Me in Matera, Italy

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Virtually There

Our world has changed dramatically with every person having internet access at our fingertips.

Social media in particular has changed our lives.  It's so amazing how we can virtually know people all over the world without ever leaving the comfort or safety of our own homes.

I have found that genuine human connections can be found through the magic of facebook ~ where people join pages for shared goals or ideas, mostly with no intention of ever physically meeting.

One miserable day when I was googling "can't cope", "hopeless" "my life is chaos", I stumbled across Your personal online coach to help you gain control.  She helped me baby step my way through the days and slowly develop routines and start to feel like life was more manageable.  A year or so later, I found flylady on facebook.  I thought that I found here an alternate way to access this household management program but instead what I found was love, support, encouragement and some of the most amazing women I've ever known.

I look forward to catching up with my flysisters and I genuinely care about how they are doing.  I am happy to offer my encouragement and delighted to receive their encouragement in return.  So how can this be?  How can I feel so connected to these women I've never met?  We share a lot of our lives, perhaps we allow ourselves to be more vulnerable and open from behind the keyboard.  I know that can be more difficult in face-to-face situations where you can't simply shut down and walk away when you want to.  Through the flylady facebook page, I have found genuine human connections that I cherish.  Isn't that amazing!

This blog has been another outlet for me to express my true feelings and I have been simply blown away by the response.  Friends can read my blog and be virtually connected to me even when the craziness of life doesn't always permit them to physically be here.  Family members can get to know me from afar.  It makes me happy when friends and family take time to read my blog and give me feedback.  I guess it helps validate my feelings and this form of expression.  One of the biggest complements I've had is "you inspire me".  Me? Inspiring?  It's such a relief to know that people can not only accept but they can appreciate all that I think and feel.

The truly unexpected yet amazing part though is when a connection is made with a virtual friend or even a virtual stranger.  I am unbelievably touched when someone I've never met, responds with "hugs" or messages me "I know exactly how you feel" or sends me a link because they think I will benefit from it's wisdom.

I feel blessed by many people in my life.  Some of them, I do not see and I may never meet them but without question, they are virtually there.  Thank you❤

Saturday, 25 June 2011

I'm loving angels instead

Saturday mornings I always looked forward to talking to my sister.  She was the one person in the world that I could actually talk to about anything.  We would talk about our lives ~ work, relationships, friendships, family, psychology, physiology, life, death, joy, pain ... anything really.

Today is Saturday and I really wish I could talk to her.  There is so much going on in my life and I feel lost; I miss her a lot.  She was such a big part of my life, I guess it would be strange if I didn't miss her.  I was cleaning house and listening to music when the song by Robbie Willams came on "Angels".  The song is about the thoughts that loved ones that have passed on come back and take care of us.

I wonder what Debbie would tell me if she were here.  I wonder if she is here with me somehow, looking after me ... like she always tried to do.

♪And through it all she offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong

And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me

When I come to call she won't forsake me ♪

... I'm loving angels instead

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The calm after the riot

I'm in Vancouver on business this week coincidentally arriving the day of the 7th game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. What I really wanted to do was hide in my room but instead I decided to embrace the moment and join in on the excitement. I went about half hour before the game started, there was definite excitement in the air. Everyone stood and sang the national anthem, it was really quite touching. Hard to imagine that these will be the same people completely trashing the city in short order.

Watching the game at Canada Place with thousands of people was quite the experience. It was interesting to witness the growing frustration and gang mentality that was developing as the game progressed. Near the end of the second period, the vast majority of the crowd was shouting out "boston sucks" and buzz of the rioting to follow was already starting. Why is it that people think rioting is an acceptable response to losing a game? It is still a game after all isn't it? Immediately after the game, downtown Vancouver did not feel like a safe place to be. Part of me wanted to stick around to see chaos continue to unfold but the risk manager in me decided the wisest move would be to return to the safety of my hotel room.

This morning I woke up early and went for a walk back to Canada Place. It's a beautiful morning here in Vancouver, the sun is shining and the brisk morning air feels good as I walk and think ~ enjoying the calm after the riot. The crowds have all gone home, or to jail and peace has been thankfully restored.

