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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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!

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.