After it was all over she said softly “Was it worth it?” For her heart was broken and ached with such intensity, it was almost unbearable. He stroked her cheek, wiping away her tears, looked deep into her eyes and whispered, “Love is always worth it.”

image: Beauty and the Beast by Edith Edie

A Blessing Hidden Amongst the Chaos

As I sat there, on the phone, listening as my friend discussed the various challenges she is currently facing in her life, I became very interested when she said, “This isn’t supposed to be happening to me. I’m supposed to be living a different life. I’m supposed to know my purpose in life.” I can not begin to tell you how many times I have uttered those very same things to myself. How many nights have I spent tossing and turning, thinking those very same thoughts? How many hours of my life have been consumed with thinking: “I’m on the wrong path.” “I should be doing something differently.” “This shouldn’t be happening to me.” Or perhaps even more dramatic, “I’m going to die without leaving my mark on this world.”?The answer to that question, far too many hours, that’s how many.

As we continued on with our conversation, I was reminded of one of the most powerful quotes I’ve ever heard. In A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, he says, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.” Most of us try to control what is happening to us or believe that what is happening to us should not be happening to us cause it hurts, or it creates fear, or it doesn’t fit into what we consider to be our life plan, and that denial of what is, creates even more unrest. More suffering.

So what is the key to moving past this denial of what is? Acceptance is one way. Accepting what is as if you have chosen it for yourself. If you are able to do this, accept the unacceptable, it then becomes acceptable, and that’s where peace lies. For myself, I find it more helpful to dig deeper. I want to understand why. Why has this come up in my life? What belief system created this? What is the purpose of what I am experiencing and how can I grow from having this experience? When I ask myself these questions, I move straight out of victim mode and straight into a place of empowerment. I’m now taking charge of the situation instead of fighting what is. The most important thing to remember is there are no accidents, everything that happens in our lives serves a purpose. It’s for us to figure out what that purpose is, and that’s where the growth comes from.

The first thing I like to look at is my belief system. What beliefs, are creating the thoughts, that are creating my reality? What you put out there, definitely comes back to you, so it is crucial to look at this very important piece. For instance, I used to believe that I was unworthy of love. As a result of that belief and the thoughts that stemmed from that belief, I often found myself in really destructive friendships and romantic relationships. This was a consistent pattern in my life, until I began dissolving that belief. Once I was able to recognise that I actually am worthy of love and I got busy putting thoughts that reflected that belief out there, I observed a shift in my relationships. Some of my relationships with others changed and became more loving as a result, and of course, some of my relationships drifted away because I was now a different person, unable to maintain a relationship that didn’t reflect this new belief system I had put in place. It really is incredible how powerful beliefs and the thoughts that are created by the beliefs are. How they have the ability to create our reality. With this knowledge, it puts us in a much better position to create the life of our dreams.

I also like to look at what the purpose of having this experience is for me. Obviously, one purpose is to encourage me to alter my belief system, but does it go further than that? Absolutely. As a spiritual (not religious) person, I recognize that every soul has a purpose. Finding out what that purpose is, can be awfully tricky sometimes. I’ve spent years trying to figure out what my life’s purpose is and I know, with all of my heart, that all the hardships that I have experienced, all the pain, the suffering, it was not all for nothing. It was not a curse. It was a gift from The Universe. My calling in life is to be of service to others. I am only able to do this because I have walked a mile in their shoes. This puts me in a better position to help others on their journey. So, in my case, that was the purpose for the hardships I have faced and I’m thankful that those hardships have given me the opportunity to follow this very rewarding path.

It isn’t always easy to view life in this way. When we go through painful experiences or face challenges that seem impossible to deal with, it can be difficult to go to a place of reflection. It’s quite natural to fall into victim mode, but I have come to find, in my own experience, it really doesn’t help, and actually tends to cause more suffering. I have also noticed that remaining in victim mode, tends to bring more of what we don’t want into our lives, so it is crucial to step out of being the victim and reflect on why this is coming up in our lives in the first place. It is with this knowledge that we are able to recognize that there is a blessing somewhere hidden amongst all the chaos we are experiencing, and when we find that blessing we can say, “Thank you Universe for all of it.”

