Hell in a Handbasket-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

wpid-workout-benefit-for-brain-health

My W.I.S.E. principles for the month of April are Wisdom, Integrity, Sincerity and Education. I am using and passing along my wisdom at every single opportunity that I can, especially in conversations with my girls. I am not book smart but I definitely have a lot of life experience to share and I know that even though it might not always seem like it at the time my children do listen and when I see the results of that it makes me truly joyful.

I have always tried to live my life with integrity and be sincere in all that I do. I haven’t always been completely successful because sometimes being a bitch wins. The other day a bloated and balding man in a Lexus cut me off as I was merging into the left lane. He did it intentionally, possibly to make up for some phallic shortcoming, and because I am a person of strong moral character I did not ram the bumper of my truck up his ass end for the remainder of our drive together in that lane and even though my finger twitched like mad I did not lift it in a tasteless gesture insisting he speedily copulate himself. Instead I smiled and sincerely wished him well. I wished that he would either learn how to drive or to stay home everyday. My well wishes for him made me happy.

I had a discussion with my girls about education the other day I was telling them to never give up on learning. Few things are more engaging and powerful then exercising your brain. I think we should always pursue new opportunities to learn and stimulate our minds. I have been taking some mini courses on the Psychology of Happiness and Living a Good Life. Happiness seems to factor into everything I do lately. Everything I am interested in, every challenge I face seems to be coincide with being grateful and living a good life.

It is a challenge. I have a million things I want to do and accomplish each day and only so many hours. I like to assign some of those hours to sleeping and after I have appointed equal time to my children, my husband, my pets and my housework there is very little time left over. I am grateful I have these types of demands though. I am blessed, and in knowing this and being thankful for this my life is better. I am not happy every second of everyday and often I don’t feel as happy as I would like, but I always know that making a conscious effort to be happy and being grateful for my life makes a huge difference in my well-being!

I really do not dip into the pool of politics too often. The water is greasy and it makes me break out. We have enough of our problems here in beautiful Alberta, not to mention the rest of Canada but this morning I was alarmed to hear the New York Primary outcome.

The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch and a victory is in sight for presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

On the April 16, 2016, Julia-Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld, New Adventures of Old Christine and currently The Veep fame, joined the cast of SNL and blamed her HBO show Veep for informing the notion of a “presidential candidate being a cursing narcissistic buffoon.”

Even as a Canadian I am worried about how a Trump presidency will affect me. Trump claims to love Canada and says that he has no plans to build a wall across our border with the U.S. but many questions still arise about how a win for Trump could affect relations between the two countries.

Though Donald the businessman supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and the oil industry in general he has made no secret of the fact that he thinks that the North American Free Trade Agreement is a disaster and may impose barriers that would make it difficult for Canadian goods and services to cross the border. Trump may fear that Canada’s recent intake of Syrian Refugees may somehow be threat to the U.S. and therefore may deepen border security.

I am sad for all of the politicians that spent their lives hoping for a run at the presidency and it turns out that a man with the deepest pockets and no solid political background could take up residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It makes a mockery of then entire system.

Besides the fact that I do not like Trump as a person or like what he stands for what scares me the most is his ‘Shoot first, ask questions later’ approach.

The biggest threat to Canada may be Trump’s unpredictability and how his policies and impending threats to confront China over trade may have a devastating affect on the economy and our dollar.

U.S. friends and neighbors, I am asking you sincerely to a) Go out and vote in November and b) carefully consider your vote and what it will mean for your country. You matter, your families matter, your vote absolutely matters.

For my fellow Canadians, let us be grateful, and keep our fingers crossed!

Be W.I.S.E. friends!

The Sound of Silence-W.I.S.E Project 2016

enjoy_the_silence.jpg

We are almost at the end of March and it hasn’t all been perfect but I have embraced every bit of it and to be honest most of it was damn good. I hope yours was too.

Through the W.I.S.E. Project I am continuing to learn a great deal about myself. I worked on my well-being this month,  not just physically but mentally. I have been learning to recognize the things that make me feel “well” and happy. I gratefully embrace the moments that I feel pure joy.  I have learned to focus more on the here and now, being mindful and grateful for the blessings I have in my life right now. I am still learning to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the present moment without out stressing  about the past or the future. It is a task that needs daily of practice but it really does put things into perspective.

I have continued Floating or “therapy” as I like to call it. Each time I float I try to go in with an open mind, hoping to achieve an inner peace that I know is possible when your mind, body and soul are in sync. I recommend Floating to anyone who is interested in mindfulness and wants to free their mind and enjoy the pure bliss of feeling whole. It really is a challenge to shut down the thousands of browser tabs your mind keeps open and buffering at any given time and welcome the freedom of just being, instead of doing, but it is really worth it.

