Marbles

She had read an article about trust and the marble jar. The author quoted Brene Brown:

«Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.»

She liked this analogy. This week she had really good days and she had some downright sad days where she was barely able to function, although she did, it required a lot of effort and there was a lot of crying.

On the great day, Monday, she woke up feeling awesome. She had a good night sleep, 8 hours. A first for her in the longest time. She was so grateful she was thanking life, her mom, the Universe, any spirit that would listen. She was thrilled. Ironically Monday was the day she read the article – that morning. The marble jar.

She reflected on how she had managed her marble jar. Over the last 9 years, she had filled up this jar and then smashed it (quite literally) many times. Whenever she would feel hurt, ignored or betrayed by her boyfriend, She too could be downright cruel with her words. Over time she had worked on this aspect of herself, but last November, as she was burning out and denying that, the flaw was coming back in force. She wanted to hurt the person in her life that she believed should be there for her but was instead hurting her. She was getting tired of losing her marbles so she would deliberately hurt the person responsible. Using this analogy, in November there were little marbles and she just smashed the jar. However, personal events caused her to change her mind, and put that jar back together, to «help» the person she no longer trusted, but did not know how to leave.

She realized that she was in a vulnerable state herself. She was afraid to be alone during a period where she knew she was burning out, had severe anxiety, but she wanted to manage it herself and not admit weakness to anyone. She prided herself on being positive so depression made no sense to her. It could not be possible for her to be depressed. So, instead of turning to drugs, as she had done in the past, she turned to her security blanket, the boyfriend. The one who could fill up a jar of marbles and then empty it just as quickly. No wonder she was losing her marbles.

Today there is no more jar. It had been smashed so many times, she could no longer put it back together. On the bad day, Tuesday, she was filled with deep grief. The numbing, overwhelming grief. Panic over the finality of the relationship, she started to doubt herself. Thank God she had an appointment with her doctor. She went in, a crying mess and told him that over the last month, she had made progress although she did not feel or appear that way at the moment. She had done all of this without any prescribed medication. Her doctor was an angel to her. He gave her this perspective on grieving the end of a relationship:

« The end of a relationship is painful, even if you end it. To grieve is human and normal. It is healthy to feel your feelings and cry. This is the healing process. »

She was reminded of the saying «You have to feel it to heal it. »

Then she asked him why it hurt more when she realized that her ex had found someone else, in a nano second and was now getting clean. She felt happy he was clean and then inadequate and not good enough to have deserved that when he was with her. He offered up this perspective:

«It is part of the process for an addict to get clean when they lose something precious to them. The term rock bottom stems from this. In addition, the person will tend to fill the void with another addiction, someone or something. This is called rebound in the case of relationships. »

Then he looked her straight in the eyes and told her there was nothing wrong with her. None of this was a reflection of herself. Instead, he told her that she had made significant progress since February and that she had taken a huge step in ending a toxic relationship. She had stopped trying to fix the marble jar. He also informed her that when in depression, a person’s self-esteem is low. She was making progress by sticking up for herself.

She left that day feeling better. She was also looking forward to her therapist appointment the following morning. In being completely honest with herself, she realized she had stayed in a relationship out of fear. She thought she was being forgiving and loving to her boyfriend but she was not being loving to herself. She was afraid and stayed in it. She knew her therapist would have some valuable insight. She had been right and guided her so well since the very beginning. She opened up, was vulnerable and honest with her. She told her she felt ashamed for being sad over something that was supposed to be for the best. Her therapist re-iterated her doctor’s words and then gave her three things to do (if this helps even one person going through a break up then this would be wonderful):

  1. On a good day, write a letter to the sad self. There will be days of sadness and in that moment, a letter to her sad self from her happy strong self would be a loving thing to do and read.
  2. Given she had no appetite and was not eating, she suggested eating small things, like nuts, yogurt, smoothies, a banana. Anything small and healthy. Despite her ups and downs, she was still working out every day so she reminded her to be kind to my body and feed it.
  3. Stop all contact with the ex. She could not heal her wounds by keeping contact with the person that helped hurt her (she replied that she took full responsibility for allowing this to happen but…..). This, she said would be entirely up to her. However, if she chose to continue contact she risked prolonging the hurt, the healing process would take longer or she could end up back in the relationship.

Upon hearing point number 3, she paused. She admitted that they were in contact. He would text her asking if she could talk. There were still things of his in her house. The therapist replied that she had finally ripped the band aid off, smashed the marble jar and was at risk of leaving a wound fresh and ripe to stay open.

She was honest, again, and told her therapist that she realized that when his mom passed away, she may have changed her mind and forgiven him again out of pity or guilt as she had done in November and December. But this time, his decision to be with someone else had removed that self-doubt from her. She felt gratitude in that moment. This is what we call getting a different perspective from fear to love. Instead of feeling betrayed, she felt that the Universe did have her back. She felt loved and supported.

So what of this marble jar? Well as she was working out today, she felt pretty good. Her reflection for today was gratitude. She was grateful for the gym, the time to work out, and her body for allowing her to do so, on and on she went with all that she was grateful for. As she was working out, this song came on. It was a song that had played in a bar they had gone to while in Amsterdam. It was a really good day that day. She felt a wave of sadness, and like she had been punched in the gut. She kept on doing her reps, and then suddenly thought « MARBLE!!!! »

Those good memories were marbles that she would stumble upon every now and again. All she had to do was remind herself when she stepped on one to say to herself «marbles» and remember that the jar may be gone but those marbles were still rolling around out there. If she ran into one and recognized it, she may slip but she would not fall.

She left the gym and treated herself to an Americano coffee. She loved the lady that served it. She was grateful for her too. As she was crossing the street to get into her car, and felt like she was going to have a good cry, someone called her name. It was her ex-husband. The man she had left 9 years ago to be with the one she was now currently grieving. He had always been kind and graceful during the the whole marriage, even at the end. He asked if she had time to talk. She did. She was honest with him about her current situation.

He was kind and replied «9 years ago I told you one thing and I promised I would never say it again. »

She asked, «What was that? »

He replied «I told you I did not think he was good for you. You deserved better. I think you were afraid of being alone. »

She thanked him for that and told him many people had said that to her over the years. Maybe she needed to figure that out for herself. Maybe now, because she was given the time to focus on herself, she finally realized that it was time for her to fill up her own marble jar. The urge to cry was gone as he left her at her car. The urge to write was strong. So she followed her gut. In the 12 step community they say « you can only keep what you have by giving it away. » So she did. Marbles………

 

Advertisements

Let it go

She was diagnosed with a burn out and major depression on February 15th 2018. During her leave from work she had taken the temporary care of her two grandsons. She followed her treatment plan to the best of her ability. For anyone feeling depressed, here is the treatment plan as follows:

  1. Go to the therapist once per week
  2. Meditate daily
  3. 30 minutes of physical activity
  4. Make a list of 3 tasks to do each day. One of these tasks must bring her joy
  5. Do something creative
  6. Rest as much as possible

She was not able to meditate daily but did do so 4 to 5 times per week. It helped her immensely. Physical activity was mostly with the boys as she got pretty sick the first month and a half of her leave. Recently she had been going to the gym 4 to 5 days per week and she adored it.

She also decided to read and follow a book called «May Cause Miracles» by Gabrielle Bernstein. The first audio book of hers she had listened to «The Universe Has Your Back» was quite inspirational to her while she was in Cuba in January trying to fix herself. Each week there is a theme; examples such as undoing the ego, facing our fears, loving ourselves, loving our body, abundance, gratitude, forgiveness etc…..

The exercises required journaling, affirmations and reflections. Today, after a long night of sitting with her feelings, she reviewed her past work in her journal and came to a realization. The course had given her exactly what she needed. There are things called «spiritual assignments». These are events that happen that can be hurtful or uncomfortable in order to allow personal growth and transformation. The course required her to take stock of her thoughts and fears in addition to all the wonderful blessings in her life. She came to realize that many things had taken place since she was on medical leave and they all came back to these lessons from the book. Many questions and fears she had were being answered and she actually had to face them.

She had to take a look at her relationships – with herself, with her daughter, grandsons, her career and her boyfriend of 9 years. She sat and realized how she had started to set boundaries with everyone. She started to be honest about things, she reached out for help. She had taken a hard look at her career. She dreamed of taking photography classes. She questioned whether or not the 9 year relationship was sustainable long term just like her 13 years at the firm. They say «those who do not like the boundaries you set are those that benefited from you not having any». How true this was.

She had asked the Universe for help, guidance in all these realms to allow her to realize what to do. The results of all this?

Her daughter and partner were both on the road to recovery and getting help. Her grandsons and she had a better relationship and a routine. It is not perfect and she was still learning to manage two boys that like to scream and yell. But the temper tantrums had subsided and she received wonderful insights and tips from her therapist.

She saw an opportunity at a previous client that she loved for a position she was perfect for. She was not sure about going for it given she was on leave. However, the Universe is funny and she received a text from a colleague about the same position. She wanted to talk with her therapist about it. She was on vacation so she thought she would wait until her return. However, the following week she was contacted by a headhunter for the same position. After being completely honest with him, she decided to send in her C.V. Three days later she was informed they were thrilled and wanted an interview. The interview took place on Friday. It did not feel like an interview but like a meeting between old friends and a discussion about the work that would be done. She knew them, they knew her and it was nice. She did not know if she would be retained for the next steps. However she did know for certain that she could not return to her current employer. She feared any progress she had would be lost under the current conditions there. She had received answers. She had a bit more clarity on this situation.

Her relationship that she questioned? She had tried ending this in 2015, in 2016, then last November, then December and again in March. He would always ask for another chance. He kept showing her actions and she kept focusing on who he could be and on who he was without drugs. She chose to hope and focus on progress. This time she set boundaries in the form of a contract. It did not last. It was never respected.  He is addicted to drugs and she was never a priority. Time to face reality.

She ended her 9 year relationship two weeks ago. After he disappeared for four days, she requested the keys. She received them in her mailbox. She packed his personal belongings kindly. She sanitized the room she had not slept in for as long as she could recall. She took back her space. She treated him with respect after years of being last on his priority list. She was grateful for all the times he had been there for her and acknowledged he was not a bad person. He was a good person. Just not good for her. She realized that she could no longer stay with this person and feel self-worth. She felt ashamed, like a fool and very hurt. When she did see him so he could pick up his things, she was not insulting or cruel. She remembered that she did love him. He is a human being who is hurting. But he was also hurting her. She realized this was the hardest lesson. She had to put herself first in all areas of her life, just like work. She could not force herself to make things work at the cost of her well-being. She was ready to feel the  short term discomfort, pain and hurt in order to have a new beginning and long term happiness.

