I want you to know something important. I don’t always have my shit together. I am winging it at the best of times, life, eyeliner, finances…all of it.
My decision making consists of a slight pause, a deep breath and the phrase “fuck it” before diving head first into most situations.
I am not shy and some of my friends describe me as extroverted but the truth is I have this insane need to just be myself. Now granted I have a select friend or two that gets to see the full on crazy that I tuck in periodically to be acceptable for the rest of the world but generally speaking I am an open book and that is important to me because the people that belong in my life are there for the right reasons; for me, not for a version of myself that I present to the world.
We are constantly looking to the right thinking that everyone else has it all together and the truth is that most of us are really just winging it.
The bigger truth is I feel pretty damn good about it.
There was a time when I was trying to juggle all of the balls at once, motherhood, marriage, work, finances, volunteerism and I constantly had the feeling that one wrong move and everything would come tumbling down. The truth is I wasn’t doing any of those jobs particularly well because I neglected in all of that to take care of me.
When I started truly investing in myself it seemed that everything else seemed to fall gently into place, there was no more guilt or juggling. There is great deal of freedom in letting go and trusting that you are fully supported at all times by something larger than you. For me that is the universe; science, energy, spirit and guides. I believe that when we take care of ourselves we are better in tune to see the way that these things work together to constantly support us for our greatest good.
I try to make good healthy choices for myself, I limit my time with people who suck my energy and seek out opportunities for wellness and growth. The more I do this, the more things, ideas and people cross my path that I know for certain were placed there at the right time to support me and to fill my journey with light.
I don’t have all the answers but what I am trying to accomplish is to let go of the fear that sometimes goes hand in hand with not knowing what comes next.
Sometimes it is scary not knowing all of the answers but we cannot live our lives for tomorrow when today is all we are promised.
For me meditation has been a wonderful gift to keep me grounded and connects me to the present and quite frankly to my inner self, the witness, not the judge. Even in the midst of chaos I have the tools to access calm in me that for a long time I never knew existed.
Just for today take a little time to recognize where you are, look around, breath. Don’t worry that the neighbor has a backyard oasis and you have a giant toilet for your dog, don’t worry that your friend is making her family a recipe from Chrissy Tiegan’s new cookbook and your kids are getting Lucky charms with chocolate milk after practice. Take a moment to remember that you have all this under control, take that five minutes you thought you couldn’t afford, even if you are just sitting in the bathroom playing Spiderman solitaire with the door locked. You matter. The moment you realize that everything else is gravy.
Just as the breaths we take can occur so effortlessly, it’s not necessary to summon energy to stream through us.
Dynamic energy flows through channels in and around our physical body naturally, however, we can choose to enrich and elevate our natural energetic state, for health; both physical and mental or for spiritual growth and development.
I believe that I inherently have good energy and I used to spend so much time giving it away, along with my time and bits of me, little by little until I was so depleted and unhappy that I didn’t even know who I was. All the little things I thought I did for myself, that once gave me joy began to thieve from me, the expectations I placed on myself to be everything to everyone while never filling up my own cup led to a deep black void in my heart and soul.
I was off balance. I was not at peace with myself and my mind and my body were living in the same house but like angry lovers they had lost their desire and capacity to communicate in an effective way.
We want to give the very best of ourselves at all times, sometimes the pride and accolades we get from that alone, fuels us for a short time, but the reality is we need to give to ourselves first or we will end up in a place where we have given everything we had to give and we are not of any good to ourselves. If you have ever flown you will know that the flight attendants always instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before attempting to help others. If you cannot breath, you will not be able to help anyone else.
In December of 2015 I reached a point in my life where I had nothing left to give. I am a giving person by nature and I don’t think anything will change that but after spending two weeks in desperate anguish, crying for seemingly no reason and realizing that I was sick and depleted was a huge wake up call for me. I lost my dad as a teenager to a heart attack and I realized that he didn’t know how to relax. Don’t get me wrong, I can be as lazy as the best of you but I didn’t know how to sit back and enjoy that. If I wasn’t doing physically, my mind was making lists of all of the things I should be doing instead of relaxing. I barely slept, I used to think that going to bed was the time you planned for all of the things you didn’t get done during the day.
Those two weeks were a huge wake up call for me. Looking back I think I kept myself really busy to fulfill my need for validation. A lot of my self esteem was tied up in being and doing for others. I placed a lot of expectations on others as well and when those expectations were not actualized I spent a great deal of time disappointed which led to resentment.
