Words get in the way -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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In 2015 Shonda Rimes released the Year of Yes, just as I was learning to say No all over again. The word NO, a simple shift in narrative has given me back to myself. I used to say yes to everything and it left me depleted and often frustrated and angry. I think I equated saying yes and taking on everything with my self-worth. Being the “yes girl” made me valuable and I got a great deal of validation from that. During that time, I clearly did not know that I determined my own self-worth and because of that, I was often taken advantage of and the things that I used to enjoy I became very resentful of.

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When toddlers learn to say the word no it is extremely powerful in their young minds and they are really onto something. If you have ever seen a toddler saying “No” to everything, on repeat, they are just learning to use and exert their own power. I remember being asked to do something and finally saying no and feeling so fucking great about it. People were so used to me saying yes that it was a little shocking at first and where I was always the person willing to pick up the slack or do the shit jobs that nobody else wanted to do it was not exactly looked upon favorably. I learned quite quickly that my value to some people was very much dependent on what I could do for them, I also learned pretty quickly that saying No to the things I really didn’t want to do put me back in the driver’s seat of my own life and made me a whole lot happier and valuable to the people that really mattered, including myself. Setting limits in our lives is extremely important and for me, a simple change in narrative became a vehicle of integrity and a way to rid myself of time-consuming filler that had ceased to add any value to my life. Don’t get me wrong, saying yes is not always a bad thing, in fact saying yes to life and love and new experiences can add a great deal to your life, but NO, used properly, wields a great deal of personal power and should be celebrated as such. We put a lot of significance on being needed, wanted and valued but saying yes all of the time to feel worthy just becomes a lot of work.

No. Repeat after me…”NO”

Doesn’t that feel amazing?

I had a boss and friend that used to say, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right either way!” I use this little piece of genius almost every day, in conversations with others and in the words I use to encourage myself. Can’t is a powerful word, if we give power to it. If you believe you cannot do something you simply can’t but if you believe you can you have embraced a fantastic superpower because if you think you can, you absolutely, without a doubt, unequivocally can!

But.

But is a word that people use to clip their own wings and wrap themselves in chains. But is often used in the same paragraph as can’t. ‘But’ gives you the pause to say why you can’t. But comes before an excuse. Take notice and of when and how you are using the word but and try to answer in another way.

Trying.

I used to think trying was a powerful word until a very wise man who helped me on my healing journey told me that trying is lying. I am trying my best and I am doing my best is a tiny but incredible shift in narrative that will make you a badass. Instead of attempting you are doing. Simple.

Broken.

I love poetry but in poetry, people are often referred to as broken. Broken hearted, broken spirit, just plain broken. After my husband passed away I often described the feeling I had as broken but when I realized that not only did my heart have this huge capacity to love, it felt every ounce of hurt that comes along with losing that love tragically, I was able to experience every single emotion to every degree on the pendulum swing and I believe that that makes me the very opposite of broken. I am strong enough to bend which essentially makes me unbreakable. I will own and embrace my struggles and rise to fight when needed but I am not broken and neither are you.

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Vulnerable.

The dictionary would like to tell us that vulnerable is susceptible, weak and defenseless but vulnerable is actually one of the most powerful words and actions in the English language. It is one of my favorite words in fact. According to researcher and author Brene Brown, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Through her work, I have come to believe that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage. When we shrug off the protective armor that shields us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves up to experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Vulnerability Is the origin of joy, creativity, authenticity, and love. That feels pretty damn powerful to me.

Save.

We often look for others to swoop into a situation and save us. I have a difficult time with that word. When Kirk passed away I remember falling on my deck and slumping against the house in shock and disbelief and I knew immediately that nobody could save me. We all need support, comfort, and encouragement but in those important moments, I realized that if I was going to slay the demons I better find a sword because nobody could save me, that was my job. In a similar respect we can not save others, that is not our job, we can love, hold space, encourage and support but “saving” oneself is an inside job!

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These are just a couple of examples of how  narrative has been important in my life and has helped me reclaim my personal power. Pay attention to the diminishing words that you use, words that take your power away. You can make some simple little shifts daily in the way you speak to and about yourself as well as how you speak up for yourself. You will immediately command respect because people will see very quickly how you much value yourself and quite frankly if we do not value ourselves why would we expect anyone else to?

