Beauty, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Who knew?

Those of you who follow my blog and those of you who know me personally know all too well I always look for the positive in everything. I search for the underlying lessons. I seek out the light in the darkness. These past few months have been a true test to this. Someone dear and precious to me has been struggling…a story that is not mine to tell. Watching them struggle, seeing what it was doing to them and in turn to me and others was getting too much to bear. I found myself not being myself, or feeling like myself. Knots in my stomach, sleepless nights, lack of appetite…you name it, I had it. After a night of almost no sleep I reached a breaking point. Here I was, sleepless, bed head to the tenth degree, having a mental breakdown and it wasn’t even 7:30 a.m. I had been reading everything I could get my hands on to help spark my pilot light. I even reached for my bible…to no avail. Seriously, someone has to write a cliff notes for the bible. I scoured that sucker and couldn’t find any comfort. I am a spiritual person. I do believe in a higher power, and energy. There is something or someone greater than us. Call it God, the universe, the Smurfs, whatever. It’s there. In my frustration and down right tantrum I almost threw it across the room. Instead, I reached out to the husband of one of my best friends. He is a pastor. I asked him for guidance, for a scripture that may help me regain perspective. Within minutes, I mean minutes, I had a response. This was it,

“Don’t worry about anything;instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Well, let me tell you. The tears ran down my face, ugly face, snot nosed crying for over 30 minutes. A peace came over me. I cannot explain it, nor do I feel I have to. All I can tell you is reading that passage catapulted me back to myself. After I stopped crying and somewhat regained my composure, I started to feel that knot in my stomach again. I literally stopped walking through my living room, took a deep breath, and said a prayer about what I was worried about. I asked for strength and courage. I stated what I wanted for myself and others. I made myself picture it in my mind before I took another step…if I have a peeping Tom, he got quite a show. The knot went away. On my way to work that day, as I pulled into my parking spot, the knot came back and my mind flooded with all the what if’s and the memories of the past events. I put my car in park, shut of the engine and stated out loud to myself, the universe and the dude waiting at the bus stop what I needed. The knot went away. It’s been over 2 months now, and guess what? The knot went away.

I am not a guru on the mount, nor am I an expert. In the words of the beloved June Carter Cash, I am a woman who is “just trying to matter”. Praying, positive affirmations, whatever it is, only work if you do. Yes, the scripture made me feel better. Yes, praying made the knot go away. I also had to do the work, walk the walk and talk the talk if you will. I had to own my shit. Own my part in all the craziness going on. When you are honest with yourself, it may not be pretty, but trust me, you will feel beautiful.

health and wellness, lifestyle, Women

Sunday Confessions

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook this morning that caught my eye and lifted a weight off my shoulders. The post read ” Don’t let people guilt you for not visiting them. They’re not visiting you either”.

I know I am not the only one who carries this guilt. We miss our friends, we may even miss our family. We want to be present for all the happenings and celebrations of our loved ones lives. Nothing beats an hour long chat, face to face over a chardonnay with our dearest friends, or collecting wisdom from our elders over a pot of tea kept warm by their knitted tea cozy. If it was up to me, these events would happen every day. More often than not, it’s not up to me. Life gets busy and can tend to get in the way of best laid plans. Children get the flu, the dog eats chocolate and an emergency trip to the vet takes priority. Work schedules to do not line up with anyone else’s … those of us in retail know this all too well. Anxiety decides to rear it’s ugly mug and the idea of driving on the highway with snow in the forecast is just too much to handle. Sometimes, we are just tired, plain and simple. Tired from work, tired from our endless “to-do’s”, tired of being everything to everyone, and although we miss our friends and family, we just can’t muster up the energy for one more thing. If you are visiting people because you have to, like it’s another chore on your daily “to-do” list – there is no honor in that, for them or for you.

I have friends and family all over the globe. Some live 10 minutes away, some live 12 hours away. I would love to see them all, whenever I had a free moment. I know this is not possible, as much as I wish it was. So, I send a quick text to let them know I am thinking of them. When I find an old photo, I send it to them, so we can share the memory. I make sure that every January 1st. I mark down everyone’s birthday on my calendar, from January to December, so they are not forgotten.  When I can, I call them to have a chat. Yes. I use my phone like a phone. When I see them post good news, I call to congratulate. Some I will text, for I know how hectic their schedules are. When I see them post sad news, whenever possible I arrive at their door.

There are times in our lives that others have to be takers and we have to be the givers. There are also times we are the takers and others are the givers. There should be times we are the visitor. There should also be times that we are visited. Relationships should be an equal amount of give and take. So, stop feeling guilty, plain and simple.

 

health and wellness, lifestyle, Parenting past 15, Sunday Confessions

Sunday Confessions

Fear – An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm (Oxford Dictionary)

Many of my friends and loved ones have been going through some shit lately. Some big, some small. When you dig down deep enough, you will find fear is the culprit. Fear is the seed that is making that vine grow. Branching out into all aspects of life, family, friends, work, you name it, it’s trying to grab hold. I was talking with my daughter a few nights ago about this exact thing. She is going through some stuff (not going to share it – not my story to tell) and she inferred that I wasn’t afraid of anything. You see, I am an optimist. I try to see the good in all things. I prefer to raise people up which in turn makes me look like I have my shit together and have no fear. Sweet child, you couldn’t be more wrong.