His mom passed away yesterday and she went to see him with food, alcohol and flowers. She thought he could use a hug. He had been there for her when her own mom passed away. His mom was the best mother in law and she loved her. When she arrived, he was with someone else. She felt dispensable and disposable after 9 years. She felt hurt and confused. She felt the feelings of hurt. She then wondered what the gift was. The gift was that she was being given the space to grieve. She was being given the space to let this all go and move on. She would no longer have to feel guilty. She was now free to do what she needed to do without him trying to keep coming back. The Universe provides. The relationship died on the day his loving wonderful mother died. She would grieve her on my own. His mom knew how she felt about her. She did not need to do it with her family. She released him and he had finally released her. Apparently grieving the end of a relationship, even a toxic one is a normal part of being human.

Her photography dreams were still alive. She has registered for a course but had to drop it because she could not count on anyone to babysit. The time would come when she would find help with the kids and she would register, once again, for that course. She had a new camera and she was learning to use it. Practice makes perfect. She would enjoy the journey and how it unfolds.

Many things happened in the past year. She had gone through a lot. The depression that she hated herself for the first week had proven to be a wonderful gift. The blessing of time. Time to take care of herself. Her insecure little self asked «Who will love me now» She would, she did. She does. Life loved her as well. She knew this.

She recently experienced moments of gratitude for no reason and moments of inner peace. True peace. These moments were fleeting. There was still a lot of crying and she still needed to work on her self-doubts and self-worth in addition to feelings of betrayal and some resentments. However she saw progress. She felt a flicker if hope. She found herself saying «I got this» but not like she used to say at work. Not to prove anything to anyone or show how tough she was. She now said «I got this» for herself. Because her happiness and well-being mattered. She was going to be happy and well inside, not because of any outside validation or unhealthy co-dependent relationships with work or people.

She also started listening to Eckhart Tolle again. Years ago she read his book and found herself drawn to it again. She enjoyed his teachings about presence and being aware of our thoughts. She thought it was fitting at this stage. Suffering, she had  come to learn, came from holding on to the past and resentments, judgement about the present – resisting what is, and worry about the future. They say being aware of the problem is half the solution. So it was for her today. The journey continues.

Chaos

What the hell happened? She could get through anything – many, many anything’s. She had had her share of ups and downs and tried to view them as a nice roller-coaster ride. Surfing waves, ups and downs. Not recently. It had been a not fun kind of roller coaster. She was no longer surfing those waves, she felt like she was drowning. The worst part is, it got to her. Mentally.

She felt broken down, overwhelmed and weak. Nothing she did was enough. She felt as though she was barely scraping by. Getting the minimum done. She had always worked hard. Worked towards her goals. Achieved them as validation she was good enough. Worked in a Big Four firm – for validation she was good enough. Got promoted throughout the years, performed to an above average level for 80% of her time at that firm. Achieve, perform, achieve, and perform – all the while being told how she was not good enough at this or that. Never a kind compliment without a BUT after it. For years she tried her best not to take this personally. This year, it all got to her. Adapt, adjust, deliver, and keep on going like the energizer bunny. Deliver, adapt, no big deal. She was waving a flag, she was drowning, she felt really, really sad. Odd for her as the positive little optimist. Things always work out. Things always work out repeat, rinse, repeat. All the while seeking validation from the outside.

Her faith was next to shake. Her family was blowing to bits, going to hell. No worries, circle of life. Worry solves nothing. Control what you can. She was going out of control. She felt like she was losing her mind. Random reflection is right. This blog would not be organized, no sub titles – just a release of what had been in her head for months. Months of not even doing one of the things she loved – writing, going to the gym. Oh the critics at work about her writing. Her thoughts are not structured, her lack of attention to detail. She guessed it depended on the reviewer. No mistakes were allowed there. Not even small ones. To err is human, that is how you learn – nope not at work.

There were two people who had a different approach. She started to love working with them and took their comments with joy. She felt like she was contributing and doing well. What a change. But even that was not good enough. She was criticized for working on one client too much and had to expand. So throw more work her way on top of the global client – so just do more, adjust, adapt and let them validate her entire existence with their lack of compliments. Their constant criticism and micro management was par for the course. Adjust, adapt. Oh and don’t take things personally. She had allowed this, chosen this. She was baffled. It was all coming to the surface.

People died? OK take some days, but remember you pay for your vacations before and after. The unwritten rule of corporation. Who died? Your mom? Let us remind you of that on Mother’s Day in the mass email sent out to the team not even 2 months afterwards. Classy. The father of her child died suddenly and unexpectedly? Too bad so sad. Not a relative. Does not count. Fuck her grief, fuck her daughter – she is an adult. Why did she have to help her? She is an adult. She has a partner. She had to help with the kids? Why – she had no time for that! She had a career to think about. She could not have no life other than work? She was concerned about her daughter spiraling out of control? She was too emotional, too worried, too weak, and too personal. Something was wrong with her. That was the message.

She found herself waking up in the morning crying. Repeating over and over «I got this, I got this, I can do this» just to be able to leave the house and go to work. Deadlines looming with resources taken away – «I got this, I can do this, I can deliver. I must deliver». She really care about her clients. Breaking down crying at the office in private because nobody could see this weakness. No way. NO WAY.

Crying and unable to breathe. Rocking back and forth begging for her power back. Where did she go? Where was she and who was this person who was so weak?

A colleague walked in and closed the door. He helped her back to a sense of calm – no crying. They talked. He helped her. She can keep doing this. She had the support of a colleague. She was not burning out. She was just stressed. She called the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)  and asked for an appointment – no time? No problem, phone call therapy. She accepted the December 21st phone appointment – two weeks away. No call on  that day. No call. No help from the EAP. No problem. She was on winter vacation now. She had this. One week in Cuba alone would set her straight. She would find herself, realign herself and be strong, solid. A bomb could go off and she could deal with it, manage it and get through it. ZEN……….

Back to work after 4 hours of sleep. Had to negotiate that week in Cuba. The date changed 3 times. Adapt, adjust, and negotiate vacation time that she actually had banked. She was zen enough and that lasted 5 days. Gone. 5 days. She was not right. The Cuba solution that had worked so well in the past was no longer working.

Untold story about her daughter. Cannot talk about that. She is alive and making insane choices. Not her problem though. She is an adult. People keep telling her that like it helps.

The colleague helped her get her grandson into pre-K mid-year. She was so grateful. He gave her a recommendation to a therapist. She made the appointment and went to see her. The therapist was a good fit for her. One week later, the therapist told her to go see her doctor. What a joke. She did not have a doctor. She had not been to a doctor in 21 years. Walk-in clinic –  there was an alternative. So she went back to work. «I got this, I got this, I got this»………she could not stop crying. She just hid in her office wanting to crawl under the desk and hide there. She could not breathe. Her colleague knocked. She let him in. He told her to go home and say she had gastro. Nobody argues with gastro. They want you far away. OK she thought. OK. So she left.

The next day she stayed home and called that walk-in community clinic. They told her to come in and see a nurse. When she arrived, they asked if she also needed to see a therapist. She could not stop crying. She said no that her therapist had told her to come in this clinic.

She waited. Two women came to get her. They talked to her. They had her complete a questionnaire. They took her vitals. Then they said she could not leave until she saw a doctor. She said she had to get her grandson from school. It was just one street over from the clinic. They allowed her to leave and get her little one. The doctor then saw her. She was not going back to work. She was burned out and placed on medical leave for 30 days. He offered to be her family doctor. She was stunned. There was a shortage of family doctors. He was offering. She accepted. He gave her a battery of blood tests to take and urine. She went to the lady to make the appointment. The lady told her she was happy she had come in today. She then said «Open your heart to receive». She left and marveled at how kind every single person had been to her. She was amazed and grateful.

She then took her second little one into her temporary care. The people from Youth Protection came and visited her house. The plan would work. Not so fast. Two weeks later, she got a call saying that this was going to family court and the care of the children was going to be entrusted to her. Out of the blue. No notice. In the next 4 days a meeting was held and the court date took place. She was baffled. She was getting accustomed to feeling stunned/baffled. She was starting to wonder if this was really her life. She could not recognize her daughter or anyone anymore really. Everything had changed so much. This was insane. People were hurt, angry, felt betrayed. All she wanted to do was help. Powerlessness was the ever-present theme. It is overkill really, she thought to herself. Why must it be so over the top this powerlessness? Must everything be out of her control? Yes, even her own state of mind seemed to have escaped her. She was now responsible for two boys, while trying to figure out how to get mentally healthy again to go back to work.

Fuck work. 30 days was not enough to get over this. The medical leave was extended. She now had 30 more days to figure it out. Get better, get stronger. Stop feeling overwhelmed. Get her Zen back, herself back. It all just seemed impossible. But she remembered nothing is impossible. Must everything be so hard? She did not have Syria problems, she had first world problems. She made gratitude lists:

  • I am grateful I live in a peaceful country.
  • I am grateful these are the problems I have instead of bombs
  • I am grateful that nobody else has died
  • I am grateful for the clinic and the kindness received from them
  • I am grateful for my colleague
  • I am grateful that I can help with the boys
  • I am grateful to be alive
  • and so on for pages…….

She was grateful for many things. It helped for a little while.

Then back to reality. Drugs, drugs everywhere – people she loved taking the most horrid substances she could think of. She hated drugs. She remembered a time when they would all go to 12 step groups. Everyone was «clean». She hated that word. Like no one was dirty before. She had a nice family. All was well. This too shall pass though. Boy did it ever pass. What happened? Never mind what happened. No sense wondering about the past. It is done.

Drugs – the doctor asked if she wanted pills to help with sleep – she refused. No way was she going to take drugs to feel better. Not this time. That was done. No sense in adding to the insanity. He prescribed them nonetheless.  The bottle remains, untouched.

She followed her treatment plan to the best of her ability. She even looked into photography classes. Her dad had told her this burn out was probably the best thing that could happen to her. She was trying to see the positive or the opportunity in everything. She really was trying. She made photography collages with her photos. She decorated her apartment with pictures of the ocean. She made an aqua garden, bought a little beta fish and named him Alpha.  She went to therapy weekly.

One Saturday while the boys were with their dad, she even got to spend the day with her daughter. She was so happy. They came home and talked a bit. Her daughter helped pick out the last photos for the frames she had painted. It was great. She caught a glimpse of her daughter, the one she used to know.

They discussed birthday plans. She would have them over for dinner and make her daughter’s favorites, including a lemon meringue pie. Her mom had always made the best lemon pies. This was good. She felt her mom’s spirit with her. Her plant Tessie was thriving. The boys were now in school and daycare. The weekdays she would try to relax, meditate and hopefully feel a sense of peace. One day at a time. She dreaded the day she would have to go back to work. She was not ready, not yet anyways. But this too would pass. Doesn’t everything?

Today, she would take care of the boys and hopefully herself. For today, that would have to be good enough. And pray her daughter would be okay and find the help she needs. One day, this chaos would pass, or she would become an expert at accepting it for what it is instead of resenting it so fucking much. She dreamed of the day when she could again surf those waves instead of being drowned in them. She had always loved waves.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year

2017 is a prime number. I was born on a prime date, prime month and I was sure that 2017 would be my year to thrive. 2017 – My mother passed away from Alzheimer’s, my daughter’s father also passed, and I feel like I lost my daughter. She has not been the same since he passed. I just counted the ways my year hurt me. I feel hurt and pain and it has not gone away just yet. I know it will. I know I want it to. I also know that 2017 brought me many experiences that were beautiful. Family moments, moments with my grandsons. Moments by the ocean that took my breath away. Moments at work where I persevered and I got promoted. Moments where I placed my health first. Moments where I was really strong. Then there were moments where I was really weak. As I write this I realize that this is life. I am not stupid. I know.

