In a gadda da vida -Wise Project 2019 #NakedTuesdays

feeling that music fill my body and make me move and sway and forget and remember. I love those moments when the music takes over, wrapping you so tightly in melodies that for a short time nothing else matters.

I believe in most circumstances if I used the term in the garden of life, a good amount of people will conjure up images of brightly colored flowers, lush green foliage and quite possibly butterflies. When we think of other peoples lives and gardens we do not think of clearing away the weeds and that which has died, preparing and watering the soil and fertilizing it to promote new and continued growth. We don’t really consider the work that goes into a life, we just see the fruits of that labor.

95.7 Cruz FM played all 17 minutes of in a gadda da vida today on my drive to work, I had heard of the song, I believe there was a reference to it on a Simpsons episode I watched once as well. The song was written by Iron Butterfly Band member Doug Ingle and recorded on their album of the same name in 1968, occupying the entire second side of the album. There are a lot of drug and alcohol fueled rock and roll rumors about the origins of the song meaning and the lyrics but it is just a lot of soulful guitar riffs, drum solos and hard rock goodness to contemplate life to.

I was lost in the music, lost in memories of many a rock concert I had attended over the years, feeling that music fill my body and make me move and sway and forget and remember. I love those moments when the music takes over, wrapping you so tightly in melodies that for a short time nothing else matters. I see a collage of smiles, hip shaking, hands reaching to the sky in glorious abandon. Music has been such a huge part of everything I have ever done in my life that 17 minutes in my truck reminiscing as the psychedelic riffs of In a gadda da vida melt into the background barely scratch the surface.

My garden of life has been rich and blooming, attracting butterflies in the summer swell and it has been dead and dying, thirsty and abandoned and every possible stage in between those to two things.

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.

— Liberty Hyde Bailey

Sometimes when we see other peoples gardens, we only see what they want us too. We are not so different, those with beautiful bursting blooms and those without. No matter what neighborhood we live in or what box we tick in the salary range we have similar triumphs and challenges. We have similar choices and opportunities.

We have all suffered through moments of immeasurable pain, we have all felt the cruel sting of rejection and heartache. We have all had nights that turned to day where we were consumed by blackness and those that we watched the moon fall and the sun rise with a person that we believed would love us until the end of time. We have all questioned our worthiness, our talents and gifts and we have all had days that it feels like the universe has lined up the stars to light us a pathway to our best life.

We live, we love, we learn, we fall, we cry, we rise.

We often have this feeling that we are alone and we are as reluctant to share our prevailing successes as we are to share our struggles. Both can be scary and intimidating. There is hope in both and rightfully both can and should be shared.

2019 has been great to me so far, it feels like a period of major expansion. I feel like there was a great deal of time that I vacated myself and yet the work that I am doing and the amazing people that I have aligned myself with has afforded me so many exciting opportunities that my body has literally been bursting with excitement. I have developed this incredible “can do” attitude and the dexterity to ask for the things that I want and all of that has proved to be so precious in guiding me on a path to uncover the fierce and unstoppable woman that has been hiding inside of a scared little girl.

I am afraid of regular things, the same as most of you but there has been a shift in those things for me as well. There are areas that I used to struggle with capability and worthiness and now I know unequivocally that I am worthy and capable of everything I set my mind to, I can be as big or as small as I chose to be, the work is all mine, the choices are all mine. Sometimes I imagine the voices of my critics, of my haters and weirdly they are the loudest when I am at my best, they come to try to knock me off perch with their bitterness and alienation. What right do I have to this life? They taunt me. I couldn’t even save my own husband, the person that meant the most, why are my words valuable? Why are they deserving of attention? They tell me I am acting too big for my britches and I need to shut up. I have no right to want an exceptional life. Those words hurt me of course, but they also shame me. Even worse, I know that when I am wading through that shitpile, that it is my own fears, my own judgements and my own inner saboteur that is wreaking havoc on my plans. I know her well, she has talked to me for years. I usually take at least a day to hear her out, I feel like crap, all goodness and motivation is drained out of my day and I feel like a deflated, misshapen balloon lying on the muddy ground at the end of a festival, used, inconsequential…left behind. Then I push that annoying voice away and I go about business as best as I can with a shrunken sense of self that I need to rebuild once again. The other day when she arrived, in the cutting voices of my taunters, I decided to offer her some love; something I had never considered. I often say that when facing challenges we should meet the situation with love first and this is the very first time it had occurred to me to face this with love.

