Ordinary Day! -W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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June. Where did you go? You were full of endless days of tripping the light fantastic and electric summer nights catching falling stars in moonlit fields. Crackling campfires and long kisses on the end of weathered piers, toes in the water as I sought advice from the man in the moon. I blinked and you were gone.

Sometimes I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. It’s all very simple really. Everyday the sun rises in the East, this usually happens way before I am ready for the filtered sunlight that peaks in through the bent slat on my bedroom blinds, before I am quite mentally prepared to embrace the gentle song of the birds, put my big girl pants on and adult. The certainty is, ready or not it comes like clockwork every day. I try to get myself and everyone else out of the house with a chorus of “I love you and have a good day” instead of frantic yelling because we are all running late. We all go to the places we have to be, not necessarily where we would choose to be if we had been born rich instead of so damn good looking, but we try to go with a gracious heart and a kind soul and the choice to make it a good day. Even the good days are tiring and mostly they fly by too quickly. Before we know it the moon has replaced the sun and the darkening sky welcomes it’s best friends the stars. The birds are lulled to sleep by the mystique of it all and out come the crickets to play their favorite summertime melody just as we are pulling cool sheets around our ears and settling in for a hopefully long and dreamy nap. A similar version of this happens on repeat everyday without fail, with some filler in between.

It all goes by so quickly. I just have to remind myself to look around more, breath more, be thankful. Remarkable moments are all around me, it doesn’t have to be about what I look at, but more importantly what I see.

More realistically, June was made up of a bunch of ordinary days and some subtle extraordinary moments,  many that I may have failed to see because I was too busy searching for these moments that would take my breath away, instead of just breathing and being in awe of the simple, wonderful moments that make up my life…the filler.

My principles for June are WOW, Incredible, Serenity and Enthusiasm.  I definitely had a bit of a setback  this month because instead of recognizing the Incredible WOW moments when they found me I went on a desperate search for them. When I didn’t find these ground breaking moments of wonder my enthusiasm quickly subsided. I neglected the whole premise of my own project, being mindful and focusing on the present moment to create a deeper experience of joy. I forgot to practice gratitude and in turn I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress.

A former boss once said to me “A day doesn’t make a week, a week doesn’t make a month and a month doesn’t make a year”. That being said as June winds down and July lies in wait, I did learn some very valuable things about myself during month six of the W.I.S.E. Project and I have been reminded once again to stop complicating things.  I need to give up on my urge to fix things and as much as I can just let things be. If I spend too much time focusing on what is going to happen next I am missing what is happening now.

Those moments when I am blown away by the candy pink sky or enthralled by the uncomplicated relationship between the moon and the stars or I see a glimpse of my children’s budding character and the people they are going to be in the future, those things are gone in an instant but will find me if I am being mindful.

I am still finding out who I am and who I want to be. The W.I.S.E. Project is my Journey. May the crooked roads it leads me down be paved with white gold and swiss chocolate, curiosity, patience and gratitude.

And may it all slow down just a little bit….

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Saturday in the Park

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Hurt, fear, anger, disappointment, pain.

It has been an incredibly sad and emotional couple of days and though I wish I could numb the cruel sting of it we cannot selectively numb pain because when we shut out the darkness we also shut out the light. We have little choice but to feel the emotion, the fear and the discomfort of the uncertain days to follow.

John Lubbock said that happiness is a thing to be practiced, like a violin. It is times like this, when tragedy strikes and innocent lives are lost that I have to be reminded. I am embraced in sadness and disbelief over something I have no control over and even knowing how important it is to not let hate win, happiness in this moment feels wrong.

To all of the wounded and heavyhearted souls in Orlando, I see the wreckage that you are staggering through, you are achingly overburdened with grief and sorrow and so many of us wish we could help. Losing a loved one has it’s own anguish, losing a loved one to violence is unimaginable. When your loved one is murdered for simply living a life without boundaries, for being themselves, for loving freely and wholehearted there is simply no words I can offer to ease the pain or make any sense of it. The LGBTQ community is in mourning, the world is in mourning. We share in your grief.

