I kinda forgot over the last couple of months that this website is about RESOURCES for life? And focused on my own self. Sorry 'bout that. I hope you got something out of my ramblings anyway.
So here are the people and sites and courses that have come to me in the past couple of weeks:
I've re-discovered MeetUp.com - I totally forgot about it! If you have never visited - you might want to if you're looking to connect with people with similar interests in life. You'll find everything from life & business support to people building spaceships (seriously!!!) There are meet-up groups in every major city in North America.
For creative art journalers - I just heard about this mixed media online course (from Lori Danyluk who has a practically ENDLESS supply of art+life resources) being offered by Willowing - Life Book 2013. Lori and I are thinking about putting together a group on MeetUp.com to meet and do this course in the fall. I'll keep you posted!
Thanks Andrea Schroeder for posting the Hiro Boga blog "Build A New Body of Experience" - she sounds like a truly amazing person that I personally would LOVE to meet. Plus she has my dream job - coaching individuals from her very own retreat in one of my very favourite places on earth.
Through a book called "Quest" (A Guide for Creating Your Own Vision Quest) - I discovered Denise Linn. I can't believe I've never heard of her before - she's incredibly prolific. This particular book isn't available on her site but is available at Hay House Books (see link in Life Resources under Wonderful Websites). So far, I'm loving this book and am thinking about a quest although I think the last 10 years have been an endless Quest for me.
Ok that's it for resources this week and I'll leave you with this thought - everything you need is always coming to you - so keep your eyes and ears and mind and heart open!
I attended this workshop over the weekend - not because I actually understood what that really meant or because I thought I'd lost my feminine power particularly but because I had lost my power altogether and needed the company and comfort and nurture of women. My inner voice said: Go. So I listened and went.
Well I got what I needed in SPADES. Wow - what an incredible transformative experience with some incredibly BRAVE women. I think I (and they) went through every emotion it's possible for a human being to have. The facilitators - Selena Wright of Wright Track Coaching and Karen Klassen of Women Embracing Brilliance - were a perfect yin yang balance of tough and gentle coaching. Their exercises and meditations were fun, funny, beautiful, amazing, hard, and incredibly hard but each and every woman "showed up" 100%. Nothing held back, masks dropped, fear of being judged washed away. Witnessing human beings expressing truly, deeply and authentically is an indescribable experience. Doing it YOURSELF is a totally terrifying but ultimately empowering and CLEANSING one.
I went in feeling like total crap physically - all my MS symptoms - fatigue, numbness and zero concentration in full control of my body and mind - and came out - well, what can I say? Healed. Symptoms gone. For NOW!! Until the next time - or, if I keep practicing the tools I learned maybe never? Anyway, felt like I'd been literally vacuumed out of toxic gunk. PLUS, I got a spiritual tune-up, my self-care tools have been sharpened and my formerly skewed thoughts have been realigned. Well worth the price of the workshop and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The next one is going to possibly be in somewhere tropical - for a week! Personally, I think everyone needs to do this kind of workshop/retreat at least once a year. In my dream world, one day this kind of thing will be covered by benefit plans as preventative medicine.
But yikes. I do have to admit it's been difficult reintegrating into the "real" world. I feel kind of like I'm in another dimension and out-of-sync and I'm speaking a foreign language. In a way, I kind of AM. Right after, I went to a family BBQ and everyone was asking what the workshop was about - I opened my mouth to tell them and then shut it again and shook my head - I just couldn't put it into words yet. After a couple of days reflection and as I type this, I'm working on a short answer to that question. What WAS the workshop about? What does it mean to "reclaim feminine power"? I believe the intention of the workshop was to awaken women to the personal power they have to create change and balance in the world simply by doing things the feminine way - loving, nurturing, listening, healing, etc at work and business as well as home.
I'm totally onboard with that - I've been saying it all along. But, you may ask, what does that have to do with my own personal healing? Well, ironically, because I'm all about women, I was stuck in the masculine energy of trying to FIX a problem and find a SOLUTION or prop it up with SUPPORT rather than not seeing it as a "problem" that I had to "fix" or prop up at all. So the healing came in letting go - with a huge sigh of relief. Ahhhhh.