I also feel like I was giving away my energy to people and things that did not fill me up. The transfer of energy between people should always be beneficial to both parties, I learned the hard way that it is not always the case. Some people are takers and they will take and take and take without ever offering anything of value in the relationship.
That is how the Wise project was born.
We are all born fundamentally whole but throughout our lives our individual experiences; whether they be of hurt, trauma or neglect have obscured the natural beauty of our core being and concealed it in layer upon layer of soot and dust.
Unbecoming that person shaped and shifted by experiences, occurrences, and events, and reuniting and restoring our essential mind * body * spirit connection is a trans-formative process in which we reconnect those disconnected parts of ourselves to uncover our authenticity.
Self-awareness, self-evolution, and self-acceptance are all footsteps in this alchemical process.
For me, it required saying the word NO…a lot. It was hard at first but quite honestly it is now one of my favorite words. If something does not fit with my schedule, it doesn’t shake me, excite me or make my heart leap out of my chest, I say NO and in turn I create room to say yes to the things that are truly meant for me!
We breath effortlessly but how often do we actually fill our lungs with the air. How often do we have time to notice little things on our drive to work, like the beauty of the sunrise or the power of nature and the universe working together at every single moment to make it all possible.
This morning for the first time in a long time I noticed the extreme beauty of the fire in the sky, the light creeps in so slowly, the sunrise is like falling in love, it happens so casually and then all at once; the sky erupts and fills with the most brilliant light. It gives my heart pause.
I also noticed a young mom at the street corner, kissing her son on the forehead and waiting anxiously as he crossed the street, I saw an elderly couple holding hands as they unhurriedly walked in the early morning sunshine and as I was sitting at a red light, where I would usually check my phone I saw a couple in their driveway, the woman was in the front seat and the man was buckling their child into their car seat in the back, he closed the door and bent down to kiss his lady before getting into his own car. I thought about all of those beautiful moments in my own life, moments I hurried through, moving from one moment to catapult myself into the next; without a breath, a thought or gratitude for what was right in front of me.
A reminder to breath in the air.
A reminder to take a pause, practice the pause.
A reminder to be grateful and always see what is in front of me.
The universe gives us reminders, signs, that it is always working for our highest good. We often get busy and we ignore the messages, we are guilty of believing that we are a part of an experience or part of the universe. One of the things that was told to me back in 2016 that has had one of the hugest impacts on my life so far is when I was face to face with Deepak Chopra and he said, “You are the universe. You are not part of the experience, you are the experience.”
The night I met Deepak Chopra I was a part of the most moving meditation experience of my life. I learned that in the midst of chaos I could always access the stillness that exists inside of me and that has helped me through a great deal of darkness.
Every single time the blackness threatens to swallow me whole, every time I have the feeling that maybe I am not enough, doing enough, being enough I remember how important it is for me to accept that I will never be perfect and that is OK, this humility allows me to emerge, expand and grow right from where I stand.
I am in bloom.
The journey to our souls optimum evolution will emerge with each step we take , we do not have to struggle through years of trying to find the right path. We are always on the path.
P.S. Around Valentines Day I bought some mini roses for my office. I had intended to re-pot them but forgot and when I returned to work after the weekend they were all dried up. My co-worker caught me throwing them in the garbage and he told me to just give them a little love and they would come back. I stripped off all the dead leaves and was left with empty, sickly branches. I gave them love anyway, I loved them as they were. Today my roses have 5 new blooms, they are flourishing and their branches are adorned with beautiful greenery, growing steadily as if to meet the ball of sunshine through the cracks of my office blinds. Imagine what happens if we give ourselves the same love we give to everything else in our lives. Imagine how we would grow and flourish.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” -Deepak Chopra
The gift of our lives should be greater than pain and larger than fear, but when we are in the grip of grief, trauma, depression, heartache, loss or betrayal; fear can be immobilizing.
Pain can be a great teacher
Pain can be a great teacher if we are open to the lessons it brings, if we meet it with curiosity instead of alarm it will teach us and allow us to move through it with grace. One way or the other pain demands to be felt.
There is no promise of a pain free life, pain is inevitable, but if we resist, ignore or fear pain we initiate suffering. Suffering is not necessary.
I knew that the feeling of being enveloped in a dense dark fog was not going to lift overnight
I am not afraid of pain; I held the door wide open and welcomed it in. When my husband passed away in June, pain and plenty of it was more than expected. I knew there would be an abundance of tears and endless heartbreak and longing. I knew that in my pain that I would find strength I never knew I had and wisdom I never knew I needed. I knew that the feeling of being enveloped in a dense dark fog was not going to lift overnight.