Recommended: The Power of Vulnerability~ Brené Brown

Lost Together -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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They say butterflies don’t know they are beautiful because they cannot see their wings and that often people are the same, that others see in them things they cannot see. If you are beautiful on the inside that will always show on the outside, to the people that matter anyway. I dedicate this post to my old friend Tanya who is in the throes of one of life’s most difficult journey’s. At the moment she is in a protective cocoon but man when she emerges, I foresee beautiful things for her.

 

A song on the radio snapped me to attention the other day, I had one of those moments as the song opened to the familiar crooning of the talented Mr. Jim Cuddy, “strange and beautiful are the stars tonight…” from Blue Rodeo’s Lost Together; that you never forget.

I was flooded with intense emotion as I imagined Kirk walking across the garage to give me his hand and when I took it he would pull me into his arms to dance. It never much mattered whether it was just the two of us or twenty people were in the garage, there are certain songs that no matter what the circumstance was, we would dance. The moment left me a bit shook, one moment I was laughing and feeling as light as air and the next second there were hot tears springing from my eyes but before the tears reached the middle of my cheek a box of screws fell, seemingly from midair, sailed across the counter and landed in front of me. My friend chuckled and said “He is here”

They say we are lost till we are found, (whoever they are anyway), and in the span of a moment in time, I was both lost and found again. There are constant reminders for me that death has not ended the love I share with Kirk, and reminders that feel like permission and encouragement to find my wings, to take that breath, and like the phoenix; rise.

Dimes have been literally appearing out of nowhere at a rate that seems almost uncanny. My daughter was making a sandwich tonight and one fell out of midair and landed at her feet.

Whether you are religious or not the serenity prayer which says, “Lord grant me the strength to change the things I can, the courage to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.” is a critical reminder that accepting that which we cannot change, is the only way to move forward.

There are times in our lives that we will all feel a little lost and I think it is essential to know that sometimes we all are. Nobody has it all figured out, nobody is untouched by struggle and nobody is up all the time.

I had a couple situations in the last several weeks where I allowed people to get the better of me, making me question myself and my worthiness and whether I was enough. I found myself in the anguish of wondering how people see me and why someone would treat me as if I was less than them. Those are sad moments indeed when we find ourselves standing on the outside of a situation, hustling for our worthiness when we know damn well that nobody has the power to determine our worth. A person eager to stand in judgment of another already questions their own worthiness so we should never give them control of ours.

We need to stop spending so much time giving a fuck what people think of us. Every single person that we meet will have a different view of us and they can only see us and know us and love us to the level that they also see and know and love themselves. The magic happens when we love ourselves so much that other people’s opinions do not hold power over us. In times of fear, shame, and inadequacy we need to select our thoughts the way we select our clothes in the morning. Don’t pick the self-depreciating, judgemental thoughts and follow them down into the perpetual abyss.

We are all born whole and worthy. We are born enough.

Let people evaluate and undervalue you, let them speak untruths about you, their opinions are not your problem. You be you. Be kind, bound to love and committed to your beautiful authenticity. Speak out, speak up, be vulnerable, but never live in fear of shining too bright or doubting your worthiness.

I read a quote today that went something like this

 “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

 Life is a journey, not a destination. Your journey is your journey and your struggles and challenges have the power to bring out your true potential if you allow and if you have the guts to say firmly to anyone who dares tell you how to travel your path,

“This is my journey. I’ll do it my way”

We will all find ourselves at that intersection in life where everything is literally falling apart around us, but, if we pay close attention we can see that at the same time things are coming together, life is funny like that.

We need to stop subscribing to the idea that we will be enough when we lose ten pounds, get a promotion, get a partner and get our proverbial shit together.

WE ARE ENOUGH NOW.

Sometimes I find myself spiraling in fear and feeling all alone and I am always reminded of a story my mom told me about one time after my dad passed away she was in town paying bills and decided to have dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant. She said there was a little girl with her mother at the next table and the little girl pointed at her and asked her mother why the lady was all alone. I remember how terrible that story made me feel but how badass I thought my mom was because goddammit she just wanted some Chinese food and she was worth it. She didn’t need anyone to accompany her to make her worthy of eating a meal.

People spend years in relationships that make them miserable and lonely but somehow we have been led to believe that on our own we are just not enough. We spend way to much time looking to others to validate us and make us feel worthy.