There will be days where one will be strong and moments that knock us to our knees. This year I feel like I was knocked to my knees. Many times. I took things personally. I did not expect most of what happened. As a result I did not react like I have been used to. I did take things personally. I felt offended by the Universe that I believed always sought to help me, not hurt me. I did not accept so easily. I still do not. I know this. I also know that I must. I need to accept otherwise I will only be hurting myself.

I really wish I had thrived this year like I had planned. This is the hardest thing to accept. I do not feel like I thrived. I feel like I lost a lot and did not deal with it so well. But maybe, just maybe, the fact that I am still here, still going forward, still willing to try, maybe that is thriving. Maybe I can redefine what thriving means. I know that there are people in war torn countries who would dream of what I have. This does not help. I know it but I still feel how I feel.  I am so tired of comparing my feelings to others. I am not supposed to compare myself to other people when it comes to defining success but when it comes to defining sadness, this is the measurement that people use. They tell me these things. Fuck that. Maybe that is one good thing. I no longer care what other people think about my feelings? Maybe this year I can no longer care what other people think in general? That would be a gift.

I also know that I have a good life. A good country, a good city, a good home, a great family, a good job. It is simple but I love where I live. I love my family and all the good people in my life. They never judged me this year. We all respected how we each grieve. This is priceless. It was hard to do where my daughter is concerned. I have learned to let that go too. So many things I had to let go this year. That is the hard part. The letting go. I feel sad. I had to let go of a lot this year. Practice makes perfect? Maybe.

So as I reflect on this past year I am grateful and thankful for all that I have. I know I have a lot. My two boys are priceless. My family is priceless. I have so many priceless moments that no amount of money could replace. I saw my two girlfriends of so many years in Vancouver. That is a gift. I saw my dad too. I was able to have wonderful vacations that gave me joy. I spent time alone and with my grandson Aidan. I did so many things that I love. I was able to spend the last moments, breathes of my mom’s life with her. Just like I asked. I am thankful to have had a mother so amazing that losing her causes me grief. I am thankful to have a daughter so amazing that her pain causes me pain to watch. That means she was a force to be reckoned with and anything less is something I just need to accept and know that this too shall pass. I have two healthy grandsons. I was fortunate to be able to spend the last day of this year with them. I am able to cook for them and laugh and play. Who gets to play anymore? I do. I still do. My son in law has been an inspiration. He went through hard times too and he persevered. I see that I have so very much to be grateful for. My work that has been a cause for much reflection is also a blessing. I will admit it. I am not sure what the hell I am doing or why but I know I am challenged and have a good job. I will see it this way. OK. For today.

I will try to accept that the things that happened this year must be left behind for a new year to start, even if this causes me pain. I feel like letting this all go means I am ok with losing the people I loved so much. I want to keep them with me and if I let them go………………..what happens? What does the New Year look like?

Well I have no answers right now except that I am happy to see the end to 2017. I am also sad. I am looking forward to 2018. But with a different outlook. Something inside has changed. I am no longer to hopeful optimist with belief in the Universe. No. I no longer believe that things happen for a reason. I no longer believe in the airy fairy stuff. What I do believe in is the ocean. It is real and tangible. I do believe in gratitude, goodness and kindness. I still believe in that. But I do not believe things happen for a reason anymore. I believe that I must not. I must not take things personally. To do this, nothing happens for a reason per say. It just happens. The Universe is random and chaotic. Constantly changing. Physics, chemistry, biology, this makes sense to me. Don’t think about it too much. If it feels bad, let it go. If it feels good, enjoy. Do not look for meaning in anything anymore. Things are the way they are. Let them be. Maybe that is my gift this year. A new perspective. I am willing to see it through. I know one thing. I am blessed, I am grateful even if I am sad and happy at the same time for different reasons. It was a good year at the end of the day, despite the stuff I am still working through. Maybe I can say I did thrive. Maybe by writing this last piece, having spent time with my family, being with my two grandsons, having spoken to my daughter, packing for my trip to the ocean, I can say, I made it and I did thrive. Just not the way I planned.

When I look at William and Aidan, how they are with each other, this inspires me. William reminds me of my mom. He has this look he gives me with his eyes, like the one she gave me near the end when that is how she could communicate. They are the wind beneath my wings, as is my girl. I will hold on to that. I will remember how lucky I am to have sisters and brothers who are wonderful and create family events. They dote on the boys. I will remember my second dad who shares his feelings with me and my dad who tells me all I have to do is call and vent. I am lucky girl. I must remember that. I know I have all the support I need. All I need now is to give myself my own support. I need to be there for myself.

From the bottom of my heart I wish everyone a wonderful New Year. Live, love, laugh. Thank you for giving me a safe space to write. It was so therapeutic and helped me release and express. May 2018 be a wonderful year for you all.

Focus

She had heard it said that you create your own reality, write your own story, you are the artist, the craftsman, the one holding the brush, the pen. She wondered how true this was, or if it was taken too literally. She had also heard it said that it is what you focus on that drives reality. Head in the sand or purposeful focus. Thoughts were also to be observed/examined carefully because they drove actions and word. She found it helpful to reflect in the third person, maybe she was onto something. What was she focusing on, thinking and what story was she writing?

Life provides experiences that can be unwanted and downright unfair. She could not fully believe that everything was willfully created by individuals. It was too big and confusing a notion to wrap her head around. Nobody individually wants or willingly creates getting bombed for example. Due to examples such as these, she found focus made the most sense, The little moments in life that are sometimes ignored, missed, not paid attention to because she could be stuck in her own head or focusing on problems, potentially missing solutions.

This past week she had found herself focusing on things a bit differently, for example, after writing she decided to go to a meeting, alone. She picked up her youngest little one afterwards.

Before she left she had found the song Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)  by C+C Music Factory – ft. Freedom Williams and had posted it on Facebook in support of a man who had been fined by the police for singing this song out loud in his car. It had been one of her favorite songs at that time. She fully intended to play it in her car on the way.

In her car, the video would not load. She should have downloaded it onto her phone instead of playing the video but she had to leave in order to be on time at the meeting. So she just played other music along the way. Then she got to the corner of Helen-Rochester and St-Jacques and spotted a cop on the corner. The video just started to play, effortlessly at that moment. So she blasted it and started to laugh out loud. She felt like life had given her a little wink. She felt supported by unseen, loving energy.

She arrived at the meeting on time.  A friend came to say hello. It had been a while since they had seen each other or even talked. She was grateful this friend was kind. She had somehow expected that some people may not be. Perhaps it was her being hard on her own self and projecting that outwards.

One of the readings was the Just for Today. On this day the theme was about letting go of the need to control.  «We can also use the steps to improve our attitudes. » …….Ever have a day when everything seems to be working against you? What about when you find yourself snapping at your co-worker or loved one for no reason? When we find ourselves in this bleak frame of mind, we need to take action……..We examine how we are reacting to outside situations and other people. When we do, we may find that we are suffering from a plain old “bad attitude.” When we are honest with ourselves, we frequently find that the problem lies with us and our attitude. We have no control over the challenges life gives us. What we can control is how we react to those challenges. At any point in time, we can change our attitude……….Just for today: Throughout the day, I will check my attitude. I will apply the steps to improve it. »

Appropriate under her circumstances, specifically where she had the most difficulty right now. What would she focus on? How she reacted perhaps?

Things got more interesting. If she had ever wondered if the Universe listened or if it did send signs, she need not wonder any more. The reading was the 11th step – about meditation and connecting to your «higher power» or as she liked to call her «source energy». She had begun to meditate earlier that week, not consistently everyday but baby steps.

Then came what she heard, or liked to call the golden nuggets. People were sharing about how they could be mean, unappreciative and controlling when they thought they knew better, or when things were not going the way they thought they should. MIRRORS anyone? She listened to them.  Then there was a lady who was celebrating… Her mother had joined her and her daughter and her children. As she observed this gorgeous family she recalled how her mom had come to her celebrations until she no longer could. She recalled how her own mother had been her biggest supporter, loved and her and was so proud. She realized she was seeing gifts – the clarity she had asked for and was starting to receive was coming in like flood gates. She was so very moved, she started to cry. In front of people. She did not care – this was release. The readings, the shares, and the particular subjects they were addressing were very therapeutic and exactly what she need at this moment. She felt a bit of that serenity. She felt relieved. So she decided to share that she was grateful and appreciative of these meetings. She had to say thank you. She could not get into all the details, those were not hers to share.

Then the cake the little ones and daughter had made for this lovely lady. The cake was very colorful. The wasps of color represented paintbrush strokes because she was an artist, the berries dipped in white chocolate were made to look like rocks because she loved rock collecting and geology and finally the sparkles because she loves sparkly things.  She heard and watched this. Again the waves of tears. She had loved rocks ever since she was 4, loved to paint and loved fireworks and sparkly things. She took a picture of that cake. The lady’s mother came to see her and said «stay frail – stay frail because then you are open, if you stay hard, nothing can get in». This mother with clear blue eyes who made her think of her own mom had given her a message. Could it be any clearer? She was on the right track, she did not have to be hard to get through.

The lady who came to her and asked about her daughter. This lady’s daughter is 20 and lives in across the country and had issues due to her choices. She explained the very spiritual steps that we had discussed at the meeting helped. She was one of the people who shared about being mean sometimes without realizing it, thinking she knew everything. She said «I always let her know I am there for her, that I love her and that is all I can do. » She heard the message. She had been doing exactly that and it was time to realize it, accept it and let it go, surrender.

She had a wonderful day with her little one. The way he tilted his head and looked at her reminded her of her mom at the end. The next morning, she scrolled to this free guided meditation from DavidJi about Emotional Healing. The timing was once again perfect. She said a silent thank you to the Universe. She was appreciative and happy.

The morning when she was walking to the subway station and a leaf was floating around and landed right in her purse pocket. She went to work out at the gym for the first time in ages. She went after work. It was very busy. She was in her own little zone. She decided to try going early in the morning. That was the ticket. After the work out the next morning, she was so happy. This became her new routine. The morning workouts to music she loved, for herself.

Things were manageable at work; for the most part. She was aware when she felt overwhelmed. It was a sign she had bought into the illusion that everything is an emergency. She was happy to realize it. She had to believe, because she reflected that every time in the past where she had felt this way, things had always worked out. And even if they didn’t, what was the point in focusing on nonsense? It changed absolutely nothing. She recalled how difficult it had been for her to accept her mom had Alzheimer’s and was slipping away. She reflected that perhaps if she had not paid any attention to it at all, her time with her mom could have been different. The outcome would have been the same either way. She was no longer here but if she had ignored that condition, her mom would still not be here BUT she would have felt better during the time she had with her – lofty theory. She thought she would try that with her daughter.

