happiness

It’s a year 

We made it through the first anniversary of dad’s passing. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, but there were a lot of blessings in the day. It was a great way to remember that not only do I have a great tribe, but so did Dad. So many people reached out with love to help us remember him. 

We gardened (one of his passions), had a memorial ceremony for him, and went out for hamburgers. A very Dad approved day. 

I continue to be filled with so much gratitude that God gave me the Dad that he did. He taught me so much and helped guide me to be a better person. 

A few happiness moments today, planting the vegetable garden with Jacob, the memorial service, meeting up with old friends while out for supper, and an evening walk along the river with a friend. There are blessings everywhere. 

My dad

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The year of change 

What a year this has been. Life is so completely different from where I was at a year ago today. 

A year ago Dad moved to the hospice on what would turn out to be his last day. Being there as he left home was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I both knew we were losing him and couldn’t imagine what life would be like without him at the same time. 

I still have moments where I feel something is wrong and run through what’s going on just to remember that he’s gone. I’ve needed him so much this last year, and yet his departure on his next spiritual journey was what guided me into mine. 

This is one of my favorite photos that Dad took. There is beauty everywhere. 

My happiness moment was a quiet day reflecting and studying, balanced by taking kids out for their Friday evening activities. Those quiet days are few and far between. 

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Learn to fly 

For the past week or so I’ve been waking up with nightmares. I often am a restless sleeper, but these nightmares were something completely new. I’m sure it’s because we are closing in on the anniversary of Dad’s death. I’m realizing how many emotions are still sitting there waiting to be processed and acknowledged. Last night I finally made it through the night without any bad dreams and I hope that means I’m heading for sweeter dreams. I know Dad wouldn’t want me being upset like this, and I also firmly believe he’s wrapped in the arms of God. And yet those dreams…

I came across one of his photos which made my heart fill with memories of him. He loved it when the swans would migrate through. 


The way I feel now it’s hard for me to believe where I was when I started this journey towards a happier life a few years ago. I was left so broken I didn’t think I’d ever be able to repair myself. Yet with years of work and prayer and love, here I am feeling almost whole. I give thanks for that every day. 

Today I had a wonderful happiness moment. I met a friend and we spent the afternoon walking along the river. It really was chicken soup for my soul – exactly what I needed. 

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The Coke shirts 

Last year as we began palliative care with Dad, I went to the store and bought matching Coke shirts for him and Jacob. They were always such a tight team those two, and were delighted to have the same outfit (with matching PJ bottoms). 

I was folding laundry this afternoon and pulled one of the Coke shirts out of the basket to fold.  I haven’t seen it in almost a year – I assume it was too painful for Jacob to wear. I was so happy to see it out now. We all seem to be walking into this week with smiles and sorrow. 

Some of the smiles come from remembering my aunts and uncles (his sisters and brothers in law), who along with one of my cousins made the trek out here to see him in his last days. 

Sad as it was, we had so much fun with them. Jacob was so delighted to find out the family gift  is really a thing and that it is something to be laughed about. He still talks about that discovery regularly. He takes pride in developing his abilities. 

The love that was sent to my dad (and us) from family near and far was amazing. It reconnected me with cousins, we shared stories and enjoyed that deep connection that blood brings no matter where you are. 

In a bittersweet happiness moment I sat with that Coke shirt and remembered how much my Dad loved Jacob. 

This is another one of Dad’s photos. Taken along a road that he and Mom used to walk often. 

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I’ll wait for you under the bluebells 

I had a good friend remind me today that love never ends. Just because someone is gone does not mean we stop loving them. I remember thinking a year ago at this time as we watched Dad start to slip away that I was so grateful for unconditional love. I knew that not only did I have it here, but that once he was gone that love would stay. 

I feel so frustrated sometimes, so much has happened this year. I’ve had all these spiritual challenges and miracles happen and it’s all the kind of thing I would have talked with him about as we walked the ridge. I still go outside and talk away, andI know he’s listening because I can feel him with me, and God keeps opening doors that I’ve thought were locked. But still. I’d sure love a face to face chat. 

I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life as I have this past year, or sworn, or given thanks. I know for sure it has left me so grateful for where I am and the direction I’m heading. 

