Eternal Optimist -February Journal Notes -W.I.S.E Project

PicsArt_1456269478915

Someone once referred to me as  “Michelle the Eternal Optimist”, in the context that it was said it was hurled at me intending to be an insult. Once I tripped the offender, tied them up with dirty socks and made them sniff dog farts they changed their mind and decided it was a compliment. I like being an Optimist, I think pessimism is a really unattractive quality and I prefer to be around hopeful people.

I put the above quote on the white board in my office and it has been so helpful to me. In doing this project and I think this applies to any  lifestyle change; you will experience  ups and downs and what can feel like two steps forward and three steps back at times. I went into this so excited and I made a bunch of changes immediately, kept up on my journal and then some things changed. Not all of it was bad, I am still proud of the changes I have made and honestly I am proud of where I am at. I started writing again, I started a book several years ago and I was inspired to pick it up again. It’s fiction which I have always loved. I love creating characters, giving them personalities, bringing them to life through their experiences and their struggles. The largest problem I have with writing fiction is that I tend to get pretty involved in the characters lives, if they are happy I am happy and if they are struggling I feel that stress. I set a goal this weekend of 10 000 words, which I am happy to say that I exceeded by 11 words. Some of it was pretty emotional and every night I was mentally exhausted by 8 pm. I need to complete this book, for myself. These characters mean something to me (which I know sounds silly), but several times over the years I have picked it back up. Maybe seeing them through their struggles is therapeutic for me, I can’t say for sure but I know that they are important to me and I feel that I need to give them closure someday.

I feel like spending all my free time writing has taken me from other things but one of the biggest things I have done for my mental health in the past 6 months is to change my expectations. I have tried to eliminate the expectations I have of others so that I am continually surprised pleasantly instead of disappointed. I feel I owed myself the very same courtesy. I don’t feel that I have failed myself, I just feel that things look differently this month then I set out for them to be.

One of my wise principles for this once was INSPIRE and something inspired me to write again and that is a beautiful thing. I remember 23 three days ago searching books and documentaries wanting so badly to feel inspired. Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely places and may not look like you intended.

Worthy-I continue to treat myself like I am worthy by treating myself better, choosing food, activities and hobbies that are good for me and spending time with people that are a positive influence on me. I also take time for me when I need it. My kids continue to be mystified as to why I would want time to myself and they are very persuasive when they want ‘Mom’ time. I know that a day will come when I wish I could have them with me playing scrabble or curled up watching mindless TV so I am learning to put unimportant things aside and embrace the opportunities now to be with them. Being their Mom makes me feel extremely worthy!

Simplify- I have simplified by taking on less and only doing things that I truly want to do, saying ‘No’ more and enjoying my free time without guilt. I have also simplified by pre-prepping meals for the week and making shopping easier by buying mostly fresh. I spend of most my time in a circle at the outer edges of the grocery store. I always felt I bought convenience foods because they made my life easier but I am now positive that that is something that media leads us to believe. Fresh is easy, simple and the better choice.


 

Empower- I hope to touch even one person with this project, to empower them to make changes and lead a better, more mindful, more positive life. I started this project because I felt like everything was a chore, I was going through the motions without truly enjoying my life and it wasn’t a good feeling. I feel so much happier and much more fulfilled.  There is not a perfect life, choosing to be happy does not mean everything is superb, it means you are grateful and appreciate what you have and make a conscious effort to lead a positive and fulfilling life.

In being more mindful I have learned to un-complicate things. There is a certain beauty in simplicity.

We never noticed the beauty because we were to busy trying to create it.

We are nearing the end of Fabulous February. Be W.I.S.E. Remember that you are worthy of happiness and a fulfilling life. Find inspiration in unlikely places. Save complicated for someone else and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Empower yourself and take a moment to share that power with others.

P.S.

After I stopped trying to find inspiration, it fell in my lap in many different forms. I was at a Combat Crime evening with my daughter who was presenting for ‘Bright Ideas’ a text a buddy app to help youth who were being bullied, suffered depression or simply needed a friend. I was inspired to tears by her and all of the other youth leaders. I spent some time with an inspiring friend who runs a heart warming project called Love Letters 2 Strangers that never fails to remind me about the good in people.

