Ritual

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I have been receiving questions about journaling and meditation from you. Either you stop to talk to me about it or you email me. I thought I would answer meditation questions here and get to journaling next time. How meditation began for me and why I continue with it. *Content warning – religion is part of that and  I no longer participate -may be triggering for some people. My spirit team helped me with the next two paragraphs – full credit goes to them.

The daily ritual is a practice by many all over the world. It brings calm and security to many and insight and relief to others. It is used as a way to bring balance. Many religions use ritual as a way to engage followers. Creating familiar patterns within their routine. These patterns are often found to be familiar and with that brings comfort. The lighting of candles, the burning of incense, and even the repetition of prayer. Finding time within your day for the practice of ritual can be a comforting way to bring order into your life.

Rituals can be rich in symbolism. But are primarily separate and have meaning to the individual. It is a way to find a mindful practice. Staying within the moment allows for a focus of presence. Being present in your life is a gift of clarity that is not readily used by everyone. We are either living in the past or worrying about the future. Using ritual to begin your day can pull you into the present moment and allow for a productive day. Often joy is associated with presence.

I grew up in the Catholic Church and it was filled with rituals. I liked not having to think about what was next, just knowing…until that one day I listened to myself repeating the Apostles Creed and I went…hey….wait a minute… I don’t believe all those things. I then attended to participate in rituals and leave out the parts of the creed that I didn’t believe. I began to feel….fake. I couldn’t go anymore because my beliefs and my ritual practice were at odds with each other. For lack of a better word, I woke up.

After I left the church I found myself feeling at odds with myself. I needed a practice that upheld my beliefs and supported my morals and values. I struggled for a long time to find this practice. I knew religion was not the answer, but my faith and beliefs were consistent with my values. This is where I could begin again.

Believe it or not, running reintroduced me to the comfort of ritual. I would stop studying every day at 10:00 am. Put my shoes on and head outside in any weather. I never ran inside. I am Canadian for crying out loud. If I let a little cold stop me, I would never see the light of day. I dressed for the weather, put one foot in front of the other and away I went.

Same…same…same…

Until one day I couldn’t anymore. Heath issues happened and running is not an option for me any longer.

I struggled again, looking for the repetitive ritual that soothed me and comforted me. Something that would give me quiet and thoughtful prayer at the same time, the way running did. Without running, situations happened that made me blind with fury. I needed to find someplace to put my anger. I would have given anything for a long run to work out my frustrations or at least the ability to have laser eyes and cut my enemy off at the knees. But that solves nothing.

I turned to ritual again. I thought about what it was about the church that I found so comforting. I loved the music, the candles, and the silence. Not being asked to answer questions, not having to problem solve…just be. Just like when I ran. I didn’t set goals to be stronger/smarter/faster. I ran to just run. Just be.

I decided to wake up early…lets back up a minute.

I was a long-time meditator and knew it could help me connect with a higher presence. I had used it in the past as a method of prayer taught to me by Sister Dominica, my grandfather’s sister who was also a nun. She lived with us and every day she sat in prayer AND in meditation. Neither was the same. She said prayer is when you talk to God and meditation is when God talks to you. I meditated when the feeling moved me. Sometimes weeks would go by before I would meditate and sometimes just a few days. I was inconsistent and never considered it to be a ritual.

I began reading about different thought leaders, Wayne Dyer was one, I watched Super Soul on a regular basis and called it my church. The more I learned about self-love and stillness the more I knew I needed to meditate with regularity…but…

BUT………..

I didn’t have time. It takes time to do this stuff. I had kids, hubs, job, home I had STUFF TO DO!

Dr. Wayne Dyer said, get up early in the morning because anything worthwhile is worth making time for. Super Soulers said, make time for you. Love yourself enough to sit in silence for 10 minutes a day because you deserve it. Take time for you.

All I could think was BUT!!!! People neeeeeed me.

I was that girl who would sleep until 8:15 and then run to school. I was that girl who had serious FOMO. I would stay up late and resist sleep. Then in the morning, I was wrecked and late and flustered and a mess.

BUT…every time I turned around I read the sign that told me to do it. Take 10 minutes for myself to prove to me I was worth it. I did it when I ran, why couldn’t I sit on my chair and do it?

