in well over 20 years. She and her husband own an Irish pub in London Ontario, where I called home for a short time during my informative years (party)

It was music trivia night and something was not working properly and my friend was desperate to find out what a video was so that she didn’t disappoint the customers. She described the video to me and feeling a bit overwhelmed and under pressure I guessed that the video was Duran Duran’s Rio. I recall that I was really excited to speak to my old friend but also thrilled that music had made her think of me.

I myself am not musical, I played a tiny bit of guitar when I was in junior high and I played the ukulele as well but I cannot carry a tune in a bucket except for Cyndi Lauper songs and have been known to sing Time after Time on repeat to the point of nausea. However, I love music and it has connected me to the most amazing people and experiences in my lifetime. Those who know me well know that I will often use song lyrics in everyday situations but something that may be less known is that I used healing music extensively after Kirk died; Snatam Kaur’s music got me through some very difficult times. I also listen to many types of music including classical, folk and blues.

I am very open on my blog and you can get a very good idea of who I am from reading what is essentially journal type entries but I am noticing lately that some people seem to be stuck on some sort of idea of who I am that they have created in their head. I think we are all guilty of that to some extent, we glimpse into peoples lives through social media and we are looking through a very small window and then we heap our own ideas and expectations unto a person and we have now decided who they are.

I have often said the truth is expansive and one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my late husband is about judgement. When we offer love and kindness before judgement a whole new world opens up to us. I used to be extremely guilty of putting people in little boxes, labeling them and putting them into neat little piles. I no longer decide who people are, I allow them to show me who they are and the great thing is that when we approach people with kindness before judgment we invite them to be their true selves and we learn that people really can be fabulous and they do not have to be just like us to teach us, to support us and to be in our lives. What a boring place the world would be if we were all exactly the same.

I form deep connections with people, it has always been my thing, I am not immune to physical attraction but for me I really like to know someone’s mind.  I admit I spent a great deal of time wanting everyone to be like me and shunning people that weren’t and I now believe that is an insecurity in us that we will either change to be like others or surround ourselves only by like minded people.

The problem with that is we lose a great deal of ourselves by changing to be like others, we lose the things that make us unique and often we compromise our ideals. We have a great deal to offer the world by  embracing our authentic selves and giving that person to the world everyday, it is really the only way to continue to grow as individuals.

Just last week I told someone that they were into an idea of me, a profile picture and things they had projected unto me because they were qualities that their imagination wanted me to have. It was no better than a fantasy and the problem with that is people are very rarely the people we create in our heads, no matter how great our ingenuity is.

If we take 5 selfies and we post the best one, we may look absolutely stunning but we are more than that one angle. I am a culmination of who I am when I am happy, sad, struggling, creating, living and loving. I am so much more than a perfect selfie. I have friends, family, acquaintances and people I am fond of and curious about. I also have a small group of people that I call “my people”

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

When I was sat smack dab in the middle of black despair after losing my husband I was faced with rumors, judgment and innuendo. At that point I made a decision to continue to be who I am no matter what and if I was someone I was proud of the right people would be in my life and nothing else would matter. That alone has changed my life immensely and allowed me to see and accept myself as well as embrace others, all of the dark and all of the light that makes us fantastically beautiful mosaics.

The problem is, I can post a selfie and basically tell you what to look at, but I cannot tell you what to see. That is entirely up to you.

Some of you will read this and take from it that Michelle knows useless 1980’s music trivia and that is fine. The reason I chose that song title is that I truly believe that we are all hungry to be deeply known, loved and understood. The thing to remember is that people can only know you and love you as deeply as they know and love themselves. A person who does not love and accept themselves entirely cannot possibly love you the way you want them to and sustain that. In turn if we do not love ourselves entirely and continue to invest in ourselves it is almost arrogant to assume that anyone else should invest in us if we have already deemed ourselves unworthy.

If I could ask one thing of you today it would be to love yourself, not in five years, not when you get a promotion or lose twenty pounds or quit drinking, love yourself right now and grow from there. Love your friends, your family and your co-workers, not for who you want them to be, not for who you know they can be but for who they are. Meet them right where they are and see how acceptance and authentic love encourages them to expand and fill their space in the world.

 

Happy Tenacious Tuesday!

 

Just the way you are -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

“Love is not about being the same. Love is about two humans appreciating each other.”

~Waylon Lewis

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My late husband used to take his socks off at night and drift them across the room. It used to drive me crazy as he was always looking for socks and complaining that someone was stealing his socks and then he would buy more socks and the cycle would consistently repeat. I used to try to get him to put his socks in the laundry basket, but my efforts were always fruitless but at this moment I would give just about anything to be sitting on the couch with him while he takes his socks off, rolls them in a ball and drifts them across the room. Looking back, it was never worth a sigh, a raised voice or nagging. My husband has been gone for just over fourteen months and it has become something I recall with a smile. It is something about him that made him who he was and if I could have him back I wouldn’t try to change it.

The most loving thing we can do is love and accept people exactly as they are but as humans we have this insane need to change people. Whether it is our friendships, family or intimate relationships we are attracted to the raw reality of people until it is not convenient for us, until they do not fulfill our expectations and we try to “fix” them and “change” them, hoping they will fit our ego’s best interest.

It is okay to set boundaries in our relationships and we do not have to minimize the impact that other people’s actions have on us but within our boundaries we must be able to love our people from a place of non-judgement and find peace in accepting them just the way they are.

I just realized today that I have been finding this difficult. I have learned some very valuable lessons in my life, some of the toughest in the past year. I have this wisdom that I want others to automatically have and it is hard for me to accept that they have their own journey, their own wisdom, their own struggles. We cannot hand someone a lesson we learned, life just doesn’t work like that and let’s face it we are all just doing the very best we can at any given moment, facing our own shit and working our way through the stuff life throws at us. In the madness and chaos, we all come out different but I think for me I need to check my ego and let go of my inferiority complex that says I am more evolved spiritually and emotionally and therefore capable to decide what is best for someone when our stories are different and even though we are characters in other people’s stories, we cannot rewrite theirs to suit us.

There is nothing like the death of a loved one to the beast of mental illness to have you look back on your entire life and grasp a hold of this immense and immeasurable wisdom and do your best to move forward boldly and fearlessly, never missing an opportunity to fight for what you want, to tell people how you feel about them and to open yourself up to happiness and love even if it means being vulnerable and risking all that is comfortable. I want people to realize how short life is, how this is our opportunity to be happy and live our best life but the best I can do is live my truth and hopefully that inspires others to do the same.

Often, I find myself disappointed in others, sometimes frustrated and desperate when they do not react the way I want them to or make the decisions that I think would be the very best for them. It has caused me a lot of hurt and anguish and the reality is it is not and never should be my job to place expectations on the people I love. Sometimes the very best thing we can do in the moment is the next best thing and that may look very different for me and you. It is never our job to pass judgement on how others manage their lives.

I am learning to love and accept people where they are and to offer understanding and compassion void of expectation and judgements. Our job is to unfailingly live in our truth, to shine our light and fill ourselves up with so much love that we can genuinely give that to others.

When we consistently live in our authenticity we give others permission to do the same. When we accept people as they are we encourage them on their own journeys and to find their own truth. Acceptance is not the absence of healthy boundaries, but we must allow others the space to find their own lights to shine.

Hey “you”, I love you, just the way you are!