Her daughter asked to see her on Thursday. They had a conversation in the car and then went grocery shopping. Her daughter shared things with her so she focused on the open dialogue. Maybe not all was lost. Each person has their path to live and we are not here to control the children. They are but gifts, not possessions to control. Experience can be shared but not dictated to another. She realized she left work without having completed her list of things she wanted to complete. She decided so be it. Family was more important. The Universe would just work it out somehow. She felt her mom’s presence for a while.

The day of her birthday, when she realized the little bud in her African violet, named after her mom, Tessie, was starting to open. She was certain this was a gift from her mom. She had been missing her mom terribly this week. Something about November got to her. Her birthday, her mom’s and her second dad all had birthdays in November. She was thankful to be able to feel those emotions and remembered all the wonderful things her mom would do for her birthday. The butterfly cakes, and then later on lemon meringue pie. Butterfly cake sounded like a plan.

The Friday night getting together with her daughter when they went for a drive to the Mountain. The moon was full that night. Her daughter talked to her about loss, grief, pain and all the things she could relate to. She listened, no judgment, because everything she was hearing, she had herself experienced. She shared her feelings too and told her daughter she loved her no matter what, she would be there for her. She took pictures of that gorgeous moon. A full moon, a flower, and her daughter at one of her favorite places, where she used to go with her daughter’s dad on her birthday? Life was indeed grand.

Her son in law had kindly informed her that her little man had asked if he could go to her place on Friday night. She picked him up after the meeting with her daughter. Another birthday gift, she thought to herself. She had a brownie mix and would make a butterfly brownie, ice it a decorate it to look like a butterfly. Her and her little one would eat birthday cake together. It was wonderful, especially the part where he came up to her on the couch and just snuggled with her for a while, as they listened to children songs. In that moment, all was truly well.

The morning coffee taken outside with her little one, as they discussed what he wanted from Santa. He examined her tomato, pepper and flower plants. A flock of birds flew by. She sipped her coffee. He told her there were clowns and zombies in her backyard. Good clowns, not creepy ones. She looked outside. She reflected that the ocean and beaches she adored would always be her favorite places, however she realized there was something equally special about her own backyard. It was filled with wonders if one just focused and used their imagination. Leaves were scattered in the yard, and there were those that were stubborn, hanging on to their respective trees. Different colors. As she sipped her coffee and her little one finished his piece of butterfly cake, he informed her that a clown was playing in those leaves. How fun she thought. Her little one asked her if she could see the clown, she wondered if the clown could see them. She recalled one of her first pieces of writing entitled «Coffee and butterflies». Ironic she thought, today was a coffee and butterfly kind of day.

Reservations and clarity

Where to begin. She kept staring at her vision board that she had created just over 2 years ago. It contained pictures of her favorite travel destinations that she had been fortunate enough to experience. In addition there were pictures of her family. Then she had placed words, feel good words, to accompany the pictures. Determination, energy purpose, abundance, passion, love, appreciation, eagerness and clarity. The vision board required some updates. At the time William was not born. She had forgotten the words ease, calm, certainty, serenity, confidence, faith, hope, worthy and strong. She remembered that time.

She had learned valuable lessons then. Her boyfriend had been in rehab. It had been what she was hoping he would do for a few years. At that time she had done everything possible to help him «get clean». She was no longer willing to live the way they were living. She had given him the ultimatum – the streets or rehab. She was hoping he would say rehab because she was not convinced she would be able to kick him out on the streets. So when he went, she was certain their life would turn around. It did.

In rehab he decided he wanted independence from her and start living a new life. She experienced the break up. She did not turn to substances to feel better. She turned within and found her self-worth and confidence. She found her power. She no longer felt powerless. She felt strong. She did not hope for a reunion. She had let go. It took a few months but she was free even though she had hurt and cried. The result had been very revealing and beneficial to her. At the same time, an unexpected event at work resulted in a project that required her to travel to Amsterdam just before her planned vacation to Ireland. The timing was perfect. She would be away for three weeks and she had not planned this in order to run away – no – this was like a gift from the Universe.

She absolutely loved travelling alone. In Amsterdam, it was all new to her. She walked everywhere and experienced as much as she could before the work in Rotterdam started. She loved taking the train to Rotterdam and she loved the ocean there. No beaches were visited there but she did take a boat ride. This is where she felt at ease and calm – on, by or in the water. After the work was finished in the Netherlands she left for Ireland. She had never felt as free and confident as when she got into the car, on the other side, drove standard and onto the road, on the opposite side of what she was accustomed to. She did it like she had lived there her whole life. The highways were perfect. No traffic, just beautiful scenery. She drove to Galway, Doolin, Connemara, and the Ring of Kerry and to every beach the GPS could find. Wild beaches along the Atlantic Way with nobody around. She took the ferry to the Aran Islands. She took in every single bit of Ireland she could on that trip, and of course Dublin. She got lost and then found her way, all by herself. She came home happy and knew she loved life and life loved her. That was just over two years ago. The word on her vision board that had her attention now was clarity. She wanted clarity.

Looking back, life had continued to be filed with blessings and challenges and she had gotten through them. But now, there were things that seemed to building up and coming to a head. This is how it felt. She had reunited with her boyfriend back then. He was back to the same old destructive patterns. Patterns she was no longer willing to spend any energy trying to manage. Last year his mother had gotten ill and it had been scary. At the same time, her own mother had been placed in a home due to Alzheimer’s and she had that to face, feel and manage. William was born and her life was filled with new joys and some worry. There were certain issues that needed to be addressed. All was well for the moment with William. Yes, there were some emotional moments in that year. She had thought to herself, that 2017 would be her year to shine, the prime year was hers to reach her own and thrive.

It had not been quite the year she expected or planned. There was no way she could have prepared for the events of this year. Her mother passed, and perhaps that was to be expected, but she was still feeling the loss. Then her ex, the father of her child passed, unexpectedly and that threw her daughter into a tail spin. She had to face unresolved feelings where he was concerned. She had the tools for going through those losses. She reached out to family, to meditation, to the silence within. She cried and said she accepted. She worked her ass off and went for that promotion, and at the time it appeared she would not get it. Life had made it such that she met with a friend form work, who had left, and started a new career elsewhere. The timing, again, was perfect. She was willing and felt the hope of the possibilities of something new.  Her boyfriend was using and, while annoying, she did not resist, she accepted and she focused elsewhere. She knew she could not control another. She had learned that those two years ago. She worked, saw her family and friends. She decided to take a week vacation, by herself and found herself at the beach for 7 days. There she reached to meditation, to the silence within, to the ocean waves. It was wonderful, therapeutic and exactly what she needed. When she returned she had taken a road trip with her little one to the beach her mom and second dad had loved so much. She did not fear crying. It was like the ocean, like the tides releasing and renewing, constantly.

Her daughter was having a difficult time accepting her father’s and grandmother’s deaths. She was having severe panic attacks and was unable to join in the road trip that had initially been planned for the whole family, the five of them. She had been to the hospital twice for panic attacks and thought her heart would give out. She was prescribed anti-anxiety medication and Ativan. Her heart had sunk upon hearing the news. Pills do not make anything better, she thought to herself, but in this case, for now, this might help. She thought therapy would be the best option. Waiting lists………She feared her daughter would return to self-harming. She was not wrong. She never believed her daughter would go down a path that had her thinking and imagining the worst kind of horrors. She felt helpless, powerless and could not accept this. This had been one of her reservations – nothing could happen to her daughter. Acceptance. She could accept many things, but this one felt like to accept would be the polar opposite of being a mom. She had experience with this.  Sometimes the thing we must accept is that we are resisting, she thought to herslef. Judgement was not an issue. She could not judge. But she was full resistant mode. She accepted that. She could be there for her but could not make her feel better or make decisions for her. She reflected on the fact that two people in her life were on a downward spiral and she felt completely different about each of them. Why? Clarity eluded her.

She understood the thoughts that led to the choices that led to the behaviour that led to hell. She could not judge that. However, in her daughter’s case, she still felt helpless, destroyed, scared, worried and powerless. She was tired of it. But to let those feelings go by just accepting and letting go of the need to control was beyond her at the moment. She knew she could force an intervention of sorts. Sure, remove her daughter and place her in a safe place. That was extreme. The kids were fine. She was  a wonderful mom, who just had little regard for her self-worth and well-being at the moment. Children can keep you sane, she thought to herself. This was her experience. Children are the loves of your life, your motivation to be and do better. Her son in law was being brilliant, supportive, and amazing. It was humbling.

She recalled something her second dad had said to her, over dinner one night after her mom had passed. He had said he would forever feel guilty about taking her mom out of their home and placing her in that residence. Despite having gone there every single day, he still felt guilt. She had hated him for placing her there. He had consulted with the whole family and doctors before making that choice. It was for the best, for her well-being. That was the thought process behind that choice. It had been the most difficult to make. This man adored her mother, with no doubt, she knew that. But he felt guilt. She was not sure that intervening in such a way would be for the best. Her daughter was a wonderful mother to those boys. They were happy little ones and just……….angels. That was not the answer.

Her daughter requested spending more time together. She was overjoyed at the thought. She would focus on the positives. The phone calls, the texts, the talks, the time spent together, babysitting the little ones every weekend. All good things. Every communication from her daughter was a good sign. Even if what she was hearing and seeing was not good. Her daughter wanted to go to meetings. She was happy. Maybe there she would find some clarity and her daughter would remember the tools she had and her inner strength. Her daughter was a wonderful, beautiful, strong woman now. With a lot of little kid in her. Her daughter did not know how to grieve. She could learn that at the meetings. That is where she had learned many life skills. She was willing to share how she grieved the same events with her daughter too. So they went to the meeting again, for the second time in two weeks. It could become a weekly thing, she thought to herself. But to her dismay, her daughter left to go outside. She stayed and listened. She heard somebody share about people being mirrors, about how those you seek to be around are a reflection of yourself. Well this was interesting, she thought. She did not depend on people to find herself anymore. But, being open minded to the message, she asked «what did her people reflect about her? » Was she turning to substances to manage life? No. Was she on a self-destructive path? No. She was trying to be there for her daughter. Like a lighthouse. She had been called that before. She was hoping to help her daughter. Why did she want to help people? Well it was natural to help her daughter. Why help the boyfriend? Again and again and again and again…………………What did that say about her? She no longer cared about pleasing people. She had recently realized she was losing the need and desire to explain or justify herself to anyone. Another good thing buried among the chaos of the moment.

She looked up people that want to save others. Just in case. It was not like she was running around finding people to save, they were in her life. She had given birth to one of them. It was worth investigating. She looked up the term «saviour complex». It was like a slap in the face. Ironically just the day before, a conversation at work had led to her admitting that because she was raised in a strict household, she had not set enough boundaries with her daughter. Balance. Now she was reading the following from Psychology today:

«The savior complex can be best defined as “A psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.”»

