Lost Together -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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They say butterflies don’t know they are beautiful because they cannot see their wings and that often people are the same, that others see in them things they cannot see. If you are beautiful on the inside that will always show on the outside, to the people that matter anyway. I dedicate this post to my old friend Tanya who is in the throes of one of life’s most difficult journey’s. At the moment she is in a protective cocoon but man when she emerges, I foresee beautiful things for her.

 

A song on the radio snapped me to attention the other day, I had one of those moments as the song opened to the familiar crooning of the talented Mr. Jim Cuddy, “strange and beautiful are the stars tonight…” from Blue Rodeo’s Lost Together; that you never forget.

I was flooded with intense emotion as I imagined Kirk walking across the garage to give me his hand and when I took it he would pull me into his arms to dance. It never much mattered whether it was just the two of us or twenty people were in the garage, there are certain songs that no matter what the circumstance was, we would dance. The moment left me a bit shook, one moment I was laughing and feeling as light as air and the next second there were hot tears springing from my eyes but before the tears reached the middle of my cheek a box of screws fell, seemingly from midair, sailed across the counter and landed in front of me. My friend chuckled and said “He is here”

They say we are lost till we are found, (whoever they are anyway), and in the span of a moment in time, I was both lost and found again. There are constant reminders for me that death has not ended the love I share with Kirk, and reminders that feel like permission and encouragement to find my wings, to take that breath, and like the phoenix; rise.

Dimes have been literally appearing out of nowhere at a rate that seems almost uncanny. My daughter was making a sandwich tonight and one fell out of midair and landed at her feet.

Whether you are religious or not the serenity prayer which says, “Lord grant me the strength to change the things I can, the courage to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.” is a critical reminder that accepting that which we cannot change, is the only way to move forward.

There are times in our lives that we will all feel a little lost and I think it is essential to know that sometimes we all are. Nobody has it all figured out, nobody is untouched by struggle and nobody is up all the time.

I had a couple situations in the last several weeks where I allowed people to get the better of me, making me question myself and my worthiness and whether I was enough. I found myself in the anguish of wondering how people see me and why someone would treat me as if I was less than them. Those are sad moments indeed when we find ourselves standing on the outside of a situation, hustling for our worthiness when we know damn well that nobody has the power to determine our worth. A person eager to stand in judgment of another already questions their own worthiness so we should never give them control of ours.

We need to stop spending so much time giving a fuck what people think of us. Every single person that we meet will have a different view of us and they can only see us and know us and love us to the level that they also see and know and love themselves. The magic happens when we love ourselves so much that other people’s opinions do not hold power over us. In times of fear, shame, and inadequacy we need to select our thoughts the way we select our clothes in the morning. Don’t pick the self-depreciating, judgemental thoughts and follow them down into the perpetual abyss.

We are all born whole and worthy. We are born enough.

Let people evaluate and undervalue you, let them speak untruths about you, their opinions are not your problem. You be you. Be kind, bound to love and committed to your beautiful authenticity. Speak out, speak up, be vulnerable, but never live in fear of shining too bright or doubting your worthiness.

I read a quote today that went something like this

 “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

 Life is a journey, not a destination. Your journey is your journey and your struggles and challenges have the power to bring out your true potential if you allow and if you have the guts to say firmly to anyone who dares tell you how to travel your path,

“This is my journey. I’ll do it my way”

We will all find ourselves at that intersection in life where everything is literally falling apart around us, but, if we pay close attention we can see that at the same time things are coming together, life is funny like that.

We need to stop subscribing to the idea that we will be enough when we lose ten pounds, get a promotion, get a partner and get our proverbial shit together.

WE ARE ENOUGH NOW.

Sometimes I find myself spiraling in fear and feeling all alone and I am always reminded of a story my mom told me about one time after my dad passed away she was in town paying bills and decided to have dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant. She said there was a little girl with her mother at the next table and the little girl pointed at her and asked her mother why the lady was all alone. I remember how terrible that story made me feel but how badass I thought my mom was because goddammit she just wanted some Chinese food and she was worth it. She didn’t need anyone to accompany her to make her worthy of eating a meal.

People spend years in relationships that make them miserable and lonely but somehow we have been led to believe that on our own we are just not enough. We spend way to much time looking to others to validate us and make us feel worthy.

