Amazing Grace -Wise Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

Life is a beautiful disaster

Life is a beautiful disaster at the best of times and it is during our darkest times that we are challenged to find some sort of meaning in the midst of chaos. Never is this truer than when we experience tragedy, especially when it is the death of someone we love. So much of our identity, our hopes and dreams and plans for the future are wrapped up, in and around the special people in our lives and when one of them is suddenly taken away from us, looking forward can be a bleak venture.

This weekend was especially hard for me, there is really no rhyme or reason to grief, no magical step by step manual that you can pinpoint where you are and where you need to be. I think for me the best I can do is take things moment to moment, which was how I was trying to live my life way before my husband left this world so tragically.

At the moment, even tomorrow seems uncertain, so it is best for me to honor the feelings that come up as they arise. This weekend everything was wrapped in a blanket of deep sadness. In that regard I would describe grief as being  like the Cha-cha, taking a step backwards after taking a step forwards. Some may classify that as failure or being stuck, but it is movement and I have to believe that any sort of movement is a step in the right direction.

It seems like such a short time ago that I was waking up with happy anticipation and that has sadly been replaced by a blanket of dread. I dread even a day without Kirk so the thought of facing my life without him is overwhelming. I remind myself that moving through the day moment to moment is the best that can be expected of me and at the end of the day I celebrate the small victory that I made it through yet another one. Amidst the bleak despair if I am lucky enough to be gifted moments of light I try my best to hold unto them as long as possible, as it is in those moments that I am able to look towards the future with a tiny bit of hope.

This weekend I had made multiple plans and I was quite excited at the prospect of getting to that point in my journey that I could actually be excited about leaving the house for not one or two but three days in a row. Friday night after work I met a friend and we went raspberry picking, we had dinner and shared some stories over a glass of wine. I was in bed that night exhausted by 10 p.m. I had been having a good time and then all of the sudden I became literally overcome at the thought of never having dinner with Kirk again, never driving in a vehicle with Kirk again, never listening to Kirk bitch when his smoothie had raspberries in it because he despised how the seeds got stuck in his teeth. I woke early on Saturday but I wasn’t able to leave my room. I feel close to Kirk there and the thought of facing anything outside my room made me feel choked.  I was lucky to be given weekend passes to the Edmonton Folk Festival but tried desperately to pawn them off on my teenage daughter. In a reversal of sorts my daughter temporarily took over the role of voice of reason and told me that I wasn’t going to sit around, I was going to kick the ass out of that day and if that was too much to ask for, I could be just as sad at the folk festival as I could at home cleaning the house; only it was less lame. She was entirely right of course and as we weaved our way through Edmonton on city transit I was reminded that Kirk would have told me the exact same thing.

There is nothing lame about the Edmonton Folk festival. It is such a mish mosh of people and personalities that I was immediately reminded of the beauty and the fragile-ness of life.

Life is glorious sunsets, panoramic mountain vistas, ocean spray, sunrises, laughter, dancing, hot sand, cool drinks, loud music,  acne, gas, bills, mortgages, jobs, stress, heartache, birth, death and taxes. Life is all or nothing. There is no promise of a pain free life and unfortunately we need to experience all of it.

Music has always brought people together and we are always aware of how lucky we are to get to experience music live, it is such a connecting experience.

My daughter and I found a spot on the grass to lay our blanket, surrounded by babies, teenagers, parents, grandparents and people at a time in their lives that they can’t recall their age but their toes can still tap out the rhythm of the music. That alone was beautiful and I allowed myself to see and feel that. Music has always brought people together and we are always keenly aware of how lucky we are to get to experience music live. It is such a connecting experience, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate stories brought to life through music and melodies.

Irish Mythen is an Irish born-Canadian Contemporary Folk singer and songwriter with the wonderful gift of comfortably uniting people through her stories and her strong and fantastic voice. In her intro to Sweet Necessity she talked about being a singer-songwriter on the road and discovering the things that were the most important things in life, the things you long to come home too. These sweet necessities are the things that money cannot buy. She followed with a powerful song called 55 years that she had written after meeting an elderly man at a festival that had just lost his wife. They had been married for 55 years and had never spent a night apart and after he wandered off into the night she wondered about how that must have felt for him, the first time crawling into his bed without his true love. Tears were spraying out of my eyes even before the first strum of the guitar and as my daughter held my hand I was once again reminded of how lucky I was to get that kind of love, and that grief is love’s souvenir. I cannot rush my way through it, I need to carry it with me as I move through my days and honor all of the feelings as they come my way. I cried for that beautiful old man that lost his wife, I cried for Kirk, I cried for me and my children and our families and friends and I cried for people that I didn’t even know that would one day be faced with the same heartache. Pain is not selective. It is what we do with our pain that matters.

I looked at her with envy thinking that that was supposed to be me someday.

That night I was once again exhausted and I faced the same difficult morning; not wanting or ready to face my own reality. My daughter once again reminded me that we had plans for the last day of Folk Festival and that I could be just as sad there as I could be anywhere. The travel through the city was worse on Sunday, I remembered how funny it was traveling with Kirk on City transit and was reminded how we would never do that again. As we laid in the hot sun on our blanket listening to 78 year old Blues legend William Bell I thought of how much Kirk would have appreciated this and how connected he was to music. He communicated with me a lot through music, often sending me songs and always insisting that I listen to the lyrics because they were everything he wanted to say. My eyes leaked all day and it felt terrible. It felt like having annoying eye allergy and your eyes feel constantly wet and crusty in the corners. Tears were imminent.

