I’m waking up

November 18, 2016

As I start constructing my happiness project there are a lot of areas in my life I want to look at. I’ve decided to take the plunge and December will be month 1 out of my 12 month program. That means I have a little less than 2 weeks to create a clear and measureable roadmap to destination happy…

Clutter is an obvious one and like Gretchen this will probably be my first area of focus. We moved into our home about 2 months ago and haven’t completely unpacked so I’ve been spending a lot of time organizing, unpacking and purging to make December easier for myself. I’ll need to de-clutter my mind, office and email as well.

Energy. Again, similar to Gretchen I think the next obvious step would be focusing on increasing energy to prepare myself for the next 1o goals. That includes exercise, nutrition and sleep. In the last few weeks I’ve really improved in all 3 of those areas, and I’m looking forward to having a real game plan to truly ingrain some good habits into my day to day life.

From there I am having a really hard time prioritizing what comes next.

Be More Sam is another major goal. This has been nagging me for a very long time now even if I couldn’t really put words to what I was feeling. One day my co-worker left a present on my desk, and the message was loud and clear. The book was The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, by Sarah Knight and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. At the time it felt like I was having the same argument over and over with my husband. Our group of friends have big get togethers. Sometimes it’s a ski trip, sometimes it’s a masquerade new years party, or sometimes it’s just a birthday get together but there is always 20+ people and I found after a while I was getting bored and frustrated, but couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with me. Jared couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me either and it was becoming a major point of contention. Sarah Knight talks about having a f*ck budget as in you can only give a f*ck about so many things before you start exhausting your efforts and time. And if you can only give so many f*cks you don’t want to spend any on things you really don’t want to do. It was then that I began to understand that it was okay for me to not always want to participate in these get-togethers. But I still spent a lot of time feeling guilt over letter Jared and my friends down. Me not wanting to participate in this activities still seemed to mean that I was no fun and didn’t value my friends enough. It took time to realize that yes, I value them, but I don’t like big parties like I used to. I get overwhelmed once there are more than 8 people even if they are all close friends. I find as the quantity of people go up the quality of time goes down. I don’t have any fun, I zone out and I start to feel uncomfortable. However, as much as I want to be more Sam and not expend my f*ck budget on things that don’t make me happy at one point is that considered selfish? I am still trying to navigate the give and take especially where my marriage is concerned. Jared is only here 2 weeks of each month because of his work schedule. He wants to spend time with his friends and he wants me there too. Meanwhile I usually don’t enjoy myself at these big get togethers and I only get Jared 2 weeks out of every month. How do I be more Sam and be a good wife at the same time? So it’s all good and well knowing what I DON’T want to do, but it got me thinking about what I DO want to do? And the answers came a lot harder than you would expect. In the end I found hiking, reading, taking my dog to the dog park, feeding people, hanging out with a couple of friends, sunsets, live music and exploring new places bring me the most joy.

Marriage. Happy wife happy life right? Same probably goes for the husband, but it just doesn’t rhyme quite as well. This is something I’ve been wanting to focus on for a while now. I find myself very impatient with my husband and I feel a lot of guilt over that. He’s a very logical person who approaches each situation and decision with caution, thought and facts. I, on the other hand, approach pretty much everything with emotion and a need to act now and fast. They say opposites attract, but oftentimes I find myself hurt, misunderstood and fairly impatient when I find ourselves on opposite ends. So I really want to figure out some measurable goals that will help me improve and grow our relationship. From a couples counselling retreat to just trying to figure out ways to rein in my emotions I have been all over the map, but this is one of the most important components of my plan.

Friendship. While it’s true that I don’t want to hang out with 20+ friends at a time and maybe I don’t really like themed parties as much as I once thought I did my friends are still a very important part of my life. And I want to deepen and strengthen those relationships. Maybe that will mean more small dinner parties, coffee dates, hikes or starting some kind of book club I need to figure out who to up the quality of when we are together. And then there are the friends who don’t live in the same city of me. I want to find ways to make sure they know I am still thinking about them all the time and that I love them. My heart is divided between Nova Scotia and Toronto where some of my oldest and dearest friends reside. My heart hurts thinking about how much I miss them.

Family. I consider Jared and Bear to be my primary family, but our siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews are so important to me and I want them to know that. I need to think of some creative ways to keep in touch with them despite the distance.

And then some other parts of my happiness project are career, hobbies, having more fun, and being kind & generous.

Obviously my roadmap is extremely incomplete, but the wheels are turnings and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all unravels.

Blog, you’re going to play a big part in this!

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Feel good. Feel less bad. Feel right.

Feeling good is not the opposite of feeling bad. They’re independent of each other.