I am striving to learn more ways to practice being content in the moment without constantly having to do. I still struggle to enjoy quiet moments without feeling like I have to be “doing” The bigger challenge is to spend more quiet time, without the distraction of TV and electronics to fill in the blanks. It is hard to sit still or even read a book without playing with my phone every two minutes. (A work in progress)

I know that with work and a busy family that it will be up to me to commit to creating quiet moments for myself and continue to make my well-being a priority.

As I mentioned at the end of February sometimes things look differently at the end of them month then you had planned and that is OK. To be happy and mindful we have to learn to eliminate the unreal expectations that we often have. People who are able to live free of expectations are happier because they are not constantly disappointed when situations don’t turn up the way they presumed they would.

This month my husband came home after working away for 10 weeks. My focus shifted and for the last week everything has changed including my eating habits. I have had more wine but less water, less sleep but more laughs, less focus but more fun. I am grateful for my family and sometimes we eat cheeseburgers and stay up way to late…that is just the way it is.

My April W.I.S.E. Principles are:

Wisdom-At age 42 I feel I have gained lot of wisdom, I want to reflect on the things that I have learned over the years and I what I once believed to be true as opposed to what I now believe to be true. I want to continue to gain knowledge that will help me to lead a better life and understand how the wisdom has helped me evolve and be happier.

Integrity– I think being an honest person,  having good morals, and being considered someone of good character is an admirable thing and I want to continue to live my live with intention while trying to be sincere and truthful.

Sincerity-Being virtuous and speaking and acting truly about your feelings, thoughts and desires, acting and communicating earnestly is a wonderful character trait but I know that a lot of people struggle to live and speak their truth. This month I will get very real about my thoughts, feelings, struggles and triumphs.

Education– The capacity to learn is a true gift. As humans we have very few true instincts. Most of what we know has been learned. Willingness to continue to learn is a powerful choice, a choice that I intend to continue to make every single day. There is a world of knowledge out there and I want lots of it. I have never been numbers smart but I have a fair bit of wisdom and  knowledge. Learning promotes understanding and I seek to bring more satisfaction and joy to my life by actively seeking opportunities to learn and understand.

I am still so excited about Robert Waldingers Ted Talk about Living a Good Life. Robert is a Harvard psychiatrist, Zen priest, and psychoanalyst. He directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is possibly the longest study of adult life ever done. About 60 of the original 724 men are still alive, still participating in the study, most of them in their 90s. They are now beginning to study the more than 2,000 Baby Boomer sons and daughters of these men. I am currently reading George E. Vaillant’s book Triumphs of Experience. George was a director of the study as well.

From this study, one important lesson about what makes for the good life  kept emerging time and time again.

“Simply put, good relationships keep us happy and healthy.”  

Robert Waldinger 

 

You can listen to Dr. Waldinger’s facinating talk HERE.

It was enlightening to me. I have always told my kids that you don’t need a bunch of friends, just a couple of good ones. It validates for me how important it is to focus on making our important relationships good one’s. People will come and go from our life, the people that are meant to be there always will be. It makes sence to focus our energy and time on those relationships, and making sure that they are good for us.

He also made me pause and think about the things that that really matter to me and how important it is to prioritize living a life that is rich and fulfilling instead of a life that is frantic and busy. It strikes me how we flock to cities with bright lights, traffic and noice, we fill our lives with electronics and the next best thing, we fill our calendars up with borrowed time and what we long for more than anything else is to get away from it all, to be free of it. To go to a quiet place and be still.

I have been so inspired in fact that I am committing to go on a silent retreat for three days in September. I will be going by myself and unplugging from the world for three days. No phone, internet, cable or radio. I am already scared but equally excited!!

On my walk tonight I was thinking that maybe I would text or call Kirk and the kids once a day but I know that defeats the whole purpose and it is only three days out of my life. I also decided that taking the dogs would be cheating too.

I will be taking wine and chocolate, to do otherwise would be irresponsible.

Could you totally unplug from the world for three days? Can I ?

“Silence is sometimes the best answer”

-Dalai Lama

 

 

 

 

 

Eternal Optimist -February Journal Notes -W.I.S.E Project

PicsArt_1456269478915

Someone once referred to me as  “Michelle the Eternal Optimist”, in the context that it was said it was hurled at me intending to be an insult. Once I tripped the offender, tied them up with dirty socks and made them sniff dog farts they changed their mind and decided it was a compliment. I like being an Optimist, I think pessimism is a really unattractive quality and I prefer to be around hopeful people.

