Baby, I love your way – Wise Project 2019 #NakedTuesday

make-connection-with-customers

Our craving to be deeply seen
Is often eclipsed by our fears
of being genuinely witnessed
with all of our invisible stains
and rooted soul blemishes;
to be wrapped in the embrace
of purely humbled affection
both tenuous and rare
is something we quietly desire
without having the courage
to ask for it, receive it, or give
it to others…

~Michelle DeBay

 

I promised a piece on intimacy this week and it has been a little tougher than I thought. Everyone has different ideas about what intimacy means to them and most people relate it to their romantic relationships. Being single, I believe I am able to see a less narrow definition of intimacy, one that is reserved just for romantic relationships, but one that if also often missing from romantic relations.

I believe that one of our deepest desires is to be truly seen and understood, void of judgement. Though we desire this, I also believe it is one of our greatest fears. Even those that shine the brightest lights have dimly lit corners that we they do not allow just anyone to see. We have cravings, wants and aspirations that we estimate we will be judged for so we keep those parts of us hidden.

To achieve complete intimacy in any relationship we have to be willing to trust that we will be loved and accepted for who we are and all of who we are. For our humanness, our flaws and all of the things that make us beautiful. Allowing anyone to see those parts of ourselves, despite any initial apprehension is what creates and builds intimacy.

Though our modern society has managed to somewhat separate sex from intimacy, admitting that intimacy involves both emotional and physical connection and vulnerability, we are often still guilty of confusing the two and end up feeling that horrible feeling of betrayal when we fail to satisfy our desire for intimacy with sex, leading to hurt, confusion and questioning our worthiness. This cycle on repeat can leave us feeling consumed, exhausted and depleted.

In any relationship, intimacy creates better and stronger connections. In a romantic relationship it can be the difference between a good and a great relationship. My friend Charmaine said that to her it’s the freedom to explore one another physically and emotionally without judgement. The comfort to be herself without hesitation. To look into her partners eyes and feel safe. I wonder how many people can boast having that in their romantic relationships. Being able to be themselves and be confident that they are enough at all times; free to desire and want and need and express and explore all of it without shame or fear of judgement. Studies show that about 20 percent of marriages are sexless and 43 percent of women and 31% of men (reported…believed to be much higher) experience some sort of sexual dysfunction. I believe it is safe to say that when intimacy is absent, problems become magnified.

I was with my late husband for 20 years and in the beginning things were tumultuous as we struggled to grow as individuals while remaining rooted together, raising a family and hiding our fears and insecurities. If I am honest it wasn’t until the last couple years of our relationship that we found a place of complete intimacy and unconditional love. It was scary for both of us and it meant seeing and being seen without judgement, it meant no blaming or shaming and to always, in any situation, approach the other with love before automatically arbitrating. There were times in our relationship that we were dishonest, we told white lies or untruths and the reason being is we feared the judgment and shame that would arise so it became easier to eliminate certain things from our conversations or to shave little bits off of the truth to make it fit into a pretty box. I am glad that Kirk and I were able to find that place and I know it will help me in all of my relationships going forward. I can recall in the last couple of years of his life having moments that I felt so close to him, that we were somehow connected by invisible bonds yet still felt free. In glimpsing back on those moments I feel amazingly proud that we were able to fight our own fears to get to that place, I can assure you it was not easy.

I have discovered that being yourself is way less scary than having people in your life that do not see you and that you fear you would lose if they really knew you. The greatest revolution is in being yourself and realizing that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, but the right ones will stay and no matter where they are in the world you will know that a part of them is always with you, and cheering you on, no matter what fucked up thing you just did or said or admitted to.

When someone makes you feel safe and seen and whole and worthy, no matter what, that is intimacy. Not everyone is able to achieve true intimacy and we really need to look inside of ourselves and stare down our own demons. If we fear not being loved for who we truly are, would we really want to be in a relationship with that person? Fears are not always reality, but we create our reality.

I have fears and insecurities, we all do. I work hard on them and at this point in my life I am only interested in investing in people that genuinely care about me for who I am. I do not care about the latest fads or being in the cool club, for me the coolest club is one that you feel like you belong at all times.

