Saturday, 7 January 2017

2017 - My year as "ChangeMaker"

Well here we are.  The first week of 2017 has passed and we are all trying to get our bearings on what this means for us.  Some are looking at what that might mean politically, while others are hard at work implementing their plans and promises to see their resolutions through, despite the statistical odds to the contrary, and then there are some simply hoping to correctly write the year in the 'date' field sooner than they got that mastered last year.

This time of year for me always means reflection and contemplation.  2016 was my year of 'Quiet'.  I chose that word after my 2015 year of 'Grace' kicked the shit out of me and tested all that I knew about what "Grace" could possibly mean.  You can read about that here.

My year of Quiet was meant to be about introspection and self evaluation.  It was to be about figuring out how I truly feel about myself, and my place in this world.  WTF does all that really mean?  How can I, in my awkward free spirited uniqueness, fit in to this world AND feel comfortable in my own skin.  It was meant to encourage me to silence the noise and intuitively listen to the whispers from the universe... before they turned into screams...  It was about choosing to NOT drink from the fire hose of information I was bombarded with every day.  It was to be about listening, meditating, planning, and just figuring shit out.

My score card...?

Well, the things that made 2015 difficult, spilled into 2016.  Our Provinces economic downturn saw our income significantly drop and we had to face some really hard decisions.  Some we had a say in, and some we did not.  We downsized, simplified and decreased our living expenses.  That meant saying goodbye to our cherished home that we felt we would live in forever.  It meant fewer extracurricular activities for our children, it meant no restaurants, no concerts, no trips, and no family trips to the movies.

With regards to "Quiet"?  well...  Quiet meant pulling the covers over my head once in a while and blocking out the world.  Quiet meant ignoring the rings on the telephone knowing it was not a pleasant party on the other end.  Quiet meant an ongoing and constant battle of shame versus spirit. Quiet meant putting on a smile and a brave face whenever I was with someone other than my husband and a few of my dearest friends. Quiet meant getting really fucking real with the concept of "If I do not have all these things, all these comforts, all these possessions that make one "worthy" in today's world...  WHO AM I?  Do I like me?  but most importantly... am I OK with the person that is left standing there when there is nothing else shielding her from the prying and judging eyes of the world."

Quiet was my solitude.
Quiet was my best friend.
Quiet was my lifeline...

Quiet was putting on my big girl panties and pulling myself out of the swirling vortex of darkness that threatened to swallow me whole.  Quiet was leaning on my ever optimistic, always positive, and unbelievably supportive husband, grasping hands, and facing the shit storm while standing tall.  Quiet was crying with my kids as we held each other up to get through the disappointment of "no more chances", "no more options" and "not gonna helps".

Quiet was power.
Quiet was strength.
Quiet was courage.

2016 was the year of endings, but it was also our year of new beginnings.  Yes, it was a year of loss, but it was also a year of SO many gains.

  • My year of Quiet sees me with NO unread messages in my inbox accomplished only by the days of massively unsubscribing from all the crap that I never read anyway.
  • My year of quiet sees me 6 months free of cable TV.  I now only watch what I mean to watch...  and there is NO TV news.
  • My year of Quiet meant more yoga, more mediation, and less mental chaos. (I said less, not zero! ;) This will continue to be a work in progress.)
  • My year of Quiet sees me with a growing base of solid friendships comprised of real people who truly see me and my heart.
  • My year of Quiet has directed me to a group of amazing mentors that inspire me in my life and in my business.
  • My year of Quiet sees me more focused, more driven, more confident, more determined, and less concerned with what others think.
  • My year of Quiet sees me in a home with a walkout basement studio and an amazing view of the little pond behind my house.  There are SO many birds ... truth tellers ... whispering.
  • My year of Quiet has allowed me to bury my head, lick my wounds and tend to important family and life business...  But it also quietly fanned the smoldering embers within my spirit...

Goodbye 2016.  Even though you presented some very hard times, know that I am keenly aware of the beauty you possessed.  I am completely cognizant that beautiful things that ALWAYS follow periods of darkness...  I have the beauty in my sights..  You were a catalyst, you were lesson filled, and I am grateful...

My year of Quiet has revealed a path.

I move on to 2017.  My year of being a ChangeMaker.