So in case anyone's interested - Selena and Karen are offering one on one coaching - 4 sessions with Selena, 4 sessions with Karen in person, on the phone or via Skype, plus a whole bunch of bonuses like Karen's e-book "The Freedom Frequency" and Selena's e-book "Insight Into Why Relationships Are So Damn Hard!". The cost is $1995 but it really is a great value. For more info you can contact Selena at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do, your perspective and possibly life, will be changed. I'm going to sound like a salesman here but - I guarantee it (and they're not paying me anything to say that either!)
I had the opportunity last night to attend the 80th birthday of my sister-in-law's father. At first it didn't seem like an opportunity at all - I was tired and would honestly rather have been in my bed watching TV. But, as I listened to the many loving tributes from the large Irish family who had gathered en masse in his honour, watched the slideshow of his life so far that was prepared by a granddaughter, and watched the family interact with each other I thought - wow - how beautiful. It was clear that there was a LOT of love in the room and that they were all authentically and deeply connected to each other. Maybe it's an Irish thing? I don't know. (BTW - picture is of random family from internet and not THIS family - thank you random family.)
I was struck, not for the first time, with some sadness because in comparison my extended family is like a bunch of toy sailboats going in entirely different directions in a pond. Sometimes we bump into each other but we lost the rock that we all unfailingly returned to 10 years ago. I've adopted Scott's family as my own and I'm very lucky to be able to have them, but discovered last night that seeing my sister-in-law's family - or families like them - will always trigger thoughts of what my birth family isn't anymore.
I then think about my immediate family and how it will possibly grow in the next 30 years until Scott and I are on the top of our own family tree. I have HOPE that I'll be sitting with a great-grandchild on my lap, happily watching my young adult grandchildren and their partners and my daughters and their partners at MY 80th birthday. I hope they have good memories to share of our family and me (although I'm not sure I want to sit on a chair in the middle of a room and hear them share them?) and I hope that after I'm gone they will go on as a family. Somehow though, I think this may be a rose-coloured fantasy (I'm ok with that - nothing wrong with dreaming). Whatever it DOES actually end up looking like though, I am going to appreciate it for what it is.
The reality of life for a LOT of people is that "family" is NOT what I described above of my sister-in-law's family. It's more like "Modern Family" which is why the show's so wildly popular. The thing for me is, I understand now that in adulthood, I can choose to separate from my root family if they don't nurture me or I don't nurture them! Without guilt and pain and blaming. There is NO law that says "thou must be attached to the family of your birth forever more". We can let them go with love and light (or not but it feels better that way), and can focus on or make a fresh start with our own children, our partner's families, with friends who become "framily", or even co-workers who become our work family. There is no limit to what can define a family. It only has one criteria - the people involved love each other authentically.
Writing this I find myself at peace - finally - with what IS. Doesn't mean I won't be sad from time to time and miss my Mom and the family tremendously - but I am at peace.
I'm always interested in what connects the stuff of life together - people, events, etc. I'm interested in synchronicities. Repeated patterns. Signs. Like the other night at Wine, Women & a Paintbrush - the first 3 participants were all coaches with daughters named Ali. What are the odds? I have NO idea what the connection is there - I just know there IS one.
Why do we have the families, friends, jobs, talents and interests etc that we do? Why do some people come into our lives for a little while, some for longer, some for life? Why do the same things keep happening to us over and over again?
Byron Katie says:
"Life is simple. Everything happens FOR you, not TO you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it - it's just easier if you do."
So stuff is happening FOR me (yep JUST me haha) all the time. I just can't always see HOW everything's connected. At least not right away and sometimes, not at all. I just know that everything connects to everything else in the big picture called "my life". So, stuff happens and I store the experience in my brain kind of like dandelion seeds (which explains why my head generally feels full of fluff), but I don't really "get" the connection until there's ENOUGH seeds in there for my neurons to spark and ignite. Then it's all bright as day! Ohhhhh that's why that person came into my life (or went out of my life) and then that happened and wow it was weird that that happened too but now I get it! It was to show me _____________________!
