Three Little Birds-W.I.S.E Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

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A few years back, possibly more as I am at the age that time is flying by in warp speed; I used to love the waterslides at World Water Park. They were exhilarating and I felt a sense of freedom and abandon as I was rushed feet first at insane speeds into the cool water. With age comes an awareness of our mortality and that feeling that we are invincible begins to fade away. Some people are very successful in defeating that feeling and proving that age is nothing but a number but as I stood at the top of the slide uneasily awaiting my turn to go on the slide aptly named “Are you fucking kidding me?” I imagined nothing but terrifying things and plunging feet first to my tragic death. My turn came way before I was ready and as I pushed off the side I was thrust into immediate darkness as the sides of the slide were completely enclosed. I struggled with several feelings that rushed to me all at once and though my mind and my body seemed to be going at a wild speed, some things seemed to be happening in slow motion. I coped by balling my hands into fists and squeezing until I was white knuckled, closing my eyes and bracing for the worst. Seconds passed which felt like years and I decided that if I was really going to die right now this would be the last exciting thing that I ever got to experience. I willed myself to open my eyes and embrace the darkness, I took a deep breath and un-clenched my fists and felt my body being rocked from side to side, the rushing water lifting me to the right side and then the left. Within seconds my entire body was dropped into cool water, rushing around my body and head. I felt this feeling of relief mixed with euphoria that filled my lungs and my limbs and shone through my heart. I didn’t just survive, I thrived. I had stared my fear in the face and on the other side of my fear was joy.

So many times over the years I have told my daughters that joy is on the other side of their fears. My oldest seemed to be so unwilling to embrace uncertainty and looking back seemed to have all sorts of irrational fears. Little things would cause an argument or a great deal of anxiety but for the most part she seemed like a loving, smart and athletic girl who had big plans and hopes for the future.

At ten years old when I couldn’t help her with math because she became too frustrated, once flipping the coffee table over or kicking the walls in her bedroom repeatedly when put on a timeout I assumed that it was goddamn hormones. Watching her struggle through the teen years was difficult and I accepted the therapist’s recommendation that she was a normal teen who just needed coping mechanisms. I agreed with that advice and would hear it and agree with it several times over the years; from therapists, doctors, school counselors and friends. I never once considered that my only coping mechanisms were tears, white knuckles or wine.

In her early teens she fell in with a group of girls who had little to no supervision so when I said No to her and we ended up in a screaming match and she later crawled out her bedroom window making me frantic with worry I cursed the damn hormones and those other parents who didn’t set boundaries for their children. At fourteen she struggled with her sexuality, but we loved her no matter what and genuinely just wanted her to be happy. We prepared for struggle as she found her way in the world and a therapist would assure all of us that she was going to be fine. She just had to learn to cope.

Over the years she would suffer ups and downs, I would see her dedicate herself to a sport she loved fully and completely and be filled with immense pride. I would see the amazing things that it did for her self esteem and her confidence but it all seemed like it hung in a very delicate balance, as if one bad game, play or unkind word from a teammate or coach could take it all away. Through it all I tried to encourage her to be herself and embrace her individuality and learn to love her differences and she did for some of the time…and then she didn’t. I saw as friends came and went and I told her that if she became the kind of person she would want to be around the right people would come to her life at the right time. She welcomed new opportunities and challenges; growing and learning new things and finding new passions, but on some of the days everything was wrong, very very wrong. She called herself ugly and stupid and she directed a great deal of her anger at me. She became disconnected from the things she loved and I blamed it on Netflix binges and encouraged her to leave the house and be active. I took her to the woods on a hike recently and she said how great it made her feel. The earth, the air and the trees reconnected her to something she had lost. Her anger in the weeks following seemed to worsen and those in between times when she was my sweet young lady seemed less and less. She started to lash out at her sister and what we perceived to be small things would make her feel rage. She told me she wanted to talk to someone, that she just had a lot to get out. I encouraged her to do her research and find someone she thought she could connect with as she had called the other Therapists stupid. One afternoon she called me after leaving the doctors office and said she had finally found a good doctor that listened to her and he was referring her to a Psychiatrist. We lucked out being the first people to answer the phone on a forty person waiting list and she got in to see the Psychiatrist without the typical five month wait. I took her to the train and she went by herself so she could feel confident in being completely honest about how she was feeling. I held back tears as the Psychiatrist called me and told me that he was shocked that Morgan had not been diagnosed sooner and that his diagnosis was clear without any uncertainty all. My heart broke as he told me that she had ADHD with underlying depression and anxiety, that untreated had also led to conduct disorder. The screaming anger, bad decisions and struggles with school and self esteem were all a part of a larger issue. The diagnosis was a bit of a blessing, but the fact that she had suffered for so long caused me an immense amount of pain. I should have known. I know that we cannot go backwards and we decided together that we would go forward. The doctor said that there was no way around medication; though he fully supports and encourages a holistic lifestyle he believes wholeheartedly the medication is needed immediately to help her, especially in school. She and I both believe that our Western society is way too medicated but we are also both tired and hopeful for a reprieve from the daily uphill battle that rages on and on.