I have learned to not predict too much what the year has in store for me by simply declaring my word of the year...  But today, as I sit here, I can give you a summation of what I hope it to mean...  while still remaining open to what twists and turns may come my way.
  • This is my year of making a difference in this world through my business as well as my collaborations with other artists and businesses.
  • This is my year of supporting my husband as he strives to make changes within our community.
  • This is the year of me cheering my children on while they travel their own journeys which always seem to be inately ingrained in helping, contributing, and leaving beautiful waves of goodness in their wake.
  • This is the year of lovingly using what I know, what I have learned, and what I can do to help light the way for others.

2017, I am rested and I am ready.

With love and gratitude.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Cool Down Contemplations

We all know that the current state of our Alberta Economy is bleak, and dire, and really freaking scary.  The Economic downturn has affected us, our friends and families in very big ways.  Every day we hear of another person who lost their job, and another who, after several months of trying is still unable to find work.  Our job markets are saturated with unemployed oilfield workers who just really need to find SOMETHING.  I feel this.  We lived this. I absolutely know the lasting effects of the deep hole that comes with being many months at a near net zero family income.  I have had to face the fear and explore the hard question "If I didn't have all this (material possessions), what am I?  Do I like that person, could I live with that person?  How then do I fit into this world?"  It was dark times.

My words today are not meant to be disrespectful, or insensitive to any who happen to be struggling with this right now.  But today, after an extremely heart touching and tearful meditation, I feel so compelled to speak MY truth.


I attend a Hot Flow Yoga class every day (well I TRY to go every day).  For those that don't know what that is, it is an hour long Flow Yoga class that takes place in a 104 degree (40 Celsius) studio.  

I typically shy away from all forms of exercise...  And I DO NOT like to sweat, so my love for Hot Flow is quite mysterious.  

There are many strategies one has to invoke in order to have a successful Hot Flow practice.  Nose breathing only, or you panic when it feels like you can't breathe - even when you are trying to catch your breath, nose.breathing.only!  It is fast moving, so you have to be mindfully present to listen to the instructor - everything else has to fall away, or you not keep up, and you might as well just go home.  You have to know your 'lefts' and 'rights' instinctively or you end up a wee bit closer to your neighbor than you anticipated and are comfortable with (remember there is lots of sweating).  There is the, always welcome,  "child's pose", your goto when you feel overwhelmed and just need a minute to catch your breath and not panic...   And the oh, so important, 'before hand hydration'.  

While I sweat more than I have ever sweat in my life while I am in that class, and I get sore muscles every time I attend, yoga is as much of an exercise for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as it is physically.  I know that I have that one hour - every day - where I am absolutely able to be mindfully present in the NOW.  It is the one hour every day where I can live the benefits of getting my body, my mind, my spirit and my breathing all working together to achieve something quite miraculous.  So many times I think to myself, "Wow, I didn't know I could bend like that".

At the end of your hour of stretching, bending and twisting, you enter into a final relaxation pose - savasana.  This pose encourages you find stillness as you relax every muscle that just worked so hard for you over the previous hour.  You honour your body for its hard work, and you honor your mind and your spirit by letting yourself be free of any thoughts (this is actually the HARDEST part of yoga for me.)

Today, during final savasana, the instructor guided us through mediation, and when we are at our most vulnerable and attentive state, she ended with 'food for thought' advice that left me in tears.  (Tears during savasana is pretty common, as during class, we often release the emotions we carry around in our muscles and joints.  Tears are our way of releasing those emotions.  But today, I wept)

Today's 'food for thought' advice was all about how hard we try to live up to societal norms and expectations. How we strive for acceptance and work so hard to appear a certain way, but in doing so, we forget OUR OWN truth.  How sometimes we make others opinions about how we should live our lives most important, we let that drive our bus, and over power OUR truth that lies within our own hearts.  This all hit home for me.

Jeremy and I are at a time in our lives where we are trying SO hard to financially catch up on some things, and to not get further behind on others.  Every day calls and emails come in...  We need money for this, and we have to pay that. School trips, dance school, music lessons, gas, bills, bills bills...  

The list is long, so long, and sometimes we have to deal with really cranky people whose job it is to convince you how much of a failure you are because you hit a bit of a rough patch.  They try to shame you into handing over some cash.  For me, the shaming part ALWAYS sticks, whether I can pay what they are asking, or not. Quite often I sit here with my arms open and my shoulders shrugged tearfully saying "How.the.fuck. am I going to cover it all.  There is just nothing left."  So there it is.  Our reality.

