Jody, who created The More Jody Podcast, is a kind, gracious, tenacious, driven, compassionate woman. I met her years ago through health and fitness and immediately felt this connection to her.
A couple of months ago, she asked me to help her formulate some questions as she was interviewing women who had been assaulted. She wanted to ensure her questions were not intrusive and were delivered with care and safe exploration.
It gave me so much to think about for my own healing (which sparked the last couple of posts here). After much thought and prayer, I sent her some questions she could ask. About a week or two later, she asked if I would talk on her podcast.
I realized if I was going to do this, I would have to answer my own questions. ha! My initial reaction was pure fear to speak out loud. I can write, but when I try to share vocally, my words get stuck in my throat. I gave it a lot of thought…I felt in my heart-of-hearts if my voice could reach even one woman to also find her voice, it’s worth it.
So here it is…
Thank you Jody for providing a safe place to share. You are making a difference in this world (and in my world too)
I found my very first diary. The cover is graced with two white doves etched with gold tipped wings hovering over an ocean lit by moonlight. With each turn of the aged pastel pages, a sweet scent lingers which lives in the recesses of a forgotten room in my brain. On the inside cover was my best attempt at handwriting my name along with the year 1989. I received this diary for Christmas. On New Years I chronicled my adventures in babysitting. I made $25 for a 7 hour shift. I vaguely remember the parents getting home at 3 a.m. and trying their best to steady themselves on drunk ankles. ha!
I chronicled little and big moments from 13 to 18 years old. Some days my handwriting was scrambled and scrawled, and other days it was intentional with pretty cursive. The margins were filled with doodles and drawings. Hearts followed by broken hearts.
As I read some of my more life altering entries, I felt compassion, sadness, and a deep feeling of empathy as I knew how my story would unfold.
In those 5 years of teenage dairy entries, I wrote about friends passing away, moving (running) to a boarding school, my Grandfather’s death, being used and cheated on, feeling like an outsider in social circles (I drew a photo of my body with arrows to the areas I hated), smoking/drinking/sneaking out, my parent’s separation/divorce, and the hardest to read: being raped.
The journal entry for the rape started and ended with this sentence…
“I hate myself”.
The entries after were a spiralling of self, full of confusion and a complete lack of self-worth. My writing was full of shame and blame and wanting it all to end.
Thirty years later, I am a Mother to a teenage girl the same age. As I read the words of 15 year old me who was trying to articulate rape, I felt the love I have for my daughter. Within the recount, I remembered things I had pushed down. Among the hardest words to read were:
“I let a lot of people down.”
“I did a really dumb thing” (by putting myself in that position.)
“He started kissing me and pushed me to the ground.”
“He was around 20 years old.” (I must of wrote that understanding he was an adult and I was a teen)
“How am I going to tell Mom and Dad?”
“This is awful. I never meant for it to happen like this, my first time was supposed to be special and with someone I loved. He hardly even knew my name.”
“When I got back I threw up 3 times all over the road.” (I do not remember that)
“I hate myself.”
Signed Christine (at 15)
As a Mother, what would I want 15 year old me to know? That question spoke to me the entire time I read that diary. I almost felt like I was invading her privacy by reading it, like she was not me. What an odd feeling…
Dear Christine at 15: You are so very loved and worthy. You did nothing wrong, and I’m proud of you for sharing. You will never let me down, my love for you is never-ending and without conditions. Please allow those who love you to lift you up. When you speak aloud and share with those who are safe to do so, shame can’t abide in that same sacred space.
Now, in saying that, I’m not sure I would have been able to accept that love. I blamed myself, and stuffed that shame with food, partying, running away, outer silence/inner turmoil, alcohol, etc.
As was evident by an entry after, written by my childhood friend, I had a supportive loving network. I must have let my friend read my diary a few days after the rape. Side note: I forgot how much I trusted my childhood friends…enough to let them read something so intensely vulnerable. There were other entries from more friends in the years after. I think this is when I learned to share by writing.
This is my last page of the rape entry, followed by her letter to me…
When I read “Don’t ever cover up that picture again.” I had a memory flash of covering up my photo, blocking my face. I couldn’t look at my reflection. She poured her love and acceptance over me. She is still my friend today, we meet yearly for a family photo session. I forgot why I feel such a connection and kindred spirit with her (beyond the obvious fact she too is P.S. cool and I love her). When I closed my photography business in 2020, I felt it on my heart the importance to continue to document her life for her. I didn’t remember she wrote me this until I read it today. Thank you Merrilyn for the gift of your friendship and whole-hearted acceptance.