I have been thinking about this a lot and this weekend I took myself to the theatre. I had an extra ticket and my plans changed a couple of times and I decided that I needed to go by myself. I felt like it was something that I wanted to do. I strolled down the street in these amazing high heels and a fabulous wine-colored dress that matched my knockout lipstick and I felt every bit as badass as I thought my mom was for eating her Chinese food and enjoying her own company. I even had the audacity to throw my arms up in the air and feel the sunshine on my face and love myself, my tenacity and my vibrant city.

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I sat in the Cabaret section of the theatre which was swarming with couples and there wasn’t a second that I felt alone or like I didn’t belong. The show was fabulous, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I strolled out of the theatre and down the sidewalk of my incredible city in my sexy stiletto heels feeling phenomenal. I stopped at the Art Gallery and as I was sitting on the steps I took a couple selfies which I thought captured exactly how I was feeling in that moment and thought how we are all just magical, unique works of art, no two of us exactly the same and yet so remarkable in our differences.

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I awoke to Mothers day and probably one of the hardest days I have faced since my husband has been gone. I felt none of the previous nights fierce independence and in it’s place I felt immense sadness and I felt alone and afraid. The woman that strolled down the street with her head high the night before was buried in blackness. Those feelings plagued my thoughts and attacked all of my insecurities and I felt myself following those down the dark rabbit hole.

Grief is a strange and ferocious beast.

I didn’t want to feel any of it and the intensity frightened me and left me exhausted. I curled up in a ball and wanted desperately to surrender to all of it and just lay there and let the hours of Mother’s Day tick tick away.

I kept hearing this nagging voice, louder than the other ones that mocked me and told me shitty stuff. It sounded like Kirk’s and it kept saying “Get up, you are a warrior.”

I am happy to say I did get up. I shook it off. I cried and then I cooked a big dinner and ate too many whipped potatoes and too much bread.

This morning when I picked out my clothes for the day I was also careful to pick out my thoughts and they all said, “Hey badass, you are a warrior, you got this, go kick the ass off this day.”

 

Something more than free -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ from Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XXX. Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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The last several weeks I felt myself falling into blackness. Grief is an unpredictable bastard and this time it surprised me by attacking me slowly and manifesting physically in my bones. I have always said that I hate what it takes from me, my comfort, my sense of certainty, my joy; but I have never considered what it gives to me. Grief is a clearing out, a creation of space, a planting of seeds, a guide, and an assurance of something new. It is the fear that grief evokes in me that knocks me off balance and threatens the delicate stability of my life, if at this point there is even such a thing. It is the resistance that promotes my suffering and robs me of the pleasures of my life. It’s like wasting all of your energy pulling and pulling on a locked door only to find out that it was not your door, and your door opens with ease.

As unsettling as grief can be it is an opportunity for healing and growth. Just as my memories of Kirk will never leave me, he will never return to me physically. I feel like I have accepted that and deep in my heart I believe I have accepted all the reasons why he had to go. A death by suicide adds another layer of tragedy over death that I am not sure if I can properly explain, but as difficult as it has been to accept and begin to heal his passing, it is all that he lost to his illness while he was here that haunts me if I allow. I know for certain there is nothing to gain but heartache from that and it takes an effort not to dwell in that dismal place.

I know that grief is a visitor and though the time between visits is always unpredictable it is my reluctance to open the door and let it in that wreaks havoc in my life. It doesn’t go anywhere until it teaches me what it came for and if I barricade the door it will lie in wait while impatience and fear build in me like a fire that has just been doused by gasoline.

Rumi likened being human to a guesthouse, and joy, meanness and depression as unexpected visitors. Rumi urges us to welcome them in and to be grateful for whatever comes as it is a guide from beyond.

The past three weeks I have been wrought with physical pain, sporadic sleep, and general heaviness in my heart and soul. It always takes me a bit to realize that my hesitancy to accept and deal with the grief when it comes knocking creates a whole other set of problems. I retreat from my life, I barely sleep or meditate, I don’t eat well, and I am unable to focus on anything or express gratitude. I lose so much of myself in fear that I am barely living. My connections with people suffer and I don’t notice the beauty of the sunrise or the wonder of the moon. I don’t hold open doors, smile at strangers or extend random kindnesses. In trying to protect myself I actually lose myself.

