Imagine-WISE PROJECT 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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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.

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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 but 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, and it that I mean 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.

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Walk this way -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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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 ~

 

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

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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

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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.

Let’s talk about sex baby! Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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“We are no guiltier in following the primitive impulses that govern us than is the Nile for her floods or the sea for her waves.”
Marquis de Sade, Aline et Valcour

I have spent the last week predominantly in comfy clothes (some might call them pajamas) with no make-up and hair piled on top of my head, alternating between Netflix and sweeping dog hair off the floors. It has been an extremely relaxing week off work to say the least. On Sunday I slept late, and during my last hour in dreamland I had convinced myself that I had written this amazing blog post for Tenacious Tuesday, that it was fabulous as well as scheduled to be published first thing this morning. In the Tim Horton’s drive thru I realized that it had been a dream and I searched my brain to recall what it was I had written about in my dream that I was so excited about. Somewhere between scoffing down a horribly burnt medium black coffee and a bagel belt which was weirdly missing the lettuce and tomato, so basically just a bagel be; I totally lost any recollection of the awesomeness I had intended.

I usually do not stress about my Tuesday post; the universe always has my back and a topic always pops in my head at the last minute. Instead of stressing out I indulged in Season 2 of Ozark and I have to say the writers on this show are fucking brilliant. Helen, the lawyer on this season of Ozark has the best one liners and though you recognize that she is appropriately pleasant when the occasion calls for it, you never for one second doubt that she would cut you in pieces and put you in a wood chipper and finish the day off with a nice 18 year single malt scotch without even batting an eye if that is what was needed. Even knowing that, the writers have managed to make her somewhat likeable.

“Hey Helen with the slicked back hair, pale face, black cherry lipstick and charcoal grey pantsuits, I get you. Your composed ruthlessness and ambiguous half smile are kind of sexy in a bit of an alarming way.”

It is stunning to me what a room full of good writers can pull off but alas even this line “It’s the first law of power Marty, those who can; shit on others, those who can’t clean it up!”, did not trigger a topic for me to write about.

I made dinner, watched Haley have a first day of grade nine eve dance party, talked to Morgan about heartbreak, spoke with a friend about exes and then it was an article about a couple in China that went to the doctor after failing to conceive a baby for four years in which the woman had been enduring painful sex, only to find that they had been having ONLY anal sex for four years and that the woman was still a virgin that I yelled “AY CARUMBA” in a loud yet somewhat sexy Spanish accent sounding like a cross between an intoxicated Sofía Vergara and an angry Eva Longoria that I decided to talk about my favorite subject in the entire world ‘SEX’.

So, even though those badasses Salt N Pepa said it said it first, “Let’s talk about sex baby!”

Sex has always been a fascinating topic to me, it astounds me that people are having a lot of sex yet not talking about it and some people are not having a lot of sex and still not talking about it. I have always been extremely open in talking about sex with my children. Ultimately it is something that they are going to do at some point, and I hope that when they choose to have sex that it is safe and meaningful and I also want them to know that it is supposed to feel good for both partners.

The “Me Too” movement has opened up a lot of dialogue surrounding consent, respect and responsibility in regards to sex, however, I know that there are a lot of situations that those engaged in having sex do not actually feel comfortable enough to speak up when things do not feel right, or to ask for consent. I am not a prude at all when it comes to sex, though I do think at the very least a prerequisite for having sex with someone should be feeling comfortable enough to talk about what is happening and whether it is OK with both partners (or all partners, who am I to judge?)

SEX IS EVERYWHERE

In our culture sex is used to attract and distract, entertain, allure and sell. Though we have all been guilty of constant concern and petty gossip surrounding the sex lives of others, studies suggest that partners are not able to talk to each other openly about their own sex lives. Astoundingly, this is not an issue that is reserved for youth or couples in new relationships, couples in long term relationships and those who have been married for decades have a difficult time not only talking about sex but communicating their wants and needs.

If you have spent any time with me at all you may have heard me say that sex is like pizza, “When it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad, it’s still pizza and you will have a second slice!”

That is actually complete bullshit, it is 2018 and there is no reason for us to be having anything but fantastic sex and damn good pizza. I like all sorts of pizza but my favorite is thin crust veggie pizza and I am not afraid to tell Pizza Hut how I like it.