These voices, no matter how they are disguised, no matter what antagonizing words they badger me with, I have come to the realization that they are from a scared little girl and she is a part of me. Anything that is not rooted in love is fear and that despondent little girl is afraid of change and choices and because of that she needs love more than anything.

Sometimes our fears are that we are not enough and others we fear being too much. As much as we fear insignificance, we also fear the magnitude of our personal power. Our brilliance is phenomenal, we have the ability to influence others in tremendous ways, that can all be scary. The fear is the same, fear of being ourselves, in every single way.

I believe that their is a sweeping assumption that people that achieve and people that make certain choices are without fears or struggles, that different opportunities are presented to them. I am lucky to be connected to some fabulously talented people and the number one thing that they have in common is working hard, despite their fears and not using the circumstances that they were born into to determine either their path in life or the choices that they make. They seize opportunities and they work hard. Talents and passions need to be cultivated, nobody gets by on a gift they were born with, with out investing a great deal of their time. Successful people are vulnerable, they open themselves up to the possibility of great attainment or failure and they look for the lesson in both of those things. They do not wait for opportunities, they create opportunities. Those choices are available to all of us. If you want something bad enough you will find a way or you will find an excuse.

I do not always have all of the answers, however I know how to find the answers. I am not afraid to ask the people that know. I spent a great deal of my life, afraid to admit when I didn’t know something in fear that it would make me look foolish. Instead of risking being potentially seen as foolish, I instead just felt foolish. It all feels very foreign to me now.

My boss always tells me how she admires my confidence and the way I hold myself and insists that I have always had that. I have not, no matter how it appeared, I just got really good at faking assurance and poise that I did not actually possess. My late husband thought I was brilliant and bragged to just about everyone he met about how smart and savvy and good at everything I was. I spent a great deal of our twenty years together in fear that he would one day discover that I was none of those things.

Confidence, like anything, is a choice and I chose to ask questions, I chose to educate to myself, I chose to invest in myself and I chose to believe in myself. The outward confidence that I now possess is not because I think I am perfect or that my body is without flaws and imperfections, I just choose to love it anyway and that has made a considerable difference in everything that I do. The way I conduct and carry myself, the way I express myself, the way I feel in a room of people, it is all relative to how I feel about myself as a whole and how I take care of my mind and my body. What I give to those two things, is evident in everything I do. I feel like I fully inhabit my space in the world and I do not feel less than, or inferior. I admire qualities in others without wanting to be them. I am kind and encouraging to others, instead of being envious. I support talented, courageous, and authentic people that give of themselves and their time to create and bring beauty, truth and education to the world through art and wisdom. I have learned the importance of having aspirations and people to look up to. Life is not a competition and I genuinely want us all to win.

We are not so different you and I and I will say it louder for the people in the back, I have fears too, I just act anyway.

Someone said to me last week that I seemed to be totally unaffected by being single on Valentines Day. I thought that was a bit odd and then it made the monkey’s in my head begin to chatter, “should I be affected by being single on Valentines day?” I wasn’t aware that being a part of a couple had such prestige attached to it and though I would like to say for the record that I am not jaded at all by love by I am a bit fatigued by the worn out ideas of what love and relationships should look like. I do not want to count myself among the statistic of people in unfulfilled relationships that do not elevate or inspire in some way. I will not be in a relationship to just avoid being alone. I feel like it is a good time to be by myself so that I can unlearn some unhealthy relationship patterns that I have developed over the years, not the least of, putting myself last. I will not settle. I have plenty of friends and I enjoy my own company, so when the right person wants to seriously share my time and my space with me intimately, it must be someone who makes me laugh, is my best friend or could become that and fulfills me while still giving me room to grow as an individual. There are things I will not compromise on and I know that that is OK. I believe that love should feel like freedom, I know that is possible if not probable in today’s society but it is a non negotiable for me. I believe a heart can love without a soul being chained. Plenty of people have told me that this type of love and relationship does not exist and even if that is the case, who is to say it cannot be created.

Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.

~Bob Marley

We are the co-creator of every experience that makes up or lives.

I want to encourage you to step beyond your fears, that is where the magic happens.

With love,

xoxo-michelle1

Happy -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

Rolling Stones Mick Jagger Keith Richards
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards onstage in 1971.
Chris Walter/WireImage

 

Recorded in France in 1971, and released on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main St., Happy is a philosophy for life, albeit not mine particularly but I believe we all have and are entitled to our own standard of Happiness. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the lead vocals were sung by Keith Richards who celebrates his 75th birthday today and one year of sobriety.

