Semi charmed life- Wise Project 2018

Dancing into 2019

I wanted to sneak in one last Wise Project post into 2018, an opportunity to tell a lit bit more about myself, dispel some myths and say some inappropriate stuff.

I believe people get a certain idea of me from my writing but it is somewhat one dimensional. From my writing you would not garner that I talk about penises way too much to be normal and that I live a lot of my life in song lyrics and movie quotes. Most of you are not even aware that I am incredibly funny; the problem is I often forget the punchline.

I have passed these things along to my middle child Morgan, along with some other great stuff that I am sure she will be eternally grateful for. While students were moving a table in her high school class Morgan yelled ‘PIVOT, PIVOT” in the consummate Ross Gellar voice, Friends circa February 1999. (She would have been four months old when it aired originally) Only her teacher got the reference but in any case that is a parenting win. I also convinced her that in the U.K. there were 8 days in a week, hence the popular Beatles song. Unbeknownst to me, she carried this belief with her like a favorite childhood teddy and protected it fiercely. Despite being bullied for this she stood a firm ground on it because her mama was always right. At nineteen she finally knows the truth. She has known the truth for about nine months now and a lot of truths came out that day, she discovered that the ankles of the bread were actually heels (at least to boring people) and that Chef Boyardee ravioli was not made with horse meat. Perhaps what I should have said is that I find me incredibly funny.

If you have spent any time with me at all you know that I care about my undergarments a great deal and I believe they should match. The last thing I want is to end up in a car accident and the nurse’s judge me for granny panties and a ratty old bra. I also had embarrassing incident in my twenties where I ended up in a compromising scenario wearing no underwear, the day “el fresco died”  To me, mismatched undergarments is like going on a hot date that has the possibility of ending in sex with unshaven legs.

I went on a coffee date a couple of weeks ago and I had on a nice designer sleeveless dress that I managed to score at the thrift store. My entire outfit cost about $18.99 but I felt like a million bucks until I discovered I had forgotten to shave my armpits. I have multiple Groupon’s to use and had intended to get them waxed when I took care of the rest of my personal business but alas I sat outside of Starbucks and dry shaved my armpits with a razor I picked up at Sobeys on the way there. Sometimes looking good comes with a price.

Last week my daughter was watching “How I met your mother” and Robin was on a date with a hot surgeon, she had not intended on it going so well and had not shaved her legs. I was watching this intently as I sat there with my overgrown jungle woman legs. She somehow convinced her bitchy waitress to go buy her a razor but she did not grab shave cream. Robin was shaving in the bathroom using butter as a shave cream, some dropped, and she slipped on it and knocked herself out. Meanwhile the waitress picked up the hot surgeon. I had never felt so deeply seen and understood in my life. I am Robin and Robin is me.

On a previous waxing appointment I had not let the hair on my legs grow out long enough and it hurt like a motherfucker and grew back patchy. The last time I thought they would need to use a lawn mower on it. As a lady who likes to parade around in her fancy matching bra and undies, appreciating my smooth, daily shaven limbs the grow out period is painful for me. I feel like my relationship with myself suffers immensely. I am avoid things like good night cuddles and admiring touches. Weeks pass where I do not wink at myself or slap my own ass. My love meter drops into the negative. Last week Kelsey at Bodhi Spa helped bring me back to myself. I came home that night, put on the Rose Royce classic “I wanna get next to you” and I felt a great love for myself.

Not that that is relevant to anything at all but I am not a swinger. I am finally at peace with the idea that everybody you meet creates a different version of you in their own minds so if you have created me as a swinger I hope I am at least a good one, whatever that would mean. After my husband passed away one of his old buds’s started that rumor and I am sure it was tossed around a lot over drinks. As the case is with small towns and possibly all towns, people talk more than they listen and they just adore gossip. I am glad I gave them all something to talk about and I am sorry to disappoint. I do rather respect swingers for their ability to just be themselves and no matter how you or I or their parents feel about it, adults can and will choose the sex life that feels right for them. Anyway, I am sure the rumor morphed from a story about the time that Kirk and I accidentally ended up at a Swingers bar and as he recounted it I am sure he had no idea that someday it would be twisted and turned into something it wasn’t. We sat in the corner eating donairs because we are nothing if not East coast classy and then we decided to make the most of it by playing this match the boob’s game. They had a huge poster board and rows of boobs and below those, rows of faces to match them up. There were some interesting boobs, let me tell you. I will never forget my late husbands face when a woman came over offering for him to squeeze her tits to be of some assistance. That is almost the extent of Kirk and I’s swinger lifestyle. In fact, until we moved to Edmonton in 2008, I thought Swinging was just something you do at a park. I do appreciate boob’s though, one of my fondest memories is Las Vegas in 2009, at a huge, I believe they call it ‘Gentlemen’s Club’, I was telling this young, beautiful Latin girl that her boobs were just perfect and she did not need a breast augmentation. Somehow this led to a fun game, as most nights involving tequila shots do, next thing you know I am the resident boob expert and I get to decide real or fake for a succession of amazingly beautiful women with boobs of all shapes and sizes. No jury needed, real always wins. It is difficult to recreate the squish, the bounce or the gentle curve of a real breast. Breasts really are art come to life. I suppose I just started a new rumor that I am a lesbian, which no disrespect to lesbians, I just do not like cats that much (according to Ellen to qualify you need to own three or more)  and I have a great love for penises and sometimes the interesting men attached to them.

