The Pain of Being

Today I touched the pain of being.  I didn’t wake up this morning with that plan.  I was quite happy to be working from home, grinding my way through the nitty gritty of developing a course. I went for a walk and the sun was shining.  I grabbed a coffee and enjoyed some homemade baking back at my house.  Slowly tweaking my course into order.

I had a physio appointment after lunch to work on my neglected, seized up shoulder and neck muscles.  I’ve been making some slow progress and expected today to be a typical visit of heat, a couple of new exercises and dry needling.  It started that way.  In the second exercise my elbow joint locked into the most intense pain.

My physiotherapist jumped on it.  She had me lay down and slowly worked on my arm and elbow.  I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks.  Rationally I knew I was ok and the intense pain was intermittent as I relaxed and let go of trying to move my arm.  They tears were coming from the depth of me and didn’t know the rational world was fixing the problem.

After a few minutes my elbow released and I could move my arm again.  Just like that the intense pain gone, a soreness and ache in my arm was all that remained.

But this pain had triggered a pain in the depths of my being that didn’t seem logical.  I drove home, tears streaming again.

There is a lot of history under those tears; rheumatoid arthritis from the age of 13, a feeling of isolation, unworthiness, and loneliness.   A deep understanding of touching pain that questions the will to live.

I have been doing work on this, sometimes half heartedly, sometimes dedicated, not always knowing if it will ever make a difference.  Not knowing if I will ever feel worthy, loved, surrounded.

I felt given up on for a moment at physio.  I have been working really hard lately to work on my physical health.  To do the exercises I need to do.  It felt like a huge blow to my progress.

In reality I am moving forward.  The changes are small but they are there.  I have done my exercises everyday.  I emotionally have been going through a hard time with my marriage the last few years and a conversation with my husband several days ago has shifted my emotional torment a little.

I have struggled with why bother for a long time.  Why bother has meant years of not putting effort into doing work for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Now I have kids, four and seven, and it started with a need to do be there for them.

I also need to be there for myself.

That is the pain.  Am I there for myself?

When I touch the pain of my being, can I be kind and compassionate and not beat myself up for not being where I think I should be in my life.

I am here.  Right now.

So if you see me (and maybe not the physical me but the other souls who have touched their pain) could you remember to smile and see me, see them.

See them, not their pain.

The beautiful soul that really is there just underneath.

Understanding Life Through Death

When Breath Becomes Air. by Paul Kalanithi

I had heard a little bit about this book and knew it probably wouldn’t be an easy read, but I had some time as I was recovering from surgery.  I saw it on my local library’s express read and grabbed it without too much thought.

To say I was not prepared is an understatement.  I knew he died, all readers know as it is written in the description of the book.  I was not prepared for the connection I would make with his longing to understand living and death.  I was not prepared to see the honest glimpses of a neurosurgeon resident that were not in any way above me or better than my existence.  And in the end of it all to experience his experience of death as told by his wife in the epilogue.  I did not expect nor prepare for the grief I experienced for someone I didn’t know.

I expected the story of a neurosurgeon resident to be somehow not so relatable to my life.  Not that I feel a doctor’s life is more worthy than others but I figured there would still be a sense of achievement within Paul’s journey that would set our lives far apart.  But I did not get that sense at all in his story.  He actually starts out by saying he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps into medicine but instead studies literature.

What really pulled me in was the honestness of a story told from his perspective, in his search for meaning and trying to understand death.  This search is ultimately what leads him to medicine.

It was only afterwords that I read the reviews that said this is a book that will stay with the reader for a long time.  It does.

His death is heartbreaking not because his life felt superior and should have been saved but because losing a soul is heartbreaking in itself.  It is heartbreaking for his family and friends and now for all the readers who mourn the loss of someone who was trying to find his meaning and path in this world that can be so joyful and so cruel.

