Tears

I have been free-forming emotions this week. Processing grief has been a valuble learning exercise for me. I have allowed emotions to come and go as they arise. The interesting thing about all of this is tears. They aren’t always sad. This is the most surprising thing of 2020. I thought I would be sad all the time. Tears are hovering just below the surface and sometimes they leak out because I am sad or angry, but sometimes its because I am happy.

I wouldn’t call myself a cryer. But if I look back to the times in my life where I was the happiest – I was definitely a cryer. The last five years or so I have stuffed my emotions deep down into the socks I wear. I don’t pay attention to them. I have been missing out on joy and happiness because I have been numbing myself so I don’t feel sad.

THIS IS REVOLUTIONARY.

I am slightly angry at me for wasting so much time trying to get the wrong people to love me. Okay – let’s face it, I am downright pissed I did that. I told my mom I didn’t think I was lovable for a really long time and I think that broke her heart a little bit. We determined I was loveable, I was just asking the wrong people to love me. I went for a Reiki session and have done all kinds of inner-child work (whoa…that was painful). Then, finally, I am nurturing myself with a dose of allowing. News Flash, you don’t have to ask people to love you. The right ones just do.

I allow feelings to flow. It happens at weird times and places. Like work…ug… that is the worst but the reactions at work have been surprisingly caring. I didn’t expect that. I am not sure why, I work in a culture that is very caring, perhaps the most caring place of my entire career. The place that you would think was supposed to be the most nurturing was the most harmful to me. I also find that interesting – and I resent that because I thought there was something wrong with me – nope it was them.

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw this:

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I loved this post by @haleydrewthis  because LOOK AT ALL THE HAPPY MOMENTS! This inspired me to write my own list. I think it is important for me to recognize the happy and sad moments and allow those tears to flow. crying feels great when it is over. I am here for it.

  1. Standing over my baby’s crib listening to tiny baby snores.
  2. Laying down with my pal Cap on the stairs and feeling his heartbeat.
  3. Standing on the balcony in Irving and looking at the pool before I leave knowing this is it.
  4. Sitting on a rock in Big Sur and watching whales swim by.
  5. Holding my friend’s hand when her mom died.
  6. Sitting in meditation asking for help to move forward.
  7. On the floor of my classroom hearing the words “your grandpa is in the hospital and it doesn’t look good”
  8. Sitting and my desk when my mom said, Gram died through the night.
  9. The Good Place series finale when everyone walks through the door.
  10. My very first half marathon having my kids walk with me across the finish line.
  11. Standing in the ocean at Tofino with the hubs waiting for me onshore.
  12. Every time my kids sit with me and we laugh.

Good, bad and ugly – life is awesome.

Grief

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I am reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. It’s funny how the things you need know to show up in your life. I didn’t know I needed this and yet here we are. I have read a few of her books, I wouldn’t call myself an avid fan, but I do like some of her work. This novel has a character researching elephants and their grief. One line stuck out for me, “Elephants handle grief better than humans.” It felt like a smack across the head. One of those moments where time slows down and I honed in on that line.

Okay Universe, I am listening.

Recently-ish, a relationship that was very important to me ended. It was okay! I was in a calm peaceful place. Then I wasn’t.  The hubs and I had a conversation. What I am feeling? Is it judgement? Disappointment? Jealousy? Anger? Nope, we figured it out. It is grief. All the stages, all at once.

I am terrible at grief. I am terrible at emotions in general. I cry and then eat those feelings into numbness. When my grandpa died, I acted out in terrible ways because I didn’t let the emotions happen. The loss of important things in my life are typically not handled well. The guidance I have received in the past was ‘stiff upper lip and get on with it’ type of advice. Being an empath, you’d think I’d be good at processing emotions but for me it’s more of a Harry Potter/Dementor type scenario. I can feel life being sucked from me. I can now recognize what I need. Hugs and sympathy from random people are not it. I need boundaries. That includes me expressing my needs and giving in to self-care.

Elephants will stand in solidarity with their family and usually hover over the corpse of their loved one for days, only leaving for food and water. They sit in their feelings. They touch and connect with their loved ones. They cry and feel their emotions. I think I can learn from this.