I share a bathroom with my fourteen year old daughter Haley and she could tell you a lot of stories I am sure. I am grateful that she taught me how to contour and highlight, I did it all wrong for several years and the results were atrocious. She didn’t outright tell me I was doing it all wrong but after about a year of her horrified sideways glances I finally asked her for advice. She has watched countless hours of YouTube videos and basically knows everything about everything.

My son Jeff is a younger, less jaded version of me and it is very difficult to say no to him. I like to think that everything I do is rooted in love and then Jeff visits and he is so magnanimous in his affection and capacity to love, minus the lackluster, world-weary, cynical bullshit that I often have to wade through. The way he goes through the house picking out things he would like to take home reminds me of how after I moved out I used to go to my moms and I was constantly in her cupboards, “WTF Mom, when did you guys start buying Nutella?”

My kids are amazing and I have a tiny fourteen year old cat that slithers around like a thief in the night, continually begs for canned food and stares at me while I am sleeping. It is quite romantic when I wake up at 4 am to the muted sounds of The Police ‘Every Breath you take and my cat; Aulie staring creepily into my eyes. I make excuses for Aulie because she was thrown out of a moving vehicle when she was too young to be taken from her mother, my late husband rescued her and she picked me to be her person. She has trust issues, anybody would.

My dog Buddy is a rescue as well and he was abused. He was anxiety ridden when he came to us, however he is the most loving and gentle beast. He is a Collie/Cross who hates to be brushed and even if I brush him three times a day he sheds an entire other dog. Due to early mistreatment Buddy came to us with early onset arthritis and is currently experiencing pain. He likes to chase the cat up and down the stairs and his pattern seems to be chase, hurt, rest for three weeks, REPEAT. I have a handful of people in my life that I feel truly get me and love me without judgement and Buddy is definitely in that Tribe. Aulie is not, Aulie does love me, in her own way, but I know she judges me constantly, even while I am sleeping.

I used to be a fairly judgmental person and I took a long hard look at that and I make a conscious effort to always offer love before judgement. I am human though, and therefore I err. Just a second ago I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a model who was advertising a new hair color and my first thought was her nose was horrible and then I metaphorically punched myself in the mouth and decided promptly that the model was beautiful and her nose was not the problem, it was the angle and then I swiftly judged the photographer for his terrible eye and the advertisers for accepting the picture. I like to think of myself as a work in progress, constantly making an effort and calling myself out on my own bullshit.

I believe the best we can do in any given moment is the next best thing. Life is just one moment. Then the next… I do not believe in coping mechanisms, I work hard on thriving mechanisms. I am an introverted extrovert who overshares.

I am sure my mom is reading this and saying to Papa “Jesus Gord, does she really have to talk about penises? Maybe the right penis would shut her up!”

I see you Mom, I see you. 😉

2018 brought me the most amazing experiences and I thank my children for constantly dragging me outside of my comfort zone. If it were not for them I might spend all of my free time curled up watching Drop Dead Diva reruns. They show me everyday what is possible in life and how important it is that I do the same for them.

Like all of you I am sure, I had experiences in 2018 that brought me heartache and lots of tears, those experiences also brought me lessons that I really needed to learn. Society would have us believe that if we are single we are somehow less than and what I learned is that my heart is expansive, I have a huge capacity to love, though it is not my job to be enough for anyone or to make myself small to fit into a box that is not for me. Being single teaches you a great deal about yourself and what is important. When I find myself succumbing to loneliness I become curious and observant. I learn from others. The one thing I am very aware of is that I do not want to settle for someone that does not tick all of the boxes for me. In the future, if I commit to being in a romantic relationship with someone else there has to be an intimate friendship; they must be my best friend and be able to communicate with me even when things are tough, there must be mutual respect, we do not always have to agree but we should respect each others differences and while we remain rooted together we must also be free to grow individually. They also must be an animal in the sack, no exceptions. (My mom is now either fist bumping the air and saying “yes” I made her or crying and tearing her hair out” This is not negotiable! I have a great relationship with myself and I have lots of fantastic people I can spend time with, if I am going enter into a serious relationship or lets be real, even a casual  sexual relationship, it must meet this criteria “GREAT SEX”

I think sex is an important criterion in a romantic relationship as it distinguishes it from all our other relationships and that intimacy that is created between couples can be powerful, should be powerful. You can all send me hate mail if you like and tell me all the reasons that there is more to sex in a relationship. I agree, there is more, lots more, however it is my fake relationship we are planning and this box must have a big, red check mark beside it (the bigger the better 😉

As I marinate in all that was in 2018 I realize that I did not become a “new me”, I did however dust off and polish some layers of me that were blanketed under the weight of burdens, expectations, old vows and beliefs, fears, shame and insecurity. As I move forward into 2019 I want to continue to shed anything that is no longer useful.

It is hard to narrow down the life altering events in my life in 2018, if was full of organized learning opportunities, courses and workshops, art, theater, ballet, music, friendship, love, loss and heartbreak. All in all I feel incredibly blessed.