I carry that every where I go.  I hide the shame and I smile.  If I can't hide it, I don't go out.  It's that simple.  But the shame is always there.  the fear, the stress, the anxiety... it is always there.

Jeremy remains positive the majority of the time.  He wakes up early for work, brings me coffee and leaves promising me "Today IS going to be a GOOD day.  I feel it."  and quite often, it is so.

I retired from my career as a Structural Designer nearly two years ago to make my art business my full time job.  At the time we were able to live without my Engineering income, but then things changed.  So during this current time of struggle, I often think, "I need to get a job, I can help".  Ironically my specialization for pretty much my whole career was structural design in pipelines facilities, stations, and terminals.  ....ANNND there are just NO such jobs currently available in our province, nor will there be in the foreseeable future.

After today's savasana...  I sat in the change room cooling down before changing, answering a few clients emails and Facebook messages, and I was struck with a thought.  If they were still building and upgrading pipelines in our province, and if there were jobs available in my field, chances are, I would not be attending this yoga class.  I would not be answering emails and Facebook messages from my customers in a dressing room while cooling down, or planning how I would be spending my day, and figuring out what I could do TODAY to move my business forward.  I would be sitting in an office staring at a computer and a stack of drawings, or in a boardroom talking about schedules and deliverables...  

I would not have flexibility in my schedule.  I would not be driving my kids to school every morning shouting made up adjectives at them as I send them off for the day "Have a (groove-a-li-tious , fan-funk-ta-cular, rock-tastic to name a few) great day!"  I would not be in my house when my daughter comes home from school shout singing the lyrics to Adele's hit song when she enters.  I would not hear the excitement and endless chatter of their days events while they were still fresh.  I would not witness the subtle everyday ways in which they look after each other - that makes my heart burst.  I worked out of the home for most of their lives, and when I 'retired', it was with the intention that now I GET to be home with my kids.

If I did not have my home as my workplace, I would have missed so much.  Perhaps getting a job in my field would have been the easy way out of our situation.  But now that is not to be.  The Universe has spoken, it has forced my hand, as often it does when we get a little stuck behind our fear.  Sometimes things gotta get a little uncomfortable before we are inclined to make the changes we need to make.  

It's time to take things into my own hands and to move forward on my terms, in my 'called to' career, with me in the driver seat, knowing full well that I have everything in me, or the means to get it, to succeed...  That is my truth.

I don't know how all this stuff will shake out for our family, only time will tell... I do know, however, that it will be a while before we have many additional funds for life's extras.  That what used to be 'fun funds', now goes to pay the power bill, or to the grocery store for this weeks sustenance, because that's just HOW it has to be.  I know that no matter what, it will work out, and we will figure it out.

Today I am shining light on the shame, and saying "Figuring all this out really fucking sucks and I am done with caring more about what other people think, than what is in my heart.  I am getting crushed by the shame, and it need to STOP."

Because regardless of what happens, I have learned that it isn't money, or beach vacations, or houses, or cars that makes us rich.  THAT is my truth. RICH is SO much more than that.

I am squaring my shoulders, and standing tall in my glorious truth, and letting go of my debilitating fear of being judged...  And I know THAT is what will push me forward.


cool down contemplations

Monday, 4 January 2016

2016 - My year of 'Quiet'

Well, 2016 is upon us, and to some this means the start of new things.  I am not much for resolutions, but I do like to sit quietly with my thoughts at this time and reflect on the year that has passed -

I declared 2015 to be my year of 'Grace'.  When I first made the declaration, my intention was to offer more grace to others.  To love more, to judge less, to have more patience, and to have a wide open heart.  To look past disappointment and the dreaded expectations and offer 'Grace' in a kind and loving way to all whom I encountered.

However, very early into 2015 I swiftly, and somewhat brutally learned that offing 'Grace' to others was not the divine lesson that was in store for me.  It seemed that lurking behind every twist and hairpin turn in my 2015 path, the Universe was snickering "Grace huh?  Let's see how you handle this!"

Our 2015 offered many lumps and bumps, and as the calendar switched to 2016, I crossed the 2015 finish line weary, bloodied, battered and bruised.  But not broken.

I, tongue in cheek, will likely always refer to 2015 as "the year that kicked the shit out of me".  It made me question,  re-evaluate, and change how I perceived pretty much everything.  My friendships, my parenting, my family, my career choices, my business decisions, my financial choices, my marriage, my self worth... All of it.  I weathered storms - of hurricane caliber - in pretty much everyone of these areas.

