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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SO WHAT (I’m Still A Rockstar!) Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I had an uncomfortably amazing experience this weekend at a course called the Gift through Integrity Seminars designed to help me (and others) identify and break down barriers that prevent change and keep me from leading my best life both personally and professionally. I was interested in learning how to establish and support inspiring relationships at home, at work and in my community.  Though I could personally identify areas like ego, vulnerability and trust as some of the limiting dynamics that create obstacles in my relationships,  I actually went in very unaware of some of the automatic boundaries I put in place to discourage new connections.

For those of you who know me, you probably would never describe me as shy or introverted and you might possibly be surprised to learn that I have discovered that I have developed some habits that may say otherwise. I walked into a room of thirty strangers and I felt small and more than a little bit scared. Those old beliefs of “am I enough?” ran through my mind at lightning speed. When I am communicating with my tribe I often feel like a bit of a badass, completely at one with myself and confident in who I am and also wide open to learn from the empowering and resilient people I have called into my life. In a room full of strangers I felt none of that, however, what I recognized immediately in the discomfort is that I was being gifted the amazing opportunity to grow and expand and free myself of the restraints of my outdated belief system.

My late husband Kirk was a huge presence in every life he touched. He was not a large man physically but he took up a great deal of space in the world. He was loud and loved to be the center of attention. His sister made a comment to me a short time after his death that I was funny but she had never noticed, it was attributed to me being around Kirk for several years and he was very funny.  I always knew it was more than that.  I was always funny and I became accustomed to standing stage side and being my husbands support. I shrunk to fit into the spaces that were left over. I was shocked to learn about a year before I lost Kirk to the devastating affects of depression, trauma and anxiety that he always felt alone in a room full of people. The person who myself and many others came to know and love as the “life of the party” struggled immensely in a room full of people, feeling completely alone and even talking about it made him cringe. His need to be loud and seen and heard stemmed from a great deal of fear and anxiety. I allowed myself to adapt to being in the background and after his death it was challenging to step into my own, expand and fill my space in the world.

“Change is inevitable.

Growth is optional.”

`John Maxwell

 

Standing in a room full of thirty strangers I could feel myself shrinking into the space and attempting to become invisible. So many times I have declared my need to be seen and heard and I found myself in the opposite position and though  I didn’t like it, it gave me a tangible place to launch from.

I was enamored with our facilitator Rae-ann, she is sharp as a tack, a powerful influence(r), and has the ability to cut through bullshit in seconds. I always say that the words we use matter so I was captivated by her ability to quickly point out how often myself and my course mates were using words like but and talking in the third person to diminish the impact of our words. She became our anchor in a storm of emotions that if left unattended may have had the ability to sink us. Her sharp intuition and commitment to redirecting us when we faltered encouraged us on a path of progression and expansion.

There were times that I deliberately chose to sit back and listen, I feel that we don’t always learn a lot from talking but we can benefit a great deal from listening to the experiences of others. Listening is progress for me as I spent a great deal of my life listening only with the intent to reply. Listening to learn is a bit of a super power.

I tasked myself this past weekend to notice the areas where I was experiencing discomfort. I was in a state of discovery and better yet rediscovery and that disquiet was an advantage that would quickly lead me to my areas of resistance so that I could make the conscious choice to make space for new possibilities.

“We cannot become what we want to by remaining what we are.”

~Max Depree

I have chosen to recommit to standing in my integrity and to set clear intentions about the types of experiences that I want to create in my life.

The thirty strangers that joined me in that room were and will continue to be an integral part of my healing, ascension and growth. Their inspiring stories, wisdom, fearlessness and energy have given me new purpose.

I have made mistakes. I have not gotten that thing I really wanted. I have pushed when I should have pulled and pulled when I should have pushed. I have sabotaged myself and my happiness on more than one occasion. I have under valued myself. I have chosen comfort over connection. I have limited myself with beliefs I didn’t even know I had.

So What!

I’m still a Rockstar.

In the words of Rae-Ann Wood Shchatz “Now what?”

It is what I do now that matters.

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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!

 

Desperately Seeking…W.I.S.E. Project 2017/Tenacious Tuesday

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I heard an interesting phrase this weekend, “What you are seeking is seeking you!”

It is interesting on so many levels. Saturday night I was seeking low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with strawberries and shredded coconut and a couple of blocks away at Marble Slab Creamery there was a tall, disinterested teenage boy waiting to scoop and mix  yogurt and “fixins” in his sluggish and non-hurried manner. In a way, what I was seeking in that moment was also lazily seeking me.