I have started courses working towards my certification in Life Coaching and I just finished a 30 days of Sensuality Course with Ev’yan Whitney, who penned the piece titled “Too Much Woman” which shifted my entire perspective. I am hoping to work extensively with Ev’Yan in the coming year to heal and step fully into my own personal power and the full expression of my own sensuality so the niche of my future coaching can be focused on helping other women to do the same. I feel like I have been blessed with some special gifts that I am compelled to share with others and I know that as a woman who has suffered past trauma that we often allow our fears, shame and insecurity to keep us small and silent and that prevents us from embracing ourselves as beautiful sexual beings and enjoying amazing and fulfilling sex lives. Pleasure is our birthright and I believe great sex is an integral part of the mind*body*spirit connection that keeps us physically and mentally healthy.

I hope the year ahead for you is filled with magical madness, great literature, art that makes you ponder, movies that make you cry and moments that make you want to sing. I hope you kiss someone that thinks you hang the moon each night, I hope that same person would hoist the sky into the sky each morning if it meant brightening your day. I hope your love for yourself is profound and I hope you find healthy ways to fulfill all of your needs and that you chase your dreams instead of just living the same day over and over. You are about to be presented with 365 new opportunities. Do something amazing!!

Have a safe and wonderful end of 2018 and a fantastic beginning to 2018.

Break Free- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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I woke up yesterday to the devastating news of the Greektown shooting in Toronto Sunday night and though my instinct during these tough times is to dwell on the horrifying nature of people and to find myself in a state of overwhelm, I resisted that urge, took a couple of moments to contemplate and send love to the people of Toronto and consider how we are becoming way too conditioned to accept these things as normal. It seems that we are less shocked and appalled than we once were and the alarming part of that is that we have begun to acknowledge these unthinkable acts of violence as customary. We are suitably upset but not astonished. I am not exactly sure what the answer to this is but I feel like there is some danger in our growing indifference and the fact that the most common reactions to mass violence these days seems to be to perpetuate fear against certain groups of people instead of sitting with the discomfort of what is actually happening with the world around us.

I do often prefer the solitude of my own personal bubble, it is quiet and loving and I feel safe there. The past several weeks I started to feel the opposite of all of those things. There was a lot of noise in my brain and the love I normally give myself was a bit absent. It is no secret that I like to feel a certain way. I have a bright and sunny personality, I work really hard to put a positive spin on things and I understand the significance of self love and self care. The thing is, it has been an incredibly tough year for my family and I; and for me personally everything has changed. Though I can dig very deep to find courage, gratitude and create happiness even during times of struggle, I can also find my changing disposition deeply uncomfortable, so when I am not in the sunniest of places the feeling is so unnerving for me that I judge it and myself harshly. The truth is I am not incredibly loving and accepting of cloudy day Michelle and I cast a lot of judgement upon her and can very quickly find myself in a very unfamiliar and exceedingly uneasy place.

I spoke a lot last week about our tendency to cast judgement upon others without looking inward to see what it is in ourselves that we are trying to avoid confronting. I think the flip side of that for me, which has been an interesting and unpredictable shift is that I realize that I am often accepting of others, seeing them as beautifully messy and evolving individuals but there are times that I allow myself to be overpowered by self judgment and my refusal to accept myself as I am, where I am and give myself the same love and space to grow that I am willing to give to others.

I reached out to one of my oldest friends on the weekend because I was feeling such a disconnect with who I was as a person that it had me in a terrible state. My friend has a brilliant mind and he is constantly growing and evolving. He is not a perfect person, and even writing these nice things I fear his head may swell,  but honestly the thing I admire about him is that he has never feared discomfort. He has been a touring hip hop artist, dancer, actor, writer, director, choreographer and teacher. He has never gotten comfortable and thought, OK this feels good I think I will stay here. I know he has felt fear and unease, I am sure there are days it feels like his skin is on fire but he continues to be and to do. He continues to grow. To me, he will always be the little boy that came knocking on my door everyday to come out and play but we have both faced our own personal demons throughout the years and though we have continued to quietly support each other, it is sometimes easy to forget that despite our differences some of the things we face as humans are universal. It is nice that the person who knew you before the world wrapped you in chains of fear, judgement and expectation can remind you that you are a person first and sometimes you just have to let go or you will never be free.

“The world is small, but it’s also big and sometimes life is like a snowsuit you can’t get off on a really hot day!”  ~ Cory Bowles (Hip Club Groove)

I am learning to surrender to the discomfort. It may be clearing me out and bringing about positive change. I do not want to be small or live my life on auto pilot. I want to break free from generations of chains. I am a deeply feeling person in a noisy and messy world, sometimes I will feel unnerved but I will not be defeated.

I am not “just a person’ but I am a person and maybe to be the best version of me I need to find a little bit of comfort outside of my comfort zone.

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,

Ballroom Blitz- Wise project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

“To err is human, to forgive divine”

The following post is dedicated to a beautiful soul; my late husband Kirk. For years he has implored me to love more and judge less. I finally get it, it is a constant and life changing lesson.

I have a dirty little secret that I have never told anyone but I am about to share with all of you.

I turn into a completely different person when Ballroom Blitz comes on the radio. About four months after my husband passed away I was wandering aimlessly around the Superstore when Ballroom Blitz came booming from the sound system. For the past several months I had been holding my life together with double sided sticky tape and the good thoughts and prayers of the lovely people that never failed to support me during the darkest time of my life. Sure I laughed when something was funny and I was doing my best to put one foot in front of the other but that day was particularly dark.