I have been thinking about this a lot and this weekend I took myself to the theatre. I had an extra ticket and my plans changed a couple of times and I decided that I needed to go by myself. I felt like it was something that I wanted to do. I strolled down the street in these amazing high heels and a fabulous wine-colored dress that matched my knockout lipstick and I felt every bit as badass as I thought my mom was for eating her Chinese food and enjoying her own company. I even had the audacity to throw my arms up in the air and feel the sunshine on my face and love myself, my tenacity and my vibrant city.

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I sat in the Cabaret section of the theatre which was swarming with couples and there wasn’t a second that I felt alone or like I didn’t belong. The show was fabulous, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I strolled out of the theatre and down the sidewalk of my incredible city in my sexy stiletto heels feeling phenomenal. I stopped at the Art Gallery and as I was sitting on the steps I took a couple selfies which I thought captured exactly how I was feeling in that moment and thought how we are all just magical, unique works of art, no two of us exactly the same and yet so remarkable in our differences.

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I awoke to Mothers day and probably one of the hardest days I have faced since my husband has been gone. I felt none of the previous nights fierce independence and in it’s place I felt immense sadness and I felt alone and afraid. The woman that strolled down the street with her head high the night before was buried in blackness. Those feelings plagued my thoughts and attacked all of my insecurities and I felt myself following those down the dark rabbit hole.

Grief is a strange and ferocious beast.

I didn’t want to feel any of it and the intensity frightened me and left me exhausted. I curled up in a ball and wanted desperately to surrender to all of it and just lay there and let the hours of Mother’s Day tick tick away.

I kept hearing this nagging voice, louder than the other ones that mocked me and told me shitty stuff. It sounded like Kirk’s and it kept saying “Get up, you are a warrior.”

I am happy to say I did get up. I shook it off. I cried and then I cooked a big dinner and ate too many whipped potatoes and too much bread.

This morning when I picked out my clothes for the day I was also careful to pick out my thoughts and they all said, “Hey badass, you are a warrior, you got this, go kick the ass off this day.”

 

Be yourself- W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

I don’t have any memories of being a baby but I recall this particular picture of me on my first birthday where I was standing on a chair staring at my birthday cake. My raven black hair was in disarray, framing my porcelain like skin. I was wearing this little red checkered two piece outfit with my belly peeking out of the top of the shirt. I have seen that photo so many times over the years and countless times over the years I have heard, “aww look how chubby you were.”, and “aww look at the belly” “so cute”

The dialogue that we use when we see babies is all pretty much the same, “look she is perfect” “look at those adorable chubby thighs” “he is going to rule the world someday” and my favorite (I might be quoting my mom) “she is so ugly, she is cute (because we all know that there is no such thing as an ugly baby) Babies are impeccable and we applaud their every milestone. Babies show up everyday and they smile at you even when they have sweet potatoes in their hair and a diaper full of shit. They are not self conscious, so a baby does not push you away when they are feeling gassy or bloated. They are little love machines, they want to love you and they want you to love them and they are generally quite enamored with themselves, and why shouldn’t they be? They get praised for pooping in a plastic pot.

Apparently when you are forty-three chubby isn’t as cute and way less people remark about my belly. (Thank god)

I have a lot of wonderful childhood memories. I was an imaginative child, I loved to play make believe and tell stories but I also liked to play outside all day. I loved to dance and do cartwheels and just about anything would make me laugh uncontrollably. It wasn’t unusual for me to come home with dirty or skinned knees from playing in the mud or falling off the monkey bars. The phrases I remember from adults during that time are all very similar; from parents, babysitters, teachers, grocers, “that’s not ladylike, be a lady, sit up straight, sit with your knees together, keep your dress clean.” At a certain point in childhood you start to become very aware of yourself; self-conscious if you will, and that wildly uninhibited sense of freedom and abandon becomes a memory.

When you are kid you always want to be older, I looked up to my cool cousins and desperately wanted to be like them. Then all of the sudden I was and Junior High was a whole new world to me, I had to leave the fun and safe environment of my elementary school to become a little face in a big crowd. I remember moving through the crowded hallways of my Junior High during class changes and seeing all of the pretty girls in the higher grades with their stylish clothes and puffy hairdos and for the first time I can remember not feeling “enough”

Not smart enough, not cool enough and not pretty enough. I can remember quite clearly admiring those girls in my brother’s grade. I was just entering this whole new world of Junior High but the Queens that reigned this new castle were very comfortable there. They looked immaculate and so comfortable in their own skin. I wanted to be them.