We are all just trying to find our way, our meaning in this world that can be so joyful and cruel.  Why do some have to leave so soon.  We can’t answer that except to know that it’s not about fairness in the way we measure it.  I believe there must be a cosmic reason.  A soul contract that we made before we came that contains the wisdom of losing lives so early.  That we really don’t know how long we have for a reason.

It leaves me with the realization that I focus way too much on the things that don’t matter in the end.  That the world supports me in doing this.  Our systems are messed up.

I focus way too often on losing the last 10 pounds, having clear skin, and owning the “right” stuff.  Consumerism is constantly knocking on my door, your door.  To buy more, upgrade, that all the latest goods will make our lives better.

They don’t.

Kindness, compassion, working to the good of our friends and family.  Lifting spirits, supporting each other in our journeys, understanding that we are usually trying our best from we we are.  That some start with very little in life.  Not just from a materialistic perspective but with a good family, friends and supportive community.  What would the world look like if we all had a good start?

And if we didn’t have a good start in life.  Can we support each other or at the very least give the benefit of knowing that everyone is doing there best in the moment.  Sometimes those moments we see aren’t our best and acknowledging that it doesn’t mean we are stuck there.  We can be better, love better, and treat each better.

It was a disconcerting experience grieving for someone I didn’t even know but I’m so glad I read that book.  It has stirred in me a commitment to being more conscious of my life.  To appreciate the struggle as a part of the beauty of life.

That there is more for me in my life journey.  It is all so uncertain right now what that is but I’m trusting a universe that would bring us Paul Kalanithi who so bravely bared his soul so that we could see ourselves reflected in the infinite universe.

Seeing the Good

As my kids get older I’m beginning to experience the challenge of guiding not only their behaviour but their character.  It’s like most things in parenting where I hear about it and can empathize with the challenges but once I’m in the thick of it, I REALLY get it.  What do I leave for my son to figure out on his own, what do I gently guide, and what do I take a strong stance on?

It’s even more challenging when I see parts of me in his personality and character.

I feel like there is a chance for me to help guide him in ways that I never received.  Hoping that I can ease some angst by helping him to cope better with some of the character traits that are more challenging.

Yesterday I was messaged by his teacher that he was complaining of a tummy ache.  This ailment magically appears when he doesn’t want to do something.  He pulled it out earlier in the morning hoping to not go to school (he had just eaten breakfast and was perfectly fine).  To school he went.  But after food, fresh air, water and time, by the early afternoon he was still “not feeling good”.

If work was busy for me I probably would have asked that he tough it out.  I was working from home and there is that niggling of doubt, maybe he really isn’t feeling well.  Off to school I went.  Of course he was fine.  He did complain of a tummy ache and sore throat but nothing crazy.

Home we came and he played and rested while I did manage a bit of work.  Later in the evening his teacher again messaged me to share some thoughts from the last couple of days (we have such a caring teacher to have taken her time to reach out later in the day).  My son was working on a Father’s Day gift where they are to write what is awesome about their dads.

He was struggling with this so the teacher had tried to give him some prompts to get him started and he told her that his dad is either at work, watching TV, or home after he is in bed.  Some of this is true but not all of it.  His dad is a shift worker and does watch too much TV but he also reads to our son at bedtime when he’s home, will take him sometimes to do fun things like mini golf and also had put together the trampoline we bought a few weeks ago.  And many other things as well.

Which brings me to my son’s view of the world.  He is quick to see the negative, the unfair, and to not see the good.  He turned seven six weeks ago and I know that empathy and the ability to see things differently are just developing.

But this is also ME.

Knowing that my son was sad and couldn’t see the good fills me with sadness.  I know for too long, much too long I didn’t realize this about my self.  I feel gratitude on many things but I also am first at seeing the negative, the unfair, and the exclusion from life.

My wish is that he can develop the ability to also see clearly the good in his life.  Not in a pollyanna way but in a way that is more balanced.  That when asked what is good about life, about his dad, and him that he can see the good things.  That even though life has things that aren’t great, that a part of living is not changing them but changing our reaction.  And all in a way that he can understand and not feel like he is doing anything wrong or that there is anything wrong with him.

