So here’s the thing that is a basic fact. For something to be strong, it needs a solid, well constructed and well laid foundation. Whether it’s something physical, like a house, or something less tangible, such as a way of life or company. It all starts with the foundation. If the base is strong and secure then it will support whatever is piled on top of it.

About 6 or 7 years ago I hit a point in my life that I took a long hard look at my structural integrity and at what I had chosen to lay as my foundation and I realized that there were some serious issues going on that needed attending to. Nothing that was going to cause things to crumble but just that it wasn’t quite “right”. So I started to do what is needed.

Let’s use the analogy of a house, for ease of the written word meandering and the mind’s eye conjuring.

When you look and see cracks in the foundation or notice that it was built faulty, you fix it. Maybe the original plan for the structure of the house was good but over the years, the purpose of the house took a different angle than what it was originally built for… and the foundation isn’t quite right for what it’s meant to support. Maybe an extra load was built on top and now the foundation needs to be reinforced to bear the force that it’s being asked to carry. Maybe there have been some nasty storms and damage and the base has been hit hard by some quakes and it needs some rebuilding. All very much fixable and what you would do when you notice it needs doing. Simple.

So I did that. I saw the changes needed and I started. Chipping away here and there to work away the rot and angles that just weren’t right. Paying close attention to the areas that needed shoring up and some extra ground work done to make the base capable and substantial.Along the way, with every strength built I saw the stability and the confidence of the structure of me grow. It went that way for a couple of years. There were some storms in there that hit hard and knocked me back a bit, but the foundation was setting as it was laid. A work in progress, yes, but very much progressing.

Then something happened that not only halted the work, it pretty much blew the whole damn thing apart. Torn apart, the structure was gone in a split second. A blast of loss that hit hard enough to shatter the base as well. Never mind cracks,most of the foundation was just simply not there anymore.

Quite simply, the roots of me that had been struggling to find their grasp and dig in were gone. Feels like they are still gone. My confidence in my Self, my abilities, my capabilities, it’s broken. My belief in Me – fundamentally fractured. Damaged.

There was a time when I may have had the odd bout of issues with self confidence or doubting myself but on a base level – I knew my power. My strength. My will. I never had any doubt that I would be ok at the end of the day. I knew, without a doubt that I was solid and unmovable. I knew Me, who I was and what I was capable of – and it was something to be reckoned with.

Loss, and grief, took that. Still has it actually.

There was a time that I knew my skills and my abilities – knew them and felt how good I was at them. There was a time that I may have had nerves going on but they were never because I didn’t think I knew my stuff or that I had the right to be giving the presentation or facing the room. I knew the truth of my capabilities.

There was a time that I didn’t doubt whether my lover would find pleasure under my hands or with our time spent intimately together. Times that I didn’t doubt if I was worth someone’s time.

There was a time that I didn’t doubt whether I could pick up a new skill or technique. I knew I could. I knew that all I needed was to be shown and to learn and that I would get it. Without a doubt.

Now, after that blast three and a half years ago, still rebuilding, I do doubt. Deeply and profoundly. Deep enough to feel shaken and to question the very base structure of my Self. Every little bit of groundwork laid so tenuous and loosely balanced it feels like it can be blown off with a whisper – and it is, often and repeatedly. Only to be picked up again and laid back in place, trying to make it stick. Trying to rebuild.

grief doesn’t merely sit
it resides
it burrows
nests
settles in
envelopes

heavy
weighted
ever-present
suffocating my
lightness of being
that it has replaced

once a raw
shocking stranger
now
reluctantly
an accepted
companion

always present
constant
a part of
yet no longer
all of
my being

There comes a time in life when you look around and take stock and have to be honest with what and where you are.

Birthdays are that for me. Having just had one, it’s was a time to reflect and analyse.

I’ve had a life that was, at times, nasty and rough and hell to wake up to. This same life has had moments that took my breath away, times that I simply could not have been any happier without bursting was how I felt. Lots of times of just middle of the road “ok” as well. We all have. I know what it’s like to be miserable and unhappy in the truest meaning of those words. I count my blessings that my life is pretty good now. I have a lot to be thankful for – and I am.

So what’s worse than “bad”? It’s becoming complacent with less than what you really want. Becoming accepting and tolerant of the unacceptable.

So I asked myself what’s so unacceptable in my life? Settling. Not going hard for what I want. What I desire. Having dreams and goals and not making them happen.

I’m tired of listening to my Self desire and to seeing my Self no further towards the realization of that.