I lucked out ironically because one of the mean girls in grade nine took an awful dislike to me. There was no specific reason for her hatred for me, I just happened to be the in the wrong place at the right time and she took advantage of the opportunity to lash out at me. I became the object of her ridicule, anger and torment. It actually became one of the very best things to happen to me that very first year in junior high because I had an older brother and younger brother that harassed me constantly and toughened me up. This mean girl didn’t intimidate me as much as she annoyed me so I used my smart mouth to snap back at her and make her look stupid. That pissed her off of course and our chirpy banter stirred through the hallways during school and spilled over to after school hours and activities. I was secretly terrified of the bully’s best friend but way too cheeky and antagonistic to admit to that. My hutzpah attracted the admiration of some of those pretty grade nine girls that I wanted to be like. To have earned the respect of those girls awarded me a confidence that was unusual for a little fish entering a big pond. I have mostly fond memories of junior high but after a three-year stint it was time to move on to the huge pond, high school.

I met a guy that summer between junior high and high school and not just any guy; “the guy”. The summer of love quickly faded into the fall of responsibility and High School was a whole new ball game. That phenomenal confidence I had once had got lost in the endless hallways. I wasn’t the smartest or the funniest and I wasn’t the prettiest. I stumbled a bit and didn’t really know what crowd I fit into. The first several weeks of High School really sucked for me. I felt awkward, shy and lonesome for the first time in my school career. I eventually settled in and found several groups of people to pass the time with.

I can recall quite clearly that I used my smart mouth whenever I was feeling insecure or not enough. I felt like I was a smart girl, I had a passion for learning and I was an engaged student. I would spend hours in my bedroom studying, taking notes, highlighting and circling key words but that wasn’t always reflected during test time. I would second guess myself and erase things a lot; I rarely trusted my first thought. My oldest brother on the other hand sailed through high school barely opening a book. I remember getting a social test back and I was so excited to have gotten a 74 and a girl that I had gone to Junior High with was devastated to tears that she only got an 85. At this point I came to realize that I wasn’t the prettiest girl in this big sea and I wasn’t going to fit in with the smart crowd so I somehow had to pretend to be cool enough to get through school.

I started hanging out with this beautiful girl that really seemed to have everything going for her. She had golden hair and eyes the color of the ocean and she just lit up any room she was in. I loved her and she quickly became my best friend. I remember laying in her basement bedroom at her Aunt’s house staring up at the Marky Mark poster above her bed and wishing I was her. She seemed to be just enough of everything and by just being her friend I felt that somehow elevated me. I seemed oblivious to the fact that she was living in her Aunt’s basement instead of at home because she had troubles with her parents and that she continued to make a string of bad decisions because maybe her life wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I saw only what I told my mind to see. She is pretty, she is great, I need to be like her.

The summer before grade 11 I was still playing a cat and mouse game with “that guy” that I had fallen for the summer before starting high school. When he called me to come see him one hot July day I jumped on my bike and pedaled all the way there. That day changed my life!

I spent a good chunk of grade 11 pregnant after that hot summer day,  so when my friends and peers were going to parties and making great memories I was home on Saturday nights in my bedroom eating heavenly hash ice cream and watching my teenage belly  grow round; contemplating the future and decisions that no sixteen year old is equipped to make. Grade 12 was a blur at best, not only was I mourning the sudden death of my father before he turned forty years old but I was also grieving the loss of the baby boy that I had given up for adoption.

My best friend had moved away and would soon start a family at a very tender age and I struggled to fit in with people that I had nothing in common with. Their teenage struggles were so different than mine. I had tipped the scales between adolescent and adulthood and as much as I would have liked to pretend that I was the same, I never would be.

I endured some destructive judgement from my peers after I put my son up for adoption, and a decision that I had come to terms with as being mature and the best for him was turned into something ugly. There is no question that I had supportive people in my life, but the voices that made snide remarks to me about giving my baby away and those that stared at me and whispered became the loudest, but none of the voices could drown out my own voice in my head and I wasn’t really my friend anymore. I think I was truly never meant to fit in anywhere, I was meant to stand out; in a way I think we all are. We spend so much of our lives trying to stuff ourselves into boxes that were not made for us, dulling our sparkle so we are mere copies of the people that we stand next to.

I spent so much of my life afraid to stand out. I wanted people to forget that I was “that girl” so I just stayed small and followed along. When I had my girls I wanted to be a great mother, they became everything to me; leaving very little room for a relationship with my husband and no room for a relationship with me. I equated my self worth with how busy I was and how much time I dedicated to other people, I thought that self love was how much love I gave to others. I really never considered taking the time to love myself.