It takes me a long time to get over something and I think it’s because I don’t let it sit in me. I keep pushing it away and masking it. I don’t want to take five years to get over something. I want to feel the sadness and grief and then eventually look at those memories with fondness. I want to face this head-on.  I can look at memories of my great-grandma and my grandfather with fondness now, but that took a hell of a long time. But it’s only been recent memory that a friendship break-up from five years ago has healed. Does it take that long? Would it have happened sooner if I didn’t numb myself and stick my head in the sand? I think yes.

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I am journaling about this grief because that is my process. I am not a talker. It takes someone asking a lot of questions before I will talk. I always feel lighter after the words are on the page. I can’t be the only one who takes a long time to pass through grief. What is your process?

 

 

Beyond Your Limits

I have been thinking a lot about pushing myself to the limit. Be it physical, mental or emotional. There seems to be no greater satisfaction than from those who are able to accomplish this feat.

Emotional limits, both positive and negative expression is not my favorite. I struggle with the pain of ending and heartbreak as do most of the humans I know. It is the hardest one for me to push.

I love pushing my mental limits, but being brain tired is the worst after emotional tired.

Yet there is something so completely satisfying about pushing your physical limits. It makes my mental juices flow and sends me to emotional heights that I am sure only George Clooney could equal.

This past month I have pushed my physical limits past the point I thought was my limit. I ran up Emily Murphy Hill 3 times, for the first time ever. She normally kills me after half way on the first time. Yet I conquered her. I ran in my first 10k race and set a personal time record. I was tired for 2 weeks but I knew it was because I left my guts out there on the road. I have set some pretty tough goals for myself this summer and I know the only way I will get there is by leaving pieces of me on the ground, in my books or on my sleeve. I will either be broken or exhilarated. Either way, pushing myself is my way of celebrating success.

A couple of years ago I never did anything that was hard. I never challenged myself through work, I never challenged myself through intellect, I never did anything physical that could test my limits. If it was hard, I avoided it and said no.

The Edmonton Tourist Project challenged me to say yes and try new things. I look back and don’t recognize that girl in the pictures. She looks different than I do now, but more importantly, her spirit was broken or harnessed by others. I said goodbye to her and the new and improved me is  – as my friend It’s Maevealous says – FIERCE. I love that word.

I am inspired by her intellect. She is knowledgeable in ways that humble me. She is insightful and brilliant, adventurous and fun. All things I wanted to be and now am achieving.

Through facebook I have become part of a running team WDW Radio Running Team for The Dream Team Project. I have met amazing athletes who are in different chapters of their book. I am just past the Introduction, while others are near their climax and some others are in their epilogue. Yet we all chEAR each other on and support through words, laughter and help. One of these athletes just became a 2 time IRONMAN. She is my hero. I am inspired by how she pushes herself to her physical limits and signs up for yet another IRONMAN because a teammate has decided to enter for the first time and so she will be there in full support. She is gracious enough to tell me her story, so look for that coming up soon.

Weeks ago I put my emotional struggles here on this page for all to read. The fat girl running faced bullies and went head to head with them. That blog post went near viral. Women all over the world read it to the tune of 15000 visits and countless shares. Local women came up to me and asked for my autograph. It was weird. But through that post I met a running mom who ran her first half marathon in Vancouver. She has inspired me to join Team in Training and pursue the San Francisco Marathon next year. I will be talking to her soon too about Team in Training and her exciting adventures about running in Vancouver with an injury!

And then there is my one of my dear best friends. She is a new friend but you know how some people just click? We did. Last year she entered a spin-a-thon event and cycled for 90 minutes. She had never pushed herself to do anything like that. Today she is riding 93km from Leduc to Camrose in the MS bike tour. I am so excited for her because I know she will never be the same after she feels what it is like to push yourself beyond limits. I am going to meet her at the finish line today. You don’t get a medal for this event, so I made her a giant chocolate chip cookie medal to hang around her neck – and then eat because I am sure she will be super hungry.

So when people ask me “how are you able to do that?” be it running, university, work, momming or reading a billion books for fun, I tell them because pushing yourself to limits is incredibly satisfying and it makes me

FIERCE

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Why do I go to work everyday?

I hate my job.

It is only Wednesday and I have more emotional overload in 2 days than most people have in a lifetime. The stuff I dealt with today alone would make well adjusted grown men cry.