In an atmosphere of growth.

Still reading ‘The Happiness Project’, and I LOVE Gretchen’s happiness mission statement (or formula as she calls it). Gretchen, can we be best friends?

It all makes sense. But something is nagging me. Has been nagging me for quite some time. The whole feeling right part. Feeling right is all about being true to yourself and true to your dreams. It’s about where you live, what you do, and whether or not you abide by your moral compass. And so much more than that. I wonder if that is what is broken inside of me. I’m not living where I should be or where I want to be. I’m not in a career that I love. I’m not inspired. I’m not passionate. So… how do I confront this? Finding a new career is a huge risk. Jared doesn’t want to move. We just bought a house. How do I balance the glaring fact that I am not living/feeling right with real life limitations? I have to consider the financial impact, I have to consider Jared, I have to consider that maybe I’ll land on my ass and fail. And if I need to go against feeling right for a little bit is there anything I can do to feel right with what I have currently? Does having a 5 year plan to change careers and move away balance out the fact that right here isn’t right and right here isn’t happy. Can I make it right and happy for now? And how? I really admire those who have stepped outside of their comfort zone and took the jump to entrepreneurship or travelling the world or just losing the safety net. There is something inside of me that has always felt that this was my path… to do something big and scary, to be true to who I am. Is that something that lives within everyone?

Paraphrasing more of Gretchen’s findings she says that if you do new things you’re more apt to feel happy than if you were to stick with more familiar things. The unfamiliar and unexpected are important sources of happiness. New things  make the passage of time slower and richer. No violin lessons or salsa dances for me she says. No matter what the experts said.

Yes, Gretchen, yes!  Every time I try to repeat an experience I’ve had previously it’s never as good as the first time I’ve experienced it. But, sorry, I’m dead set on the violin lessons. And singing lessons. It’s going to be a part of my happiness project. And Jeremy, where do you go when you play guitar? Can I go there?

New places. I need to explore new places and try new things. I need to go to Africa and do my first Safari. I’ll add that one to my happiness project for sure! Sometimes when I think about seeing an elephant in its own habitat I cry.

Gretchen is articulating my every passing thought and legitimizing my internal voice that has been screaming at me for years.

I cannot wait to piece together the framework of my own happiness project with measurable goals.

She also talks about the fun of failure. I REALLY appreciate that she addressed the things she failed at. It’s not something people talk about a lot. And it was reassuring to hear that she was pretty ok with some of the things that just didn’t work out. I feel stunted sometimes by my own fear of failure and oftentimes I don’t even try just to guarantee I won’t fail. Like I love the idea of packing paper bag lunches and hot chocolates and giving them out to beggars on the street. I always think about the fact that I can’t help them when they ask for change, because I don’t have change. I only have a visa. But what if I dropped off some food and hot chocolates? Would it go over well? Would I learn more about who they are and how they came to be what I see as just beggars on the street? Would I learn their names? And then some day would it become bigger than me? Would I solve homelessness in Calgary?! Okay… back to reality self. But seriously, my fear of rejection has completely turned me off of the idea. What if they don’t want my lunches? What if they yell at me? There is this one older guy who is always at the same place at the same time almost everyday in the plus 15 that takes me from my work to the food court. I’m always pumped on the days I have change so I can give him a few bucks. He has a really long beard and hair, and his clothes always look pretty worn in. One day I noticed his beard and hair were trimmed up, and his clothes were clean. On my way by him I wanted to tell him I thought he looked great and that I noticed the changes. I thought about it the whole way to the food court. What if he snaps at me for talking to him? Am I being patronizing? Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut. But then 20 minutes later I had gotten up the courage to tell him I thought he looked nice. I was so pleased with myself, but was still bothered with the question… why is he asking for money? What does he need? Does he have family? Is he okay? Two dollars and an awkwardly spewed compliment just didn’t seem like enough. I always think of him as Joe in my head. Sometimes I day dream about becoming friends with Joe.

I know I’m all over the place blog, but I think I’m getting closer to sorting out what you’re becoming and the theme of what you will be. Not yet, not tomorrow, but soon. I feel it on the horizon. I hate not having order. There has to be a clear pattern so this pains me more than it does you. We’ll get there blog, in time we will get there.

But for now… BLAXLKJFDLJAFDSLKJFD!!!

Which brings me to my next item of discussion.