A better example might be the night that I had just finished Deepak Chopra’s Quantum Healing on Audible and came across an advertisement on Facebook for an Evening with Deepak close by. He was the speaking guest for Edmonton’s Autism Services this year and they were seeking to fill all the seats to raise money for their charity and clearly, I was seeking wisdom and enlightenment. What I was seeking was also seeking me.

Moments like this happen all the time, sometimes they speak very loudly in the form of a 35% off coupon for your favorite online shop while you are late night internet surfing, but often they are subtle and you need to follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

Sometimes we are heartbroken about community or Global issues and struggles and seeking answers to make sense in times of despair and uncertainty. Those same issues are seeking someone like us to be a part of the conversation, to advocate for a group or cause or to play a role in positive change.

We talk a lot about change and how badly it is needed but we fail to see that we are being sought daily. Collectively we can speak up, support, educate, make a lot of noise and help break the unrelenting cycles such as abuse, violence and sexual assault that can lead to the endless pain and stigma surrounding mental health and trauma.

When author and activist Glennon Melton Doyle started the Compassion Collective in response the Syrian Refugee crisis she wrote a simple but touching narrative that merely stated, “There is no such thing as other people’s children. The idea that we can see people in pain, and just look away and not be affected by it, to keep telling ourselves that our silence will not hurt us; is easily one of the biggest lies we will ever tell ourselves.

Friday night I was dropping my daughter off to be with her friends and there were several cop cars and media parked at the Good Shepherd Church next door in our Edmonton community. Forensics was on sight and I knew immediately that something incredibly horrible had happened. I slowed my truck to a crawl and I saw a man carrying a white sheet. I pulled into a parking lot up the road and dug out my cell phone and learned that it was the body of a toddler and that the police were investigating a suspicious death. I was shaken.

Police did not know who the child was and reached out to the public to assist in identifying the child through his clothing. At that point details were very sketchy but this child automatically became the child of the community. There were no such thing as other people’s children, this baby, belonged to all of us as the hours ticked away.

As I lay awake in the still of the night refreshing my internet browser and trying to make sense of a poorly detailed story, my heart ached for the unnamed baby.

An excerpt from my Facebook post on the weekend summed up my feelings well.

“Even in those quiet moments in the middle of the night when the neighborhood is still I couldn’t shake off the extreme heaviness that had fallen across me and wrapped around me like a blanket. I do not know the beautiful soul that met such a terrible fate, I do not know his family or their circumstances, but somehow, he is not just a child of the world, he is every child. He is my child!”

That heaviness continued throughout the weekend as arrests were made in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Rain; and accounts of his horrific last days and the abuse he suffered that ultimately led to his death were revealed. The Edmonton Police said the young boy lived a terrible life of violence. His father and his father’s girlfriend have been charged with second degree murder, failing to provide the necessities of life, criminal negligence causing death and the father has also been charged with assault causing bodily harm. Social media played a large role in the arrest of the accused but whether Anthony will get justice remains to be seen.

On Saturday morning, I had felt unusually connected to this case, I felt like there was a reason that I was there at the exact moment that the lifeless body of young Anthony was being removed. At that point, he remained unnamed and I felt that I was needed in some way. A lot of community members felt that same need, that something drew them to the church yard to be there for the nameless child they felt an un-explainable obligation to. This baby that laid in the cold since early Tuesday, before being discovered by a passerby on Friday. He was strangely unaccounted for and not reported missing during that time.

Sadness, disbelief and heartbreak will surround this case for a while and then sadly as new events emerge that require our attention the memory of little Anthony will begin to fade from our incessant thought.

Unfortunately, there will be other tragedies, other lives lost, other grieving families struggling to find answers while members of the community mourn the losses of people they never met. The perpetual wheel of misfortune will continue to spin.

The last couple of days when I was glued to the computer seeking answers to the myriad of questions that arose surrounding the tragic death of little Anthony Rain, I thought what if this is one of those times that what I am seeking is also seeking me?

I visited his memorial at the church twice, left flowers, placed a teddy bear, said prayers, shared social media posts, but what if I was called upon to do something more? Certainly little Anthony deserves more than a snowy memorial of toys and flowers and Facebook condolences. His life mattered, yet somehow he was failed. What would it take to write myself into this story, and to help affect change so that another young mother doesn’t receive that dreaded knock on her door in the dark of night?