December 1, 2016 I began setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier. and on December 11, I turned it off and went back to sleep. Later that day I noticed I was grouchy. I mean REALLY grouchy. I was so angry at work I left to sit in my car and have a nap. If I had laser eyes I would have used them and be the only person standing today.

December 12, 2016, I set my alarm for 5:30 am. I got up, showered and went and sat by my Christmas tree. My dog came and sat with me. This began my daily ritual. I haven’t faltered since. It changes occasionally – but for the most part it is the same.  Sometimes I meditate later in the day, but I always do it.

My day begins at 6:30 am.

  • I begin my day with water. I drink it or I bath in it. It always begins with water. When I am at the ocean, I stand in it.
  • I light a candle and set my intention for the day. Sometimes I just set the intention but it always happens with or without the candle.
  • I sit or lay down, this is dependant on what my intuition tells me. I am more focused when I lay down.
  • I thank the universe and my team for their guidance and support. Beginning the day with gratitude is the number one most important thing I do. It has changed me as a human.
  • I ask two things, “What would you have me know” and “What would you have me do”
  • Then I begin my meditation. I set the timer for 30 minutes on weekdays and 2 hours on weekends. I often step out of meditation at the one hour mark. But I leave lots of time, just in case I need longer…sometimes I do.
  • I end my practice with “thank you”.

Since I have begun this practice, I have reached 1070 consecutive days as of November 16th, 2019. I feel more joy, I am calmer than I used to be and my emotions are fleeting. I still experience all the emotions but they don’t stay around very long. I look at them from a detached perspective and watch them float away when I am done learning from them. I have very little use for lies, cruelty and hate.  I see it for what it is and try to move on from it. It doesn’t always happen. There are a couple of people in my life who still can trigger me into an insane rage. But I sit in that and then move on from it. It’s not easy but it’s easier than it used to be for me. I always ask, what do I need to learn from this…and that helps a lot. The big lesson was boundaries, but other lessons are equally as important.

My favourite part of the ritual is wooden matches. The firmness of the stick and the smell of the sulphur. It takes me back to the Church where not all the memories are terrible. I can sit anywhere for long periods of time and just be. Boredom isn’t a thing anymore because I am comfortable with my own thoughts and in my own skin.

So now you know. I am sure my ritual is wackadoodle for some of you.

That’s okay. You do you.

This works for me and I am better off for it.

Grow up already

 

I was told by a former friend who broke up with me this year that I must be really immature. Wait…what?

I have friends who I spend time with ages ranging from 18-94. I always looked at that as a strength. I could fit in and have fun with people from all cross sections of life. According to this guy, it was a weakness and I should be spending time with people my own age. I guess that meant sad, drunk, middle-agers were off my list. I still think I would be considered middle age because 48 + 48 = 96. My great Grandmother lived until she was 99. Both my grandmothers are 94 and 89 respectively, chances are if all goes well, I will live at least that long.

I don’t want to restrict my friendships to those who are only 48. Have you met many 48 year olds? Some are dead boring. It is a slim demographic to choose from and gone are the days that I have anything in common with friends from high school other than we went to school together and have common memories. I cannot build a deep connection on age.

I build deep connections on commonalities.

doctor-who-river-series-8There is a side of me that is tremendously geeky. I love superheroes, science fiction and obscure pop culture. I particularly embrace the bad-ass female heroes like Black Widow, Jessica Jones, River Song and Electra. These women are strong, smart and have relationships that enhance their being, not because they need one in their life.

There is a side of me that loves Hockey. I love the smell of a puck, the coolness of the rink and the sound of the thwack when the stick hits the puck. It excites me and it depresses me. I admire fan loyalty, be true to your team! and I enjoy the energy of the crowd. The commonality of cheering for a team is one of camaraderie that is lost in other areas of my life. I love being on a winning or losing side, because we are in it together.

There is a side of me that practices the Tao of Muppets. It isn’t a mainstream religion or Kermit-two1occult practice but it teaches humanity. Every single movie, tv episode, short or ad portrays The Muppets as a group of beings who embrace the difference in others. In fact, that is what makes individuals unique. Muppets are not haters or racists they are peaceful and loving. I appreciate this attitude. I want to surround myself with others who embrace this attitude as well. Not all 48 year olds do, but lots of Millennials do. I admire that quality. I want friends who don’t try to poke holes in people who announce their sexual orientation. Who understand that trauma is just that, trauma and people who have had traumatic experiences don’t need to have someone picking at their scabs. I want to be with people who understand that Women’s Issues are hard to understand if you are a White Privileged Male. Empathy is good, criticism feels crappy. Acceptance is preferred.