At a meditation the other day, our guide Mandy talked a bit about grief and how it seems to come in waves, she said the best we can do is dip our toes in the water and enjoy our ass in the sand when all is calm and brace for the fierce waves as they come but allow them to bring wisdom, grace and healing and wash away any old resentments, pain and fear that no longer serves us. It requires a great deal of trust to believe that when the aggressive waves hit that they will not leave us as they found us, in fact if we let go of the fear and the need to hold unto what is familiar the waves will take away the rubble and leave us with love, joy and compassion.

Fear keeps us small, fear hold us back, fear dims our light. Living in fear is not living. The minute I am willing to admit that fear is guiding me, I can readjust my perspective and I feel an immediate emotional release. Last week this came in the form of tears wildly flying out of my eyes at the most inopportune times but also the heaviness that had wrapped itself around my heart and settled in my bones began to subside.

I opened the door, I welcomed the discomfort, I cried, and I found the amazing grace that grief leaves behind as it backs out the door, at least for now.

I went to an Indigenous Sweat Lodge recently and immediately afterwards I felt like I had been released from thousands of year’s worth of chains. It is such a powerful feeling that you want to hold unto it as long as possible but eventually plaques of doubt rip into our lives and we allow ourselves to get tangled up in the chains that keep us from experiencing the true autonomy of life. At the Sweat Lodge ceremony you are told not to wipe away your tears, tears are sacred and cleansing. It is our need to suppress, to be strong, to hold back our honest emotions that can quickly deplete us.

There are very few certainties in life except that we all experience birth and we all experience death, but we are very much responsible for the “in between”, the living moments. We inevitably all face our share of challenges and struggles but we are also bestowed with many gifts. Sometimes we find our gifts as we emerge from the dark of night into the dawn of a new day; a beginning.

I was watching Songs and Stories with Jann Arden last night and she said “If you are not thinking of dying you are not thinking of living” It is a subject we avoid out of fear but it is going to happen for all of us, the very best we can do is to learn to live, not prepare to die. Jann is one of my favorite people and celebrities, she is not immune to struggle and is very honest about the things she has faced and how they have shaped her into the person she is today. She has been living with her mothers Alzheimer’s which she refers to as the long goodbye. The mom who raised her is gone and she is not coming back and Jann speaks of learning to be OK with that and learning to communicate and love her mother as she is and where she is. It required a huge amount of letting go and trusting that that was the right thing for right now and it has made all the difference for Jann and her mother as they navigate a terrible illness that robs you of yourself. Her words resonate with me because I too felt like with Kirk there was a long goodbye. As sudden and tragic as his death was for most, his illness had been stealing him away from us for years, robbing him of all his comfort and familiarity. I too had to learn to love him as he was and where he was and when I was able to achieve that there was a freedom for both of us in the love we shared. It was boundless.

Recently I was told the story of Kris Gautumi whose son fell ill and died at just one year of age. Kris was unimaginably distraught and refusing to accept her son’s death she carried him around, wrapped in a blanket begging neighbors and friends to help her find a way to bring her son back to life. Weeping and filled with dreadful pain, she was saddened to find that nobody was able to help her but she refused to give up. A Buddhist advised her to go see Buddha himself. She carried her dead child to Buddha and he listened to her with grace and compassion. He told Kris that there was only one way to solve the problem and sent her back to the village to obtain a few mustard seeds from any family that had never been touched by death. Filled with a renewed sense of hope Kris set off to the village but after a weary day and not finding a single home that had not been touched by death she discovered the Buddhas message, suffering is a part of life, and death comes to us all.

Only when we truly accept the inevitability of death can we truly begin to live.

As much as we all suffer and share in our challenges and our struggles, we all have the same capacity for joy and love if we allow. For me it requires the courage to focus way beyond my comfort zone and breath and trust that the universe always has my back.

Moments of darkness are imminent, essential, if we let go and trust the process we can rest in assurance that there is always light on the way. So whatever you are facing don’t brace for struggle, if you are feeling like you are being pulled down do not fight it, your joy will come in the rhythm of the dance between the darkness and the light, and if you are willing to let go you will not be dragged down or held down, you will in fact rise.

We are all given the same invitation amid struggle, the invitation to lay aside our doubts and fears and put our trust in something larger than us, even if we do not quite understand it. It is our ego that believes that we need to know everything and that we need to dissect every fine detail of our lives. There will always be a bit of a battle between our hearts and our minds but I have found that it is my mind that summons fear and judgement and my heart that summons freedom and love.