I wish I could help you navigate your way through the horror, to take the weight off your chest, to tell you that someday you will smile again.

 

I feel helpless and you feel hopeless.

We have to remember to breath.

I promise to use my voice to share hope and not give hate an audience. I need to recognize the helpers because that is where I will find love and  peace.

I am going to take five minutes to pretend it is Saturday, in the park along the river, just you and me and the falling stars…

In that five minutes I will seek light in the darkness. I hope that someday soon you can do the same.

“it’s the kind of heartache you can feel in your bones”

 

I’ll keep your memory vague-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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I love memories. They are powerful. I think memories would be one of the most difficult things to ever have to give up .

Memories for me are not just about people I have met or places I have been but sometimes it is a feeling the memory arouses.

I have this special place that I like to go and I always wish I could capture the feeling of that place, that feeling of being connected, wholehearted and deeply and madly free. Memories, like feelings are sometimes fleeting, fading as quickly as they came. Others are enduring and they survive our greatest attempts to exile them.

Memories can warm you, like a roaring cabin fire on a dreadfully cold February day. They can recapture a time, a place, or a feeling, and envelope you in a delightfully toasty embrace.
Unfortunately just as quickly they can tear apart your insides, and rip open old wounds as if you swallowed a bucket of rusty razor blades.

Ironically bad memories come to us with greater intensity than pleasant ones because the memory is not about a place or a person as much as it is about the feelings the memory evokes. Sadly, feelings of hurt, anger, heartbreak and hopelessness can be crippling, even years later.

I told you just recently how excited I am to be in such a good and warm place in my marriage. That wasn’t always the case. Like a lot of couples, just because we have always felt like we were meant to be together doesn’t mean that it has been an easy road.

The other night in a conversation with a friend my husband brought up something that surprised me. I was upset but tried to brush it off and suceeded for a short time. It seemed out of the blue to me and I was a bit shocked because it obviously came from a place of pain and I most definititely missed the part of the conversation that made the timing relevant.

The next day I had an appointment for a ninety minute float at the Floatique, to melt away stress and clear my mind. About 60 minutes in I had an aha moment of sorts. The thing about floating and sensory deprivation is that once you have cleared you mind and relaxed sometimes things that have been mired in the mud of stress and noise pop into your brain and you get it immediately. It’s mental clarity. I had that moment and it was a comfort initially, feeling like I had found the answer to an equation.

That response was short lived however. The emotional response that I had to the memories that came up that day hit me square in the face the next morning. I was catapulted to a time of sadness and uncertainty in my marriage. I tried to refocus. I tried several times to no avail as tears that I tried desperately to hold in spilled out of the corner of my eyes. It wasn’t the memory of the time, the place, the people or even the events, it was undeniably the feelings. I fiercely wished for an override button to bring me back but it wasn’t possible. I think the only thing worse than living through those feelings the first time is living through them again and again.

A lesson I have learned from doing the W.I.S.E. project is how important it is to live in the present. The past is gone, I can’t change it, I have this moment, this very one. I can’t have yesterday and I am not promised tomorrow or next week. I have now. I knew I didn’t want to feel that pain again, I knew better than to dwell on it but I also know that our emotional memories are sometimes cautions.

Have you ever had a drink of sour milk? If you have you remember it and you never want to drink it again. This memory stays in the back of your mind and cautions you. You check the date on the carton, you smell the milk if it is close to expiry, you are vigilant about it.

I feel like that memory, that moment… those feelings; were a caution of sorts. Reminding me of our indomitable spirit, our incredible love and our valiant vulnerability. Reminding us to keep moving forward. There will always be another hurtle, another roadblock to stumble over, another fork in the road that we will have to face together and forge on.