Last year I hated my job too. Last year I suffered from mental stress. This year is emotional stress. What is the difference you ask?

Mental stress keeps you thinking until your brain is numb. It has you repeating yourself endlessly like a broken record to no avail. It makes you sleep for ever.

Emotional stress keeps you awake at night worrying that little ones are okay. You fear for their health and safety. You try to plan a way to keep them with you so they are safe. Your heart gets broken on a daily basis. You cry in the bath tub and in the car on the way to work. You get angry and smash your head against the wall because you think you are crazy.

I sat in the chair tonight and my daughter said, If you hate your job so much, why do you do it?

Me – Sometimes you do a job because the little souls need someone to care and love them so they won’t be alone in the world. But I did see a job posting for Assistant Manager at Dollarama and thought about it seriously for 2 seconds.

I was at my Life Coach’s office today after work. We talked about emotional intelligence. Over a year ago I wrote about wanting to be emotionally intelligent. I have achieved that goal. I wish I never did. That is not true, I wish I was surrounded by emotional intelligences. I am to some degree – no offence friends and family! – but I am also surrounded by emotional sluts. You know the kind, connect to the one you are with rather than who is right for you.

It is no secret I connect better with children than I do adults. I see it, feel it and experience it on a daily basis. Ask Liam. He is a stranger kid I met on the playground the other day. It was obvious to me that he had some special needs. Talking to him briefly I could tell he had sensory processing disorder, a cognitive delay and fluency issues. I walked past him to sit on the bench, smiled and made EYE CONTACT. He smiled back.

I forget how the exchange started but within 5 minutes I had connected with him so well, he thought I use to be his teacher and kept saying “Remember when…” I would play along because A) everyone wants to feel like someone remembers them because that means they are IMPORTANT enough to be REMEMBERED and B) none of his peers would engage him in conversation, he was a loner or more to the point, lonely.

I see him occasionally now around the school and fields and he always waves. I have made a new connection, for life I suppose if I continue to keep running into him. I can connect with every child in my classroom. Some stronger than others, but all of them just the same. Every single one of them knows they are important to me and I care. I cannot say the same for the adults in my life.

Part of it is my fault. I do not connect with adults because I protect myself. I am sick to death of being hurt. Apparently this has to do with me not forgiving myself for something in a particular relationship. Fair enough, I can see that. I connect very strongly with emotional sluts. Then they break my heart. It is a pattern I repeat because I need to feel punished. Isn’t THAT interesting? Emotional sluts, I recognize them at 50 paces. I connect with them. Have them need me. Then I need them, and because they are emotional sluts – I get left. It sucks. I pick them KNOWING it won’t last, yet I engage in the emotional exchange. I haven’t done this in a long while. I recognize it for what it is and keep a distance. That sad part is, I am still connected to those emotional sluts of my past and feel loss. They are no longer connected to me, they have moved along to the next one.

My next goal is to connect with adults who are emotionally intelligent. I know who you are, you are well adjusted, stable, goal oriented and do not rely on others to boost you into the next realm. I have quite a few of you in my life, you have just kept me at arms length while I figure this out. You are smart enough not to get caught up in the drama of an emotional slut.

Oh Edmonton Tourist, you are such a different person then you were August 15th, 2010 when you started this journey. We are getting there one step at a time.

I Figured Out How to Have The Best Day

I spent my day doing things I really like to do. More importantly, I have somehow changed and now allow myself to really enjoy things I do. This may sound weird to many of you. For some people it is just second nature to find fun things and enjoy them, looking forward to the next fun thing to do. I must have been like this at some point in my life. I can’t recall that feeling at the moment, but I am sure it existed. I know I get extreme pleasure from planning vacations. I cannot put all my eggs in a travel basket. I am not that girl who can afford vacations 3 times a year. Impossible. I need to feed, clothe and provide shelter for the offspring (unless they plan to run off and join the circus – clearly I just read Water for Elephants and Picky Niki). I cannot depend on planning travel to be my joy forever. I need to find other things that do it for me. Laughing with my best friend brings me joy as well. But we can’t spend every waking moment together, it’s just not possible. Nor is spending endless hours on the phone. I’d like to…but my BFF has a life, I need one too.

