Finding a Voice

In trying to figure out the focus of my blog, I was thinking about what I like in other blogs I love.  The biggest feature is the feeling of the blog.  It’s that I feel like I’m getting a glimpse into another person’s life, their struggles, successes, and just daily thought process.

It doesn’t have to be beautiful (although I appreciate the effort they do to make it look nice) but it’s more about a connection that comes through.  Sometimes I can relate to the same experiences and sometimes it’s just an honest look someone else’s experiences that I can really appreciate.

The hard part?  Getting to the point of having my own voice.  I have read A LOT about writing, especially for blogs and the advice really is just start.  I’ve struggled with that over the last few years.  I purchased my domain and then have flip-flopped in my mind about what to do in this space.  I have lots of ideas but I often feel stuck in trying to organize them into something coherent and interesting.

One of the things that I realized through learning my MBTI type (I’m an ENFP), is that I like to process my thoughts out loud.  THAT is what helps give me clarity.  How do I do that?  I’ve been trying to have things more perfect or at least acceptable before I start writing.  But I think what I need to do is just focus on getting ALL or many of my ideas out of my head into this space and as I do that the clarity will come.

It’s as I’ve read many times.  Show up.  Write.  Do the work first.  This is what I need to do to find my voice!

Connecting the Dots

I have a jumble of thoughts today about self-awareness or trying to figure out my own personality types and characteristics.  I’ve always struggled to take a test and figure out my type in the big ones like MBTI or the Enneagram.  It has only been in the last few years that I really researched different tests and read so much about them that I finally stumbled upon my types and it felt so liberating after so much frustration.

I am an ENFP (although just barely on the Extrovert side of things) and an Enneagram type 4.  There was a lot of reading, I read many books, blogs, and websites.  One of the sites I really appreciate for her honesty, talk of also searching and using of types is Anne of Modern Mrs Darcy.  It was through her posts that I finally narrowed down that I was a 4 and not a 9.  I will get into why in another post.  I also then figured out that I was an ENFP and not an INFP.  I narrowed it down letter by letter really.  I just find some of the tests are not easy for me.  I have better results with examining each piece and how it relates to the world and then I can choose.

As I was looking up Anne’s website this morning, I’ve stumbled upon some old posts where she is talking about personality and parenting.  I had forgotten about those!  I’m going back to reread those posts as I’m in the midst of parenting my child who does not easily know himself.

This post started with my thoughts on how, those of us that are cerebral may have a hard time in the knowing of how we react and behave to different scenarios.  This makes the personality tests difficult to complete and not always accurate.  I have many more thoughts and will pick out more coherent pieces to discuss in future posts.  Stay tuned!

Out of the Loop

I had an extremely busy year last year (I work at a community college) and this year I have purposely pulled back from activities outside of my teaching, prepping and marking responsibilities.

I’m past chair on a committee that I had chaired last year but I’ve been pretty quiet, adding support when asked but not taking on anything.

I sit on the daycare board where my kids have before and after school care and I do volunteer a bit for the school parent council (our version of the PTA).

It has been much needed rest.  At my institution we teach in intensive blocks and the first 8 weeks of the college year were intense.  I’m now teaching courses that are basic and don’t change much year to year.

I find myself getting restless and thinking about what to take on.  I’m not sure what that will look like.  I’ve found as I’ve pulled back, I feel out of the loop although there is not too much going on that I’m missing out on.  I think I’m just getting restless for maybe changing things up but I don’t know if I have the energy to deal with all the office politics.

I’m not sure there is going to be a full point here.  I’ve realized that to figure out my future, I need to start getting some thoughts out of my head and here is a good place to start.

I would like to shift my career but I’m not sure how or what yet but here is the seed.  I have no idea what will grow!

Lessons of Health

A couple of years ago I was ready to face my health, my eating habits, and my inability to make positive changes.  While munching on chips or eating sweet desserts, I have read magazines, books, and articles about eating healthier.  I knew my eating habits were terrible.  I knew that I needed to actually make some changes to have a better quality of life and to prevent serious health issues.  One step I took was seeing a naturopath and to do food sensitivity testing.

Back story: I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was about thirteen.  I was officially diagnosed when I was fifteen, after months of tests to rule out other possibilities.  Diet was never considered.  I grew up on a farm and had a very meat and potatoes diet which included home grown vegetables.  It seems like that should have been a good start.  I felt very alone and isolated and used to steal cookies and other foods, and once old enough I would buy treats to eat in secret in my room.  Hence a very unhealthy relationship with food was created in these years.

When I moved away from home at eighteen I was then free to eat unhealthy as much as I wanted.  I became vegetarian in my earlier twenties.  The basis of this diet was not vegetables but bread and cheese were often mainstays along with the unhealthy “treats” that I continued to use as emotional support over the years.

When I met my now husband, meat slowly made an appearance.  That was fifteen years ago.  I have had some success over the years where the treats were managed a little better but they have never gone away as my constant companion.

I have never been able to stick to a “diet”. My weight has been up and down with 20 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight in my 20’s to late 30″s.   I could control my overall intake of food but I had to have treats every day.  They are my coping mechanism.

At 38 I had a son and then at 40, a daughter.  My weight came down with breast feeding and just being busier.  I have about 8 or so pounds I could lose but overall now it’s not about weight, it has become about health.

I still can’t stick to a diet.  But back to the naturopath.  Almost three years ago the testing came back that I am sensitive to the protein casein in milk – which meant the yogurt and cheese that were the mainstays of my diet were actually causing inflammation in my body.  Ironically, I grew up on a dairy farm.

Over the last few years, I have struggled to keep dairy out of my diet – there are milk products in so many things!  When I can keep it to a bare minimum I feel so much better.  I’ve made strides at incorporating vegetables a bit more vegetables in my diet.  But I often derail and have some days were the main things I eat are not healthy and can often include dairy in them.

The other big hurdle AND was the starting thought of this post, has been trying to find good advice and guidelines to make sure that I’m getting what I need.  My arthritis has been in a “remission” since my 20’s but I do get some swelling when I overdo things, either from physical exertion and from overeating crap.

There is much debate about paleo and other diets that may be best for auto immune conditions. None of which I have been able to follow.

I would hate to think how much time I have wasted in my life reading magazines, books, and articles about diets.  What would the world look like if we took all the advice and selling of stuff we need to exercise and eat right.  The supplements, the products, the programs.

It makes me crazy and sad.  I’m 45 and I know that the best thing I can do for myself is to stop the insanity of reading, reading, searching and searching for I don’t know what.  The miracle that would fix me.

What I’ve found is I now have a full on desire to go vegan which is a challenge in feeding myself in a way that the rest of my family is not interested in.  I know though that I can incorporate this way of eating, I can feel the joy in it that nourishment can give me.  I have committed myself to step by baby step stopping the insanity of looking to others for the miracle answer to my health and trusting my instincts.

I feel tired in my bones some days from working, caring for young kids, and life but that in trusting myself I will improve my health.

Part of that is limiting in some way the outside messages and voices that I have been reading every day for years.  There is so, so much competing information, some of it good and a lot of it horrible and self serving of those looking to profit.

Honestly this feels so new and daunting.  I will use this space as a way to not just keep myself accountable but to share my learning journey towards a saner, healthier, and more compassionate life.

 

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.

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

img_0222

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!!