I’m still sorting through all of this, the healing thirty years later. I know I’m finally doing the work, this has been my gift of isolation within 2020 and 2021. I took another big step a few weeks ago and spoke about Shame on a podcast. I am nervous to hear my outside voice, but I’m proud of myself for pushing down the fear and doing it.
I was listening to a podcast from Brene Brown where she quantified how she knows its safe to share something traumatic in a public forum (like a podcast, blog, book, post, etc.), and it has stuck with me. This is not an exact quote, rather how I perceived her words…. If my healing is dependent on another’s response, then it’s not safe to share publicly. I will share with a person who’s earned that trust.
Today, I’m in a position to talk about this more openly as my healing is not dependent on your response. I feel like this is something so many women carry within, the shame and blame, the feeling of unworthiness.
The idea that another woman may also be feeling this way guides my spirit to speak. To write about it. To be honest and transparent that I’m still working through it and I don’t have all the answers yet as to how I will reclaim this part of my spirit.
I want you to know…
You are worthy.
You are loved.
You are not broken. You are healing.
You are brave.
I am so sorry for what happened to you.
You did nothing wrong.
You have nothing to feel shameful about, sharing erodes shame.
As you speak and share…that shame will meld way to open a powerful space rooted in love and compassion. There is beauty in the breakdown. I’m so very proud of you no matter what stage of healing you are in. Vulnerability is incredibly courageous.
If you read my previous posts over the past decade, there is a theme of self-acceptance. Within Sonya’s powerful words, I’ve been challenged to reassess the ideal of self-acceptance, because there is a beautiful radical place beyond that…and that is self-love. How did I never understand or know about this place?
You see acceptance is not an actionable word. It’s passive. It just is. To accept something doesn’t invite freedom, power, or love. When I accept something, it’s usually because there is no other choice if I want to move forward. I accept begrudgingly. I accept that I am 43. I accept that I have cellulite in all the areas. I accept that there are lines and paths on my face which trace my memories and my stories of both pain and joy. The years of feeling have etched a map and I hope to have more laugh lines than frown lines.
But to LOVE myself as is? Radical Self-Love at that?
How would that change my life?
How would that change another’s life?
How would that change my view of others?
How would that change how I treat myself and others?
How would that change the way I Mother?
How could that change the world?
I am going to walk off this path of thought and go down a different trail (I promise it meets up eventually). I have been thinking about my Why as it relates to health and wellness. There is so much dark, ugly, and gross when it comes to the Fitness/Beauty/Diet industry. An industry built on selling the belief that you must change yourself. Insert some sarcasm…It is simply audacious to believe you could actually love yourself without the cream, the lashes, the nails, the outfit, or the shake you drink to shrink. You silly girl, drink the kool aide, you’ll feel and look better if you do.
Back in 2003 when I finally did the work (or I should say started the work) to sit in my shame, and to find ways to process it all without bingeing on food, my Why was To heal. The result was weight loss. I started fuelling my body with love-yoself-high-energy foods packed with vitamins and nutrients, moving for strength and mobility, and reading/writing/sharing to fulfill my spirit.
I struggled with the attention as it related to my physical appearance because it wasn’t about that. “You always had a pretty face” or “You look so good now” further impacted the message within that I was not worthy unless I took up less space. And to be worthy, I must fit into an ideal which was (and still is) impossible to even obtain much less maintain. Nor did I want that.
I love going to the gym, and getting lost in a workout. My ideal hour is spent lifting heavy things with music streaming in my ear holes. I prefer to work out solo, it’s a form of meditation for me. I lift to feel uplifted. It empowers me, makes me feel amazing, and boosts my mood every session. I do not lift to lift my ass; which is why it’s truly hard to search for different workouts online without the Why being attached to aesthetics.
This is also the reason I choose not to chat about diets as much as possible as it triggers something within that feels really uncomfortable and my shame voice lifts her little hand to take over my mind chatter. Most “diets” usually come with a magical promise of how much weight you can lose within a specific time frame (usually short term). There is no data or disclaimer attached about what it will do to your body long term. How much it will impact ALL parts of you: Body, Mind, and Spirit. How it will deplete your energy, your stamina, your esteem, your worth. How it will create an insatiable feeling of never enough. It will not tell you that no matter how much you diet, your image will always appear flawed and distorted as you analyze your reflection in the mirror. It will not support you, or love you…this new you. Because the WHY is to be something other than you are. The message: You are not enough without shrinking yourself.