We have been on this road for several years but our journey has just begun. Everyday brings something new and we are trying to find a way to stay connected as a family and face our challenges head on, without curling up in bed with ice cream and tissues.

There are things that are hard for her, things I cannot quite understand but I am trying my best. She is going to meditation classes with me and the first one she was so incredibly anxious I did not think she would make it through it but she was able to control her breathing and her anxious mind and find a little place where she felt safe. She actually fell asleep in class, which was the most amazing result for a first time mediator. She now refuses to go to any classes that are not facilitated by this instructor, she found a bit of safety and I am trying to understand.

She allowed me to share our story with the instructor, who is also a mom, and such a warm and genuine woman that people gravitate to her. When I explained to her that she had been told for years that she needed coping mechanisms she took a thoughtful pause and said “coping mechanisms? I don’t like that. I don’t like that at all. How about thriving mechanisms?”

That moved us and encouraged us at a time when we needed it. We do not want to move through our lives white knuckled, squeezing our eyes shut, binging on ice cream and wiping away tears. We want to be fully engaged in our lives, to encourage and support and love each other, even when things are hard.

When she is ready, my daughter wants to get involved on this blog and in the Podcast so that she can be a voice for other people that are struggling and do not know why. Right now she is busy learning how to thrive.

“Every obstacle is an opportunity in disguise”

~Deepak Chopka

 

I have been working extremely hard on my own mental health, I know that if I am not healthy than I will not be good to anyone else. I find that floating (sensory deprivation) is an amazing way to clear my troubled mind and reset. I go to Modern Gravity in Edmonton Alberta. I have amped up my daily meditation practice by attending unlimited classes with Lifestyle Meditation here in Edmonton. They have a variety of different classes for relaxation, stress relief, movement, creativity and balance. I try to get enough sleep; the absence of good and restorative sleep can be harmful to our bodies and our minds. Our minds are powerful messengers and if something is wrong it will tell us. Stress can manifest in all sorts of ways and make us ill. Not enough sleep can keep us from leading full and happy lives. I do a sleep mediation nightly and I created my own Guided Journey Sleep Meditation as a gift to my Mom but I am hoping to convince my daughter to do it with me tonight after our hike in the woods.

The keys words in the dictionary definition of Cope are struggle, deal and face. The key words in the dictionary definition of thrive are prosper, grow and develop. Which would you rather do in times of stress? The answer is clear for me, even through my instinct during times of stress has always been to curl up in the fetal position and hope for it to pass I am finding healthier ways to deal with burdens and I am hoping to be an example to my family.

This morning I woke to three little birds outside my window singing a pretty song. I know that was the great Bob Marley’s way of reminding me that every little thing is going to be alright.

 

Be WI.S.E. friends and take care of yourself.

Our minds are powerful messengers and when the burdens that weigh us down rob us of the healing and restorative power of restful sleep we find ourselves sick with stress. Join me for a guided journey to create calm, inviting you to a deep and restful sleep.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our mind obeys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow we die, today we love.