Such is life: learning to make better choices and that we can change how we view our worlds.  It won’t happen overnight.  My wish is that I can help him make small changes now so that hopefully it becomes more automatic for him.  That he can spend much more of his early years seeing the good.

Realizing that it is a lesson that we will be learning together.

Life Lived

What makes a meaningful life?  How do we find meaning in the world, how do I find meaning in a vastness that can seem so isolating and unwelcoming?  How do some people seem to know from very young their direction, calling, and path that they chose.  That path may not always be straight and may be bumpy but it is a clear path.  Then there are those that can’t find a path or the path never seems right.  Is it not seeing what is right in front of me?  That maybe the path is there but I don’t have the faith or the perception to know it.  I have been trying to find meaning, searching in books, websites and all around me about how to be healthier and self help books that tell me I can find meaning and improve my life.  Meaning is not found in those books or websites.

They mean well.  Finding values, finding my passion, increasing productivity, learning positivity, and finding the fear and doing in anyway are all written with great intentions.  Intentions that you and I can learn from. But they don’t give us the key to meaning.  Why has it taken so long for me to figure that out?

Meaning is in the mundane.  The first time I heard this I thought what they heck is that?! That can’t be it.  Meaning has to be something powerful.  An epiphany that will come to me in a great flash of light and insight.  A great calling that is grand and of course obvious in it’s grandness.

I realize now it’s actually really small.  It’s morning hugs with my kids, getting the bowls of cheerios and bananas, packing backpacks, driving to work, working, making dinner, the other thousands of minutia of the day.

Meaning is that life is not always easy or positive and can be downright sad and heart breaking.  It’s living those moments and learning to see them with the eyes knowing time here is limited.  That maybe a morning hug and kiss may be the last.  We can’t live exactly like everyday is a last day.  Otherwise many days of work would not be done!  But being more present in the moments and seeing them as the integral pieces of a life lived.

Does it mean that I now wake up everyday filled knowing that I can stop searching?  No.  It seems so hard to see these small moments in their glory to not want there to be something big that I still need to be driving myself towards.

I still feel a deep yearning that I have much more meaning to to discover in this life.  But the work needs to be more internal.  I can read but not with the goal of finding the answers out of me but in order  to know that we all journey together.  It’s not someone else’s answer that I need but a way into my own answer.

The Time is Right

Last year a friend of mine talked about a session she had with an awesome Evolutionary Astrologist Christina Rai.  My friend talked about how insightful the session was and it was amazing to learn so much in understanding herself and her path in life.  Sign me up.  I couldn’t wait to go and see what I could learn.

I went last year in June and it was mind blowing.  The approach of evolutionary astrology is more based on the soul and our evolutionary purpose in life (this is a major simplification which I will talk more about later but you can check out the website for a much more eloquent and deeper explanation).

I was so amazed at the insights that I gained about my approach in life, my way of being, and an understanding of the underlying forces of my struggles.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops about this amazing tool we have in our midst to help us have conscious insights into our psyche.  It doesn’t change our current struggles.  It is not destined fate.  It is a map that we can choose to have as an aid while WE make the best choices we can in the moment for our journeys.

I have been experiencing some major internal pressure to make big changes in my life that I couldn’t understand.  My way of viewing the world, what I value, and where I see myself going are in a major, cataclysmic shift.  It has been so hard feeling like the earth underneath me is heaving, crumbling with no stable ground in sight.

I decided to go again for a session based on my solar and lunar returns and to concentrate on my astrological chart transits to look at what is going on for me right now and the year ahead.  It again was so mind blowing and so awesome to get an understanding of the planetary influences, the aspects that are guiding my journey right now.

One piece I will share now is I could never understand why I felt so trapped growing up.  My parents were very quiet and not very communicative when I was growing up.  We lived on a farm 4 miles out of a small town with no close neighbours.  I sometimes will hear others describe growing up on a farm as a magical time being close to nature.  I found it isolating and felt disconnected and lonely.