If you are a regular here you will notice that most of my Tenacious Tuesday posts are titled after songs and each song has some significance to me. To dive a little deeper into that I may lose some of you and some of you may want to commit me but I know that some of you will understand this on an almost inexpiable level.

After I lost my husband to suicide in June 2017 writing was a solace to me but at times it was also very difficult. For a short while I had set my intention to have my Tuesday post written by Saturday, I dedicated one hour for editing on Sunday and Monday I would schedule the post to be published on Tuesday. In theory this worked extremely well but this dedication only lasted for a short time. I started to have a lot of trouble focusing to write at night and I would end up frustrated and I would not be happy with what I created.

I enlisted the help of Kirk, my late husband. Yes, you read that correctly. Kirk left the world physically but I became aware of his spirit presence very soon after he took his last breaths. If you know Kirk, I am sure you have had similar experiences and had zero doubt that Kirk would be an amazing spirit, just as he was an amazing human. Anyway, Kirk communicates with me through music a great deal and he is extremely crafty. It used to bring me to tears frequently; however it has easily become a natural part of my life. What usually happens is that I am driving in my truck with no solid idea of what to write about and I say “babe, play me a song, I need an idea!” A song plays, there is usually a memory attached and the very title spins the web of creation and bam I have an idea. Kirk likely wants ghostwriting credits, however, “to be fair babe, you are my prompter, the ideas and writing are all my own.”  The day that Kirk is able to communicate to me in a way that I can write about his spirit experiences I am going to be stinking rich, or sitting in an asylum, one or the other.

I have been reluctant to write about any of this for a long time and I understand that people can only understand as much as they are able or willing to.

Immediately after Kirk passed away I couldn’t listen to music. Music was a huge part of our lives and Kirk never missed an opportunity to pull me into his arms and dance. Kirk really enjoyed Country music and when I got the guts to turn the radio back on I would only listen to country. That ended up being a disaster and I arrived everywhere with tear stained eyes and mascara running down my cheeks.  I was also never able to go back to my regular radio station. I was a huge fan of Now Radio 102.3 and the morning show with Crash and Mars and the Ginge, I spent the drive home with Ginge’s wife Rachel Day. I cannot explain why I cannot go back to that radio station, I really have no explanation. I started listening to The Locker Room on 95.7 Cruz FM.  I immediately disliked Lochlin Cross, Grant Johnson and James White, especially Lochlin,(mostly Lochlin)  however I was drawn to that station and that was that. I have know come to enjoy the guys and Lochlin has grown on me, I actually see similarities to Kirk in his brash sassiness.

I started hearing Trooper every time I got in the truck “We’re here for a good time, not a long time,”  would play for me several times a day. The simple message “So have a good time, the sun can’t shine everyday” has not only been instrumental in my healing, Kirk and I met at a Trooper Concert so it is completely fitting.  I truly feel that the message in the song is a gift to me, reminding me frequently that life is short and I need to live it now. It became uncanny how many times that song would play just as I was getting in the vehicle and I immediately became aware that it was for me. I dislike it when anyone changes my radio station!  My daughter is impatient and hates listening to commercials and we got in an argument one day on the drive from the South side and I made her turn back to 95.7 and as she complained and grumbled through the commercials I said ‘Kirk, play your daughter a song so she will understand and the song that played after the commercial was “Just like heaven coming down,” by the Tea Party. That is now her song and it comes on frequently, too frequently to be a coincidence, when she is in the truck.

I talk to my mom a lot about the magical happenings surrounding my new relationship with Kirk and the things he does to get attention. I have always wondered if she thought I was losing my mind even though she humored me. In June she flew to Edmonton for Morgan’s high school graduation and at the airport I went to get the truck and grabbed her bags and just as she was getting into the truck Trooper came through the speakers loud and clear ‘We’re here for a good time, not a long, time, so have a good time, the sun can’t shine everyday.” Mom and I both burst into tears and of course I thanked Kirk for showing my mom that I wasn’t crazy. It was an emotional moment for us and we knew that we were in good company.

Flashback to this morning, I am driving to work and I  still have no clue what to write about and I say “

“Kirk, play me a song I need an idea.”

Two amazing things happened. Last night an old friend and roommate from Ontario messaged me, she has been so good to the girls and me, and though we had some issues to overcome when we were young and foolish, we have remained friends for all of these years and she is someone I love and respect. This morning at the red light as Lochlin was introducing the WTF track of the day, Jacqui popped in my head and an extremely vivid memory catapulted me back to Toronto, December of 1994 and Jacqui and I rocking out to one of the most amazing shows ever, The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour which incredibly replaced Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour (saw that too) as the highest grossing tour ever.  The song that Lochlin played, as a tribute to Keith Richards on his 75th birthday was played during the second set of their Toronto show, all those years ago I will never forget, Keith Richards, illuminated in light as he sang  “Happy” and every distinct line on his face telling a story of a life lived.