25893709There is a side of me that thinks books are an opening into another realm. Quote literature and I am impressed, quote movies and I think you have a good memory but don’t expect me to follow your reference. I don’t work that way. I am a reader. I have read 20 book since January 1, 2016. That means I have not watched many movies or TV shows because I learn far more from reading than I do from watching. I think its great that you spend your free time doing what you like to do, I spend my free time reading because that is what I like to do. I love the way a line from a book will resonate with me and linger for years. I have a notebook filled with impactful quotes from books such as Steve Martin’s Shop Girl, David Leviathan’s Everyday, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth Strout’s My name is Lucy Barton. I will read these over and over because they resonate with me and make me feel as if I am not alone in my thoughts. There is another person out there who is the same. Because feeling like you belong somewhere is important. It helps give your life meaning and purpose.

IMG_0579There is a side to me that enjoys fine wine. Not to drink until I cannot think, but because the taste and craftsmanship is exquisite. Understanding the process of how it became to be. Learning how it enhances the food I eat. Appreciating the beauty that it is. Sharing wine in a meaningful way brings me closer to friends who appreciate it in the same way. The relaxing way a glass of wine can define an evening is delightful.

images-7There is a side of me that loves to visit the Art Gallery. Looking at the works of people who came before me who displayed their raw emotion on the canvas in from of me moves in a way that other genres just don’t. I can feel the emotion that went into so works and I am moved to tears by others. This brings a connection that has me thinking about lives and commonalities. How the past and future collide with sameness. I love meeting people in the galleries and discussing the works of artists. Other points of view are uplifting and poignant.

There is a side of me that understands the need to run. I love the feeling it gives and the Me an my angelside benefits. I love the familiar faces you see race after race. I love the openness of my lungs after running on a cool crisp or even cold day. I love spending my time with people talking about races and events they want to do or have done. I even understand why people need running teams and need to train with others. I do not prefer this, but I sure understand this. I love the independence of running. I have never enjoyed team sports. Get me alone on a path with my pup and let my mind run free. To me this is one of the best feelings and I miss it.

There is a side of me who thinks it is important to either work in a job that makes impactful changes on the world we live in or give of your free time do make a difference. Being kind, helping others and supporting people who need a hand up will change you life in ways you can not imagine. Working with like-minded individuals on a common goal is so rewarding when it sees the light. This feeds my soul.

There is a side of me who thinks Family First needs to be a way of life. My heart breaks for children and animals who have been neglected by adults in their life who cannot do better or choose not to do better. If I could I would round up all children and animals who need to feel the hug of a loving mom and move them to a farm and hug them all the time. So in an effort or do the best I can, I rescued my puppy. I volunteer my time to support children and families. I used to work with children and families who needed support, but PTSD is a real affliction when you work with trauma cases for years. For my well being I removed myself because I could no longer see myself. I need to feel strong before I can do more. So now I work in my hobby and I volunteer where society needs me. This is a better mental health fit for me.

Looking over my list of who I am, I can honestly say these areas are not exclusive to 48 year olds. I have diverse interests and because of this, I have a diverse range of friends. I hardly think this means I am immature, quite the opposite. I am not the square peg that fits into the square hole. You might not understand this yet, but you will eventually.

 

Yuge!

I was scrolling through my feed today and came across two very different posts from women friends of long ago whom I still admire greatly.

One has always been afraid of living huge (YUGE! with a Scottish dialect) and she has found herself taking risks and trying out new things in pursuit of her dreams and goals. I am excited for her. She has so much laid out in front of her that is ripe for the picking. The other has always lived huge, not afraid of risks and trying new things. She has had to pull back and cocoon her family. Nurture them and care for them at the expense of her goals. I love this about her. Her life is intertwined with her family, therefore she is holding them close.

Both women are strong, brilliant feminists.

I have been so inspired by both these women. They have embraced the fear and made positive choices because the need is greater than the fear.