My daughter nudged me to look at this elderly woman who was wildly dancing to the rock and roll/swamp/blues stylings of Canadian band MonkeyJunk. I looked at her through teary eyes, and my heart did a funny thing, perhaps a pang.  She had white hair, and she was wearing a white short sleeved sweater with brightly colored embroidered flowers, fuchsia shorts and matching sunglasses. If you googled images of smile or sunshine you might find a picture of her. I looked at her with envy thinking that that was supposed to be me someday. I was supposed to be that happy older lady in the brightly colored clothing, dancing like nobody was watching and shining as bright as the sun. I contemplated that for several minutes, turning my attention back to the crooning guitar and the beat of the drum to drown out the breaking of my heart, over and over again. I looked over at the woman again, still dancing as if freedom was her middle name. I estimated her to be in her seventies and I am pretty certain that heartache hadn’t passed over her. In 70 years I am sure she has experienced her fair share of pain, yet she danced as if her heart had never been broken, free from the shackles of emotional torment.

I know if I want to dance with freedom at 70 plus years old I have some work to do, I need to heal my heart and reconnect with my soul. I need to seek and find some grace.

I heard a word last week that is not a dictionary word but Deepak Chopra used it “SynchroDestiny”, alluding to the fact that events and encounters are more than meaningful coincidences; they are actually choices we make that are leading us towards our destiny.

“When we’re aware of our essential nature and the possibilities that are always unfolding around us, we enter a state I call SynchroDestiny. We awaken to the field of infinite possibilities, and are able to apply our intentions and attention to manifest the spontaneous fulfillment of our dreams and desires. “ –Deepak Chopra

I have felt pretty strongly in the last several months that people I meet and the experiences that I have are somehow all connected and leading me towards my purpose. I was meant to be at the Folk Festival and see that woman, dancing like she was eighteen at Woodstock. She was meant to be a part of my journey. I know if I want to dance with freedom at 70 plus years old I have some work to do, I need to heal my heart and reconnect with my soul. I need to seek and find some grace.

Author Anne Lamont presented a Ted Talk where she talked about grace and I searched for it and as I listened a meaning was revealed that I had not embraced on my previous listen.

Anne Lamott says:

Grace.

Grace is spiritual WD-40, or water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin and me exactly as much as He or She loves your new grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and heals our world.

To summon grace, say, “Help,” and then buckle up. Grace finds you exactly where you are, but it doesn’t leave you where it found you. And grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost, regrettably. But the phone will ring or the mail will come and then against all odds, you’ll get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness. It helps us breathe again and again and gives us back to ourselves, and this gives us faith in life and each other. And remember — grace always bats last.

 

So I am buckling up and asking for help and I am also taking measures to discover who it is I am meant to be in the world right now and in the future. I am taking an online Self Discovery course by the Chopra Center facilitated by Deepak Chopra.

Speaking of SynchroDestiny; I met Deepak in the winter when I attended his talk on the future of well-being. I also bought his book “You are the Universe.” I was immediately fascinated with the book but it was a slow read for me as I was underlining and using sticky notes and highlighters and then reading and discussing parts of the book with Kirk so that he could help me understand. Kirk had a brilliant mind and could grasp a concept much quicker than I could, I always put things through the filter of my heart and maybe that complicates things.

Our natural state is that of joy, creativity and abundance but throughout our lives we are reminded of our limitations and live within those constricted beliefs.

Through this course I am learning to honor my feelings but to let go of old hurt and anger that traps me in old experiences. Our natural state is that of joy, creativity and abundance but throughout our lives we are reminded of our limitations and live within those constricted beliefs. As a young child our lives and the opportunities available to us seem boundless but as we were educated about our limitations our possibilities became narrow and confined. Stored emotional pain can also significantly limit our potential to create and seek unlimited joy. For instance holding unto anger traps us in the past and clouds our perception of unison and doesn’t allow us to see the signs that the universe is offering us.

I know that dealing with the pain and trauma of this loss now is the the very best thing I can do for myself, my children and my emotional and spiritual well being. Otherwise I run the risk that the pain will resurface as aggravated poison at an equally inopportune time-showing up as hostility, anger, anxiety or fear. My goal is to deal with the feelings now as they come and begin to slowly take those hard steps towards emotional freedom. If I allow myself to let my mind take over I very quickly find myself trapped in a Karmic prison, a prison with no walls or locks but the trappings of my own terrified mind.

I am also taking a 3 day Meditation course at Lifestyle Meditation, to learn to fully integrate meditation into my lifestyle. Meditation has been a go to for me for awhile now, saving me from myself on several occasions; but I would like to fully immerse myself in the experience of meditation and mindfulness and connect to the science and philosophy in a solid way so that I can not only continue to evolve in my own personal practice but I can confidently influence others that can benefit from incorporating meditation and mindfulness techniques in their own lives and wellness.

Often what we are searching for is searching for us as well and I believe that grace is seeking me and I am indeed seeking grace.

