Goodnight, Sleep: A Glimpse into Anxiety and Depression

I am so honoured to be sharing this story it came from one of my clients and more importantly my friend. Since I have known her, she has been dealing with anxiety and depression and she has valiantly been working at reclaiming her life. She has taken every tool and she has worked so hard to face her demons. She truly is an inspiration and for all those suffering with a mind that runs rampant, she is a beacon of hope. I am so blessed to have been along with her on this journey and I admire her strength and courage! Thank you, Michelle, for sharing and allowing me to share your experience. Namaste my beautiful friend!

Goodnight, Sleep: A Glimpse into Depression & Anxiety

Another sleepless night rears its ugly head. I can feel the anxiety and depression begin to engulf me into the dark corners of hell. At first, I shrug it off. I take a few deep breathes to center myself. It calms me for the moment, but I know it’s not the last I’ll hear of it. This is how my illnesses work. I try and put it out of my mind. I busy myself with small tasks, thinking this will keep what’s coming at bay, and it does for a short time. But I can still feel that twinge of panic in the back of my head. It’s almost bedtime. “Why?” I ask myself. Why now? I thought today was a good day?!

I can feel the cycle about to begin. It’s late. I can’t put off sleep any longer, or so I thought. I lay my head on my pillow and wait. Will it be slumber, or will it be something else? I can feel my voice becoming distorted and lost. There is no sound except the quiet chatter of anxiety and depression. I know now what is coming.

It starts. The tapes become louder and louder, replay conversations from hours, days, months, even years ago that have long been forgotten by the other party. Hashing out what I could have said. Or chastising myself for not speaking my truth.” Why did you say that”? I hear anxiety say.” You should be ashamed of yourself”!

Depression chimes in,” You need to run, hide!” it shouts.

My rational mind tries, just for a moment, to offer a crumb of guidance, “People have already forgotten about it.” “Move on, get over it.”

But it’s useless, the other two stronghold and gag my rational friend to regain power. I feel myself slipping. I can’t find anything to grasp. The light begins to fade. I can no longer see. The darkness has arrived and with it comes the Beast.

Next are the stories. The stories my depression and anxiety have told over and over for years start to run rampant. They fester. Picking and gnawing until I’m so in double of myself, I start believing the fiction. I lose my confidence, but I can’t show weakness, they remind me. I can’t be vulnerable. “Don’t let them see the cracks,” I hear the Beast whisper ever so softly. The hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I can feel my toes curl as I prepare for battle once again. This consumes me. Swallowing me whole. Further, into the bowels of darkness, I go to face my demons.

The sleepless night leaves me ragged and foggy. I muster the strength to drag myself out of bed to meet my daily obligations. I’m fragile and exhausted, but I put on my worn, tarnished armour and try again. I look in the mirror, hoping to see a different face looking back at me. Someone strong. Someone who can slay the Beast so I can be free. That person is not in the reflection. I sigh, wipe my tears, lower my mask and hope today will be different.

In the beginning, I thought death was the only viable option to tame the Beast. To quiet the obsessive chatter. Releasing me from this swirling black inferno. I could almost find relief. Searching for compassion in the hooded stranger’s non-existent eyes. His scythe in hand. But it’s not my time. I needed to look elsewhere.

As I grow older, I find tools. Weapons if you will. The kind of evidence that will not kill the Beast but deter it. All these years I was fighting in the dark with only my hands. I found my voice. My words. What started as only a faint whisper has grown to a mighty roar. So powerful it startles the Beast at first, but as it grows and travels, the creature cowers. It’s disorientated, not understanding where this sound has been hiding. It pushes back. Flexing its muscles. Trying to intimidate. It doesn’t work. The roar escalates to words. Words that are more powerful than anyone would imagine. Words that unveil the darkness allowing streams of golden light into the once windowless room. It’s time to strike. I use every ounce of strength I have.

The Beast is wounded. It’s scrambling for any sign of night as the light becomes more powerful, almost blinding. The Beast knows its power is no longer as strong as it used to be. He scurries back to his cage and licks his wounds. I am free.

I can feel the tears begin to stream down my face. Not the same tears that came from that dark place. They come so fast and hard. I’m left completing sobbing. I am releasing it. I’m letting out years of pain and suffering. I feel the light penetrating my soul.

I remove my armour. I can breathe. My tears subside. My eyes are red but filled with new hope. The tension that once held me together begins to dissipate. This feeling is foreign but welcoming.

Sleep comes quickly. My old friend had finally returned, and I’m embraced in its warm folds. Once I emerge from the much-needed slumber, it’s time to tell my story. It’s time to show my cracks. My flaws. It’s time to be vulnerable. This is the only way to cage the Beast permanently.

So, I begin to write. My story flows so quickly I can barely keep up. I feel my heart swell with emotion as the words tumble onto the page. Its time. Time to speak and show others they are not alone. They don’t need to fight in silence anymore.

Shout. Scream. Embrace your voice; be vulnerable. It’s the only way to emerge victorious. You have the strength inside of you just waiting to get out. Pacing back and forth, waiting for the door to be opened. Here is the key dear friend. The journey begins with you. Welcome to the light.

Thank you 2019: Valuable Lessons Learned!

Thank you 2019 for challenging me to be a better version of myself.

I know I am not alone in the fact that at times 2019 seemed really challenging and if I had to capture it in a sentence, I would say … 2019 has been a year of tremendous growth for me. Most of this growth, (like most growth) has come from being challenged and realizing that my familiar patterns were not helping me but rather causing my suffering.