On my journey of having a proper mid-life crisis I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix documentaries. So of course I finally worked up the courage of watching Audrey and Daisy. I spent 3 hours crying my eyes out (yes, I know I cry a lot) at the injustice that these girls had to go through. I know I keep eluding to the fact that I was in an abusive relationship and it was bad… very bad. Because this abusive relationship completely and utterly propelled me into who I am now it often eclipses an older, but just as terrible if not worse experience. When I was 14 I was raped. I drank for the first time, and not only did I drink, but I finished off a whole 6 pack of beer and at the time was probably less than 100 pounds. I was so drunk that at one point I convulsed and smashed my head off a mug and it smashed into a hundred tiny pieces, but if didn’t hurt at all. An 18 year old boy I had just met that day ended up carrying me out to a field and I think he raped me. I’m not even positive I lost my virginity but I know he tried. I used to laugh about it. I would make inappropriate jokes about having sex, because sex was no longer a sacred thing. But it wasn’t funny. I ended up telling my parents. I saw my dad cry for the first time, and while I tried to cope and come to terms with what happened to me I could often hear my mom crying in her room. They sent me to therapy (and didn’t run it through their group benefits plan, because they did not want anyone to find out I was going to therapy… let that fucked-upness marinate with you for a little bit), because I nose dived into a deep and dark depression. My therapist was taken aback by how flippant I was about being raped. My boyfriend at the time harbored ill feelings toward me for not saving my virginity for him. I have a picture of me in grade 10 riding a little bay mare and that same picture is in my photo album beside a note that says she saved my life. She probably did. I spent the following year throwing myself into riding. I showed for the first (and last) time. I spent 10 hours a day at the barn. When night would set in I would sit in the paddock and tell her and Maximum all of my secrets. I’d race around the track and forget everything in the world except us. Spirit, Lacey, Maximus… I carry them with me. I was drowning, and they helped me fly.

I digress. What I really want to point out here is that this shit happens. It happens a lot and it gets swept under the rug and we grow up blaming ourselves. For me, I grew up with the notion that sex wasn’t special, it wasn’t sacred… to me it was a joke. I slept around and a lot of pain and regret resulted from my flippant attitude towards sex. And because I didn’t value the full scope of what sex could be and what it could mean I found myself in a lot of dicey situations with boys or men that also had no respect for what sex was supposed to be, and I found myself saying yes in situations where I wanted to say no, because saying no means no might not work, and saying no can turn simple sex into something more sinister like rape. And if that happens your mom cries for a month and you get sent to therapy in secret and the world falls apart. So you say yes, because he isn’t taking no for an answer. Rape is highly UNfuckingCONVENIENT.

When it finally got to be too much I pressed charges against my ex, and it WAS inconvenient and scary. It nearly broke me in half, but I did the right thing, because when I was a timid and terrified 14 year old I kept my mouth shut and you know what? He raped another girl not even a year later. And I will forever carry that shit with me. I’m sorry to that girl that I never had the privilege to know or meet. And I’m sorry I didn’t speak up. I hope you’re doing okay.

I really digress now.

Watching Audrie and Daisy made me so insanely proud. Despite the injustice that these girls experienced they spoke out about it! Not in some anonymous blog, but on a documentary in person available to the whole world! And lets make this a conversation! Lets talk about this. You are not alone. And the shit that happened to you is fucked up and you have nothing to be ashamed about. Nothing. The world will re-victimize you, but someday with your voice and with mine we’ll change everything. And the burden of the truth isn’t just on your shoulders. It’s on our shoulders and we will carry it together.

I’m not ashamed anymore. This is for Audrie and Daisy. This is for all of you. I am so sorry. I know the truth feels like a burden. People will question it. The people you trust most might re-victimize you. Find something to keep you alive. Find a support network. Find strength in not being alone. Don’t let it kill you, don’t let it cheapen sex, don’t let is poison you. I’m here for you.

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Whiskey Rivers

October 15, 2016

I want to feel alive. I am so hungry. I need to find purpose and a deeper meaning to my life. This hunger keeps me locked inside of my own head. It’s complicated and it’s maddening. I need to harness this part of me so that I still get satisfaction out of life without this constant nagging feeling that there is something bigger out there. That’s a lot of pressure. How am I supposed to enjoy the day to day when I measure myself against people who have dedicated their lives to a deeper purpose? Jared jokes about me being a perfect candidate for a midlife crisis and he’s right. All of the ingredients are there. At this rate someday I am going to wake up and wonder at what the fuck I’ve done with my life. I’ll count down the years as I always do and realize I have too little left in terms of time and I’ll skyrocket into insanity. Hopefully it won’t be anything more than a boob job, ridiculous speed car and unlikely hobby like drumming. But anyone who knows me deep from the very beginning I was destined to run away to Africa, give up everything material in life and drink Tony Robbin’s Kool-aid (SOMEONE, ANYONE, DON’T LET ME DRINK HIS KOOL-AID!!!!) cause that’s the kind of person I am, that’s my midlife crisis and I’m on the fast track there if I can’t find a way to fill my bucket in a more reasonable way.