It was not a huge moment or revelation, as I mentioned, this has become a natural part of my life. Though this happens frequently, it will never cease to make me smile and be remarkably grateful.  There were a lot of rumors after Kirk’s death, rumors and assumptions about our life and the truth is, if you read backwards on my blog I was always very vocal and honest about Kirk and my marriage, our struggles and our triumphs and the unwavering love and connection that we continue to share. Our connection now is an extension of that. Kirk left his pain; it was never his intention to leave the people he loves. I hesitate to talk about him in the past tense because in my reality he is still a part of my world.

I get that some people find that weird. That is OK.

Someone asked me last week if I felt that my connection to Kirk would keep me from moving on and the answer is “hell no” Kirk wants me to be happy and free and he will never stand in the way of that. I feel that the universe will make it difficult for me to walk into situations that are not meant for me and I also feel that sometimes the things that are meant for me will take patience for it to be the right timing. I know that Kirk can see that all very clearly from his spiritual perch (his high horse) however he will allow me to make my mistakes and continue to root myself in love as I grow and expand. His presence is not a hindrance or obtrusive, it is just something I am aware of, just as you are aware of the sunshine. I know that he is incredibly proud of me. Those messages have come to me through numerous earth angels.

The loss of loved one will teach you countless lessons. Kirk unfortunately spent too much time in a place of pain; it is the very last thing he would want to pass on to the people who loved him. My awareness of his spirit and my connection to him serves as a driving force to keep moving forward even when things feel tough.

We are not meant to be happy 100% of the time. It would be unrealistic and unhealthy. There are feelings that demand to be felt and unfortunately not all of them are joy. A lot of people ask me how I maintain happiness and I would say minute by minute. Life is never happening to us, it is happening through us so awareness of our choices and acceptance of our feelings and how we tie ourselves to certain outcomes is the key to understanding how and why we feel a certain way and the barrage of emotions that can overwhelm us and pull us off course.  Accountability is a word I have thrown around loosely for years while being minimally accountable for any of my actions or feelings. If we are never able to assume any responsibility for our emotions we will sit in a place of judgment of others, instead of a place of love and that UN-leveled playing field makes honest connections difficult. I find that we often get stuck in this place where we believe everyone is crazy or stupid or rude, everyone and everything is the problem and we are so set on that, that we barely take a moment to self reflect on what energy we are bringing to the table. Commonly, the things we dislike in others is mirrored back at us, and we are being given an opportunity to examine our own behaviors.

Gratitude is the number one component to living a life built on happiness. No matter what other emotions we move through with grace; anger, sadness, fear, shame, pity or love, if we remain deeply rooted in gratitude life will be easier and joy will be imminent.

I realize that we are very quickly coming to a close of year three of the Wise Project and the end of 2018. To each ending there is a beginning and I am so grateful that you continue to share in my life and my experiences and share your fears and your triumphs with me. You have lifted me up on the days that I was feeling low, straightened my crown and threw some glitter on me. Your genuine passion for life and for kindness will never be forgotten.

As we enjoy these last weeks of 2018 I would like to invite all of you slow down and enjoy the moments of your life. There is impermanence in life that can work for or against us, the choice is really ours. When we live in awareness with the fact that no life or feeling is permanent we choose to live out of fear or love. Each choice comes with a wildly varying result and neither determines a pain free life; however a life rooted in love will always attract joy.

I choose to live deeply rooted in love and richly infected with gratitude. I hope you will do the same.

Xo

Michelle

Imagine-WISE PROJECT 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

1 YZ9w8vfpl5Kdltl5i7nUDA

I woke up this morning in a very good place, I was vibrating at a whole new level of awesome and I was thinking how amazing it would be if I could bottle that feeling and drink from it on the days that I wasn’t feeling so shiny. The truth is, I can, in a way, I know all of the good things that I put into place to harness this powerfully incredible energy. I drank the kool-aid and I want seconds.

I came across a sticky note on my desk on Monday, it has been there for months and I cannot recall what circumstance had me write it, I generally  write sticky notes hoping that later it will trigger a memory for me and though this is not bringing me back to a particular memory it has resonated with me in numerous ways. It is four scribbled words, barely legible, scrawled across a pale yellow sticky; forgiveness, connection, healing and hope. The words are then encased in a loosely drawn semi-circle with an arrow that says love.