In the last several years of my life my experiences have lead me to believe that intimacy is not a passing whim, it is a deep psychological need. Learning to get that need met, in a healthy way in nourishing relationships is a step in the right direction to a meaningful life and happiness in the here and now.

When we connect in an authentic way, from a place of love and vulnerability, we can create magic!

~Michelle DeBay

 

 

 

In a gadda da vida -Wise Project 2019 #NakedTuesdays

feeling that music fill my body and make me move and sway and forget and remember. I love those moments when the music takes over, wrapping you so tightly in melodies that for a short time nothing else matters.

I believe in most circumstances if I used the term in the garden of life, a good amount of people will conjure up images of brightly colored flowers, lush green foliage and quite possibly butterflies. When we think of other peoples lives and gardens we do not think of clearing away the weeds and that which has died, preparing and watering the soil and fertilizing it to promote new and continued growth. We don’t really consider the work that goes into a life, we just see the fruits of that labor.

95.7 Cruz FM played all 17 minutes of in a gadda da vida today on my drive to work, I had heard of the song, I believe there was a reference to it on a Simpsons episode I watched once as well. The song was written by Iron Butterfly Band member Doug Ingle and recorded on their album of the same name in 1968, occupying the entire second side of the album. There are a lot of drug and alcohol fueled rock and roll rumors about the origins of the song meaning and the lyrics but it is just a lot of soulful guitar riffs, drum solos and hard rock goodness to contemplate life to.

I was lost in the music, lost in memories of many a rock concert I had attended over the years, feeling that music fill my body and make me move and sway and forget and remember. I love those moments when the music takes over, wrapping you so tightly in melodies that for a short time nothing else matters. I see a collage of smiles, hip shaking, hands reaching to the sky in glorious abandon. Music has been such a huge part of everything I have ever done in my life that 17 minutes in my truck reminiscing as the psychedelic riffs of In a gadda da vida melt into the background barely scratch the surface.

My garden of life has been rich and blooming, attracting butterflies in the summer swell and it has been dead and dying, thirsty and abandoned and every possible stage in between those to two things.

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.

— Liberty Hyde Bailey

Sometimes when we see other peoples gardens, we only see what they want us too. We are not so different, those with beautiful bursting blooms and those without. No matter what neighborhood we live in or what box we tick in the salary range we have similar triumphs and challenges. We have similar choices and opportunities.

We have all suffered through moments of immeasurable pain, we have all felt the cruel sting of rejection and heartache. We have all had nights that turned to day where we were consumed by blackness and those that we watched the moon fall and the sun rise with a person that we believed would love us until the end of time. We have all questioned our worthiness, our talents and gifts and we have all had days that it feels like the universe has lined up the stars to light us a pathway to our best life.

We live, we love, we learn, we fall, we cry, we rise.

We often have this feeling that we are alone and we are as reluctant to share our prevailing successes as we are to share our struggles. Both can be scary and intimidating. There is hope in both and rightfully both can and should be shared.

2019 has been great to me so far, it feels like a period of major expansion. I feel like there was a great deal of time that I vacated myself and yet the work that I am doing and the amazing people that I have aligned myself with has afforded me so many exciting opportunities that my body has literally been bursting with excitement. I have developed this incredible “can do” attitude and the dexterity to ask for the things that I want and all of that has proved to be so precious in guiding me on a path to uncover the fierce and unstoppable woman that has been hiding inside of a scared little girl.

I am afraid of regular things, the same as most of you but there has been a shift in those things for me as well. There are areas that I used to struggle with capability and worthiness and now I know unequivocally that I am worthy and capable of everything I set my mind to, I can be as big or as small as I chose to be, the work is all mine, the choices are all mine. Sometimes I imagine the voices of my critics, of my haters and weirdly they are the loudest when I am at my best, they come to try to knock me off perch with their bitterness and alienation. What right do I have to this life? They taunt me. I couldn’t even save my own husband, the person that meant the most, why are my words valuable? Why are they deserving of attention? They tell me I am acting too big for my britches and I need to shut up. I have no right to want an exceptional life. Those words hurt me of course, but they also shame me. Even worse, I know that when I am wading through that shitpile, that it is my own fears, my own judgements and my own inner saboteur that is wreaking havoc on my plans. I know her well, she has talked to me for years. I usually take at least a day to hear her out, I feel like crap, all goodness and motivation is drained out of my day and I feel like a deflated, misshapen balloon lying on the muddy ground at the end of a festival, used, inconsequential…left behind. Then I push that annoying voice away and I go about business as best as I can with a shrunken sense of self that I need to rebuild once again. The other day when she arrived, in the cutting voices of my taunters, I decided to offer her some love; something I had never considered. I often say that when facing challenges we should meet the situation with love first and this is the very first time it had occurred to me to face this with love.

