happiness

End of a year, end of a decade

Usually I don’t get too excited about New Year’s Eve. My birthday is in January, and instead I celebrate that as my personal new year. But this year, I’m quite mindful of the fact that we are closing the door on the most difficult decade of my life. I had a friend jokingly say that the 40s were supposed to be the “fuck-it” forties, where you do what you want, no matter what people think. For me it was kind of more a “fuck-you” forties – but lots of growth and change happened.

I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine at the beginning of the decade as I dedicated myself to dealing with the anxiety disorder that reared its ugly head during my marriage. My (now ex) husband lost his job not once but twice, which had us move from Rhode Island to Virginia, and then him to northern Virginia without us. The rage and abuse went from a mild simmer to a full out explosion of hatred and eventually the kids and I were able to get out and return home to Alberta. Then my dad died, I got divorced, my son became very ill, I broke my shoulder, my mom died, and my daughter also became ill.

Through this I learned about Ayurveda, studied it in a course to become a practitioner and became connected with a healer who guided me through my life changes. I started attending church regularly in Virginia, made a connection to my pastor who was integral in helping save me and my kids, and for the first time really learned about having a relationship with God. I took a health coach course that helped my interest in healthy living return. I started riding again, which has always been my soul connection, it helped me learn how to be brave again, how to keep going, and how to enjoy life. And finally, I was accepted into a masters of counselling psychology course, and now I have some direction for my future.

I’m happy to say goodbye to this decade, but I’m grateful for all I’ve learned about myself and about my family – immediate and extended – in this time too. When I say how blessed I am to have the family I do, they’re not just idle words. They literally helped save our lives, and have held us up ever since.

So when I think of where I want to go next, what I want to take with me, it’s what I’ve learned from these last few years.

Love unconditionally and bravely

Keep your circle small

Love yourself

Love others

Love God

Be strong, but allow others to help

Laugh often

Happy New Year, may your life be blessed.

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happiness

Tea by the window

I find myself spending a quiet afternoon in Canmore with a cup of Murchie’s Christmas tea, a new book, and a window with a spectacular view. Life has been hectic lately – good but hectic. These moments of quiet are precious, it’s what allows my brain to relax and the anxiety monster to quiet to the background of my mind.

Christmas was good, it was lovely in fact, but there’s a twinge of sadness that accompanies it now. Loss of people no longer with us, loss of people who have chosen to leave, loss of the life that was expected. And yet there’s a lot of hope, hope for a brighter future for all of us, hope for joy, hope for peace. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that it is as important to feel the yucky feelings as it is to feel the good ones. They all need to be absorbed and processed, keeping hold of the happier ones, making sense and letting go of the sadder ones.

And so I sit here, looking at the mountains, hearing kids run about and laugh, and I think – how fortunate we are. The good, the bad, the ugly, we are still so incredibly fortunate. Our pastor talked about how in moments of chaos you often see the light of God shine the brightest, and I feel this has been true for us. Sometimes it’s hard to see, or easy to doubt, but it’s always been there.

I’ve been so busy with life and especially with school that I’ve let my spiritual connection lapse, and I really am feeling the consequences of that. It is what grounds me, what keeps me focused, and what provides my hope. It’s almost like I needed life to get to a point where I understood how much it was missing from my life so that I could stop and refocus my priorities.

So here I sit

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happiness

(Reluctantly) embracing change

Today I was informed I was to ride a different horse in my lesson. Even when I rode all the time and was young and brave, I was hesitant to ride new horses. I’ve always been part badass brave and part chicken shit, but my confidence isn’t what it used to be. However I’m finding the more I’m riding the braver I’m getting – in the saddle and in life.

This new horse is huge! And he’s my instructors horse so he’s very well trained. After I got over my fear of heights I discovered I was really enjoying myself. It’s a constant challenge, these lessons, and I am always learning new things I can work on.

I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed with my program lately, going back to school at this stage of life has not been easy. Riding helps me stay brave in all areas of my life

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happiness

I am

The last few days this song has been playing in the background of my mind noise. When I meditate and am more quiet it plays loudly in the forefront. Clearly I need to pay attention to it.