That last part of BK's quote is tougher. I get what she's saying... BUT, liking the hard parts of life is definitely a challenge so is it REALLY "easier"? Hmmmmm I'd say it's BETTER if you do. I think that if you can make the connections and see the bigger picture that life is definitely easier.
To change? What are you willing to work for, let go of, do differently, and sacrifice so that you can change what isn't working into what is? That sounds so hard! How I really mean it is - what are you willing to HAPPILY work for, let go of because it's heavy and holds you down, do differently because you haven't gotten anywhere doing things the SAME, and sacrifice because it's so worth it?
I'm asking myself this question now and wish that I'd asked it YEARS ago. Time seems much more precious now than when I was 20 and 30 and 40. I always thought I had plenty of time and energy - it never occured to me that I might have a FINITE amount of time left and get so tired!
I realized that I'd spent a good part of my life reacting to life instead of living it from the heart and moving towards how I wanted it to look. I didn't work toward it - I have been afraid and given up at the slightest hint of difficulty, I didn't let go of some heavy dark stuff - in fact I actually hoarded it, and I kept doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (the definition of crazy right?) I also didn't make sacrifices - I was spoiled and wanted it ALL. Right NOW!! In my defense, I was ignorant then of what I know now.
Oh well - it's never too late to become what you might have been (thank you George Elliot) as I continually have to remind myself. Despite being old, tired and previously ignorant (ok I'm not THAT old!!), I can still work move in the direction of the life I want which, by the way, has re-shaped itself over the years as I've come to see what's most important to me. In another 10 and then 20 years that may change again. Right NOW - I'm willing to do what it takes to get me where I want to be on my "wheel of life". I'm willing to step out of that "dark room where negatives are developed" (that's a quote by Brian Pritchard), and I'm willing to make sacrifices for a more fulfilling life now and for the dream of a peaceful and hopefully international retirement later. I will TRY not be crabby about making sacrifices but let's be real - sometimes I WILL be crabby and that just is what it IS.
Oh wow - writing this makes me SO wish I knew then what I know now. No regrets - I do believe we are where we are on purpose - but I can't help but wonder how life might have been different if I'd understood the consequences to my choices better and also listened to my heart when making them.
So, as an artist and writer, I struggle ALL THE TIME with belief in myself and that I actually AM an artist and writer and an ORIGINAL. I explore this frequently in my blogs because it's the number one lesson that I need to learn in my life. If it's yours too - read on! If not - bye-bye and have a lovely day!
So, when I allow myself to sink into the soul-sucking quicksand of "not good enough" I know it's time to DO something about it so I have a little two-way conversation with myself.
It goes like this:
Disapproval Jones (that's my inner critic's name):
REAL artists are ALWAYS inspired and creating.
Artists are human & actually even MORE prone to self-doubt and procrastination than other humans. Just try to be creative every day even if it doesn't always feel "authentic" or "good" to you yet.
REAL artists never allow themselves to get distracted by TV or the internet AND they go for long walks in nature or listen to music (or do whatever) while creating delightful/amazing art every single day.
Artists are EASILY distracted!! They are experts at finding ways to avoid creating art because it might not be good enough. Just try to be creative every day even WHILE being distracted and do NOT beat yourself up about it - that will just create even MORE self-doubt.
REAL artists have art educations - degrees even - and if they have an art education they are "better" artists and even somehow (illogically) better PEOPLE.
It is not REQUIRED to have an art education to create art - it simply helps with technical proficiency. All you need to know is now on the internet or in the library or you can take a course. It is never too late to GET educated if you want to be. Either way - you are STILL an artist simply by being in the act of creating art.
REAL artist's work leaves their studio's and goes out into the world - and they get paid for it.
Artist's work goes out into the world in ways we don't always acknowledge and we sometimes (often, mostly) have NO idea how our art affects the people who see it. Getting paid for doing what you already love is a BONUS.
REAL artists ALWAYS create ORIGINAL art & never copy or hate what they create.