As crazy as it may sound to some of you I have always felt that my soul has lived for thousands of years. Since I was a child I have had fleeting memories that belong to me but are not mine and I believe that on my current soul journey I am here to learn about unconditional love. A wise woman recently had mentioned to me how as our soul is preparing for a new journey, we drink from the river of forgetfulness and we choose what we want to learn on earth. We are void of fear or ego at that point and I think of Helen Keller choosing to learn about kindness and love and then being handed the challenges of deafness and blindness. In all her fierce badassery she did not throw in the towel.

I believe I am here to learn about unconditional love, be it the love that a person has for themselves that makes it entirely possible for them to love in a way that feels like freedom and to put that abundant love and lightness back into the world. I have been challenged by death, loss, heartbreak and fear but I am really just beginning to learn to dance.

“You are being asked to dance rather than understand, to lay the thoughts to rest and come alive. It is the bravest, most trusting soul that dares put the mind to one side and say “Tonight we dance, my heart and I, in the great rousing music of the beloved’s beating heart- and I will not miss one step” And to awaken the next day and do it all over again-and again, and again.

~ Alana Fairchild

 

XXX.

Michelle

Remorse Code -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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Many people get to the end of their lives with crippling regret. Whether it is unfulfilled dreams, things left unsaid, unresolved issues with loved ones or the scars of deep resentment that they held like a knife against their own side for so many years that it kept them from living the best life possible, regret is a weighty affliction.

My husband had a lot of regret; he took it to his grave. I never quite understood that for him it was a part of the horrible mental illness that robbed him of the life he deserved. We had many discussions about regret over the years and when he left this world tragically I knew I had a choice to live in fear and regret or live in love and gratitude. One decision would keep me firmly rooted in the blackness of deep despair and the other would allow my children and I to see our lives in a different way, and take all of the opportunities we could to live the very best life.

The truth is I do not have a lot of regrets. I have talked a lot about the struggles Kirk and I faced early on in our relationship and the truth is I could spend a whole lot of time wishing that we could go back and change that but the lessons that we learned is wisdom that can never be taken away from me, and those lessons led us to a place of being able to love each other from our whole hearts, not for what we expected the other to be or what we expected in return for our love investment…but just simply to love each other unconditionally, without regret. I can only speak for myself in this scenario, I can only say that I achieved that; and knowing that it is possible opens up a whole new world void of age old fears about love, loss and worthiness.

People ask me all the time how this is possible and I have given it a great deal of thought.

I ran into my neighbor today and she said “Are you OK?” I replied yes. She looked at me sadly for a moment and than said “Are you?”

She wanted to take my pain and it is a common thing. People are loving and inherently good and we instinctually want to free others from any sort of pain but the truth is it’s my pain, my lessons, my receipt of love and loss. There are days I feel the pain in every limb, it swims in my blood, and it can consume me if I were to allow it but I do my very best not to.

“The finest souls are those who have gulped pain and avoided making others taste it.”

~ Nizariat

A life well lived will never be void of pain or loss. The thing about life is nobody gets out alive, so while we can and should empathize with others, we should not saddle ourselves with the heaviness of another person’s pain and we should only carry ours until we have learned the lesson. Let it soften, let it dissolve. We never “get over” the immense loss of a person we love but for me the absolute gratitude for all I gained from my life with Kirk will always outweigh the pain. I wouldn’t take back one second of laughter and love, to avoid one moment of despair.

I am learning a lot from my children about how I want to live my life. I know that I have not fully emerged from my cocoon but I will when I am ready. I will be forever changed by the loss of my husband to suicide but I will never be diminished by it.

I had an aha moment of sorts the other day when I heard my oldest daughter say “I don’t want to have any regrets.”

She knows exactly what she wants and exactly what she wants to achieve but she often forgets that in the equation of life she needs to always come first. Loving yourself, caring for yourself, investing in your own worth is always the most important thing. After you achieve that, everything else is relative. How can you truly say you love another with your whole heart if you haven’t learned to love yourself? How can you expect another to invest huge amounts of love into you if you yourself have deemed yourself unworthy of the investment?

We have all lived with the heavy burden of regret. It weighs us down. Decisions cannot be unmade but the truth is even a bad decision is just a lesson. Most successful people will tell you that they learned more from a bad decision or from a mistake than from the times when everything went just right.