Be Wise friends xo

Michelle

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Life in the Fast Lane-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

 

Saturday afternoon as I padded around the little cabin in my bathrobe, a leftover cheddar smokie drizzled with mustard and rolled up in a napkin in one hand and a Krispy Creme donut in the other I felt content. I unabashedly slept in, waking to roll over, stretch out and sleep again on repeat. It seemed like it had been forever since I had been able to do that and I wasn’t going to ruin it by feeling guilty. I happily had no responsibilities except to relax.

I had gone to visit my husband out of town and meet his work crew. He convinced me to stay an extra night but in the interim I had a whole day to myself to do as I wished. I was in the middle of nowhere so there wasn’t a whole lot to fill my time so I decided to just slow down and enjoy the quiet.

I was watching a Ted Talk with Carl Honoré about his bestselling book In Praise of Slow, about the slow movement. Carl explores the idea that if we actually slow down, in our speed obsessed society, we can actually accomplish more, be happier and create greater success.

Our culture of speed takes a toll on every aspect of our lives; living in the fast lane is damaging to our health, our diets, our well being, our communities and our relationships.  When we live our lives in fast forward, we are missing some of the most important things.

“Everybody these days wants to know how to slow down, but they want to know how to learn to slow down very quickly!” ~Carl Honoré

In the last couple of years since I started the W.I.S.E. Project one of my greatest challenges and desires was to be more mindful and learn to live in the moment. My entire life needed a complete overhaul to learn to live in the present moment instead of speeding through to the next. I learned that I wasn’t really connecting to myself and to the world around me, I was literally racing against time to accomplish everything I could possibly get done in a day. It made me ill, unhappy and detached. I longed to have deeper, richer and stronger relationships and wanted to take an active role in my own well being and pursue activities that I was passionate about but the truth was that I didn’t have time. To be clearer, and more honest; I didn’t make time and I equated a great deal of my self worth with how much I could do and how much I could achieve in a short amount of time.

The message of ‘less is more’ has many meanings and can seep into several areas of our lives. We collect things, more and more things that don’t matter; that clutter our lives and fill voids. We subscribe to the notion that time is money and we race against the clock, busying our lives and barely taking the time to just breath.

I do believe it is possible to slow down but it is an undertaking that requires careful thought and an honest desire for change.

“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Personally, one of my greatest tools in my battle against time and practicing mindfulness has been meditation. A daily meditation practice has allowed me to achieve something that I have always longed for; a strong and resilient mind among the chaos that is my life. I have discovered the luxuriousness that is silence and I crave more and more quiet and unhurried moments to ease my burdens and feed my soul.

Being still can seem strange at first. Most of us run on autopilot and we are trained to constantly be doing. For me, I often have to overcome the guilt that I should be doing something. Slowing down is healthy, silence is golden.

The World Health Organization has identified noise pollution as a global health hazard affecting both developing and developed nations. The impact includes hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, mental-health effects, hypertension and increased blood pressure. People surrounded by noise are often in constant states of stress, which can degrade their immune systems.

Slowing down and taking the time to embrace a quieter and yet more fulfilling existence is a healthy escape from the everyday that can be life changing for you and your loved ones.

Do you think your life could benefit from learning to slow down?

How do you find moments of calm in your busy life?

What do you value above all else in your life?

 

Don’t Worry Be Happy -W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

I recall a time not so long ago that I ridiculed people who read self-help books. I cannot pinpoint when and how I became enthralled with the wildly popular genre but in the past several years about 90% of my reading has been dedicated to memoirs and self-improvement. I take courses and workshops and online boot camps dedicated to understanding myself better and reaping more joy from the world around me.

I went from So What to Don’t Worry Be Happy on the musical scale of life.

When I initially started the W.I.S.E. Project I was going through a period of uncertainty and unexplained sadness and though I was going through the motions I wasn’t living a life that was bringing me a great deal of happiness. I made some changes right away in my life by being more mindful and aware which lead to me doing a relationship study and exploring the connection between our emotions and our actions. I made a conscious effort to try to control what I search and see online and to make choosing happiness and gratitude a priority every moment of every day.

I still get sad, angry, emotional, bitter and annoyed but I am much more aware of the cause of these feelings and I know that my actions in those moments of distress truly matter. I believe it was Brené Brown that first said, “You cannot selectively numb emotion.” What she meant by that is if we numb the bad emotions in hopes that we will never experience pain or anger we will also numb those delightful feelings of happiness and joy that we want to feel as well. It would be like taking a brilliantly colored rainbow and putting a bleak filter on it, making it dismal and uninteresting. It still passes for a rainbow but it it isn’t vivid and gleaming.

I think we all want the same basic things from life, we all want to live a happy and fulfilling life, but I respect that we all follow a different path to get there.

Newly “Happy” people are like people who were very successful on a diet or that just found Jesus.  They are excited and they want to help you have the same experience. The problem with that is that we are all individuals with different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and challenges, what works for one may not be a “one size fits all” fix.

In the past month, I have encountered the same thing repeatedly relating to the happiness experience and I thank my husband for encouraging me to look at things in a new way, especially in those cases that relate to our teenage daughters. I was leaning too far into the “don’t worry be happy” approach to guidance which gives very little regard to the vast emotions that we; as humans, experience daily.

Though I still wholeheartedly believe that gratitude breeds abundance and happiness is a choice, sometimes shitty things happen to us and we have every right to feel shitty about them. Telling someone who is hurting to “get over it” or to look on the bright side” is probably not the best way to be supportive. We experience feelings for a reason and they deserve to be acknowledged so that we can keep moving through life making the very best choices we can in the moment.