The thing I didn’t count on was how much I would come to depend on the pain. It is my receipt of love after all and I would spend nights wrapped up in it like a blanket. In a previous post I talked about the luxury of hope and embracing and holding onto those moments, but as they started to emerge for me I caught myself chasing them away and holding onto my dark blanket of despair. I had found a new person in my grief and as much as I thought I longed to have the old Michelle back I found myself identifying with the new familiar one and holding space for her and keeping the light out. I found myself wondering who I was in the world without my husband and who would he be if I wasn’t here in this world holding vigil for him. The grief and the unimaginable pain was the proof that his life and his story mattered and I became afraid of letting any bit of it go. I lived in fear that if I softened to the pain and moved through it and allowed the light to shine on me that his memory would fade, the love we shared wouldn’t matter and his spirit that I felt so close to me, guiding me, would diminish bit by bit until it disappeared.
Or so I thought…
I told all our loved ones that we needed to honor him by being well and being happy, but somehow, even knowing what he would truly want, I was honoring him by holding tightly to my pain as that was the manifestation of the love we shared and the connection between my physical life with him and our lives now. Or so I thought…
So here I am with all of this love in my heart that I want to give him and I think I can’t so as a consolation I close off my heart and I sit in my misery somehow thinking I am honoring the person who meant the world to me, who wanted nothing more for me to feel happiness and love always. When I put it in black and white it seems incredibly strange that I would think that way. I certainly know better, I think we all do. We know that at the deepest level of our soul we are always safe, loved, grounded and connected. Fear may protect us temporarily but it is not a place to live.
Fear should not define us; everything we long for is on the other side of fear
Fear should not define us; everything we long for is on the other side of fear. I want desperately to continue to feel the love that my husband and I shared with each other and with our children; I will not achieve that if I keep draping myself in the agony. In fact, in some conversations with some very wise and inspiring people I have come to believe that as I continue to move through the pain and the grief and as I allow moments of light to energize me, and the cloak of despair to decline, my memories will be stronger and more beautiful than they are now, swathed in a dismal haze.
It is amazing how gratitude can elevate to our highest vibration possible
I was walking through the park the other day with my dog and all of the colorful flowers are still in the bloom but the air is changing, even the copious sunshine couldn’t mask the hint of autumn that blew through the trees. Periodically the wind would come up and swiftly blow through the trees, showering the earth with leaves that had already dried out and curled up. It was absolutely beautiful. It is amazing how gratitude can elevate us to our highest vibration possible and I have plenty to be grateful for. Though my life right now is not one I would have chosen for myself, I got to experience the depth of true love and the lessons I learned by loving and being loved by Kirk, during the good times and the bad, I will hold in my heart forever. For just a moment I let myself feel those winds of change and not be afraid, and in that moment I felt Kirk clearer than I had in weeks, cheering me on.
I have been so afraid of what is on the other side of my fear so I really had to decide what I wanted for me and my children. I want the winds of change to blow me in the direction of emotional freedom, gratitude, joy, health and love. I want to multiply that love Kirk and I shared as a couple and as a family and put it back into the world. This world could sure use a little more love and kindness.
My response to this fear that restrains me is to summon all of the courage I have to not jump over, resist or hold the pain, but to move through it keeping my heart open to the unique gifts of the universe.
Are you holding unto fear? What is it trying to tell you? What is on the other side of your fear.
Let it go-see what remains.
Every single day is a new opportunity, for you and for me. Today lets decide what it is we want to see in the world and lets project that.
I have been feeling on edge this past week, on the verge of crazy really. I am not deranged or boiling bunnies but I have been treading on some pretty unsteady ground with feet that sometimes forget how to walk. It feels like nobody could possibly understand the magnitude of all the emotions that I am feeling and how could they when I cannot seem to get a solid grip on them myself.
When you are bargaining with your husband’s spirit in the Tim Hortons drive-thru and assuring him that if he can find a way to come back in someone’s body that just passed, like in Drop Dead Diva, that you will not even care if he is big and hairy because you will love him anyway; it might be the time to hit the pause and reset button.
I went from a place of acceptance and hope, anticipating a future where my children and I could thrive, to drifting alarmingly quickly between heartache to daydreams and holding myself in a place of bleak despair.