I recognized the song in the first couple of bars and my left foot started to tap uncontrollably, followed my the unmistakable sway of my hips and that shoulder shimmy thing I do that makes my breasts move in a way that is illegal in some parts of the world. Without a conscious thought I grabbed a can of cheddar cheese soup and started pretending to sing into it ‘OOOH YEAH,” as I grooved through the aisle. I shimmied and I shook and I lost myself in wild abandon in that grocery store while strangers looked on in a mixture of confusion, judgment, amusement and quite possibly admiration. My limbs became one with the music; I was no longer in charge of anything. It was as if I the grieving widow was standing there quietly broken watching this badass, slightly crazy woman treat the grocery store aisle like the dance floor cage at her old small time haunt. I was in awe to be honest. Looking back it is likely in the top five of my most magnificent moments ever.

The song ended and I abruptly put down the soup can, smoothed out my polka dot dress and walked out of the store without looking back. I got in my truck and started driving as aimlessly as I had been wandering through the store and though monstrous tears spit out of my eyes and threatened to drown me I felt much lighter than I had in months, I felt a spark of my old self that if ignited could erupt into a full blown flame. It was a reassuring feeling. It felt like a promise that I was still in there, amongst the wreckage and if I kept digging I would emerge, bruised and bloody, but still fucking fabulous. Those people in that store that day, even if they repeat what they saw in late night conversations, over drinks, or around campfires will likely never know how important that four minutes of intemperance were for me. I abandoned my grief for four whole minutes and I was reminded that one day I would dance again, and sing, and laugh, and love. In four minutes I felt everything I was not able to feel for what seemed like a lifetime.

Their judgement, whatever it was didn’t matter, I pleaded with myself to not to fuel that fire. The only judgement that mattered in that moment was my own and I got to tell you that there was a little girl inside me shaking pomp oms and doing cart wheels.

I have found myself in the midst of many contemplative moments lately. I have been quite vocal that my late husband implored me to love more and judge less and that one thing alone has been nothing short of life changing. I try to be fair with people, I try to understand that humans err; I find myself frequently exploring the depths of forgiveness.

I am learning that there is a beautiful lesson in forgiveness, for both the person we forgive and the person we ask forgiveness of. We realize that we are not perfect and we shouldn’t ask that for that kind of perfection in others. We cannot claim to be attracted to the raw authenticity in people and then turn our backs when shit gets too real. There is something exquisite in seeing someone emerge from a mistake, owning the entire script of their life and working hard to write a better next chapter.

The thing that has struck me more than anything is that when I find myself sitting in judgment of others I am also forced to face my own shit and that is not always easy. It is however enlightening.

I realize that we are not always a victim or a product of the things that happen to us, but what we call into our lives and what we allow. We all have patterns, draws and habits and we are all perfectly imperfect. We are flawed, bruised, real…figuring this shit out as we go along. I find myself constantly reminding myself that when I dare to judge others that I better hold myself up for judgement as well and that is not always fun.

I have patterns of attraction that have been with me so long that I am reluctant to work on them. I feel that they are such a huge part of who I am so I struggle with what belongs and what is a security blanket for me.

My first step is owning that I am responsible for what I invite into my life. I have a pull to certain things that challenge me but also have the potential to hurt me and I wonder if I could ever be completely satisfied without that push/pull.

So much of my identity is wrapped up in the awareness that the people and experiences that have challenged me the most have also taught me the greatest lessons about life and about myself.

However, does this draw towards hard things mean that I am inviting difficult things into my life to avoid boredom?

The truth is I quite enjoy peace, and I quite enjoy being around people who expand my mind and fill me up without sucking away my energy. I can’t help wonder if I have been confusing things. I very adamantly told my friend that I had a healthy relationship with “hard stuff” because I knew that life would be hard, it is inevitable; and I was able to face the hard things head on. She gave me something huge to consider that has been nagging me, like a fly buzzing around my head for the past couple of months.

I can do hard things. I can face hard things. I am a badass. Do I want to? Should I need to? Am I provoking the universe? Am I asking for hard things to prove that I can keep conquering them?

It is not a bad thing to confront you, to question yourself and get to know yourself.

We spend way too much time with an eye on other judging what they are doing without considering what leads us to do the things we do. If we want to sit in the seat of the judge why are we so reluctant to turn our inquisitive minds to ourselves?

Sure, we judge ourselves right?! I am bad, I suck, I messed up, I could have done better, I will never be who I want to be…but how often to we consider the choices we make, why we make them and what would change if we genuinely believed that we were worth the world and made all of our decisions based on what was best for us.

We spend a great deal of time in our lives trying to find someone to spend our lives with and once we find that person we try to be right for that person but too often we forget how important it is to be that person to ourselves. You are the person you will spend the rest of your life with. Our journey in life is not about finding “the one”, the journey is about becoming “the one”

I believe that once we learn to love and accept ourselves and own our own bullshit everything else will fall into place just as it is supposed to.

It takes time and patience is a virtue, sadly not one of mine but I am working on that one too. I indisputably believe that we can all have the life that we were born to pursue, but it takes work and part of that is allowing ourselves to see and meet ourselves and others with love first, before judgement.

