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.

 

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Positivity Project Day 7

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This is it. Today is the seventh and final day of The Positivity Project. What a great experiment. I am wholeheartedly willing to accept responsibility for some of the negativity in my life and also to acknowledge that I have the power to change it. I didn’t think reminding myself of three things that I’m grateful for each day would have much impact. I wasn’t sure I’d even make it through all seven days but figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Ending each one of my days over the past week with positive thoughts has helped to change my perspective and find a little peace where before I didn’t allow it. It’s significant because its reminded me that no matter the day or the situation, I can always find the time to stop a moment and appreciate what I have in my life. 

Inspiring Quote: “Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a raindrop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all- look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love”- Zooey Deschanel

Three Things I’m grateful for:

1. Local fruit in season. YUM!
2. Pink Voltage nail polish by China Glaze. It makes me SO happy!
3. All those who read and follow my blog. I’m still amazed that anyone would want to read what I have to say but seeing the little orange light at the top of my screen when I log in telling me someone has liked or commented on a post or followed my blog is pretty awesome. Thank you.

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Positivity Project Day 3

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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: “Oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure”

Three Things I’m grateful for:

1. Sleeping in.
2. Forever Nuts from David’s Tea.
3. Roadtrips on sunny days singing along to my favourite music.

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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!

Enjoy Your Own Moment

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Have you ever had the feeling that you’re not moving fast enough in life? Like everyone else has things sorted and you’re just trying to match up your socks every morning and find time to grab a coffee to keep your brain afloat? self_love1

Yeah..me either…I’ve never felt that way….

Okay lies. I felt that way yesterday.

I blame facebook for my little episode.

I truly think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to share the exciting parts of your life with your nearest and dearest via social media but there are moments that I look at the new babies and engagements and fabulous trips and think….Ugh! Gross! Thank god my life is simple and I’m on my own just taking on the world! Just kidding. I’m really thinking…is my life boring? Will I ever make it past the second date with a guy? Maybe if I put aside 1 dollar every week for 50 years I, too, will be able to afford to go on a fabulous trip like ________. 

The thing about facebook and other social media sites is that they display this glossy photoshopped version of us that’s not necessarily real. They don’t always include the bits in between that get us to those shiny glossy days. The exception to this are those special individuals that post passive aggressive rants or details none of us really needed to know but even then it’s like one big share and compare-fest. We bond over the stuff that collectively pisses us off. It’s like the most connected way to be completely disconnected. Isn’t that weird?quote-your-best-shot-at-happiness-self-worth-and-personal-satisfaction-the-things-that-constitute-real-william-raspberry-286139

Our society is built on this. I totally bought into it. This, I should mention, coming from a fairly introspective person. I saw one life event that made me compare myself to another person and I freaked out about where I am and what I’m doing. My life’s path has been different. I’m in the weeds right now doing some grunt work (that’s metaphorical, I work in an office) and that’s just what it is.

The minute I stop enjoying my own moment for what it is and get sidetracked by someone else’s, is the exact minute I decrease my own value. I think it’s okay to look at other peoples lives and set goals and be inspired, but not to give up the value of what I’m doing and who I am because of it. If I’m so fickle about my career and personal aspirations, why should I expect anyone else to believe in them and me?

 

The Truth About Vulnerability

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Here’s the thing I sort of re-learned about trust and vulnerability this week: I can give it and open myself to be wholehearted and open-minded, but I cannot control what others do with it. I forgot about that little component. vulnerability

These past few weeks someone from my past re-entered my life and I let myself get swept away in it. The tiny little niggling inchworms of doubt prodded at me occasionally and I ignored them and just sort of let it happen. I even let myself be vulnerable and feel joy because of it. Then, like a flashback to high school (okay it wasn’t around when I was in high school but it felt like a high school moment), I logged onto facebook and there was the very honest status update that snapped me straight out of my dream world. It was the words he couldn’t bother to tell me to my face.

Something a little like betrayal lived at the edge of the status update like a crown of thorns coaxing the halo from the head I’d bestowed it upon in error. That jackass. I felt impassioned and alive with the idea that he’d slapped me in the face with his own uncertainty and I wanted to key his car or eat a tub of ice cream or both simultaneously. I stared at the screen for several minutes with my eyes bugging out repeating “Oh my god” to myself like it was my personal mantra. In one amazingly public act of idiocy he’d contradicted everything he’d told me, and made me feel like a colossal idiot. I could feel the rage peeling paint off the walls as my blood boiled.

d42a65f680fb80afbe0abfc0c2e7d665I went through everything in my mind. I’d put myself out there. I’d been vulnerable in terms of letting him come back into my life and I’d been open-minded about seeing if the connection still existed and he’d made me feel like a fool on a social networking site, not directly, but in a way that told me half-hazardly that he’d barked up my tree before he was done sniffing around another. Not. Impressed.