She had done that with her boyfriend and had learned to be more balanced. She knew with her daughter, she would do anything to help her and this was probably the point. Her daughter was the one reservation she had, back when she had decided to get help with her substance abuse. But, she did not want to learn life lessons at the expense of her daughter’s well-being! Reservations, resistance………However she had to read on.

«Many individuals who enter into caring professions such as mental health care, health care and even those who have loved ones with addictions may have some of these personality characteristics. »

Well, last week she had asked why she felt surrounded by this and now she could not deny this one. She had asked for clarity……..

« The underlying belief system of these individuals is that “It is the noble thing to do. They believe they are somehow better than others because they help people all the time without getting anything back.” »

While she knew she was not better or worse than anyone, it would appear she had not quite correctly understood the meaning of «you can only keep what you have by giving it away. » Guilt? Perhaps.

«While motives may or may not be pure, their actions are not helpful to all involved. The problem is that trying to “save” someone does not allow the other individual to take responsibility for his or her own actions and to develop internal motivation.  Therefore, the positive (or negative) changes may only be temporary. »

Yes. This was true in her experience. The article went on to quote an author whose book had helped her those two years ago.

«The Second of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” This book chapter and following quotes teach key concepts that may provide helpful guidance for those struggling with savior complex tendencies:

“You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.”

“Whatever you think, whatever you feel, I know is your problem and not my problem.  It is the way you see the world.  It is nothing personal, because you are dealing with yourself, not with me. Humans are addicted to suffering at different levels and to different degrees, and we support each other in maintaining these addictions”»

She felt like clarity was sitting there asking «You wanted to see me? Well here you go, I am here! » The article offered solutions too. She figured she would note them down for future consultation. The solutions offered to avoiding falling into the “savior” trap with relationships were as follows:

  • Process emotions with friends and family – without breaking things – it had been 1 full week!
  • Set boundaries with the other individual that allow you to balance caring for them with trying to “save” themTHIS was what she was most hoping to learn to master
  • Say “maybe” or “no” before saying yes in order to give yourself time to weigh options – done
  • Slow down enough to be mindful of choices she had meditated twice that week!
  • Reach out for support from a therapist or coach in order to receive an objective assessment of your interpersonal issue – meetings were a form of support.
  • Let your loved one take responsibility for their actionsclarity help!
  • Do not over-function or work harder than your loved one – she was beginning to see a pattern
  • Do the best that you can do to support the individual and then “let go” of the results ok, she was willing
  • Redefining “helping” and “caring” clarity help!!!!

The quote «what you resist persists» came to her mind. Sure, she had done a lot of good work when it came to others, but clearly, life wanted her to learn more to really be there for her daughter and maybe even for herself. In the healthy way. She could learn to set boundaries. She could do all of the above. She would because she loved her daughter and herself. She remembered how her faith had been shaken. But still she had looked for the lesson. She still had faith that life had her back. She had been wiling. Despite the current situation, she would create a different one. The article offered these suggestions for helping someone:

  • Ask questions
  • Backing off
  • Simply listening
  • Offer action steps and coping skills instead of doing the work for them

She realized she was learning to do just that. Her daughter hated the questions and she was learning to back off – it was difficult but she would do it. She was listening and she was offering her experience to her daughter. All was not lost. Hope was revealing a flicker of itself. To keep her in line, the article offered these questions she should ask herself to keep herself on the right track:

  • Am I helping this person by avoiding natural consequences?
  • Am I giving them what they want or what they need?
  • Is this decision made to keep them “happy” or for their overall health?
  • Is my action helping them to get better or me to feel better?
  • Am I being invited to help?
  • Do I “want” to or have to do this?

And to address her fears about not helping, and to challenge them as “False Evidence Appearing Real”, the article had these questions to help her:

  • The family or others will not like me – family yes this was a fear, others, not a concern of hers.
  • People may complain, not be happy or my job may be in jeopardy – yep, this was a fear she had
  • I will feel like I am not being effective as a loved one or at my job – she strived to be effective…..maybe this was an issue?
  • I feel like I am not able to help – yes, she had this fear as well
  • I am not doing the best that I can? – Ironically she did not know what the best meant.
  • I am missing something obvious? – Clearly she had missed the fact that had some elements of the saviour complex.

She felt like she had found some clarity. She imagine clarity sitting there smiling over her while fear took a back seat. Doubt was coming out from behind the bushes though as she focused on hope. Doubt likes to sneak up when one is focused elsewhere. However, with awareness, she felt confident in her ability to look at herself and put these suggestions into practice. She remembered what she had read/learned before – she did not have to suffer because her daughter was. She was no longer interested in being addicted to suffering. She did not have to do what everyone else would do. She remembered the saying, it is only when there is nothing left to do that you do what works anyway – let go and meditate.  The resistance was not completely gone, but she had tools to address it.  At the end of the day, she realized the Universe did indeed have her back. She also believed the Universe  understood they could agree to disagree, for a moment. The Universe was patient and did not have a savour complex. It would be here for her when she was ready to learn. That choice was hers. Reservations, what a horribly wonderful thing,…. once you are on the other side.

Reference: Psychology Today, The Saviour Complex, by Sarah A Benton MS, LMHC, LPC

Powerlessness, resistance and hope

There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.”  Dalai Lama XIV.

Such a beautiful quote., she thought to herself. Yes, this is the ultimate goal, to be able to think in this way. All will be well right? She was angry, furious, a rage just seething inside. Well her yesterdays were being played out right in front of her, today, except she was not the star of the movie. Her daughter, her heart, was playing the role. The story had been modified a bit. In her opinion, it was worse, far worse. So she could not do anything about her yesterday. She was worried about tomorrow. She knew she was powerless over tomorrow too. Today was unknown. For the moment she had a text confirming her heart was okay. She could not believe the determination her heart had to destroy herself. To harm herself, to treat herself with such disregard. Is this what she had taught her? Is this who I am? Life is a reflection, mirrors. Fucking mirrors. She wished she could break them, smash them into a billion pieces. Reflections of inside were all over her house too.

She had destroyed old plates when her mother passed, and then more when the father of her heart passed barely two months later. She had kept it together. She had not self-destructed. She had healed that part of herself. She knew her life was worth living, she reminded herself of all her blessings. But she was very aware of the anger boiling up inside and would release it by screaming, punching and breaking things. Like a child. Perhaps she never had wanted to grow up, but in life there are things that cannot be denied and growing up is one of those things. Recently there was an incident. A bomb exploded and she was the furthest thing from calm. She recalled those priceless moments in her life when she felt so serene and at peace, no matter what was happening around her. Where did that go? Look within, look within look inside. Sure, she remembered that too. She could not find it there and outside, she had destroyed her TV, more glasses and there were marks on the walls.

Maybe she was perceiving recent events as bombs and maybe they were not so bad. Maybe these talks she was having with her heart were exaggerations, maybe they were not true. She laughed sarcastically, «yeah right, wishful thinking, sticking your head in the sand, just deal with reality» At least her heart was talking. She recalled years ago, the therapist had said that to her when her heart had started talking but they were not all true stories. What was important was that she was talking. When it came to her heart, she was not very adept at taking things calmly, with a fair, logical approach. Anything that could harm her heart had the power to set her off. This is where she was the weakest. Her heart and the two boys. The thing that was killing her was her heart was harming herself. Sure there were unsavory elements that were helping and participating but even she knew that removing outside elements would simply be replaced with new ones. The fucking roots were her heart and her choices. How do you help someone remember their self-worth and self-love? She found it years ago in meetings, books and reconnecting with herself and her family, especially her mom. She still practiced that every day to the best of her ability. She remembered and always would.

She thought of her parents. She talked to her family and her second dad. She always thought he had a calming effect on her mom. So she reached out to him. He understood and told her all they did was love, love and have faith. They did not judge. They ensured they were always there for all of us. She decided to do that for her heart. She would do what her mom did. Then she thought, wait I cannot sit by and do nothing. Is being there and reaching out nothing? Is spending time with someone nothing? Is texting and calling and telling someone you love them nothing? Should she stage an intervention and wreak havoc in many people’s lives with the goal of restoring later calm, for the good of everyone? While it would be a good action step, she was not sure it was the right action. How could she be sure she would be saving someone by forcing an intervention and removing them by force from harms way?

She aligned with the partner in her hearts life. He was being very supportive. A friend had reached out and met her for coffee. She was an action person and she was grateful for her advice. She decided to make a plan. In this plan was the intervention. Down the road. First, she had to keep going at work. She had recently been promoted. She was now a senior manager in the advisory department, in risk consulting. The irony still baffled her. Advisory services and she could not even give the people closest to her any advice that was working. Risk consulting and there was no measure, no control to prevent or stop this shit show. She had plans with her heart that week. One of those included going to a meeting. She would go with her happily. She was looking forward to it. She was also babysitting this weekend. This was good, keeping contact with family and spending time together. This was an action step.

The meeting went as well as could be expected. It was their talk before the meeting that had her in shock. She was feeling numb and could not process what she had heard. She reverted back to the stoic self, all to disguise the hell stirring up inside. Smiles were met with half smiles. She could barely endure the hugs. She wanted to throw things and scream, but she could not. Keep it together, keep it together, never let people see you sweat. So she observed. herself, her heart, the people. She tried to feel nothing. Just breathe and stop thinking. Stop thinking about the what ifs, what if this happens or that? That is not now. That was tomorrow or later. Now was back in focus.

She reflected on one pressing question, given her own issues with substances in the past, how she had overcome them, why was this still prevalent in her life? She felt like she was surrounded by this. Her own boyfriend had issues. She was a master at managing that. She did not expect anything from him. She had given up control totally. Or was it just giving up.? Who knew……………..now her heart was going down that devils road. Why? Why could she get out and others could not or would choose to even go there? What the fuck was it that she had not healed in herself that just kept presenting itself in her life?  Unanswered questions. Life does not happen to you it happens for you. She remembered that quote. It was not helping.

Then there was the text – I am okay. She was relieved. Just for now, things were ok, not what she wanted, but at least her heart was safe. Safe. There was a time where she had been looking for safe. She did not even know what that meant anymore and was not sure it was even what she wanted anymore.  Then the phone call. She was relieved, they made plans for next week. Tuesday and Friday. And today there would be her little one. She would live today and play and all thoughts of death, overdose would just have to go away. She remembered her blessings, her family, friends and her work. They had kept her semi sane this week. She reflected on those principles that had and continued to help. She was being honest with those who mattered, including herself, she was even being open minded to various approaches, and she was certainly willing. But she could not be all those things for anyone else. So she remembered the serenity prayer. It applied, even to her own life. She was no longer struggling with addiction, but she sure was struggling with her heart’s.

She said to herself « Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.» Oh and could she please try to stop breaking things as well. This habit was starting to be costly. Just for today, just for now, this would have to be enough.


To should or not to should – that is the question.

