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

 

You’ve got a friend- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I love people that understand their place in the universe, that embrace their darkness and nurture their light. They hold all of themselves in high esteem and understand that all of the struggle, tragedy and despair that helped them to evolve is not something to hang onto but something to grow from. What transpires when a person learns to love themselves where they are and understand the vulnerable yet beautiful nature of dualism is something amazing to witness. Those are the people that make the best of friends because they support, challenge and love you, just as you are. They have no need to change you or to hurt you. They inspire you with their honesty and resilience and even if they are not where they would like to be on their journey, they have no interest in pulling you backwards so they can catch up. Those are the most authentic of all friendships and if you have even one of them you are blessed. Cultivate and develop a kind, supportive and loving relationship with yourself and the right people will come into your life. Friends get to see the very best of us and the very worst of us but the most incredible thing is to have friends who actually see us.

Friends come and go, it is reality. I used to say it was a sad reality but that is not always the case. Some relationships are not meant to last forever and some simply shouldn’t. The beautiful thing about aging and maturing is continuing to learn, evolve and grow and the realization that not everyone belongs in your life and that is OK. The people that are meant to be in your life will be, always, at some point, if they are meant for you. No friendship is an accident, all friendship teach us in some way if we are open to the lesson.

“No friendship is an accident.” – O. Henry

I think of the friendships that we attract throughout our lives and why and what we get from them and how when we are not in a good place with ourselves we vibrate at a lower frequency and we attract the same into our lives.

I was talking with a friend of mine this morning. We have been friends for ten years but things have not always been easy for us. Though we experienced some of the best times of our lives together we also were experiencing struggles. We struggled as mothers, as friends as women and as wives. There were times in our friendship that we were split wide open and I think we sort of fed of the mad toxicity of it all, pasting band aids on each others gaping wounds and calling it friendship. It wasn’t healthy and at a certain point our journeys continued down separate paths, crossing several times but always with a bit of trepidation. When tragedy struck my friend dropped everything to just be with me. My people came, my people reached out and the one thing I realized in the last little while is that the reason her and I found our way back together is that even when we did not love ourselves enough to want or demand the very best for ourselves we always wished the very best for each other. We supported each other even if at times we did so quietly from afar and I think we needed that time to reflect inward and invest in ourselves.

As we grow our friendships either evolve or they do not. I have a very eclectic group of people that I call my friends, people that celebrate my victories and hold my hand when I am defeated, that love me, understand me and challenge me and never want or expect me to be anything but me. I feel like I am at this point in my life that it feels really good to not worry who is with me or against me and to know for certain that the “my people’ only want the best for me always and I for them. When they talk behind my back it is too share share my triumphs, and that is a great feeling.

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” – Henry David Thoreau

I know I am a lot, to my friends, thank you…truly. The last several years have been difficult for me and I am in a place where I am finding myself, spreading my wings and seeking freedom and joy and authentic connections.

Connections are important, we do not need a large group of friends but it is important to foster connections with people that allow us to be ourselves but also gently encourage us out of our comfort zone.

I have thought a lot about what it means to be a good friend and I admit that there are times that I have been a terrible friend. I was a shitty friend to myself and others.  There are very simple rules to relationships that encourage all of the important things that make them thrive. The fantastic Brene Brown calls it BRAVING and it is an easy reminder for all of us.

To all my friends and frenemies have a fantastic day. Xo

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Just the way you are -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

“Love is not about being the same. Love is about two humans appreciating each other.”

~Waylon Lewis

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My late husband used to take his socks off at night and drift them across the room. It used to drive me crazy as he was always looking for socks and complaining that someone was stealing his socks and then he would buy more socks and the cycle would consistently repeat. I used to try to get him to put his socks in the laundry basket, but my efforts were always fruitless but at this moment I would give just about anything to be sitting on the couch with him while he takes his socks off, rolls them in a ball and drifts them across the room. Looking back, it was never worth a sigh, a raised voice or nagging. My husband has been gone for just over fourteen months and it has become something I recall with a smile. It is something about him that made him who he was and if I could have him back I wouldn’t try to change it.

