That summer feeling: W.I.S.E. project 2016

In Don Henley’s 1984 classic Boys of Summer, “The summer’s out of reach” and so is the lady in the song that crushed his heart. “Those days are gone forever,” Henley croons. “I should just let them go.” The wistful lyrics gently remind us of the past slipping away, which is what the end of summer is really all about. However; with every ending we are offered a beginning as well and let’s not forget that Don Henley indeed saw a “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” which gave us us one of 1980s most iconic song lyrics.

The blazing evening sun hangs in the sky just a little lower than the days before, warm nights awaken to cool mornings and the emerald green of the trees has been dulled by hot days, some of the leaves have already turned to yellow, curling up around the edges. The summer of love will inevitably give way to the fall of responsibility, to sweaters, fuzzy blankets and pumpkin spice lattes. It is a time for long walks, thick socks, big books and new ideas and inspiration. Don’t mourn an ending but rejoice a beginning some would say. The promise of fall is just around the corner.

We always have a plan of what our summer is going to be like and I think no matter what we did it never seems enough. We long for just one more warm night, walk on the beach, hike in the mountains, skinny dip in the lake. It is a feeling of incomplete-ness that leaves us longing for more. Wet bathing suits wrapped in damp towels, dripping ice cream, sandy flips flops and iced coffee step aside for cardigans, hot soup and long pants. The change is inevitable, it happens every year but somehow we find ourselves not quite ready.

Fall is a beautiful time in Canada though. I felt the hint of it in the cool air this weekend as we visited Victoria. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. Victoria has a temperate climate and boasts rugged shorelines and beautiful beaches. Some of the trees have already started their decent into the gold hues of autumn and tourists line up at downtown restaurants and ice cream shops for tasty eats and cool treats, one last taste of summer.

Summer slows down at my work so the shift between seasons is quite significant. Fall means more responsibility, longer hours but less daylight, more to do lists and less quiet time.

I do enjoy seasons. There is something subtle in the intervals between the changing climate that makes you cling to one while at the same time longing for what is to come. For instance I hate shoveling snow but I sure love the way street lights glow against the diamond like powder of a fresh snowfall.

My W.I.S.E. principles for August were willing, idea, strong and evolve. I didn’t focus on these as much as I would previously in the project as I tried to just focus on the good of everyday. I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt like I was focusing so much on the principles that I was losing sight of the present moment, of being mindful and seeking joy in everyday. I do however appreciate looking back on the principles and reflecting on my growth and the areas where I have learned and things I can improve on. The purpose of this project was to be more mindful and find and create a deeper experience of joy in the present moment. Unchaining myself from the shackles of the past and becoming the person I am meant to be. Instead of living in a place of pain or shame I am learning to walk through it, to feel it, to take the lesson and to move on stronger. UN-scarred but possibly with a warrior wound or two.

I visited my husband in Vancouver last week as he is working there and I had not seen him in over 40 days. My second night there we had an argument and it wasn’t awful it was inevitable. I always say that if a couple does not argue someone is getting their own way all the time.

It was one of those times where I feel like I used all of the above principles. I was willing to speak up when I encountered a problem, I had ideas on how to make things better, I was strong enough to say what I wanted and I feel like I have evolved in my fighting style to be less mean and more meaningful. I have never been the type to hold back in an argument but I was the type to hold onto the bad feelings. These are the things I am working on.

My husband has worked away for years and although it has always come with it’s own set of challenges forty days apart has never been the norm for us but it is quickly becoming so. We are at a point in our lives and our relationship that we enjoy each others company, we are not afraid to share our feelings and we genuinely want to share our time. Loneliness has become a very real thing and we are challenged everyday to find the time to stay connected. When my husband worked away in the Oilsands no matter what he told me about the work conditions and living in camps there was an undeniable disconnect between what he relayed to me and what I understood. This year I have been visiting him at his away jobs and I am able to get a sense for the solitary feeling that looms around you when you work and live alone. I want to hold unto him like I want to hold unto that summer feeling and it has had an affect on me to the point that I have to dig very deep everyday to expel the foreboding perception of emptiness that torments me.

For those of you who have spouses that work away I am more than open to ideas on how you nurture your connection during long periods apart. I want to be able to acknowledge that I miss him but I don’t want to be miserable and lonely all of the time.

My September principles are wellness, improvement, savor and effort. I am hoping with some effort I can find an improvement to my current situation of loving and longing, to savor the moments we get to steal together and to continue to journey towards wellness and living purposely in the present.

If we can’t hold onto summer lets try to hold onto that summer feeling.

Be W.I.S.E. friends!

 

 

Naked and Afraid-Marriage in the 21st Century -Podcast 3 part series

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I decided to do a three part  segment on Marriage and some things I have  learned during the last 14 years of wedded bliss and almost 18 years in a relationship with my husband in which we have  faced our share of adversity and struggles.

Marriage can be fun, beautiful and so rewarding, but the one thing that nobody tells you on your wedding day is how hard it is, how much work it requires and if you do not nurture it it can very quickly wither up and die, like a flower in the desert heat!