2015 carried with it SO many lessons - most of which I was able to handle with an outward appearance of  'Grace'.  Some of those lessons were hard and devastating, and some were a simple but necessary affirmation of my correct path in this journey, and some, well, I guess I am still trying to figure out what the heck the lesson was...  But what I KNOW for sure is that all the lessons - good or bad - known or unknown - are all so very sacred because they truly showed me what I needed most to know about 'Grace'.

What I needed most to know about 'Grace' was that I rarely offered it to myself. 
Offering 'Grace' to others was a breeze, but offering it to myself was not something that  came easily to me at all.  I am SO very hard on myself when things do not go 'right'.  Harder on myself than I would ever allow anyone else to be on me.  In 2015, I promised to stop...  To try to show myself some of the 'Grace' I so eagerly offer to others.

While 2015 was very trying, it also holds some of my life's most magical moments.

  • I learned that even though facing the reality of aging parents as a 'now' only child still wallops me, I am able to manage the scary stuff, even when everything inside me wants nothing more than to just be little again.
  • In 2015, I learned I could take some huge hits, and still smile...  But then also reach out to my life line of heart friends when the swirling darkness threatened to pull me under...
  • I learned how to recognize what life line of heart friends really looked like.
  • In 2015 I was the recipient of a very generous act of kindness.  One that still makes me put my head down and do the ugly cry when I think about it.  I have kept it very sacred, safe, and close to my heart, but will someday openly share it.  I was an unforgettable act of pure love.
  • I got to hang out with many of my all time favorite Canadian Music Icons in 2015. 
  • In 2015 I was able to see more of our amazingly beautiful  and historically rich country, and create some lifelong memories when I travelled with Emma on her Grade 7 School trip to Quebec. 
  • I learned that miracles can happen, and the unlikeliest of forces can unite in the protection of those loved so very much.
  • I welcomed my first Grandchild, and began the next phase of my life as 'Mimi', as I tearfully and proudly watched my son become 'dad', and my husband become 'grandpa'.  This event also created some incredibly excited, doting and head over heels in love Auntie's, Uncle's and Great Grandparents among those I hold dearest.  I am SO grateful for my front row seats to witness this beauty.
  • I put my toes in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever when I was able to escape for some connecting time on a South Carolina Beach with some of my most beloved sisters, for some time of sacred sistering.
  • I started my stint as a teacher for Brave Girl University.
  • I was able to play a small part in several love stories this year with Fearless hART as my guide..

So, 2015 - My year of 'Grace' I respectfully and humbly bow to you for all we endured together.  All the good times, and all the challenges.  Know that I am grateful, and that I view each lesson is a perfectly beautiful albeit messy gift.
One seldom emerges from a period of trying times completely unscathed.  I am finding that there are still some things that need to be resolved, some decisions that need to be made, some questions that need to be answered, and some wounds that need to be healed.  I begin this new year feeling a wee bit scattered, disjointed, foggy and in need of some clarity.

As I leave my lesson filled year of 'Grace', I will be entering into my soul searching and reflective year, that will be guided by 'Quiet'.

I will be spending my 2016 turning down and cutting out the noise...  So that I am able to hear my own voice, my own intuition, my own needs and desires, and my own callings to serve.  It is the year of making my own voice matter as much to me as everyone else's.  It is the year of finding my center and refocusing on what really matters, and letting go of what really doesn't.  Clutter is noise, judgement is noise, speaking without action is noise, 'Should' is noise.

I will be spending more time reading books and less time reading click bait articles such as "67 characteristics of a successful person", "342 ways to be happy", "84 tips to be a better mom" - or any other generalized opinionated summation that points out the ways in which I am failing - without knowing anything about me, or my life.  It is all noise.

To cut out the noise, I am reinstating a daily yoga and meditation practice.  To honor the 'quiet' I will write every day.

I will be reducing my screen time, and increasing my face time in 2016.

May the 'Quiet' allow me to hear my own voice.  May the 'Quiet' lead me to be authentically intentional in all of my choices.  May the 'Quiet' help me to live in the present moment - not in the ones that have passed, or worrying about the ones that haven't come yet.  

And may I offer myself 'Grace' as I fumble on down this road and I gratefully accept as many 'Day Ones' as it takes - I anticipate needing many.