Memories can be a holding tank of your greatest pain but they can also be a place of peace, of passion and of solace. I have learned that memories will come and go like the wind. I get to decide which memories I give power to. Some I may hold unto longer than others, feel their soothing warmth like hot sun on my face on a July day. The feel of my lips swollen from my very first kiss, the joy of falling in love, the soothing embrace of my children. The sound of the ocean, the soaring heights of the mountains, the feel of summer rain, those are the feelings I will hang unto.

Other memories may hit me hard and fast when I least expect it, bringing feelings of fear and sadness. I will let the wind carry them away just as fast.

“Memories are made of peculiar stuff, elusive and yet compelling, powerful and fleet. You cannot trust your reminiscences, and yet there is no realty except the one we remember…”

~Klaus Mann

Be. W.I.S.E. friends.

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Red Red Wine-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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This morning I found my crumpled up paper that I had handwritten the entire years W.I.S.E. principles on back in December and discovered that June’s principles are WOW, Incredible, Stimulate and Enthusiasm. I had my first WOW moment around 3 am when I got up to use the washroom and noticed through groggy, half open eyes that my underwear were covered in red wine stains. I was initially confused and then I had a moment where I whispered to myself “WOW bitch, time to get your shit together!”

I am pretty sure that when I set out in December that was not the type of WOW moments I had intended to have upon entering the sixth month of this journey.

In all seriousness though, before my family thinks that I have turned into Chelsey Handler with a blog, I had a rough couple of “lady-time’ days and I had given myself a time out in the rec room with fuzzy blankets, Crave TV and wine. I discovered on my couch-side table that I had three bottles of wine with a glass to a glass and a half each in them because apparently I can never finish what I started. I thought it would be best to drink them before they evaporated and at some point I forgot that I didn’t have three hands and spilled wine all over me while adjusting my blankets. The couch is leather and my pants were black so I grabbed some Kleenex and put minimal effort into the clean-up, poured another glass and put it out of my mind entirely until the witching hour when I discovered that I looked like I just left a college frat party instead of the comfort of my bed.

All things considered it gave me a “WOW’ moment early in the month, an incredible laugh, it stimulated my imagination and I was wanted to enthusiastically recall the story for all of you. So I have used all of my June W.I.S.E. principles in one day so yay for me. I am going to celebrate with ice cream and call it a month!

I am happy to report that I am feeling much better today. I actually put on real clothes and lipstick for work which admittedly was not the case for the first two days of the week. That is in the past though, lets leave it there.

May’s W.I.S.E. principles (warmth, intimacy, serenity and enrich) have changed my life. I discovered so much about myself and relationships,took time to myself to recharge and refuel and discover the power of vulnerability. I have enriched my life immensely with the books and talks by the fabulous Brene Brown. I am currently reading Daring Greatly and taking her CourageWorks e-course on the anatomy of trust. I know I mentioned this in a previous post but I am clearly telling you again for your own good. Give her a listen, her Ted talk on Vulnerability was life changing for me and I am not even being a little bit dramatic, it really has profoundly changed me and the way I see myself.

I am loving the W.I.S.E Projects Facebook page. If you haven’t followed please check it out. It is just a place to share inspiring messages and you can interact with me there.

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Let’s be wowed this month, whether it be by kindness or the beauty of nature or by knowledge, lets embrace the moments that make us say “WOW’, let’s seek the “incredible” and find it in everyday things, laughter, stories, art and music. Lets stimulate our minds and our bodies with good news, great messages, learning, good food and activity, and let’s face each new day with spirited enthusiasm, living, loving and learning moment to moment, day by day! This is a pivotal turning point for the W.I.S.E. Project, when we complete June’s principles we will be at the halfway mark of the 2016 W.I.S.E. Project. I don’t know about you but I feel great!!

I have learned so many great things lately but one thing that I wanted to share that I was once told is that you will be what you think of most of the time. when I started this project I just wanted to be happy…and I am.

Think about happiness, seek it, create it, enjoy it!