The most loving thing we can do is love and accept people exactly as they are but as humans we have this insane need to change people. Whether it is our friendships, family or intimate relationships we are attracted to the raw reality of people until it is not convenient for us, until they do not fulfill our expectations and we try to “fix” them and “change” them, hoping they will fit our ego’s best interest.

It is okay to set boundaries in our relationships and we do not have to minimize the impact that other people’s actions have on us but within our boundaries we must be able to love our people from a place of non-judgement and find peace in accepting them just the way they are.

I just realized today that I have been finding this difficult. I have learned some very valuable lessons in my life, some of the toughest in the past year. I have this wisdom that I want others to automatically have and it is hard for me to accept that they have their own journey, their own wisdom, their own struggles. We cannot hand someone a lesson we learned, life just doesn’t work like that and let’s face it we are all just doing the very best we can at any given moment, facing our own shit and working our way through the stuff life throws at us. In the madness and chaos, we all come out different but I think for me I need to check my ego and let go of my inferiority complex that says I am more evolved spiritually and emotionally and therefore capable to decide what is best for someone when our stories are different and even though we are characters in other people’s stories, we cannot rewrite theirs to suit us.

There is nothing like the death of a loved one to the beast of mental illness to have you look back on your entire life and grasp a hold of this immense and immeasurable wisdom and do your best to move forward boldly and fearlessly, never missing an opportunity to fight for what you want, to tell people how you feel about them and to open yourself up to happiness and love even if it means being vulnerable and risking all that is comfortable. I want people to realize how short life is, how this is our opportunity to be happy and live our best life but the best I can do is live my truth and hopefully that inspires others to do the same.

Often, I find myself disappointed in others, sometimes frustrated and desperate when they do not react the way I want them to or make the decisions that I think would be the very best for them. It has caused me a lot of hurt and anguish and the reality is it is not and never should be my job to place expectations on the people I love. Sometimes the very best thing we can do in the moment is the next best thing and that may look very different for me and you. It is never our job to pass judgement on how others manage their lives.

I am learning to love and accept people where they are and to offer understanding and compassion void of expectation and judgements. Our job is to unfailingly live in our truth, to shine our light and fill ourselves up with so much love that we can genuinely give that to others.

When we consistently live in our authenticity we give others permission to do the same. When we accept people as they are we encourage them on their own journeys and to find their own truth. Acceptance is not the absence of healthy boundaries, but we must allow others the space to find their own lights to shine.

Hey “you”, I love you, just the way you are!

 

Something more than free -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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Several months after Kirk died I was catching up with an old friend and I found myself describing this fleeting feeling that I had been having, this feeling of freedom, this feeling like I could spread my wings and fly and live a big bold life in amazing technicolor. Saying it out loud to someone for the first time felt kind of liberating, as did being in the company of someone that I felt certain at that moment wouldn’t judge me. Typing that feels rather silly but death can bring out the worst in people and rumors were rampant in my small hometown and I faced a lot of judgment for every decision I made after Kirk died, even imaginary ones. I was only choosing to live while I was alive, something that Kirk wanted desperately for me, so it seems outlandish that anyone could find fault in that, but unhappy people can find fault in the best of intentions.

We think we can never face the hard things, and often when we are onlookers to the pain or suffering of another we wonder how they are able to endure it. The truth is we either do or we don’t. They are our only two choices. No matter what tragedies and challenges we face in our lives we all have the same opportunity to move through or get stuck. Most of what we go through, we grow through.

In the past several years I have been doing some work on relationship studies. Robert Waldinger’s Ted Talk and Harvard studies on what makes a good life led me to want to improve the most important relationships in my own life and as I dug deeper into relationships I was introduced to the concept of attachment and the strain it can put on our relationships, whether they are friendships or intimate’s ones.