One evening last week I was going through messages on my phone from Kirk and watching videos that he had sent to me when he was away. I enjoy seeing his smile and hearing his voice and my heart feels like it doubles in size when I read his heartfelt messages. What started out as an opportunity to feel close to him and the love we shared quickly escalated as I continued to take myself back and back and read messages from a time where Kirk was really struggling within himself and trying to explain his hurt and indifference to me. I became immobilized in the pain, allowing it to blanket me in fear, hurt and helplessness. For two days I could barely catch a breath, I shook constantly and my stomach was in complete shambles taking anything I dared to put into my body and ferociously expelling it. I was overwhelmed and I knew that I didn’t want to feel that way. I knew that there was no ‘what if’ that would change our story, but it was like being caught in a wildly aggressive current that I couldn’t free myself from. After two exhausting days of frantic tears and shallow breathing I did a grief meditation that allowed me to find that quiet place that exists in my mind, that place of non-judgement where I could sit in the witness chair as an observer. No yesterday or tomorrow exists there, only the present.
“Think of your mind like a snow globe that is shaken every time there’s a negative emotion. Meditation stills it, so you can see more clearly.” ~@londonmindful
I was finally able to doze off and I had a succession of dreams, almost like short movie clips of conversations I had had with Kirk. At the time, it seemed confusing and I barely thought of it in the morning until I found myself amid the same chaotic clips the following night. I woke up with a knowing. It was in everything Kirk said to me in those clips and in every conversation we had ever had. It was his pain. He did not want me to carry it. Though the blanket of sadness remains the black despair has loosened its grip on me enough to gain some perspective and breath again. I feel like I have taken ten steps backward in my healing journey but apparently grief doesn’t take the economy route.
“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
I spent a great deal of my life in the future or the past and invested a great deal of time on “what ifs”. I know that the present moment is all we have, yet time and time again I drag myself backwards or propel myself forward and get completely lost in anguish and fear.
I know that “keeping busy” is a good distraction but that I need to take the time to face my fears and my feelings head on and not suppress them so that they show up as unresolved complications later such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse or health related issues.
I am very aware that food, alcohol, TV, work and other distractions are temporary relievers and that activity, sleep, meditation and making healthy choices, along with allowing myself to feel what I am feeling as it arises is the best type of self-care.
I write because it helps me express what I am feeling, I know that there are several times that I was struggling throughout my life that reading and connecting with others in the midst of their pain reminded me that I was never alone. I can either live and love and learn, or I can suffocate in my sadness.
I went for a drive yesterday with no clear destination in mind and ended up at Value Village. Kirk and I went to Value Village a lot, he would buy several pairs of work pants that inevitably sat in a heap on our closet floor. I walked in and all the Halloween stuff was out. The girls are quite upset about the emergence of the season because Kirk is a Halloween baby and adored everything Halloween. We always put in the extra effort because of him. My friend and I were chatting and thought that maybe those hard days were the days that we should celebrate, if we start off by celebrating them right away then every year when those hard days, like his birthday and Father’s Day roll around we could maybe move out from underneath the grip of the dark clouds and celebrate him. Trust me when I say that he loved being celebrated…and celebrating!
Just the other night I had told the girls that I was thinking of picking up my vow renewal dress and spraying it with fake blood and doing a cool zombie face to greet trick or treaters. Haley was suitably horrified. Last year when Kirk was away on his birthday and not in good spirits, I re-created the shower scene from Psycho, fake blood and all and sent it to him. He loved it, but I had turned off my phone to finish my shower and he was calling frantically to make sure it was indeed staged. For me, I think celebrating that day, as hard as it will be, will be a good tribute to him. I am not sure if I need to ruin a perfectly good white dress to do it but it is one idea. I honestly haven’t been able to even think of picking the dress up and I know there are several good things I could do with it when I am ready.
I was leaving Value Village and there was a late twenties man smoking on the sidewalk, I would guess he was of Latin descent. He said excuse me and I turned around, he said “You are beautiful.” I said thank you and he replied, “Seriously, you are truly beautiful.” I stopped in my tracks for just a moment to acknowledge him suitably. I told him that I appreciated the compliment and as I continued to walk to my truck I recalled how that very morning during my meditation at Lifestyle Meditation, I was deep into stillness and calm and I had a vision of the universe revolving. I knew that it was my reminder that everything is connected. As crazy as I know it sounds, and I have already acknowledged being somewhat crazy; I feel that that the Latin man was just a messenger, knowingly or not; and that was Kirk reminding me that I was truly beautiful. It wasn’t about what I was wearing or that my hair was incredibly shiny yesterday or that my eyes were vividly green from being scrubbed by tears, it was how he felt about all of me.