It’s easier to look around and say “it’s pretty good”. My son said to me the other day that he wonders who he thinks he is to feel that he should have it better than other people… That made me reply swiftly that not just him, but everyone, deserves – seriously deserves – the best and to have dreams and goals come to fruition. Then I had to sit back and wonder why I wasn’t necessarily living that sentiment myself.

I have been, for a couple of years now, allowing myself to start to grieve the death of my dreams as I get older. Shelving some aspirations as unrealistic or unachievable. Telling myself to stop dreaming and smarten up and just enjoy what I have and not desire anything else. There’s always something that comes up and demands energy and focus… and I allow that “something” to be not Me. I allow that “something” to take that focus and energy in entirety…leaving nothing for me to draw from to make happen what I want to happen.

I get slightly infuriated with myself when I take time to look at where I am with regards to achievements. Knowing that I am the only reason why I haven’t progressed further. Time to change that.

I look at travel options and lifestyle choices and I ponder and I think “one day” or “maybe” to things that I want, things that speak to me living my truths. Then I face the “why not?” … and the only answer is for me to get off my ass and make it all happen. No more waiting, no more “one day”. We all have a finite number of days and we don’t usually know what that magic number of them is, so….

Good enough isn’t good enough anymore. A nice life is nice…but I want one that sweeps me off my feet and leaves me breathless and grinning and saying “again!”. It’s my life, time to craft it, nurture it and make it that way.

That feeling, that vague something that you just can’t put your finger on the pulse of. That sense that something just has to give…
At times, like running blind and deaf, careening about as I scramble for a hand-hold in the darkness. It’s my Self, treading water, knowing that I can’t keep afloat indefinitely.

The spark that has caught and flickered is there. A part of Me is quietly sitting and blowing on the ember… bringing to life the flame… that part of Me that is waiting, less and less patiently, for me to acknowledge what I already know but can’t quite grasp.

Almost cyclical in occurrence. A knowing that I’m not realizing what I need to. What I should be.The frustration building. Small and not-quite-enough changes made here and there. the venting of the pressure to release before critical and allow the day to day to go on.

All the while the fire burns steady; stoking the ever rising force that screams for change, for transformation, for authenticity and abundance.

The sense of anticipation, of seeking and searching. Not for an answer… I know I’m the one holding the light to see the path… Waiting for what? To have myself lift the light a little higher, to see a little clearer… to realize what I already know. I have the answer, I just need to know it.

There have been brief times of clarity. Times when my spirit sits content and I feel … found… by my Self. Times that have been a struggle to hold to after they pass. A mourning for those times overcomes me as “real life” slams back in. Only reinforcing that it’s those glimpses of authenticity that are “real life” … they aren’t an escape or a distraction, they are how it should be… known because of how my Self soars at those times.

The unease with how things are is growing and I can feel the urgency there as the knowledge that change is afoot gets stronger.

Time to retreat, look inside, chart a course, light the path brightly and buckle up for the ride. I’m a hell of a good navigator and an even better driver ;).

The past…the experiences that we have had…things that have happened to us and actions that we have done… all are a part of who we are and what makes us the people we are.

I firmly believe that life should be lived like how you drive a car; eyes ahead at where you’re going with glances back every now and then and keeping a lookout for what’s edging up beside you too ;). You can’t go forward very well if all you’re doing is looking at where you came from. I am not defined by what I see of my life in my rear view mirror. Yet I am influenced by what’s back there.

Everything that I have come through – the good, the bad, the horrible and the amazing – it all has helped shape who I am today. The moments that felt impossible to live through have helped me to better be present in the moments that bring a smile to my Self.

Today marks the day, 24 years ago, that I lived through an experience that brought me to a moment that I thought would be the last one I would ever have. Attacked while walking to work and sexually assaulted at knifepoint. Thinking in my mind that I was so incredulous that this was how my end would be. Coming out of that event in shock that I made it. I went back home right after (it was less than a block from home), calmly took a shower, changed and , after assuring my husband that I was ok and just wanted to not think about, went to work. Repression and avoidance – you bet. That’s how I dealt with things. I did report it that night and followed through with legal necessities such as they were.

For many of the first few years after, I was barely able to get through the date. The rest of the year I would be oblivious to it but I would start to get anxious weeks before. Nightmares, panic attacks…the fears gripped me horribly as the date would come around. Then something happened. I decided that it wasn’t going to affect me anymore; and I pushed it down and told myself that it had no impact on me. And I did a really good job of that for a number of years.