For me, it all comes back to love, every single bit of it. None of those other things are possible without love and we cannot lead a truly fulfilling life without love. Love is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

I know I read things all of the time that trigger me and I bet the above paragraph is a trigger for many people, particularly single people because many people would see that as me saying that love is a necessity and without it you cannot lead a truly fulfilling life.

That is absolutely what I said. I stand by it. If you are triggered by it your interpretation of it may possibly be, I am single, therefore I cannot be fulfilled, something must be missing for me.

I didn’t say that, but if you thought something along those lines the important thing to note is I can tell you something from my perspective but I cannot be responsible for how it is received. This revelation alone has been a game changer for me.

I believe that love is the most powerful thing in the entire world. That is not to say that if you are not paired up with a significant other that you are somehow less than or not living your best life. That would never be an appropriate thing for me to assume.

I think that we are way to conservative with love in our society, the very word can illicit fear in people. Being told ‘I love you you” can make some people extremely uncomfortable, almost as if the very word comes with a contract and a whole slew of scary promises.

Romantic love is a beautiful thing but it is not the thing that defines love. Love is expansive, I would find it entirely impossible to define it in a single dictionary definition but I do Know that those four words on my sticky note; forgiveness, connection, healing and hope are not possible without love.

The love we give to ourselves is the most essential thing, and when we are committed to loving ourselves for all that we are we meet others in a very loving space, a place of authenticity and of non judgement. A place that illuminates positive energy and healthy connections and invites growth.

img_20181121_160238_7909146903179782736513.jpg

We cannot commit to loving ourselves when we become all that we can be. Loving ourselves fully is what empowers us to become the best version of ourselves and to those of you putting in that work you are fully aware that it is an ongoing process. You don’t become your shiny self and say ‘Ok I am good here, I am going to stop now.” The universe is continually shifting and changing, as are we, and learning and growth is life long.

As 2018 is drawing to a close I was looking back on my year and thinking that one of the very best things I did for myself this year was reconnect with an old friend who allows and encourages me at all times to be my authentic self. There are situations in my life where I have wondered if I measure up, there are others that I feel like maybe I am a bit too much. I had my mind blown last week by a quote by Nayyirah Waheed, author of Salt (Poetry) alluding to the fact that the fear of not being enough and that fear of being too much is the exact same fear, the fear of being ourselves. What a wonderful thing to find a person that invites you to be all that you are, all of the time, without fear of judgement or ridicule, whose acceptance, support, love and encouragement empowers you to be…just you. That simple connection has encouraged me to show up differently in other areas of my life, trusting that when I show up as all of me I will attract the people that are meant to be in my life at this time.

I have struggled this year with the delicate balance of knowing when to hold on and knowing when to let go. Knowing where to put my energy and where to set my intentions and release my white knuckles and allow things to flow naturally.

I have caused myself a great deal of stress trying to manipulate situations to go my way, feeling like my tenacity would always win out in the end. Stress physically manifests in my body and just recently I went to the doctor for a recurring, stabbing pain at the base of my skull. It had gotten quite bothersome, subsiding a bit when the doctor confirmed it was muscular and caused by stress and not by something life threatening. I then went to my Acupuncturist, the amazing Dr. Geha at Wellness on Whyte; Geha is very intuitive and she told me immediately that I needed to get moving. I was sitting there looking at her blankly wondering how she knows that I have not been being active, how does she know that I was internalizing a personal situation and curling up under fuzzy blankets hiding from all of the things in my life that have kept me well. I had an amazing visit and left with a great deal of relief but the pain crept back and began stabbing me again, randomly at first and then incessantly. I went to see Dr. Mailie, my Chiropractor at Wellness Chiropractic and she worked her magic and then looked me in the eye and spoke to me soul to soul, Maillie is very insightful as well and can take one look at me and know that I am the creator of my pain. She gives me an amazing adjustment and then talks to me about my tendency to hold stress physically and makes some suggestions. I left her office with some relief and I went home to curl up under my fuzzy blanket with my cell phone, as if something on Instagram was going to jump out and change my life. That did not happen but what did happen is that over the next few days  inevitably, that stabbing pain returned at the base of my skull and even though the doctor assured me that it was not a tumor, I began to wonder if she could be wrong, she had not run tests after all.

In my misery I started thinking of all the things I would be doing if I wasn’t wrapped up in this pain, and a blanket. My mind traveled back to the weeks prior to the pain and all of the things I was doing on a daily basis to promote physical and mental wellness. I had a daily meditation practice that I had abruptly stopped, I was out walking daily and often working out at home.