The Work of Byron Katie

May your 2016 be all that you need it to be.

With love and gratitude,


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

2015 - the year of Grace - wtf was I thinking?

When the clock struck 12:00 midnight on December 31 - I declared my word for 2015 to be 'grace'. I know - STUPID move right?  That's just asking for trouble... I kind of thought it would be an easy one...  A gentle year.  Haha 

At first I thought it meant offering 'grace' to others...  Being kind, being forgiving, loving everyone... - but I very quickly learned that was never really an issue for me - I could easily do all those things.  I guess that's why I thought the year of 'grace' would be a breeze.  I was a week in and thought "woot!  Look at me go with this whole 'grace' thing.  I am rocking it...!"

But... The real truth of my 'year of grace' then reveled itself to me.  It didn't take long for me to learn that what I really needed to experience this year was how to offer more 'grace' to myself.  How to be willing to accept 'grace' for myself...  THAT was to be the lesson in my  2015 The Year of 'grace'.  Yuck.  I felt like I had been dooped... Like someone pulled the rug out from under me.

Well 2015 - A year of Grace continued, despite my reluctance... And effectively kicked my ass.  

Sick parents, teens being teens, extracurricular organizations having a go at my child's self esteem, unplanned babies, unsupportive people where you least expect it, lost friendships, lost jobs, tax bills, phone bills, car bills, house bills, school trip bills, bills, bills, bills, many months of zero income, cancelled vacations, plans and dreams put on hold...

There are so many times I swear I could hear the Universe snicker and say "heh heh 'Grace' huh?  Let's see how you handle THIS..."  As it threw another hairpin turn in my journey, or a speed bump in my path.  I even kinda felt like there was a wee bit of the Universe thumbing its nose at me behind my back...  Probably an over reaction on my part - I can see that now from a saner mind set.

There are times that getting out of bed was more than I could manage... 

But alas. Here I am.  More than half way through the year, and finally I can say that today I am able to sit here and linger in this beautiful space of a peaceful heart.  This feeling that has eluded me for a very long time has made an appearance this morning...

Parents have mostly recovered; teens turned out to be ok; we got to teach our kids what not to attach to their value and worthiness; baby brought healing, so much love and unthinkable miracles; hearts have began to heal; jobs have been found; lifelong memories have been made; and new directions have been accepted and embraced...

Those storms have officially been withered.  Gracefully.  I sat by hospital beds, I stood up for my kids, I stood up for myself, I got this amazing grandson, I have even managed to laugh and smile along the way.

Today I can look back on the turns and bumps and see the lessons, and the growth, and the shedding of layers.  I can see myself setting down the chains I have been lugging around for many many years... Chains that bound me to beliefs, or mind sets.  Chains that held me back.  I was kind of appalled to learn that freeing myself of them, was just as simple as setting them down - and refusing to pick them back up and continue to carry with me through this life. Today I see lightness and freedom... 

Today, I can see the beauty in all the suffering.  I can see open doors, acceptance and love.

This all changed I guess not only because I offered MYSELF a wee bit of grace, but because I allowed myself to accept the grace that others were willing and eager to offer to me.  I allowed myself to feel worthy of what was being offered...  And I realize that perhaps feeling worthy was kinda the key all along.

I look back at the twists, turns and bumps with HUGE gratitude.  There is always something good on the other side of struggles...  I have known this to be absolutely true for a while, but still many times wanted to give up hope...  To give in to all the suckage and the swirling pit of blackness. 

I am SO incredibly thankful for the people who SEE me, and who offered me grace exactly when I needed it.  I am over the moon thankful for the people who allowed me to safely toss them a lifeline when I was swirling in the darkness of hopelessness, fear, aloneness and even the "oh so poisonous", the "oh so silencing", and my self proclaimed mortal enemy -moments of SHAME.

I am thankful for my willingness to always always always seek the light...  To see the good, and to simply just love.
I don't know what shitstorm today holds, or tomorrow...  Or what lies ahead for us for the rest of 2015... But I know that today I sit in 'grace' AND 'peace'.  I linger here for as long as I can - I vow to protect my peace ... But I know to hold a space for it  - for the times when it goes out of sight for a while...  Because I know, without a doubt, it will always be back.

I am also thankful for my husband...  Who weathered every bump and turn right by my side, and even intercepted some so I didn't have to weather them, all the while managing many of his own...  He is my strength, my encouragement, my safety, my support, my biggest listener, and at times - even my backbone.  I am thankful for his love... And for his Grace.