There are two important lessons that I take away from 2019 that I thought I would share because they have been life-changing for me. And I don’t think I am alone in having to learn them!

The first lesson is lessons of love.

 

I have learned about love in so many different ways. First, I have learned that I (like everyone) am worthy of love, no matter what my inner critic tells me. This lesson came when I realized I was looking to my relationships to prove that I was lovable, after years of this pattern I finally realized it was not working! Although people have loved me, I never really truly believed it because I didn’t love myself.

Which is the second love lesson, I learned that what I really wanted all these years was to love myself. This was not a huge surprise as I had heard it forever, but what I didn’t know was that although I thought I loved myself (and I did to a certain degree) most of this love for myself was dependent on others’ opinions of me. I believe this was the birth of the ‘people pleaser’ personality in me. In my experience, I would ‘please’ others to gain their approval to prove that I was lovable. As soon as I realized this, I knew I needed to make some changes. These changes involved for the first time in my life putting myself first and breaking the pattern of ‘people-pleasing’ and always putting others first. I have to say that at first, this felt really uncomfortable as my pleasing others was so deeply ingrained. With practice and a lot of positive self-talk, this became easier and easier. I am sure as I continue to work on this pattern it will continue to get easier!

 

I guess you can say that 2019, was the death of my ‘people pleaser’ and the birth of my self-love. And self- love for me, was the acceptance of all of who I am; loving and embracing all parts of myself. Including the shadow aspects of my personality. This too took some effort on my part, as the parts of myself that I deemed as undesirable had been suppressed for so long that they felt foreign to me. To embrace them meant I had to face them and love them for what they are. This means that I can love the parts of me that can be mean, can be rude and can be selfish. They are all apart of what makes me, me and they are loved!

Once I stopped trying to hide the undesirable parts of myself and just loved where I was at and who I was, the more I could accept that others loved me too! See that’s the thing when we don’t love our self, then no matter what others say, or do we will never truly believe they love us. Too many of us look to others to prove that we are loveable and worthy of love. But we end up harming our relationships because we can’t accept love unless we accept love from our self first.

All of these lessons in love allowed me to open my heart … truly open my heart to others and to myself. Now having an open heart does feel vulnerable but I would rather be open and vulnerable than to not experience love in all of its warmth and joy!

Needless to say, this was a journey that took the better part of a year and although I feel like I am on the stable ground these are lessons that I will continue to work on into 2020.

The next biggest lesson in 2019 is that life is much better when I live in a state of flow. This one took a lot of conscious work on my part to counteract the cultural lessons that have been ingrained in me. To me living in flow is doing what brings me joy, on a minute to minute basis. Really listening to my intuition and my body on what is the best choice for me. At times these choices felt and still feel like a leap of faith. What I have realized now is that when I am not in a state of flow life is hard work … my body is tense, and my mind is chaotic, and my thoughts are overwhelming.

On the other hand, flow to me is a state of inner peace, it is a beautiful, calm, strong trusting place. Mostly this work required me to ask myself “am I doing this because it brings me joy” if the answer was ‘no’ then I didn’t do it! Even though that meant that at the time I was not doing the ‘acceptable’, if it did not feel right, then I didn’t do it.

These two lessons go hand in hand. It takes self-love to be able to stay in flow especially when you are going against cultural priorities!

Overall 2019, has been a year of tremendous growth for me, at times this growth felt like I was moving nowhere and at times it felt like I was going backwards. There was more than one occasion that I asked myself if I was crazy! But that’s the thing about personal growth if you are pushing yourself into new territory it is bound to feel awkward and uncomfortable. You are moving past patterns, that you have been working with for years.

 

I like to think of personal growth like the transition of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The transition that the caterpillar goes through is a difficult one. It takes all of its energy and inner strength to complete, and at times it is in pure agony, but when the wings start to form it is all worth it!

 

 

For me, I say good-bye to 2019 with a huge thank you for all that I learned, and I look forward to 2020 where I get to test out my new wings.

 

How about you-

What was 2019 like for you? I would love to hear if you are willing to share.

The Value of the Season!

What do you Value for the Holidays!

We all have different values and when it comes to the holidays we all value different things! When we live out of alignment with our values it causes us stress. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to reduce the amount of stress over the holidays by helping you with your holiday values. When you understand what you value most over the holidays you can make choices that align with those values and have a more enjoyable holiday!

Many of us throw the word value around and really don’t understand how important our values actually are to us. We may say “I value family”, but then when it comes to spending time with our families, we put it on the bottom of the priority list – behind work, chores, and other “have tos”. When we do this, we usually feel a sense of shame or guilt for not spending time with our families.  We are living out of alignment with our values and, for that, we experience stress!

This holiday season, why not make it easier on yourself and figure out what your values are? Then do your best to live within those values, honour yourself!

The Value of the Season!

Ask Yourself

How to determine your holiday values is simple.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the past few holidays and ask yourself:

What brings me the most joy over the holidays?
When am I the happiest during the holiday?
If I had to give up something what could I absolutely not give up?
What does my dream holiday season look like?

Take the time to really feel into the questions, allow your imagination to go wild. Write down a few things that really stick out to you. You will probably notice that some common themes start to emerge.