These voices, no matter how they are disguised, no matter what antagonizing words they badger me with, I have come to the realization that they are from a scared little girl and she is a part of me. Anything that is not rooted in love is fear and that despondent little girl is afraid of change and choices and because of that she needs love more than anything.

Sometimes our fears are that we are not enough and others we fear being too much. As much as we fear insignificance, we also fear the magnitude of our personal power. Our brilliance is phenomenal, we have the ability to influence others in tremendous ways, that can all be scary. The fear is the same, fear of being ourselves, in every single way.

I believe that their is a sweeping assumption that people that achieve and people that make certain choices are without fears or struggles, that different opportunities are presented to them. I am lucky to be connected to some fabulously talented people and the number one thing that they have in common is working hard, despite their fears and not using the circumstances that they were born into to determine either their path in life or the choices that they make. They seize opportunities and they work hard. Talents and passions need to be cultivated, nobody gets by on a gift they were born with, with out investing a great deal of their time. Successful people are vulnerable, they open themselves up to the possibility of great attainment or failure and they look for the lesson in both of those things. They do not wait for opportunities, they create opportunities. Those choices are available to all of us. If you want something bad enough you will find a way or you will find an excuse.

I do not always have all of the answers, however I know how to find the answers. I am not afraid to ask the people that know. I spent a great deal of my life, afraid to admit when I didn’t know something in fear that it would make me look foolish. Instead of risking being potentially seen as foolish, I instead just felt foolish. It all feels very foreign to me now.

My boss always tells me how she admires my confidence and the way I hold myself and insists that I have always had that. I have not, no matter how it appeared, I just got really good at faking assurance and poise that I did not actually possess. My late husband thought I was brilliant and bragged to just about everyone he met about how smart and savvy and good at everything I was. I spent a great deal of our twenty years together in fear that he would one day discover that I was none of those things.

Confidence, like anything, is a choice and I chose to ask questions, I chose to educate to myself, I chose to invest in myself and I chose to believe in myself. The outward confidence that I now possess is not because I think I am perfect or that my body is without flaws and imperfections, I just choose to love it anyway and that has made a considerable difference in everything that I do. The way I conduct and carry myself, the way I express myself, the way I feel in a room of people, it is all relative to how I feel about myself as a whole and how I take care of my mind and my body. What I give to those two things, is evident in everything I do. I feel like I fully inhabit my space in the world and I do not feel less than, or inferior. I admire qualities in others without wanting to be them. I am kind and encouraging to others, instead of being envious. I support talented, courageous, and authentic people that give of themselves and their time to create and bring beauty, truth and education to the world through art and wisdom. I have learned the importance of having aspirations and people to look up to. Life is not a competition and I genuinely want us all to win.

We are not so different you and I and I will say it louder for the people in the back, I have fears too, I just act anyway.

Someone said to me last week that I seemed to be totally unaffected by being single on Valentines Day. I thought that was a bit odd and then it made the monkey’s in my head begin to chatter, “should I be affected by being single on Valentines day?” I wasn’t aware that being a part of a couple had such prestige attached to it and though I would like to say for the record that I am not jaded at all by love by I am a bit fatigued by the worn out ideas of what love and relationships should look like. I do not want to count myself among the statistic of people in unfulfilled relationships that do not elevate or inspire in some way. I will not be in a relationship to just avoid being alone. I feel like it is a good time to be by myself so that I can unlearn some unhealthy relationship patterns that I have developed over the years, not the least of, putting myself last. I will not settle. I have plenty of friends and I enjoy my own company, so when the right person wants to seriously share my time and my space with me intimately, it must be someone who makes me laugh, is my best friend or could become that and fulfills me while still giving me room to grow as an individual. There are things I will not compromise on and I know that that is OK. I believe that love should feel like freedom, I know that is possible if not probable in today’s society but it is a non negotiable for me. I believe a heart can love without a soul being chained. Plenty of people have told me that this type of love and relationship does not exist and even if that is the case, who is to say it cannot be created.

Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.

~Bob Marley

We are the co-creator of every experience that makes up or lives.

I want to encourage you to step beyond your fears, that is where the magic happens.

With love,

xoxo-michelle1

Hungry like the Wolf- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

In 1982 Duran Duran released Hungry like the Wolf from the album Rio. Though they initially failed to successfully crossover to U.S. markets, success was imminent in the U.K. and eventually MTV put the song on rotation earning it a #3 spot on the U.S. Billboards Top 100 in March of 1983 and in 1984 they won a Grammy for best short form music video. I was just 10 years old when Duran Duran won a Grammy and I am assuming I was oblivious to the rampant sexual undertones of the song but the parallels to the Little Red Riding Hood were not lost on me.

I know useless music facts, I have actually forgotten more than I know but I have spent many a late night arguing music trivia with my late husband and I have always been able to relate a song to something that was happening in my life and piece together a timeline. Not everyone who knows me knows how important music has been in my life but I would say most of my people do.

In September 2016 I was at English Bay with Kirk and I got a call from an old friend in Ontario that I had not seen in well over 20 years. She and her husband own an Irish pub in London Ontario, where I called home for a short time during my informative years (party)

It was music trivia night and something was not working properly and my friend was desperate to find out what a video was so that she didn’t disappoint the customers. She described the video to me and feeling a bit overwhelmed and under pressure I guessed that the video was Duran Duran’s Rio. I recall that I was really excited to speak to my old friend but also thrilled that music had made her think of me.

I myself am not musical, I played a tiny bit of guitar when I was in junior high and I played the ukulele as well but I cannot carry a tune in a bucket except for Cyndi Lauper songs and have been known to sing Time after Time on repeat to the point of nausea. However, I love music and it has connected me to the most amazing people and experiences in my lifetime. Those who know me well know that I will often use song lyrics in everyday situations but something that may be less known is that I used healing music extensively after Kirk died; Snatam Kaur’s music got me through some very difficult times. I also listen to many types of music including classical, folk and blues.

I am very open on my blog and you can get a very good idea of who I am from reading what is essentially journal type entries but I am noticing lately that some people seem to be stuck on some sort of idea of who I am that they have created in their head. I think we are all guilty of that to some extent, we glimpse into peoples lives through social media and we are looking through a very small window and then we heap our own ideas and expectations unto a person and we have now decided who they are.

I have often said the truth is expansive and one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my late husband is about judgement. When we offer love and kindness before judgement a whole new world opens up to us. I used to be extremely guilty of putting people in little boxes, labeling them and putting them into neat little piles. I no longer decide who people are, I allow them to show me who they are and the great thing is that when we approach people with kindness before judgment we invite them to be their true selves and we learn that people really can be fabulous and they do not have to be just like us to teach us, to support us and to be in our lives. What a boring place the world would be if we were all exactly the same.

I form deep connections with people, it has always been my thing, I am not immune to physical attraction but for me I really like to know someone’s mind.  I admit I spent a great deal of time wanting everyone to be like me and shunning people that weren’t and I now believe that is an insecurity in us that we will either change to be like others or surround ourselves only by like minded people.

The problem with that is we lose a great deal of ourselves by changing to be like others, we lose the things that make us unique and often we compromise our ideals. We have a great deal to offer the world by  embracing our authentic selves and giving that person to the world everyday, it is really the only way to continue to grow as individuals.

Just last week I told someone that they were into an idea of me, a profile picture and things they had projected unto me because they were qualities that their imagination wanted me to have. It was no better than a fantasy and the problem with that is people are very rarely the people we create in our heads, no matter how great our ingenuity is.