What is the goal of this piece? What is the central theme? How will it flow and present itself? How will this piece be laid out? How will this piece end? What is the conclusion? This is what I ask myself every time I write. I have not written a full piece of anything in over a month. The last time I wrote, I could not even finish it. I just read it – I stopped at the part where things went from fun to a nightmare. My daughter has mentioned to me at least once per week that I should write. I know she is correct. I know I «should» and still could not bring myself to write. I even re-read my last piece «As Good as it Gets». It is cute. I liked my life at that time. There was acceptance, there was a beginning, a middle and a nice end. Just looking at this paragraph, I can see that my writing is a reflection of my life. The same questions I ask about my piece can be asked about my life. I have a lot of questions at the moment. I used to believe whatever I put «out there» «should be» a positive force. Something good, not destructive. My writing was supposed to be good for me. A safe way to express myself. Safe – What is safe? Why look for or even desire safe? Is that not being afraid? Why all the questions? I think maybe I am onto something with my questions. It brings me back to when I was a child. I was curious. How do I know this? My mom told me. The thing is, I find myself questioning myself a lot these days. I also question other things, and they are large and relate to world events and baffle me even more.  Quesitons? Oh I have a few……………

How to deal with loss?

That one I thought I sort of understood. Feel it, accept it, and understand that the person is not dead, they are «non-physical». Their sprit is with you all the time now. You never have to miss them, they are «there». I felt so solid and confident in my ability to feel. When it happened this year, twice, I did not run away and get fucked up on substances in order to feel numb – I was so proud of myself. I thought I had experienced it correctly. As I «should». I felt my feelings. I cried. I accepted to the best of my ability. I did not focus on my questions as to why? I did not focus on my questions of unfairness or mistreatment by certain individuals in hospitals. No, that was the «blame game» and in my new belief system, there was no room for that. Accept and feel, accept and feel……….oh and then that means I should move the fuck on with life. Suck it up buttercup. You got this. Now be strong and carry on.

My mom – I miss her. As I stated, I believed that I «should not» miss her because she was non-physical, therefore she was with me all the time. Blah, blah, blah. It is not fun to mock oneself, but I am doing it anyway. The plant I named after her is still special to me and helps me more than words can express. But my mom, in her physical form, her cooking, her laugh, her eyes, her talks, her words of encouragement, her unconditional love, and her hugs are things I find myself missing. I feel oddly alone at times like a lost little kid. I also feel sad. You see all those above coping mechanisms, and they are good ones – feel and accept I mean – «should» make this go away. That is what I thought. I realize this feeling will probably never go away. I am sad just writing this.

I am told this is normal. That is wonderful, to be «normal». Maybe I had some expectations about myself that were unrealistic. This «should» word is coming into question. Only where is the answer? Maybe I should stop «shoulding» my feelings into a beginning, middle and an end. Maybe there is no end.

How to help someone else go through unspeakable loss?

I just read an article about what we «should do». My daughter also lost two loved ones this year, her grandmother and her father. Ouch. She adored her dad and they did not have the healthiest relationship for many years. However, in the last 4-5 years, their relationship was on a good track. The loss was sudden, unexpected and a total shock. One thing the article said we «should do» is manage our own feelings first. I am beginning to think that with my daughter I am the blind leading the blind. As I stated above, I thought I had «managed» my feelings. That is funny – manage and feelings. Makes me think of managing water. Good luck with trying to control water. Feelings and water – cannot be managed, but I digress……….Apparently I did two correct things, according to the article. I told her I did not know what to say and I listened. Did it help? Not so sure. She started having panic attacks, so severe she ended up in the hospital. She was given medication that I was against in the past, but now had to accept because it was helping her. Pills are bad- people «should not» take pills to heal anything. That is what I believed. There’s that should again. The pills are helping with the panic and anxiety disorder she has developed. Not having answers and listening are not.  Well not enough.  I feel powerless – in some circles this is a wonderful thing to admit. I am powerless over my daughter, how she feels, what she does. I am NOT powerless within myself – how I react, how I think, my choices. Now if I could just find myself again – that would be great.

Sailboat

What about alcohol?

So alcohol is a drug. It does not interact well with the pills my daughter is taking. I know this because it almost caused her to choke to death. These pills do not interact well with alcohol – at all. Not even a 1 ounce drink. My youngest grandson, William, turned 1 year old on August 29th. On Sunday September 3rd, we held his official birthday party. My daughter asked me if I could host it at my place. I loved the idea and was so happy. I prepared a delicious roast beef, if I do say so myself. I bought balloons and decorations to make the place look and feel special. I am a kid at heart and I wanted this day to be so very special. It really was. Special. In more ways than one.

I found the perfect gifts, the prefect cake, the perfect balloons and decor. The perfect finger foods, the perfect everything. Tessie was in full bloom. Moving along………….my daughter arrived with my little ones and her boyfriend / father of the kids. My simple apartment was full of love and positive energy from all the joy, laughter and love.

My boyfriend offered me a mojito. I happily accepted. My daughter also said she would try one. She never drinks. I can count on one hand the number of alcoholic beverages she has consumed in her life. The mojito was a very balanced and weak drink. It was refreshing. Jade was enjoying it very much. We ate, she prepared Williams cake. He smashed it up into bits and was covered in icing. It was then that things went very bad.

Jade started to react as if she had been drinking all day. She was dizzy and incoherent. I could not believe this was happening after one drink. There was no abuse. Only moderation and enjoying an accompaniment to the day. It was not required, it was simply enjoyed. Until that moment.

We had her lie down in my room. The kids were happy and playing. Her boyfriend took her pressure and monitored her and we all thought she was fine. I got this odd feeling and decided to check on her. I am glad I did because she was lying on her back, choking. I rolled her on her side and she was able to release whatever was ailing her. Thank God I had the instinct to go check on her. What about alcohol? It is a drug and sometimes one really is too many. And sometimes it is not. I suppose it depends on the individual, and so many other factors. One thing I do know – a glass of wine with my second dad is one of my favorite things to experience. It is our thing and whether I should or should not – I will continue having that glass of wine with him, whenever the occasion comes up. Well that is one question resolved for the moment. I stopped «shoulding» myself on that one.

How does one manage feelings?

As I mentioned above, in order to help someone else grieve loss we «should» have managed our own feelings before focusing on the other person. So how does one manage feelings? Example – I was recently fortunate enough to travel for a work related project in Kitmat, B.C. This allowed me so stopover in Vancouver and visit my dad, my friend Lisa and this time Leah too. I had not seen Leah in 25 years. She was my best friend at the time. We were like kids looking forward to Christmas. We spent the day walking and talking. We walked all the way to a beach about 1 hour from her house. We talked for hours there. Anyone who knows me, understands I love the beach and the ocean. I was thrilled we chose to do this activity that day. When it was time for me to leave, I realized I didn’t want to leave. I realized how much I had missed her. She is like me in so many ways and we are so different too. The interesting part is that neither of us judges the other for the differences. It is an unspoken acceptance of the way we both are. She is so open about herself, and I, in turn found myself expressing things to her that only my daughter now knows, with no fear of being judged. I did not feel vulnerable. My last night in Vancouver I went for dinner with my dad and his wife for his birthday. It was the first time since 1985 that we were in the same city for his birthday. We went to a place called «The Boathouse». He wanted to celebrate my promotion and I wanted to celebrate his birthday. His wife was talking about activities that they enjoyed doing in the city because I was thinking about coming back to Vancouver for a personal vacation and had many questions about certain activities I had seen and wanted to do. She talked about how she gone on an outing with an old friend of hers. Suddenly I felt my eyes well up with tears, ready to overflow and I could not explain why. I was mortified. I typically do not get emotional in front of my dad for these unexplained reasons. She noticed and asked if I was okay. I tried to explain that I was fine but I suppose I found myself feeling something unexplained about my friend Leah. I had not expected to feel that way. Maybe that is why that day I had decided to walk the whole distance around Stanley Park. I needed to be with myself and just drink in the ocean, forest and beaches as much as possible. Almost like being at a buffet and binge eating before a fast.

I had such a wonderful time connecting with my dad, his wife and my friends. I even had time to do what I wanted to do alone. It was as if I had an abundance of time, activities and loved ones. With that comes an abundance of feelings. I still am not 100% certain how to manage feelings. I am not even I «should» try. I compare managing feeling to managing waves. You just don’t. You just let them be.

Waves

If not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck – what happens if you end up getting the thing you were at peace with not getting?

Yes, this happened to me. I ended up getting the promotion I thought I was not getting. I had realized that I was okay with not getting it. I had marvelous epiphanies because of not getting it. I was at peace, in full acceptance and happy, and then…………….a full 180 happened and I got it. What to do now? I am going with it. I will see where it leads and I am already seeing the wonderful learning experiences I am currently and will live through. I suppose I have a plan. Plans are to be approached with caution. Plans are much like waves too. You think you know how to body surf one – you establish a plan and then one wave comes along and tosses that plan to the sea – literally. So my root plan is to see how things flow and go with it.

But then, the greatest experiences come from throwing caution to the wind and taking risks. As I mentioned at the beginning of all this, what is safe? Isn’t caution much like fear and looking for safe? Where is the thrill in safe? It is ironic that my career involves risk management. Isn’t that ironic? Managing risk is much like looking for certainty. I am beginning to see there is no such thing. But we like certainty and because of that I have a job. As a result of my job I have some sense of certainty. Ironic. I have concluded that I cannot manage outcomes and I «should not» try. I am going to «should myself» out of that one too. All I can manage is my choices in response to the outcomes that are sometimes outside my control. Cute – outcomes, outside myself………..and remember….

Everything is always working out for me

Questioning the status quo?

Well this one is tough. In my experience one «should not» question the status quo or popular (read mainstream) opinion. Because I have a brain, I do. If it does not make sense I will question it. All these questions about how our western society is structured, the news, the politics, the economics, the effects on society, the impacts of religion, the beliefs that are 100% polar opposites to what certain religions preach. All of this is considered normal and I question it all. Yet, at the same time, I work in one of the most fundamental elements of the very structure I question – an accounting firm. Based in capitalism and business practices. I suppose I find myself relieved that I am a consultant whose objective is to help businesses and their operations. But then again, I cringe at severe cost cutting measures that put people out of work. I have opinions about the big corporations that are considered evil, yet I have learned so much from one of my larger clients. I have enjoyed working with most of the people I have met with this particular client. The people I have met are not evil. Their intentions are not evil. I feel like an oxymoron. I work the «9 to 5» job, actually more like 9 to whenever sometimes, but I do not see myself as a sheep.

I refuse to watch the news but I am told I «should» to keep up with trends. I must be informed, but I truly question the information that is meant to keep me informed. I look at trends with caution – trends are another word for status quo.

Politics is another subject I shy away from – so much energy invested in this and for what? Where is the benefit to the majority of people? Two sides of the same coin or three sides of the same triangle or four sides……..well you get the point. My perspective is they are the same. Are we really just sheep? If I have to be compared to an animal, I would like to be a wolf. Just not a wolf in the US, where they are perceived as a threat and shot to death. I conclude that I «should» remain curious and questioning.