So my friends, this is how I make decisions lately. I listen to my Whys. It helps me to sort the clutter. To make choices about what I read, who I listen to, what I eat, how I move my body, how I protect my daily peace.
My why is to heal.
My why is to weave all parts together Body, Mind, and Spirit.
My why is to find this beautiful place that is Radical Self-Love.
What is your why?
Will you walk with me to this new place?
It’s actually not a new place at all, it’s an old place we were born into. As kids we loved the shit out ourselves and others. I was googling words to describe such a place and my thesaurus recommended Utopia; however, the definition is a place of ideal perfection. This place is not perfection. I want to seek imperfections. I want to celebrate difference. I want to invite understanding. I want to know how others navigate life in their body. I “want” is an invitation to change. I will change as I explore and open my heart and mind.
I am just scratching the surface of learning (as I’m sure you can tell). I am truly grateful to Sonya Renee Taylor for articulating her thoughts into written word, which are now spinning and weaving pathways within my brain. Thank you Sonya.
A friendly reminder to practice self-compassion and reduce your stress and expectations on yourself
We all wear many hats.
For me: Mom/Banker/Partner/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Caretaker/Bill Payer/Meal Planner/Grocery Shopper/House Cleaner/Cook/Driver/Laundry Doer… and on and on it goes.
I’m mediocre at many of these roles.
Stellar at others
interchangeable depending on the day
But you guys, this Covid-Stuff is no joke on metal health.
For ourselves, our children, our loved ones.
I have just been feeling so tapped-out in my energy, and super protective on where I give it because my day ends on fumes.
My previous standards for myself are vastly different from the standards I have today within how I conduct my life.
I need to work.
I need to pay my bills for the home my kids and I live in to feel safe and secure.
I need to feed my kids and myself. Shop frugally, batch cook so we don’t order out and actually eat some vitamins and nutrients for health.
I need to sleep 8 hours.
I need to wash the clothes we wear, and dole out the jobs where I can in my household.
I need to stay connected to my partner and our extended Brady Bunch family.
I need to communicate to my friends and family I love them, and hope they don’t take my lack of interaction as anything other than the position I’m (we are all) in. My fear is they will think I’m overdramatic because we all have our own issues and balance is illusive to most.
I feel like I’m successful and failing all at the same time. I provide stellar customer service to the best of my abilities, my kids are taken care of, I sleep like a rock most nights…immediately as soon as my head hits the pillow. I do not gym anymore, my pants are tight. I have not had a hair cut since January. I drink too much wine. I rarely socialize. I have lost touch with my friends. I can’t financially afford to do much more than skip the dishes once in a while; and project a free movie onto an at-home theatre. And go camping. Because free with fresh air and family. Couple of Dickie-birds and one stone.
I finally shared how I was feeling with a co-worker. I looked down while I talked because I thought I would cry if I met her eyes. When I finally did look her in the eye, she had this beautiful expression of understanding and care. She said a sentence I will always hold to my heart.
She said this with so much care and empathy…
“We have to wear masks all day at work; and yet we wear another mask. Thank you for sharing how you are feeling, because I thought I was the only one”
I forgot how simple a gift sharing openly with another truly is. How it immediately drops the shoulders and connects one another. How it bonds and frees all at once.
I’ve played her words over and over in my mind since, because I don’t want to wear a mask on how I’m feeling. I want to share openly when I’m able, and give myself permission to do what is necessary for my immediate little family. My energy needs to go there. I will practice self-compassion for the rest.
My worth is not dependant on doing all the things perfectly. To be a certain size. To always wear a smile. To pretend I’m not struggling. To give when my spirit is unable.
I will give all I have to the work I do; but when I leave I will feel all the feels. I will breath so deeply when I finally take off my required bylaw mask. I will blare my music I love most all the way home. I will write. I will read. I will be quiet because I need that for my soul. I will not weed anymore. I will be gentle with my heart as I process missing my son.
I will always love those who are in my circle; I send out nothing but love and positivity whenever you trace the vines of memories in my brain.