Not everyone belongs in our lives and I am careful to weed my garden of people that don’t add value to my life in some way, that is not selfish, that is self care. I am also learning that when someone hurts me, it is very unlikely that it has anything to do with who I am and everything to do with who they are in that moment. Good people do bad things; sometimes our gardens are not full of weeds, just unique flowers that need watering. We can judge them as bad and throw them away or we can show them a little love and see if they bloom.

Life is weird. We are all on a journey. We all have scars and bruises. The very best people I know are made from life’s lessons, emerged from struggle and stitched back together with love and forgiveness.

Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Once you are able to love yourself where you are and how you are you will be a lot more willing to meet people where they are on their journey. We are not the judge or the jury, we are the witnesses.

Doing All Right – Wise project 2018- #TenaciousTuesday

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I want you to know something important. I don’t always have my shit together. I am winging it at the best of times, life, eyeliner, finances…all of it.

My decision making consists of a slight pause, a deep breath and the phrase “fuck it” before diving head first into most situations.

I am not shy and some of my friends describe me as extroverted but the truth is I have this insane need to just be myself. Now granted I have a select friend or two that gets to see the full on crazy that I tuck in periodically to be acceptable for the rest of the world but generally speaking I am an open book and that is important to me because the people that belong in my life are there for the right reasons; for me, not for a version of myself that I present to the world.

We are constantly looking to the right thinking that everyone else has it all together and the truth is that most of us are really just winging it.

The bigger truth is I feel pretty damn good about it.

There was a time when I was trying to juggle all of the balls at once, motherhood, marriage, work, finances, volunteerism and I constantly had the feeling that one wrong move and everything would come tumbling down. The truth is I wasn’t doing any of those jobs particularly well because I neglected in all of that to take care of me.

When I started truly investing in myself it seemed that everything else seemed to fall gently into place, there was no more guilt or juggling. There is great deal of freedom in letting go and trusting that you are fully supported at all times by something larger than you. For me that is the universe; science, energy, spirit and guides. I believe that when we take care of ourselves we are better in tune to see the way that these things work together to constantly support us for our greatest good.

I try to make good healthy choices for myself, I limit my time with people who suck my energy and seek out opportunities for wellness and growth. The more I do this, the more things, ideas and people cross my path that I know for certain were placed there at the right time to support me and to fill my journey with light.

I don’t have all the answers but what I am trying to accomplish is to let go of the fear that sometimes goes hand in hand with not knowing what comes next.

Sometimes it is scary not knowing all of the answers but we cannot live our lives for tomorrow when today is all we are promised.

For me meditation has been a wonderful gift to keep me grounded and connects me to the present and quite frankly to my inner self, the witness, not the judge. Even in the midst of chaos I have the tools to access calm in me that for a long time I never knew existed.

Just for today take a little time to recognize where you are, look around, breath. Don’t worry that the neighbor has a backyard oasis and you have a giant toilet for your dog, don’t worry that your friend is making her family a recipe from Chrissy Tiegan’s new cookbook and your kids are getting Lucky charms with chocolate milk after practice. Take a moment to remember that you have all this under control, take that five minutes you thought you couldn’t afford, even if you are just sitting in the bathroom playing Spiderman solitaire with the door locked. You matter. The moment you realize that everything else is gravy.

You got this.

 

 

 

 

Bloom -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

My photos from Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton Alberta

Just as the breaths we take can occur so effortlessly, it’s not necessary to summon energy to stream through us.

Dynamic energy flows through channels in and around our physical body naturally, however, we can choose to enrich and elevate our natural energetic state, for health; both physical and mental or for spiritual growth and development.

I believe that I inherently have good energy and I used to spend so much time giving it away, along with my time and bits of me, little by little until I was so depleted and unhappy that I didn’t even know who I was. All the little things I thought I did for myself, that once gave me joy began to thieve from me, the expectations I placed on myself to be everything to everyone while never filling up my own cup led to a deep black void in my heart and soul.

I was off balance. I was not at peace with myself and my mind and my body were living in the same house but like angry lovers they had lost their desire and capacity to communicate in an effective way.

We want to give the very best of ourselves at all times, sometimes the pride and accolades we get from that alone, fuels us for a short time, but the reality is we need to give to ourselves first or we will end up in a place where we have given everything we had to give and we are not of any good to ourselves. If you have ever flown you will know that the flight attendants always instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before attempting to help others. If you cannot breath, you will not be able to help anyone else.

In December of 2015 I reached a point in my life where I had nothing left to give. I am a giving person by nature and I don’t think anything will change that but after spending two weeks in desperate anguish, crying for seemingly no reason and realizing that I was sick and depleted was a huge wake up call for me. I lost my dad as a teenager to a heart attack and I realized that he didn’t know how to relax. Don’t get me wrong, I can be as lazy as the best of you but I didn’t know how to sit back and enjoy that. If I wasn’t doing physically, my mind was making lists of all of the things I should be doing instead of relaxing. I barely slept, I used to think that going to bed was the time you planned for all of the things you didn’t get done during the day.

Those two weeks were a huge wake up call for me. Looking back I think I kept myself really busy to fulfill my need for validation. A lot of my self esteem was tied up in being and doing for others. I placed a lot of expectations on others as well and when those expectations were not actualized I spent a great deal of time disappointed which led to resentment.