The situation that was causing me stress was not personal,  meaning it was not meant to be taken personally. From the very beginning I knew that and I was also assured that there was nothing I could have done to change it, yet my unwillingness to accept the situation as it was, seeing any sort of repose on my part as giving up on something important, allowed me wallow in guilt and anguish. It allowed me to stay still, to feel sorry for myself and make myself unwell.

A good friend asked me some tough questions that not only led me to some very honest contemplation, it led me to three hours of crying. After that I meditated for an hour. My entire perspective shifted. What I wanted to give the situation at hand was compassion, understanding and love. I was giving none of that to myself. I fed myself that outdated bullshit of self blame, maybe things would have been different if I had been less of this and more of this.  I wasn’t sitting in integrity with myself, I was not holding myself in a loving space and in turn my entire focus was skewed. I am happy to say that I am maintaining a daily meditation practice again. It allows me to access a quiet place of non judgement within myself and move through struggle with grace. Letting go does not have to mean giving up. Sometimes it simply means loosening our grip and allowing the energy to flow where it is needed. I have started to move again. I am busier at work and it is colder outside, my daily walks are not as feasible but I have started shaking what my mama gave me at every opportunity. I close my office door several times a day, put on some old skool hip hop and just move. Last night at home the dog and I were grooving to Bust a move as we moved out old energy out and invited new energy in.

I slept amazing last night on freshly laundered sheets, accompanied by smooth shaved legs, such a simple feel good thing. On the way to work I could feel that there had been a phenomenal change in energy. Within moments of each other I got two fabulous messages that lifted me up, one from a new friend and one from a dear friend who was also a close friend to my late husband. Reading those messages assured me that the universe was fully supporting this energetic shift. My stabbing pain subsided and it has been replaced with a feeling of excitement. I am excited about my life, excited to keep growing and learning and to connect with amazing people.

I will struggle, that is inevitable but I am truly starting to see that I am the creator of my experiences and there an extraordinary amount of power in that.

For those of you that are struggling to let go and move forward in your life I have created a quick meditation to encourage you to let go of what is holding you back and move into imagining the very best version of yourself. The very minute my energy shifted I literally spit this out, it was there, hidden under a cloak of fear.

I invite you to get comfortable and take a couple of minutes to relax and empower yourself.

I am not afraid to say I love you.

To the person that is reading this and hoping for me to fail, I love you. To the person who takes the time to reach out to me and let me know that you are encouraged and inspired by me, I love you. To the person who sees the very best in me, even when my fear doesn’t allow me to see it, I love you. To the person who is struggling but still showing up, I love you. To the person who is not ready to let go, who is afraid to forgive and afraid to love, I love you.

Love is not scary. Imagine a world without love. Imagine for a second the atrocities that are happening in the world right now, acts that are born of fear. Imagine waking up and all love has been erased from the world? The absence of love is terrifying.

Love is not a luxury. Love is a necessity.

Love yourself. Love one another.

screenshot_20181127-123517_samsung internet7166918086177595982..jpg
Click on Picture to Play.

 

 

clean-logo

 

Walk this way -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

tears

How many times in our lives have we sat in disbelief and shock, in tears, shaking our heads and saying over and over “I just don’t understand?” No matter how much contemplating and suffering we do, we still cannot figure it out.

When I lost my husband to the beast of depression I had to surrender to the idea that life’s maneuvers operate corresponding to a mastermind that is way beyond anything linear.  There are enough challenges while navigating trauma and loss, and as you move through that pain the only thing that is expected of you is to simply take the next best step. There is no map to navigate through grief, you are not expected to control the territory around you, you simply have to take each step forward as it presents itself to you, and if you do that in your pajamas with three day old make up and your hair in a bun trust that that is enough.

When you do not understand, you just need to trust, and I know that when you lose someone tragically trusting that everything will be okay seems ridiculous. To me, the world felt scary and unsafe, although at a certain point I was able to abandon the what ifs and the ideas of the way things should be and slowly and with intent put one foot in front of the other .

“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”

~ Thomas Campbell

I have become very aware of the cycle of life. Death is inevitable and though we are given life, how we choose to live it is optional.

Members of my family on both sides are experiencing grief, loss and heartache today. I come from a small town in a small province surrounded by small villages. Loss has a ripple effect and can be felt throughout the communities. There is a lot of love, and sadly, as always a lot of judgement because judging is always easier than understanding. Empathy is a concept that not everyone is able to grasp.