During my 46 years in this earthly realm, yours truly has felt her share of fear. When I was a child I was afraid of monsters under my bed, my house catching on fire, spiders, bees and heights. I put my children’s Bible under my bed = no more monsters = no more fear. I wore my housecoat and slippers to bed so in case of of a fire I was ready to flee = no more fear. I saw my Auntie Jo squish a spider with her bare hands = no more fear…still a little freaked out by those 8 legged monstrosities. I found out that bees help things grow and once stung by one I got ice cream to make me feel better = no more fear. As for the heights…after falling 12 feet off the playground equipment the fear was gone. I realized I wasn’t afraid of heights, I was afraid of the pain of landing after the fall. Now I knew what to expect.

Fast forward 35 years and the fears I face aren’t as easy to overcome. My family gene pool offers ovarian cancer, breast cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s. My husband had a heart attack at 39. He is fine. His heart is good. I still wake up to check if he’s breathing, just as I did when my daughter was a wee baby – you know, getting eye level with their stomach to see if it rises. Our lovely daughter deals with issues of anxiety and depression. I still get a knot in my stomach when she sounds funny on the phone or I receive a random text. …by the way, that is why I do not like texting – no emotion so you never know it’s context. Drives me crazy. Most of the time there is nothing the matter, but fear makes me think otherwise.

I’m going to tell you what I told my daughter. A little fear is good, it keeps you aware. A lot of fear is bad, it blinds you to what is right in front of you. We all have fears. We all have anxieties. Mostly over the things we don’t have any control of. I can eat well, do what the Doctor and Oprah tell me to do and guess what? I could still get cancer. I have no control over what happens to my husband or our daughter. All I can do is love them and remind them of their health issues and help them to practice self care and love.

In this life all we can control is our behavior, how we decide to see people and treat them. In my experience, kindness is a fear killer. It really is. Whenever I have been fearful of something new, be it work or life, I kill it with kindness. I also make myself remember all the fears I have conquered, from fear of falling off my bike when I was six, to fear of driving into the heart of the dragon – the 400/401 highway in Toronto when I was 43, and all the other fears in between.

Be gentle with yourself for you are doing the best you can. Fear will always be lurking in the shadows. I believe that kindness is light, so if you have light, there is no need to fear the dark.

Beauty, health and wellness, Parenting past 15, That girl in the red coat

Sunday Confessions

 

 

“Isn’t it strange that we talk least about the things we think about the most?” – Charles Lindbergh

I am a lover of quotes. I have been for as long as I can remember. Quotes and sayings that grabbed my attention or the attention of others were and still are my favorites. I fondly remember shopping with my mother in a gift shop in Elora Ontario. I was 8 years old and fancy shoe laces were all the rage. The shop had a display of them and as I was looking at them and planning my performance to my mother in hopes of getting her to buy me a pair, my eyes landed on a pair of laces that I thought were the letters of the alphabet…they weren’t the letters of the alphabet…they read “BULLSHIT”. I giggled and gasped at the same time. My mother came over and I threw caution to the wind and told her I found a pair I liked. I pointed them out to her, she read them and laughed out loud, took them off the display and bought them for me. I wore my “BULLSHIT” shoelaces with pride, to school, to the playground, even to my grandparents house. Back to the tale at hand.

The above quote I came across a few days ago on Instagram and have not been able to stop thinking about it. It made me think of all the things that I think about, but do not say. Sure I make a sarcastic quip to lighten the mood, and will give my honest opinion when asked, I do not however always talk about what is going on behind the scenes. I put on my game face and head on out the door. Over the past weeks, being given time to actually complete a thought and do some soul searching via conversations with friends and finding a fabulous book -Rising Strong by Brene Brown, I have been able to, slowly but surely, leave the house without my game face. What you see is what you get. I have been able to shed my skin of shame (as I like to call it) and just be me. Becoming honest with myself is allowing me to become honest with those around me. So many of us are dealing with some type of pain or anguish yet feel shame for doing so. Let the shame go, it’s a waste of energy, it serves no purpose. Sharing your stories will set you free, your stories may even set someone else free for they will realize they are not alone. For the naysayers out there I have a perfect example, a personal one.