I have been licking my wounds lately. There is something so peaceful about pulling back, reflecting and taking that quiet moment before moving forward.

Fear is a powerful deterrent.

Fear is a huge obstacle.

It is getting in my way of moving forward.

I am in the processes of figuring out some things, like if the current trajectory I am on is the best for me. There are things I really like about it but currently there are things I dislike about it more. So is it worthwhile still pursuing?

That is the thing about goals. I feel the need to see them through, I hate quitting. But if it doesn’t feel right and is stressful, is it worthwhile? Will the feeling of accomplishment be worth it in the end when the people you are working with have a very different point of view? Will we meet the end goal in just a different way than we first thought? Maybe.

I miss living huge.

I have done so many amazing things and my last amazing thing put in a place where I have to pull back on the huge part. I ran out of money to do huge. By no means is money the part that gives a huge meaning to my life, it just really helped with checking off the bucket list items.

I think my problem is I do not have a goal in front of me that I feel like pursuing. That is a big deal. I have not lived with a goal in front of me for 6 years. I feel lost.

There was a time where physical goals were my focus. That has changed to some degree. I have been given the green light to pursue a 5km. Something I am not all that sure I care very much about other than it is important for my health to keep moving. I have lost my mojo towards it. I am sure it has something to do with the fear of the excruciating pressure that builds up in my brain when I do this. So for now, walking is lovely, but it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment.

Education was a huge goal for me. I still think I want to go further in pursuit of Women in Leadership. But that takes cash that I cannot ask my family for.  I can always go back. This one will wait for me. Universe…when you have some spare cash laying around, throw it my way so I can go to Royal Roads please.

Career goals. My career is on track, I quite like what I do and the people I work with. It doesn’t keep me up at night and it is diverse enough to keep me entertained without boredom. What more could someone ask for? Oh right, a raise…. A raise would help with my lack of cash issue. But as quality of life goes, it is pretty darn great.

Family goals. I finally feel like I can worry less about my children and let them figure out their stuff. My son complained to me that I was “too chill” and I let him be too independent when he wanted to be held closer. Well, sorry? I knew independence was best for him AND me in the long run, so that is what I did. We had major bumps along the road but he is standing on his own two feet currently. Sure I will catch him if he needs me too, but right now, it is sweet relief that he is well sorted and on his way. My daughter is not too far behind, she has goals laid out before her and is in hot pursuit of them. I worry about her much less than her brother because she also communicates very well and I know what is going on with her. She is golden.

House goals. My house is in need of some TLC. Paint, flooring, furniture and a roof. I will paint it this summer. Bring it back into its former glory. Then perhaps sell it, or not. I don’t want to live in the burbs. But I am not so sure I want to live in this city either. This is where I feel restless. I feel like I am in limbo and get resistance from other members of my family when I bring up the subject of moving.

Friendship goals. I started a book club because I am searching for intellectual conversation about fictional worlds and how they relate to the world around us. This is a good substitute for the Education I am wanting. I am also on the lookout for a book club of strangers – perhaps at my local bookshop. I want to discuss books, not participate in social events. I don’t want to get too close to more people, but I want to hear what they think. This may be a tall order. People in my experience tend to get emotional and social at these kinds of events. Emotional discourse fatigues me. I have “cleaned house” of the people who have me sitting in anger. I don’t want that for my life. I want peace. I want to stop hurting every time I go do something that is supposed to be fun.  Perhaps I am not cut out for lots of people in my life. I do prefer the company of silence. But I know I am self-destructive too. When something cuts to the quick, I am dump it and fast. Maybe I need more of the same rather than different. Finding people who share the same values as me is harder than I thought. I value Loyalty, Kindness, Respect and Honesty. I give these and expect them in return. I am shocked and disgusted with the political discourse in the United States. Why is being kind and respectful such a hard thing for people?

values

So this leaves me no closer with my want of HUGE. I feel like I am treading water trying to find land.

I think perhaps if I fill my life with structure the goals may manifest before me.