So... For now... Onward brave warrior.  Onward.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

JUST BE - 2014

Well here I am on the eleventh hour of 2013 and writing my yearly 'ring in the new year with a new word' post.  I declared 2013 to be the year of 'CALM'.  I am aware that I have fallen short in some areas of 'calm' but feel I can turn the page on this year with many valuable lessons under my belt....

I have learned:
  • over committing feeds only my need to please others, while greatly depleting my inner peace and calm.
  • I am greatly driven by my need to please others.
  • what it feels like to sell a piece of my art, and subsequently how to part with pieces of my heart... and how that opened up a whole new way to love and be connected to people I may never ever meet.  Initially, deep breathing was required to instill 'calm'.
  • to not take for granted the miracles that our bodies are, and how frustrating and debilitating it can be when one small part isn't working quite right... and to remind myself to be calm and patient with "it takes as long as it takes."
  • that the things we run away from always end up on the path ahead of us when we least expect it.  'Calm' then only happens when you trudge through the muck to get to the light.
  • I am still learning that I get to own and tell my story...  All of it... And re-re-re-assigning truth to some lies I believed long ago may be a lifelong activity for me, but that too is part of my story.  Calm means embracing that story peeling away the lies and holding on to the truth and then speaking it as loud as possible when it needs to be heard.

I declare 2014 to be the year of 'JUST BE'.  I absolutely need to reconnect with the part of me that knows to live in the here and now...
  • JUST BE in the moment.
  • JUST BE who you are, and nothing else.
  • JUST BE proud to stand up for what is right... whatever the cost.
  • JUST BE willing to surrender the unknown to the Universe and accept what unfolds.
  • JUST BE willing to relinquish control of the things that I was never meant to control in the first place.
  • JUST BE grateful, kind, and compassionate.
  • JUST BE a good role model and ambassador to living a fulfilled life to my children

As I contemplate what is to come in 2014 I already know it is going to hold its fair share of changes, challenges - and growth opportunities...  but I intuitively know that it will also hold so many moments of unconditional love, sheer joy and complete bliss...

I will be ringing in 2014 very gently with only a few of those most precious to me...  I am loved, I am grateful, I am excited.  I am going to simply JUST BE.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Just. Love.

...So, I don't like crowds.  I am not comfortable in crowds, I get all nervous and sweaty and even a little paranoid whenever I find myself in large groups of people.  And, I am OK with admitting that it is a weakness.

I wasn't always that way.

I began not liking crowds a few years ago when I was treated very very badly while I was in a crowd.  Then came the fear, self blame, the shame and the self loathing - then the Police report, police investigation, and the photo lineup.  There was a workplace connection, so then came dealing with HR, and the emotions that come with dealing their 'mismanagement of information' - more fear, more shame, and more self blame.  Then came the need to take extra measures to protect myself, my husband and my kids at our home, our work, and at their schools.  Then came the stress leave and the therapy.  Then there was trying to re-establish myself back into my old work environment...  Then there were meetings with all levels of authority and anger and frustration and then attempts at retribution, and encouragement to make amends... Then there was the whole choosing to leave my career for a minimum wage retail position, changing fields, then changing back, but with a different company.

This became my theme song... (click here if video doesn't show up below)

Someday, I hope to be brave enough to write THAT post.  But not today.  Just know that my dislike and fear of crowds is one that I have duly earned.

But... We all know crowds are unavoidable.  They are part of life.  

Well, at least they are a part of my life.  I am head over heals for this guy who loves to play music to crowds, and it is my whole hearted desire to support him in all things that make his eyes sparkle and his heart feel peaceful...  

Also, together, we loved to take in live shows.  We always have.  We have planned vacations around when our favorite bands are touring and gone to where they will be playing next.  This is not something I could give up.  

All of these scenarios leave me constantly checking in with myself to rationalize this almost debilitating fear (at first I wouldn't even go to the grocery store) down to something I can manage, so I can keep doing the things that I love.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to take in, for the first time, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.  For those who don't know, this music festival takes place over four days on seven stages at a local ski hill, and it sells out (around ten thousand tickets) almost instantly.  It has been going on for 30 some odd years, and has a fabulous reputation for putting on a kick ass show of amazing talent from all over the world, and is something our city is, and should be, very proud of.

But... It draws a crowd.