I also feel like I was giving away my energy to people and things that did not fill me up. The transfer of energy between people should always be beneficial to both parties, I learned the hard way that it is not always the case. Some people are takers and they will take and take and take without ever offering anything of value in the relationship.

That is how the Wise project was born.

We are all born fundamentally whole but throughout our lives our individual experiences; whether they be of hurt, trauma or neglect have obscured the natural beauty of our core being and concealed it in layer upon layer of soot and dust.

Unbecoming that person shaped and shifted by experiences, occurrences, and events, and reuniting and restoring our essential mind * body * spirit connection is a trans-formative process in which we reconnect those disconnected parts of ourselves to uncover our authenticity.

Self-awareness, self-evolution, and self-acceptance are all footsteps in this alchemical process.

For me, it required saying the word NO…a lot. It was hard at first but quite honestly it is now one of my favorite words. If something does not fit with my schedule, it doesn’t shake me, excite me or make my heart leap out of my chest, I say NO and in turn I create room to say yes to the things that are truly meant for me!

We breath effortlessly but how often do we actually fill our lungs with the air. How often do we have time to notice little things on our drive to work, like the beauty of the sunrise or the power of nature and the universe working together at every single moment to make it all possible.

This morning for the first time in a long time I noticed the extreme beauty of the fire in the sky, the light creeps in so slowly, the sunrise is like falling in love, it happens so casually and then all at once; the sky erupts and fills with the most brilliant light. It gives my heart pause.

I also noticed a young mom at the street corner, kissing her son on the forehead and waiting anxiously as he crossed the street, I saw an elderly couple holding hands as they unhurriedly walked in the early morning sunshine and as I was sitting at a red light, where I would usually check my phone I saw a couple in their driveway, the woman was in the front seat and the man was buckling their child into their car seat in the back, he closed the door and bent down to kiss his lady before getting into his own car. I thought about all of those beautiful moments in my own life, moments I hurried through, moving from one moment to catapult myself into the next; without a breath, a thought or gratitude for what was right in front of me.

A reminder to breath in the air.

A reminder to take a pause, practice the pause.

A reminder to be grateful and always see what is in front of me.

The universe gives us reminders, signs, that it is always working for our highest good. We often get busy and we ignore the messages, we are guilty of believing that we are a part of an experience or part of the universe. One of the things that was told to me back in 2016 that has had one of the hugest impacts on my life so far is when I was face to face with Deepak Chopra and he said, “You are the universe. You are not part of the experience, you are the experience.”

The night I met Deepak Chopra I was a part of the most moving meditation experience of my life. I learned that in the midst of chaos I could always access the stillness that exists inside of me and that has helped me through a great deal of darkness.

Every single time the blackness threatens to swallow me whole, every time I have the feeling that maybe I am not enough, doing enough, being enough I remember how important it is for me to accept that I will never be perfect and that is OK, this humility allows me to emerge, expand and grow right from where I stand.

I am in bloom.

The journey to our souls optimum evolution will emerge with each step we take , we do not have to struggle through years of trying to find the right path. We are always on the path.

P.S. Around Valentines Day I bought some mini roses for my office. I had intended to re-pot them but forgot and when I returned to work after the weekend they were all dried up. My co-worker caught me throwing them in the garbage and he told me to just give them a little love and they would come back. I stripped off all the dead leaves and was left with empty, sickly branches. I gave them love anyway, I loved them as they were. Today my roses have 5 new blooms, they are flourishing and their branches are adorned with beautiful greenery, growing steadily as if to meet the ball of sunshine through the cracks of my office blinds. Imagine what happens if we give ourselves the same love we give to everything else in our lives. Imagine how we would grow and flourish.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” -Deepak Chopra

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The night I met Deepak Chopra and was a part of the most moving meditation experience of my life. I learned that in the midst of chaos I could always access the stillness that exists inside of me and that has helped me through a great deal of darkness.

Let it go- WISE Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

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The gift of our lives should be greater than pain and larger than fear, but when we are in the grip of grief, trauma, depression, heartache, loss or betrayal; fear can be immobilizing.

Pain can be a great teacher

Pain can be a great teacher if we are open to the lessons it brings, if we meet it with curiosity instead of alarm it will teach us and allow us to move through it with grace. One way or the other pain demands to be felt.

There is no promise of a pain free life, pain is inevitable, but if we resist, ignore or fear pain we initiate suffering. Suffering is not necessary.

I knew that the feeling of being enveloped in a dense dark fog was not going to lift overnight

I am not afraid of pain; I held the door wide open and welcomed it in. When my husband passed away in June, pain and plenty of it was more than expected.  I knew there would be an abundance of tears and endless heartbreak and longing. I knew that in my pain that I would find strength I never knew I had and wisdom I never knew I needed. I knew that the feeling of being enveloped in a dense dark fog was not going to lift overnight.

The thing I didn’t count on was how much I would come to depend on the pain. It is my receipt of love after all and I would spend nights wrapped up in it like a blanket. In a previous post I talked about the luxury of hope and embracing and holding onto those moments, but as they started to emerge for me I caught myself chasing them away and holding onto my dark blanket of despair. I had found a new person in my grief and as much as I thought I longed to have the old Michelle back I found myself identifying with the new familiar one and holding space for her and keeping the light out. I found myself wondering who I was in the world without my husband and who would he be if I wasn’t here in this world holding vigil for him. The grief and the unimaginable pain was the proof that his life and his story mattered and I became afraid of letting any bit of it go. I lived in fear that if I softened to the pain and moved through it and allowed the light to shine on me that his memory would fade, the love we shared wouldn’t matter and his spirit that I felt so close to me, guiding me, would diminish bit by bit until it disappeared.