While studying attachment it came up time and time again our attachment to material things as well. I thought I had mastered that years ago when I sold my house in Nova Scotia, the house that Kirk and I got married at, the house we brought our children home from the hospital to, the home where learned to love each other, even during the times that we struggled to like one another. What I learned the day I stood all by myself in that empty house will never leave me, once you took the people out of the house it was just four walls. It really wasn’t that important. The memories got to come with us on our new journey and they were the most important thing.

The lesson of attachment as it pertains to relationships is a tough lesson, one that I couldn’t completely grasp or understand the relevance of. What I was about to find out is that experience would bring me wisdom that I would never find in a book. The significance and truth in attachments I would discover through my own volition.

Your identity, your self-worth, and survival should never be bound by people or things.

Attachment and fear-based love can put a lot of pressure on our relationships and the people that we love and support. When there is jealousy and possessiveness in our friendships or relationships we are not acting from a place of love, we are acting from a place of attachment. Attachment is needy, insecure and repressive. Attachment is a terrible substitute for love, but in the end, some people want security more than they want freedom.

Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
No, not tying, no, not tying

~ from Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden

A defining moment in my life is when a boyfriend that I had once been madly in love with and thought I would spend the rest of my life with told me that he wanted to own and control me. I had a new job and new friends and I was happy and growing as an individual and his fear at me finding my wings and his reluctance to love and support me in my growth destroyed our relationship.

Love is spacious, it should never make us feel caged. Love and friendship is an incredible thing if we can love and be loved in such a way that makes us feel free.

I have not mastered this intelligent free flow in all my relationships, but I have a good realization that not everyone is supposed to be with us for the duration of our lives. Some people come into our lives to teach us or to challenge us for a very short time and others though they may come and go are meant to be in our lives in some way; always. There is an ebb and flow to these things that will most often manage itself if we give up our need to control every little thing.

After Kirk passed away people said and did the strangest things. I felt like a lot of people tried to take a weird ownership of him, as if their connection or experiences with him diminished all his other relationships. I also saw a very beautiful thing, I saw people who genuinely loved him forging friendships with others that loved him in a very simple, loving and honest way.

I am a better person for loving Kirk and I am richer from being consumed by the depths of his love. Death has surprisingly taught me more about love than I could ever conceive of. Death ends a physical life, it does not end love. Kirk’s love lives inside of me, in my limbs, guiding me and helping me to see and experience things in ways I could never even imagine. Our love is not dependent on bonds and it knows no bounds. It is how earthly love should be.

Have you ever hiked to the top of a mountain and when you got to the top your legs were like jello and your lungs were on fire but the view from the top was incredibly breathtaking and you stood in the freedom pose with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and you just felt so astonishingly free you wished that feeling could last forever? Imagine if our love could make someone feel like that? Wouldn’t that be powerful?

“The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.” – Thucydides (460 BC – 395 BC), Greek Historian

Flower in the sun-Wise Project 2018 – #TenaciousTuesday

Good Morning,

Today is a bit of a cheat day, we are fresh off a long weekend here in Canada and I spent yesterday being incredibly unproductive and eating everything I could get my hands on. My girls and I were having a hilarious conversation about crushes and asking for what you want and my oldest daughter said I was a Badass because I wasn’t afraid to ask for what I wanted and my youngest remarked that I had so much confidence that no didn’t bother me, I just bounced right back. Sometimes I wonder about the line between Badass and just plain ass but I am excited that my perceived badassery might inspire them to go after what they want in life and not just in love and relationships but in every aspect of their lives. No is not always a rejection, sometimes it is merely a redirection and in any case no does not have to reflect poorly on anyone; the person on the giving or receiving end. That being said I was writing a bit of fiction, fiction is actually one of my great loves, I love creating characters and scenarios. The one I have created below is very light reading but it is cute and fun and if it inspires one person today to find their version of brave and put themselves out there, without fear of the word no but in awesome anticipation of what grows on the other side of our fear than it will be a great Tuesday.

Thanks for visiting and go get what you want today!

xo

Michelle

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Ed’s Diner, Photo Credit Telegraph U.K.