Thinking about my natal chart and the planetary influences of my soul for this journey I asked Christina why I had such a strong need to “escape” to a city when I was growing up.  I was desperate to leave that childhood isolation behind and I did once I graduated from school.  That’s over 20 years ago and in the shift I’m experiencing right now I’ve had some of those same feelings of wanting to escape.  And it’s never about my life being horrible now or when I was a kid.  There are definite improvements I can make in being more connected, make use of my time better, and be more in sync with my self.

I realized through my natal chart, the strong energy I have,  an essential energy to push forward in the world (Mars in Aries in my first house) and a very strong urge for freedom (Uranus in Libra in my seventh house).  Now I can see how growing up on a farm could feel like a trap as I wanted to be out doing in the world.  I wanted to be free to roam and be around, to have experiences where there were people, and to see the world.  My family did not purposely do the opposite of what I needed to experience.  They didn’t know.  I didn’t know why I felt the way I did and it made it worse because sure things weren’t perfect.  My family was also very quiet, did not communicate much, and was fairly conservative.  That also felt constricting which may be somewhat normal but felt overwhelming to me with the energies that I had inside me waiting to burst forth in the world.

It’s now that I can see how some of that pattern is emerging again in having my own young family.  In the last several years my freedom and energy have less choice to be free but have been focused on nurturing the beautiful little beings who are now almost 7 and 4.  After the evolutionary astrology session, I could see how that is triggering some of my pressure points again.  It’s in this amazing understanding that I can make better choices to not feel so trapped.  To understand that the intenseness of raising young children is slowly shifting to allow for a little space again for me to roam again.

There is so much power in knowing.  I’ve realized that the greatest gift I can give my children is to understand the influences of their soul journey (through their natal charts).  I can’t be perfect but I can at least try to understand and support them at this most fundamental level.

This is a very brief skim of the impact of the learning from that session.  It has made me so passionate about learning more that I’ve started to take astrology classes and find others who are interested in astrology as well.  Stay tuned for more!

 

Food Lessons

Food.

I have so many lessons to learn from this one word.  I question constantly.  Why is this such a hard lesson for me.  Why do some people find it so easy to eat healthy or at the very least to have a much more sane balance around this ubiquitous little word.  Why has it taken me so long to be able to face this word with more depth and honesty?

I will write more about my journey of searching for meaning.  That also doesn’t come easy to me.  How is it that some people can throw themselves into loving whatever it is that they find fascinating.  We really do have an endless supply of wonder that surrounds us: bugs, plants, animals, people, design, our minds, our bodies, our souls, and this list could break it down and go on and on.  There are people who are fascinated and can study anything.

I have struggled to find that meaning.  I know that food is an issue for me for many reasons.  And when I look around me there are so many that have taken their own challenges and met them head on.  Research, implementing changes, and many becoming experts and sharing their knowledge and journeys with others.  Do a search for any ailment that has a connection to food and you find it.  Want to ferment foods, eat vegan, eat paleo, and on and on.  It is available.

I suppose it is a part of my lessons to learn for this soul journey that I need to stop comparing.  I am here to learn my lessons and I need to see those around me as inspiration and a guide that I can use and not use them as a tool to show how I don’t measure up, will never change, and make me feel worse.  That has not helped and unconsciously I have been doing this for a long time.

For a long time I have done a lot of research, searching, learning, and reading.  Now is the time for action.

Food.

My action here is to take better care of my health.  It is not about dieting.  For me it is about feeling less joint pain, gut issues, and gaining more energy.

2017 is my year of action.  To not just know that I need to make changes but to start no matter how small.  I want to feel better and I know that making changes to what I eat and being more gentle with myself are the first keys to this call of action.