Or so I thought…

I told all our loved ones that we needed to honor him by being well and being happy, but somehow, even knowing what he would truly want, I was honoring him by holding tightly to my pain as that was the manifestation of the love we shared and the connection between my physical life with him and our lives now. Or so I thought…

So here I am with all of this love in my heart that I want to give him and I think I can’t so as a consolation I close off my heart and I sit in my misery somehow thinking I am honoring the person who meant the world to me, who wanted nothing more for me to feel happiness and love always. When I put it in black and white it seems incredibly strange that I would think that way. I certainly know better, I think we all do. We know that at the deepest level of our soul we are always safe, loved, grounded and connected. Fear may protect us temporarily but it is not a place to live.

Fear should not define us; everything we long for is on the other side of fear

Fear should not define us; everything we long for is on the other side of fear. I want desperately to continue to feel the love that my husband and I shared with each other and with our children; I will not achieve that if I keep draping myself in the agony. In fact, in some conversations with some very wise and inspiring people I have come to believe that as I continue to move through the pain and the grief and as I allow moments of light to energize me, and the cloak of despair to decline, my memories will be stronger and more beautiful than they are now, swathed in a dismal haze.

It is amazing how gratitude can elevate to our highest vibration possible

I was walking through the park the other day with my dog and all of the colorful flowers are still in the bloom but the air is changing, even the copious sunshine couldn’t mask the hint of autumn that blew through the trees. Periodically the wind would come up and swiftly blow through the trees, showering the earth with leaves that had already dried out and curled up. It was absolutely beautiful. It is amazing how gratitude can elevate us to our highest vibration possible and I have plenty to be grateful for. Though my life right now is not one I would have chosen for myself, I got to experience the depth of true love and the lessons I learned by loving and being loved by Kirk, during the good times and the bad, I will hold in my heart forever. For just a moment I let myself feel those winds of change and not be afraid, and in that moment I felt Kirk clearer than I had in weeks, cheering me on.

I have been so afraid of what is on the other side of my fear so I really had to decide what I wanted for me and my children. I want the winds of change to blow me in the direction of emotional freedom, gratitude, joy, health and love. I want to multiply that love Kirk and I shared as a couple and as a family and put it back into the world. This world could sure use a little more love and kindness.

My response to this fear that restrains me is to summon all of the courage I have to not jump over, resist or hold the pain, but to move through it keeping my heart open to the unique gifts of the universe.

Are you holding unto fear? What is it trying to tell you? What is on the other side of your fear.

Let it go-see what remains.

Every single day is a new opportunity, for you and for me. Today lets decide what it is we want to see in the world and lets project that.

xoxo-michelle1

In the Middle of a Memory- Wise Project 2017

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I have been feeling on edge this past week, on the verge of crazy really. I am not deranged or boiling bunnies but I have been treading on some pretty unsteady ground with feet that sometimes forget how to walk. It feels like nobody could possibly understand the magnitude of all the emotions that I am feeling and how could they when I cannot seem to get a solid grip on them myself.

When you are bargaining with your husband’s spirit in the Tim Hortons drive-thru and assuring him that if he can find a way to come back in someone’s body that just passed, like in Drop Dead Diva, that you will not even care if he is big and hairy because you will love him anyway; it might be the time to hit the pause and reset button.
I went from a place of acceptance and hope, anticipating a future where my children and I could thrive, to drifting alarmingly quickly between heartache to daydreams and holding myself in a place of bleak despair.

One evening last week I was going through messages on my phone from Kirk and watching videos that he had sent to me when he was away. I enjoy seeing his smile and hearing his voice and my heart feels like it doubles in size when I read his heartfelt messages. What started out as an opportunity to feel close to him and the love we shared quickly escalated as I continued to take myself back and back and read messages from a time where Kirk was really struggling within himself and trying to explain his hurt and indifference to me. I became immobilized in the pain, allowing it to blanket me in fear, hurt and helplessness. For two days I could barely catch a breath, I shook constantly and my stomach was in complete shambles taking anything I dared to put into my body and ferociously expelling it. I was overwhelmed and I knew that I didn’t want to feel that way. I knew that there was no ‘what if’ that would change our story, but it was like being caught in a wildly aggressive current that I couldn’t free myself from. After two exhausting days of frantic tears and shallow breathing I did a grief meditation that allowed me to find that quiet place that exists in my mind, that place of non-judgement where I could sit in the witness chair as an observer. No yesterday or tomorrow exists there, only the present.

“Think of your mind like a snow globe that is shaken every time there’s a negative emotion. Meditation stills it, so you can see more clearly.” ~@londonmindful

I was finally able to doze off and I had a succession of dreams, almost like short movie clips of conversations I had had with Kirk. At the time, it seemed confusing and I barely thought of it in the morning until I found myself amid the same chaotic clips the following night. I woke up with a knowing. It was in everything Kirk said to me in those clips and in every conversation we had ever had. It was his pain. He did not want me to carry it. Though the blanket of sadness remains the black despair has loosened its grip on me enough to gain some perspective and breath again. I feel like I have taken ten steps backward in my healing journey but apparently grief doesn’t take the economy route.