That’s all I know today. I hope my co-workers words also give you permission to evaluate what’s necessary, what is for another time, and to share how you’re feeling with those you feel safe and connected to.
Be gentle with you, this is a season that will pass. Do what you have to do today to get through it.
It seems very contrite to write a blog post about being at a “goal weight” given the landscape of life we are all currently navigating. The “Covid gain” is pretty insignificant and natural as we change our everyday lifestyle habits.
What I’ve found necessary to stay healthy and mentally sane, is to focus on all 3 elements: Body/Mind/Spirit, which is a prevalent theme in my writing.
Last week I shared about creating a Contingency Plan; It’s been a go-to-sanity-saver and has provided much needed structure and stability during a time of change and uncertainty.
So, in keeping with yearly tradition on this anniversary date, here’s what I’ve learned in Year 15
~I can live on much less than I thought; I’ve streamlined my finances and really examined what’s necessity and what’s a luxury. I have cancelled services, unsubscribed, decluttered, shopped less, sold some things curb side pickup, and simplified. I channel that feeling I get when it’s completed…before I even start, because otherwise it’s overwhelming. One baby step at a time. You know you’ll feel amazing when you tackle that junk drawer, filing taxes, cleaning out the garage; feel the feels like it’s done already and then don’t hesitate to just start. The momentum takes over 🙂
~When I was a little girl, we had 3 huge gardens. And I helped my Mom and sisters garden all through my childhood. I vowed to never garden again; although I attempted to a few years running when my kids were young. The whole process just didn’t feel gratifying nor therapeutic and weeding was a chore I decided was best left to the Farmers and the green thumb-ers. I am shocked to tell you that I have found so much peace and purpose in tending to growing things. Like who even am I now?!
~If you have a desk job, you are over 40, and you’re not moving as much…your body will freeze up like the tin man by the end of the day. Chair yoga actually helps; especially, “Chair Pigeon Pose”. If you google it, a plethora of resources for seniors comes up. Legit cool for anyone who sits in a chair all day.
~Co-Parenting and blended family time during a Pandemic is tough. It just is. There’s a whole lot more to think about when you involve more than one family in cross-over time. I’ve talked to many in the same boat, or different boats, but all feeling the same way. Whether you’re working full-time, laid off, working part-time gigs to make ends meet, staying at home all day caring for kids while in insolation, insert situation here…
Oh but wait there’s more!
Now let’s add schooling from home to that equation. Yet, as much as it’s a challenge for us parents (because let’s face it kids are already more scholarly than most of us); the kids are the ones who deserve all the kudos. For kids/tweenies/teens, their school life/friends/social activities are their whole world.
Oh but wait there’s more!
Then you add to their shoulders going back and forth between 2 families (or more cross over for blended families) and you have this grey area of “what’s right”. You are forced to have very uncomfortable discussions with no real road map to follow. I have no advice here other than, if you understand this part, I’m sorry and I get it.
~I thought I was an introvert. I am an extrovert professionally, but I truly thought I enjoyed an intense amount of introversion recharging. That is until I couldn’t go see my family and friends like I used to. I think we are all realizing maybe “who were thought we were socially”, may not be our truth. It took a pandemic to realize it; and to sort out the importance of human connection. Now, if you are someone who has embraced their introversion, that’s cool too. If anything; I’ve found it interesting we are all figuring out what’s important to us. Won’t it be sweet to remember and act on all we’ve learned when life progressively gets more social?
~I don’t need a gym to workout; but I do need a plan Stan! For a while, I didn’t move as much as I did in the past, and that truly paid a toll on my mental well-being. A reminder that moving even a little lends big results to my sense of health, well-being, and pride.
To finish this off: Here’s a couple home workout plans you may find useful.
My at-home workout (3X week strength)
Download “Interval Timer-HIIT workouts” from your app store (there are other apps that work equally well). The ad. version is free and you can customize your intervals. I edited the Intermediate HIIT workout to include 16 sets with a 5 minute warmup/cool down.
The first “round” I choose 3 full body movements, all strength focussed. Side note: if you don’t have weights, use your own body weight, or soup cans/household items with a little weight to them works.
This will be my low interval of 1 minute. Three movements done in sequence; repeated for a total of 3 sets.