Whether the answers revolve around such things as having family present or having some quiet downtime, to seeking adventure, or maybe it’s even solitude…the possibilities are endless. Whatever the answer may be, really tune into yourself. And most importantly don’t judge yourself for your answers!

 

Once you have a few common themes, take a few minutes to evaluate if this is a true value for you. For example, the value of peace is arising for you and when you check in with yourself, this doesn’t feel like something you would value.

Ask yourself:

Is this something that I really want or is it something that I believe that I need?
Is this something that really matters to me or is it something that others say I need?
Does this feel like a priority to me or does it feel like an obligation?

Take this time to really check in with yourself.

Does this feel authentic to you? Yes or No

If yes, then you have your list of values for the holidays.  If not, then you have identified the things that are most likely causing you stress. You are doing these things out of obligation or out of a belief that you ‘need’ to be doing them. This sense of obligation has overridden your true values and is causing you stress.

If this is the case, you need to take the time to re-evaluate what it is that you love about the holidays, use your imagination to identify your dream holiday season. What is it that you are doing? Who is there? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

If you can answer these questions and come up with your dream holiday season you will be able to identify your values. The following questions will help you to narrow in on your values:

Is it that you are surrounded by family or out at social events?

Are you following traditions or are you creating new memories?

Is it in a place that you know and love and feel comfortable or is it an exciting new place?

The Value of the Season!

Make it Happen

Once you have that picture clear in your mind, you can identify what is most important for you about the holidays. Now all you need to do is make the decision to make it happen!

How do you make it happen? Well, that requires you to stay true to you! Set boundaries say ‘no’ to things that are not aligning with your values and most importantly be grateful and enjoy taking part in the things you enjoy!

Wishing you a holiday season that is all you have dreamed of that aligns you with your highest values.

Why Do We Need to Hurt?

This past month marks 5 years since Woody passed, I started reflecting on all the changes that I have made over those years. That got me asking… why is it that it took a major loss for me to find myself!

It is funny, (and kind of sad) to think that I needed, and I think most of us do need, a big shakeup to get us to reevaluate things and make changes. Why does it have to be this way? Why do we need to be devastated and shaken to our cores to actually start listening to ourselves?

I am not the only one, I have found this with most of my clients too, they have come to coaching because they have had some big life event happen, relationships breaking up, loss, divorce, losing a job, a risk to their health … something big happened that shook them up and they realized they needed and wanted more.

Why do we need to hurt?

I ask myself this all the time. I do consult calls with people who know they want something different, who are in one way or another suffering in their current life. They completely agree and recognize they are not happy, but they are not willing or ready to make any changes.

No judgment!

That was me, the whole time before Woody passed, I knew that I wanted more for my life, but I stayed with what I knew because it was comfortable. That is the number one reason, I think people don’t make changes. And why they wait until they are forced to. We get comfortable! The more comfortable we get the stronger the fear of making changes gets. The stronger the fear, the quieter (or at least the less we hear) the voice inside us telling us that there is more.

 

 

It’s like comfort kills the voice of our dreams!

 

I have recently been listening (again) to ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, if you haven’t read or listened to this book, I highly recommend it. It has a great story with great life lessons intertwined. As I was listening, one gem, in particular, talked specifically about this, the character stated, “I don’t know how to deal with change because I’m used to the way I am”. This really speaks to that being comfortable piece, but it also speaks to settling. I can attest to that, too!

 

 

 

As I mentioned, I was comfortable in my old life, sure I wanted more from my career and my relationship, but it was OK, so I settled. There definitely was a voice inside telling me that my dreams were not being realized, that I was settling, that I was not being all of me, that I was hiding my gifts and talents (or at least using very little of them), overall I was playing small. Looking back, I am sure that is why I felt stressed most of the time! It’s stressful suppressing your dreams, and who you are, and what you know you are capable of doing! It kind of feels like now, had I listened to this voice things could have been different; but because I didn’t the only way the Universe could get me to wake up and pay attention was to shake me up … and that is what it did!  

What is it about change that scares us so much?

In my experience, we as a collective see change as something daunting, and scary and most of us equate it with negative outcomes, (probably because of our negatively wired brains). So, we shy away from the very thought of it. I think for most of us, this fear controls us, we convince ourselves, “you should just stay where you are, it’s safe, known and things could be worse on the other side”.

 

Yes, things could be worse that is a possibility, BUT it is just as likely they could be great! And in my experience, that is usually what happens!

 

 

We never seem to see that side; we only see the worst scenarios playing out. I can’t tell you how many people including myself, who have gone through something major in their life and we end up creating a new life that is even better than we ever expected.

What changes?

I think when your life has been thrown into turmoil your perspective shifts. You lose that fear of change. In a way, because you have been forced to change, it suddenly doesn’t seem so scary! It’s like you have learned (or been forced) to embrace change!

Also, I think you are more willing to risk, you have already lost, so it is less daunting. And this combination allows us to override that negative mind, so we grab life by the horns and say, “let’s do this!”

The thing is…

This option is available to everyone one of us, at any moment, we just need to choose to take it! 

 

 

 

That is why I wanted to write this blog, I hope it reaches some of you out there who, like me, have that little voice telling you that you were meant for more, that you are playing small and that it is time to step up!

 

 

 

My hope is this will amplify that voice, and be the encouragement, you need to move past the fear stories that your mind has created. If this has stirred something up in you then go get it, don’t wait for life to throw you into it!

We all deserve happiness!