People treat pain like a hot potato and to avoid experiencing pain they often pass it along to others. It is not right and it is not pleasant, and it is a certain reality that anyone who experiences the loss of a loved one will likely face.

Today I am compelled to share with all of you the importance of holding space for someone, which simply means to be present and to allow them to feel everything that they are feeling.  Grief can be uncomfortable, for the onlookers it can be as difficult as watching someone with a bloody, open wound. Sometimes the automatic instinct is to avoid those that are suffering until the wound begins to heal, or at least till the wound has been stitched up and covered. At that point you may have lost a friend. Relationships are severed, formed and strengthened in times of struggle.

For me, the right people showed up, the right people came, the right people stayed and the right people left. It can be hurtful to lose connections at such and important time in your life but it is powerful finding out that the people that belong in your life will always be there, in some capacity and definitely when you need them the most. We are continually growing and changing and it is important to realize that not everyone is meant to be with us for our entire journey.

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”

~ Terry Pratchett

There are some simple things that you can do for people that are grieving. I often hear, “ I do not know what to say”, “ I do not know what to do.”  Here are some simple important things you can do.

  1. Show up– let them know that you are there and that you care. There are no magic words and you cannot take away the pain but knowing you want to is enough.
  2. Food is always appreciated. My boss kept bringing a food. I would not have cared if I ever ate again but when someone set a plate in front of me I did. There will also be a lot of visitors and people like to eat when they are sad, just as much as they do when they are happy.
  3. Avoid phrases like, “it was God’s will or “everything happens for a reason” and “don’t cry”. Nobody needs to hear any of that shit when they are grieving. If you are unsure of what to say, just say “I am here.” Or simply just be there.
  4. Recognize that you can ask a grieving person what they need a million times in a million different ways and they will not know. What they need is their loved one back and they cannot see past that. When you are grieving shock suspends you in a weird place for awhile, a place where everything is numb so that the pain does not bring you to your knees. Pick a task and do it. Fold laundry, go get milk and toiletries, make phone calls, assign tasks to other visitors.
  5. Share your memories. People often avoid talking about the person that died which is just weird and creepy. They lived, they existed and they will always exist in our hearts and memories. Share your memories and your funny stories, share them now and share them always.

 

To all of you that are suffering and finding your way through the pain of loss please know that my heart is with you. You will be ok. There is no timeline, or magical manual to navigate grief and nothing I can say that will make sense or ease your pain except to say that if you choose to, you will be ok.

 

“All the art of living lies in the fine mingling between letting go and holding on”

Havelock Ellis ~

 

clean-logo

Don’t Dream it’s over- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

wpid-PicsArt_1372652931451.jpg

When I was a little girl a rose was always a symbol of love to me. I lost my Dad to a heart attack at 39 years young, but he had a red rose tattooed on his arm with his and my moms’ names.

I have always loved roses, especially the wild pink roses that grew near my grandmother’s house. I love to look at photographs of roses, no two the same but each delicately exquisite, stunning and alluring. I learned pretty quickly that they were surrounded by sharp thorns, and many times as a child I would prick my fingers or hands while attempting to pick the perfect rose but even though when grasped they would draw pain, the rose held so much beauty and significance to me that the thorns would not keep me from them, much like love.

Like a rose, love should be cherished, cared for and nurtured. All love is beautiful in its own way and like the rose, some love matures and expands in the summer heat, only to fade and lie dormant when the frost comes. The thorns we bear strengthen us, allowing us to see just how precious and tenuous love is.

Love can make us radiant with joy but a love lost can leave us depleted and struggling.

Several years ago I planted rose bushes all along the side of my hose, I imagined my children and their children enjoying them the way I did as a child at my grandmother’s house, making bouquets and homemade perfumes and relishing their wild scent. They dislike them, the bushes have grown large and they feel attacked by the thorns but one day I suspect that they will come to appreciate their resilience and the things their beauty expresses such as promise, hope and new beginnings. They are teenagers so they are well aware of the traits the thorns represent, loss, defense and thoughtlessness. The rose is subtle and the thorns offer it a bit of protection but some people will never get to experience the true splendor of the rose simply because of the annoying thorns.

As humans we have our own thorns, we often protect ourselves from being seen and loved for all that we are because we keep parts of us inaccessible.

Our fears have fears and we put all of our outer beauty on display while protecting the parts of us that we feel will keep us safe.