  • I will set aside Sunday Mornings for time with my writing. It is painful right now, I have got to the part where there is conflict and it makes me cry as I write it down. I think this is the best I have ever written so the emotional strife I am feeling is worth it.
  • I will set time aside on Saturdays to explore my world with my pup. I am a better human to live with when I ground myself in the parks of Edmonton. I will visit every River Valley Park this summer. Apparently there are 20, that is a good start. Maybe I will reinstate the traditional Family Picnic we used to do every Friday night.
  • One closet at a time. I need to simplify, I am going to purge one closet/cupboard/storage at a time until my world is free of clutter. This always makes me sleep better. I want to be minimalist where my family is not. Today I will tackle the space under the sink.

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Like it or not, I now have 3 goals laid out before me. The meditative tasks of two of them will likely help me figure out how to live large once again. Pulling back and focusing on smaller pursuits may be just what I need after my large adventure of last year. It should help with the big obstacle of fear standing in my way. Thank you my friends for being such lovely inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

Chchchchanges

I have that David Bowie song in my head ….Chchchchchchanges….

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

 

As much as I hate to admit this, I will always be that girl who is seeking approval from everyone. Whether I get approval or not, I still seek it because I don’t feel like I ever get it.

When I hear people giving me support, I am not all convinced it is genuine. It doesn’t matter who it is from. If its from my mom – she says one thing, I hear another. I assume everyone is comparing me to the better/stronger/smarter/richer person they know. I worked with a man who gave me great advice about 10 years ago, he said “You have to take people at their word, take it at face value.”  Yes but – multiple meanings, undertones, knowing what people have said before in the past all add up and then you hear what they say so it becomes multi-faceted.

It gets tiring. It eats away at me.

I will never be someone else. As much as I want to or desire it because that means I am better/stronger/smarter and lets throw in prettier, that isn’t who I am. I am that same wounded little girl with terrible hair and mean friends, and when I say friends, I mean people who I would play with because I didn’t know anyone else.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Things have changed a bit this week.

I have struggled with change. I have wrote about it before. I told you about a crossroads that I am facing. I need to make some choices if I am going to move forward.

To do this I need to trust what people tell me is true. And quite frankly I just don’t. Lie to me on a regular basis and I am thinking you want me to be better/stronger/smarter/richer/prettier because you hide something from me. I assume it has to do with me ( because I have a huge ego and its always about me – I am rolling my eyes. I am super insecure and overconfident all at the same time) because as Miss Mimi says, “Lies take away people’s dignity.” I clearly am not important enough in your life to trust me with your truths. Therefore I am not better/stronger/smarter/richer/prettier.  I will never be as successful as my sister – not that it matters to me or her, although I do covet her deck and her red appliances. I will never be the top executive of the company I work for because  – who wants the headache? I will never be that gorgeous fit woman because it take time and effort to look like that and I have children, a job and interests that expand my brain, not my muscles. I know it is possible to have both, but then I give up time and my time is valuable to me. My body has never looked like that, so the work involved to get there is more than I am willing to put in.But it feels like I am expected to be that way.  I have to be enough at some point and if I am not I need to move on.

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There is something about me that has people I don’t know very well tell me things about people I care deeply about. I suspect these gossips do this for a couple of reasons. None of which is in my best interest. So I purged my friends list and blocked all of those who say things, truth or not, just to be hurtful. I don’t need that kind of negative stuff in my life, I can create enough of my own drama thank you very much. I finally got rid of the mean fake friends.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

The changes I made brought me to a strange peaceful centre. I have turned inward and focus on my immediate surroundings. I have slept through the night since I made this decision. That alone tells me I did the right thing. That Precarious Gait said something that resonates with me – [who are we kidding, she always speaks things that resonates with me. I wish she was my neighbour so I could pop into her kitchen and cry my eyes out and she would pour me a coffee and say – I know EXACTLY what you mean.] She said when you talk about something with out crying that means you have finally healed.

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Can I have an Amen?

I have stopped crying when I tell my story.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

Does that mean I have closed the door on that chapter of my life?

No, but the door has been renovated. It doesn’t have swing hinges on it anymore for easy access. There is a really nice doorbell you have to press. Then please speak clearly into the intercom so I can understand your intent before I let you in. I am much more careful with myself now. I can’t listen to my heart because its really stupid and my brain does not let me down …ever. I am being smart about my choices.

I need to be smart about work, friends, and choices. What I want and what is attainable is very different currently. I can no longer expect something because I want it to be true. I need to do the best with what I have and then maybe one day, it can be what I want. For now it is enough…just like me.