Morning Moments

One of my favourite bloggers is http://www.theshubox.com.  I love how she shares her struggles, triumphs, and her moments in life.  She inspired me to start waking up between 5 and 5:30 am most weekday mornings.  I also feel like there is so much I want to do and I wasn’t getting accomplished in my life.  Having young kids makes the time even more precious to carve out so that I’m getting refuelled and also taking steps to accomplish the things that matter to me.

There is so much great information and awesome bloggers that share their lives that it has taken me a few years to really get sharing and working consistently on my blog.  Why write if I don’t have something new and different.  What I should have seen a long time ago is that it is the sharing of our stories, our perspective that is a creative outlet and connects us together.  Those are two very powerful reasons and are enough.

I love how shared experiences make us feel less alone.  In knowing that other moms struggle with patience and feel fried by the end of the day, I feel less angst that I’m doing everything wrong.  There are lots of picky eaters and meal planning and getting kids to eat healthy is a common struggle too!  Sleeping.  Enough said there.

I appreciate those that share not only the struggle but all the the things they do to piece a great life together.  Food ideas, sleeping thoughts, self care reminders, and many more ideas.

I have friends who I talk with, get together and have a shared journey but I also love being able to sit down at the end of the day or open up my computer bright and early and feel a connection to this shared journey of finding our way through life, parenting, working, and relationships.

Lessons Not Learnt

I feel like a crab in a crab pot of life.  I am so ready to leave behind limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns, and my self sabotaging behaviours.

I know that I fall into negative thought patterns, I focus on the things that my husband is not doing and lamenting in my mind how I do the heavier share of child care even though I also work full time.

I eat too much sugar.  It is my reward when I’m tired, when I need to feel nurtured, and when I want a boost.

I focus on losing the last 10 pounds.

Deep inside I want to feel seen, loved, and appreciated and it often comes out as needy or I go into self-martyre mode and loop eventually into anger.

I have worked on feeling worthy.  And I do.  I do believe I’m worthy of love.  I’m not perfect.  I’m ok with my ability to have dance parties with the kids, to get some good meals on the table (not always but enough), to be a great instructor at work, and to be really settling into who I am.

But where I get dragged back down into the crab pot is with relationships.  I feel like I’m in a pattern of not being seen.  It started with my family and two other relationships before being married.  I can’t really expect to be seen if I don’t show who I am to the other person which I really struggled with in my 20’s and 30’s.  I’ve really worked at discovering who I am and being ok with it!  I want to live more in the being of me.  Hmm, that doesn’t seem to make sense but is the raw truth.

Some of my seemingly sabotaging behaviours are really just coping mechanisms for not feeling seen.  And that’s where my work is.  I need to be work on my self compassion and take the focus away from the external need for validation and truly give that to myself.

My hope is to break the patterns that keep repeating and really this is my journey as a soul finding their way, making their way to meaning in this life.

 

Restlessness

I have felt restless for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure exactly when it started. At what point did I go from the live in the moment to moment ease of the childhood mind to restless?
There are as many reasons underlying this feeling as there is ways to deal with it.

Some of the coping methods I’ve used are constructive and others destructive and I’ve done lots of both.

Overeating, sugar, and alcohol are not so conducive to positively working out good changes.

Trying to work through what this feeling is trying to communicate gives seeds to work with.

And it seems that this restlessness is my tool that I’ve been given to push me to examine my life and figure out what I need to do next.

When I figure out one piece, there is always another wave which at times can feel suffocating and depressing. I’m realizing that the waves will keep coming but if I can learn to move with the waves it is not so crushing. I can see the continual waves with more patience and compassion.

Todays wave is about work. My work history is a combination of being tossed around in the crashing waves to a joyous learn to surf only to have a major wipeout a couple of years ago.

When I graduated from high school there was a recession going on. Add to that limited funds for university and a lack of confidence in my chosen field of teaching, I ended up dropping out of university at the start of second year. I managed to find a full time job working in a coffee shop and at least was able to support myself while searching for what to do next. I was introduced to a boyfriend’s sister who was a CMA – a designated accountant.