So does my own little personal version of the Jerry Springer show mean I stop putting myself out there and being vulnerable? Nah. You don’t join a sports team only if there’s a guarantee you’ll win every game in the season. I could go through life living in a little bubble- never being vulnerable and allowing others to hurt me (thAwesome-quote-No-I-am-not-singleat’s my natural response) but I think it might make it difficult to experience any potential joy too.It’s a gamble. A VERY wise friend wrote to me and said “There’s no shame in trusting others. It’s shameful when people exploit that”. Preach girl!

He who shall not be named won’t be getting a Christmas card this year but I thank him for reminding me life is a series of learning experiences, good and bad, and courage is about showing up wholeheartedly for each one and gaining value and extracting joy. That’s it. No regrets.

Wholeheartedly

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about identity. I like to think my identity is something that’s constantly evolving and I hope it always will be, but I’ve found some really incredible ladies on youtube that have inspired me to think about what I WANT my identity to be based on. It feels powerful.

The other night I was sitting in my room after a long day at work feeling frustrated and irritable. I clicked around on youtube looking for something that I hoped would cheer me up when I came across a video of a girl named Lizzie Velasquez. She did a talk on Ted Talks. She’s the same age as me. Lizzie has a disease that prevents her from gaining weight. She cannot hear out of one ear and she cannot see out of one eye. Like me, Lizzie has goals and aspirations and dreams and she deals with daily frustrations and struggles to reach them.Life-Quote-by-Brene-Brown-via-PracticalBliss.com_

When Lizzie was in high school someone posted a video of her that was just an eight second still of her face. It invited people to comment on “the ugliest woman in the world”. Lizzie told the story of the day she read the awful comments that encouraged her to commit suicide and a host of other cruel and biting words intended just to hurt. She talked about how she decided what would define her and how it would carve out her life and there she was standing up in front of an entire audience of people and millions more watching from home being vulnerable and telling her story; letting her courage define her.

I was touched in a way I don’t know that I can fully explain. It felt like a hollow little opening had whittled away a space in my stomach. It had filled itself with absolute empathy for a young girl whose beautiful heart just mesmerized me. In the midst of circumstances  where most would have faltered and let it define them, she gained strength.

Next in my youtube quest I found a doctor by the name of Brene Brown. She has spent her life researching shame and vulnerability. She talks about the presence of it in human life and how paramount it is to living whole-heartedly. “The only people without shame/vulnerability in their lives are the only ones without the capacity to experience human connection”, she says.  She talks about the relationship between shame and perfectionism and how it drives self-worth in a culture where it’s taboo not to walk the talk and live the perfect life. People are afraid to make their own definitions.

Brene-Brown-quote-xShe also says “Real courage is telling your story and liking yourself while you do it”. I think it’s my new mantra. The more I think about what I want to base my identity on, the more I realize it’s that. I want to embrace vulnerability and learn how to open my heart and myself to the moments and the opportunities that scare me. I think it’s too easy to shield myself from criticism and hurt and miss out on the moments that truly could be wonderful because I know it doesn’t ultimately protect me from the hurt, it just serves to dull the joy.

When I was given the opportunity to stand up in front of people and facilitate sessions at work I was terrified. I was sure I couldn’t do it and even went as far as to go back to the person who’d taken a chance on me by giving me the opportunity, to tell her I couldn’t make it happen. She didn’t put her arm around me and say “well..if that’s what you think is right” and let me off the hook. She said “Well…I happen to think you can do this. You just need a little push”. That was it. The very next week I was rushing into her office with the biggest grin on my face, telling her I’d done it after all.

When I watch someone like Lizzie Velasquez I am inspired because she has a choice. She has it tougher than many but it is not an excuse not to put herself out there and be vulnerable. She is the definition of courageous. Her identity is not based on the disease that makes her different, it’s based on the strength that makes her different.il_340x270.488294276_58nr

As a human being and a creative spirit I want to live this. I want to be inspired by the moments in life where I feel most vulnerable and I want to make mistakes and get messy to become a better me. I want to work at living my life with my arms wide open rather than shut because I’m so busy shielding myself from potential harm that I miss the joy. I want my identity to be wrapped up in living wholeheartedly.