I was sitting in my truck waiting for my daughter and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I saw that my friend Robb Scott had posted a video. Robb is a talented artist but he also has this insatiable need for attention. I always describe him as ‘sideways’ and I mean it in the best possible way. His antics have made me laugh till there are tears running down my cheeks. The video he posted that day was not funny, but it was one of the most honest and heartfelt things I have ever seen. I love the real emotion that he captured sitting in his vehicle telling the world about something very important to him, Down Syndrome. I cannot tell you how much his words touched my heart. The video has gone viral, as it should, it is a positive and uplifting message. I was sharing the video on twitter and what struck me when using the hashtag #DownSyndrome was how many people use that hastag to insult others. The ignorance is astounding. I read a post from a mother whose friend said “How’s your down’s girl?” Not, “how is your daughter or how is Bethany?” I can’t imagine how hurt I would be if someone said “How is your gay girl?” How ignorant to not see someone for their abilities, their strengths, their individuality. To look at someone and only see their differences or their limitations we have failed ourselves in my opinion.

This video has really opened my eyes wide and I hope that you will take a moment to watch it and please share it with others. In my opinion we are a society that is way to quick to share hate…spread some love and knowledge today.

Father’s emotion defense of Down Syndrome sparks outpouring

A Good Life -W.I.S.E

Hi there,

We have reached the end of the January blahs and I have uploaded a Podcast with my journal notes on what I have learned from this months W.I.S.E. Project as well as introducing February W.I.S.E Principles. Check it out HERE

Thanks for following along, choose a good life!

Rescue Me: W.I.S.E Project 2016

 

 

PicsArt_1454101654926
My Fur Babies

Sometimes we all need a little rescuing. We all need love and acceptance and often after we have fallen on hard times and pushed our luck to the limit it is a kind word or an act from a stranger that lifts us up.

 

Nowhere in the world is this more apparent than your local Animal shelter! In thinking of the W.I.S.E. Principles for January, nowhere will you see more Wonder, Imagination, Smiles or Energy.

My youngest daughter Haley loves animals more then anything in the world. She is a maniac at the dog park, oohing and ahhing and running in very direction trying to make sure that all of the furry friends get her love. Last weekend at our Mother/Daughter brunch outing we were talking about dogs and I suggested we sign up to volunteer at The Edmonton Humane Society.  Haley was very excited at the notion that we could go in and give love and attention to the animals.

I should have known that there was no way we could stay impartial. We both fell in love immediately and more then once. We already had a cat and a huge dog at home, we absolutely did not need another pet.

My husband was away so I was texting him pictures of all the shelter animals and he liked the two I liked. Haley was crazy about a dog that was so full of personality that it ozzed out of him but I could also tell that he would be a terrible fit for my senior Newfoundland/Lab cross Rocky. That is, if I were to ever seriously consider getting another dog. Which of course I was. So seriously considering, that I sent the shelter a message as I was leaving the mall because they were closing in five minutes and we really wanted this particular loving dog that had immediately picked me to be his person. Apparently in my absence he latched on to someone else and they took him home. Obviously it wasn’t meant to be and I was probably crazy to consider another dog anyways but I had a really hard time getting it out of my head. The girls and I and their friend all took a trip to the shelter the very next day…just to visit and we took Rocky for a bath at Muddy Paws Dog Wash. I was secretly hoping that maybe my furry friend was still there but at the same time happy that he got a furever home. We wanted to visit with a dog named Buddy that we had seen the day before but he was still not ready for adoption and they couldn’t give us any information. Rocky made friends with everyone he encountered, several people wanted to adopt him. He really is the most perfect dog in the world so I left feeling like I was probably a nut to even consider another dog.