That was never my dream but I could take classes at night while I worked and that is how I fell into the accounting profession.

It was not my first choice (or twentieth for that matter) but the whole seven years it took, I could work which was needed. I could never find a fit though in any of the accounting jobs that I had. Thankfully twelve and a half years ago had the confidence to get back into teaching – accounting at a college.

I think some people are not only satisficers or maximizers (http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2006/06/are_you_a_satis) when it comes to choosing but I think it happens in other areas too.

I’ve realized that I tend to have the maximizer in me always on, always scanning to see if any job, relationship, house, and any other part of my life are what’s best for me.

A couple of years ago I had been chugging along quite happy in my role as an instructor and also working on some long-term planning for my department. I already had the restless feeling creeping up after ten years of teaching, I was ready for a different opportunity. Insert some serendipitous miscommunication and an intolerant boss and I switched departments.
I’m still teaching accounting but in a different campus and department.
I love that I know have more freedom in the way I deliver courses and it has been a good change.
But the restlessness is still brewing.
I know part of the solution is learning skills to just let the restlessness go. I don’t have to act on it all the time. Meditation could be one or for me right now (although a 6 yr and 4 yr old tend to be great interrupters!) I have an energy routine to get back into my body that has been working really well. It only takes ten minutes which has meant consistency almost every day.

On the other hand do I want to do another 10 or 15 years doing what I’m doing? My other loves have been psychology (I went back to finish a BA in psych a few years ago). And a chronic illness that has been in remission for a long time but never far from the surface has me exploring alternative healing as a way to fulfill a deeper desire to really work with people at a more personal level.

I don’t know what the answer is yet but I know for sure that the restlessness will keep pushing me to figure it out.

A New Life Emerging

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I have been going through a season or more like a whole year of intense pressure to make changes. The pressure is internal. A need to drive my life in a direction that is more fulfilling, more inline with who I am and who I feel is trapped deep inside.

I have a love of learning and gathering information. And then reading more and more and more. I love blogs, books, and if I have the time courses as well. I love that I gather ideas and and increase my knowing of better ways to eat, to add positivity, and to see how others are living through their blogs.

I’m drawn to stories and it fascinates me what interests and inspires others to live their lives the way they do.
It would take several posts to talk about all the blogs, books, and magazines that I’ve read over the last several years. And I still go to work and take care of my young family.

It’s what I love to do but then I realized that even though I love reading about improvements and great ideas that would make my life fuller, richer and more enjoyable, I’m NOT following through on almost all of these things.

WHY?

That question has plagued me. I realize now that I use up all my time (outside work and family) doing the reading and researching but I leave no time to actually make the changes in my life. It leaves me feeling restless and a bit of a failure when it comes to having a life that I love.

I love insights and have worked really hard to figure out who I am as I thought this was the answer to how I can really make changes and improve my eating, my energy, my direction in life. In turn I can be a better mom.
And certainly this intense search I embarked on over the last couple of years has helped. I finally figured out that I’m an ENFP and a type 4. I could not figure these out before! And it’s in realizing that I have a very open orientation to life and this meant that I could see myself in many types and also that I have had some experiences where I could not express who I was and has meant I keep the real me very private. So private that even I couldn’t access these parts of myself.

The culminating point happened when I went for an Evolutionary Astrology reading that BLEW MY MIND. She touched on my life long struggle to find my way and was able to pull out and explain pieces of me that need to be exposed and shared so that I can move forward. I sat in disbelief as she explained how I’m private and can’t even seem to know myself. That I love learning, pick up on concepts easily but have a hard time accepting one way of being in the world. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I also need to work on finishing something! She recognized that I start many things but don’t really get them off the ground. Like this blog, and I want to implement necessary diet changes to improve my health and learn some key skills to move my work life forward.

And here I am.

Ready to break out of my self imposed cocoon to share my journey in hopes that you can fly beautiful and free too!!