My daughter deals with anxiety and depression. Her high school years were not gentle and kind. Over the years we tried to get her some help to deal with her thoughts and feelings, to no avail. It was frustrating to say the least, not only for her, but as her Mother for it is my job to protect her, to show her there is good in the world. How was I to get her to believe that when one door closes another opens when every door seemed to slam in her face? Over the years we did our best to support her, all the while telling her to speak to someone. She didn’t trust the system for it had failed her so many times before. Finally, God, the powers that be, the Smurfs, whichever you want to believe in heard our plea, saw our efforts and a door opened, my daughter was heard, was taken seriously and is slowly but surely gaining control of herself, her emotions and her anxiety. I know, I hear you …”what’s your point? Where’s your example?”. Here it is. Last year while working with my friend at her shop, a friend of hers came in for her morning Matcha. She looked exhausted. She looked distraught. She was on the verge of tears. I overheard her conversation with my friend, it was about her daughter. She was 17, not eating, depressed, anxious, couldn’t make it through the day at high school. Her Mother was at a loss and didn’t know what to do. I went over, excused myself for entering the conversation and told her I felt I needed to. My voice was shaking as I told her about my daughter. Why was my voice shaking? What was so wrong about speaking the truth? It was at that moment I realized that I was blaming myself for my daughter’s anxieties and in turn by doing so was making her issues about me, which serves no purpose and does not help my daughter in any way, shape or form. As I was speaking to this woman, her tears slowed, her breathing calmed, my voice stopped shaking and we both felt lighter. I told her “Don’t do what I did. This is not your fault and we have to remember this is not about us. I am here to tell you there is light at the end of this tunnel. It will get better”. I went home that day and told my daughter about the conversation and I apologized to her. I apologized for always trying to fix it, that I realized all the while I was trying to make it better for her, because of my fear and shame of being seen as a bad Mother, I was not helping at all. By speaking my truth to another, I let go of my feelings of shame I hadn’t even realized I was carrying and I released another of their feelings of shame.

We all have stories that ain’t so pretty. We all know someone, or are ourselves dealing with;

  • loss
  • divorce
  • addiction
  • mental health issues
  • parenting issues – form having your toddler ripping off it’s diaper to having to put a parent in diapers.
  • are we doing enough
  • are we doing too much
  • bad hair day meltdown

…the list is endless. Here’s the deal Beauties. There is no shame in speaking your truth, what ever it may be. In the immortal words of Dr. Suess ” Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”.

 

 

 

 

Beauty, communication, health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, Women

Bringing light to the dark

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

 

Lately, during conversations with friends and loved ones alike, I have found myself thinking, some times even stating out loud, “if more people spoke of the ugly, the world would be a beautiful place.”. What’s the “ugly” you ask? Fear. Anxiety. Depression. Anger. Panic. Addiction. …to name a few. The “beautiful place” being we would all realize that we have more in common then we do not. I cannot count how many times in the last few months I have heard someone say “Really? You went through this too?”, “You mean my kid isn’t the only one?”, “You mean you have had money troubles too?”, “You’ve felt like you were failing as a parent? I thought it was just me!”.

It’s time to start to bring some light to the darkness of our lives. It’s time to start talking about those things you don’t talk about at party’s. It’s time to stop being ashamed and start being empowered. I can tell you, right now, a friend is looking at your Instagram or Facebook wishing their life was as full as yours and their family as happy as yours – all the while, you are trying to figure out how you are going to pay your mortgage this month, or hoping that your child finds the right therapist to help them, and no one is the wiser. After years of trying to keep up with the Joneses, the Kardashians, you name it, I was tired, mentally, emotionally and physically. So, as scary as it was, I stopped trying to be perfect, stopped acting like everything was coming up roses and just let my life be what is was. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes it was sad. Many days had their hiccups and many were smooth sailing. One thing was certain, I sure as hell wasn’t as tired. Life, parenting, marriage, work can be tiring enough, why add more to get less? For all of you out there;

  • it’s okay not to like your kids. You love them, you don’t always have to like how they are behaving
  • it’s okay to understand why animals sometimes eat their young
  • it’s okay if you don’t see your parents every weekend. They had kids and a life before you – they get it. Deep down, they get it
  • you are not the only parent worried about their child
  • at least two people you know have children that are struggling as yours is – be it with their studies, their friends or their mental health
  • just because your friends are world travelers does not mean they can afford it
  • more people have financial strain than don’t.
  • we have all felt like getting in our cars, changing our names and living the vida loca

 

It’s time for uncomfortable conversations – especially for those of us who chose marriage. More often than not, in my own marriage, the problems I thought we had and the problems my hubby thought we had weren’t even in the same realm.

  • your spouse is not your psychic friend. You need to tell them what you need and what you want
  • before thinking for your husband, ask him what he is thinking. Trust me, it’s never what you think it is and usually has to do with food.
  • Gents – if you think your wife is mad at you, ask her if she is. I know. I know. It’s like I am asking you to go into the snake pit. Most of the time, if your wife seems ticked – it’s not about you. Hell, he could be sitting there thinking you are sighing so much because you are mad at him all the while you are mad at windows 10 and their damn automated updates.
  • after hearing of others marriage/relationship woes, remember those are their problems, not yours. Try not to make their problems your own. …just because your bff’s hubby hides that he surf’s porn doesn’t mean yours does.
  • if you truly are not happy, you need to talk about that. Maybe you will stay together, maybe you won’t. If love, respect and honesty are there, it will always work out.
  • remember that your 10% may be their 100% and vice versa.

 

What you may see as a short coming, others may see as an achievement. Admitting your fears may help another face their own. Being true to yourself may allow another to do the same. We give children a night light so the darkness doesn’t seem as scary, so why not give ourselves a night light of our own?