many lives lived
enveloped in this one

some short and bright
others just as brief, yet dark
darkness and light equally blinding

lives that are entwined, bound
separate yet one
unique even as they are the same

the one constant that runs through
being my Self that lives them
holding the memories fiercely deep and close

many lives lived
enveloped in this one

A short status update on social media by a friend of a friend had an impact on me that surprised me by the ferocity of it.

His update was about some news that he had just received about a close friend from high school. He is just over 10 years out of high school and this news came as a shock to him presumably. His friend has killed himself. Horrible news and I can understand his shock and how raw his feelings must have been. What he said however struck me. His words were to the effect that he is more angry than sad and that suicide is “the easy way out” and leaves everyone else in pain. What followed were other comments by his friends offering comfort and support. One other remark in particular that “suicide is the most selfish act” got me riled to the point that I jumped in and made a comment. Not enough to get it off my chest there though…

Unfortunately, I understand all too well that anger and that hurt that comes with losing someone from suicide. What sent me into an almost blind rage today was the publicly accepted sentiments that suicide is “easy” and “selfish”. In my mind, nothing is further from the truth.

Having watched my son go through hell struggling over wanting to die and not wanting to all in the same moment…after reading his journals and seeing what went on inside of him while he dealt with mental illness…It wasn’t the easy way out. There is nothing easy about getting to the point of ending your own life. Nothing easy about taking that final step that you know will end it all, forever. We, as people, are simply made to go the route of least resistance, the easiest way. That’s why so many of us live our lives in complacency and routine and unhappy. Because staying the course is easier than change. Suicide is the most profound change you can make. On top of that, we, as human animals, are hard-wired with a sense of self preservation. That’s a basic instinct that is there. To overcome that and end your life when every part of a rational brain and body screams to fight, to live… that’s not easy.

Is it selfish? You could argue for and against on this one. People end their lives for so many reasons. Is it selfish to succumb to cancer? Is it selfish to die of a heart attack? No one would ever suggest that. Yet someone who lives with a psychosis and has a break and tragically ends their life is treated very differently. A major psychosis is an illness that destroys a person just as savagely as a terminal physical illness like cancer. “Simple” depression can become clinical and alter a person to the point that they are not capable of what we would consider logical or rational behaviour. What about the person who has a terminal physical ailment and chooses to end their life on their terms and on their timeline rather than become incapacitated? What about those that make the choice, in part, to spare their loved ones the pain of a long and emotional death of weeks or months? Selfish or selfless, or neither? It’s too complex to sum up with generalizations.

These two blunt comments made me so angry because they are so typical of how we, as a society and culture, still firmly place a box around suicide and try to make it fit neatly within the confines that make us feel safe and better. If we can label it and categorize it and point at it and say it’s not going to happen to me because of A, B and C, then it doesn’t scare us as much.

The truth is suicide is scary because it can’t be neatly explained and contained. Talking about it and being open about it is the only way we are going to make a dent in the impact it has.

I was at a conference this past weekend and re-connected with many people that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. Old work colleagues and friends. Many of them had been in my life for 10 years and more and it was a chance to touch base and catch up.

I moved from the area just over 2 years ago after the sudden death of my son and lost contact with most people in the space that followed. Grief and depression took a hard toll and I isolated very effectively; even easier since I was geographically removed.

In chatting with someone this weekend, she was very open that a lot of my friends had been worried about how I was doing and if I was getting along ok. She made a point of referencing one friend in particular who, she explained, had voiced a strong concern over my well-being. She relayed that this friend had been very vocal over a number of months in a very public way at my previous work location about how worried she was about me and how concerned she was about how I was dealing with the loss and the change and if I was ok.

So, here’s the interesting thing… Not once, ever, did this friend connect with me. Not once, since the day I left town – even to this day – have I had any messages or calls or any contact. Now this is not me saying “oh, she let me down”… quite the contrary. I never contacted her either and communication goes both ways. I accept full responsibility for many many relationships going silent and growing apart. That’s something I understand. But to be so openly vocal about caring and concern all the while never once doing anything about said concern… not exactly my take on sincerity.