So how do we live a life without regret? Is it possible?

“When we live each day with kindness, compassion, and communicative love, there is no business left unfinished. There are no regrets or words we should have said, but didn’t. There is no need for closure or forgiveness or apology of any kind.”
Tyler Henry, Between Two Worlds: Lessons From the Other Side    

I have broken down a couple of things I have learned in the past several months and I hope that they are helpful. As always, I welcome responses, my blog is based on my experiences and opinions, and I am always open to what has worked for others. While we should not heap our pain unto others we can help by sharing our experiences, it often lets others know that they are not alone in what they are experiencing. We are in a weird and scary time currently and never have we been so divided but I would like to believe at our very core, the majority of us share the same values and truly just want to be happy.

Don’t be afraid of love

Love big!

Love yourself and love others. Be loving and kind in your words and actions. Give love to others without the expectation of getting love in return. How someone loves you is not a reflection of you, how you love is a reflection of you. Every one is on their own journey, if you love them, love them where they are, not where you want them to be. At the end of our lives we will never wish that we loved anyone less.

Pursue what sets your soul on fire

It is never too late to pursue the things that set your soul on fire. Never allow age to be a road block to the things that you desire. With age comes wisdom and wisdom should not make you sit quietly in a corner and watch the seconds tick by.

 

Give your heart a voice

Our thinking minds allow us to only make safe decisions. Don’t be afraid to take chances and let your heart have a voice. Those who never risk pain or heartbreak also never experience the freedom of true love. Fear is a terrible motivator. Sometimes the very best things in life live on the other side of fear.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, when we hold grudges or hold unto the pain of disappointment or bitter resentment we are punishing ourselves and that is never the intent.

 

Embrace Mistakes

Mistakes make great stories and great stepping stones. Take the lesson and move forward without allowing the fear of mistakes to hold you back from trying.

Always be true to you

When you are your true, authentic self you will not be right for everyone and that is ok. In time the right people will be in your life and one true friend is better than ten fake ones. Being uniquely and unapologetically you allows others to do the same. Your connections with the right people will be better and stronger because of it and best of all you will like yourself.

Gratitude

If you are thankful for what you have it will always seem like more. You can focus on what you don’t have or what you do have, you get much different results with one simple decision. Gratitude breeds abundance. If we live a life thinking about we don’t have we live in a constant state of “have not” which can be exceptionally draining.

Mean what you say, say what you mean

One of my favorite books of all time is the tortured unrequited Love story of Heathcliff and Cathy in Wuthering heights. If only Cathy had told Heathcliff what she had told Nellie how different their lives would have been! We should never allow fear to hold us back from saying what should be spoken; in the end we will regret the things left unsaid.

Advocate for yourself

Nobody is going to hand you all the things you want and deserve. If you want something, fight for it.

Laughter

It turns out that some of the best things in life are free. Laughter is one of the very best things. Life doesn’t have to be all serious, all the time. Laugh well, laugh often.

 

What are you doing to live a life without regret?

All Shook Up-Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

I have been having a hard time focusing on a single thought to play off of for this week’s blog.

Honestly there are so many ideas and events swirling around in my brain right now, who could pick just one?

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I have been spending a great deal of time on Twitter lately and as punishment for that I have to go back to my Chiropractor today to get them to work on my trick neck. I tell myself I like the news and the debate but I often question how much of my ego gets involved in these Twitter discussions. I try to keep things as civil as I possibly can, but I find more and more that people are ruining people for me. The unintelligent, insincere individuals who are seriously lacking empathy are always the loudest and that is a difficult thing to walk away from.

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For two days Twitter has been obsessed with “who bit Beyoncé?” while I have been arguing to the point that my head almost explodes with someone who lacks every single quality that is important when having an in depth debate. I truly have this belief that sometimes we need to listen more, this pertains to me as much as anyone else, I believe that everyone, even those with differing opinions have something to offer us if we are willing to put our ego on a shelf and attend to the conversation without the ultimate goal of being right. The world would be very tiresome if we only spoke with like minded people. Listening is a super power and if we learn to do it correctly we can open our hearts and expand our minds in ways in unimaginable ways.