Then two and a half years ago, a death in my life blew that ability to ignore all apart. I did my best even with that. My “best” being trying to push even that down and just move forward. That only lasted a few months before it all fell apart and I had a breakdown… a breakdown that I have spent almost two years trying to come back from. I had spent my life perfecting the art of being “fine” and “strong” and crafting the ability to take anything that came my way and keep going. The truth is though that, when you take emotions and lock them away, eventually, the dam breaks and it all has to be dealt with.

So I’ve worked at facing what I have tried to not feel for so long. Not just the assault but so many things in my life. The truth I have come to see is that for me, my strength comes not from being able to suppress and power through… my strength comes from being able to acknowledge and feel, fully feel, the pain and the hurt and the fears, and still keep going. With it all there, not driven away. To live with it, because there isn’t another option. Feeling the pain, the hurt, the loss, the fears… Feeling joy, abandon, bliss, serenity… Letting go of labelling bad or good… Feeling means I’m alive, and after living with the apathy of depression, I’ll take a rollercoaster of emotions over feeling nothing at all, thank you very much. Yes, life hurts sometimes – but it also has moments of feeling more happiness than you think you can ever experience. You can’t have one side of the coin without the other.

So today, instead of pretending it’s just another day and that it has no significance…I acknowledge it for what it is; a day that has helped bring me to where, and who, I am now. And that person is strong – strong enough to admit that sometimes I’m not. And that’s what gives me the strength to go on and be ok.

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.

I had a quote pop into my head today from long ago: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” (Marianne Williamson) Have you ever wondered what and who you could be?

It’s scary to admit, even to yourself, that you’re more afraid of succeeding than you are of failing. Some people are so mired in who they are as the smaller version of themselves that they have become too comfortable there. Truly, the only thing in the way is what you’ve put there. What if all that energy and focus that now sits on the negative was instead directed and fueling the positive? Now that would be something…

We are so much more than we let our Selves be. Let’s lift the caution tape and take the blinders off and put the fear to bed and just live who and what we are. Realize the potential and say f*&# you to the little voices inside that say we probably will fail so why bother trying.

I see those around me struggling. I have clients and friends and loves who start and stop over and over with goals and dreams. Not just physical but life goals. Wanting to travel, wanting to go back to school, needing changes… and when push comes to shove and I ask them why not, what’s holding them back, what answer is there? There are excuses, there are shrugs and “I don’t know” or “I know, I need to change” or “I know, I should do that”, and then? Nothing. Followed by, a few days or weeks or months later, the same energy put into complaining or revisiting what they don’t have in their lives that they want. People who really are only limited by them Selves.

I referenced a little secret desire I have to be Lara Croft in my blog post yesterday and that’s what has been on my mind…For those who don’t know, Ms. Croft is the kick ass awesome independant sexy strong heroine of both the video game of the same name and the Tomb Raider movies. Suffice to say that my reaction the first time I saw her was “I want to BE her!” Ok, ok, also, that’s she’s hot, but that’s another post…

What was it that struck that chord in me? Her strength, her independence, her rawness in being who she is and living how she wants. Her physicality and skill. More than anything though, her strength. Even typing that, I see that I do embody a lot of those qualities. Which brought me to my musing of…what can I achieve if I really put my mind to it.

Just think…how amazing, truly amazing, can you be if you got out of your own way and let your Self actualize what’s already inside? That’s what’s been bouncing around in my head lately. What can I achieve if I really put the focus into eating well and regularly, exercising hard but balanced. Caring for my body and my mental health the best that I can. Where can I go in 29 days? Just how much can I do? That’s the question. The answer is limitless.

November is my birth month and I’m not usually a big celebrator of my birthday but this year I’m feeling a different spin on it.

I’ve been going through a bit of a shake up recently and the past year has been one of tremendous awareness and self exploration and growth. Discovering – and rediscovering – my Self and what makes me tick has been a roller coaster this year…and it’s just the beginning 😉

So I was musing over the past couple of months in particular and seeing that the stressors of life since the beginning of September have taken their toll. The basics of eating and sleeping and self-care have fallen by the wayside as they have a tendency to do with me. Bad habits that I thought I had set to rest have reared up again, a couple of them with a vengeance that’s frustrating. The worst part is that I’m no longer ignorant of the changes that I want and need to make. I no longer am able to ignore the lacking that sits inside of me when I slip up. But that awareness is also the best part; because it gives me clarity.

