A year of saying yes starts today.

It was 25 years ago today that my life changed forever (happy birthday today to my oldest!) and it’s as good a day as any for me to start another step on my path. Seems kind of fitting somehow actually.

A concept that was introduced to me by my partner and something that has taken hold in my musings.

To say yes instead of no or maybe. Not something as sweeping as saying yes to everything that comes my way; I’m wanting a shake up in how I live but I’m not completely off my rocker, thank you very much.

Essentially how I see it is simple. To make a conscious decision to not stay stuck in patterns of behaviour that have become unhealthy and limiting to myself. The only way to change is to change. It really is that simple.

It’s not saying yes to every option I am presented with or with every opportunity that comes my way. What my year of yes will be is taking the chances that I would normally knee jerk into a “no”. It’s not letting my fears or reservations make my decisions for me like I have been. It’s being conscious of choosing to nudge myself outside of the comfortable areas that I have come to hibernate so well within these past few years. It’s not automatically shutting down an opportunity that excites me because I’m nervous or uncertain. It’s feeling all that and deciding to do it anyways. It’s trying something when I’m not sure if I’ll succeed or not. It’s seeing risks and taking them.

It’s more than saying yes to invitations, it’s also saying yes to what I ask of myself. It’s not limiting myself and my growth anymore due to fears or insecurities. It’s believing in myself again and my potential and letting myself rise to the bar that has no set height except for where I set it…. and I’m tired of keeping it set as low as I have. It’s telling myself to shut up when I say I can’t or shouldn’t. It’s saying yes, you can and you should, and you will.
Is it scary? Yes. Look, I said it… that wasn’t too bad 🙂

I need

to say yes, instead of no, or another time, or maybe

to play, with laughter and giddiness and passion

to dance, to sway and bump and grind or stomp. dance.

to hurt. to feel the rawness and scream into it and dare it to try to hurt me even more.

to conquer and feel my own power.

to fly and soar and feel the freedom that I have.

to cry. and scream and rage and claw my way out.

to laugh. until it hurts. until my sides burn with stitches from it all and until I have tears in my eyes

to run. as fast and as hard as I can. without holding myself back or pacing myself

to feel. all of it. everything. even the feelings that I can’t name.

to not be afraid

to be afraid and do it all anyways

to love and not give a fuck if I’m risking being hurt

to reach and connect and touch people. because it terrifies me.

to remember my love for that. to feel that again.

to allow myself to be touched and seen. because it terrifies me.

to bleed. literally and figuratively. to feel that essence.

to consume

to be consumed

to know myself

to not hide from myself

to allow my shell to be pierced. to be exposed.

to love

to say yes to all of this.

to own all of this

to share and not give a fuck who thinks what

 

most of all

I need to admit that I need.

I recently went to a step aerobics class after not having done one in almost two years. To say that I am sore would be a gross misuse of that word. While I had a great time and will definitely be starting that up again, I can’t pretend that my mind and body were far from united in their bliss during the class.

Now, I love a good top ten list, and my head works in lists and they make me happy.

Cases in point to reflect on:

Mudd Sweat and Tears aka WTF made me think this was going to be fun?!

By the Seat of My Pants aka Lesson from Lucy

Nope, not going to run aka the messed up mind of a runner

So, to round out the experience (and to help me stick on the “yes it WAS a fun time and I WILL go back train of thought….) a top ten list of my mental entertainment during the ordeal:

  1. Stretching is like the dessert of exercise classes so why are we not doing it more and for longer??? Yes I love cardio and strength training but let me be perfectly honest when I say I am blissed out when it is time to lay my sweaty self on the mat and not move. At. All. Ahhhhhh
  2. As much as things change, they stay the same. I have been teaching fitness classes since, literally (and yes I am using that word correctly), Step Aerobics was invented so I know what I’m talking about. There is comfort is familiarity. My L step is your L step. Happy.
  3. I still don’t follow well. I try, I really do but I have taught for so long and been the leader for so long that it’s just too hard to break that. I mix up left and right and have a tendency to let my mind wander and when it comes back, I am not where everyone else is (physically sometimes – ooops, Zumba is hell with the non-verbal cueing for me). I am polite enough to stand in the back because I know my failings here. I promise I won’t crash into anyone, that’s the best I can offer.
  4. Loud music with a beat makes me move. No matter how bad of a mood I’m in or how tired I thought I was. The louder the better. If you dare to complain that the music is too loud in the class, expect me to comment that earplugs are a great option. Do not mess with the one place I don’t have to worry about noise complaints from my neighbours. I will growl at you and your sensitive ears.
  5. Along those lines… you can take any song, no matter how retro or how current, adda  32 count beat and voila, they all sound oddly the same. Comforting yet disconcerting all at the same time.
  6. I still sweat 40 seconds into a class. I do not, and never will, be one of those people who “glows with perspiration”. Nope, I sweat. A lot. Like a lot a lot. And I love it. A lot.
  7. I still smile and encourage the people who will never hear the beat. You are doing it and loving it and I applaud that. Now go in the corner where you aren’t a distraction, thank you.
  8. My germ phobia issues are no better in a group setting than in the quiet weight room. Nope… oh goodness how many hands have been on these weights?!
  9. Gliders are the demon spawn of frisbees and as such, should be thrown hard and far. If you don’t know the wonders of these little tidbits of hell, youtube it. You’re welcome.
  10. Why are we still doing exercises like reverse crunches?! Didn’t we, in our secret fitness guru meetings way back in the 2000’s decide to outlaw these exercises that no one does correctly anyways!!! Sigh, that’s ok, I am more than happy to boycott them and enjoy an extra 5 minutes of stretching/napping on my mat while everyone else jerks their hips up in what appears to be intestinal seizures. Just please be quiet , I’m napping.