Way back in August 2010, you may recall (or not if you just recently started reading my Tourist Adventures) I was unhappy and was determined to change things. There is no point blaming others. There comes a point in everyone’s life where you have to pull up your boot straps and realize it is YOU to blame for the life you lead. Sure circumstance has not been kind, but it taught you a pile of stuff that will be useful, you just need to figure out where to put the useful stuff! Anyways… since that day (August 15, 2010) I have made a ton of changes to my life. Some things are fantastic (lifestyle change in terms of healthy eating and exercise) and some pretty terrible things I tried (reading Science Fiction – that genre is just NOT FOR ME). I am getting a pretty good sense of what brings me joy. Now here is the kicker…

I don’t let myself feel joy.

I know…crazy right? It’s not that I don’t think I deserve it, I think all souls deserve to feel happiness. It’s not that I can’t find things that bring me joy, I just need to look into my Offsprings eyes and I know it’s there. It goes deeper than that.

This is tied to my food addiction. Emotional eating 101. I have talked at length about this to my Sports Dietician. She suggested I read Wired for Joy by Laurel Mellin. So am I. It is very compelling because it absolutely applies to me. It talks about things that I have been trying to do on my own for the last year. I plan to talk about this at length over on my Mo blog, but lets just say, finding joy that is not related to stress is the key. I apparently don’t handle stress as well as I thought I did. It sucks me into a deep dark cavern that eradicates all joy from my life. The daily drudgery of routine becomes the focus to get through my life.

Hold the phone….

Routine has become the medium I use to get through my life. I don’t know about you, but the LAST THING I want to do is just get through my life. I don’t want to fast forward to the end. There was a time where I thought dead sounded relaxing. Are you kidding me? I need to find relaxing in my daily doings not at the point of dead.

So Edmonton Tourist, how are you going about this?

Well… it’s hard.

I want to be all things to all people. Ha… That just creates stress and causes all kinds of problems. I have decided I will pick a cause or two, and help where I can. Keep the mouth closed and let others figure out their journey. Sometimes it is appropriate to speak up and sometimes it is not. I am learning the difference between the two.

I want to make a meaningful difference in the world. No I am not that Barbie in the bathing suit with the Miss Canada sash saying things like “I want world peace and to end hunger.” Sure those are nice things. One person can’t do it on their own. I am all for cleaning up your own back yard before tackling the worlds problems. I choose to do that in my career, with the couple of charities I support both through time and money, and I tried to do that through friendship. Sometimes all 3 overlap and that is great. Often it is just two things that do or I focus on a single project. Yes this brings me joy. I even let myself feel it sometimes instead of focusing on the stressful part of it. My Dad says ‘Rob, you have to just let it go, you can’t save the world.” True, but Daaaaaaaaaad its so haaaaaaaaaard!

Another thing I do is exercise. Ha… a year a go it was a dirty word or cuss word even… I now love it, miss it when I am not doing it and plan activities and goals that are fitness related. I may not have the body of a fitness freak…but it is getting there! I participated in a Vata Dosha workshop today. A year ago yoga was hard a difficult. after a year of regular practice I felt joy in doing difficult poses. I felt invigorated by the strain my muscles felt, I felt peaceful during shavasana – corpse pose. This was a moment I was present for. I loved it. I felt joy.

I realized my intention – transformation of ego (worded differently in my head but you get the idea) was very different from an intention I used a year ago… Love Self. I have come a long way!

The other thing I am doing to alleviate stress and feel more joy is Be Open to new things. I always thought I was, but I was kidding myself. The greatest gift I have given me has been the gift of YES. I say yes way more than I say no. I went to this Vata Dosha (come to the next one, it was fabulous!) because I said yes. Part of the event was a dinner afterwards. It was a Malaysian Fusion Vegan (gluten free option too) let me just say….It was a delight to my senses! I loved it! The best part? No it wasn’t the Chocolate Gelato with Saigon Cinnamon, it was my dinner companion. I went alone. I met people because the world is an incestuous playground and I knew people who knew people. The man I sat beside captured my interest and we chatted all evening. We talked about fitness, weight-loss, culinary delights, renovations, childhood and trying new things. While others were engaged with TV conversation, who watched this or that, my dinner companion and I talked about living. Realizing this THRILLED ME! I have become a person who LIVES her life! If I am living my life, then I am not using routine as a means to get to the end of my life anymore! This news brings me JOY. Maybe now that I realize this, I can let myself feel joy and happiness much more frequently. I hope so because it is a tremendous feeling that I could easily become addicted to.