What about mass tragedies?

Lately hurricanes have destroyed many islands in the Caribbean and other palces too. I know this because anywhere I walked it was all people were talking about. The news is now shown in elevators, subway stations, in hotel lobbies, everywhere. I felt so bad for all those people. I cannot make sense of any of it. Just as you cannot manage waves, you cannot manage Mother Nature either. I was angry at her. She destroyed places that in my view should be immune to such tragedies. It shook my belief in the one thing I did believe in – the Universe and its energy – that is my «God». I do not believe in any one religion. But even the Universe behaves strangely. I just do not understand it. Cuba is one such island. Their motto is «Be happy». Apparently they reacted to the hurricane in typical fashion. From one video I watched, they were swimming and dancing in the streets. They worked together to repair and rebuild. I hope the other affected areas succeed in the same way.

Weather

Mass shootings – the most recent one in Las Vegas – by one person with absolutely no history or motive. Very strange. I question the whole story. It does not make sense. I also predict that in the end, they will show evidence all over the news about this person and will have all the proof necessary – the victims need this closure. If I take this tragedy at face value-that one man did this – Maybe some new law will come about. Or maybe, just maybe, the powers that be will realize that civilians do not need automatic weapons to protect themselves? I have heard this way of thinking challenges the 2nd amendment (not sure of the number but I digress…..) but seriously, if I am guarding my home, I think these weapons are overkill (apologies for the unintended pun). Maybe, just maybe it is time to change those laws. I can hear the NRA screaming obscenities and yes I am totally challenging their apparent status quo. In addition, I also find myself wondering what else was going on that day that nobody knows about.  We are systematically fed crap to distract us from real issues. Alternatively, I suppose if Mother Nature can up and lose it in the form of a hurricane, so too can humans. We are a part of nature too. It is sad and makes no sense. Maybe we are trying too hard to make sense of things? It is what humans do – well some do – they analyse things to make sense of them and then try to prevent or control these things from ever happening again. Prevention is key in my business as well. I do not know what the «should or should not» is in these cases. I do know how I feel – a range of sadness to disgust depending on the nature of the tragedy. And compassion for those that lived through it. Powerlessness too – there it is again……………..

So what to do?

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. For Hindus there is a festival of lights. Sounds nice. We received a message from the head honcho at my firm about being thankful for the people we work with. I am thankful. I agree with this – no question.

I also find myself thinking of other things I am thankful for. There is a list of things. I know many people cringe from feeling grateful or making «gratitude lists» when they feel like shit, betrayed, sad, depressed, angry, worried or hopeless. I understand. That article said it was one of the things to NOT do. They generally start the sentence with «Yeah, but…….or sounds great but……………or seriously, fuck that ,I feel like this right now……………» I respect that. I can relate because I have reacted that way and sometimes I still do. However, at the end of the day or in hindsight, it always puts things into perspective to reflect on what I am thankful for. Do I feel 100% better? No. Do I suddenly become happy and full of glee? No. Do I receive the answers to all world problems? No. Do I have all the answers? No. BUT! There is something calming and soothing, almost meditative about reflecting on the things, people, experiences, that I AM thankful for. In that moment, I am less (notice I did not say 100% relieved or cured) overwhelmed, worried, sad, angry, depressed, hopeless, and I feel more like myself. You know, the one that is at peace and just likes to be and accepts and loves herself. I am a human being after all.

So let’s give it a go – what am I, you, we thankful for?

Appreciation

My family, my friends, both near and far, my work, the people I work with, my clients, travel I have experienced as a result of my work and personally, my health (my body could use some work but back to the thankful list), my daughter (yes I worry about her, it is not a joke, I worry but she is here and talking to me more and more and I am listening even if I feel it does not really help, I am trying), my grandsons, (yes they are family, but in my heart they deserve a special mention) maybe I am grateful for being a grandma? Even if I am perceived as being old as a result and I do not like feeling old? Back to being thankful – being my age – it means I have lived this long. This is a privilege – to be alive and breathing. I can still kick too – so I am alive and not only breathing but kicking. I am thankful for my apartment, the two closed bedrooms, the location, the windows, my blue couch, pillow, and the open layout. I am thankful for public transit- because of it I no longer notice traffic so much. I am thankful for the free running water we have here. I am thankful for my plants, my peppers and tomatoes. I am thankful for my senses. I am thankful for nature – even if it pisses me off at times- the ocean, forests, mountains and beaches – these are elements that evoke wonder and awe within me. Seashells and the little things that make me happy. I am happy for my childlike wonder at simple things. I am thankful it does not take much to make me happy or smile. I am thankful for the unconditional love I have received in my life and can now try to give. I am thankful for the people who go through horrible conditions with grace and strength. I hate their conditions, but they are examples of human courage and ability to overcome adversity. I am thankful for that but I pause at why it has to happen for us to learn about such things. I am thankful I wrote today and for the 3 day weekend ahead.

I do not have scheduled plans but I love that. No «should dos» in the forecast. And on that note. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving in Canada and a happy weekend in general.

 

 

As good as it gets

I have been back at work for about a month now. My vacation was…..well………perfect. I suppose the sign of a good vacation is coming back and feeling ready to face whatever life presents to me. I had taken the time to re-energize or re-align myself. I felt like I was in touch with me again. I could breathe and I felt very solid- no matter what may happen.

In the past. I would return to work with a feeling of dread. As if work had the power to take away my feeling of inner well-being. Now I am not saying that I have felt perfectly fine during the last few weeks, but suffice to say, I feel an odd sense of peace, despite what has been happening around me.

I had plans to meditate every single day, as I had at the beach. I had plans to stay active and do physical activity- as I had during my vacation. Oh so many plans. The reality is, I gave myself to my work and when I could, I would meditate. I have also discovered just being. I think «Ease» is the feeling I have been exploring. Allowing myself to take it easy. This time I was perfectly aware that it was ME making the choice, to take or not take, the time to do my planned list of activities. This time, I could not blame anything on work or outside circumstance. The freedom felt in just accepting that I may not always achieve my planned routine has been…beneficial.

The 180 turnaround

Work has been much the same, but slightly different. Last week, I received the news that I did, in fact, get my promotion. It is now official. In hindsight, I see the benefit in experiencing the exact polar opposite of this news before I left for my vacation. I had felt a sense of freedom, no matter what I was told back then, I knew then that I was deserving and good enough. I had become open to new and exciting opportunities. I still am, although they are currently with my firm. I may not know for certain what caused the 180 turn of events, but suffice to say, I think I have some clue. The lessons learned from that whole experience taught me that I no longer have to believe in other people’s perceptions of reality. My own count as well, if not even more. For example, the other day I started to get really stressed about a presentation I had to finish. A presentation that «presented» itself to me last minute with little time to achieve the planned objectives. I became aware that I really enjoy a challenge and I had invested and committed myself to this. Nobody forced me. Although I know that it is understood that I must do these tasks, another part me was very much aware that I wanted to nail it. I then realized that in my stressed out moment, I had bought into another person’s perception of reality. I was actually able to distinguish between my perception that things work out, desire to do well versus another’s perception of urgency. «Worry pas» is an expression my second dad always says, it means «don’t worry». We used to always say it and laugh, but now I am living it, or at least trying to.

I have been learning new things at work too. Proposals are something new to me. This is how we get new clients, business and projects. I had always wanted to be involved before, however now, I am in a position where I have to be. It is required that I become adept at writing proposals. Understanding the context, client needs and submitting a concise approach that reflects that are key. Sales, selling our team and myself in a concise, precise articulate way. I am new to this, Ironically, I had many review notes and did not react as I had in the past. This time, I did not feel unworthy or not good enough. I turned those suggestions into lessons learned and enjoyed the process rather than dread it. Yes, I will always be someone who will need to focus more on details, but I was able to produce good enough work, in my view, and still enjoy the detailed process. This is progress.

Acceptance and appreciation

In my soul, the memories of the ocean are never far away. I love remembering how the ocean and waves felt. I enjoy finding shops where ocean and beach items are sold. Case in point. Many beach and ocean themed stores have furniture that is wood, with a white tint. I adore the look. I am thinking of turning my mom’s bedroom furniture, given to me many years ago, into my new project. The furniture currently has a green tint and always reminded me of spring. My mother had done that all herself. I could never bring myself to dispose of the furniture despite the fact that it is «old». My project is to sand it and tint the wood white – to resemble the furniture I have seen in beach homes, cabins or even huts.

Ocean

In my little piece of the world, I have noticed myself appreciating what is around me. I can list a number of things that upset, worry and anger me. I know this. However I am learning acceptance and awareness of how I feel. In addition, I have noticed that I find myself looking at the things I do enjoy and really focusing on them. Case in point, I recently went for a walk along the Lachine Canal, there were boats on the canal.

 

It seemed busier than usual. The Atwater market is just 10 minute walk, maximum, from my apartment and I found myself really appreciating being so close to local farmers. I purchased fresh blueberries and strawberries and other local produce. I loved looking at the flowers. They will forever remind me of my mother. I cried at the sight of some of them and did not mind one bit. You see I have become comfortable with tears. I know she is in a much better place. I also know that my tears are because I do not appreciate how she passed, and I miss her physically. And that is okay. It is perfectly acceptable. I feel very grateful to be able to accept myself in this way. It feels new. It feels like I did bring back a piece of my «Cuba self.» The walk on the canal is free. It costs nothing. So many people, all outside, co-existing, enjoying nature and life in their own way. There is a boat called «Canal Lounge» where you can go eat, drink and be merry. During my walk, I noticed a man playing the trumpet by the water, jazzy blues. It was the perfect accompaniment to that afternoon by the water.

 

I look back on my life in the last few weeks and I feel very blessed. I have a wonderful family. Being able to see them for a visit, dinner or just call and chat on the phone matters to me. I had dinner with my brother and his girlfriend, and, not long after I had dinner with my second dad. I really enjoyed those dinners. I had been somewhat worried that those family dinners would no longer happen, now that my mom had passed. They still happen, they are just different. That is perfectly acceptable too. I have come out of my little bubble and re-connected with an old friend. She has some issues with her health. I was able to be there for one of her treatments. We just sat and talked at the hospital. I had never felt comfortable doing that before. I felt inadequate and felt I would not know how to help or do anything of value. I feel differently now. It was an honour to be there with my friend.

My daughter is going through difficult times. I cannot say I am not worried and I wish I could do more. However, even in feeling powerless, I know that just by being available to talk with her and listen, more importantly, is helping in some small way. Over the past few weeks, I was given the gift of a phone call from her. One time she called me at work. Why? Because she felt good. She was calling me to tell me she felt OK because she always calls when she is not feeling so hot. I have never cared when she calls. I am just happy she calls, no matter what. The fact that she called just to tell me that day was ok blew my mind and my heart. I am very blessed. Since that day, we speak even more than ever before. I enjoy listening to her talk. I had always hoped she would, but always respected her space. Well now we are chatty Cathy’s on the phone almost daily.