We are hardwired for struggle, if we respond to our pain, our sadness, our fears, we are admitting that our feelings are real and that they deserve our attention. We cannot overcome that which we refuse to acknowledge.

There has been a hopeful shift in the way that I relate to my teenage daughters. By acknowledging their fears and their pain instead of quickly dismissing it by telling them it won’t matter in twenty years or that they need to get over it, I have observed the emergence of their own coping mechanisms. My husband reminded me to think back to when I was a teenager and how things that may not matter to me now were a very big deal. It was a huge eye opener, and so effective to put myself in their shoes, at their age for just a moment. They are assured that their feelings have substance and that pain has a beginning, a middle and an end. I am seeing them accepting their fate and recognizing the steps they need to take to move through their difficult emotions, without holding unto the bad energy or passing it along to others. As a parent, it is very satisfying to watch their character reveal itself.

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I was quite annoyed the other week as I was discussing a situation with some friends and one proceeded to tell me how I felt and how I should feel about the circumstances. I thought that is was presumptuous to tell me how to feel. It gave me a moment of pause to consider if I have been guilty of the same thing.

There is a great deal of people in the world who wrap themselves in pain and anger and live their entire lives blanketed in misery. Unlike those people, people that are willing to experience the emotions that visit them, to identify their cause and travel through their struggles, hanging on to the lessons only; are probably some of the happiest and most intelligent people I know.

Diminishing and disregarding the feelings of another does not make us a shining example of anything. Even though we may think me may mean well, in our attempts to help we may be unwittingly devaluing their emotions.

One of the society’s biggest problems is that we listen only to respond. Sometimes people just want us to listen, not to tell them how to feel or how to fix their lives, they just need us to listen.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.”
― Roy T. Bennett

Bucket of Fucks-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 Tenacious Tuesday

DISCLAIMER- I apologize in advance for the use of the word fuck, I am struggling to find another word that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, an interjection or an adverb. If it bothers you, you can replace with the word flower or meatloaf.

“Now, while not giving a fuck may seem simple on the surface, it’s a whole new bag of burritos under the hood. I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t give a fuck. A bag of burritos sounds awesome, so let’s just go with it.” ~Mark Manson

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I was ever given was to give up all my expectations of people. It took me a very long time to get behind that advice, the thought was foreign to me. I was heavily into volunteering at the time and I expected everyone to have the same level of commitment that I did, and because that didn’t happen often, I allowed it to cause me a great deal of stress. When I learned to stop expecting things of people it was a step in the right direction, I stopped taking it personally when people didn’t step up or follow through. Eventually I decided to move on to other things myself and albeit that was initially a difficult decision. When you put your heart into something and dedicate countless hours to a cause it is hard to walk the other way and not look back. That was the day I decided not to give a fuck. Too many fucks had been given and I was simply out of fucks to give.

I teetered through life with my bucket of fucks, giving fucks to things that really didn’t deserve a fuck. I gave a fuck if the cashier at the grocery store was rude, I threw another fuck at the driver that cut me off in traffic, I was handing out fucks to strangers and events that in the grand scheme of my life didn’t matter all. One day I found myself scraping the empty bottom of my bucket of fucks. I had given out fucks like they grew on trees, here a fuck, there a fuck…everywhere I am tossing a fuck, fuck!

I had one fuck left to give. It turns out fucks don’t grow on trees and if someone didn’t throw a fuck my way, I was going to be fuck-less!!

Simply not giving a fuck at all, ever, is apathetic, and that type of indifference is reserved for people that are lazy and uninspired. However, it is absolutely okay to not give a fuck about every little thing. It is fine to cache our fucks for things that are important, like family, friends and wine.

Younger me gave a fuck about everything and everyone. I was a people pleaser, I wanted to be liked, I gave a fuck about what people thought of me, what they said about me, whether they thought I was smart or funny or they liked my hair. I had a ton of fucks to give and I was handing them out all over town like I was that stranger with candy that your parents warned you about.

Age and maturity has taught me to be selective with the fucks I give. It is a work in progress but I find that I am certain of my identity, surer of myself, and I able to reserve my energy to give a fuck, only when it is important.

I went through this period of uncertainty not so long ago where I really struggled with who I was and how to be happy. I had it in my head that I wasn’t enough, that I was meant to do more with my life and I desperately wanted to have some sort of skill that would make that happen. After some soul searching I realized that I am never going to be a National Geographic Photographer or a Pulitzer Prize winner. I am not going to heal people or co-host a show with Ellen. I am OK with it. I am OK with being who I am and where I am in my life and as I sail through the days with my dwindling bucket of fucks I realize that it is alright not to give a fuck about every little thing. I am enough. I have everything I need and I am happy not giving a fuck a lot of the time!

It is not easy. There are days when I want to give a fuck about everything.  It gets tiring though and I find that at my age, the more fucks I give out, the less fucks I can dedicate to things that really deserve my time and energy. My goal is not to simply “not” give a fuck at all but to learn to redirect my fucks to the right people and things.