P.S. You are stronger than you think, and you don’t need trauma to show you that. If this is you… take a deep breath, start tuning into that voice, trust in yourself and take steps towards your dreams, it’s not nearly as scary as your mind leads you to believe!

 

 

A Tidal Wave of Grief

I read once that grief comes in waves and when I envisioned it, I assumed that the waves gradually got smaller as they do in the ocean as it comes to the shore. What I didn’t expect is that sometimes the waves are tidal size waves and sometimes they are little baby waves and there is no way to predict which one is coming!

This past week marks the 5th year since my husband passed and on our wedding anniversary, I got hit with a tidal size wave from out of the blue! There were no warnings … just bam! Like all the significant special dates that remind me of him I psychologically prepare myself and our anniversary is usually a big one as when he was ill it was on our anniversary that things really started taking a turn for the worse, he then passed just over a week later, so needless to say it is an emotional time for me and I know 5 years may seem like a lot of time to some but for me the shock and trauma I experienced through the short 3 months of his illness is still something I cope with.


So back to the tidal wave… like I said I knew it would be emotional but what I didn’t expect was the barrage of guilt and self-blame that came on this particular wave. I know that there is sometimes survivor guilt and I think in the bargaining stage there is definitely some guilt but what I got was none of those, it was full-on assault from my mind on how I was the WORST person alive and was a horrible wife and so on and so on. This was new for me as I had not really had a lot of self-blame sure a little bit that I could have done more, been more compassionate etc but this was way more than that, this was a downright assault on my character, all from my own mind. I am so grateful that I have the tools that I do as I was able to stay afloat during the wave of emotions and keep my head above water. I have spoken with a few other widows and we have shared stories but I have not found in the literature the kind of guilt and self-blame that I experienced, so I thought I would write about it because I am sure I am not the only one who has had this happen and I am hoping for those of you who find this it will be a comfort to know that you are not alone!

Why I think this came up so strong for me this year is that in the past 5 years I have been on what I call my journey to authenticity I have been finding out who I really am beyond all the stories and mind chatter. And in the past year, there has been some major growth and I have really started to feel sure-footed in who I am, this confidence and strength have allowed me to make some changes in my life. I started dating, I have been able to reclaim my house and let go of the things I was holding on of my husbands, and I was able to finally set him free in the form of releasing his ashes all of which I felt sure about at the time I was doing them. But then this anniversary came and the tidal wave of self-judgment and guilt, most of which was around one major realization that I have had this year is that who I was back then was responsible for a good share of our relationship being as trying as it was! Through my journey I have realized that I expected a lot from him because I was not there for myself, what I mean by that is I did not love myself, therefore, expected him to show me how much of a good person I was and that I was worthy of the love that I was withholding from myself. This is not a good foundation for a relationship, because for the one needing the reassurance there will never be enough as you don’t believe it anyway, because you don’t love yourself or feel lovable.

Sound a little confusing … it goes like this because I had a core belief that I was not worthy of love I withheld it from myself by being SUPER critical and judgey of everything I did, I was a perfectionist who could never measure up to the impossible standards, all of this was reassuring my belief that I am unlovable. This was all going on for years before I met my husband (as most of our beliefs are set when we are toddlers) anyway enter a relationship and they start telling you wonderful things about you, and that they love you BUT that is in direct contradiction to the belief that you are not worthy of love and are unloveable, so guess where the mind goes “he’s just saying that”, “he has to say that because he married you”, “he doesn’t mean it”, “if he really loved me he would/wouldn’t…” and all the other ways our mind negates things that go against a belief we hold. Because that’s the thing about our beliefs they live in the subconscious and we always seek out information to prove they are correct, even if that means it hurts. So, the whole time I was thinking that our relationship was not as good as it could be, because he didn’t really love me, guess what it was me not being able to see that he did.

 

With this realization and a few others, it became increasingly clear to me that my version of our relationship was not (and this is always the case) the real version, it was what I saw through the lens of my beliefs, perceptions, and stories. This became abundantly clear this year as I started to repeat the same patterns in a new relationship and had a front-row seat to how this belief was playing out which made me realize that I was not as innocent as I thought.

Anyway, back to the tidal wave of guilt! With all of these realizations I couldn’t help but wonder would our relationship have been better (and I am sure it would have been) had I been the real me (the person I am now) rather than the old version of me… and there is the guilt!

After doing a lot of self-compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness I came to terms with the fact that I was doing the best that I could with what I had and that is all I can ask of myself. I truly believe that we all are doing our best at any given moment, and I have no problem accepting that in others, it was just a little harder to swallow for myself. But that is the beauty of challenge it shows us areas where we need to grow and as far as I have come, I still have some more work around loving, accepting and forgiving myself. And that is what this tidal wave was all about, I needed to release this energy and continue to grow in the area of self-love.


I hope some of this resonates with you out there and you can take my experience as an opportunity for you too to grow.

Namaste

What if Everything You Want is on the Other End of Patience

I have to admit patience is really not my strong suit I struggle to stay patient especially when I am passionate about something. This has been a big lesson, that I am still learning, especially with my business.
When I started out building TSW Life Coaching I was passionate and felt in my core that coaching was exactly what I was meant to do, I just knew it and still do! The thing that I didn’t realize at that point is that I had my own growing to do and that would take precedence over my business. This was my journey and it has taken me a long time to accept that things happen in exactly the right order at exactly the right time and my only responsibility is to have patience and be aware.