This is another one of Dad’s photos. I can imagine him sitting out in a field of bluebells. 


We had snow this morning. Gotta love Alberta – Mother Nature does what she wants. I had to send the kids out to beat snow off of our precious lilac bush. My happiness moment was warching them stand under the trees and beat the snow. Of course it all landed on them which lead to much laughing and shouting. 

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Pre-Easter

We had a family warm up to Easter supper here tonight. This is our last first holiday that we will celebrate without dad. It’s inconceivable that it has been so long. 

Yet, the house was filled with family laughing and that is exactly how it is supposed to be. There is the promise of new beginnings and hope for great things to come. 

The happiness moment today – laughing with family in grandma’s kitchen, and then watching their cool uncle play with my kiddos. Thank goodness we are home. 

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Happiness done Ayurveda style

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this path I’m on and wondering where it is going. I know I should not get too comfortable on this journey, but I do feel like some big bumps in the road have shown up lately. These bumps have lead me to really sit back and take a deep look at who I am and where I want to go.

Some of you know about the anxiety I suffered with for years. Part of that was from the constant moving, part was because of deep rooted insecurities, part of it was brought on by the emotional battering I was enduring inside my marriage. Learning about Ayurveda gave me some tools to begin to deal with that anxiety (and all the other stuff as well).

It took me almost 2 years of diligent work to get to the point where I no longer felt like I was going to have a panic attack every time I left the house. I could have conversations with people and not worry that I was going to die of anxiety (literally). I was finally starting to feel like I was going to be myself again. The diligent work included things like – meditating daily, doing yoga, going for walks, reading inspiring books, studying Ayurveda, learning how to sleep, looking for happiness wherever I went. It sounds simple, but it was a big change from the fear based life I had been living.

Then life threw another curve ball my way. In a sudden move the kids and I ended up coming home a year ago because my dad had taken a turn for the worse. My now ex-husband (let’s call him Mr. X) had previously suggested the kids and I should be moving back to Alberta anyway.  So it was already a distant plan, this just accelerated things. We moved back home, were welcomed back into the arms of our family, and two and a half months later Dad died. It was an incredibly difficult and emotional time, but I am forever grateful that I was here to be with him and the rest of the family during his last months.

If you read this blog you know how challenging the next few months were as we learned how to make a life without Dad here. There was lots of joyful moments, but 2015 was a year that I shed a lot of tears. The amount of personal growth I went through was astounding.

Not even 8 months after Dad died, Mr. X closed out our bank accounts and cut me off from all our finances, without discussion or explanation.  I ended up filing for divorce. I felt like I hadn’t even caught my breath after Dad and here I was inside another life crisis.

Over the past few years I have had two major fears. One that I would lose a parent and the other that I would end up with no money. Within 8 months both of those happened to me. And what was the result? Although I still miss Dad desperately, I am still here, I am healthy, and I am so much stronger, kinder, and more loving than I was a year ago. It didn’t destroy me and everything I am learning in this process is making me a better version of myself.

A big part of my ability to find some kind of balance through this year of turmoil has been my Ayurvedic studies. Because of them I have learned how to train myself to sleep (this was a challenge the past few weeks and I had to put all my knowledge to the test to get through it). Sleep is one of the pillars of health, and I know for me that if I’m not properly rested I can’t accomplish anything well. I get more anxious, I am more emotional (but can’t process the emotions), and I am so much crabbier. Also, because of all the emotional turmoil of the past few years, I don’t have a lot of reserves to draw on, so it’s extra important that I stay well rested so that I can find balance.

Through my meditation practice I have learned how to deeply connect with God (or Source, or Spirit, or the Universe – whatever you want to call it). This has helped me calm my mind, it stops those panicked thoughts that run around in my brain saying how will you support yourself and the kids? What are you doing to do? How could he do this? What the frack am I going to do? It takes all those worries and fears and dissolves them. I am able to hand them over to God and then someone else looks after them for me.

I can feel inside my body now where things are balanced and where I need to keep on working at that balance. I have taught the kids how to meditate and how to do basic care to put themselves in balance.

It has changed absolutely everything about how I live my life. It has brought me happiness. Not just laughter, but the deep rooted kind of happiness that comes from living a truly authentic life.