As I left, my new friend (who could EASILY be my grandson) asked me if I was coming to the next one… I said I was. I was rewarded with a big smile because he said it was excellent meeting me. It was excellent meeting him too.

Thank you Universe for showing me YES can lead to Joy and eating had nothing to do with it.

Emotionally Intelligent?

It finally happened! My brain was challenged to the point that I stopped and thought about what I was reading. Love that feeling!

My new University Class starts tomorrow, but I have been prepping for upcoming assignments and getting a jump-start on the reading. The class itself has to do with effective communication as a leader. Going through the chapter, it was easy to to label leaders I knew, this person was that style, this person tends to lead this way, etc. What struck me was the section on Self-awareness. There was a paragraph that screamed at me,

Emotionally intelligent people are keenly aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and desires.  Those with a strong self-awareness are able to be honest with both themselves and others. They are aware of how their feelings affect them, other people, and their job performance. Self-aware people know when to ask for help, are willing to admit their mistakes, and at the same time are confident about what they can do. By sharing their imperfections, they underscore their authenticity.

Emotionally intelligent people. Wow! I always looked at people like that and thought they had it all going on, very mature, know what they want, and most importantly, I want to be like that. I think I have almost reached that pinnacle. I am keenly aware of my weaknesses. It isn’t kryptonite, but it is a powerful as kryptonite! I have a strong need to fix everything. Be the savior, the  hero, the one who kisses it better. Letting other people succeed and fail without my intervention is incredibly hard for me. Having offspring has made it easier. It is important for me to raise children who have a strong sense of self. I know you learn more from failures than successes. By standing back and watching them figure it out on their own is easier for me then watching colleagues do it. Why is that? Why am I willing to let my own children suffer, fail, try again and succeed? I love sharing in their success! At work, I just rather do it myself. That leads to a heap of other trouble for myself. I am making huge progress in that area, but I still have a huge way to go. Learning to say NO is part of that. Learning the balance between sharing my knowledge and telling someone what to do is part of the process. So yes, I do know my weakness.

My strengths. This is harder. What I think to be my strength is not something others would recognize in me. I had a job reference once and she said I was practical. To me that was a HUGE compliment. It is an important skill to possess! Knowing the difference between possible, plausible, probable and impossible can mean everything in the workplace. Secretly I want my offspring to know that everything is possible. Time has taught me this has limitations as a mantra. I do believe in putting my dreams, beliefs and wishes out to the universe. Speaking aloud what I want, desire and need is important. It goes a long way to making the impossible attainable. But is that a strength? As I become more knowledgeable and experienced( older and wiser?) I find I am less tolerant of young University Students with no life experience telling me what I need. Yes this has to do with an incident I experienced this week. I verbally put her in her place by explaining to her the entire situation and letting her know that when she witnesses a snapshot in my week, she cannot possibly have enough information to solve my problem. Books teach many things. I have huge respect for people who are able to learn AND apply the knowledge they learn from books. However, life experience is just as huge. When I have a question about my studies, I don’t always turn to the people in my life who have a degree. Often, who are we kidding, I have more respect for practical management experience then I do for those who have “book learnin'”. So I look back at my incident with her and think about how I could have handled that situation if I was her supervisor. It likely wouldn’t have occurred, however, what could I have done differently?

As I think about it, I guess my strengths are : Practical, respectful, I want to say flexible but I am not as flexible as I use to be, experience has taught me plenty. I have an ability to think on my feet. I feel my creative juices slipping away for practical things. I think I am okay with that. I can be creative in other aspects of my life. A big strength for me is new, and still in the practice stage. I take a deep breath and compose my thoughts before I engage in a life altering situation. I need to practice this when I have been attacked, but I am getting there.

Emotionally Intelligent. My new goal on my Tourist List.

 

Quote taken from:Brody, Ralph 2005 Effectively Managing Human Service Organizations 3rd ed. Sage       Publications