Wednesday night I was leisurely checking the Humane Society site when I saw that Buddy was now adoptable. I made plans for the girls and I along with our Rocky to meet him the next day. We were at the shelter waiting in line at 11:30 am and we left with Buddy at 5 pm. During that time I did some extremely serious contemplating. The shelter is very honest with you about their observations and anything they have noted about the dog that might be of concern. More than anything I wanted this to be a good fit for Rocky. Their initial meeting went well but it was clear that Buddy had more energy than Rocky. Three times I told staff that I wasn’t going to take him. I messaged my Aunt for her advice. She told me that if Buddy wasn’t the right dog, the right one was there and I would just know.

I couldn’t bring myself to leave the shelter. Something in me told me that what Buddy needed was a stable home and lots of love. So far that theory has been correct. The shelter was a little concerned that he might not come in the house right away, that he might not know boundaries and he might be anxious.

Buddy was really happy driving in the front of the truck with us. He bounded in the house alongside us. The girls put his new bowls down with food and water and instructed him that the other one’s were Rocky’s. Rocky laid claim to one of his new toys but I was actually relieved that Rocky was confident enough to do so. I decided to not let him sleep in my room right away. My cat Aulie and dog Rocky have staked their claim so I want it to be their safe haven initially so no jealousy issues arise amongst them.

After an emotionally and mentally taxing day I was exhausted by ten pm. Buddy settled down with Haley and the other animals with me. As soon as we got up they went outside together, ate together and followed me around while I got ready. I feel so much love and joy to know that we were able to give Buddy a place to call his own. I hope he knows how much happiness he has already brought to us.

There are some great reasons to adopt a Pet. (See below) Please consider the other pets in your home and please make sure that you are ready to care for an animal. When you bring an animal home they become your family, when they need discipline you need to put in the hard work and have patience and unconditional love. A pet is not something that you take back when you get bored.

10 Benefits of Adopting a Pet:

 

1. You are saving a life

By adopting from a shelter, you are providing an animal with the second chance they deserve. Many have been rescued from horrific circumstances such as cruelty, neglect and abandonment, or quite simply their owners were no longer able to look after them due to illness or a change in situation. Shelter staff work tirelessly to nurse animals back to health, rehabilitate disturbed animals and do everything they possibly can to ensure they are prepared to go to a new home. Sadly, not all of them are as fortunate. Some shelters have to euthanise due to lack of space, meaning many healthy animals lose their lives. By rehoming a pet you can give an animal that has been abandoned through no fault of their own a loving, stable home, and help to stop overpopulation.

2. You will save money

Shelters often microchip, spay, neuter and vaccinate the animals that come into their care. This saves you a lot of money because you don’t have to pay for the procedures yourself and it ensures the pet you are taking home is healthy. Also, the prices of adopting a pet from a shelter are often a lot lower than the rates charged by breeders.

3. Helping to eradicate puppy farms and pet shops

A puppy farm, or mill, is the illegal practice of breeding puppies for the sole purpose of maximising profit, without any regard to the dogs’ health or wellbeing. Dogs at puppy farms are forced to breed several times to their detriment and they are often kept in terrible conditions without basic necessities. People who run such places are not concerned with producing healthy dogs, so they can be born with severe problems that emerge over time. The dogs usually don’t receive any veterinary care, and will often be destroyed once they can no longer reproduce. Additionally, dogs at pet shops are often products of puppy farms. Adopting from a shelter aids in stopping dogs from being subjected to such horrific circumstances, because rather than funding this illegal trade you will be rehoming a pet from somewhere reputable that supports animal welfare.

4. Can improve your health and make you happier

Various studies have shown that a having pet can elongate your life, whilst improving your overall happiness and health. It also helps people with depression, stress, anxiety and many other ailments. The affectionate and loyal nature of dogs as pack animals that form close relationships with their owners can help sufferers of depression, who may feel like they don’t have anybody else. Stroking your pet can reduce your blood pressure and stress levels, and playing with them can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine your body produces, making you feel calm and relaxed. Walking the pet is a way to exercise and provides sufferers of anxiety and depression with a reason to leave the house. It also creates opportunities for socialising with other dog walkers. The animal you have helped through rehoming can help you.