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

Bucket of Fucks-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 Tenacious Tuesday

DISCLAIMER- I apologize in advance for the use of the word fuck, I am struggling to find another word that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, an interjection or an adverb. If it bothers you, you can replace with the word flower or meatloaf.

“Now, while not giving a fuck may seem simple on the surface, it’s a whole new bag of burritos under the hood. I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t give a fuck. A bag of burritos sounds awesome, so let’s just go with it.” ~Mark Manson

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I was ever given was to give up all my expectations of people. It took me a very long time to get behind that advice, the thought was foreign to me. I was heavily into volunteering at the time and I expected everyone to have the same level of commitment that I did, and because that didn’t happen often, I allowed it to cause me a great deal of stress. When I learned to stop expecting things of people it was a step in the right direction, I stopped taking it personally when people didn’t step up or follow through. Eventually I decided to move on to other things myself and albeit that was initially a difficult decision. When you put your heart into something and dedicate countless hours to a cause it is hard to walk the other way and not look back. That was the day I decided not to give a fuck. Too many fucks had been given and I was simply out of fucks to give.

I teetered through life with my bucket of fucks, giving fucks to things that really didn’t deserve a fuck. I gave a fuck if the cashier at the grocery store was rude, I threw another fuck at the driver that cut me off in traffic, I was handing out fucks to strangers and events that in the grand scheme of my life didn’t matter all. One day I found myself scraping the empty bottom of my bucket of fucks. I had given out fucks like they grew on trees, here a fuck, there a fuck…everywhere I am tossing a fuck, fuck!

I had one fuck left to give. It turns out fucks don’t grow on trees and if someone didn’t throw a fuck my way, I was going to be fuck-less!!

Simply not giving a fuck at all, ever, is apathetic, and that type of indifference is reserved for people that are lazy and uninspired. However, it is absolutely okay to not give a fuck about every little thing. It is fine to cache our fucks for things that are important, like family, friends and wine.

Younger me gave a fuck about everything and everyone. I was a people pleaser, I wanted to be liked, I gave a fuck about what people thought of me, what they said about me, whether they thought I was smart or funny or they liked my hair. I had a ton of fucks to give and I was handing them out all over town like I was that stranger with candy that your parents warned you about.

Age and maturity has taught me to be selective with the fucks I give. It is a work in progress but I find that I am certain of my identity, surer of myself, and I able to reserve my energy to give a fuck, only when it is important.

I went through this period of uncertainty not so long ago where I really struggled with who I was and how to be happy. I had it in my head that I wasn’t enough, that I was meant to do more with my life and I desperately wanted to have some sort of skill that would make that happen. After some soul searching I realized that I am never going to be a National Geographic Photographer or a Pulitzer Prize winner. I am not going to heal people or co-host a show with Ellen. I am OK with it. I am OK with being who I am and where I am in my life and as I sail through the days with my dwindling bucket of fucks I realize that it is alright not to give a fuck about every little thing. I am enough. I have everything I need and I am happy not giving a fuck a lot of the time!

It is not easy. There are days when I want to give a fuck about everything.  It gets tiring though and I find that at my age, the more fucks I give out, the less fucks I can dedicate to things that really deserve my time and energy. My goal is not to simply “not” give a fuck at all but to learn to redirect my fucks to the right people and things.

“The point is that fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely. Fucks are cultivated like a beautiful fucking garden, where if you fuck shit up and the fucks get fucked, then you’ve fucking fucked your fucks all the fuck up.” ~Mark Manson

I have come to realize that when I am giving way too many fucks to insignificant things, even things that bother me like the toilet paper not being changed, the drive through attendant’s lack of enthusiasm or whether there is toast crumbs in the butter, I am lacking something in my life, something that I genuinely give a fuck about.

Sometimes I am genuinely enthusiastic about so many things that I struggle with giving a fuck to everything , it’s like a big ol fuckstorm, blowing fucks all over the place. When the wind dies down I know that I need to gather up my fucks and put them back into my bucket of fucks and restrict my fuck giving to the things that matter the most to me because handing out fucks like they are mini chocolate bars at Halloween is not only tiring, it keeps me from offering up a fuck to the most important things.