When it stops being enough, its time to move on.

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Changes have helped me lick my wounds. All the changes I have made in my life up until this moment have expanded my knowledge and have me looking at things with a new perspective. I regret nothing. I look at my daughter and wish I was more like her when I was her age, but I am more like her now that I am my age. She has taught me lots. Although people say the opposite is true.

At any rate, “Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man”

Or embrace the fact that I am Christmas Lights and not Flowers.

Lost and Found

When I was a kid, I could hardly wait to be a Grown Up. In my minds eye, the title was filled with freedom, wisdom and entitlement. I have been waiting for these things to happen since I reached the age of majority.

Still waiting.

It doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon either.

I feel ripped off.

I made a decision a few weeks back not to be the glue in certain situations. Yesterday it came back at me head on in the form of harsh words and anger. Because I have chosen not to engage in certain activities, means another person has to pick up the slack. While he voiced his discontent and anger and directed the harshness of his reality at me, I felt ambivalent. My immediate thought was…too bad, I am not going to do it, nor am I going to feel bad about it.

I walked away.

This is a huge step for me in my whole process of needing to be the care-taker or fixer of things. I can honestly say “Not Caring”.

But then why do I have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach? I think perhaps its because I respect the person who is angry – truth be told, I know he is not angry at me, just the situation and I was the catalyst for the reaction. All I said was “Enjoy your day tomorrow” and shit hit the fan because he now had to work on his day off. Of course it wasn’t fair that I was the recipient of the behaviour but that is human nature.

I understand because I do that. I am not proud of it either.

I do try to be the nice kind people, but sometimes we all lash out at people because we are having an bad day or feel feel like no one really understands where we are coming from or what our situation truly is.

For the most part, people don’t really get it nor do they care because they are wrapped up in their own trials.

This makes me miss the ones who do understand. My sad reality is my empathizers are all miles away from me and thank goodness for Social Media because it keeps me connected to them. Yesterday I spoke with 4 of my – for lack of a better work – kin. They get me, I get them. They understand and I understand them. I miss them like I would miss breathing. I think about being away from them and my eyes tear up.

I think for the most part I miss them more than they miss me – of course I think that way because it still boggles my mind that people care about me. I am always shocked when someone does something kind for me. What a sad state of the world when kindness is a surprise.

While I think I have not found wisdom, freedom or entitlement, I know I have not lost them. If I look carefully enough, I realize I have indeed found those things, I just may be surprised to understand how they feel while experiencing them. I am not filled with the sense of awesome power. I am not filled with a happiness that I thought would accompany those things, but I do have a sense of peace knowing I am steering my own ship for the first time ever.

That alone makes me feel like a grown up. It also makes me wish for my mommy to come home and take care of everything like she did when I was little.

The time has come to let my mom not worry about all the little things I need fixing.

47 years old and I have finally found my way.1926170_10152827204221337_3195006942175040459_o

My hair is matted and Cheetos are stuck to my face…but I have a plan

I laughed at my sister the day she received a kareokee machine for her birthday.

Not because she got a kareoke  machine, but because she knew at that moment she would never get anything done until she got over the binge use of that machine.

She laid on her sofa and demonstrated for me how she would look after weeks of use. It was as if she knew karaoke was her heroine. She leaned on the arm and feigned drool coming from her lips as she was singing Aerosmith or Show-tunes. Didn’t matter which tune it was, she had an addiction and she knew it.  I could envision dishes stacked to the ceiling and Cheetos stuck to her shirt with crusty food creased into her hip. She knew it and I knew it.

That night we sang for 8 hours. My voice was lost to every single from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I pulled out tunes from the 60’s that I learned at the steering wheel of my Dad’s Montego MX, Jimmy Rogers and the Kingston Trio, then there was Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli and Barbara… Barbara doesn’t need a last name.

My voice was done for days afterwards. My sister? Well…she continued down that road of music addiction. Then one day it stopped.

I do not mock her or tease her about that problem she had because it could have easily have been me.

Wait…

It was me.

Since I have finished University Studies, I have been binge watching TV as if the world is about to end. Since December 3, 2013, I have found myself enjoying the delights of televisions series that challenge my interest, make me laugh in a subtle way that compliments my humour and I have been solving mysteries with finesse. Or at least that is what I tell myself after watching the show 3 times in order to figure out all the clues.