If we take 5 selfies and we post the best one, we may look absolutely stunning but we are more than that one angle. I am a culmination of who I am when I am happy, sad, struggling, creating, living and loving. I am so much more than a perfect selfie. I have friends, family, acquaintances and people I am fond of and curious about. I also have a small group of people that I call “my people”

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

When I was sat smack dab in the middle of black despair after losing my husband I was faced with rumors, judgment and innuendo. At that point I made a decision to continue to be who I am no matter what and if I was someone I was proud of the right people would be in my life and nothing else would matter. That alone has changed my life immensely and allowed me to see and accept myself as well as embrace others, all of the dark and all of the light that makes us fantastically beautiful mosaics.

The problem is, I can post a selfie and basically tell you what to look at, but I cannot tell you what to see. That is entirely up to you.

Some of you will read this and take from it that Michelle knows useless 1980’s music trivia and that is fine. The reason I chose that song title is that I truly believe that we are all hungry to be deeply known, loved and understood. The thing to remember is that people can only know you and love you as deeply as they know and love themselves. A person who does not love and accept themselves entirely cannot possibly love you the way you want them to and sustain that. In turn if we do not love ourselves entirely and continue to invest in ourselves it is almost arrogant to assume that anyone else should invest in us if we have already deemed ourselves unworthy.

If I could ask one thing of you today it would be to love yourself, not in five years, not when you get a promotion or lose twenty pounds or quit drinking, love yourself right now and grow from there. Love your friends, your family and your co-workers, not for who you want them to be, not for who you know they can be but for who they are. Meet them right where they are and see how acceptance and authentic love encourages them to expand and fill their space in the world.

 

Happy Tenacious Tuesday!

 

Black Hole Sun -Wise Project #TenaciousTuesday

 

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leapfrog in 1908 | City, History and Child, new York, New York

I am great at awkward conversations and weird hugs are my specialty. Sometimes I overshare and I can be honest to a fault. The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that I have a lot to learn.

I feel like I just met myself recently and I have barely scratched the surface of who I truly am, and who I am becoming. I not only have a lot of things to discover, I have a lot of things to unlearn.

I am unlearning that certainty and routine, that we often think of as comfortable can be suffocating. The first day I had to face the world without my husband, the father of my children I realized that the expectations and plans I had for our lives together had the potential to tear me apart and leave me torn limb from limb in a mess of heartbreak and loneliness. I have since begun to awaken to the idea that learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and not attaching myself to ideas of the way things “should be” is the truest path to freedom and fearlessness.

“She was tough

but her edges were not

they were softened by grace

and she had a great affection

for every inch.”

~ M DeBay

I fall a little bit in love with anyone that is vulnerable enough to show me their soul. I have realized that the greatest thing is not to be known but to be understood and the truth is we have a great deal of people that have knowledge of us yet very few that truly understand us.

When someone exposes themselves to me, speaking to me from a place of raw authenticity it touches my heart and reserves a space for that person always. When adversity has softened their edges, despair has cracked but not shattered them, when they believe in love despite being hurt countless times and they know how important it is to love themselves first, when they have been brought to their knees by suffering but have found a way to stand with the weight of the whole world on their shoulders, these are my teachers.

I am at a place in my life where I don’t love small talk and casual conversations; I want to know who you are. Share your struggles with me, tell me how you lost yourself and how you are finding yourself, we have so much to learn from each other.

I am drawn to people who were once consumed by darkness but picked up their sword and tirelessly sliced through the dismal blackness until light burst through the obscurity.  I know longer want to save these people, I see and understand the importance of them continuing to save themselves but I want to learn from their passage through that struggle. I want to know how they continue to hold the light.

There is a raw beauty in people that have lived in black and white but refused to accept it and found their own paint brushes and created vivid new canvases.

“Show me your soul and I will show you mine. ” ~ M.DeBay

Sadly; beginnings are always built on endings but hardships are a breeding ground for opportunity.

I remember being a kid and playing leapfrog with my friends on hot sunny days where we played till our Moms called us for supper and we ran home with dirty knees and faces that were kissed by the sun. I remember never fearing taking a leap and erupting into fits of laughter, rolling around in the grass, never suspecting that life wouldn’t always be this way. At a certain point in childhood we become so aware of ourselves that the games that brought us so much joy become wrought with fear and ambiguity. We want to know that we are not going to land on someone’s head and they are not going to land on ours, that our ass crack is not going to fall out of our pants and nobody is going to laugh at us.