5. Can benefit children

Children can be taught valuable life skills through pet ownership, such as the importance of maintaining responsibilities. Rehoming a pet will also encourage empathy by making them think about how they have helped to give an unwanted animal a loving home. Pets can help children with separation anxiety and provide them with security, as they can be safe in the knowledge that someone will always be there. As well as this, they can be a loving companion and playmate.

6. Many of the animals are housetrained

Animals at shelters have often been housetrained in their previous home, particularly if they are older. This saves you a lot of time and extra effort when training your new pet where to go to the toilet.

7. Unconditional love

A pet is a companion that will never judge you, will love you regardless of whatever happens and will always be there. As well as making you feel great, their unconditional love raises your self-esteem because of the affection they show you. It is said that animals know when they have been rescued, so the bond between you and your rehomed pet will be especially strong.

8. You could get a pet you never expected

Although you may have an idea of what you are looking for, there are a wide variety of animals waiting to be adopted from shelters. This may mean an animal you would never have imagined could turn out to be the best match for you. Therefore, it is always important to have an open mind when visiting shelters.

9. Older animals can prove to be the best companions

Many people want to adopt puppies and kittens without considering the advantages of having an older pet. If trained in their previous home they will be less likely to destroy furniture than a younger pet, and as such, will probably require less supervision. Older pets are often calmer and quite happy to sit in your company rather than demanding constant attention. They also have more developed personalities than puppies or kittens, so it may be more apparent when visiting them at the shelter whether or not you are suited.

10. Adopting supports spaying and neutering

Spaying and neutering animals is important in controlling the animal population. Many pets that aren’t spayed or neutered often contribute to the problem of unwanted animals, which can lead to more being left at shelters. Adopting an animal from a shelter means that your new pet has been spayed or neutered where possible.

Credit above reasons to adopt a pet to Animal Friends Pet Insurance content writer Amy Callaghan.

 

A dog is the only thing in the world that loves you more than you love yourself!

There are lots of shelters and resources in your area. Please consider adopting, do not support puppy mills. Below are some Edmonton Shelters with adoption, fostering and volunteer opportunities.

Edmonton Humane Society

Second Chance Animal Rescue Society

Zoe’s Animal Rescue

Infinite Woofs Animal Rescue

Hart Animal Rescue

GEARS

CAWS

Getting W.I.S.E.

ccfc22c2ea82baa0f308afdca0731836

When I said lets chat soon I didn’t expect a month to pass but that’s what happened and I am not going to beat myself up over it. First of  all I am so glad I started the W.I.S.E  project, I needed it. An acquaintance said to me, “It doesn’t make sense, you are always happy!” Then begs the question, “What is happiness?” It’s like anything “You’ll know it when you see it!”

For the most part I try to stay positive and I  would say I am generally a happy person but I was letting things in my life control me instead of me controlling them. Just the simple act of deciding to take control of my mind, my life and slow down and enjoy the little things has been amazing!

Wanting to be happier in no way means that I am depressed or that I am unhappy with my life. I have a good marriage and a wonderful family, I enjoy my job but I really have not been getting the best out of my life.

giphy

I was existing, and doing everything in my life on autopilot like a lot of busy moms. I was shoving food in my face without really tasting it, starting five books but never finishing them, snapping at my family.

I am smart enough to realize I cannot change anyone but me and I think I am off to a great start!

However…it has only been a little over a week.

Christmas was not great for me. I can remember waking up everyday caught up in a mass of tangled sheets and feeling worse than the day before. I felt this heaviness pushing me down. I was not only homesick, I had some personal issues that I was working through and though I realize that there are some things in life that we need to accept and move on, for me to do that I had to allow myself to feel everything that I was feeling and that was hard. For those of you that know me, you know I don’t shy away from feelings but the hard part was experiencing something painful all over again in memories and learning to accept it.