If you really care and want to know how someone is… talk to them, not to everyone else.

The anticipation before that first kiss
The spark and yearning to discover
Building slowly and unexpectedly
Those light brushes of your breath across my lips
Turning away, promising contact and connection, soon…
Teases of what we both suddenly wanted
The desire for your kiss taking me by surprise
As our lips meet, and part, slowly, I sigh…
Softness and suppleness of touch taking my breath away
Your mouth on mine, a step taken that couldn’t be undone
Bridging the space that was already closing between us

I came across this on Facebook the other day and it was being “shared” and “liked” by a number of my friends. It struck me that it is quite possibly one of the most offensive and annoying things that I’ve seen in a while to be honest.

First of all, the concept that someone is broken or damaged is arguable at best. We go through things. We struggle, we endure, we live so therefore, there are rough times. That’s life. Doesn’t make us broken, it makes us human.

Secondly, and most the issue here, is the idea that someone else is the answer to our problems. That someone, some mythical white night (gender neutrality here btw) is going to swoop in and magically make us “better” by holding us tightly. It’s hard not to laugh or scream at the sheer ridiculousness of that.

True, having someone to lean on and to comfort you through a hard time is helpful. Looking to, or expecting someone to just simply make it all better and to fix you is inane and unhealthy.

The only person who can “fix” you, is you. Plain and simple. IMG_25625496047143

This is something I have been guilty of in a big way. Even when I was teaching mindfulness and awareness to my Yoga students I had a hard time practicing what I was preaching. Checking my cell phone while they were in Savasana… I have almost worn it with pride for so many years that I can do many many things at once. Rarely giving it thought beyond a sense of accomplishment that I can , and do, keep all the balls juggled.

We are, as a culture and as a society, distracted. We are rarely doing just one thing. And the sad fact is that there’s no reason  for that. We don’t HAVE to. We CHOOSE to. When was the last time you waited in line at a store or for your coffee and didn’t check your phone or some other little task to keep you from doing nothing? We have gotten to the point of being so uncomfortable with silence, with nothing, that we find ways to fill every space in our lives, no matter how few the minutes or how much we desperately need that breather.

Lately, I’ve been trying something different at work along these lines. I start my day and make my list of things that need to get done or that need my attention. Then prioritize and create my task list for the day. Yes, I’m a wee bit of a control freak and lists make me happy ;). Anyways… Instead of the usual approach of trying to do everything on the list , concurrently, I put one thing to my centre of attention. that’s my focus and my central task. That’s it. One thing. And I see that task, with singular focus, from start to finish. And an amazing thing happens. One thing gets done quickly and completely and very well. Then I move on to the next thing and repeat the process.

Now granted, sometimes things pop up that require me to shelve item one and deal with the fire that just cropped up. that’s life. But that’s an exception now, not the norm.

There are days , more often than not actually, that my list isn’t all done at the end of the day , but you know what? I end the day with tasks fully and outstandingly complete. Complete. Instead of a task list mostly done but filled with notes to follow-up and needed things to wrap up because many things were done “mostly” complete and ok, good, but not great.

Adopting that to other aspects of my life… Watching a keynote speech and making a conscious decision to put my phone away in my backpack and not look at. to not check texts or emails. to be fully and completely singular in my attention and focus.

Setting intentions for experiences and trying to be true to them. My intention being kept mindfully in the forefront. Another way to single task.

Time is finite and valuable… I’m finding that being conscious of how I choose to spend my time is more and more important to me as I practice awareness of how I utilize the time I have.

Whether it’s for work or play, the moments I have are too precious to  not  give them the attention and the focus they deserve.

Back in the old home town for a work/ continuing ed conference this weekend. Travels through old neighbourhoods and sights. So many that have changed, but so many that haven’t.