Oh the irony!!!!

The unknowns that once had us dissolving into giggles with our friends became our greatest fears. When did laughing with our friends become being laughed at? What changed? What kind of shame have we forced ourselves to carry for years that turned something as wonderful as laughter into something petrifying? How do we get back to that place where we took the leap without being one hundred percent certain of what would happen upon landing?

Every day I apologize to that little girl I left behind. I say I am sorry and I forgive myself for all of the fears I heaped upon her. I miss her wild and childlike abandon and her fearless laughter; I miss her optimism and her wide open heart.  I am unlearning. I am learning. I am forgiving.

It is OK to not know what comes next. When the wind changes directions we don’t give up, we adjust our sails.

We spend a great deal of time planning for days that we are not promised and robbing ourselves of the pure joy of the moment we are in.

For me, meditation keeps me in the now but also helps me access a quiet place of non judgement where I remember who I was supposed to be before I allowed life to happen to me.

Are you interested in knowing more about the law of detachment and how it can help you?

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

Learn More HERE

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

Chains of Love-WISE PROJECT 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

I am one of the rare one’s that loves Valentine’s Day and even though there have definitely been times that I have felt bombarded by the commercialism of it all, who doesn’t like flowers and chocolate?

People say Valentine’s Day comes with too much pressure and I say Pf-ft. As with most things we put that pressure on ourselves.

Valentine’s Days has infinite legends and folklore attached to it so basically you can pick and choose what you want to believe and/or celebrate. Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. The custom of sending flowers, chocolates and greeting cards actually originated in the U.K.

My favorite account of the emergence of Valentine’s Day dates to ancient Rome, when the Roman Emperor Claudius ll forbid soldiers to marry in order to grow his army as he believed that married men did not make good soldiers. It is believed that St. Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings for lovebirds during that time.

During that time, it was customary for Christian bishops to wear amethyst rings. It is rumored that Saint Valentine wore a purple amethyst ring with an image of a cupid engraved on it. The Cupid was a widely recognized symbol associated with love and romance and at the time it was legal under the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers would recognize the ring and ask Saint Valentine to perform Marriage ceremonies for them. Many believe that it is the association of Saint Valentine with amethyst that led to it becoming the birthstone for February and the stone is thought to attract love.

A possible origin of the use of hearts associated with Valentine’s Day is the legend that Saint Valentine cut hearts out of parchment paper and presented them to the soldiers to remind them of their vows.

That is the whimsical tale that my romantic heart has chosen to believe for many years.

I had the same Valentine for the past nineteen years. We always celebrated Valentine’s Day in some fashion; some years it was very elaborate and others we agreed on quiet and handmade gifts only. I have a Valentine’s Day card in my bedside table that Kirk made me over 12 years ago and it will always be one of my best memories. There were times during our relationship that we celebrated Valentine’s Day by spending the weekend at a romantic Oceanside cabin or dressed up for fancy steak dinners out, with copious amounts of fine red wine but that particular Valentine’s Day we were broke and we agreed that we were only going to give each other handmade gifts. I was blown away with the card that Kirk presented to me. He had taken pictures of me, in places we had visited together, and he cut them out and pasted them throughout the inside of the card and each of them had a caption, one was in downtown Boston, one was at the top of Mount Washington, one was at Loudon International Speedway in New Hampshire and one was at Salty Rose Cottages in Rose Bay, Nova Scotia. At the top of the card he wrote PLACES I HAVE LOVED YOU. On the back of the card was a photo of him and I together and at the top he wrote THE PLACE I LOVE YOU THE MOST and the caption on the photo was ‘beside me’. My eyes fill with tears just thinking of it, but I often take it out of my bedside table and admire it and wrap myself in all that love.

Kirk and I endured some very difficult times, especially in our earliest years when we were still getting to know each other and more importantly ourselves; and in the past several years at the height of his struggle with depression. The most important thing for me is knowing the growth that emerged from those struggles and the abundance of love that was always present, even when times were tough.