To be enough, I thought I had to keep giving to others and I was so tired at the end of the day that I didn’t have anything left over for me.

The months leading up to being reunited with my son that I gave up for adoption at 16, I was tormented. Would I be enough? I had these terrible feelings of inadequacy, that I should be more, do more, have more. Those feelings subsided for me immediately when we were united once again. It felt even silly that I had ever felt that way. He accepted me; he believed that I was enough!

Several years later I found myself in a spot where I was so miserable that I could barely get out of bed and I was in tears constantly. I had some wonderful gifts in my life but I wasn’t sure who I was and I still had those old feelings of shame and worthlessness. Those old voices that used to tell me I wasn’t enough came back when I was still but I was too mentally tired to keep being everything to every body. I finally realized that for my well being I had to dedicate some time to myself. That was all new to me of course but if I could tell you the single most important thing that I have learned it would be that life is all about love, it is our fundamental purpose to move through this world. We need to learn to love ourselves first, that is vital. We spend a great deal of time trying to get others to love us and wondering why things do not work out. If we do not feel we are worthy of time and love and investment in self care and self worth than why would we assume that others should invest in us. You can only give so much before your cup is empty and we all know you cannot pour from an empty cup. When we take the time to cultivate love and appreciation for ourselves, that love grows and touches every thing and every body in our lives. Instead of envying people and wanting to be them, we learn to admire them for the qualities that they possess. Most likely we see glimpses of these qualities in ourselves and when we appreciate them in others we are actually seeing a reflection. We can make choices to manage and grow these qualities that we desire to see more of. When we learn to love ourselves we don’t want to be anyone else, we can be happy for others and their accomplishments but also be quite happy to be ourselves. Comparison is the thief of joy, when we constantly hold our lives up against the lives of others we are literally stealing our own hard earned happiness.

This weekend I attended an I am enough workshop here in Edmonton hosted by Wellness on Whyte. One of the keynote speakers was the owner of Wellness on Whyte Dr. Geha Gonthier, B.A., LMT, ERYT, R.Ac.

Surviving her first cardiac arrest at 7 years of age, the doctors did not hold much hope for Geha. Through Europe’s integrated medical care, Geha met a doctor that advised her to come off western drugs and use diet and herbs to manage her chronic condition. Over time her condition improved dramatically and inspired Geha to make holistic medicine her life’s journey.

Over the last twenty years she has apprenticed with various teachers both in Europe as well as Maui on the subject of Chinese Medicine and herbs. In 2007 she received her Acupuncture Diploma after completing the program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton.

Geha has been practicing and teaching Yoga and Meditation for many years. The results of that are reflected in the gentleness and care she extends to her patients. The focus in her work is the integration of body, mind and spirit, encouraging profound healing in the most subtle levels of awareness.

I had read about Geha and was excited to meet her and hear her speak. After a glowing introduction that made me even more excited to be in her presence Geha emerged as this wonderfully warm, humble and beautiful woman who spoke of her life and experiences and that nagging feeling that had travelled with her throughout her life of “not being enough” I think it is always a little bit of shock when we hear from the people that we look up to that they face similar struggles, there is something very powerful and humanizing about it. During her talk she mentions a video by British Therapist Marissa Peer where she presents the idea of “I am enough”. I have watched the talk as well and I am not sure what segment of the talk resonated the most with Geha but for me there is a part where Marissa asked the audience to swing their left arm behind their back as far as it will go and hold it there a moment. She then asks them to drop their arm and relax for a moment. She then tells them she is going to again ask them to take their left arm behind their back but this time she is going to ask them to move it 1/3 more than they did previously, just a little bit more. She tells them to take a moment to think about it and then the audience all swings their arms back and manages to move them further than they did previously. Now if you recall, the first time she asked them to move it as far as it would go. She explains that their mind did that. They told their mind what to do and it obeyed. We tell our mind things everyday. Our mind obeys. “Don’t be foolish, you can’t do that. You are too thin. You are too fat. You are not smart enough. You are not good enough, pretty enough. You are not enough”

Our mind obeys.

What if everyday we told ourselves, “You are enough. I love you. You are amazing. You are doing a great job. You can do it. Go for it.” Imagine how different our lives would be if we all believed that we are enough. Maybe you don’t have a mansion and four fancy vehicles and a pool like Suzy in High School but you love yourself, your life has purpose, you are generous, kind, compassionate and full of love and wonder. That is more than enough!