Even with all the bumps of the last little while, I am still a happier, more balanced, more loving person than I have ever been. I have Ayurveda to thank for a lot of that. It has introduced me to a lifestyle that celebrates loving and caring for ourselves and those around us. It focuses on nature and our relationship with nature. It emphasizes the body’s amazing ability to heal itself and teaches us how to support ourselves as we reach to get back into balance.

That I am learning how to do this not only for myself, but that I will be able to guide other people on their healing journeys I consider a true blessing.

My happiness moment today was the realization that I have learned so much and that I am so much stronger and yet so much more gentle and kind. I understand what a huge gift I have been given in being able to heal my life, and I intend to pay it forward to those around me who are also seeking balance.

 

 

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Walk and talk

My walking time is sacred for me. When I started walking daily in Roanoke I was a total mess. Through my walks I began to find myself again. It put me back in touch with my spirit and with Source, or God. 

I took much of the winter off from walking this year. It was cold and then really icy, but a bigger problem was that where I wanted to walk was where I used to go with Dad. 

These past couple of weeks though I’ve been drawn back to the ridge. I can’t say it’s always been a joyful experience. In fact, a lot of the time I seem to stand where we scattered Dad’s ashes and cry. But I also talk to him. I tell him what’s going on, I ask him advice, I tell him how much I miss him. I sure could use him right now. 

It’s been very healing. Not only with continuing to move through my mourning, but to accept that this divorce is a good thing for me. I stand out on the ridge and let the wind blow all my emotions away. We’ve had some good chinook winds lately, so they’re blowing away at a good speed. 

To keep me balanced, I being my dog. She has no emotions to sort through, she just runs and feels joy. Seeing how intensely she enjoyed today’s walk was my happiness moment. 

  

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What is love?

This past year has been filled with so many emotions. The pain and sorrow of losing Dad is still so fresh and there are a lot of mixed up emotions as I work my way through this divorce. 

One thing I do know is that love is the most important thing. I remember feeling in the last few weeks of Dad’s life that all that mattered at the time was love. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me through this year. As long as I’m reaching for love and for happiness everything will be ok. 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity. Today I realized I need to be focused on all the love in my life. And there is so much. We are so blessed to be here in the folds of our family, surrounded by people who love us just because we are us. 

I have a deep love for the animals who are in my life, both past and present. They have always provided me with grounding, security, and the understanding of what pure unconditional love is. All of our pets are rescued and have had less than comfortable starts to their lives. Yet, they love us (and each other) with unfiltered purity. 

We have a beautiful home in which all of us – humans and animals – live with the secure understanding that the love flowing through will always be there – no matter what. 

Today I passed Abu and Aladdin cuddled up together on the couch. I looked at them for quite a while thinking this is what true, pure love looks like. They are so comfortable with each other, it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. My happiness moment – witnessing a quiet moment of love between siblings.

    

      

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Kid-knees and whoopee cushions 

Tonight we celebrated the February birthdays in the family – my nephew (today) and my sister (tomorrow). After having missed years of these family celebrations I am continuously thankful that we are here now to participate. Having this extended family around us is so incredibly important in helping guide us and give us that sense of grounding and support 

  
While the entire evening of the family gathering together was my happiness moment, I had a couple of events stick out as especially funny ones. 

The first happened as I was reading a book with my niece about the different parts of your body. We were on the heart page which she was convinced was the kidney. Once she realized it was not (after her mommy confirmed that for her, because she’s still at the age where mommy knows best) we continued searching until we found it. Once we were on the correct kidney page, my niece put her bent  leg up towards me, pointed and said see auntie Melissa? Here’s my kid-knee. Priceless

Next, I walked in the room to find my nephew (who turned two today) jumping up and down on the whoopie cushion yelling fart fart fart over and over. 

There’s nothing like kids to being unexpected and delightful laughter. What a blessing that we have all these cousins around to enjoy. 

In a sentimental moment, I heard my uncle playing with my nephew, and the noises my uncle was making were exactly the sounds my dad made. For a minute I stopped and my heart thought dad was here. But my uncle is like another dad to me – in fact we call uncle dad – and it was so fitting that the laughter and joy were coming from those two. 

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