Finding Joy

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I struggle out of bed each day, stumbling to the bathroom with my eyes half shut, taking on the day as if it’s a burden just to be me. I’m 27. I’ve only had 27 years to become this jaded but here I am. I’m cranky, and in the comfort of my home I cry for no reason- more lately if I’m honest.

I stress and worry and agonize and sometimes it’s over the things I can control and sometimes it’s over the things I can not. There’s no off switch. I don’t think the way I feel is anything out of the ordinary. I think I’m amongst friends with a whole generation of lost souls starting out with debt, a technologically-fueled competition at life and no purpose.

Every now and then I stumble onto my path in a drunken stupor and realize I’ve gained clarity in my life that has set me “right”. In those moments I feel like I have it all together and the fog clears and I have a way out. In those moments I begin to know who I am. They’re fleeting. They are like a dream I wake up from too soon. As they slip away I try to hang on to the edges so I remember what it feels like to be me.

Last week I took time away from work to join an art workshop and get re-connected with that creative side of me I keep tucked away. I’ve gone down paths in my career that have led me further and further away from the authenticity I feel when I create. At the end of the week I felt good, but I wanted the magic of creating to save me and it didn’t. I wanted it to give me back all of the things I’ve been lacking and I wanted to come off the week knowing my work reflected me and I was proud of it. It didn’t because I’ve lost my sense of what that is and one week was just a teaser. One week was re-acquainting with an old friend just long enough to scratch the surface.

Brene Brown said, “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame”.

The visual in that is so great, it forces me to understand this as a real thing- not a hysterical making of my imagination. It is a real whole piece of me that is turning sour with suppression. It’s not the whole problem but it’s a big one. I wonder how many others are on this journey, carrying only pieces of themselves through the day-to-day?

I had to get real. I had to begin the treacherous climb out of the rabbit hole.

There is no shame in admitting that success is not a paycheque and a life that looks good from the outside. Maybe it is for some but for me, success is a joy that starts at the center of your chest and spreads out through your whole body. It’s an expression of love and a connection with your real self that is untethered to anything but your personal journey. It shines out through your eyes and breathes out through your mouth in peaceful little wisps of certainty. I’ve seen it in others, but until now I didn’t recognize its value.

 

Positivity Project Day 5

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Positivity Project- Record 3 things I’m grateful for and 1 inspiring quote everyday for 7 days to promote a happier, more positive life.

Inspiring Quote: “Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

Three Things I’m grateful for:

1. Country sky at night- millions and millions of tiny dancing lights on the blackest canvas
2. Smores around the campfire
3. Friends that treat me like family

I should be long in bed but I am fresh off a weekend that fed my soul a little and I wanted to write about it before I launch into a busy week. This weekend I headed north to spend time with a family my parents and I met camping about 24 years ago. They’ve known me about as long as I’ve been me and I spent my childhood either running after the three girls or being carted around by them. They now have children and husbands of their own, live in different cities (one out of province) and come together only intermittently.

On Saturday I sat at a table amongst the girls. Their mom was on the end and we were all laughing and joking and playing bingo. One man asked their mom if we were all her girls. She smiled and looked down the table. “Well those three are” she said, pointing to her daughters. “She’s more like my half daughter but she’s definitely one of the family” she explained, pointing to me. Later when they invited me over for dinner and I asked if they were sure it was okay that I crash the family affair they all laughed. Their mom bumped my arm and leaned in, “You’re always welcome here. You’re one of us you know” she told me.

I’ve spent all my time and effort lately trying to belong somewhere. It sounds crazy but I’ve been feeling, in some ways, like I don’t belong in my own life. It’s part of the reason I started the Positivity Project. I wanted to remind myself of all the ways I am lucky and loved and fortunate in my own world. I think I’ve been too easily forgetting about the good bits. This weekend I laughed until I cried, felt so much love I thought in moments my heart might burst, and remembered what that sense of belonging is like. I wanted to write it all down before I let any more of the good little bits slip through the cracks. Life is too short to let that keep happening.

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A Little Perspective

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Lately I’ve been keeping an eye on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon that’s blowing up social media and spreading like wild fire across the world. It’s incredible and inspiring. For those who have somehow missed out- participants from everywhere and anywhere dump a bucket of freezing cold ice water over their head to mimic the debilitating feeling of living with ALS, if only for a moment or two. Once they’ve completed the challenge they may nominate 3 others, who then have 24 hours to complete it. If they choose not to do the challenge they must donate $100 or are of course invited to donate and complete the challenge both.

Not only has the campaign helped to raise millions and millions of dollars for ALS research (8.6 just today!) but it’s also promoted general awareness for a disease so incredibly terrible that it takes my breath away. Just tonight I watched a video about a man whose family has a history of ALS. He watches his mother’s body deteriorate everyday while he lives with the reality that he will face the same fate. At 26 he, too, was diagnosed with the terrifying disease.