She was cute and fresh looking with just the hint of freckles across the bridge of her nose and scattered randomly on her face as if a happy accident with a brush and paint had lightly splattered them there. Her dark wavy hair was so shiny he could almost imagine how it would feel between his fingers. She had it pulled it back in a ponytail that moved from side to side as she talked and laughed. Her knee length floral dress hugged her in all the right places, showing off her small waist and fuller bust and then flaring into a flirty swing skirt. She could have effortlessly played the part of the girl next door in a 1950’s chewing gum commercial.

She smiled easily at everyone she encountered, her gentleness drawing exuberant smiles from even the most unlikely of candidates. Watching her from a distance he felt like a bit of a voyeur, peeking into her world uninvited.

He sipped his coffee, accepting a refill as the waitress walked by and loading it with full cream and sugar. It was still early, and the sun was just beginning to peak above the horizon, sending filtered light bursting through the restaurant windows. A rush of cool late summer air announced the opening of the door every few seconds and as he glanced in that direction he noticed that the sky looked like a tequila sunrise, a glorious golden peach color drizzled with hot pink throughout.

“Pretty sky this morning,” the waitress remarked following his gaze as she arrived to set down his scrambled eggs and brown toast and refill his coffee once again.

“It is, and thank you” he replied, nodding in the direction of the eggs and smiling.

He devoured the eggs and toast, pushing the plate aside to finish the last couple of mouthfuls of slightly burnt tasting diner coffee from a dingy off-white mug. He checked his phone messages again and took a sly selfie to make sure there was no food in his teeth or beard. He proceeded to nervously fumble with a small tear in the cherry red vinyl seat while avoiding going to the counter and fumbling over his words like many a time before.

Her name was Lily. She had once told him that she was named after her mother’s favorite flower and then looked at him expectantly to tell her his name. He ruined the moment of course and left feeling like a huge jerk but the next time he was in he blurted out “Trey” while she had her head down. She was thrown off guard for a moment, but he continued to speak what he had rehearsed, without daring to take a breath, “I was named after a childhood friend of my parents from D.C. who went on to be a novelist and playwright”

He sucked in a quick breath and looked up. Her eyes, as welcoming as the green fields of Ireland, seemed to be smiling at him as she held her hand out, “It is nice to finally meet you Trey.”

He came in every Tuesday since that day, waking up at an ungodly hour to beat the rush of the city traffic. He sat at the same booth and ordered the exact same breakfast and made the same incredibly awkward small talk with Lily while paying his bill that she rang in on the same outdated cash register.

He always made sure his suit was neatly pressed, his tie was on straight, and he had on enough cologne that he smelled manly but not like someone’s creepy uncle. He was well groomed; he had even started using beard oil and getting his hair trimmed more frequently. He was very aware that his dark skin was quite a contrast to her cream like complexion but he didn’t anticipate that being an issue, as it had been in the past.

As his legs somewhat unwillingly walked him to the counter each week he imagined every time that this would be the day that he asked Lily out and today was no exception.

“Good morning Trey, it looks like it is going to be a beautiful Tuesday!” she remarked, turning the corners of her bright red lips into a dazzling smile and looking straight into his warm chocolate colored eyes.

“Beautiful. Indeed,” he muttered, feeling like his throat was suddenly getting scratchy, and then quickly over analyzing everything he had intended on saying so opting to say nothing at all. He was certain that his brown skin was now a fiery shade of red as he stumbled to form a sentence while using the debit machine. Lily waved goodbye, still smiling at him with her wondrous eyes but looking a bit disappointed he thought.