I have binged watch Sherlock, Call the Midwife, and most recent….Suits.

I come home from work, watch Suits. I wake up early to get an episode in before work, I have a day off – stay in my jambes and watch suits.

I find myself looking like Penny after she started playing on-line videos games….with Howard.

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Then as quickly as it happened, it was over.  I am caught up and the season doesn’t resume until AFTER THE OLYMPICS.  I found myself relating to Donna, coveting Jessica’s wardrobe  and having a soft spot for crazy Louis. I want to be on team LITT!  I want to wear Christian Loubatans to work and carry Prada bags. I want to have the trust and loyalty of a Harvey and I want an office dammit! I want an office with a view of Bernie Madoff’s old building. I would settle for an office with a view. Hell, at this point, I’d settle for an office.

What I do have is potential and possibility. What Suits has done for me has pointed out the people in my life who I trust and those who I need to guard myself against.

I have set new goals for 2014. I understand my vision NEVER turns out as planned. If you asked me 3 years ago if I knew I would be standing where I was, I would have laughed you out of the room. Therefore I am changing my focus. Where and what are out of the picture now. I can reach higher than that.

I really like my possibilities for 2015, besides…anything can happen.

Now…what to watch next…

Goodbye, Farewell, The End

In one month it will be the second anniversary of the Edmonton Tourist Project ( I woke up this morning and realized it is the third anniversary! WOW 3 years!).

I can no longer recognize the girl I use to be.

I began this site as a way to help me become accountable, take risks, heal the hurt and become the person I dreamed I could. I learned the difference between goals and dreams. A goal is a way to realize your dreams and wishes. I have learned the secret to goal achievement and it is satisfying in ways I never thought possible.

I will graduate in December. WOW. I once never dreamed I was smart enough for University. Now I find it mundane and limiting in my learning. Looking forward to having letters after my name. It automatically gets people’s attention when the reality is, I was just as smart before, but now I know how to put it all together. That is progress.

I say yes more often to try things and no more often when I have taken on too much or just really don’t want to do something.

I have traveled solo and figured out where I begin and my family ends. This was also important for me. I needed to learn boundaries.

I have learned and practice great nutrition. I have lost nearly 95lbs in two years. I have  another 90lbs to go, BUT it has become habit. Great food choices made of REAL food have taught me to listen to my body. I know what it needs and when it needs it. Eating gratuitous sugar because it is someones birthday is rarely worth the calories. It has to be OUTSTANDING before I will spend calories on sugar laden food because there are consequences to those actions. I either eat less, work out more or gain some temporary weight. Neither of those options are awesome. So I choose carefully.

I have learned that loving someone doesn’t mean it has to be a married relationship or a parental one. I love my girlfriends, fella friends, and family with a fierce intensity that I didn’t know existed within me. This has given me permission to spend time with those people and the ones I just like…get less time or none because my time is limited and valuable. It doesn’t mean you are not valuable it just means I am prioritising my life. I come first, then family, then friends, then school, then work. Work is last because it is a means to a lifestyle. However, it made the list so you can be sure work is filled with passion. If it isn’t on the list, it lacks passion. Without passion, I have no desire to put in an effort. That was my problem before the project. I had my priorities mixed up. I need to nurture me so I can nurture my passions.

That makes it simple.

I place me first for the reason listed above, however, I didn’t put into what ME means:

I have learned I am a social introvert. I like socializing but not all the time. Please don’t drop in on me, call first. There is a list of people who are welcome to drop in and that list includes my mom, dad, sister, my best friend and George Clooney. Call first or I get cranky.

I need to include fitness in my life for lots of reasons, but the big one is if I have to face surgery for my brain tumour, then I want to be as fit and healthy as possible. Death does not scare me, but my children still need their mommy for the time being and I intend to be there as they need me. Being THE MOM is a responsibility that I do believe I was created for. I take it seriously and approach it with humor and humility. I have raised amazing humans and can’t wait to see how they shape their future.

I need to read. I need to continue learning and I need to sit in stillness and reflect. This is what defines me. Include fitness in there and those things need to be done alone for me. That is my recharge time. People exhaust me, I love them but I need that space away – and often, like everyday.