It’s simple and yet incredibly powerful. When I sat down and played it today immediately surrounded by animals and slowly surrounded by kids who just sat and listened.

I am.

We all are this.

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happiness

Line of integrity

I spent the day listening to Tony Robbins, Rachael Hollis, and many other motivational speakers. All of it was amazing, much of it transformational. I’ll be absorbing it for a while.

Before today I’d never heard of Erin Skye Kelly, but she altered my thinking about decisions I make, and made me question my own integrity. Not my integrity towards others so much as my integrity towards myself. Do I honour my promises to myself the way that I should be?

She showed us this chart and said that we are all behaving in one of these four ways

The first one is where we are all aiming to be. I nudged my friend and said I feel like I’m stuck too often in the third box – where we do things that feel good but aren’t good for us. Because box two is hard, and box one feels unobtainable so often.

Then Erin said that the red line we see dividing the boxes is the line of integrity. And I quietly muttered shit.

It’s the little things like having that extra piece of chocolate, not doing my morning readings, not meditating, not working out, not forcing our asses around the dinner table. They seem small, but out together they place me on the wrong side of the line of integrity. It makes it so my words (or intentions) and actions don’t line up.

Today was absolutely amazing. I am filled with gratitude that I was able to be there and experience the energy, the love, the knowledge, the struggles, the wisdom, the peace.

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happiness

Two years ago

Two years ago today I went out for a lovely evening ride with my niece and ended the evening in urgent care with a shattered shoulder.

I didn’t know then that I was entering one of the most difficult phases of my life.

And now here we are. On the other side. Or if not the other side, no longer stuck inside the hurricane.

I have learned to much about grace and love and forgiveness in these last two years. I’ve been humbled, helpless, strong, scared, brave, happy, sad. I’ve lived the deepest of any emotion and learned to embrace all of who I am.

It’s been intense. But so beautiful and sweet. 🦋

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happiness

Grow from what we go through

Last night before bed, after I’d written my blog, I read something that put words to what I was trying to express yesterday. I was trying to say that embracing the shadows, the shadow part of myself, my life, of other people, and the world in general is imperative not just for healing but for peace.

Marianne Williamson says We are acting out our anger and our fear because we are not facing the depth of our pain…. yet we seem to have great resistance to looking at our lives, and our world, with emotional honesty. And I think we are avoiding more than pain. We are avoiding the sense of hopelessness we think we will feel when confronted by the enormity of the forces that obstruct us. Yet, in fact, it’s when we face the darkness squarely in the eye – in ourselves and in the world – that we begin at last to see the light. And that is the alchemy of personal transformation. In the midst of the deepest, darkest night, when we feel most humbled by life, the faint shadow of our wings begins to appear. Only when we have faced the limits of what we can do, does it begin to dawn on us the limitlessness of what God can do. It is the depth of the darkness now confronting our world that will reveal to us the magic of who we truly are. We are spirit, and thus we are more than the world. When we remember that the world will bow to our remembrance… 

These are times that challenge our spiritual assumptions, as the power of darkness seems to be taunting us, demanding, “So where’s all this love you believe in now?” The answer is that love is inside us, just waiting to be unleashed. The darkness is an invitation to light, calling forth the spirit in all of us. … that’s the spiritual meaning of a situation: not what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us and who we decide to become because of what happens to us. The only real failure is the failure to grow from what we go through.  (The Gift of Change) 

That’s why I feel like it’s time to embrace my shadow side, to not be afraid of the darkness, to accept what happened and to know that it is part of my spiritual growth. But that growth can only come from embracing the darkness as much as I embrace the light.

And in a “life still has happiness moments” moment, I was blessed to spend the day with my boy. Our schedules are so crazy lately I barely see him and I was so grateful he set aside a whole day just for me. It feels like not so long ago I was registering him for kindergarten, and now he’s off to post secondary in the blink of an eye. And the girl? Well, she spent the afternoon braving the freezing cold of the creek with her cousin – also an important moment of happiness.

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