I have had so many instances of the Universe providing for me exactly what I need at exactly the right time that I can’t (even when I try to), deny that there is a Divine plan for me, there is for all of us. Where we find stress is when we try to control the situation, and we miss the opportunities along the way because we are so focused on the end goal that we miss the journey. Not to mention that we judge ourselves and compare ourselves along the way which makes the journey at points really miserable.

In my example, I am a way better coach than I was because I have taken the time, despite how much of a struggle it was at times to build myself before building my business. The growth and insight I have received on this journey has allowed me to serve my clients at a higher more in tune level and that was the reason for the longer than originally anticipated journey.

This doesn’t mean that I think my growth has stopped, I don’t think it ever does and that excites me! What I do think is that too many of us have a goal and all we do is focus on the end. Yes, it’s important to have goals but I think we need to focus on the journey as well and be patient and understand there are bigger things at play. In our culture we are all about doing, striving to reach for our goals pushing to make things happen, very masculine energy. There is nothing wrong with having goals and striving for them but when we only focus on the goal we miss out on life. We judge ourselves according to how close we are to the goal and we miss all the wonderful opportunities to grow along the way. We see this time as a necessary evil to reaching the goal but the perspective shift I have realized is that the journey to the goal is actually the steps needed to make the goal manifest. Even when those steps seem to be taking you in a different direction they simply are a new route to the goal that is even better than we had envisioned.

From my life as I have said in working on my business I have been challenged to grow and learn more about myself. This growth and learning have resulted in me creating something even better and more authentic to who I am than I ever could have envisioned in the beginning. Once I accepted this and really tried to lean into having patience (as hard as it is at times), the more I realized that the journey has brought myself and my business to a better place.

I guess the takeaway from this is set your goals but remain open to what it looks like to get to that goal. Be patient with the process and enjoy the journey along the way. Stop beating yourself and stressing yourself out because you are not getting to the goal as fast as you would like. Just trust in the journey!

Cougar, Bears, Bobcats & Trust! What the Wilderness taught me about myself and the Universe.

Life always gives you what you need when you need it and this lesson in trust was exactly what I needed, and no surprise when I needed it!

Last summer I had a desire to spend some time in nature with my dog. It’s like I was being drawn to the woods. I listened to this calling and took a week off from work, not really sure what I was going to do. I reached out to family to see if they had some suggestions on places where I could go, my uncle had a cabin that he said I could use. Perfect, I thought! I had never been to their cabin but things were falling in place so I trusted that this was where I should be! I took the leap of faith, packed up the car and the dog and off I went to my uncles’ cabin in the woods.

When I got there it was gorgeous, it was in the woods on a lake … it was perfect! What I didn’t realize is that it was in a small community of cabins that were pretty much abandoned during the week. Which meant I was going to be pretty much alone out there. At first, this did not bother me, I had at this point in my life become very accustomed and comfortable with being alone.

My uncle showed me around the cabin, which was built on a hill, the main part of the cabin was on the top of the hill and there was a steep staircase outside down to a basement/spare bedroom which was built into the hill. The basement/spare room was rustic, (like you could see the tree roots and tree trunks) in parts of the basement. Usually, this part of the cabin was locked with a padlock, as the only entrance to it was from the outside. My uncle showed it to me despite me objecting, as I didn’t think I would really need it, thank goodness he did, as you will see in a minute. During the walkthrough my Uncle also shared with me that they have cougars in the area he had seen tracks right outside the cabin at different times throughout the year, and that there was a grizzly bear that other residents stated lived just across the field, and that they had witnessed black bears in the area, oh and maybe some bobcats too! I am not that outdoorsy and more than anything I was concerned about my dog, who at this point was losing her mind because on top of all the dangerous animals there were squirrels and my dog loves to chase things, especially small rodents.

After getting all settled in, I decided to take my dog for a walk. We ventured out with some apprehension as I had never been there and to be honest my dog is my baby, so I was concerned for her safety (as I often am). We took a walk and found a path to walk for a bit. It was nice, I soaked in nature. Feeling more grounded and mostly calm, because on my walk I had realized this was the first time since Woody passed away that I had been on a trip completely on my own. I had travelled on my own but always had people to meet up with or conferences to attend, this time I was completely ALONE! This thought was exciting but as with anything outside of our comfort zone was also uncomfortable and so I was also feeling a bit anxious.

We (my dog and I) spent the rest of the day enjoying the lake and the woods… then returned to the cabin at night time.

It was a bit nerve-wracking being there with Bramble in the dark as she was on high alert for squirrels and I was definitely on alert for any potential risks. Not that it felt overwhelming but just on alert!

I went to bed in the QUIET absolute silence, which was nice but also made it obvious how very alone I was!

About 2:00 am I was awoken by my dog. Once I got my bearing from being startled awake, she let me know she needed to go outside. I turned the outside lights on (giving the wildlife fair warning to disperse, at least that was my thoughts and left them on for a minute before we ventured outside). Bramble was of course on a leash because as mentioned she loves to chase things and I didn’t want her running off chasing a squirrel in the dark. We walked out the sliding door and as there were now moths and mosquitos swarming the lights, I turned to slide close the door behind me. Didn’t even have a second thought about it, it was a sliding door with a latch lock, no worries, right?!?!