If you are able to achieve the art of giving your fucks out selectively you will have learned a skill that takes others decades to accomplish. Like your favorite little black dress hanging in the back of the closet for the most special of occasions, your fucks to; must sometimes sit on the shelf, in wait until the time is right.

 

Do you struggle with giving a fuck?

Do you give too many fucks or not enough?

Do you give a fuck about trivial things?

Do you think there is a balance between giving a fuck and not giving a fuck?

 

If you want to learn more on the subject I highly recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Related : Shit Shit Shit

Going to Carolina-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

Deepanshu Arora -Moraine Lake Banff

It has been so bitter cold here the last couple of days, here is Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and though we are fairly used to the winter cold here in the great white north it has been more than cold. It has been exceptionally way below freezing temperatures all week and the wind chill is so intense that it feels like the cold has icily embraced your bones. It is not very motivating to say the least and hot showers, fuzzy blankets and good books have been my evening reprieve. 

 Today I was listening to James Taylor’s Going to Carolina in my mind and literally trying to get my mind to take me somewhere warmer.

On Sunday I went for a float. I have been floating for over a year now so I am kind of a professional as floating goes. This basically means that I am experienced in the art of doing nothing and laugh all you want but I am pretty damn proud of this fact. No joke, discovering sensory deprivation has been a wonderfully serene addition to my life. I still struggle on a daily basis with trying to fill my brain with way too much stuff. I get excited about something and I want to jam all of this new information into my brain as fast as possible and often I get overwhelmed. I used to be that mom that went to bed at midnight but at 2 am I was still making my grocery lists, planning my schedule around the girl’s activities, calculating bills and making endless to do lists in my head. To those of you that can’t sit on the toilet without reading the back of the shampoo bottle I can relate. We have hardwired ourselves to constantly receive and process information and nowadays with social media our brains are busier than ever. We are excessively over stimulated. We do not know boredom and we certainly do not know what to do with silence. We crave silence yet the moment we get a taste of it we spit it out and sprinkle it with noise to make it palatable, or at least what we perceive to be most familiar.

I started meditating last January and though I do not always practice it daily as I would like to, it taught me how to find the beauty in silence. Silence benefits our well being in countless ways with abundant advantages to our physical and emotional well being. I often do a guided sleep meditation at night or a five minute mindfulness mediation in the middle of my work day. Mediating was a great benefit to me the first time I entered a float tank because though my mind wanted desperately to crowd the
silent space with thought I was quite quickly able to resist. 

The float tank expedites theta waves so it is doing some of the work for you already by taking the stimulation away.

Theta brain waves are the brain state of REM sleep (dreams), hypnosis, lucid dreaming and barely conscious state just before sleeping and after waking.

If you truly want to experience getting away from it all I highly recommend floating. The solution unlike bath water is very dense, in fact approximately five times denser than the Dead Sea. It is mainly Epsom salt, it feels silky smooth  against your skin and you are effortlessly buoyant. You are literally floating in the darkness with no outside disturbances. When you don’t have the pressure of gravity on your body and you are not responding to stimulus (such as email and texts, noise of traffic etc) your blood pressure decreases and your cortisol levels drop (those are your stress hormones). Your mind and your body are experiencing a state of total freedom, you cannot feel the water and you are quite literally in the optimal environment to experience complete relaxation. There is an eventual increase in your endorphins which I am sure you all know is your happy hormones. We all want more of those, more is good!!