On the last day of the festival, Sunday, I was exhausted.  

I was exhausted physically, from walking up and down 'the hill' countless times over the course of the past four days, the late nights, the early mornings, and the packing around all our required daily belongings.

I was exhausted emotionally, from having to constantly talk myself off the ledge after being in the throngs of a huge crowd for four days running.

I was about 'festivalled out'.

So, on this day, my husband and I sat on the hill in our chosen location waiting for the final few acts to perform on the main stage.

Then this weird thing happened.  

I don't know if it was all the pot in the air - and there was A LOT - or if I had been just exhausted enough that my carefully placed defenses were beginning to crumble.  But it was like I passed through a worm hole to clarity and peace in the most unlikeliest of places... 

- ya, when I word it like that, it kinda sounds like it was totally the pot. -

All joking aside, it was a very spiritual happening for me.

I started looking into each face of each person who passed me.  Really looking...  Really seeing...

To my surprise, I suddenly didn't see them as part of this huge threatening crowd.

I saw them as a person.  An individual.

As one who laughs and reads and sings and dances.

As one who cried when their dog died, or when someone they loved was sick, or when someone made them feel sad or unworthy.

As one who has self doubt, insecurities, and flaws... and tries every day to overcome them.

As one who has huge dreams that they are just trying to live into.

As one who has to conquer fears every day.

As one who is a friend, a spouse, a child, and a parent.

As one who means the absolute world to someone else.

As one who is just plugging along in this life looking for ways to be blissfully happy.

I saw them as people. Vulnerable, flawed, happy, and loved.  

I saw them as valuable, beautiful, precious souls.

I started wondering what their story was...  What made them who they were...  I spent the entire evening in that head space.

And I found myself just loving them all.

I found myself happy to be in their space, happy to share these moments of amazing live music, with these people whom I didn't even know, but was looking at from the purest part of me.  Without fear, and without judgement.

It was re-emphasized to me that we are all the same.

We are all beautiful, precious souls - trying to maneuver in this life as best we can, amid the noise and the distractions, just looking for ways to connect, and reasons to smile as often as we can along the way.

Just. Love. and keep smiling.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Hello old friend...

I close my eyes on this day contemplating grief.

Stages of Grief
Perhaps it is a staircase. Each step containing all the stages of grief in various quantities, configurations and winding paths. You carry on with the mazes and paths on that step bouncing among the stages until the pain dulls a little... And once you get used to that step, and are comfortable with it, the next step suddenly reveals its self...

This step also contains all the stages of grief. You know them well, you have become old friends... But again, they show up in different variations- they blaze new trails in areas that are new... Bringing a sadness that sits a little deeper in your heart. It can catch you off guard, the punch it packs - as you let the stages of grief lead you through the paths and mazes they are blazing ahead of you.

You have learned to trust the stages of grief. They have never failed you. You have learned over the years that resisting them is futile. That you stay stuck in one place if you refuse to walk the way it leads you. That the fastest way is just straight through the muck. You have tried skirting safely around the edges, but know by now, there is no way to avoid the deepest spots. Skirting around the edges prolongs the agony.

You have also learned to embrace the pain, to welcome it, and to just cry sometimes... Because you know the growth is so worth it. It waits for you on the other side of the muck ...gleaming golden and shiney like a big beautiful prize. Sometimes you can't see it... But experience tells you it's there... And you have learned to trust experience as you have learned to trust the stages of grief. It too has never let you down.

When you reach that gleaming golden prize... You hoist it above your head and shout out and do a well deserved victory dance... You stay in that space for a while, you deserve it. You deserve to rest... You reflect and celebrate your accomplishments. 'Wow. I went through all that?" you say.

When it is time, you pick up your gleaming golden prize and you carry it with you - with the others you have achieved along the way. When the next step reveals itself, and by now, experience tells you it will ... you respectfully bow your head and say "ok. I got this."

Perhaps the staircase is spiral... And each step and the paths and trails and teachings the stages lead through actually lead you closer and closer to the grief that resides in the core of your spirit... Where it sits, patiently, just waiting to be felt.  Only then can we be free.

And I think in as much as possible we are just meant to make the most of our journey to it.

"I embrace my desire to
feel the rhythm, to feel connected
enough to step aside and weep like a widow
to feel inspired, to fathom the power,
to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain,
to swing on the spiral
of our divinity and still be a human."
Maynard James Keenan - Lateralus TOOL