I've been reading about reactive patterns in every day life. Aaron McNaught has written a book called 'Waking Up to the Heart of Care'. He says each person has their own triggers that cause us to react with distorted meaning, intense emotions and impulsive actions. An important part of opening your heart is recognizing what your triggers are and then manage your patterns with 4-steps (1) Attention = mental response of being entirely in the present moment (2) Breathe = breathe through the emotions & allow them to dissipate naturally rather than resisting them (3) Relax = physical response (4) Allow = recognize the moment just as it is, without your belief that it should be otherwise. Obviously this would take a lot of practice but I think the advice is practical and I want to try it.

In thinking about my triggers of fear, rejection and critism; they seem cliché but yet I know they are real and my reactions to these feeling can be very dramatic. Imagine there is an
alternative to the way for me to live my life. Imagine there is a healthier way of processing and managing my emotions. I'm starting to feel more optimistic about this next phase of my life. I am looking forward to continuing to enjoy the calm after the riot.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Reasonable doubt

Trust is a difficult thing for me.  I don't trust people very easily and I don't often give the benefit of the doubt.  When it is reasonable to doubt a friend?  An outright lie makes it easy but what about an omission?  Omissions make me extremely suspicious, especially when I follow the path of omissions and they lead me to that scary placed filled with reasonable doubt.

When I was in high school I had only one friend, Charlotte.  I had transferred from private to public school and moved to a small town where everyone had been together since Kindergarten.  I felt like an alien, I didn't fit in, I didn't understand their world.  I was endlessly bullied and harassed but I did have this one friend and she stood by me even though it clearly wasn't cool to do so.  I looked up to Charlotte, she WAS cool and we were inseparable.  We spent all out time together.  We talked about anything and everything.  We even got our first boyfriends around the same time, lost our virginities around the same time and both moved away from home the summer before grade 12.  Our plan was to move in with our boyfriends and have this "couple" friendship.

Well Charlotte moved in with that first boyfriend who she soon married and had a child with.  I deviated from the plan and moved out on my own.  We grew apart for a period of time but happily found our way back to our "couple" plan two short years later when my daughter was born and we lived in the same apartment complex.  Over time I developed doubts and suspicions about Charlotte.  She was too flirtatious with my boyfriend but I convinced myself that I was simply insecure and jealous.  Unfortunately I was right to distrust her and I was crushed when she proved herself to be the person I secretly feared she was.

Why did this girl who faithfully stood by me in high school betray me now?  I've never been able to understand and I never gave her the opportunity to explain because for me, there was no acceptable explanation and the friendship was over.  Just two years ago, I got a phone call from her sister, she was asking me to attend Charlotte's funeral.   I said I would go, I wanted to go but I didn't want to go and ultimately I did not go. 

Forget about high school; fast forward a million years ... well maybe not a million, about 20 years actually, but it feels like a million.  I'm not the same geeky social misfit with just one friend; I'm funny girl ~ not everybody's friend but I have a few precious friends.  I select my friends carefully; I treasure loyalty and trust.  I have one close friend who I spend a significant amount of time with and lately I have had trouble trusting her.  It's nothings she does or says but it's the occasional thing that she fails to say that causes me worry.  I don't know for sure whether she is being haunted by Charlotte's ghost or if she will also prove herself to be the person I secretly fear she is.  Is history repeating itself OR am I foolishly ruining a friendship over historical insecurities and doubts?

It feels like we had this strong connection and unbelievable friendship but there have been things here and there along the way that have stirred fears and anxieties within me: nothing big, nothing earth shattering but nagging doubts. I'm trying to practice loving with my whole heart but I haven't been, not in this friendship.  If she's worthy of trust than I am certainly not being the friend SHE deserves.  Is the friendship wrinkled like the paper or broken like the glass?

I like things to be clear cut: black or white, right or wrong, yes or no.  I don't like living with doubt, whether its unreasonable or reasonable, it doesn't feel good.  As I sit here, there's a voice telling me that the easiest thing in the world would be to write this friendship off and walk away, just cut my losses.  There's another voice, an unfamiliar voice of reason, telling me that real long-lasting friendships are not easy because people are complicated ~ we all have stuff going on in our lives ~we are all burdened by our baggage that we carry ~we are all imperfect. 