Remember during the Clinton scandal when Barbara Bush said Clinton lied because a man never forgets a blow job, even a shitty one? I think if we are going to make memories they should be memorable for all the right reasons. Almost as good as great sex is our recollection of it later.

If you choose to have sex it should always feel indulgent, but not like that extra cookie before bed because sex is actually good for your physical and emotional health in many surprising ways. It should feel indulgent like an extra scoop of french vanilla ice cream on your pumpkin pie, minus the guilt but double the satisfaction.

You don’t go to Fatburger for the garden salad, if you are in, be all in!

Sex should be empowering but should never be used to wield power over your partner or to shame, blame or hurt.

Sex and death remain two of the top subjects that people have the most difficulty talking about and understandably so, even those that believe in heaven are in no hurry to race to the pearly gates, but people seem to want more and more sex yet are less and less willing to have honest conversations about it.

I guess in a way, talking candidly about sex may present opportunities for embarrassment or ridicule but that has never been my experience, either in talking with my late husband and/or friends. I find it surprising how openly people can talk about sex when they feel like they are in a safe place of non-judgement yet for some reason they are not always in that place of comfort with their sexual partners. Without that level of comfort they fail to reveal their secret desires as well as their likes and dislikes and therefore sex can quickly become stale, almost as exciting as folding laundry. We will do it because when all the baskets are full we have to but we are not doing it as often as we should and we are not feeling fulfilled.

Intimacy was a huge part of my marriage and for that I am thankful. My late husband and I were together for twenty years and sex was not an issue for us though we did struggle through those early years with babies and full time jobs when sometimes the promise of extra sleep was a bit more alluring than a midnight romp. I realized quite quickly that good sex doesn’t have to take a long time and nothing makes you sleep better than the big “O”

I remember the one and only time that my late husband turned me down for sex saying he was too tired, I remember everything about how that made me feel, I even remember details of that day because I had changed our bedroom around and our bed was in a different location. I was so sullen, and it made me feel hurt and unwanted. We were having problems in our marriage that were not related to sex, in fact, with the stress of children and full time jobs we had almost lost our ability to communicate and if it were not for sex we may have completely lost our connection to one another. I believe that sex between lovers can be a language all on its own and if we are not able to effectively communicate, problems arise. There are times in our intimate relationships that we will inevitably face challenges, sex shouldn’t be one of them but it is right up there with finances and can cause the same degree of stress and discontent if left unattended.

I read a really interesting article relating to the impact that sexual rejection has on relationships and what was really interesting to me is that if women were the initiator’s of sex and were turned down they felt justified in their hurt and frustration but failed to see the same effect when they said no to their male partners because of the belief that the male need and want for sex is largely desire based and for females it is believed to be emotionally centered. Interestingly enough though; men experience the same amount of hurt and negative emotions when their sexual affections are dismissed, often affecting their confidence, ego and desire for their partners.

Sex is a wonderful expression of love between partners but sex and love can also be very separate things. They are not mutually exclusive and the outdated idea that it is supposed to be touching for the woman and gratifying for the man and that men should always initiate sex are things that I was never told by my mother during that awkward conversation about sex that we had all those years ago while sitting in my teenage bedroom surrounded by Jon Bon Jovi posters, yet they are things I spent a great deal of time believing nonetheless.

Intimate love and sex go hand in had, I believe that to be true, but I also believe that there are people having great sex without love and commitment and though I think that is wonderful for them I think that there is an important distinction that should be made when entering into sexual relationships, sex is a beautiful and healthy way to express and celebrate the love we have for another person but sex does not guarantee that someone will love us. I think this is an important discernment for all sexually active individuals. In healthy relationships, whether they are committed or not, sex should not be used as a commodity.

Everyone has their own opinions about sex, intimacy and its importance in relationships and the great thing is that none of us are wrong in our personal opinions but i believe that both partners views about sex, the importance of, and the frequency of should be considered, and even in the most casual of sexual relationships; safety, comfort and pleasure should always be priorities. If sex is on the menu, serve it right!

Our sex lives are heavily shaped by culture, perception and expectations, some of what we know or have come to expect is clouded by Harlequin romances or better yet porn, both are for entertainment, not education. The best way to know what your partner is turned on by is to ask them because nine out of ten times Fabio hair and fisting is not it.