As he got into his shiny silver Mazda a flood of frustration threatened to drown him. It was August 26 and he had wanted to ask Lily out for the past 35 Tuesdays. Today was supposed to be the day. He was going to celebrate his birthday knowing that he had a date with the girl whose smile had rocked him to sleep every night for the past several months. He completely blew it. He was a 34-year-old man with less courage than a twelve-year-old boy. It shouldn’t be this hard. There were three possible answers she could give him, yes, no or maybe. He had asked out girls before but had never considered dating anyone seriously since Jenna ripped his heart out and stomped all over it. Something about Lily made him believe that being with her could out weigh the risk of heartache. He longed to feel again, and he imagined feeling all sorts of things with Lily. Unfortunately, every time he got close he found himself in the grip of uncertainty and fear.

He realized he had been sitting in his car in the busy parking lot for fifteen minutes and was going to be late for a meeting. He scrambled to text a colleague when it occurred to him that he didn’t have his phone, he had left it on the counter while he paid his bill.

He walked into the diner and was greeted by Lily’s genuine smile and outstretched hand.

“I thought you would be looking for this she said,” placing his iPhone in his hand.”

“Thank-you Lily. You saved me. Have a wonderful day.” he said, turning to leave.

“Wait Trey,” she shouted as he opened the door. She came out from behind the counter and met him where he stood, “I put my number in your phone, and it’s under Lily, same as your pass code. Just in case you ever want to text me.” She smiled again and very softly touched his hand before turning on her heel but turning her head back just slightly, “Oh, and Happy Birthday.”

He was still smiling as he got in the car, even though Lily had out classed him by far. He texted his colleague first and then texted Lily thanking her again for returning his phone and asking her if she had any interest in going for birthday drinks with an adorable but hopelessly immature guy.”

She simply replied “Yes.” And then a moment later “Finally”

Hopeless minds and

hopeless hearts

are haunted places

where

no one loves to stay.

~Kwawaja Musadiq

All You Need is love-W.I.S.E project 2016

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Artist unknown

I am an just ordinary girl in an extraordinary world but I set out at the beginning of this year wanting to paint my surroundings in bold and vibrant colors and live a life full of joy. Truthfully I know I am not ordinary, I always knew. Even back when I was nine years old sitting on the old wooden step at my country home with a notepad and a pencil and imagining all the wonderful things that I could put on that page…I knew. Somehow with time and circumstance I lost myself or perhaps I gave pieces of me away and I never really got them back. Today I call myself a work in progress but I have reunited my mind with my soul and it is a much nicer place to be.

Thanks so much to the universe for keeping me on my toes with your constant challenges this year. I would like to believe that I have passed all of the damn tests and that we are about done with this nonsense. I “womaned” up! My warrior spirit cannot and will not be broken. I am tired though and never mind that I have been insanely tired since 1999,  the complete mental drain of the past several months has left me a new kind of tired that I didn’t even know existed and no matter how many weekends I spend in my pajamas, curled up in fuzzy blankets the feeling has not been alleviated.

My husband and I realized last night that he has been gone for eight of the last twelve months. His struggle with depression and being away from his family and my struggle to try to be more compassionate than I am hurt and lonely has definitely changed us.  Had I  not began this little project I started  almost a year ago and made a conscious effort to live mindfully and seek joy and be grateful I really am not sure who I would be right now.  Some days were torturous. The loneliness, the uncertainty and the longing has been difficult, but mingled with all of that has been a sense of gratitude for what I have and the people that I love and those that love me unconditionally.

In short, I think the project has been a huge success.  Focusing on the present instead of the past or the future is really difficult and takes a lot of practice and though I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination I have made leaps and bounds. Had I not learned to be mindful and practice meditation I would not have been able to sleep at night through these demanding times and the insomnia would have rendered me useless.  I have a job, a family and three beautiful pets that depend on me so I occasionally need to sleep.

I cry and I feel sadness but I also know that I have the capacity to feel immense joy and I  do. I have learned a great deal about gratitude and how it reciprocates.  You will never live a life of abundance until you learn to express gratitude for the great gifts that you already have. I have learned how creativity and purpose in life bring me a great deal of joy. I have learned that the right connections with the right people can energize me and in the same token that time spent on the wrong things with the wrong people can suck the life out of me.  I am responsible for the energy that I put out into the world and eventually I will attract the right people into my life.