“The point is that fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely. Fucks are cultivated like a beautiful fucking garden, where if you fuck shit up and the fucks get fucked, then you’ve fucking fucked your fucks all the fuck up.” ~Mark Manson

I have come to realize that when I am giving way too many fucks to insignificant things, even things that bother me like the toilet paper not being changed, the drive through attendant’s lack of enthusiasm or whether there is toast crumbs in the butter, I am lacking something in my life, something that I genuinely give a fuck about.

Sometimes I am genuinely enthusiastic about so many things that I struggle with giving a fuck to everything , it’s like a big ol fuckstorm, blowing fucks all over the place. When the wind dies down I know that I need to gather up my fucks and put them back into my bucket of fucks and restrict my fuck giving to the things that matter the most to me because handing out fucks like they are mini chocolate bars at Halloween is not only tiring, it keeps me from offering up a fuck to the most important things.

If you are able to achieve the art of giving your fucks out selectively you will have learned a skill that takes others decades to accomplish. Like your favorite little black dress hanging in the back of the closet for the most special of occasions, your fucks to; must sometimes sit on the shelf, in wait until the time is right.

 

Do you struggle with giving a fuck?

Do you give too many fucks or not enough?

Do you give a fuck about trivial things?

Do you think there is a balance between giving a fuck and not giving a fuck?

 

If you want to learn more on the subject I highly recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Related : Shit Shit Shit

Good Vibrations-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

I’m back.

 

I have been gone from here for almost a month and though I thought about you often I had committed to spending some quiet time with my family and though wonderful, enlightening and sometimes hilarious thoughts ran through my mind, I was way to relaxed to form complete thoughts and put them in black and white.

For those of you that celebrate the holidays I hope they were wonderful. I had a quiet and relaxing holiday with my family but we are well into the new year now and I have a feeling it is going to be a good one. Whatever may be and however it ends up-good or bad, it will happen and I will either be swept along or I will lead the way so hold on…

While I was writing my last W.I.S.E. Project Post in December I was feeling a little bit of uncertainty about where to go from there but I got a lot out of the project and if nothing else it is a reminder to seek happiness and joy in every single day and that does require effort from me. I can get easily overwhelmed by the world, media, politics, sensationalism and my own first world problems. Seeking reasons to be happy has been good for me and something I hope to continue always.

A very important thing that emerged for me during the 2016 project was energy. I would like to think that I possess good energy and I quickly began to discern the things and the people that energize me and the experiences and people that are constantly in the withdrawal line taking my energy and depleting my balances without adding anything meaningful to my life.

I have believed for some time that our physical body is just one small part of our being, and I also believe that our physical body could not exist without the spiritual life force that perpetually guides it. The different parts of our bodies, energetic and physical are coupled together and effort as one, exchanging energies with the environment.

I know, I know, some of you are reading this and wondering what kind of hippy dippy mumbo jumbo I am trying to sell you. I am not trying to market anything at all, I am simply sharing with you that I am learning more about life force energy and how it connects our mind, body and spirit and how I can use that knowledge to lead a better life.

Last weekend I took my daughter and her friends to the trampoline park. I was sitting on a sofa in the corner reading an enriching article and a Muslim woman asked me if she could sit down. I have to admit, on a glance I am often quick to assume that a Muslim woman and I would have nothing in common, but that is not always the case. This particular lady was full of good energy and her eyes sparkled with it. She had a beautiful little boy with the most stunning brown eyes and he had dumped nacho cheese all over her, him and the floor and she was attempting to clean it up. She chatted amicably to me as she did and her beautiful boy charmed me with his almond shaped eyes and his magnetic smile. The minute they left I went back to my article and if there wasn’t a smile on my face there was one in my heart. A moment later two ladies came and sat on the sofa beside me, there was plenty of room but I felt immediately crowded. The energy had shifted quickly. The ladies were close to my age and they were talking about their friends in a very gossipy and malicious manner. They were reading private messages aloud from their texts and Facebook and making comments calling their “so called” friends idiots and stupid. It made me extremely uncomfortable to the point that I had to bite my tongue and refrain from telling them how horrible their behavior was. Their kids came over as they were out of breath and needed a break. One of the women was quick to shout at her son to “go away, stop pissing me off. You only have an hour so go play and stop wasting my goddamn money!” The kid told his mom that he needed to catch his breath and she continued more of the same tone and talk to make certain he stayed away from her. The other mom seemed to agree with her friend but quietly told her son to just walk around if he needed a break. When the kids walked away the one woman continued on her rant, calling her son a ‘fucking idiot’. At this point I felt like I was going to explode and I wavered between saying something and minding my own business.  Ultimately I decided to mind my own business but I was affected by it. The most vocal woman suggested they download Tinder ‘to make fun of people’. The other woman asked why she had been on Tinder (a hook up site) when they had both been married for years and she replied that it was ‘fun to check people out and make fun of them’

As appalled as I was later that evening I was contemplating the times in my life that I had been that unhappy that I spent my free time with people I thought were friends, gossiping about other friends.I am sorry I was ever that person, but I was. Maybe not to that degree but I certainly was guilty of sharing secrets, breaking trusts and talking about people that I called friends behind their backs. I don’t ever want to be that person again. We are all guilty of a little bit of mindless chatter, I am not perfect and neither are you but I like to think that for the most part if you are my friend I try to have the best of intentions and I hope you will do the same for me.