I entered into my marriage pretty idealistically and with a lot of silly expectations. I brought with me way too much sass and this incredible need to be right all the time. My husband brought his own ideas and idiosyncrasies. Adding us together, mixing us up, throwing in some good times and struggle on top of struggle there have been some dark moments. The thing we are proud of is that though there were times where we almost got lost in the struggles, we dug in, put in some very hard work and today we are lucky to not just call each other partners but we are best friends.

There will be times that we may not like each other but those are the times that we remind ourselves how much we love each other. We have shared some great times together and some times that have made our heads spin. My need, or desire to share this with you comes from a good place in my heart that wants everyone in a relationship that is facing hard times or  daily struggles to know that you are not alone and it is normal. I even share some tips about things that have worked for us.

Join me for a fun and honest look into being Naked and Afraid in a marriage in the 21st century.

Part One- Setting the Stage

Part Two- Stupid things your spouse does and taking the good with the bad

Part Three- Make-up sex, fighting fair and why cuddling has it’s time and place.

Thanks for joining me, I would love to hear your feedback and I adore your marriage stories.

Cheers,

Michelle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Klaus Mann

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

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Tainted Love-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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Photo Credit : gem fountain/flickr

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Chat soon xo

 

If you don’t know me by now- W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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The W.I.S.E. Project is a journey to self discovery and fulfillment. I am just like you, yet different. I decided to tell you some totally useless information about me and then you will know me better. You may love me, totally dislike me or suggest I seek help. Regardless, if we are going to journey together we should have some dirt on each other in case things go awry along the way!

1.) I love the sound and the smell of rain, if it is accompanied by rolling thunder and lightning lights up the sky I am enthralled. Stormy nights make me sleep like a baby!

2.) I love eggs. Boiled, fried, poached, scrambled or omelets. Eggs are my go to, any day, any time food.

3.) If I have red lipstick on and a flower in my hair I am determined to have a wonderful day!

4.) I love movies that evoke feeling. If they don’t make me cry, scream in anger or recoil in fear then it is not a good movie. If I can do all of that in one movie then it will be my favorite.

5.) I cannot be held responsible for anything I say or do when I am behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. I am a nice person until I am driving and you disregard rules and courtesy. 98% of my swearing takes place in my vehicle.

6.) I like the feeling of being happy. I recognize very quickly when I am not and I have to try very hard to get back to that feeling. Sometimes I have to give myself a time-out!

7.) I love road trips but I also like coffee. It is impossible to combine the two and still cover the miles needed to get where we are going! I am not a lot of fun when I need to pee!!

8.) Sometimes I am afraid to be totally myself because the world has a certain amount of power over me. I try to serve my authenticity but when challenges get to great I tend to panic. As above, sometimes a time-out is needed.

9.) I take a five minutes a day to meditate and be mindful. It is hard. I set a timer. It does get easier and it is helping me to cut through mental distraction and build my attention span.

10.) I used to envy people. Now I admire them.

11.) I used to have this driving need to make a difference somehow. I would spend countless hours being curious and trying to figure out what my purpose was. I found that my greatest contribution could be in changing myself and in learning to be happier, grateful and more mindful I am making a difference in my life and the lives of those I love.

12.) I think identity is something we build on. At 17 I thought I knew everything, including who I was. I am glad that I am not the same person today that I was a 17.  I think the painful experiences that I have had in the last 42 years are the times that I have fought the most to seek my identity, with each lesson, with each trauma, with each survival; parts of my identity emerged.

13.) I sometimes yell at everyone in my house when I am frustrated.

14.) I use laughter to deal with hard situations because someone once said it was the best medicine.

15.) I lose several corkscrews in a month and find them in weird places like my underwear drawer. I love wine 😉

16.) If someone is not nice to my children then I wouldn’t have them around, I feel the same way about my pets.

17.) Sometimes I crave a good cuddle but it is on my terms only. When I want to cuddle and how long I want to cuddle. I have unspoken cuddle rules! I know it sounds selfish and it is not the intimacy of it that I struggle with, it is just that sometimes it sends me into a claustrophobic panic and others it feels like my body has burst into flames and I am burning alive. If it is my way and my terms it can be the sweetest and most calming experience.

18.) I am fascinated by nerds. Most nerds are incredibly smart and though they often lack in social skills; one on one they can be so charming and engaging. I love the way their minds work and they can be really exceptional friends. I had a really good friend years ago that I would describe as the “nerd” of our group. At 20 he was abundantly smart and was enthusiastic about things other than drink specials and wing night. After a night of tequila shots and bad decision making we somehow ended up alone and he educated me in unspeakable ways. He was brilliant and attentive in the bedroom and other rooms. In fact, just to prove it wasn’t the tequila talking we engaged in many more crazy times until he moved across the country to further his education. I would listen to him for hours on end talking to me about amazing things that I wasn’t smart enough to understand, he would ponder, adjust his glasses and thoughtfully explain to me everything I never wanted to know and then when it was least expected he would literally rip my clothes off and ravish me. It could be at the bathroom sink, in the kitchen…in the middle of a math equation. It was so incredibly hot. I thought he was my best kept secret but many monthes later I found out that at least a couple of my friends thought they had the same secret. No regrets 😆

19.) * sometimes my mind wanders mid thought. No nerds were harmed in the making of this blog post!

 
20.) One of the most valuable things I have learned to do is to say NO.

Now you  know me a bit. I would love to get to know you. Tell me a totally random and useless fact about you.