I am going to take a chance.  I am going to keep my heart open to this friend.  And I am going to work on being the best friend I can be.  Maybe I will get hurt, I guess there is always that chance, but then again maybe I won't.  Maybe this friendship will be worth it and I won't know unless I try.

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple".  Oscar Wilde

Monday, 6 June 2011

Go There

This weekend I went somewhere I have not been willing to go for a very long time.

When my daughter was small (K to the end of grade 3) we lived in the apartments by the river; it's a mediocre building but a very convenient location and walking paths all around.  I went through some difficult times when we lived there so I literally have not gone there since we moved.  It's in a central part of town so yes I've driven by but I haven't spent any time there or even thinking about being there.

I listened to this video clip of Brene Brown called The Power of Vulnerability; in the video she said something that triggered an 'AHA' moment for me ~ "you cannot selectively numb your feelings".  When you numb fear, guilt, grief and despair; you also numb joy, love, happiness and gratitude.  This made me realize that my unwillingness to think or feel the pain associated with that time in my life also meant that I was unable to remember the love and happiness that I felt as a mother during that time.

When I pulled up in my car, I tensed up, held my breath and braced myself for the pain and anxiety that was bound to follow.  Mylo and I got out of the car, I took and deep breath and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  And then a strange thing happened ... I was okay.  The sky was blue with fluffy white couds, the grass was greener than I remembered and the air was fresh.  As I walked along the path, I smiled as I remembered having picnics with my daughter beside the river, countless walks along the beautiful paths and the sound of her laughter as she played outside our patio door.  We had a lovely apartment and many good times, many amazing memories.  I've wasted too much time regretting the mistakes I made and allowing them to over-shadow the rest of that life which really was quite amazing.  I'm glad I was finally willing to go there and I wonder why it took me 10 years.

I guess I'm just ready now ~ ready to face my fears, ready to embrace my truth.  If you haven't seen her video clip on, I strongly recommend it.  I really enjoyed it and in fact, I'm going to take some more advice from Brene Brown (also from the video) and I hope you do too...

Be seen for who I really am 
Love with my whole heart
Practice gratitude
Believe I am enough

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The heart of the matter

I continue to be in this place of self-evaluation and I've had to face some rather unpleasant realities about myself.  While I do give and feel love where I feel absolutely safe, I can be rather closed-off and cold.  I've spent many years armoring myself in preparation for the next battle hoping to protect myself by not caring too much, not getting too close and only truly relying on myself.  If I expect nothing then I won't be disappointed ... right? 

Self-protection is really all about fear and fear really is a waste of precious time. 

Recently my brother was outfitted with a PICC, it's purpose is to protect his heart from infection.  It made me think about how I have attempted to protect my heart from rejection and hurt.  I've allowed my fears to keep barriers between me and people I really care about.  I've withheld love because I was afraid to expose my heart and be vulnerable.  I hold grudges because feels less risky to write someone off then give them another chance.  When I feel like I'm getting too close or starting to trust someone too much, I back up and close off like a snail retreating into her shell. 

If I continue to keep to myself and withhold the goodness in my heart, will I die with a heart full of love un-given? 

Recently I've been opening up more and talking about things I've been afraid to talk about.  The problem with avoiding discussions and hiding feelings is that it has the opposite effect that you are hoping for; it makes them bigger rather than making them disappear into the darkness.  Perspective is made possible by opening up, shining light on them and even seeing them from someone else's point of view. 

This week I also made an apology to someone I really care about.  I was afraid to reach out to her for fear of how she may respond and I was pleasantly surprised by her willingness to open her heart to me and generously accept my apology.  It was such an incredible feeling and I could feel my heart warm.  I wish I hadn't waited so long.

We all have enormous capacity for love, it's a gift to give not keep.  I learned a lot about love from my sister, Debbie.  She was generous with her love to me and those around her; I remember saying at her funeral "just as iron sharpens iron; love sharpens love".  The more love you give, the more love you feel ,and the more love you have to give.

Change is scary, it's uncomfortable but what's even more scary is not changing.  I'm glad I can see myself more clearly now.  I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to be more open, more giving, more forgiving and more loving.