Bramble walked around outside well truth be told she hunted around, turns out she just wanted out to hunt squirrels! I pulled her back on her long leash and we turned to open the sliding door… it didn’t open! It was locked! OMG!!!! Sliding doors don’t lock, I thought so I pulled a little harder feeling more frantic and the anxiety rising!

It didn’t open! OMG!!!OMG!!! OMG!!! I was alone in my PJ shorts in the middle of the isolated wilderness with bears and cougars and god knows what else lurking in the shadows, not to mention being eaten alive by mosquitos and I was ALONE! Absolutely, ALONE!

My car was locked, the cabin was now locked, and I didn’t even have shoes on! As I sat on the picnic table fear quickly turned into a complete state of panic! What was I going to do?

There were not a lot of options.

I took a couple of deep breaths put a couple of prayers out to the Universe and I’m sure swore a couple of times. Fear had completely settled in now and as our minds do, I went to some pretty dark places. I envisioned myself still on the picnic table hours later covered in welts from the mosquitos, I pictured a grizzly bear, and bobcat and cougar coming to check us out (oh the places our minds go) After what seemed like an eternity of running through devastating scenarios, my warrior instinct kicked in … I was familiar with this part of myself as it had come in useful in dealing with Woody’s passing. I mustered up my courage and calmed myself down so I could think. I started making plans on how we were going to make it through the night. No sooner than I summoned the warrior in me did I remember there was the basement and it was unlocked (thank goodness my uncle insisted on showing me this part of the cabin).

I went into the basement and looked around to see if there was anything, I could use to get me out of this situation. I could have just stayed in the basement, but it was dark and to a city girl like me a little creepy, who knows what creepy crawlers and rodents were hiding in the shadows. If need be, at the very least, I had somewhere to be until dawn! As I looked around feeling more inspiration and more trust in my abilities, I scoured the basement to see if there was something, I could use to open the door. I found a few random things screwdriver, a dragonfly metal ornament with a flat edge (I thought I could flip the latch) and a few other random items that could maybe push the latch up. I tried them one at a time…. Nope, nothing worked!

I kept looking around and then there it was … a LADDER … YAY!

I took the ladder outside after struggling to free it from its place hanging on the wall. I placed the ladder next to the only window that was unlocked (it had the air conditioner vent in it). The ladder just and I mean like JUST reached the window. Remember the cabin is built on a hill so the ladder was sitting on uneven ground, and in order to reach the window, I would have to stand on the top step, the one that clearly says do not stand on. I again mustered my strength and carefully climbed the shaky ladder and stood on the very top. There I was like 6 feet up, all the time being aware that there could be any number of wild animals watching me! Probably licking their teeth at the prospect of me breaking my neck on this shaky ladder.

After some struggle and a lot of persistence, I was able to push the hose for the air conditioner out of the window which left me a small opening to get through. This whole time I had Bramble locked in the basement, I could hear her at times trying to open the basement door to get to me or more likely squirrels.

After taking a deep breath I stretched my leg up and got it through the opening, still not totally sure I could get my whole body through this small window, but I had to try! I sat there straddling the window in the middle of the dark, quiet woods, trying to find my footing on the inside of the cabin, when my tippy toe found something that felt stable, I made the push to get in through the window.  Although I am sure not so gracefully, I made it through and stumbled into the cabin.

I almost cried with relief. I was so proud of myself! I didn’t give up; I had shown again I was stronger than I thought, and I had not given into the fear and anxiety that had plagued my mind just minutes earlier. I quickly went and unlocked the door and this time I left it open, as I went basement to get Bramble.

Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep well the rest of the night my adrenaline was pumping. During the rest of the night, I again reflected on how I am stronger than and I think, and it was at this time I realized I am completely good on my own… I can do it!

I also realized although I am good on my own, that I don’t want to be alone anymore either! this was really the first time since Woody passed that I actually wanted someone in my life, I didn’t NEED them but actually wanted to share a life with someone again. This was huge for me!

This experience also reaffirmed to me that the Universe really does have my back, it really does provide us with what we need, when we need it. I am not only talking about the ladder here but the challenge itself which provided me with the opportunity to recognize that I am safe and capable and stronger than give I myself credit for.

The next day, I tried, out of pure curiosity, to make the latch lock on itself again, I tried numerous times to recreate the scenario from the night before (I did have the keys this time) and could not replicate the door locking.

Later, I spoke to my family and they said that it had never happened, and they were stunned (as I was that night) that the door locked. They even tried to make it happen since and have never been able to replicate the latch locking.  I should also mention they were surprised that there was even a ladder out there, they didn’t know why it was there!

I truly believe it was the Universe providing me with a lesson I needed to learn and for that I am grateful!

I completed my wilderness escape the next day by going for a long hike to a waterfall and taking in nature in all its beauty. This renewed trust in my safety and trust in the Universe made this hike completely enjoyable. I was able to be present in the moment, enjoying nature. I was so trusting I even let Bramble off the lead, and she ran through the woods, loving the adventure.

This is not the first and I am sure not the last time I will be given challenges from the Universe that further prove to me I am safe, and strong and that the Universe really does have my back!

Gratitude Challenge … Accepted!

Introduction

This blog is a very special one for me! It was written by someone who I am so honoured to call my friend! Michelle and I met several months ago and we instantly connected and since then we have developed a friendship, business partnership, and mutual sharing of our gifts (through trades). I have no doubt the Universe brought us together for our mutual growth (because of her I am not afraid of the backend of my website, which let me tell you was an Everest like task!).