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

We spend so much of our lives consumed by the very idea of love. We constantly throw it at people, hoping they will catch it and desperately hoping that they will throw some back to us. We don’t share the best of ourselves; we in fact give away large chunks of ourselves trying to be all that we can be to the people that we give all our love away to. We lose ourselves piece by piece until our true self becomes a mystery. The problem is that we often forget one very important person in the love equation, ourselves. Until we can learn to truly love and be happy with ourselves and believe that we are worthy of the love and affection we bestow on others, we are essentially telling people that we are just not worth the investment. We are literally begging people to love us, while inadvertently deeming ourselves unworthy of love.

We are all born worthy. No matter what circumstances that we are born into, we are all inherently worthy. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we forgot to bestow the amazing love and attention on ourselves that we reserve for others.

A great deal of people fear love. Love can devour us whole and that can be scary. As humans we become easily attached and so we are terrified of giving our love freely and not getting anything back in return. Love is not like a vending machine, you don’t insert love and automatically get love. There are no guarantees in love. Love is often a mystery.

We are attached by things, experiences and people. We get attached to our favorite sweater, the mountains, our daily routines, the weather, the possibilities are endless.

Attachment however, can become self-serving as we tend to feed our needs with the things we are attached to and people are not an exception to this rule. We tend to get attached to people because they make us feel a certain way. We come to depend on those feelings and so our love depends them as well. We rarely love someone for who they truly are when we are completely dependent on them to make us feel a certain way. There is a lyric from a song called Chains of Love by one of my favorite artists; Charlie A’Court, who also happens to be from my hometown; and he sings, ‘chains of love, are chains just the same’ and that to me describes the attachment side of love.

It isn’t unusual to confuse attachment with love and we are all guilty of it to one extent or another, myself included. Sometimes when we love something we want to own it, wrap ourselves in it, keep it to ourselves.
LOVE however, should not be so demanding, frantic or self-absorbed. Love is an action word. We give love, we receive love. We put love into the world, regardless of any expectation of getting it back. Love is also a feeling; free of judgement, it should make us fee as light as air.

Our fundamental purpose here on earth is simply to love, giving love and being open to love without conditions. There are so many articles circulating about how to attract love when the very best way to attract the right kind of love to your life is to unabashedly love yourself first and foremost. People who truly love themselves are more likely to love without conditions and in turn entice and accept the love that they deserve. Be curious about yourself, that is an act of love. Discover who you are and what you desire in the world.

I like to remind you often that you are never alone, we all belong to each other, but you belong to yourself first. The love you give to yourself will always be welcome, and always be true. When you feel loved, you will want to share that love with others, without conditions, without fear.

At the end of our lives we will never wish that we had loved anyone less.

When I lost Kirk I never wished that I had loved him more or less, just better. I wish that I had learned to love myself first so that in those early years we would have struggled less to figure it all out. Attachment and fear-based love can put a lot of pressure on a relationship.

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

In essence, we should strive to be the love we wish to see in the world as love can appear and manifest in all sorts of ways, volunteerism, social activism, writing and performing, are all acts of love. Love should always be rooted in a deep sense of esteem and admiration for ourselves and others and the complicated but divine humanity that we share. Love is imperfect, it requires delicate vulnerability, truth and forgiveness.

We will make mistakes, we will hurt and unfortunately, we will sometimes hurt others, but love is a beautiful reward for our efforts and not one person has ever died from a broken heart.

So… Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. There are probably a lot of you that want to sleep through your alarm, but Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and you are love. Your very purpose is to love. This is your celebration. Love does not require a partner. Buy the dress, eat the cake, drink the wine, make yourself a juicy steak dinner, dance in your underwear, hug yourself.

Spend time with your children, your friends, your dogs or spend some quality time with yourself. Valentine’s Day should not make you feel like less, it is marketed to couples purely to sell more flowers and chocolate. If you like flowers and chocolate buy your own, or send something sweet to someone you secretly admire.