The self help people always say «Do what you love», or. I agree. That is one fine goal. However, these days, I am finding it pretty satisfying just being aware of how I feel, accepting what I do and loving what I have. I may not have the prefect boyfriend but I try to see his qualities. I know now I have enough boundaries set that no one can take advantage of me. I am no victim. That is progress. It is nice to know I can appreciate being accepted for who I am. I do have the perfect family for me and I have never really had many expectations from friends. I do however appreciate that they accept me for myself. My wonderfully «imperfect but perfect in my imperfection» self. Accepting what I do and have in my life is a perfect first step. I have found love in appreciating where I live, my family, my friends and yes, even my work. I hope it sticks.

In the news there is a lot of hate and now more recently, Mother Nature unleashed some severe weather in the USA. I dislike it. I am not comfortable with it. I am unsure how I can contribute to change, except for doing my very best to do no harm to people and to treat those around me, strangers or family or friends with kindness. Perpetuate my belief that we are all human. Race, religion and whatnot are simply labels created by man. However, in my personal life I do not experience this hatred. I have friends of all religions, race, colour, sexual preference and I love that. In the world it seems things are different. I am able to accept that I do not know what to do or have all the answers. I do know one thing – I do not condone hate, and I will not join in the hate. No matter who you are. I feel like this is another way to control people. Get people worked up over ancient issues that have been existent for centuries, distract them enough and they will not pay attention to what is really important. I will not play this game. I will not hate, or condone violence. And you know what? That is what I am capable of right now. I will perpetuate energies I consider to be more beneficial like love, appreciation, kindness, and tolerance, understanding and general gratitude.

Speaking of those principles, earlier this week, Louise L Hay passed away. She lived by the principles of love. She was one of my favorite authors. Her books have helped me immensely. Over the last few years I would find myself thinking of many of her «quotes» from her books. She really helped people learn to love life and especially themselves. I have carried her book «Life Loves You» with me many times since 2015. She also believed that you could heal yourself from many physical and mental illnesses. She wrote books about it. The world needs people like her in it. I wonder, will she be even more powerful in the non-physical? I smile as I think to myself that my mom and Natalino, Jade’s dad are also there. I had always hoped they would read her books when they were not physically well. Now they are all together.

I used to wonder- Is this as good as it gets? Today I think I am happy about how my life is. Perhaps another word would be acceptance. Perhaps that is the difference. Who knows, but until I do know, I will continue to focus on what I love. Until I do have my beach cabin by the sea, I will act as if I am there. I will walk along the canal, fall asleep to ocean sounds and recycle my old furniture into something that would befit a beach house. I will adore my plants and talk to Tessie, my African violet. Ironically, she is in full flower mode again, even though it is winter in Africa and this plant typically does not flower in the summer – well our summer. She is thriving too. I like to think she is my mom in physical form. Who knows but it sure feels good talking to her. The day I received the news about my promotion, I came home, there was a new flower. I sat with her, told her the news and thanked her.

On that note, I think the lesson is to love what you have and try to ignore the rest, I know it is not easy, but accept what is and focus on what is loved. This may not be as good as it gets, but boy am I happy my life is this good. And that makes all the difference.

When plans change

When I retunred from Cuba, I was really looking forward to a family trip. Initially, this road trip was supposed to be with my daughter, her boyfriend and my two grandsons. I had reserved a two bedroom cottage, The Beachcomber, at the Old Shipyard Campground, Spencer Island in Nova Scotia. Instead, because my daughter was feeling quite ill at the time, she suggested that I go with Aidan. I was not overjoyed that she was ill, however, I was happy to have this opportunity to bring Aidan to the ocean with me for the first time. The road trip to the ocean with Aidan was supposed to be for three nights.

Instinct told me to call to confirm my reservation because after giving my credit card information, I had not heard back. It just so happened, they never received that email. However, it also just so happened that they had a 1 bedroom cottage for the same number of nights available. Ironic that I no longer needed two bedrooms. They told me to drive safe and they would see us the next day.

We left Montreal around 3pm. He is quite the good little traveller. Road stops along the way were ensured to help Aidan not feel bored or restless. We would run around the trees and pretend they were magic forests. Indeed, they were. He would ask repeatedly «Where is the ocean Nana? » This warmed my heart because I felt the same way. Except I am an adult and I know it takes a while to get there. So I would explain that we had to get back into the car so we could get closer. No problems there.

I had promised him he would see the ocean before his head hit the pillow that night. We succeeded in driving to St John, New Brunswick. This choice was because there is a harbour there and, while my geography skills need improvement, I knew that was the «beginning» of the ocean. I was determined to keep my promise. We drove through fog, and darkness. There are moose in New Brunswick, so I was very cautious. We drove slowly, but we made it to the ocean by midnight. The place we stayed at for the night was next to the water. I showed Aidan the ocean before his head hit the pillow.

St John

The next morning, we had breakfast and left for our ultimate destination. Spencer Island. This place has meaning for me. I had never been there, but my second dad and mom would go there every year and they adored the place. Claude had told me about the tides and the ocean. How they would come in so high that they would almost touch the camper. He told me about the cottages. He told me about the serenity of this place. How you could fall asleep to the ocean sounds. I listened to him. Going there with Aidan was meaningful to me on so many levels. I knew I would feel my mom there and I knew she would be overjoyed to see her great grandson there as well.

It was about 3 hours away and Aidan was very excited. I had been told about the road there. It would twist and turn and then a clearing where the ocean would appear in full view. When I saw this, I told Aidan to look and see the ocean. We were beside ourselves with excitement. We were so very close. Then I saw this:

 

May 28th we are at a family gathering. My dad and his wife are in town. My daughter, son in law, grandsons, brother, sister in law, nieces are all together for brunch. They took Aidan for a walk by the river. It was time to leave and Aidan cried «I don’t want to go, I want to see the sea!!!!!!!!! »

I laughed and cried at the sight of that sign.

The couple that owns this campground knew my parents well. When I arrived I was, well, emotional. I said I had a reservation. I told the lady that my parents had been going there for years. She asked their names and then slowly, recognition crossed her face. She asked if Claude had a water company. I confirmed he did and then she said «We were just talking about them yesterday, wondering why they had not been here in a couple of years. » I explained why. She called her husband and explained what had just happened. They hugged me. We cried. They asked how many nights the reservation was for. I explained that it was available for 2 nights. She stated that a third night had just opened up. That was a no-brainer. I took it. They told me they had never seen a couple that enjoyed just being together so much, walking hand in hand on the beach, going for dinner. I agreed.

Our cottage was named «Sea Urchin» and it was perfect. Fully equipped and so cozy. The view from the cottage was perfection.

Interesting how the ocean is. In the Bay of Fundy, the tides are in, out and the ocean looks different every hour. Every day there is something new about it. No matter what, it is still the ocean. So many facets, so many changes, still it is the ocean. The tides are high or low. I suppose that is how life is too.

This location had rocky beaches. Aidan took to the beach immediately and played in the rocks. Aidan would run, trip and fall. He would get up and in minutes, all had passed and all was well again. He found seas shells, rocks and I did too. I even found my first piece of sea glass. One day, we walked along the beach for 2 hours, exploring, playing in the rocks, sand and finding our treasures.

We visited the surrounding areas. Lighthouses, cliffs with each view more breathtaking than the last. Each view of the ocean in all its glory, different that the last.

On the day we were supposed to return to Montreal, we decided to extend the trip. We went to Parlee beach, a beach on the ocean with sand. Aidan would love that. We made sand castles and when the tide started coming in, we were in the water. Aidan felt the little waves on his legs and started to laugh. I wish I had caught that sound on video. The sound of his laughter filled my heart. He sounded just like me. I laugh like a child when I play in the waves. I could relate to Aidan. We had a picnic on the beach. Then it was time to move on to our next destination. We chose Alma. New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy, NB side. Always by the ocean of course. There was a quaint motel with rooms that had kitchenettes. We had bought food for our journey, opting to cook instead of eating out. We had a nice little dinner by the ocean that night. Aidan wanted to speak to his mommy, daddy and William each night. I loved this because I would get to chat with William. I requested one more night with Aidan and my daughter agreed.

Aidan settled down for bed and I decided to check my work emails. There was one from my partner entitled Personal and Confidential. He thanked me for responding to a client request. Then he informed me that they had decided to present me for a promotion to Senior Manager with a rating of 2. The decision of yay or nay was in progress. The exact polar opposite of what I had been told during my evaluation. I did not know what to make of this email. I was surprised. I had come to some realizations in the recent weeks about work. I went outside to reflect, by the ocean. In the silence I understood that this was out of my hands and I would let the Universe reveal what would happen with this. I let it go.

The next day I walked along the shore and thanked the ocean for a wonderful time, again. You see, there was fog in the mornings but it would always dissipate because of the sun. We had not seen a drop of rain this whole time.

We did not know which route to take on our journey home. I knew of Rocky Harbour, where there is a ferry, a huge boat that goes to Grand Manan Island. The trip is 90 minutes one way. Just anything to keep me on the ocean. However, we had just missed the ferry when we arrived. At that moment, my brother sent me a picture of his African violet that just so happened to have three beautiful flowers. It was my mom’s plant. It had not flowered since her passing. He was in Vancouver visiting my dad and my sister in law had informed him of this news. I was overjoyed for him. I too had purchased an African violet, named her Tessie, after my mom and she had given me three flowers just before my vacation started. It would appear that mom was watching over all of us during our vacations.

We headed towards Fredericton, away from the ocean but next to the St John river which eventually does lead to the ocean…………but I digress. We enjoyed a wonderful sunset that night, as we had every night of our vacation.

Sunsets 2Sunsets

Eventually we made it back to Montreal the next day. I promised Aidan to make a treasure jar with what he had found at the beach.  The following day, I left to go to Sainte Agathe in the north of Montreal. The following day it rained. I walked in the woods and enjoyed the rain. My first day of rain since my vacation had begun. I came across a stream. I decided I would return the next day. I had been hoping to see some animals in the woods, but they were absent that day

I was sitting by the stream in silence. Listening to the rustling trees and feeling the breeze. It was so serene there. A butterfly flew around me. I was surprised because I was wearing black. They are typically attracted to bright colours. It would not stop flying around me. Eventually it flew around my face and fluttered against my eyelid. I called out «Mommy» and it flew around me once more and then went on its way. On my way home, I stopped at Mont Tremblant National Park and saw deer within minutes of entering the park. I spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. I thought of Aidan as I made castles in the sand with plastic beer glasses to the interest of little children around me that had boatloads of sand toys.

I suppose things do not always go as planned. I understand there is something precious in this when it happens. Trees, oceans, lakes, streams and nature in general hold secrets to life. This has been my experience in the last three weeks. No matter what the conditions, nature carries on with grace and finds a way to thrive. Every once in a while I feel that way. More so when I am alone, but slowly I am finding ways to be in that state around people. That was one gift of my time spent with Aidan and my vacation in general. Sometimes you really do need to talk with a three year old just to understand life again.