I don’t have any answers; but every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story of Anthony’s life ended in unimaginable tragedy but maybe the story of how his young life impacted others and influenced change is just at the beginning and maybe my community that adopted him as their own, can help tell it.

I wrote a letter to Mayor Don Iveson this morning and I am hoping that the anger and sadness that we are all feeling can in some way be redirected to help create change in our communities.

Are you actively passionate about a cause at the moment?

Do you feel drawn towards a global or community issues that break your heart?

How do you write yourself into the stories that are close to your heart and help affect positive change?

 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. SeussThe Lorax

 

Voices Carry-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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“Over the moon” by Rob Gonsalves http://www.huckleberryfinart.ca

Whatever funk I was in yesterday has seemed to have subsided. An angry mood erupted in the wee hours of Monday and hung over me like a storm cloud all day long. Today I am back to a better version of myself; a hurricane of joy, kicking Tuesday’s ass like a champ!

I am involved in this project called #100virtues4100days. The virtue that chose me was self discipline. I recall having a slight moment of disappointment. I am not certain what, if any virtue I was hoping for but self discipline chose me and I committed to sitting with this virtue for 100 days.

It is officially day number two and I have to say that it is surprising the way that this virtue is speaking to me.

I shared a quote the other day by Aristotle that says ‘What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”

I know I am going to rely very heavily on this quote throughout my journey with self discipline. Last year during year one of my W.I.S.E. project I was studying relationships in an effort to improve my most important connections  and one thing that kept emerging for me is that “every action, does not require a reaction” Trust me when I say this little mantra has served me well, especially in my marriage. It does require a great deal of self discipline to be able to take that pause and not overreact to situations. There also has to be a choice as to when action is necessary. There are times where it is OK to be silent and there are others that we absolutely should speak up.

In today’s society putting the virtue of self discipline to task, connecting with it and calling upon it when needed is significant. I am learning valuable lessons and I am seeing now more than ever how my actions or in-action can and will directly influence my children and their choices now and in the future.

The anger I felt yesterday was justified, anger often is. If nobody ever got angry would we ever create positive change? If nobody ever stood up against injustice and pushed and persisted where would we be?  Acknowledging our anger can be productive, we just have to learn to use our anger properly and decide when and if action needs to be taken.

Do not sit with anger, do not put your anger unto others, and do not let anger consume you. Let anger call on you to act appropriately in every situation and move forward.

This morning I contacted my daughter’s school in regards to an incident yesterday where a teacher told her at the Talent Show auditions that they had to have their outfits approved to make sure that they were not “slutty” My daughter is 12 and I take particular offense to the use of the word slutty in reference to any child, especially when it is used to shame. Apparently the school had a problem last year with some inappropriate outfits and I one hundred percent support the school in encouraging all students (not just the girls) to dress suitably. I do not support the reference to “slutty” which in the dictionary reads a woman prostitute; an untidy dirty woman. While the teachers are so concerned with appropriate dress they should also re-think appropriate language.

Mostly I allow my daughter’s to deal with their own issues. I am not a helicopter parent and though I know that I have a huge influence over them, my biggest influence will always be in my actions. They will learn from those. Self discipline is a great teacher in knowing when to take the pause and how to react after taking a pause.

Knowing when to stay, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to have your say…so much to ponder.

I was out with my husband this weekend and I said to him, while jiggling excitably,

“God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shake ’em!”

That is a quote from Dirty Dancing, circa 1987 by Penny. My husband had no idea what I was talking about but rest assured I have a movie quote that fits into every conversation, but in this case, we were each given a brain, hands and a voice. I think we have a responsibility to use them for good.

Besides the self discipline virtue that I am sitting with for the next 98 days I have a couple of W.I.S.E. principles that will help guide my choices this month and feel free to follow along or adopt your own.

Wealth– Wealth is usually measured as having an abundance of valuable possessions but I think to achieve wealth your abundance comes from being grateful and being true to yourself. When you are grateful for what you have you will want for less and therefore you are inviting abundance in. A life abundant in joy and graciousness is a wealthy life.

Idealism-The belief that things can be better and that real change is possible when people care a whole lot!

Sanguine– Approaching situations cheerfully and optimistically. Instead of thinking “what could go wrong?” focus on what could go right.

Endeavor– The realization of achievements through hard work.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.