Squat to press
Reciprocating chest press
Reciprocating row with Tricep kick back
In between each 1 minute strength, your interval timer will beep a 30 second “high interval”. This is where I do my burst of cardio. Choose whatever is your jam! My choice is kickboxing; but since I’m at home alone, I will often dance it out.
Once you’ve completed your 3 sets of 3 strength along with your cardio high interval, there’s enough time for another superset. I choose 2 strength movements as my 1 minute low interval and for my 30 second high interval, I focus on core.
Alternating Lunge with bicep curl
Alternating front raise (I kneel on a bosu for extra core for this)
For the 30 second high interval: Plank, knee up (variation of plank/mountain climber)
Do your strength movements for 3 rounds.
I have one minute left over for a plank before my 5 minutes of stretching.
I find this interval session so adaptable and easy to increase in difficulty or make easier for low energy days. You can make it muscle group specific or do a total body routine. I do this 3 times/week.
Free Youtube workouts (follow their channels for more):
YouTube Mr. and Mrs. Muscle: Most of the free workouts are bodyweight and all have modifications.
I stumbled on this awesome lil space friendly workout the other day by Cambira Joy (love her energy)
My current read (Thank you Darrell for recommending more than once I read it, it’s a nugget of perfection): The Five People You Meet in Heaven
By: Mitch Albom
Have you read it?
Every year on this date, I post a photo of then and now to remember the path. This year, my amazing son is graduating. I’m so sad for him that he does not get that right of passage grad celebration this week-end. I’m really proud of him for how he’s handling it all with smile on his face. And as always, there’s playstation to keep him connected 😉 Happy graduation son. Love you!
At work, when a major event happens, there are clear processes to follow. A fluid contingency plan is implemented and updated as situations evolve. I find comfort in processes that gift direction during times of chaos.
I had this light bulb moment the other day, why don’t I implement my own contingency plan for my personal life? Body/Mind/Spirt.
Protect my peace.
It sparked my creative mind thinking about ways to bring peace, purpose and joy into my day. I know exactly what feeds my body/mind/spirit. Interestingly, I’ve figured that out during times of hardship. I’ve taken the time to bring all the senses into that which feeds each element and then recorded it…in my mind’s eye or pen to paper.
My Contingency Plan to Cultivate Purpose, Peace and Joy
Go for a walk in the sun with my dog Stretch at my desk when I feel my shoulder’s tighten and my leg’s stiffen Lift weights. Make a plan, schedule my lift days. And lace up the shoes when I wake up (that’s the hardest part…the just doing) Interval training Kickboxing Just move…Some days a little and some days a lot. Go for a run Ride my bike Yoga Work in my yard Play basketball with the kids Kayak (also spirit side)
Read a book Learn something new. Daily Meditate (a work in progress on that one) Visualize at the start of each day and set intentions Write Teach
Blog (this is also Spirit for me)
Cook for my family, and dance while I cook. Cuban music is my jam lately. Give to another: a kind word, a gift on a door step, a handwritten note. Add to my gratitude journal in the morning. Connect with my friends & family: phone, text, FaceTime, Zoom. Write and support others through understanding. Watch whatever makes me laugh.
Share the tricky parts of life. There is comfort within understanding we are not alone in our struggles. Garden: This is new for me, and huge! With the help of my family, we got our greenhouse functional again, and I planted veggies & herbs for the first time in years.
Your list can be added to whenever you find an activity that taps into your senses, and makes you feel alive, centred, vibrant, peaceful, contemplative, happy, interested, etc.
The hardest part for me is the motivation to actually do the Body/Mind/Spirit activities when I’m struggling. The last thing I want to do when I’m down is the very thing that will bring me back up.
That’s where trustcomes in. I have to trust the proven results I’ve experienced before, and then take baby steps. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just do one thing; which creates the momentum for the next.
It’s been necessary in this pandemic to be acutely self-aware of my metal state and emotions…
Feeling bored…mindless tasks getting to me? See Mind section. Feeling lack of purpose? See Mind/Spirit. Feeling lethargic and low energy? See Body Section Feeling fearful? See Spirit Feeling depressed and anxious? See Body/Mind/Spirit Feeling overwhelmed with having to self-regulate through a stressful day? See Spirit
They key is to know YOU. What brings about equanimity to your world? What calms your spirit? What gives you purpose? What makes you laugh? What is that task you get lost in and lose all track of time? What can you give to others to fulfill your own sense of accomplishment?