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

 

Tainted Love-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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When you are on a journey to be more mindful and happy you will undoubtedly learn a lot about yourself and if you thought you were perfect you will find out very quickly that you are not. Your relationships will inevitably be held under a microscope and if you allow it and are open to growth and honesty this can be a good thing.

I knew from the beginning of this project that I wanted to  look at my relationship. I have been with my husband for 18 years so obviously my relationship with him is one of the most important things in my life. Some of what I have learned has been helpful in other important relationships too, ones with friends and family. If people are important to you it makes sense to want to build stronger and healthier relationships with them.

This month one of the principles I am working on is intimacy. It seems a shame to have spent 18 years with someone without achieving total intimacy with them but I think intimacy is something that you should continue to work on as you grow and change. Seeking improvements in our relationships keeps them healthy and keeps us interested.  Neuroscience shows that the act of seeking itself, rather than the goals we realize, is key to satisfaction.

The innate human desire to seek means that we can never truly feel that every desire and wish has been met. There will never be an end to the to-do list, future goals and plans, the things we want to achieve and see. But the fact that we don’t have everything we want is exactly what makes life so fulfilling. ~ Onward Ho

I think it is impossible to achieve true intimacy without deeply exploring ourselves and examining our behaviors, our thoughts and feelings  as well as seeking our identity and being genuinely curious about ourselves and our partners (friends, family etc).

What I learned very quickly was that pride has no place in an intimate relationship. I would most definitely have once described myself as prideful. I would have held a sparkly, flashing sign that obnoxiously displayed the word PRIDE…boldly and proudly.

For years I thought being prideful was something to be proud of, to me, the notion had a positive connotation. I have learned that being vulnerable (which I always associated with being weak) has been much better for me. Being open and accepting about my own weaknesses is something I was really never willing to do. It was my pride that told me I always had to be right, to get the last word, to win the argument, to have my feelings recognized above all else. By elevating myself that way it made it difficult for people to connect with me on an intimate level. Vulnerability is how we show trust in others and without trust intimacy is unattainable.

I didn’t want to trust. Trust is scary. If you trust people you give them the power to hurt you. I had trusted before and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again! Once bitten, twice shy. What if I did trust though? Was I not also giving people permission to love me? To see me, all of me, not just the filtered parts of my life I show to the world but my true deep self? Would this courage to be myself; “perfectly imperfect’ mean that my connections with people would be unequivocally genuine?

Humility and vulnerability affords us the confidence to be our authentic self. Confidence is that attractive element of pride, but pride can be destructive forcing us to try to uphold an image of  ourselves and our relationships that doesn’t exist. I am not perfect, my relationships are not perfect but I want them to be real and not tainted by the allure of pride and the soul crushing one-dimensional box that crowds you into.

Emotions are a funny thing and very hard to control. They are a natural state of mind derived from our circumstances, our moods and our relationships with others. Unfortunately you cannot pick and choose what feelings you choose to feel. I used to think my pride would protect me from getting hurt and feeling horrible emotions but I was also missing out on a lot of good feelings that come from embracing the uncertainty of vulnerability. Loving with my whole heart, without the promise of what tomorrow would bring protected me only from joy and that powerful connection you have with another when you have the courage to be tender, knowing I am worthy of love and willing to give mine freely, without conditions.

This has been an ‘AHA’ moment for me indeed, a surrendering of sorts. Seizing the certain reality of uncertainty and being ok with it. Loving another person means that sometimes you will get hurt and your heart might get broken a thousand times. That means a thousand times yet get to experience the joy of falling in love with that person all over again…or starting over knowing in your heart that you gave everything you had!

I am human and flawed, I was enchanted by the idea of living pridefully but being true to myself, admitting my mistakes and being willing to compromise, process and move on has made me feel a whole lot better about myself and my most important relationships. This doesn’t mean absolving people of doing their part in a relationship but I think how something looks to you is much more important than how the world sees it.

 

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Be W.I.S.E. friends and as you continue to journey mind fully through your days remember the principles for May are Warmth, Intimacy, Serenity and Enrich.

Chat soon xo