I need to set goals to reach new dreams. Goal setting and dream achieving is simply amazeballs.

So does this means I am fixed and no longer need the Edmonton Tourist Project? Well?

I have been think about that a lot while I run. Running has become my focus and passion lately. Writing is my creative outlet. I am writing 2 books right now. They tumble out of me like movies. That leaves me with nothing left to say on the Edmonton Tourist Project. While my growth continues, I no longer feel blogging about it is the right platform.

That must mean this is the end.

I am so incredibly grateful to those of you who have supported me all the way along. I have met incredible bloggy friends along the way, some turned into real life friends, some have drifted away and others have died. This tells me that endings do not have to be bad. Happy endings are lovely too.

Is my blogging career over? NO WAY! I am devoting my writing over at my health and fitness blog called Me and MO. Mo is short for momentum. You can find it HERE or http://justmeandmo.wordpress.com/  It is the same me who looks at life slightly skewed with humor in her brain and wit on the tongue.

I get it if all that running and nutrition talk isn’t for you. I do understand that. It isn’t for everybody. For now it is where I need to be.

Soon I will close this site, revamp it and change it into something different. But I am taking the summer off.

This feels right. It is time to say goodbye to old me and embrace the me I really am. It kind of feels like the final episode of M*A*S*H* and I feel like BJ. Not wanting to say it but needing to.

Keep in touch friends.

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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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News Flash! I just saw a picture of the Ex’s Wife and I feel FABULOUS!

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Have you ever creeped on Facebook to look up people from your past and are relieved that they haven’t adjusted their privacy settings so you can take a peek into their lives today? YOU HAVE SO…don’t lie.

I did it today.

I am very glad I did. Especially after Sunday’s incident.

I have struggled with body image issues forever and a day, largely in part to the men of my past. I know – what the hell was I thinking? Apparently I wasn’t.

The problem with memories, is they tend to be locked in time. So as I age – 45 and fabulous thank you very much – I become hyper aware of my skin, hair and body shape. When the ex and I split, a huge part of it had to do with my body image. It wasn’t his ideal and he let me know. I am one of those curvy girls, I will never be the anorexic super models. Today I learned that embracing who I am is as important as embracing what I look like.

I took a good look at the ex’s wife.

She looks like she could be any mom at the high school. She looks like she might be a friend of mine – maybe… I am fussy and only pick awesome friends.

She looks like she is smart – and neglects her appearance because she relies on her brains. Nothing wrong with that- I am a huge fan of brains. When I say she neglects her appearance, I just mean – she doesn’t focus on it. Nondescript dress, frizzy hair, no makeup, in other words plain.

I realized that I had been holding myself up to an imaginary standard. I pictured someone my ex would choose as tiny, petite drop dead gorgeous gal who had the perfect everything.

Then I saw her.

Lightbulb moment.

The guy is not George Clooney. He isn’t fabulously rich, brilliant or even empathetic. Why would he get a gal like that? Stacey Keibler she isn’t. But I bet she is right for him or what he thinks he deserves.

So why did I think lesser of myself because I wasn’t a supermodel? Good question. Why do women do that?

I can tell you he did talk A LOT about my body. I do know weight disgusted him because of the off colour remarks he would make. So obviously his current girl is rail thin. But she doesn’t have the healthy fitness glow I have. Her arms aren’t toned and I bet she can’t run 10k. My skin has WAY LESS wrinkles because good skin care starts from birth. Thank you ladies of my life who taught me how to take good care of my skin. I should BE so lucky to look like my Grandmother when I am in my 80’s. Her skin is fabulous. I am headed down the right track.

Looking at her picture (the ex’s wife) I also can see the wrinkles she does have are not laugh lines. That is sad. I know from other people she is less than enthusiastic about things that don’t involve her so smiling is sparse and when she does smile, it never reaches her eyes.  That makes me sad for her.

Of course this is all speculation and judgement on my part. I am more than my physical image and she is too.

I just wish it didn’t take me so long to figure that out. It makes me want to punch her husband with some good sense.

Life is a sum of all parts. Not just beauty. That fades.

And apparently, some of us get better with age…like a great wine.

I hope she is happy because that is all that really matters.