The growth, that I have had the pleasure to witness,  in Michelle has been amazing and inspirational.  When I asked her if she would be interested in writing about her experience with the gratitude challenge she bravely accepted and for that I am grateful! Thank you, Michelle, for showing up, being vulnerable and sharing your experience! Namaste

 

I planned to start this blog post with a life-altering quote or an earth-shattering line about the pursuit of happiness, but I am no authority on this topic. I can only speak to my path and why I chose to thank the universe regularly for this life and how the practice of gratitude has changed me and my belief system. 

Growing up, I had a fascinating spiritual upbringing. My parents were on different ends of the spectrum when it came to religion. My father is an Atheist and thinks everyone on this planet is part of an experiment and my mother is a non-practicing Baptist but holds a profound connection to faith. Because my parents had such different views on the topic, they decided to let my brother, and I choose which path we wanted to take. 

My brother decided to continue down a traditional path and joined the Mormon church (only later to be exiled, but that is a story for another day) when he was in high school. My journey wasn’t so quickly decided. I looked into different faiths and found I respected bits and pieces of each one, but nothing really took hold. So my journey continued. It was until I was in my forties that I realized my search was in the wrong place. 

With all the discussions with Tara, I began researching more “new-age” teachings. Other practices teach self-kindness, mindfulness and gratefulness. To me, seeing this information was like finding the holy grail. The more I learned, the more I felt like I had found my tribe. My journey led me to a path with a fork in the road, and I chose to take the happiness trail. 

Once I completed my research, it was time to put everything I learned into practice. To me, the logical place to start was with meditation. 

Like so many people out there, I was always living in the past or the future, never in the present. Reliving conversations and playing the “what if” game day in and day out was driving me mad, literally. These toxic behaviours have caused years of anxiety and depression. 

Gratitude Challenge ... Accepted!

I need to be completely transparent with you, meditation is not an easy practice. It can take years and years of daily commitment to reach a true level of enlightenment. I haven’t reached this point, yet, but I’m committed to it. Yes, I’ve fallen off the wagon because I wasn’t seeing the results I thought I should have, but I think that’s part of the journey. We have a tendency to return to our comfort zone because we aren’t seeing the results fast enough and every once in a while we need to sway from the path to return to it (maybe that’s a life-altering quote I was looking for when I started writing this post…LOL). 

The next cornerstone of my universal journey was a challenge from Tara, to incorporate gratitude into my daily routine. Typically, individuals who partake in gratefulness keep a journal and write daily affirmations or points they are grateful for. I’m a bit of a tech geek, so I found an app that works the same way as a journal. Plus, the bonus of using an app, reminders! 

I started by listing 5 things I’m thankful for each day. Seems simple, right?! Not quite. Some days, it’s effortless to come up with 5 (or more) items, others, not so much. But, just like meditation, the more you practice, the easier it gets. Remember, what you’re grateful for doesn’t need to be super deep and profound, it can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee, or that great conversation you had with a friend. Don’t overthink it, just go with it! 

Gratitude Challenge ... Accepted!

Since applying gratitude into my day, I’m more inclined to see the positive in situations that would cause me to spiral into a bout of depression. It’s also helped me to stop overthinking and analyzing everything! But most importantly, it has allowed me to see the good in every day. 

The most challenging component to my happiness pursuit is hands down self-care and self- kindness. To give you a bit of history, I was bullied as a child due to my size. I was always the hefty, bigger girl and I was relentlessly teased because I was different. This was definitely a contributing factor to my low self-esteem which in-turn, resulted in little to no self-worth. But, it also made me the person I am today. Strong, determined, and someone who can overcome adversity.

My self-care routine started with a few simple changes; drinking more water, incorporating healthier food choices into my diet, practicing yoga, and seeking professional help for my anxiety and depression. 

 

Gratitude Challenge ... Accepted!

 

I’ve been trading coaching with Tara for a couple of months now, and it has been one of the best choices I could have made. It has not only shown me how to re-establish my own worth, it allows me to accept my emotions and given me the tools needed to manage my anxiety and depression. I’m still working on the other aspects of self-care, so stay tuned. 

I’ll leave you with one more thing – don’t forget to thank the Universe, God, Mother Earth, whoever your spiritual guide is. They are an essential part of gratitude. 

Good Vibes! 

Journey to an Open Heart

Life has taken me on a wild ride with many ups and downs, and the last four years, I would say that one of the destinations on this journey has been to live with a whole open heart. I have always been considered a very caring person, but I can say now that I was not living with an open heart, I had put a protective barrier around my heart that did not allow me to feel as deeply as I was capable of. I say this with no self-judgment as I know this was/is part of my life lessons.

This protective barrier (as I realized in meditation) was like a clay shell around my heart that blocked or at very least filtered the amount of love I could receive or the amount of love I was capable of giving. I made a decision after Woody (my husband) passed that I did not want to restrict my life anymore … no regrets! Specifically, the choice to open my heart naturally evolved during the work I had been doing on myself since that decision.

In this process, I realized I was not fully living, with a closed heart, and I wanted to change that! So I started to follow the signs from the Universe and started this journey to open my heart. Through meditation and doing personal growth work, it became evident that in order to have the life I wanted, I needed to be vulnerable, I needed to open my heart, despite the fear. And that is what I did!