When I said I am now a professional floater you all either snickered or rolled your eyes but let me explain my excitement about how skilled I have become at doing nothing. My last float I was able to relax quite quickly. I don’t eat within 2 hours of a float; I may grab an apple if it is in the morning and some water to hydrate but nothing that is going to be hard to digest and no coffee to stimulate my mind. I start by clearing my mind with a short meditation and moving my body around languidly
in the warm water. Within minutes I had drifted off and I was in the middle of a lake in the mountains. The water was neither warm nor cold, I couldn’t feel it at all, as if my body was totally one with it and I couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. I felt indisputably blissful. Above me the clear sky was the most magnificent shade of dark navy blue littered by an explosion of endless stars and decorated by magical spiraling flares of electric green clasped by hints of pink and deep violet that seemed to erupt from the mountain peaks in a
miraculously enchanting way. It was the esteemed Aurora Borealis in a way that I had never experienced before. I was captivated by the mystic beauty of it and moved almost to the point of tears. The peaks of the mountains surrounded the lake in a protective hug and I felt untroubled and safe. I have no recollection of the amount of time that passed as I lay suspended in virtual reality in that picturesque mountain oasis enjoying the Northen lights. 

It is such a hard thing to put into words, anything I write seems slightly inadequate, but as I sit here thinking about it I am once again overwhelmed by the memory. 

The gentle music that plays as your float time is ending startled me awake and I had that feeling of falling slowly from heaven and when my eyes shot open I  thought I was still in the middle of the lake but all of the sudden I was keenly aware of the darkness. It was unnerving for a second until my mind caught up with my body and I realized where I was. For the remainder of the day I felt weightless, like I was floating through my day without a worry.

I have wanted to recount this experience for awhile but I really didn’t know how in the world I would do it justice without sounding like I was floating on LSD. I was divinely at ease and I was able to experience something in that state
that was as exquisite as it was memorable. I will never forget and though I know that I can never recreate that exact experience I am really excited to know how far my mind will allow me to go in the future. For days after I would think about that wondrous place in the mountains and when I opened up my computer there it was on my home screen; Moraine Lake in Banff, Valley of the Ten Peaks. I am in love. Swoon.

So needless to say if you have ever considered floating, or even if you have never heard of floating, you should. It is the ultimate way to hit the physical and mental reset button and to find the beautiful and powerful healing energy
of silence.

I float at Modern Gravity here in Edmonton and it is a pretty unique place. They have actual float rooms instead of pods so if you are worried about feeling claustrophobic there is no need. The atmosphere is comfortably calming and the rainfall showers are such a nice treat. Floating is a gift that you give yourself that requires zero effort for substantial gain.

Modern Gravity, Edmonton Alberta

There are many things you can do to ease stress and recalibrate your body and mind, Floating is a very good choice. 

Be W.I.S.E. friends. 

Take the long way home-W.I.S.E. Project

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Love and compassion for yourself are necessities

September is always a month where I feel like I am rushing. Summer has faded into fall, the kids are back in school and their activities have commenced, they expect to be fed at a decent hour every night and I am feeling tired. My husband has been working away for about 80 days now (but who is counting) and he is in a different time zone which presents its own challenges. There is that added struggle to stay connected when we cannot see each other face to face. It is very easy to get wrapped up in our own day to day and not realize that one of our most important relationships,  one that should take precedence, is in distress.

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All marriages struggle through the day to day occasionally but there is an added burden placed on long distance relationships as the calamity of estrangement intrudes on the comfort of our kinship and robs from us the luxury of treasured time. Simple things that we take for granted like good morning hugs and bedtime kisses are now moments that we need to squeeze into our schedule sometime between this and that and their offering is now significantly altered.

I have always faced the crushing reality that although I am constantly seeking that balance between being a wife, mother, a woman and an employee; when I am excelling in one area I am most likely dropping the ball in another.When I realize that I have missed something, that something or someone craves more of my attention, I become so fixated on that shortcoming that I lose sight of my most important priority…myself.

I know that I cannot pour from an empty cup yet time after time I neglect to fill my own up first. This time, when the alarm sounded I initially fell into my regular pattern but quickly realized that yes people need me, but I am no good to them unless I am first good to me.

So I took the long way home. I had a relaxing 90 minute float at Floatique, I stopped at the lake to take in the colors of the changing landscape, I got my hair done, I read books, I mediated more, I met a friend to catch up, I took a course and I went to bed right after supper, just to be still. I made sure that “I” mattered. I filled my cup up first so that I had enough to share with the people that matter the most in my life. Loving yourself is not selfish, it is a necessity. How can we expect for others to love us and make us a priority if we cannot even do that for ourselves?