I encourage you all to be tenacious this Tuesday and initiate a conversation with your significant other about sex. I wish you good luck and great sex.

“The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.”

~Marcus Aurelius

Bonfire Heart – Wise Project 2018

“Your mouth is a revolver firing bullets in the sky
Your love is like a soldier, loyal till you die
And I’ve been looking at the stars for a long, long time
I’ve been putting out fires all my life
Everybody wants a flame, but they don’t want to get burnt
And today is our turn”

~ Bonfire Heart James Blunt

A little over a year ago when my husband was taken from us by the cruel hand of depression, PTSD and Mental Illness I was faced with some immediate choices about how and if I would move forward and how I would lead our children through grief.

I have been incredibly blessed to have met so many kind, loving and wise guides through Lifestyle Meditation here in Edmonton and each one of these passionate souls have reminded me that we are the healers, but they will continue to hold space for us while we heal. I have been reminded that Kirk will heal through our healing and that continues to be powerful for me. I never wanted him to sit in my pain any more than he wanted me to sit in his.

Grief is an agonizing journey and what has been unbelievably important to my emotional health is the belief that we are all spirits having a human experience. Death ends our physical life, it doesn’t end our love and it doesn’t extinguish our light. I can no longer take comfort in Kirk’s physical presence, but I am reminded quite frequently that he is still in the universe, and the universe is continually supporting us and working for our highest good. We often can’t see that because we look at life through a lens of entitlement, bitterness and fear and no matter how many inspirational memes we share on Facebook it is our actions when nobody is looking that really matter. If we are living out of resentment, fear and indignation that is exactly what we put into the world and like attracts like. We will get back what we call out for.

My physical body is 44 years old, but I know that my soul is much older. I believe when we take on our physical bodies we are given a task, something to learn in our lifetime, and no matter who we are we are also given challenges to overcome in our journey. I think our challenges and how we rise to face them present us with our greatest lessons and our most powerful invitations towards personal growth and fulfilling our divine purposes.

I have believed for a very long time that my purpose was to learn about, embody, encompass and give love despite any challenge that I am faced with. I know that the Merriam Webster dictionary of love cannot do justice to all that the word love holds and embraces. It is a weighty task indeed to face each day with love when hate stares us in the face constantly.

We spend much of our lives trying to bestow our love unto people and we are incredibly hurt and sullen when our love is not reciprocated. We become fearful and jaded and we build walls around our hearts. We keep the love out. We keep the joy at bay, but ironically the acidic lure of acrimony seeps into those walls like rain into dry earth.

It was only a few short years ago that I learned the importance of loving myself first. If we do not love and invest in ourselves how can we expect that anyone else should find us worthy of that investment. I have also been guilty of thinking that love was rare and must only be given in the most special of circumstances. When we love ourselves, we are overflowing with love, we than put our love into the world not because we are in desperate need of love, but because we are abundant with love and we want to share it. I think the important difference is that we attract people that want to share love because they are overflowing with it too, not deplete us because they are desperate for our love because they do not have any of their own. This creates relationships that are not based on the divine truth and freedom in love. When we fail to fill ourselves up with love we have a constant need to get that love elsewhere and it can lead to unhealthy life patterns.

Our hearts are more powerful than our fear and contrary to popular belief lost love does not break them. Often our ego perspective holds us hostage and we fail to see that if we give love because we have abundant love to give instead of searching for love because we need it we will recognize an important shift in all our important relationships.

The thing that has been nipping at my heals is how love should feel like freedom yet we constantly put chains on the people we love, trying to hold unto to something that is intended to move freely. There must be a way to love ourselves and embrace our authenticity in a way that we invite others to be their true selves and any love shared between us is void of judgement or restraints.

Love should not assume, it cannot be held, it is not boastful, unkind or judgmental. True love moves like the universe and the universe cannot be restrained. The universe roots itself firmly in the present knitting its energy interminably in the here and now, never losing itself in the pain of the past or worries for the future.

“Trying to hold on to love is like trying to hold on to the ocean. An exercise in futility that leaves you a constant “failure”, even while the ocean itself beckons you at all times to come into it and be surrounded and supported by its majesty.”

~ Roberta Shepherd, HHP (Love is Freedom)