I have learned that the wonders of the world are not just places; they can be things that we often take for granted such as touch, sound, smell and sight. The significance of these things may habitually go unnoticed but I guarantee you that it is these little things that you will miss the most if they are suddenly taken away. There were eight months this year that I missed the sound of my husbands voice, the touch of his hand, the smell of him after a shower or the sight of him after a long day. There are days I would have traded anything for just one of those things.

We often look at things without actually seeing them, without appreciating them and we put value on the wrong things.  The sunrise and the sunset are miracles that we see everyday and sometimes we fail to realize their worth or truly appreciate their beauty, the same as we take people for granted because we assume they will always be there. We stop noticing how bright their smile is or how they are always there when we need them.

We undervalue traits such as courage, compassion and curiosity and what would the world be without them?

We think of forgiveness and vulnerability as weaknesses instead of the huge strengths that they are. Having the courage to forgive someone, sometimes even ourselves can be so important. To not forgive, to hold unto negative feelings of hurt and shame can be an enormous deterrent to living a good life. Having compassion for others can help us see the world in a whole different light. I actually dislike the dictionary definition of compassion because it refers to it as sympathetic pity, nobody wants to be pitied, but we could all use a little kindness and concern, a little understanding instead of judgement and someone who genuinely cares for us and our situation.

Humanity needs love and compassion for survival yet we have been treating these things like luxuries instead of needs.  The Beatles told us many years ago that all we need is love.

Generosity, patience and love will take you further than money, education or social stature.

I have learned about the anatomy of trust and how important it can be to set boundaries.     Brené Brown describes trust as BRAVING in a wonderfully authentic way and I think that everyone can learn something valuable from her.

What have I learned about myself?

I have learned that I am a warrior and I will fight for the people I love and the things I believe in until there is no fight left in me. I am an eternal optimist but not in a fairy tale romanticized way. I know there is a lot of bad in the world but I genuinely believe that the world can be better and I know that there is goodness and light in me and if I can affect one person with it that is change.  I have learned that I like myself and that is way more important than worrying about who does and doesn’t like me. The most important thing that I can do for me is to be true to myself and honor my wants and needs and not try to change myself to fit into a box that was not built for me.

My December W.I.S.E. Principles are wonderful, invincible, shining and expressive.  You may interpret these any way you see fit but for me I want to enjoy the most WONDERFUL time of the year with my family. I already know that I am invincible and Christmas will not defeat me. I have learned the importance of time this year and I am elevating that above everything else. I will not be taken in or conquered by commercialism or the need to fill a space under a tree instead of a space in my heart.  I want to be a shining example for my children about the real spirit of Christmas so that one day they can share the same spirit with their family. The most precious gifts we can give each other can never be bought, only given. I want to be able to express my love, my excitement and my joy. I want to express my gratitude and my feelings about the true meaning of Christmas and one day when my kids look back I want them to remember the time and the love that I gave them, not the time I spent at the mall buying them things. My Christmas wish for all of you is that no matter how many gifts you give or receive that you continue to be grateful for the gifts that you already have and that you realize that those who give you nothing but their time are giving you the most precious gift of all.  All we need is love, love for ourselves, love for others, and love for the world we live in.

“I have found that if you love life, it will love you back”

~Arthur Rubenstein

 

Happiness doesn’t happen by accident

I discovered a lot of amazing people on the internet this year, I never found them before because I was not looking for reasons to be grateful and happy. It is phenomenal the things you will discover when you commit to gratitude and living a more joyful life.

 

Not Going To Be Afraid-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

 

I have been spinning this month. Some days I feel like that little silver ball in the pinball machine, up, down, spinning, spinning, rarely finding a moment of true solace. Thrown this way and that, manipulated into spaces that are scary.