The W.I.S.E. principles for September were not something that I actively focused on but they definitely played a part in altering my path this month. I made my wellness a priority, I made steps to improve not only my knowledge but the way I respond to discomfort, I made an effort to savor in facile delights such as quiet unhurried moments and I put a real effort into realizing what it takes to feel the way I want to feel and how important it is to pursue that. I will always be a giver, it is in part of my temperament, but I need to give back to myself as much as I take.

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For October the W.I.S.E. Principles are whole, involved, spirit and engaged. I simply want to be fully engaged in my life, mind, body and spirit and continue to be mindful of taking care of myself so that I can be of value to others. I encourage all of you to do the same.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

Eye of the Tiger-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Being yourself is one of the most courageous things you can do, finding yourself is a phenomenal accomplishment!

I honestly love this time of year when cool mornings give way to days full of abundant sunshine. The hint of fall can be felt in the air and seen in the changing colors on the trees and the colorful sweaters that the neighbors are wrapped in as they walk their dogs around the lake. The changing of the seasons always seems like a good time for a life change, no matter how big or small. Whether it be a new pair of boots, a new hairstyle or if you are very ambitious a whole new you.

Time to break out the socks and settle in, focus on what is important or refocus on the things that matter to you most. I call this eye of the tiger. Rising up to the challenge of our rival, and most often our rival is fear and doubt. 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SUMMER and I have mourned its premature passing just the same as you, but just as the flowers die off, the seasons change and in parades another one with something new but yet just as familiar as home. 

 If John Green wrote about fall he would say it comes like you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once. One day you are mowing your lawn in the afternoon heat and the next you are watching from your window as yellow leaves fall slowly to the ground and pool at the base of your maple tree.

Leather boots, cashmere sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes and savory soups, this is our fall to embrace.

This month as part of the W.I.S.E. Project I am embracing wellness, improvement, savor and effort.

I am continuing to take some wellness courses and I am learning so many new things. I am also committing to unlearning some bad habits and untruths.

I signed up for Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton’s course on the Wisdom of Story which is about owning our stories and committing to writing our own brave endings. A couple of years ago when I wrote Thousand Acre Heart I was able to come to terms with a lot of hurt and diminish a great deal of shame. I have been continuing to work on that and I have realized that we need to stand in our pain and deal with it because if we run from it will follow us and it is never far behind. I had stifled a lot of feelings surrounding the time of my son’s adoption as well as the death of my father, and problems I have faced in my marriage. I finally realized that to get mentally healthy I needed to feel the pain and examine it and then let it go and keep the lessons.

I just read Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior. I think it is an exceptionally powerful book and the thing that I found very identifiable is questioning the lessons that we are taught by society and readily accept about weight, beauty, our gender specific roles and how damaging those can be. Often we tie our worthiness and our expectations to very socially distorted norms. 

Glennon talks about the importance of sending our true and authentic selves out into the world each day, not the representative of ourselves, the person that we think society wants us to be. We will quickly lose sight of who we are and we are Warriors, made to love and fight through the struggles that life deals us. We do not need to create a version of ourselves to go to battle for us.

Being yourself is one of the most courageous things you can do, finding yourself is a phenomenal accomplishment!

Be W.I.S.E. Warriors

Pain is not a sign that you’ve taken a wrong turn or that you’re doing life wrong. It’s not a signal that you need a different life or partner or body or home or personality. Pain is not a hot potato to pass on to the next person or generation. Pain is not a mistake to fix. Pain is just a sign that a lesson is coming. Discomfort is purposeful: it is there to teach you what you need to know so you can become who you were meant to be. Pain is just a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door—wise ones breathe deep and say: “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.” 

~Glennon Doyle Melton 

Where do I belong? W.I.S.E. Project 2016- Journal Notes

“Love the one you’re with”

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Photo Credit to: canadaclass10.wordpress.com

In 2008 we headed West, packing our lives into a U-haul, our hearts overflowing with memories, leaving behind the only home and lives our kids had ever known. After spending our growing up years and the early years of our marriage on the East Coast surrounded by family and friends I am surprised at how deeply and quickly our roots sunk in here. My husband and I credit our jobs and a few close friends for firmly rooting us in this Western life but for our children it is their home, their friends that have become family, their sense of community and the opportunities they have been afforded to do the things they are passionate about.