Silly - everyone feels self-doubt! But remember, the only thing original is YOU. No one can ever duplicate who you are or your experiences and/or interpretation and ultimate expression. So give your creations love no matter WHAT they look like because they are all an expression of YOU.
So yeah - that's what I do to settle down and make that inner critic stop looking down her nose, tsk-ing disapprovingly and saying "NOT GOOD ENOUGH". Obviously this writing isn't "original" in the sense that we define it as - it's inspired by all MY teachers and experiences and interpretations of those experiences and what I know to be true in my gut. In that way it can't be anything OTHER than original.
It doesn't really matter WHAT anyone does - it's impossible not to be an original doing it. So when you're feeling crappy about yourself and what your contribution might be to the world - question the false beliefs that the inner critic has - and counter them with what's REALLY true.
You may have noticed that I posted a blank post last week. That's because I came here intending to write SOMETHING and then "accidentally" clicked the "publish live" button before I'd written a thing. Once I'd done it though my first thought was yeah - that's where I am.
I admit - I took a head first dive off the feather straight down to the bottom of the well. You may know that place (or not). Where you feel like there is NOTHING in the world worth living for and you're curled up under the covers of your bed immersed and seriously wallowing in darkness. Burrowing deep deep down into the earth. You "know" it's ridiculous and of COURSE there are a million bazillion reasons for living. You beat yourself up because there are people WAY worse off than you are. You can see the light way way up there but it's sooooo far away.
It doesn't help that the weather here has been the definition of dismal. Grey skies; grey landscape all melding into one vast sheet of ugly metal GREY (for a rainbow-loving person this is pure torture). It also didn't help that I'd been going through my second weeks-long bout with UN-wellness in the last few months. I've been literally immobilized except for brief forays into civilization and then I really had to push and drag myself out there.
The sun shone for a brief time today though (oh joy!) and I felt like that too - like things are beginning to unfurl and stretch towards the light again. Quite a few things and people helped me to get there and I want to thank them. First, my sister, who I can be 100% real with even if it's really really bad icky stuff - I'm SO grateful for her. Then, the lunch ladies on "Chopped" for their inspirational BE-ing - it's hard to explain. Thank you to my steadfast and loving husband who is always there taking care of my physical needs. Thank you all my "sisters" who reached out and e-mailed me to ask how I was doing and whether I needed anything. Thanks to Janet for helping me clarify and see that my mind had TOTALLY stepped into the driver's seat and was spewing all kinds of nasty garbage talk around and making my spirit feel very very small. Thanks to Leonie Dawson for posting the Russell Brand blog on addiction and humbling me. Thanks to Alishia for always reaching for the light. Thanks to Jane Cunningham for posting the Brene Brown Super Soul Sunday episode with Oprah which validated that THIS - this blog is, in fact, an act of courage (although often it feels like pure self-indulgence).
The intention is that, for those of you who have been "here", you know you're not ever alone and that there is nothing "wrong" with you. That where you are is rich fertilizer for the growth and expansion of your spirit. That you will always come through it with a gift of some kind and that the purpose of that gift is to share it.
Maya Angelou said "When you learn - teach. At our best we are all teachers." (I may have quoted her before on this.) So what have I learned? Darkness happens but light is ALWAYS waiting there to return to - day after day, season after season. It's in the love of your family and friends and the love that people pour into the work they're doing in the world. Never forget it.
So I've been pondering and pondering. I've read a whole lot of "spiritual" books and watched a lot of videos and documentaries etc with great leaders who seem to "know" things. Things that they haven't learned from life experience or university. HOW do these people "know" these things? How does a writer become inspired to WRITE something that resonates with people at a particular time - like Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey? Why is one piece of music a monster hit and another not? Why are some people INSPIRED to DREAM BIG and driven to REACH those big dreams or create a thing that will be great for years and maybe centuries - while others are not? I have asked this question many many times (if you've read my past posts) and each time I think I've got it figured out but each time I ask it I go deeper into what I CURRENTLY think is the answer. Well I think I do anyway?? haha
I ask the question because we are led to believe that everyone gets this big giant VISION of what their life is SUPPOSED to be. Their big giant PURPOSE you know? And I'm starting to think that some people DO have a big giant purpose but others simply do NOT. Well not in the way we think of BIG PURPOSE anyway. In the rich and/or famous way that we, as westerners, are taught is "success". Or in the being a great or small volunteer/philanthropist way. I know lots of people who don't feel empty if they're not "giving back" and they're not terrible people.