I’m 25. To be completely transparent, I’m struggling quite a bit at this point in my life. It’s not feeling like I belong, not knowing where my spot in the world is, not feeling loved or liked or understood. Day-to-day it feels frustrating and overwhelming and uncontrollable but the truth is I have the power to make changes. It is small potatoes compared to the impending tidal wave of the raw truth of living with a disease that slowly shuts down your body before you’ve had the chance to live in it. It’s not a ‘whose got it worse’ contest but it certainly puts things into perspective.

I’ve started to think about my idea of true success and happiness. I’ve been thinking about what it means to live passionately and with fulfillment and I’ve been thinking about why I have any excuse not to. There is a certain safety about colouring inside the lines, and with that a false sense of security that can be so deceptively warm and cozy that I think it’s sometime difficult to unwrap yourself from it. It’s easy to forget that life can come along and make other plans. Hearing the stories about ALS and learning about the disease through this campaign has reminded me to focus in on living everyday positively and gratefully.

With that in mind- For the next 7 days I’m going to participate in my own challenge to promote a more positive life. Every day I will post a positive quote that inspires me as well as 3 things I’m grateful for. If you’re not doing so already- I challenge you to live more positively and without the fear of leaving your comfort zone. Start with dumping a very cold bucket of water over your head and donating to a worthy cause!

Ful-FILL-ment

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A few years ago I was clicking through one of those discount sites at random when I came across some kind of majestic celestial reading. It sounded intriguing. For $10 I could get direction in my life, it said. For $10 I could know the future. Self-Quotes-–Quote-Self-fulfillment-–-Self-awareness-–-Self-help-–-Self-–improvement-Be-yourself.-There-is-something-that-you-can-do-bettNaturally I clicked purchase.

When I arrived for my reading I was on high alert. I expected spooky. I expected a smoke machine with some kind of Stevie Nicks-wannabe lurking in the shadows beckoning to me with long fingernails. Instead I found a quaint little house with a discreetly placed sign that said “CARD READINGS” and a bohemian-looking woman with incense burning on a table in the back who greeted me with a deck of cards in her hand and an easy smile.

We sat down and she began shuffling casually and listing off the steps we’d be following throughout the process. I had no idea what to expect from the actual reading. I was going for “the man of your dreams looks like Taylor Kitsch and you’ll fall in love when you work together publishing your first book”. A girl can dream right?

It wasn’t quite so specific, but I do remember that writing was a key component. The first card I drew from the deck had to do with writing as my creative expression of choice and the importance of that in my life to ensure fulfillment, peace and happiness. kumbaya.eff4a72e26f310e6cc458baba19facb0

The next part was about learning to trust the universe. In the interest of full disclosure- I started looking around for the smoke machine, crystal ball and witchy woman about this time. Trusting the universe? ohhhhkay. She went on to explain that too often we get pulled left and right into the jobs, the obligations, the responsibilities that we think we’re supposed to have because we feel we have to, but also because we don’t trust our instincts (and the universe) enough to go against them. Ie. Maybe the great job that pays loads doesn’t feel so great really, because it doesn’t allow for creative expression or a true sense of fulfillment, but dammmnnn check out the new Bentley. OR maybe the new gorgeous love interest you’ve been on four dates with seems flawless in every way, except that they don’t really get your weird aversion to Alf or your love for gently used furniture and antique hunting like you’re guest starring on Canadian Pickers.

I’m paraphrasing…she didn’t really say all that, but the universe thing and jobs, obligations, responsibilities thing, she did. She told me that when I start to relax and just listen to the universe it would all fall into place and start to make sense, but the more I fight it in my life, the less it would.

I think it is one of the hardest things in the world to live in a fulfilling way. For me what this looks like is living with a strong creative presence yet it’s the thing that gets left out of my life first when I get busy. It’s the element of myself that I have thquote-we-live-in-a-hemisphere-whose-own-revolution-has-given-birth-to-the-most-powerful-force-of-the-john-f-kennedy-320223e courage to share with very few people, and how funny is that when it’s such a critical part of me?
The other bit about personal fulfillment is having the courage to live for yourself; as you should be. I watched a short video tonight about a little boy who realized at age 3 that he- who was born a she- did not identify with his gender. He cried about it as his parents struggled through whether it was just a “phase” or not. The struggle continued for a few years until the family realized what shame it caused him to live in a way that did not truly fulfill his sense of self. Controversial certainly, but they cut his hair, changed his clothes, sent out a letter to friends and family explaining the transformation and began referring to their little girl as a ‘he’. Then, and only then, did the transformation to self acceptance begin- at the age of six! What courage- to live everyday exactly as you are.