An early morning reading of a blog that I follow has had me on a train of thought today. Granted, it’s a train that’s been picking up speed since I decided to move recently. A new place which is actually an old place to be exact. I am moving back into a building I left just over a year ago. A building that I loved, and that I hated leaving at the time but I had to , due to circumstances. Now I ‘ll be moving back into the building, into a suite above my old suite, a little bigger and with more windows and better light  – a good move! A move that has me excited for a place that feels good.

So my blog perusing this morning got me thinking more deeply on something that I’ve been rattling around in my head for some time now. Roots, grounding, personality in environment…home. What does it all mean to me and what do I want and need?

We’ve all been in homes that are, very simply, an extension of the people who live there. Homes that you walk into and think “yeah, this is his/her/their place!”. That feeling is what I have always wanted – and never seemed to be able to find. I’ve been in homes of people who are partners yet radically different from each other in likes and tastes and styles and their home is what they are – a mix and combination of them, beautifully, and often oddly, intertwined. I walk into my partner’s apartment and it is “her”. Items on the wall, things strewn here and there, pictures and books and all the little things that reflect her in her surroundings. I spend time at my colleagues house and from the moment you enter, it’s “him”. The leather chairs, the bookshelves, the dining room table…it all feels and is his energy.

So I look around my place now again with eyes and a soul that doesn’t see “me” in where I make my home. Cold to me and impersonal. I don’t feel “me” here. It’s a space that I don’t feel good in – and it’s not the physical suite itself even.The very few items that make me smile and that I love in my space are rare. The eclectic wine glasses that strike a chord with me, the bright, mismatched tiles that I bought because I fell in love with them but have no purpose in mind yet, the fruit bowl that sticks out like a sore thumb because of it’s bright colours that match nothing else in my kitchen, the unfinished and ugly trunk that serves as my coffee table..all items that have snuck into my life the last few years that have that “feel” of me and home for me. The vast majority of what I call home, devoid of “me”.

I can’t fix the inside by changing the outside, again (thank you, my L for that reminder). Moving to a new place because this one doesn’t feel like home won’t ever fix the problem. I need to work on filling the space I am in with my energy and what I love and what makes me smile. That way, wherever I am, it’s home. So it’s time to shop and find and fill my home with things that bring a smile to my lips and that make me feel good when I am there and surrounded by them. Stupid bead curtains and all!

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We spend a lot of time and energy and money on our bodies. In one way or another we “feed” our bodies so much.

Resources allocated to make it slimmer, bigger, stronger, faster, more flexible…better. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s all important. Our bodies are, after all, the vessels that we live our lives in and through. Having a healthy and capable body means we can do more, and enjoy doing what we do with less pains and aches and, hopefully, for as many years as we can squeeze out of this matter that makes up what carries us around. But, there’s always a “but”, if we look at that phrase that our bodies are just vessels, then that leaves the issue of what’s inside the vessel? Isn’t that what’s being protected and encased and isn’t what’s IN the vessel, very simply, MORE than what’s carrying it? Shouldn’t we be putting just as much, maybe even more resources to nourishing that?

I got to thinking about this personally lately as I’ve been musing decisions to make and paths to follow coming up. The truth struck me that some of the choices I keep putting off relate directly to the care and feeding of Me. Not my body, but Me. The Me that resides inside the vessel. Paths and actions that will nourish and grow and embrace the journey of Me are being sat on the shelf and given a pat on the proverbial head and told to be patient… while I put my resources to the gym, running, biking, trying to eat healthier, moisturizing…sigh. What gets done for the inside?