Yesterday a wise friend I only know as The Hook told me he had a feeling that no matter how I was feeling at that moment he was certain it would be a winning month for me. It felt a lot like encouragement, and it was the proverbial kick in the ass I needed. Things have been shitty, I can’t deny that. If you have been here before you know that I have been in a battle with my husbands demons. The gloom of manic depression has cast our lives in a murky black haze. There is a lot of disquiet, sadness and despondency. It is hard for us to find our balance with a colossal cloud of contingency hanging menacingly over our heads. I miss the certainty of a smile and the warmth of laughter, I miss the feeling of being close even when we are miles a part. My husband working in another province adds another aspect which some of you may know well. Staying connected during those times has always been an undertaking but the darkness wraps that undertaking in cellophane and lathers it up with Vaseline. It is hard. It feels about as comfortable as going swimming with your high school class and realizing that you forgot to shave your legs for the entire winter.

I put a valiant effort into trying to stay positive but when times are tough I struggle along like the best of you and even though I pride myself on trudging through and showing up everyday this morning I was faced with the realization that some days I don’t know the person who is showing up for me.

I have this habit of putting others needs and feelings ahead of my own, and changing my behavior based on what I think they need. Everyday I was sending my ambassador out into the world to speak and act for me. There is absolutely no way to win at life by doing that. I know it and I would be the first to pass that advice along to someone else. Everyday I hear my own words of wisdom, the advice I have shared with friends and loved ones, my experiences rolling through my mind on replay but I always answer them with a “but…”

NOT TODAY!!

TODAY I showed up! Today is all me. The very best thing I can do for myself and therefore everyone who depends on me is to be myself today and always.

I was listening to a song this morning called “Not Going To Be Afraid” It is by the fantastic Canadian rock band Finger 11. I am drawing from a recollection that may possibly have been tainted by too many cocktails but if I am recalling correctly they told me that the song was written in the aftermath of their longtime drummer Rich leaving the band and their struggle to move on from that, to go forward with uncertainty, to work through the discomfort and unfamiliarity to get to a place that was all new and to find a way to be themselves in that space and not be afraid. This is a great group of guys that have been together since high school so moving on was bound to stir up some uneasiness. They did it, they showed up, they didn’t try to be something they weren’t. They were just themselves, even knowing that the Finger 11 they had always known was now different they found a place of comfort in their discomfort and they faced every wall of  fear and doubt and knocked it down. In doing so they created their newest album Five Crooked Lines. I have been listening to these guys for many years, since they were playing the bar circuit in Ontario as Rainbow Butt Monkeys. I can say this of the new album; it still has elements of their unmistakable sound but it is different somehow, as are they. There is a wisdom and maturity that happens as we naturally evolve, as long as we can find the courage to be ourselves. That is the only way to win. They have succeeded. That conversation I had in a bar with these exceptionally talented and honest guys really resonated with me. I think everyone can learn from their experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, uncertainty is scary. We all struggle to move forward through fear and be brave when the voices of hesitation and distrust are the voices screaming the loudest in our ear. It is easy to get lost trying to be someone else. The best we can do in any situation is be ourselves, shine with our own light in the unpredictable darkness.

 

I have many wise friends, but a handful of really  genuine ones that are so full of grace and goodness they inspire me to be better. I admitted to one last week that everything felt odd and I didn’t know how to act. She said “Why would you act? Be who you are, don’t change a thing. God gave you this man for you to love and you just keep loving him and being yourself.” My husband himself has told me that the best thing I can do for him during times of struggle is to be myself and to love myself a little bit more than I love him.

We are more than the sum of our fears. We are the valiant and lion-hearted! The only way we can tap into our true strength is to be our true selves. Be W.I.S.E. friends and keep showing up!

Not Going to Be Afraid
I watched the bridges burn,
I see the pages turn my story’s ready to unfold
Even though it’s so dark,
I see one last spark maybe holds not far away
Heaven can help me, but courage could sell me on one last chance I should take
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same, I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
Gone to a different place so far from yesterday
Changes is all that remains
Whoever I am now
I am without you, I’ll do my best to be brave
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
Whatever this life will bring, I’m not gonna be afraid
This moment means everything, I’m not gonna be afraid