Clarity to ask myself what can I do? What do I need to do? I have struck upon an answer…and if you read my last entry you’d know that the awesome thing is that the answer was already there, waiting for me 🙂

I’m giving myself a birthday present this year. I’m going to celebrate Me. My Self gets a gift. The gift of freedom.
The gift of feeling not just good, but amazing. To eat healthy and wholesome so that my body feels nourished and cared for and valued by the Self that lives in it.
The gift of feeling strong physically. To know sweat and pain and the joy it brings me again…often and as much as I can. To know the serenity that comes from well worked muscles as they relax and soften after exertion. To feel the peace and the strength that flows through my Yoga practice again. Energizing and restoring me in a way nothing else can.
The gift of being challenged and to know the joy of achievement. To also give the gift of acceptance of knowing when my best is enough.
The gift of feeling nurtured. To experience a mind and a body and a spirit that is treasured and cherished.
The gift of expression and non-judgement. To follow where my Self meanders and explores and wanders. New paths and experiences are boundless and I give my Self permission to indulge and experience. Without judgement. With a knowledge that fear can’t and won’t hold me back.
With love, from Me to My Self.

A month to not just have a birthday but to have a celebration of the knowledge that I can, and do, chose to actively create and live my life. A life that embodies and embraces what fulfills me and expresses my Self. I put to rest those things that hold me back and move forward with those things that fan the flames of my fires.

Living Openly, Living Abundantly.

I came across a term today that struck me and inspired me to put to words something that has been on my mind for the last year or so.
“The asking animal”, a term used to describe the human animal. What it is that makes us different from the other animals that we share nature with. Got me thinking though… are we all “asking”, or as I phrase it, seeking?

There are those of us who are seekers. Those who hunger and thirst for the “why” and for so much more that the status quo in life. Those who aren’t content with just accepting. Those who see where they are, not as the destination, but as just part of the journey. Not to say that this is the same as being always looking for the next best thing or the greener grass just on the other side of the fence. I’m talking about seeking and journeying towards more intangible gains. The striving to understand, to grow and become “more”. To desire to expand and experience rather than to be complacent. The wanting to be a better Self, a more aware Self, a more realized and actualized Self.

There are those who simply exist and bumble along in their lives. Like someone who simply drifts in the canoe down the river while the oars rest in the bottom of the boat. Maybe enjoying the ride and even looking around and appreciating the view. Happy with the direction of travel but not in control of where they go or how they get there even. They never wonder if there is a different stream to travel; one that might offer an alternate environment. They never think to take time to rest in a nook, to get out of the current for a bit. They never pick up the oars. They never even think to, never mind act on the thought. They never think of the even more radical idea of getting out of the boat altogether and striking out on foot for the mountain in the distance. The live aimlessly and complacently with whatever comes their way.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the option of simply drifting isn’t for me. Seeking and growing is who I am and how I live my life. It goes beyond just acknowledging that I am in control of my reactions to what comes my way. It’s an awareness that , in most ways, I can orchestrate how my life is lived and experienced. I may not always have control over what comes my way, but the reality is that I, we, have more input than we think we do.

To seek, to yearn and be in a constant state of growth. This is who I am. Life took a bit of a veer off for me in my twenties as I stumbled through a bad marriage and trying to live as I “should” but about 15 years ago, I made a choice to change the way I was living. I embraced who and how I am. Embraced that the striving and constant yearning to seek is me…and that it’s how I need the people who I keep close to me to be as well.

This past couple of years, living with grief and pain and finally seeing that I am the builder of my life, again. Putting it back together again after it had been torn apart by loss. Part of that entailed rediscovering that my Self craves holding the rudder and oars of my vessel. That it’s who I am. That I am happiest when the people I hold dear to me not only accept but share this embodiment of living. Choosing to cultivate relationships with the people in my life as purposely as I need to craft the rest of my environment for my Self to live. Making choices in drawing closer to those who grow and feed my spirit through friendship, chosen family and loves. Persons who support me and nurture me and accept me, as I do for them. The joy of being with those who lift me up and who I delight in seeing thrive in their travels through life. Hard choices also being made to release from my life those who merely drift and whose path encumbers mine in an unhealthy and suffocating manner. Understanding that for some, the oars will never be used and it’s time to wish them well and watch them drift away.

It means being happy and content with what and where I am but knowing that to stagnate here and to stop yearning and growing and opening my mind and my heart is to die.