And here’s the crazy thing… there’s some real irony to who I am. My decisions have been driven by a deep seeded fear of financial instability. Yeah, that’s right. My whole heart can picture myself deep in mid-life crisis in some obscure part of Africa living a simple and selfless life, but my decisions are driven by money. And while I don’t think I’m really very materialistic (although, I got a bit lost in Calgary for a while keeping up with the Joneses… I think I’m coming back to myself again now), but this fear was rooted watching my parents fight over money constantly and my mother always commenting on what other people had and what we didn’t. I want to be happy without worrying about maintaining my financial freedom that I currently have, but it’s hard to shed something that has been a part of me since childhood. “Financial freedom” shackles me. I think it keeps me from being who I want to be. It’s preventing me from taking risks. It’s controlling my decisions. It’s blocking my dreams.

So I’m trying to rebuild myself. Like I said, I want to feel alive. So many days go by in a blur and dealing with depression means there’s a lot of grey and darkness. I’ve been thinking about things that have made me feel alive in the past. You know that feeling where you have the chills, adrenalin is pumping, you’ve got goosebumps,  and you have so much energy you want to run up and down your street and just scream with pure joy. By the way, I’ve done that. When I was 14. Picture lanky awkward me running up and down my tiny residential street with a maniac smile on my face probably singing or something like that… I wasn’t popular in school. I’ve always been a weirdo. But that feeling is awesome! Sometimes you’re walking on the line of sheer craziness and letting go is exhilarating.

There’s no rhyme or reason as to why my flip suddenly switches. I just want hold onto that feeling of being alive. Really alive. I want to build myself back into a healthy and happy human. I want to dig deep and find my authentic self. I want to practice mindfulness, gratitude, respect, patience and kindness. I want to let go of the fear of losing money, losing face in front of people I don’t even care about, and of pleasing any and all other people.

I’ve been taking little steps towards that. I deleted facebook. I know, that sounds so miniscule in the grand scheme of things but baby steps. Maybe someday I will cut out other things that make me superficial and other things that make me sedentary like trash tv, Instagram and magazines. I’ve been focusing on self-development and self-growth. When I think about the things that fill my bucket I think growth and giving is a big part of that and that hasn’t been a priority in my life.

I want to volunteer again, I want to grow in all the ways – I want to grow my practice in mindfulness and my search in finding myself and my meaning, and I also want to grow in knowledge of things that really matter versus the shit I am currently addicted to like facebook posts and random lists about celebrities.

I also want to remember and honour my experience from when I was in an abusive relationship. That propelled me to greatness if only for a little bit. In the face of crisis I believe we truly have the opportunity grow and expand and break through all barriers. As I healed from my experience I also found deep satisfaction and inspiration in my desire to help other women who had similar experiences. Nothing ever came from that. I want to change that. There is an untapped talent there that I can offer this world and while it’s not Africa and it’s not making radical changes to the world to save the environment (my grade 4 self had some brilliant ideas in that arena!!), but it’s a step in the right direction. I want to uncover the girl who wanted to save the world before I got overwhelmed and walked away from that ambition. I do want to make a difference in my own life and in yours.

Losing my intentions

January 15, 2015

When you have that moment on that mat and it’s sort of like, ‘aha! there I am. there’s my forgiveness, my compassion and my patience. there’s my breath. it’s all good.’ and then you leave the quiet dimly lit room for chaotic reality. I lose it. Or it loses me. And I get stuck in my mind that demands perfection and abuses me with expectations. I lose all patience and compassion and go back to judging and rushing.

I want to let go of this idea of perfection. I’m always failing by my own unrealistic expectations. And what is the point of perfection? Flaws make us interesting, but I can’t let go of this idea that I’m just not doing it right. I don’t own the right things, I’m not tidy enough, I don’t have enough in savings, I’m lazy, I’m mean, I’m ugly in countless different ways… why do we do this to ourselves? I want to let it all of go.

And while I’m talking about wants and dreams more than anything I want to forgive my family for my own inability to understand them. I want to forgive them for all of the things that can’t be undone. I want to open back up to them, but I’ve lost my way in getting there. I want to give all of my compassion and forgiveness to them. To the people I love the most and hurt the most through this poisonous isolation I’ve placed on the road between our hearts and minds and everything else that makes us who we are.

I want to be in the moment.  And I want all of this clutter that comes from technology and social media to stop filling up my time turning my moments into a meaningless life I know I’ll regret.

Is there a simple formula that will set it all right and take those gentle intentions off of the mat with me and into real life?

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