I put the above quote on the white board in my office and it has been so helpful to me. In doing this project and I think this applies to any  lifestyle change; you will experience  ups and downs and what can feel like two steps forward and three steps back at times. I went into this so excited and I made a bunch of changes immediately, kept up on my journal and then some things changed. Not all of it was bad, I am still proud of the changes I have made and honestly I am proud of where I am at. I started writing again, I started a book several years ago and I was inspired to pick it up again. It’s fiction which I have always loved. I love creating characters, giving them personalities, bringing them to life through their experiences and their struggles. The largest problem I have with writing fiction is that I tend to get pretty involved in the characters lives, if they are happy I am happy and if they are struggling I feel that stress. I set a goal this weekend of 10 000 words, which I am happy to say that I exceeded by 11 words. Some of it was pretty emotional and every night I was mentally exhausted by 8 pm. I need to complete this book, for myself. These characters mean something to me (which I know sounds silly), but several times over the years I have picked it back up. Maybe seeing them through their struggles is therapeutic for me, I can’t say for sure but I know that they are important to me and I feel that I need to give them closure someday.

I feel like spending all my free time writing has taken me from other things but one of the biggest things I have done for my mental health in the past 6 months is to change my expectations. I have tried to eliminate the expectations I have of others so that I am continually surprised pleasantly instead of disappointed. I feel I owed myself the very same courtesy. I don’t feel that I have failed myself, I just feel that things look differently this month then I set out for them to be.

One of my wise principles for this once was INSPIRE and something inspired me to write again and that is a beautiful thing. I remember 23 three days ago searching books and documentaries wanting so badly to feel inspired. Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely places and may not look like you intended.

Worthy-I continue to treat myself like I am worthy by treating myself better, choosing food, activities and hobbies that are good for me and spending time with people that are a positive influence on me. I also take time for me when I need it. My kids continue to be mystified as to why I would want time to myself and they are very persuasive when they want ‘Mom’ time. I know that a day will come when I wish I could have them with me playing scrabble or curled up watching mindless TV so I am learning to put unimportant things aside and embrace the opportunities now to be with them. Being their Mom makes me feel extremely worthy!

Simplify- I have simplified by taking on less and only doing things that I truly want to do, saying ‘No’ more and enjoying my free time without guilt. I have also simplified by pre-prepping meals for the week and making shopping easier by buying mostly fresh. I spend of most my time in a circle at the outer edges of the grocery store. I always felt I bought convenience foods because they made my life easier but I am now positive that that is something that media leads us to believe. Fresh is easy, simple and the better choice.


 

Empower- I hope to touch even one person with this project, to empower them to make changes and lead a better, more mindful, more positive life. I started this project because I felt like everything was a chore, I was going through the motions without truly enjoying my life and it wasn’t a good feeling. I feel so much happier and much more fulfilled.  There is not a perfect life, choosing to be happy does not mean everything is superb, it means you are grateful and appreciate what you have and make a conscious effort to lead a positive and fulfilling life.

In being more mindful I have learned to un-complicate things. There is a certain beauty in simplicity.

We never noticed the beauty because we were to busy trying to create it.

We are nearing the end of Fabulous February. Be W.I.S.E. Remember that you are worthy of happiness and a fulfilling life. Find inspiration in unlikely places. Save complicated for someone else and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Empower yourself and take a moment to share that power with others.

P.S.

After I stopped trying to find inspiration, it fell in my lap in many different forms. I was at a Combat Crime evening with my daughter who was presenting for ‘Bright Ideas’ a text a buddy app to help youth who were being bullied, suffered depression or simply needed a friend. I was inspired to tears by her and all of the other youth leaders. I spent some time with an inspiring friend who runs a heart warming project called Love Letters 2 Strangers that never fails to remind me about the good in people.

I was sitting in my truck waiting for my daughter and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I saw that my friend Robb Scott had posted a video. Robb is a talented artist but he also has this insatiable need for attention. I always describe him as ‘sideways’ and I mean it in the best possible way. His antics have made me laugh till there are tears running down my cheeks. The video he posted that day was not funny, but it was one of the most honest and heartfelt things I have ever seen. I love the real emotion that he captured sitting in his vehicle telling the world about something very important to him, Down Syndrome. I cannot tell you how much his words touched my heart. The video has gone viral, as it should, it is a positive and uplifting message. I was sharing the video on twitter and what struck me when using the hashtag #DownSyndrome was how many people use that hastag to insult others. The ignorance is astounding. I read a post from a mother whose friend said “How’s your down’s girl?” Not, “how is your daughter or how is Bethany?” I can’t imagine how hurt I would be if someone said “How is your gay girl?” How ignorant to not see someone for their abilities, their strengths, their individuality. To look at someone and only see their differences or their limitations we have failed ourselves in my opinion.

This video has really opened my eyes wide and I hope that you will take a moment to watch it and please share it with others. In my opinion we are a society that is way to quick to share hate…spread some love and knowledge today.

Father’s emotion defense of Down Syndrome sparks outpouring