Misery loves company, people that are unhappy take solace in the fact the others are unhappy too. Unhappy people share their unhappiness in the way of bad energy the same way that happy people share their good energy. It would be impossible to never be affected by negative energy, it is like getting a cold…you didn’t want it, you didn’t ask for it, but you have it all the same. There are precautions you can take to not get a cold. You can wash your hands frequently, you can refrain from shaking hands with someone who has a cold, don’t share drinks. In the same token you can take steps to make sure that the majority of the energy that you exchange is good energy and you will find that the more good energy you put out into the world, the more you will get back.

I actually just had a discussion with my boss today about how last year I started spending a lot of time by myself, I wasn’t even joining my coworkers for lunch. I needed to take a step back and find myself in the silence and sort out my own energy and find a way to be sympathetic to the stories and problems of others without taking them upon my shoulders. It was something that I had to do to heal myself and I feel really good about it. When I was learning to distinguish between good and bad energy I spent more time with my family and my dogs. I got my energy from the sun, the grass and the trees instead of noisy, crowded places.

I have been feeling inspired to further research energy and learn more about how our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellness are all affected by the functioning of our energetic body. I know that there are many different ways you can look after your energy and there is one that has always fascinated me and that is Reiki. Many years ago I had a Reiki treatment and it was such an intensely energizing and healing experience that the memory stayed with me. I have been trying to get my husband to go for a Reiki treatment so that he can let go of some of the negative energy that weighs him down. He has tried Energy massage that works with chakra balancing and he thought is was a positive experience. I decided to explore the universal life force that is Reiki on my own as a means for personal growth and to keep myself in optimal mental and emotional health. I am pleased to say that I have obtained my Reiki level 1 and I plan to continue through the levels and hopefully in the future I can attend workshops and do some practicum and maybe share the gift of Reiki with others.

I have some other fun stuff that I am working on but I am trying not to overload my brain. I do have a tendency to get really excited about things and take on too much and then I feel stressed and lose interest. I will keep you updated on my journey and I really hope that if any of you are excited about something you are learning or you are engaged in a new activity  this year you will share it with me.

One thing I decided too do a little differently is alter the W.I.S.E. Principles. I think they were really good to keep me focused during the beginning of the project last year but focusing on them took me away from my initial pursuit to be more mindful and find joy in the present.

Instead I would like to use the W.I.S.E. acronym to describe myself or an aspect of my personality that I am proud of and elaborate on that somewhat throughout the month. You can creatively choose your own.

The W.I.S.E. project will continue to be a way of life, a means to focus mindfully on the moment, to invite abundance into my life by being grateful and to invite joy into my life by being present. Breath in-be present, breath out-be free!

A couple attributes I came up with quickly are Warrior, I am actually doing a Warrior goddess course and I think that without knowing many of us are warriors, I am insightful, I do not remember dates or facts or history the way some people do but I am intelligent and I am often keenly intuitive. I am strong, I know this without a shadow of a doubt, I think it is common for people to be fearful and doubt their strength but once you know…you know! I am eager, always eager to be better and to learn new things and to love the people I love with my whole heart.

W-Warrior

I-Insightful

S-Strong

E-Eager

Be W.I.S.E. friends!

 

 

 

Beautiful Day-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Charlie Chaplin wrote a poem about self love in which he states “When I began to love myself I stopped stealing my own time and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. I have always felt happiest when I am making a contribution but I think at some point I started equating my self worth with how busy I was and how much I was contributing to the lives of others. Some days my biggest contribution is playing a game with my kids or cuddling with my dogs and that is OK.

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“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

The snow is falling softly outside my window to the tune of the little drummer boy and my heart is full of so much joy, love and gratitude. Despite the many obstacles I have been faced with the past several months I am feeling warm and full of the real spirit of Christmas.
I remember a moment last week when I was so overcome with sadness that I wondered if there was such thing as a happiness plateau? Do we manage to only create so much happiness and then we just flat line? Even as I contemplated the question I knew the answer. We can only be as happy as we choose to be and the wall that I had hit I had constructed myself with pain and fear and guilt. How can I be any happier when others are suffering? My future is so uncertain so I should be afraid instead of joyful? I am hurting so how can I still be happy? These are the messages that my heart sends to my brain to keep me just happy enough. It is my cross to bear, my mountain to climb, my plateau to surpass.
I have learned so many wonderful things this year and as I reflect on the past eleven months I cannot help but feel that despite the difficult times and uphill battles I have continued to grow as a person. I spent a lot of time by myself, I got to know me again and I took care of me when times got tough. I feel like the W.I.S.E. Principles were a good guideline, they especially helped me in the beginning months of the project when I needed something to focus on other than the bad news that filters through our TV, social media and Facebook everyday.
I think one of the biggest successes for me with this project was recognizing the importance of self love. Charlie Chaplin wrote a poem about self love in which he states “When I began to love myself I stopped stealing my own time and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.”