Geha’s talk was followed by a forgiveness meditation by Mandy Trapp. I was very excited for this because Mandy is the owner of Lifestyle Mediation and I had attended her salute the sun yoga/meditation class the previous morning. Mandy is one of those sincere and buoyant people that others gravitate towards. Mandy graduated from Chopra University with their top distinction of Vedic Master Educator and has brilliantly woven her Chopra education with her athletic training education, various yoga certifications, and several trips to India and Nepal where she has founded the India/Nepal Yoga Project; a non-profit organization that empowers healing in those affected by the devastating effects of human trafficking. She has worked in the Wellness Industry for over 20 years and founded Lifestyle Meditation in 2012.

During Salute the sun Mandy reminded us that the no matter what goes on the sun rises everyday and even if it is cloudy and not able to shine it’s brightest light it still shows up every single day. She expressed to us that like the sun we are not expected to shine our brightest everyday, that some days just showing up might be our best. Life is hard and it really helps to have that articulated. We are way too hard on ourselves, pushing ourselves to always be just right when sometimes it is an effort just to put our clothes on right side out!

Mandy led us through a forgiveness meditation and I don’t know if you practice meditation or if you have ever been a part of group mediation but it can be very powerful. It is a pretty good assumption that people attending an I am enough workshop are seeking similar things so the energy in the room is mighty. The first group meditation I was ever a part of was during a talk with Deepak Chopra and it is a formidable memory.

Mandy presented a short talk on some of her own experiences and builds on Geha’s talk about being enough and that moment in our lives when things change for us. She asks us to go back in our mind to being a baby and introduce ourselves, she then asks us to find ourselves at that moment that things change, when the rules of the world have changed and look at and sit with and speak to that person. The meditation led us through the mantra “I’m sorry. I love you. I forgive you. Thank you.” So, I found myself mentally sitting face to face with a fresh faced but scared and lost sixteen year old girl. I apologized to her, she forgave me. I love her and she thanked me. To say it was moving would be under stating it. That morning I had had a major blow out with my 17 year old daughter and I pictured her carrying around this hurt, resentment and anger and not really knowing or loving herself and my heart broke into pieces and tears spilled uncontrollably down my cheeks with my head bowed to my heart silently repeating I’m sorry. I forgive you. I love you. Thank you. . As I reunited with my 16 year old self, I searched for a way to help my daughter.

Geha had quoted one of her own teachers in what she told me sums up our human purpose in one broad stroke, “Tomorrow we die, today we love”

Love is the most important thing. We need to breath from our heart, communicate from our heart. Our heart is the center of our spirit, our inspiration and our soul. We crave acceptance and approval from others but we need to be able to love ourselves and embrace our enoughness without waiting for others to give us praise or tell us that we are good or loved.

My job right now is to love myself so am able to love my daughters and hold space with them through their struggles. To not sit in judgment of them, just in love and encourage them to always be their own best friend.

Tomorrow we die, today we love.

Love yourself. Be yourself. You are enough. You always were.

Chasing the sun-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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Is confidence important to you?

Nineteenth century philosopher and psychologist William James once said “Most people live in a restricted circle of potential”

This remains true today though some would prefer to believe that intelligence, opportunity and resources play the largest role in determining ones impending possibilities, rather than an evident lack of belief in ourselves.

Though popular opinion might lead us to believe that confidence was handed out to a select few at birth it is simply not true. Confidence is not something that is reserved for the wealthy or for those with luck, quite the contrary; it is simply the result of our thoughts and actions.

Too often my children have heard me quoting Henry Ford by saying “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right either way. “

If we truly believe we can’t we will not bother to try, our thoughts become the director of our actions and these actions become the sculptors of our lives.

Confidence is not something we either have or we don’t have. That is not the end of the story. Psychologists describe confidence as volitional in nature; therefore it is a cognitive process by which we as individuals can commit to a particular course of action. Purpose striving is one of the primary human psychological functions.

Without getting too deeply rooted into the science of it, like so many things we can make a conscious choice to build self confidence, we can practice it and over time it will become a habit. This is really good news for all of us! It means that confidence is a choice, with effort and the courage to take risks we can grow our self confidence and continue to build on it.