I thoroughly enjoy all of these things – or I wouldn’t do them. I love running and biking in the early morning. It does make me feel good on the inside as well as physically. But where is my Yoga practice that I had for years? The practice that filled my being with a feeling of unity between the inner and the outer… a practice that brought me a sense of being connected and a sense of knowing, deeply knowing, Me. It’s sitting on that shelf.
Sitting there along with time for reading books that make my mind tingle with new information and points of view… books that challenge and inspire and make me cry and laugh and look at the clock and see that I’ve lost 3 hours and my tea has gone cold. Reading for pleasure and for the pleasure of learning. Something else for Me that’s been sat back there.
My lust for travel, for exploring and seeing and experiencing. A drive to feed the hunger that sits and yearns to drink in someplace else…filling Me with sights and sounds and feels that expand who I am and what makes Me, Me.

Beyond goals and dreams, deeper than that. The fundamental neglect of cultivating growth. A sometimes, but not always, subtle ignoring of what is needed to tend to Me. Needs that just simply aren’t valued. That’s the base of it all.

It’s easier to take care of what we see and what can have “success” more easily measured. What we fail to recognize though is that eventually, the neglect and ignorance of feeding the spirit will become just as visible. What’s inside of this vessel will either shine brighter or grow dimmer as the years meander along. Which of those happens is up to how it’s tended to.

As I contemplate where to put my resources of time, energy and money this coming year, it’s clear to me now the changes that need to be made.
a soft blow on the embers and a smile to see a flame

Day one, blank page

It’s a start of a new year and with that comes all of the resolutions and goal making. I’ve always hated resolutions. There’s nothing quite like making the same ones year after to year to make you feel great about yourself and your accomplishments, is there?

Yet, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for the build up and the sense of renewal and the chance for a fresh start and the inspiration that comes along with it all. Add to that the fact that I am an unapologetic lover of lists and charts and spreadsheets… I have the perfect storm for New Years goal setting…sigh. So, in the interest of feeding that need *and* feeling like I’m not just sitting down to make another list of things that I’m “absolutelygoingtodobutwillonlykeepupforatbesttwoweeks”; here is my anti-list of resolutions.

Things that I won’t do in 2015

I will stop reinforcing beliefs of myself that are wrong. plain and simple. using the words that give more power to internal beliefs that need to stop, needs to stop. “I can’t” are two words that carry a lot of weight and I have let them creep into my internal vocabulary far too often.
I will stop putting my desires on the back burner. the years tick by and with every one that does, the time left to achieve what I want to grows shorter. It’s time to remember to put what I want to do back on my priority list.
I will stop forgetting that I am the crafter of my life. I very often tend to let it slip that every choice I make is a choice. If I am tired of something or fed up, I need to remember that I’m the one I take my problems to. And I’m the one to solve them.
I will stop accepting “good enough”. I deserve outstanding and amazing and wonderful in ALL aspects of my life. I only have this one (so far as I know), it’s time to stop accepting less than spectacular.
I will stop doing things that make me feel less than I know I am. I am my own worst saboteur. Time to stop that.

I have a list of the usual things that I want to achieve, and those are important as well, but not as much as these are to me.

Interestingly enough, NOT doing just a few things, will make my ability to DO the things I want to, that much more achievable. Trying to tick off the resolution list of things that I want to achieve won’t be possible if I keep doing these behaviours. Plain and simple. Somethings have to be not done to clear space to get other things done.

Blank page not so blank. Intentions set and feet are on the ground running.

Change is a funny thing. Not funny “ha ha” but funny odd.

There are a couple of ways to look at it.

Sometimes, we are faced with change that’s outside of our control. We have to change but we don’t want to. This is a tough one and the one that we tend to feel the most.
This is the external push that sends us reeling, or fumbling most likely, in a new altered direction from the one we had been travelling.
A simple thing like a flat tire can be enough to alter a days plans or something as massive as a burnt out home can force an entire life shift. Losing a loved one, a job or finding out an unexpected baby is on the way – all can fundamentally change your life. And not of your choosing.
We have to react, there’s no choice. We have to learn to accept because there isn’t any other option but to do so.
We have choice still with HOW we react and whether that acceptance comes fast or slow or easy or hard…but the simple fact is, we have no choice in what has happened to bring us to change.