And that is ON PURPOSE. It's not because they're less than those people who achieve the big dreams or give millions of dollars away or spend half their lives in Africa, it's not because they don't try hard or work hard - it's because it's NOT THEIR PURPOSE. It's not the experience they were born to have and it IS all about the EXPERIENCE - for whatever reason which is too big for my tiny little brain. Or there would BE no suffering in the world! No people hurting other people or animals or the planet. No haves and have nots. We'd ALL be "successful", have enough money, be good and nice and philanthropic, and live meaningful lives and never struggle with anything.
We all COULD, in a utopian world, follow the golden rule because that's just physics - you reap what you sow, what goes around comes around, etc so obviously your life will BE better if you treat others better. But, we do not ALL need to achieve great things or even dream about achieving great things. We can just BE. If you feel INSPIRED or driven to achieve those great things - AWESOME! But if you don't DO NOT FEEL BAD! It's ok. Your life is still important because YOU are experiencing it. NO ONE should not have to get to the end of their lives and on their death bed think - was I good enough? Did I do it "right"? Well, that's what I think anyway.
I clearly haven't figured out whether I'm supposed to achieve some kind of big purpose by SHARING my thoughts all over the internet every week? Or quietly keep my thoughts firmly lodged in my brain because it's actually my EGO spouting off. I honestly don't know?!
Sometimes, life is hard. So hard that even thinking about how hard it is for people in Darfur or women in Cambodia or homeless people in your own city or people you know personally doesn't make you feel grateful that the hard you have in your own life isn't so bad.
Sometimes you'd just like the hard to STOP and you don't want to see inspirational quotes on Facebook or hear about someone else's wonderful life and good fortune or superhuman ability to stay in the light of positive thought.
Sometimes if feels like the hard is NEVER going to stop and you want to just leave the planet (not by actually DOING anything - just by thinking it!!). Or wish you could shut down - like you had an "off" switch somewhere.
You "know" you have control over how you feel and with some adjustments in perspective the world will look different. But it doesn't FEEL like you have that control - in the moment - because the monsters have taken over the building and it takes a big giant battle to overcome them and you just don't have it in you to DO battle.
I've felt like this often but I know that for me it's only temporary. I'll remember that I have people to help me fight the monsters and that the light is shining all the time. I just have to stop squeezing my eyes shut and hiding in the dark. I'll also remember to access the tools in my kit (see Vibrant Mind). That's because I don't actually HAVE a mental illness (although some might disagree??). I know that because I CAN "think and feel" my way out of it.
Some people can't. For some people, navigating life is hard ALL the time because their brains are wired differently. I think that it doesn't necessarily mean there's something "wrong" with them. I have come to wonder if it's just that because they don't think the same as the majority - they don't fit smoothly into life on this planet. So we medicate them to normalize them because we don't know what else to do with them. We don't know enough about the human brain yet and why some people's are different from others. I also wonder - with what seems like epidemic social anxiety and depression - if our disconnected society is causing a lot of mental illness. Like a flu virus creates illness in the body.
I don't know - all I know for SURE is that illness - physical OR mental - is exhausting for the people experiencing it and for the people taking care of the people experiencing it.
There IS help out there - facetime kind of help - but it costs a LOT or there are long long lines of people waiting for it who can't afford to pay the big bucks. There are also, at this time, too many people with mental illness and too little resources for it. I know that a lot of people who can't access the resources self-medicate with drugs or alcohol which creates a whole OTHER problem - especially if those people are also parenting.
All I'm saying is that mental illness is, and is becoming even more of (in my opinion), a problem that needs more attention paid to it and more funding put into it because - especially in North America - it's at the root of many societal problems.
There are a million causes to support but this one's especially close to my heart so my next cheque to charity will be going to the Canadian Mental Health Association.