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That being said, I got involved in a conversation that actually started when a friend shared an article about how the Parkland shooting survivors called out the media for their response to their fight for gun restrictions and noting that though the mainstream media has devoted a vast amount of time to their cause, similar student led anti-gun violence movements in black communities have been largely ignored. David Hogg, one of the Parkland survivors noted a great deal of racial disparity in the way the shooting and the events after have been covered. Not surprisingly, a white male from Western Alberta jumped into the conversation in an all-knowing, my word is fact sort of way and shook me. Until that point I had only watched the conversation from a distance but at the point that he tweeted that the shooting death of 17 year Trayvon Martin was justice for his community because he was a “punk kid” something inside me snapped. However, I calmly asked questions, I am genuinely interested in knowing how people’s brains work so I can understand the world we live in better and try to reconcile how we ended up in this place of heightened Us vs. Them mentality and the quickly diminishing sense of shared humanity. I fully admit that my ego gets involved often but I do genuinely want to learn and I like healthy engagement. What I cannot stand is people presenting their opinions and calling them fact. There is a huge difference between opinion and fact.

Opinion:

A view that somebody takes about an issue, especially when it is based solely on personal judgement.

Fact:

Something that can be proven to be true, to exist or have happened.

Most of us hold our beliefs to be true, we are fairly firm in our beliefs, that does not  make them fact and that variance is often the difference between calm, cool and collected Michelle and the other Michelle, ‘Oh hey meet crazy bitch!”

I have a lot of words to describe the person that I debated with on Twitter, it would be wrong and careless of me to use his real name and the other names that quickly come to mind are just way beneath my level of maturity, or at least I will pretend they are for this blog post. I am going to call him Gary, because I met a sleazy car salesman once that reminded me of this guy. I apologize in advance to anyone named Gary.

So, for the next day Gary continued to try to educate myself and others using what he called facts, which were actually just really horrible opinions to justify the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. His dialogue was not clever, it was void of empathy and his logic was completely non existent. He continued to tag me in his muddled, haphazard ramblings and I continued to respond. At a certain point I lost my cool and called him a fucking buffoon. (I stand by that statement) and I also used his love of Nickelback as a weapon against him.

So, I guess the point is I didn’t accomplish anything with Gary. I am not better from having had this conversation; in fact it consumed some of my energy and left me with an aching neck and a general feeling of disillusionment.

That being said, there were other people involved in this conversation that gave me hope; some intelligent, eloquent, funny, even angry people. I often imagine being at a party with these people and wonder who I could have the most fascinating conversation with. I appreciate people are passionate and not afraid to be heard. Though I would like to find a favorable balance on the internet I am not about to allow people like Gary to suck up all my energy. Nor am I going to get small and quiet.

I have a huge issue with people putting shitty information out into the world and calling it fact. It happens way too often and I think we have all been guilty of seeing something on the internet and sharing it because we “Assume” it is true. We talk all day about fake news while sharing fake news. I think it is wrong and I think it takes away significantly from things that should be newsworthy. We are all responsible to change that.

I am willing to accept that we will not always agree and I am willing to accept that our experiences are different and even though we could be involved in the same exact same incident our perception of that incident will likely differ.

What I will continue to be vocal about is injustice, truth and perspective and I will continue to support people that are passionate about causes and tirelessly fight and shine their lights every single day. These people are the lighthouses that we need in this often dark world. When the world gets to me and my own light is dim and my spirits are dampened it is these beacon of lights that keep me from crashing against the rocks and getting swallowed by the vicious waves.

If I can ask one thing of you today it is to be vigilant in what you post and share. If you are sharing information designed to create and heighten fear or discredit people fighting for change you are part of a huge problem. If you believe strongly about something there are a thousand ways for you to get involved, that doesn’t have to include hating on the people going out and fighting for the causes they believe in.

If you cannot do that one thing just do nothing. If you cannot help, do not harm.

 

Love Story- Wise Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

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

Image Credit Pave it Forward-Tumblr

the love

we were promised in fairy tales

was never something

for us to find

it has always

been something

for us to create

~ Tyler Kent White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His tale is a tragic one.

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

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

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

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

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

I have loved.

I have lost.

I am love and I will always return to love.

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

~ Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

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

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

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

Love is something you share

Because you have it, not

Something you give desperately

because you need it.

~ Humble the Poet

Bloom -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

My photos from Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton Alberta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is how the Wise project was born.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A reminder to breath in the air.

A reminder to take a pause, practice the pause.

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

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

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

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

I am in bloom.

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

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

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

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