Then there’s another change. A change that is possible when we don’t HAVE TO, but we WANT to. This one is where so many sit for so long… and never do anything. Because nothing forces our hand. We may want to change jobs or careers, we may want to end a relationship or add a new one into our lives. Yet we don’t. We dawdle and we hum and haw and keep going… every now and then fired up to change but we never really enact that change that we WANT.
This is almost a worse feeling that being forced to change. This type of change may be hard and it may very well shake things up just as much as a forced change but when it’s a personal action that needs to set the ball rolling… that’s where it catches and stops; before it even gets started usually.
It’s always easier to stay where you are and in what you have rather than making the change. No matter how much you want and how much you desire “different”, it’s hard.

Sometimes we set the ball rolling in a passive way, hoping that then “something” will take over and make us change. We’ve all seen it… maybe even done it. We start behaviours in a relationship that we know, deep down, that will trigger the other person to end it…and voila! Now you HAVE TO move on…and it’s no longer a choice. Take away the choice and you take away the personal responsibility for the decision…and that’s where we get strung up.
What if we make the wrong choice? What if we pursue that dream and it falls through? Or we realize that it wasn’t what it was all cracked up to be in our heads? Hmm, then what? Then we have to be responsible for where we are… so much easier is we can say it wasn’t our fault, isn’t it?
If all we’re doing is reacting then we’re always a step removed from being the person who is responsible for where you are. It’s always nice to be able to not have the finger pointing back at yourself when deciding who is making you unhappy or malcontent.

I hear it all the time, we all do. People who talk about wanting to change, to have a different direction, to BE different…and they follow it up with so many reasons – quite simply, excuses – about why they *can’t*.

So they sit and wait for life to throw something at them that they can’t ignore and that they must react to. And if it doesn’t come, they sit. Stagnant and not where they want to be…but not doing anything to change it.

Sad. So much more sadness in that than there is in anything that can happen to us.

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.

Why do we challenge ourselves? Why do we set goals and specific things that we hope to achieve? What is the difference between hoping to, and actually realizing that end?

Speaking for myself, this past year has been one that I have taken on a number of personally set challenges… and achieved a fair number of them…so it’s something that has been on my mind as my year wraps up.

I had someone ask me recently why I had done something. We were talking about events of the past year and I mentioned that I had just completed a race on November first. It was an outdoor, mud-based obstacle race. I had commented on how crazy I thought I was at one point when I realized that I couldn’t feel my hands from the cold and still had to use them. I was running. literally, with my hands tucked in my under arms trying to get them some feeling back. She looked at me like I was indeed crazy and asked simply “Why in the world would you do something like that?” My answer, after a second or two to ask myself that, was just as simple. To see if I could follow through.

For myself, it comes down to one thing really. Seeing if I can go from conceptualizing a goal, setting it as a goal, actually doing it and seeing that to fruition. It’s not even so much about how hard I can push myself or whether I can achieve something physically. The physical act of reaching my challenge is merely how I achieve a much bigger goal. One of knowing that I can do what I set my mind to. It’s not about the specifics, it’s about the bigger picture.

When I signed up for a 10km run that was in June, I knew that physically, it wasn’t that far of a reach. I was regularly running 5 – 7km a few times a week and had run a 10km distance a few times in the previous months so it wasn’t so much the physical. It was, somewhat unconsciously, a decision to commit to something and see if I could follow through. Even up to the day before, I was fully considering not going. I can’t stand crowds, I am not a fan of running with hordes of people in my way, the pre-run “warm up” that I never do… the list goes on of why I don’t do organized races. But I needed something to set and achieve. And I did it. In a great time; surprising myself and giving me a feeling of accomplishment more than a simple 10km race should have in my mind.

The next thing beyond that was the first of two of those aforementioned mud based obstacle races. A recap of that is here.
Coming out of that event and knowing just how hard it was physically was a huge sense of accomplishment for me. More than that though was the happiness that I felt not because of what I had achieved with the endurance or the strength but it was the mere fact that I showed up and did something that I committed to. It was something that scared me and I conquered it. Having to drive up island; knowing that I had signed up,solo, for a race that predominantly is run with people in teams; going into an experience not knowing details. I’m a control freak and hate the unknown. That race was a case of just show up and do what you have to as they don’t divulge course details other than the start location. So much more to that than just “can I do it”. Far more emotional than physical.

That alone, for me, is what this is all about. Being able to reflect and see a tangible result of my following through is more needed than any run or race to be honest.

Why do I do it? So that I can have a physical manifestation of personal achievement. That’s what is sorely needed.

Setting and achieving a physical challenge gives me proof – necessary proof – that I can do what I need to. Translate that to emotional and mental health. Can I feel joy and happiness and achieve the long game of living my potential? These little physical challenges show me “yes” and belief in that… hope… faith in my Self… that’s what it’s about. That’s why I do it.

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.