Journey to an Open Heart

 

It was a long process that I won’t go through here but what I will say is that it took a lot of trust in myself and the Universe, and definitely perseverance… at times it still does! It’s not easy being vulnerable, and at times it still feels scary to be this open, but having lived with a protected heart, the alternative is no longer an option (for me)!

My personal growth work thus far required me to do A LOT of healing the past. I did this with the support of my coaches, my friends and family, and to be honest, it was not nearly as difficult as I had anticipated and built up in my head (isn’t that always the way it is). That’s the thing fear had kept me from opening my heart, but not living with an open heart doesn’t save us from heartache; it only limits us from fully experiencing love. To me, losing out on that experience is way worse than any heartbreak could cause.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I was led through my journey with signs from the Universe. To me, these signs appear as repeat messages or things that pop up in life that would draw my attention to what needed to be healed, what habits need to be changed, and what thinking needed to be reset. I followed the breadcrumbs, did the work all the while trying to be patient with the process (not one of my strengths)! One day, in meditation, it came clear to me that this protective clay shell had crumbled away, well at least 90% of it had. I felt at this time that I needed to have patience, and I was not overly concerned about the remaining 10%, I felt that would come when it was ready … I had already come so far.

Then one night as I sat working on my computer my phone buzzed beside me with a ring tone, I was not familiar with, I looked down and instantly had a violent physical reaction. My body started shaking, and I was in a full-on anxiety attack. I took a deep breath and looked again at the FB notification. It was a friend request from an ex-boyfriend. Not just any ex but one that was extremely emotionally abusive, the depths of which I am sure I can’t even recall now! My physical reaction was enough for me to realize I needed to do some work here. The Universe was sending me a message!  It was inviting me to look at this past relationship.

At this point, I wasn’t clear that this was related to my work in opening my heart, but what happened next made that crystal clear. After collecting myself, reassuring myself I was safe and speaking to my supports; I knew I needed to look at this past relationship.

I recognized I either needed to do the healing work myself, or I was being invited to heal that part of me with him (as I am much stronger now than I have ever been) and felt that maybe this was an invitation to have a conversation with him. I decided to sleep on it.

Journey to an Open Heart

 

When I went to bed that night, I did a meditation to balance my chakras and in that meditation, it became clear that this was more work on clearing my heart chakra and opening my heart. It was so cool! I literally could see the remaining protected 10% of my heart closed off, it appeared black, to this day I can even point out exactly where it was, it was so vivid!

Through the meditation, I asked my heart to release and open and did some self-compassion work to create that safe place for me to heal. When I did this, the black part crumbled away and for the first time in as long as I can remember, my heart was open! Genuinely open to give and receive love.

I determined at this point the friend invite was all I needed, it served as a reminder to something I had long ago suppressed. I did the healing on my own, I did not feel a need to speak to him. The next day I deleted the friend request with thoughts of peace and compassion for him on his journey and happiness and gratitude for this experience.

Journey to an Open Heart

 

Since then, I feel my heart is open, fully open and that is amazing! It still feels vulnerable (and scary at times), but I would rather feel vulnerable than not fully experience my life. Having an open heart means, I feel at a deeper level all the beautiful feelings of gratitude, love, and happiness and that is worth the moments of fear that come along with being vulnerable and open.

I wrote this blog as I hope it will help some of you out there who, like me, are not living with an open heart who are limiting their experiences for fear of being broken hearted. I think there are a lot of us who have numbed our hearts and let me tell you I get it, but having experienced the other side, it really is worth taking that risk! My advice having been on this journey … take that chance!

 

Journey to an Open Heart

 

Winter of the Soul

It has been a while since I have written, not for lack of trying. What I have found for me is if I force it then I am out of flow and nothing comes together and that definitely does not bring me joy. Therefore, I write when I feel I have something to say. Lately, I have been trying to come up with something and nothing is coming, which is rare as either myself or my clients are always in a state of growth and learning and the Universe is always there with new lessons. But lately, as I said, nothing has been coming together for me to write about and then it struck me last week, maybe that is the lesson (and the blog)!

Winter of the Soul

Sometimes we just need to pause, turn inward and reflect.  Although things seem slow and unchanging on the outside, I am sure there is a lot going on under the surface.

This is like winter.

In winter, Mother Nature goes into hibernation mode. I take that hibernation as a time to turn inward, to slow things down and really get ourselves in a healthy state for the upcoming Spring season. Previously, I have struggled with these times on my journey. They feel stagnant! Probably because in our society we focus so much on keeping our eye on the prize, basing our success and failure on observable measures of movement. We are taught that if we stop, take in the moment, take the time to turn inward that we are not moving forward… we are stagnant. But what is wrong with that! We need this time just as much as we do the blossoming of spring. They are both important!

In this space of turning inward, the Universe has presented me with opportunities to heal past hurts, move through blocked emotions and look at new challenges. All of which are supporting me in becoming the best version of myself. Now that doesn’t sound like being stagnant, does it?

My big realization is, we need to embrace the quiet times, we need to trust in the process. We need to understand that in life there will be times of quiet solitude where our souls recharge. I am positive in these times that things are going on quietly in the background, preparing us for the next chapter. And this work although not observable is just as important!

 

 

 

As I am sure I am not the only one who struggles in these times, I thought I would share some tips to help:

  • Stop judging yourself by other’s or societies standards
  • Be patient
  • Trust in the process
  • Use this time to really recharge your soul

So, the next time you come to one of these winters for your soul, honour it, enjoy it! Spring is just around the corner.