“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

I spent a great deal of my life in the future or the past and invested a great deal of time on “what ifs”. I know that the present moment is all we have, yet time and time again I drag myself backwards or propel myself forward and get completely lost in anguish and fear.

I know that “keeping busy” is a good distraction but that I need to take the time to face my fears and my feelings head on and not suppress them so that they show up as unresolved complications later such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse or health related issues.

I am very aware that food, alcohol, TV, work and other distractions are temporary relievers and that activity, sleep, meditation and making healthy choices, along with allowing myself to feel what I am feeling as it arises is the best type of self-care.

I write because it helps me express what I am feeling, I know that there are several times that I was struggling throughout my life that reading and connecting with others in the midst of their pain reminded me that I was never alone. I can either live and love and learn, or I can suffocate in my sadness.

I went for a drive yesterday with no clear destination in mind and ended up at Value Village. Kirk and I went to Value Village a lot, he would buy several pairs of work pants that inevitably sat in a heap on our closet floor. I walked in and all the Halloween stuff was out. The girls are quite upset about the emergence of the season because Kirk is a Halloween baby and adored everything Halloween. We always put in the extra effort because of him. My friend and I were chatting and thought that maybe those hard days were the days that we should celebrate, if we start off by celebrating them right away then every year when those hard days, like his birthday and Father’s Day roll around we could maybe move out from underneath the grip of the dark clouds and celebrate him. Trust me when I say that he loved being celebrated…and celebrating!

Just the other night I had told the girls that I was thinking of picking up my vow renewal dress and spraying it with fake blood and doing a cool zombie face to greet trick or treaters. Haley was suitably horrified. Last year when Kirk was away on his birthday and not in good spirits, I re-created the shower scene from Psycho, fake blood and all and sent it to him. He loved it, but I had turned off my phone to finish my shower and he was calling frantically to make sure it was indeed staged. For me, I think celebrating that day, as hard as it will be, will be a good tribute to him. I am not sure if I need to ruin a perfectly good white dress to do it but it is one idea. I honestly haven’t been able to even think of picking the dress up and I know there are several good things I could do with it when I am ready.

I was leaving Value Village and there was a late twenties man smoking on the sidewalk, I would guess he was of Latin descent. He said excuse me and I turned around, he said “You are beautiful.” I said thank you and he replied, “Seriously, you are truly beautiful.” I stopped in my tracks for just a moment to acknowledge him suitably. I told him that I appreciated the compliment and as I continued to walk to my truck I recalled how that very morning during my meditation at Lifestyle Meditation, I was deep into stillness and calm and I had a vision of the universe revolving. I knew that it was my reminder that everything is connected. As crazy as I know it sounds, and I have already acknowledged being somewhat crazy; I feel that that the Latin man was just a messenger, knowingly or not; and that was Kirk reminding me that I was truly beautiful. It wasn’t about what I was wearing or that my hair was incredibly shiny yesterday or that my eyes were vividly green from being scrubbed by tears, it was how he felt about all of me.

I got in my truck with a smile in my broken heart and pulled out into the street. On the radio Cole Swindell crooned “In the Middle of a Memory” and that familiar warm feeling came over me. He would take my glass of wine and set it down and pull me into his arms and dance with me and tell me that I was beautiful. Sometimes it felt like we were the only people in the entire world that existed in those moments that we were lost in each other. Thank god for the red light as hot tears filled my eyes and temporarily blinded me, they spilled out of me, threatening to collect into a river and wash me away. They didn’t wash away my sadness or loneliness, Kirk left me in the middle of a memory and I am still desperately trying to come to terms with all of it. It did bring me a bit of clarity and gratitude though. I am gracious that I was able to share that kind of love with him, that no matter our faults, our challenges, our mistakes, and our intense ups and downs; our deep love for each other and our fight to always make it back to the safety of each other’s arms was unrivalled.

Our love is still in the universe, it will continue to guide us on our healing journeys. As I continue to seek opportunities for growth in this great big world, spreading kindness and love, and rising as resolute as an old oak tree, with deep roots, reaching further and further into the steady earth, discovering who I am meant to be in this wonderfully mad world; he will guide me and our children.

I will continue to embrace every seemingly crazy sign from the universe as I make my own way. (if you see me with some big hairy guy just smile for me 😉)

I will cry when I need to, whether I am happy or sad and even when my eye make-up is perfect. I will let the sunlight and the moonlight fill those darkened spaces in me and I will continue to breath deep and drink in the power and the destiny of the universe, I will not suffocate.

Inside of me I will carry a story of a woman that had the courage to love someone with her whole heart, even on the days when she could not be promised anything in return, a story of a woman that dared to love herself just as much, and to flood herself with all the kindness she deserved so she could turn around and share it with the world.

“The truth is, you never truly lose someone, because love is not a losing game. If your heart cared for someone, if it fought for someone, if it believed in someone; if it felt in a way that set someone apart, if it felt in a way that was honest, and all-consuming, and stunningly real — there is no going back. See, the best kind of love changes you. It teaches you and grows you. The best kind of love cannot be lost, it cannot be forgotten. It will always exist within you.” ~Bianca Sparacino

 

xoxo-michelle1