I got in my truck with a smile in my broken heart and pulled out into the street. On the radio Cole Swindell crooned “In the Middle of a Memory” and that familiar warm feeling came over me. He would take my glass of wine and set it down and pull me into his arms and dance with me and tell me that I was beautiful. Sometimes it felt like we were the only people in the entire world that existed in those moments that we were lost in each other. Thank god for the red light as hot tears filled my eyes and temporarily blinded me, they spilled out of me, threatening to collect into a river and wash me away. They didn’t wash away my sadness or loneliness, Kirk left me in the middle of a memory and I am still desperately trying to come to terms with all of it. It did bring me a bit of clarity and gratitude though. I am gracious that I was able to share that kind of love with him, that no matter our faults, our challenges, our mistakes, and our intense ups and downs; our deep love for each other and our fight to always make it back to the safety of each other’s arms was unrivalled.
Our love is still in the universe, it will continue to guide us on our healing journeys. As I continue to seek opportunities for growth in this great big world, spreading kindness and love, and rising as resolute as an old oak tree, with deep roots, reaching further and further into the steady earth, discovering who I am meant to be in this wonderfully mad world; he will guide me and our children.
I will continue to embrace every seemingly crazy sign from the universe as I make my own way. (if you see me with some big hairy guy just smile for me 😉)
I will cry when I need to, whether I am happy or sad and even when my eye make-up is perfect. I will let the sunlight and the moonlight fill those darkened spaces in me and I will continue to breath deep and drink in the power and the destiny of the universe, I will not suffocate.
Inside of me I will carry a story of a woman that had the courage to love someone with her whole heart, even on the days when she could not be promised anything in return, a story of a woman that dared to love herself just as much, and to flood herself with all the kindness she deserved so she could turn around and share it with the world.
“The truth is, you never truly lose someone, because love is not a losing game. If your heart cared for someone, if it fought for someone, if it believed in someone; if it felt in a way that set someone apart, if it felt in a way that was honest, and all-consuming, and stunningly real — there is no going back. See, the best kind of love changes you. It teaches you and grows you. The best kind of love cannot be lost, it cannot be forgotten. It will always exist within you.” ~Bianca Sparacino
We are all guilty of telling ourselves the same tired stories from our childhood and we so often dismiss how important the dialogue we share with ourselves and others is to our lives and our well-being.
There is a common theme we use surrounding suffering and struggle. We uses words like ‘cope’ and ‘survive’ and phrases such as ‘get by’
As well intentioned as we may be I believe that this dialogue has been exhausted and it doesn’t feel relevant to my rapidly changing situation.
In June I lost my husband, my best friend and the father of my children to a long battle with mental illness. Surviving and coping with his illness was an every day burden for him. The very first day in the world without him was one of the hardest things I will ever have to face, along with the realization that our family, our children and myself will need to face all of the days to come. Loss makes you realize how precious life is and for me I now believe we should direct our energy into leading the best lives possible. To thriving.
Grief has more ups and downs then the my elementary school teeter totter during recess, but it sure makes you appreciate the value of moments.
On the weekend I was dizzy with grief, feeling one minute like I was floating on a calm ocean at sunset and the next a Tsunami hit. It was overwhelming but not unexpected and I have embraced tear stained as my new make-up trend.
I found myself in a fleeting moment of hope and anticipation and began to contemplate some of the things that my children and I have on the go in the foreseeable future and I realized that those worn out words and phrases do not have to continue to be a part of our story.
A word popped into my head that I was so excited about. I even convinced myself that I had made up the word until google confirmed that another wise person had beat me to it. The word and the concept is THRIVIVAL! The idea that instead of merely existing in the face of adversity that we can instead learn to live vigorously, cherishing each moment of our lives. Instead of just surviving, we can thrive.
Should our goals be set on coping, on surviving this relentless emotional storm, or should we focus on the strength in the inevitable change and commit to living our lives with purpose and intent, choosing a life rooted in love and doing well and being well?
I think the answer is clear. I believe our route is thrivival and though we may stumble occasionally on this hilly path the journey will be worth it.
Kirk would not be content to see us just get by. Nothing short of a life well lived would be sufficient; and with him as our guide we will navigate this new world with intensity.
If you are reading this I hope you will join us; take a look at your own life and make the choice to not only do what you love, be a person you love and put that love out into the world and make it a better place. You are the univere. Brace for THRIVIVAL