Fear is an all encompassing force that grows and breeds more…if left unattended. It seeps in every so slowly when you are faced with daily unknowns and grows like a flame.
I took the Prince of Darkness (my dog) for a walk today. I value a good walk since the entire day minus as few minutes are spent inside. As is the case for you too. We are all in this.
Life has changed for the world in fast forward. As is a collective reality and not just my own…I was thinking back to just over a month ago. I (we) hugged people still. We shook hands. We sweated around others in a gym. We walked down crowded streets and browsed shops. We brought tea to a co-worker with a cough. We grocery shopped for a week’s worth of items. We went for a drink with a friend.
On March 1st I was in Banff. Alberta was not on lock down then.
On March 13th, I booked a pedicure for my birthday. And for the first time; I actually seconded guessed my decision for human contact that wasn’t necessary. I ended up cancelling it and then wondered if I was being overly-cautious. And I felt bad for that amazing spa as it’s their business which I wanted to support.
A week later, I went into my room for 2 weeks in self-isolation away from my kids; and we all made do in the same home as much as possible. What a foreign feeling to fear hugging my kids, to be near them. It took me longer to disinfect the kitchen after cooking; than it did to heat a meal. I mostly ate eggs. And I ate once a day. Fear diet you could call it.
On March 23rd, I went to a converted school gymnasium to get a test for Covid19. We stood more that 6 feet apart. One-by-one we inched closer to the door, not sure what a converted gymnasium would look like. The woman in front of me reached the front of the line and realized she forgot her ID in the car. She screamed through her mask that she refused to go get it unless there was assurance her place in line would be held. I told her I wouldn’t go in until she returned, and the nurse smiled warmly at me. We understood her abrasive demeanour was just fear speaking.
I finally entered the gym, and my eyes adjusted to the light of a scene that looked straight out of a movie. There were distinct sections, one for disinfecting: wash your hands, put on a mask, and then arrows directing to a section of socially distanced chairs. A man in a mask wiped down chairs previously occupied.
The nurses were like disciplined soldiers. Donned from head to toe in protective gear; disinfecting on repeat. Transferring calm to fearful eyes who presented their ID. After paperwork was completed, and each person held their ID up to be checked from across a table, we sat in the next section awaiting our names to be called. You could hear a pin drop. I scanned the room and wondered each of their stories. There was a pregnant girl down the way. I thought of my niece who was also about to have a baby and felt for her…the stress of it all (side note, he’s here…and he’s beautifully perfect and safely at home with Mom and Dad)
The testing stations were partitioned off, but I could see one lady getting tested with a swab swiftly reaching to the back of her nose. I immediately regretted watching it; because to see it was worse than the actual feeling. A lady in front of me took out her phone, as is customary when us humans have to wait any amount of time over 30 seconds. The nurse instructed her to put it away, and she had to get disinfected all over again. While the whole scene was unfathomable to my mind; I was so impressed with the organization of it all.
The waiting for the results was the worst, but thankfully my test came back Negative. I had the regular flu in unfortunate timing.
As soon as I came out of isolation, my kids went to stay with their Dad. And I’ve been fortunate to see them for a couple of suppers. They talk about a buddy family, and for many of us…buddy family’s are modern families. And the waters are muddy there. Two sets of families, with another set of families. All of whom want to protect their space. Which is the right thing, but it doesn’t feel good in the heart.
This is not my normal; to be away from my kids and I’m processing the lonely. But, within my loneliness…which pressed me to for a walk today…I had a revelation.
We must choose Love over Fear my friends.
While none of us have ever experienced this series of events in our lifetimes before; we most likely HAVE been through adversity which comes with lack of control. A moment when life knocks the wind out of you, and you have no idea how long you’ll be in that state. Or if you’ll ever get through it. That unknown/loss of control of environment...that’s where fear breeds more fear.
I remember this fear feeling. It lived within my spirit navigating life through my divorce. It took me a very long time to learn to choose Love over Fear. To realize it’s a choice.
To create equanimity within my day.
I forgot that skill when I was locked in my room. I spiralled hard my friends. Like grossly hard.
So here’s what I learned years ago, and what served me well today during my walk epiphany.
I am not suggesting you live in a rose-coloured-glasses-bubble unaware of what’s happening in the world. What I am challenging you to decide for yourself is: how much is “too much” for your harmony. Your balance.