The day my husband went out of town for work I spent one whole day in my jammies feeling sad and watching movies that were even sadder. The next day I tore the house a part like a mad woman, decluttering, cleaning, getting rid of useless crap. That alone (though still a work in progress) helped me immensely. To organize my space helped me organize my mind. I saw a picture of our house we moved in just over five years ago. I remember the house seemed so large and I felt at the time so bare. I wanted to fill every inch. Well I did that and I hate it, I long to have it look like it did in that picture.

I have made a conscious effort to get more sleep and get up earlier. That to is a work in progress but it is definitely something that I am making progress with. I am eating better and drinking lots of water. I haven’t had bread, potatoes, junk food, alcohol or anything with cheese and gravy in over 10 days. YAY me. I am drinking a shit load of water. (By the way I have not given up alcohol, I barely make time for it as it is and red wine has minerals that are valuable to my well-being. I would be doing myself a disservice.)

I feel clearer and I feel like I have a lot more time because I am not tired and irritated 24/7

My phone still takes up a lot of my time and I hate it but baby steps people, baby steps…

My W.I.S.E. principals for January were wonder, imagination, smile and energize. I made a couple of notes and I am looking forward to the remainder of the month.

Wonder: I really do take pleasure simple in things like sunrises, sunsets, storm clouds, fluffy clouds, the color of the sky. I even saw the Northern lights the other night and they are always stunning. I don’t think this one will be an issue for me, I could lay in a field and look at the stars for hours on end. I don’t love the cold weather but I can see the beauty in winter, just like in any other season. I love the intricate designs the frost makes on the windows and the way a dusting of snow gently weights the branches down. I envy photographers who catch every moment of every season in all it’s beauty.

Imagination– I discovered I like to paint. I’m not an artist by any means but I’m not terrible and it relaxes me. I usually start with a plan but it is surprising how my mind leads the brush. That is imagination at it’s finest, when you can relax to a point that your ideas lead you, not the other way around. I also have put my imagination to the test in the kitchen and I have been successful. It’s easy to eat better when you are enjoying what you and can come up with creative and fun new ideas.

Smile– I try to smile at people all the time. When people smile back it is really uplifting. If  could challenge you all to one thing, this would be it. Take a second to smile at people. It will make you feel good, or they will think you are crazy and walk the other way. It’s a gamble! But just smile. Happiness is a beautiful thing, it’s contagious and just smiling, even for yourself with lift your mood. Laugh lines look better than frown lines.

Energize– December was a soul sucker of a month so of course the thought of feeling more energized was appealing. I mentioned that I am eating better….to be clear a thousand times better. I am not eating mindlessly. I am taking the time to prepare and enjoy every bite of my food.  I am not only paying attention to what I eat and what it does for me I am being creative with my meals and enjoying cooking again. I have more energy and I am getting plenty of rest. I have a massage booked and big plans to add more activity to my days. I read on my friends blog (check her out she is wonderful and funny) http://kerfree.com/  that using a Kettle ball is a quick, easy and effective workout. I think I will get one for work and home. I turn 42 next week and I know this is going to be a great year. I never liked to act my age so I am surely not about too start now.

Last night I started to read The Happiness Project and the Author Gretchen Rubin started a project similar to mine and her friends thought she was crazy. She is, crazy awesome and insightful. I can relate to a lot of it. Her life and circumstances are so much different than mine but she still has the same problems with her husbands clothes slung over chairs, stacks of crap on table, her kids things underfoot and though they seem like small things they have built up overtime to be frustrations that have weighed her down.

So far I have learned that I have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do but Rome wasn’t built in a day. One thing I do know, and Science says it’s so, is that a great deal of happiness is based on our own choices so choosing to be happier is a really great step.

2773251eb519b22837b8b9c5ee649f15

 

If you are following along I would really like to hear from you and learn from your experiences. 40% of happiness is intentional and to me that is fabulous news. That means, no matter my genetics and my social economic circumstances I can deliberately change my happiness level. Would anybody ever deny that they wanted to be happier? Even the happiest people around would choose to be happier if they could. At least I think so…

The true secret of happiness lies in taking an active interest in all the details of daily life

~ William Morris

Be happy, be W.I.S.E. and lets chat soon! ‘

Michelle