I have always felt happiest when I am making a contribution but I think at some point I started equating my self worth with how busy I was and how much I was contributing to the lives of others. Some days my biggest contribution is playing a game with my kids or cuddling with my dogs and that is OK.
Chaplin goes on to say “Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
I love this so much, it makes my heart smile.
When you make an honest and firm decision to live mindfully and create a life that brings you joy, it is essential that you prepare to simplify. You may need to limit your exposure to media, certain friends or family members, reconsider your busy schedule and really focus on things that make you feel good.
Things do not look exactly how I expected them to look at this point in the project but to be honest I think they look exactly how they are supposed too. There is always going to be something to overcome, there will be hard times and tears. If your focus is a happy life, no matter what you face you will face it and you will be your own kind of happy. You will find the lesson in pain and you will face each day with grace and gratitude because the only way to invite abundance into your life is to be grateful for what you already have.
Because this is a project it is only fair that I tell you what I have found are the top ten things to creating a happier life.
Sharing-When we share a smile, our time, a kindness or a compliment it activates the pleasure area of your brain. Kind and unselfish actions release endorphin’s in the brain that not only boost happiness for us but also for the stranger we smiled at on the bus or the person we held a door for at the bank. It is one of many simple changes you can make that will make a huge difference in every day. You may need to remind yourself at first to make a small change each day but after awhile this will come naturally.
Improving Relationships– our relationships can be a source of great pleasure and immeasurable pain. Some relationships take more good out of you than they ever give and you need to determine whether they are healthy for you and worth it. Living a good life has a great deal to do with the people we surround ourselves with so making improvements in our relationships, setting boundaries and sharing with and supporting our loved ones is important. it is OK to express our wants and needs but it is also important that we are willing to take a deep look at ourselves and make some changes to promote growth in our most important relationships.
Energy– People and experiences can give us energy or draw it from us. We often are given what we seek in life so if we seek happiness and joy we are often attracted to people that are happy and joyful. You will start to recognize the people that give you energy and those that drain you. Dedicating a lot of time to people that are negative, attention seeking and miserable can be physically and emotionally draining. Some people, like me, draw energy from quiet times alone or with my loved ones and I am drawn to people who not only do good in the world but they seek out good as well. Everything from the shows we watch on TV to the people we follow on social media can add our subtract from our good energy.

Nature
-Nature will always give you the answers you seek. A breath of crisp mountain air, the sound of crashing waves, birdsong, trees swaying in the summer breeze, these are all things that can calm and rejuvenate us. We crave these things and often we need to get out of our head and get outside and find a little solace in the great outdoors.
Gratitude-No matter what difficulties we face in our daily lives we always have plenty to be grateful for. Nothing invites abundance into our lives more than being grateful for what we already have. People who are truly grateful for their life, for the people in it, for the sun that greets them in the morning and the moon that lulls them to sleep each night are among the happiest people in the world even when times get tough.
Science/Faith-We all have circumstances and environmental issues that work against us, even our genes which we have no control over can play a factor in our happiness but it is important to always remember that at least 40% of our happiness is intentional and that means we have complete control over it. For me, studying the science behind happiness gave me permission to be in the driver’s seat of my own life, knowing with certainty that my intentions could and would help create the experience I wanted. Faith-I lumped faith in with science and I realize some of you will not like that but I am not going to talk about religion. For many, their religion and their faith is something they are very vocal about. For me it is very personal and as I continue to grow so does my faith. I think it is important to have something to believe in and to trust, to be thankful for in times of abundance and to draw strength from in times of hardship. No matter who or what you pray to I think it is a wonderfully joyous thing to have faith!
Head of the class– We never stop being a student. If we are open to new ideas and we seek opportunities to learn and stay engaged in our lives we trigger a lifelong curiosity and our accomplishments and the knowledge gained help to boost our confidence, self awareness and overall well being. With the internet at our fingertips we have such amazing opportunities to filter through the crap we often accept as fact and commit to real learning and growing as a person.
Indomitable Spirit– We cannot always determine what life will bring us but we can be responsible for the attitude we bring into our lives. We cannot live a life free of pain or circumstance but if we learn from our pain, learn to sit with discomfort and take the lesson from it we will be amazed at how enduring and strong we are. We have the heart of a warrior and though we may be knocked down occasionally the only thing that can hold us down is our own attitude.
Accepting who you are and where you are in life– Emotions like happiness, joy, gratitude and love are the gifts that keep on giving. Though we cannot always control our circumstances and the curve balls life throws at us just when things are going well, we can work hard to take the good out of every situation because those positive feelings I mentioned above are the gateway to a spring of positive emotions. We have to be willing to accept who we are and where we are in life without comparing our lives and accomplishments against those of others. It is a skewed and damaging measuring stick. What we see on the surface and through social media can often paint a distorted view into the lives of others. It is a very small window to a much larger picture. Accepting where we are in life is a very important part of being mindful. If we are focused on the past or on the future we lose sight of the present moment which is so precious and the only thing that is available to us.
Control-people who have a sense of control over their life are the happiest and this can be a little misleading because there is so much of our lives we cannot control but you can do the things you do with purpose and meaning, whether that is being a parent, a friend or an employee. Do what you choose to do in a way you are proud of and develop a sense of who you are, knowing that there will always be another mountain to climb and knowing with certainty that you have the strength and the grace to climb it and continue to grow as a person. You will continue to grow and change every single day, you are not the same as you were yesterday and because you are in control of your life you know that this time next year you will not be the same as today. You are in control!

In the next couple of days I will post the principles for the final month of the W.I.S.E. Project 2016 and some thoughts as we head into the holiday season. Be W.I.S.E. friends.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

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Learning to fly-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

A soul in tension that’s learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try

~ Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

My husband always tells me I have a beautiful soul. He said if he could describe me in one word he would use sunny because I always try to bring the light and see the bright side. I do try to be careful about that when the darkness comes, when the demons of depression have their arms around him, because I know that sometimes looking on the brighter side of things is just not a choice for him the way it is for me. Also, nobody likes a Pollyanna. Pain matters, sadness is for a reason.  If we constantly brush off our pain and don’t allow ourselves to feel sadness we will dismiss the lessons that those feelings bring.