 

It was the summer of 2008 when we arrived at our new home in Alberta and because we had a good reason for being here it began to feel like home remarkably quickly. As a family we had been apart for eight months while my husband worked in the Alberta Oil Sands so geography seemed like a reasonable thing to try to overcome to be able to be together as a family as much as possible. But even so, the sense of belonging to a place, the feeling that where we are is where we were meant to be, still depends just as much — if not more — on our attitude about the place as it does on the place itself.

Edmonton is not my home in the sense of heart and family. I am proud to have been born and raised in the fair province of Nova Scotia. I love the ocean and will always be captivated by salty air and crashing waves. Lakes, long coastlines, beaches and sand between my toes. I love my family and nothing can replace seeing them as I often as I would like but the thing about being from a family as close as mine is the security in knowing that you are only a thought away. I credit being close to my family as the reason I was able to move across Canada and create a life. When everyone else was full of warnings about everything I would hate in Alberta it was my family that said to me that they knew that I was strong enough to assemble a life anywhere.  They would miss us at the family gatherings along the shore, for every imagined reason we could think of to get together and eat good food and tell tales but I would be in their hearts, on their minds and definitely on the tips of their tongues because with family, no matter where you go you never get left behind. There is an inclusion that happens within a family like mine that cannot be touched by time or distance. Instead of making it harder to leave, this made it easier really, knowing that they wished us well and had nothing but good thoughts and high hopes for our journey ahead. The vastness of the land between us would never sever our bonds.

That all being said eight years have come and gone since we landed in Alberta. I remember like it was yesterday how my husband whisked us off to Jasper immediately because he knew I would be enamored with the mountains and it would alleviate the heaviness in my heart. I was awestruck by the majestic Rocky Mountains, standing proud and tall and on guard, touching the sky with their monumental peaks and reminding me just how small we are in this great big, phenomenal world. Lakes of Caribbean blue that mirrored the lofty, snow capped summits made my heart ache for my ocean playground a little less. Like a John Green novel, slowly at first and then quickly all at once I fell in love.

There was a moment last summer that my husband and I decided it was time to move home to Nova Scotia. We want to be close to family and lead a simple life, watch our grandkids grow up. We were very excited and started planning a timeline and telling family, trying to convince the girls.

As it often does, life happened and almost another year has passed since making that decision. The bottom fell out of the Oil Sands and financially took a lot of our immediate choices away. The timing wasn’t right when things were good and it is even worse now when things are bad. Funny the wrenches that get thrown into your life, but I am a firm believer that there is a reason for everything that will reveal itself in time.

Looking back to last summer after we made the decision to move home we had taken a trip to our favorite spot in the East Kootenay’s along the shores of the Upper Arrow Lakes. It is our spot for calm and clarity, to unplug and unwind and remember the things that are really important. When I step onto the little ferry that takes us to Burton, British Columbia it strangely feels like coming home. I remember staring up at a starry sky over the lake and being overcome with emotion wondering how I could walk away and never see that place again. My husband took my hand and said “I get it”, knowingly; because his heart was ravaged as well.

 

Like a time aged tale of being torn between two lovers my heart is divided and may always be, no matter where our story leads us.

 

Unfortunately living your life and making a living sometimes pulls you in entirely different directions.

 

It reminds me of a saying,

“Wherever you go, there you’ll be”

 

Indeed here I am, and what am I to do but make the best of the story that I am in the middle of?

 

Another fitting quote if you will allow me,

“Wherever you are be the soul of that place”

 

I will be. I am committed to it.This place has been good to me and my family. The people have been warm and kind. The community has embraced us. We have had good times and great experiences. I know that it is not my forever but it is my right now. Like a line from the 1970 hit by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, “Love the one you’re with” 

Attitude is everything!

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