The summer after my husband passed away I had almost completely lost interest in my roses and any and all of the pretty flowers around my house that once brought me such easy joy. Nature took care of them without my unsteady hand but I was doing dishes one day in the fall and glanced out the window at the bushes. We had already had snow and the last of the leaves had abandoned the trees but this particular day was abundant with sunshine and it held the promise of something new. I noticed a lone yellow rose stretched towards the beaming sun, basking in its glow, looking as healthy and vital as a spring daisy. I dropped what I was doing and went out to inspect it and take a picture. In the days and weeks to come I inspected it often and it became a bit of enigma to me. I had completely neglected that rose, failing to provide it with my love or care; and nature had been merciless yet despite its bleak circumstances that yellow rose seemed unaffected and continued to spread joy and delight. At a certain point I lost track of the rose but I do recall going out in the middle of a snowstorm to snap a picture and it still shone bright, its stem had grown long, catapulting it away from the rest of the bush and leaving it without the protection of thorns. I was allowed to admire it, smell it and touch it without the worry of pain. It seemed like a small thing but that single yellow rose that was able to grow and shine, regardless of the surrounding conditions spoke to my heart.

We have a lot to learn from nature.

“Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with. Louie Schwartzberg”

 

In the past several weeks I have had some growing discomfort surrounding the subject of fears, insecurities and relationships. In a conversation with a friend on the weekend I revealed that maybe I did not have my shit together as much as I imagined because I started to realize that there are areas that I struggle with and when I see others building imaginary castles around their hearts and living from their ego instead of their soul it suddenly became like a mirror for me and I started to see that the very things I didn’t want for myself were being reflected back at me.

 

Our egos would have us believe that love is a trap, but it will also make us feel that we are incomplete without the love of another. Ego believes that love is a dangerous game; it threatens us because conflict and rejection can cause us great hurt. So can commitment, surrender, and trust. Great pleasure is a huge threat to ego. A great love is just too much for ego to handle, it feels intimidating and when the idea of love begins to steadily rise the ego acts out of discomfort in ugly ways because it knows, there is no room for ego when love rules our hearts.

 

Love lures us towards goodness, encouraging us to be kind and sensitive at all times. When acting from love we create beauty and joy always.

 

True love is fire. It begins when two sparks unite and it rises in our hearts beginning a slow burn that gradually melts away disconnection, walls and space. When two souls come together in pure love we become very aware of the effects of our connection. Not only are we affected, the space between us becomes electric and our flames spread like wildfire, touching everything around it.

The fire of love and desire needs fuel to continue to burn and constant care is needed to tend that fire.

 

I recently went to a workshop about the benefits of pure silver and the doctor that was giving the talk said that if you want to purify silver you need to put it into the hottest part of the fire and the impurities will steadily melt away, leaving you with the purest form of silver. Amazingly LOVE does the same thing with us, when we allow ourselves to be exposed to the purest fire of love, it will burn all of our defenses away, leaving everything that we are not in ashes and exposing the purest version of ourselves.  A vulnerable, courageous and authentic human being.

No way says ego.

No friggin way!

Ego views this as a catastrophe and will pull out all the stops to maintain the person it thinks you are. This push/pull creates all kinds of fears surrounding trust and doubt, even using the past to take fuel away from the fire. Dangling things like freedom and individuality in front of you like a choice, as if you can only have one or the other.

Just as the rose needs roots to grow, so does love, we need to be rooted in one another , and most importantly firmly in ourselves so that we can continue to grow and bloom continually, giving weight to all that we are as individuals while complimenting the beautifully unique qualities of our partners. Maintaining our individuality is not only compatible to unity, I think it is essential for a healthy union.

At the beginning of our love affairs we create a private space where sparks fly and everything is sacred. Eventually as the fire in us begins to grow we expose our love to the elements and that is when things get interesting. We let the world in and all of the sudden, everything changes. Sometimes that it is an amazing thing and sometimes it is not but not all loves are meant to last forever.

All love is meant to teach us in some way. When we lose love we often feel like we have failed somehow and the truth is love is not a losing game. If we truly loved another human being, the memory in that, the experiences and the growth from that will live inside us forever, long after our hearts are stitched back together and our tears have dried up.

Love and ego will be a constant battle in our lives and will affect all of our relationships. Offering the truest version of ourselves to another, whether it is in friendship or romance, with no guarantee of anything in return is really scary. We will struggle with it and sometimes we will get it all wrong but we are trying and that makes us wonderfully human and perfectly flawed.

The choice to love and be loved is a courageous one that can take us on magnificent journeys if we allow.

 

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

 

~Crowded House

 

Waves -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

Related image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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