I asked him this morning if he thought that the intensity of our love for each other has to do with living through the dark days of depression and learning to solidly grasp unto the good times. He thinks our tendency to love each other so profoundly has more to do with us living a great deal of our lives separately due to work.  I think there are elements of both in the way we relate and he is certainly right that we spend too much time apart; this conversation took place over text from separate provinces.  It really is a challenge and a choice, at the best of times to live our lives “together” while living separate.

Over the years, a lot of our friends have seen us in a certain way, they see this deep and passionate love that they envy, they see a couple that laughs together at ridiculous things, dances cheek to cheek to classic ballads, makes each other handmade cards, and goes on romantic getaways at a moments notice. They don’t see the other side of that. There is loneliness and a sadness that is not portrayed in our social media feeds. If what you see is a couple that is unbreakable; that loves each other but disagrees on almost everything social, political, economic, parenting, morality…I could go on. A couple that carries the scars of our histories together and separately, and even though most wounds have healed the pain sometimes bubbles to the surface, a lingering pain that reminds us that we are alive, and that we feel.  A couple with longing and regret and struggle than just maybe you are seeing us. That is how we see us, as beautiful survivors.

I often wonder if other couples feel the same way. I have talked about the space and the distance that depression puts in between us.  It’s excruciating and strange and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I have woken up and had my husband looks right through me like I am a stranger and nothing hurts more. It never gets easier, but there are other times that even living and working provinces apart you couldn’t put a handkerchief in the space between us. We are fully engaged in each others lives, we fill each others spaces with light and hearts with love. We are lovers, friends, cheerleaders, champions.

My husband sent me a picture the other night and I wanted to touch his face so badly. When things are ‘normal” and I use that term loosely, there is a comfort and warmth between us that feels impenetrable. Do the rest of you feel that belonging?  Certain  you are where you are meant to be and you are safe and happy there?

Life is so goddamn weird, it really is.

In 2016 we talk a great deal about being authentic, being true to ourselves, being real. We talk a good talk as we post flawless selfies of ourselves sipping Starbucks lattes, on our beach vacations with the perfect Margarita, our bedhead and make-up free selfies that we primed and prepped the greater part of half an hour for. This realism, this credibility that we speak of has become a bit of a joke quite frankly and it incites comparison. I think there is a lot of unnecessary comparison among friends, family and co-workers. The way we portray our lives or better still perceive the lives of others can separate and segregate us.

I want to be genuine and to do that that I have to be honest.  I do my very best to stay in the light. I choose happiness at every opportunity and sometimes it is really friggin hard. Some days I would rather stay in my pajamas and eat chocolate bars and cry because adulting sucks. Some days I don’t feel that confident and I want to hide from the world’s judgmental eyes. We should start an honest movement that when challenged you have to post a selfie of what you are doing that very moment. “Dear World, this is me, I am sad today and too emotionally drained to make supper, I have managed to feed the dogs and cat, the kids are having Kraft Dinner and  I just polished off a 250 gram bag of sour cream and onion chips and a glass of cheap Merlot. I am now sad and bloated and I have a pimple.” hashtag #truth

We follow the unspoken rules of the world to be polite and go along with the crowd as to not rock the boat.  We proceed, like good little soldiers, one foot after the other, and left over right, heal, and toe. Smile, look pretty and never let them see you sweat. What a load of authentically revolting bullshit. When did we become so afraid to shine, to fly, to reach for the stars? Probably the same time we became afraid of being different, afraid of failing?   This is the reason why the world is  sadly lacking in original content. We are remaking movies and songs because everyone is afraid to step out of the box and present new ideas but people are buying memoirs as fast as fiction because we are craving something real and we desperately want to know that there are people out there that are just as fucked up as we are! It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book “Good people don’t” It’s about farting. We all fart. We all love, we all struggle, and according to REM everybody hurts…sometimes.

Let the world know you fall, show them you have learned to get back up again, show the world that it can knock you down ten times and you will get up 11. Sometimes you will fight a losing battle, but if you keep fighting you will never fail. You are enough, you are more than a perfect selfie on a white sand beach, you are a warrior and sometimes warriors have pimples and messy hair. Some days are hard and some days the sun is on your face and the wind at your back. These are the days of your life, full of hope, full of wonder, full of struggle. Be grateful for your life, it is not a retouched photograph, it is real and honest. It is beautiful even when it is callous. The days full of sunshine make incredible memories; the darker days are full of lessons. Breathe it in, every bit of it, live your life, moment to moment. Today is a gift, tomorrow is gone, the future is uncertain. You have today, this very minute. Embrace it, and don’t be afraid to step out of line, fight your way out of the box,  and  be you!

xo Michelle

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

~ Peter Pan

DISCLAIMER “A couple that carries the scars of our histories together and separately, and even though most wounds have healed the pain sometimes bubbles to the surface, a lingering pain that reminds us that we are alive, and that we feel.”

When I speak of wounds and scars I am speaking metaphorically, there has never been any physical aggression, wounds, scars or the like in my marriage.