When I talk about love I am always reminded of a little girl I met years ago when I was picking Haley up from school in grade three. She was running through the field chasing kids and dispelling illusory magic from her right hand and yelling with rampant joy “Zing, Zing, I am throwing love at you!” That little girl was bursting with love and just wanted to share it, without any illusions or expectations of having the love she so freely gave reciprocated. My mother always told me I could be anything I wanted so I think I am going to be that little girl.

ZING ZING.

P.S. Now the fun part. Wanna be my Valentine? I remember like it was yesterday being a young child and sorting through my flimsy Valentine’s Day cards to find the perfect one for my childhood crush. I now have the perfect one for you! If we are not connected personally, you can link to my Twitter, Wise Project Facebook or Instagram on the right side of this page. Simply send or post a Valentine’s Greeting or message and you will get one back. I am going to be the best damn Valentine ever xo

 

“Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly”
~ Chris Cornell (from Soundgardens Fell on Black Days)

Survivor-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

Our personal narratives are the stories we share about ourselves and the life experiences that have shaped us into who we are and determine who we are becoming. Just as important as the stories we share with others are the stories we share with ourselves. How we view our own lives can have a huge influence on how others see us.

The stories of our lives are more than a PowerPoint presentation of the facts and dates and events of a life, but rather the way a person assimilates those facts and events within themselves—dissects them and knits them back together to discover their value and purpose. This self created narrative largely shapes our identity, the things we choose to include and or eliminate from our stories, and the manner in which we tell them, can both mirror and mold who we are and who we see ourselves becoming in the world. Our stories do not just tell what happened, they tell why it is important and what we have gained from our personal experiences and relationships good and bad, thus far.

I believe that in recalling those experiences and past relationships the empowerment we feel is the most important part of a healthy personal narrative. The ability to recall past experiences that may not have been pleasant but to find the lesson in that as well as recalling something you gained, even from an unhealthy relationship where you were able to preserve your integrity and move forward, speaks volumes about strength and character.

The last couple of weeks with the resurgence of the #MeToo hashtag, women all over the world are reclaiming their personal narratives. Everyday we are inundated with news and broadcast media, along with internet, social media and Hollywood all playing a role in how we think and feel. We are told what cars to buy, how to be attractive to the opposite sex, what toothpaste to use and how to navigate through a world that feels chaotic at the best of times. We are told to be strong at all costs, that to show our feelings is an undeniable weakness and that if we let down our guard just a little we are surrendering to the plague of the victim mentality. We allow others to tell the stories that rightfully belong to us. In the last several weeks what I have seen, is not a bunch of victims, I have seen brave and vulnerable women owning their stories, accepting their stories, surrendering a bit of their control to the universe to create meaning and purpose in their lives and to gain freedom. These are not victims; these are badass survivors and that is how their stories will read for years to come.

Courage doesn’t always shout, sometimes it is that little voice inside that whispers #MeToo and the moment those words are spoken these women take back a piece of them that was lost, they become a survivor. That requires vulnerability which seems like a scary word, it requires uncertainty and emotional exposure. It is a risk.

Vulnerability may be one of the most courageous choices we can make in our lives and according to researcher and author Dr. Brené Brown, it will transform the way we love, parent and lead.

Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top ten most viewed TED talks in the world.

“In our culture,” teaches Dr. Brené Brown, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise-that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

In my life, I am finding that more and more I am feeling the call to lean into the uncertainty. I am at a time in my life, after the tragic death of my husband that nothing is certain and sometimes the best thing I can do is loosen the grip on the figurative rope of control and surrender to the gifts that the universe has in store for me.

In Michael A. Singer’s bestselling novel the Surrender Experiment he explores the idea that society has trained us to be hyper obsessed with finding out what we think we want out of life but we rarely give any thought to what life wants out of us. What is our purpose? What does life have planned for us?

What if we surrendered to life?

The word surrender to me always conjured up thoughts of weakness and failure but I have decided in the past several months to flip the script a bit and see the word surrender as a powerful word, a word that is brave and courageous. Giving up control, leaning into uncertainty and bravely allowing life to be my guide is one of the most fearless and daring things I have ever done.

We are more than the sum of our experiences; we are more than what has happened to us in the past.

I will own my story and I will write my own bold ending and I encourage you to do the same. Some days I am scared, but I am never without hope.

I surrender.

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Brené Brown