Yes, we should be informed; but we should also be empowered to step away from the hysteria it induces. We may have little control on the outside world; yet we can do our part by staying inside as much as possible, and changing our perceptions on what that means…a prison to one is a retreat to another.
OK that’s a given… I sound condescending. My apologies…
During my walk, I felt compelled to encourage you all (and I’m encouraging myself, white knuckling it all some days) to please protect your peace.
Go for a socially distanced walk.
Put on your favourite music.
Have a long bath.
Phone a friend. FaceTime a friend. Connect with a friend. Reach out to those you love because we are all lonely. Am I wrong? Do you feel it too? Even if you have your kids/spouse/partner/parents beside you within a safe environment. It’s still lonely! It’s still hard. I know I’m not alone in that feeling.
Find your equanimity. Every. Single. Day. I learned that word when I needed it most. It’s the ability to install calmness and peace within your spirit. To center yourself even within chaos. What does that look like for you? Is it within music, cooking, chatting with friends, meditating, writing, creating, organizing (heyyyy A-Type peeps)? Find it for a few moments. Daily.
Live day to day. That’s it. Just today. If you have have a front line job on Monday, and you have Sunday off….Please live in Sunday. Nap. Relax. Don’t borrow Monday’s stress if you can help it. I have to tell myself that often. I’m a borrower of stress.
There are two underlying emotions that can be traced to all experiences.
Within the fear of this beast, I hope you can choose some Love in your day.
Now this was before life changed in the midst of a pandemic, falling stock markets, empty aisles in grocery stores, and social isolating.
At that time…just weeks ago (which seems like years ago), I was stressed over how I was going to come up with my portion for operation-straight-teeth…which is a right of passage for a teen. And one she deserves, our smile is our hello.
Then the Covid-19 tornado began, and what was a flicker in the newsfeed, became all of our realities.
Isn’t it surreal, that just a month ago we shook hands, coughed if we had a tickle in our throat without others distancing in horror, and we just bought toilet paper when required.
An idealistic world where “it won’t happen to us”.
Until it did.
Last week-end, I was going through my finances to see where I could cut frayed threads. I decided to call my Credit Card provider for a card I’ve had for years, but rarely use. I wanted to cancel it, but I’ve never redeemed the points. I asked if my points could be converted to cash, and in a voice only reserved for customer service roles he delightfully replied: “absolutely!”
Cool. Money I had, but I didn’t know I had, to be sent via direct deposit to my account.
Yesterday, I received my portion of the initial dental bill…a day where I stumbled through to provide financial advice to others amidst a crisis this world has never seen before. There are no words to comfort those who fear the unknown; while stifling my own fears.
We need peace and level heads right now.
It seemed so insignificant; that I was worried about coming up with money for teeth; when in all reality, the world is seeking reprieve from Mortgage payments.
Yet it is significant in my world.
I logged into online banking with a bit of dread to do the math of where to allocate this bill from.
And the first thing I saw was my cash back credit from my credit card (right beside my trip for groceries…I legit ran out of TP people, and essentials)
The credit card I used haphazardly in my youth…now more stringently understanding the WHY with the knowledge you can’t borrow from Peter to pay Paul (<——-do you know this saying?! ha!)
Anywhoooo, that surprise deposit into my account brought tears to my eyes.
As I was filled with trepidation to find $318.00 for my daughter’s teeth, the amount of my Credit Card rewards was…
This means so much more to me than a quantitative amount.
It’s filled me with peace in the knowledge that within the trials and the most adverse times in my life, I’m always taken care of.
So stay true to my values, be kind, give more than I take, head high, and have faith.
It will be OK.
During this time of fear of the unknown, or perhaps fear of too much known, I hope you feel the peace of being “taken care of, and it will be Ok.”
And that requires faith. I know that’s not easy.
Within social isolation, please remember we are all in this together.
We will thrive on the other side of this: a whole lot more insightful and enlightened. Strong within our values which is essential to our inner well-being, closer to those we love most, and with a renewed humility. Yes, I’ve felt a sadenned loss in humanity within the hoarding and the selfishness, yet the voice of what is good and pure will always be louder.
Health, the celebration of movement and expression of gratitude for this loving vehicle which transports us through this beautiful life…lives within the Little Things.