Funny how the mind can swing between happy and sad within the space of seconds. Seeing the reminders of times long past and the feelings stirred up along with that. Buildings that are gone now replaced with shiny and new; bringing up feelings of wondering how, if the landscape can change so completely, how can the memories and the feelings be so UNchanged.

Driving to my son’s place to stay with him. The oddness of me, his Mother, going to be a guest at his home now. Roles all ajumble and askew. More feelings and memories to work through as I near and arrive at the place he lives now… the same neighbourhood we lived in when the boys were babies and little boys. Again. So many changes and so many feeling and memories still fresh and like yesterday.

The strangeness that settles inside of me as I realize that the disconnect I am feeling with same yet different is much because of the fact that I am changed. That as much as I view and feel myself the “same”, I’m not… to live is to grow and to change. The feelings and the memories are a call back to an older version of me. A version that was different, younger. The me that is here now is different and changed. Much like the landscape that I travel through. So much the same yet so much altered.

Sitting in the sauna today … I look down and I see the ink on my forearm. By ink, I mean my tattoo. I have a number of them but this one is my newest. It is simple script and it reads “and she flew”.

Words that resonate with me and that were inscribed on my flesh as a reminder. A reminder of the freedom that I have inside of me. A reminder that I am blessed to have experiences that brought that feeling to me.
A tattoo that was brought about from a writing of mine that embodied a transition sought … Just days after that writing I found that freedom, that flight of knowing ease and peace. However fleeting it was, the knowledge that it was there inside of me was a gift to discover.

Today, at a time of struggling with life again, looking down and seeing those three words brings it all back.
And that was why those words were inked there. Reminders are helpful sometimes.

and she flew

wind dances in her hair, lifting and playing with the jumbled strands
the breeze kisses her
tingles bring a shiver to her as she roots to the edge
eyes closed softly against the view
the horizon’s image burned into her mind
the setting sun blazes but no heat reaches her
the season has turned and taken the warmth with it
leaving a chill mated with the sun now as it lowers in the sky
steady and strong is her stance
she waits
she knows when its the right moment
she waits
the movements awakens far inside of her
long before any perceptible sign is visible
she draws her breath inward
slowly and deeply, fully into her
her wings unfurl, expand, reach
face uplifted, eyes opening as she gazes
exhale and an effortless lean forward
not so much the freedom of flight she seeks
as it is the release of the weight she leaves
as she soars

and she flew

I love how sometimes you say something (or hear something) and it smacks you upside the head just how it relates to something bigger in life.

Out hiking today with 2 of my kids and it was a loop trail that went around a lake. There was one vantage point that I was standing at with my youngest son and he was hesitant to go to close to the edge. It was a sharp edge to the “cliff” and you couldn’t get close without seeing how far down it was, or even how sheer the drop was. The angle of view was just not good and it looked dangerous. So he stayed back a bit even though he really wanted to see how far down it was.

We didn’t think much of it and kept on the trail and it looped back around the end of the lake to the other side. At this point my older son made a remark that the cliff face we were now looking at from across the lake was where we had been standing. Sure enough, there it was. It had some unique looking tress and it was easy to see that it was indeed where we had been.

My youngest looked over and said, almost with annoyance, that it wasn’t anywhere near as high or dangerous as he (we) had thought it might be. That the slope of the cliff was actually pretty safe looking from here and the angle from where we had been standing was misleading.

A simple message and one that I needed to hear today. That so many times, when we have a chance to look back, we realize that the situation we had been in wasn’t able to be seen accurately because of our vantage point. Sometimes we’re just too close to the edge to be able to see the way down isn’t as bad as we think it might be. We look back after and the perspective gives us a new angle to look at it. Hindsight really is different but that’s not so much what hit me today. It was more that sometimes, in the moment, I need to stop and think that maybe what I’m seeing and viewing is skewed by the angle and my immediate perspective… things aren’t always precisely how they appear.