As humans we need to be mindful of the extent that we rely on outside affirmations for our confidence as we get a quick boost when our efforts are praised but we are hit quite hard when despite our best efforts we fall short of reaching a goal. We need to put more value on taking risks and putting the work in and if we do not achieve the end results we had hoped for we need to be proud of what we did achieve and use that foundation to continue to develop our ideas and work towards our ambitions. Every journey begins with that first step and every step in that journey counts.

Our self confidence is directly related to our self worth, we need to believe that we are enough, that our efforts are enough and when things don’t go the way we had hoped we need to be our own best friend. We need to immediately silence our inner self critic and instead give ourselves the same support that we would give to a friend in the same situation. Most likely we would tell them things like, ‘you did your best, don’t give up, keep working on it, learn from this…”

Focus on what you really like to do. When we have an active interest in something we are able to face the work with optimism and enthusiasm and therefore get better results. However, it is essential that we step out of our comfort zone as much as possible. There is minimal risk of failure in our comfort zone and that alone makes it attractive but there is also very little opportunity for growth. Taking small risks and lifting up the security blanket that we have draped over ourselves can lead to bigger successes and in turn a greater boost in confidence.

Often we focus on the possibility of a negative outcome instead of focusing on what great things could happen. We automatically set ourselves up for failure. If we train ourselves to focus on the positive things we can achieve we will be inspired to put in a greater effort.

Comparison is indeed the thief of joy, if we continually compare our lives to the lives of others we will come up short and feel bad about ourselves. It is okay to look to our role models though. Perhaps we like the way that they speak or handle tough questions, we admire their tenacity and their willingness to embrace new opportunities. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery then it is more than okay to emulate these qualities that we admire in others. If we take baby steps and we are able to successfully reproduce these merits of tenacity, courage and persistence we will not become the people we admire; but by radiating some of the qualities we hold in high esteem we will harness an energetic and dynamic new boldness that will leave us feeling poised and self assured.

Confidence, like all of the emotions, leads to the production of more confidence. The very word itself “confidence” is hard to put into mere words, but we recognize it anywhere, in ourselves and in others. When we feel confident we will say yes to new opportunities and take on bold new challenges and without it we will keep giving into that nagging little voice of self-doubt that tells us we can’t.

Oh baby, you can and you will! If you want something bad enough and you are willing to put in the hard work, you can work towards it, one important step at a time! You can chase the sun, you can dance in the rain!

Talking with teens

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“why fit in when you were born to stand out? -Dr. Suess

It has been a busy week and even though I have a beautiful new laptop and plenty to say on a multitude of subjects, I took a little hiatus to catch up with friends and hang out with my daughters. It may seem a little lazy but below is a quote taken directly from Facebook, it is advice I gave to my daughters thirteen year old friend after a post she made about society and it’s ugliness. So many teens feel that they are not good enough, not skinny enough, not pretty enough, unloved and unwanted.

Why is this? Are we as parents letting our kids know how loved, beautiful and important they are. Are we teaching them the true meaning of beautiful?

I think of my children when they were first born, as pure as the mountain air. All of our children were born that way. Who taught them to hate themselves, dislike their bodies, feel they weren’t good enough? Who taught them to judge themselves and others by an unrealistic version of perfect?

Every single person that notices that something is wrong in society has a responsibility to help change it, man, woman or child. We will never right all the wrongs in the world but we can begin by loving ourselves and showing our children how important that is. If a person truly loves themselves they will love others, not for the clothes they wear, their body type or the way they wear their hair.

Self love is the most important kind of love. When a child loves themselves they make healthy decisions that are in their best interests as an expression of how they feel about themselves. People with no self worth make bad choices inviting people into their lives that can do them harm.

I could rant on about this for hours. I have a teenage daughter that I have to constantly prepare for the big bad world. I have found that the two best ways to teach my daughter how to love herself are:

A) Love myself. Show her I love who I am, with all my quirks and flaws, I embrace all that I am.

B) Love her. Love her enough to say no to her and have her dislike me, show her boundaries and teach her right from wrong. Love her even when I don’t like her much. Focus on the qualities that make her beautiful, her kindness, her enthusiasm, her compassion, her desire to help others. Teach her that happiness is beautiful and that true beauty shines through perceived flaws.

“Wherever you are in life be the soul of that place. The first step in changing society is changing yourself and realizing that imperfect is perfect. Beauty is everywhere and it can’t often be seen with your eyes but it sure can be felt with the heart. Be the light in a world of darkness…that will be amazing. ♥”