It does not have to be all or nothing and please don’t sweat for the “not enough” mentality, the ever striving to be more than we are. Because “more than” is less than you deserve. It’s an ideal that isn’t sustainable; nor attainable.
No, that’s not celebration.
But think on this…
Love for yourself (and in turn others) resides in taking the long way home once and awhile: Taking in new sights and views. Turning off the auto pilot.
It lives within impromptu kitchen dances much to the horror of the teen who is waiting for that meal only you can make just the way they like it. The coming together around the warn-in-wood-knicked family table where gold nuggets of one-another’s days are shared.
It lives within walks with a friend, the 2 or 4 legged variety, down trails of amber or perhaps dusted with snow; where the frosty breath from laughter hangs in the air.
It lives within the outer aisles of your grocery store: the layout you know like you designed it…where vibrant foods are stacked pyramid style in perfect ripeness without the labour of growing it yourself. Although you can choose to do so when the snow melds away to rich earth.
It lives within lifting heavy things so you truly understand your power of body and spirit. A resource just waiting to be tapped into.
It sings within nature; whether in your backyard, or a mountain view.
It settles beautifully into catchup visits with old friends who’ve shared life’s experiences. A vino toast, or a coffee ordered just the way they know you prefer it.
It meditates in silence
Rejoices in family
and comes alive on a run.
It’s your soul’s awakening within Life: truly expressing, sharing, growing, learning, trying something new, challenging tired behaviours and evolving beliefs, giving more than you take, and practicing a whole lot of self-compassion as you seek out your purpose.
Remember dear friends, there is beauty all around your daily life. Seek it out.
I have been absent from sharing. I’ve continued to write privately, as I sort through some challenges I’ve faced lately.
To sum it all: I started a new role at work; which involved a whole lot of learning, discomfort within the new, and excitement to take on new challenges. Longer hours melded to exhaustion at the end of my day; when I wiped away the last supper crumb from the counter and retreated to my couch. I’ve been able to be there for my kids in the ways that are important. I also want them to see me work hard; set goals, and achieve them.
My gym: ugh…I do not feel comfortable there any longer. The details of why are not important; I’m still going to sweat freely; but the freely part needs to be in a place I feel comfortable in.
For all the areas I feel confident within this stage of my life; there are also areas I white-knuckle it. And maybe that’s just the ebbs and flows of life: Career, raising teens, staying on top of grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, ensuring all bills are paid/living within my means, and keeping the home clean and decluttered.. Despite the clutter in the mind…the swirling of thoughts:
What do I need to do today?
Where am I supposed to be today?
How can I be in two places at once? Call a friend…
So, I live one day at a time. Where as before my life changed…I had the luxury of thinking in weeks vs. days.
Which brings me to the topic of today: the power of words. Or more-so, the power I give to words.
You see, there’s a difference.
One perspective gives all the power away to the words; and the other empowers me to choose how those words affect me.
The other day, I talked with a man I see occasionally. He had just returned from a trip, and it had been a few months since I last saw him. We chatted about his trip and then he said something (three times to be exact) which completely took me by surprise…
He said “You’ve gained weight since I last saw you”
I stared at him for a moment with my mouth open. And again he said “I had to take off my glasses to see if it was my sight; but you’ve definitely gained weight”
I replied “OK” ha! I seriously couldn’t think of anything to say to keep a semblance of composure and grace.
Once more for good measure, he adjusted his glasses and said. “Yup you’ve definitely gotten bigger” (OH NO HE DIDN’T)
I replied “OK”
Because really it’s not OK to say that to anyone; even if it’s an observational thought that escapes the lips. I have no way of knowing if it holds judgment or not. And if I’ve learning anything from my incessant reading of self-help books; nothing is personal.
But you guys, the tears stung my eyeballs; and I felt shame.
Shame is the root of self-deprication and spiralling. The opposite is self-compassion and love.
It took me the entire day; and then the next, and now here we are at today…to work through the feelings from that one exchange.
One phrase has ran over and over on repeat in my mind:
And for others.
Even when it’s hard to love others.
I still have a choice in this, because the energy I put out to others; the love I show others, is important. It’s transferrable. As destructive as words can be, they can also be beautifully empowering to another. Choose love. And learn where to put your energy.
That’s about all I’ve figured out since then. Do you have a similar experience or story? Please feel free to share.
From my heart to yours (with love and acceptance),