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” Eckhart Tolle

 

Learning the Art of Forgiving and Acceptance: My Path to Peace

As we drove along on what was an absolutely beautiful summer evening, my friend and I found ourselves in a pretty intense conversation about our families. The topic that took centre stage was dysfunction (a common element in most families). We discussed growing up around that dysfunction, how it has affected us, and how we feel about it now. I have definitely noticed that I feel very differently about that subject now as opposed to how I felt about it in the past. I would say at one time I harboured a lot of anger and resentment towards my family, but these days, not so much. I suppose I’ve gotten to a place where holding on to anger and resentment was causing me more problems than anyone else, so I needed to make some changes in my attitude about forgiveness and letting go. I found adopting these new ways of approaching my relationships with others extremely helpful in my quest to make peace with my past and forgive those who have hurt me.

To start with, I think people do the best they know how, with the tools they have been given.  I remember reading a book by Louise Hay called You Can Heal Your Life. In the book, Ms. Hay writes about how helpful it is to find out everything you can about your parents history, as in what their upbringing was like. This is very useful information as it can open the door for forgiveness.  I do believe we all have the ability to make better choices in our own lives, however I now recognize it isn’t always easy for people to break the cycle. So with that knowledge, I find it easier to come to a place of forgiveness towards those who have hurt me.

The thing that has been hardest for me to grasp, but I think has been probably one of the most crucial things for me to grasp, is quite simply that people are who they are, and having expectations that they should be someone or something else, well, maybe that is my problem, not theirs. Maybe I need to accept who someone is, warts and all, and not consume myself with changing that person, and consequently, becoming disappointed or heartbroken over the fact that this person isn’t changing no matter how hard I push. Perhaps I need to either accept this person for who they are, or if that is impossible, perhaps I then need to make the choice of creating boundaries when it comes to having a relationship with this person, or maybe it’s a case of eliminating them from my life all together. Sometimes we do need to make the difficult choice of letting people go. What I have learned is that trying to change others or force others to fit a certain mold in an effort to avoid getting hurt, is the quickest way to getting hurt. The only person I should be focused on changing is myself.

Finally, I think at the end of the day, none of us is perfect.  All of us, at one time or another, have hurt the people we love. I think it is helpful to look within and see where we have behaved in an unkind way towards others. When have we hurt the ones we love? All of us are capable of making mistakes. When we can look at ourselves in this way, it does help in the process of forgiveness towards those who have hurt us.

Personally, I feel much more at peace since I have adopted this way of approaching my relationships with people, not just my family. I would say my relationships have actually improved considerably with my family and friends since I began making these changes in myself. Am I always able to go into a place of compassion, and patience, and peace when conflict comes up between me and someone I care about? Of course not. As I like to say, I am a work in progress, but letting go of all that anger, that need to change others, and the unfair expectations I placed on others, has made me happier and healthier. It has created an opportunity for me to grow and become a better person, but most importantly, I think it has opened up my heart to give and receive more love, and in my opinion, it doesn’t get better than that.

Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Storm in Disguise

Every once in awhile someone comes along to shake things up.

Bring a little chaos.

Cause a bit of destruction.

And that person is to be thanked, for without them you would have never dared to take a look. You would have never found the courage to question the insanity of your existence.

It is this person, this storm in disguise, that could be the greatest blessing the Universe could bestow upon you. It is this person that forces you to wake up and brings you some of the most important lessons of your life.

And although this person may only remain in your life temporarily and may even leave your heart shattered in a million pieces, it is this person who is your greatest teacher.

Letting Go: People Pleasing

So Monday evening, I found myself at my monthly Reiki share meeting, with a lovely group of like-minded women, all there to talk about things that are relevant to us and to indulge in a little energy healing. As I sat there, talking to all the ladies that had gathered in that room, we got onto the subject of people pleasing and why it is we do it and how it effects our lives.

I would say that I have been the ultimate people pleaser my whole life and quite frankly, it has not served me well. I have often allowed myself to be treated like a doormat by others, for fear of being disliked, not approved of, or upsetting people. I have also missed out on opportunities and not followed my own dreams in an effort to keep everyone happy. However, as I get older and wiser, I have come to realize that you can’t keep everyone happy, and most importantly, I have realized that my own happiness is just as important as everyone else’s. I am worthy of happiness and I deserve happiness. Now that I realize these things, there really is no longer room in my life for people pleasing.

So where along the way did I pick up this need to people please in the first place? I think in my case, it goes all the way back to my childhood. I grew up in a strict home, where you did as you were told, you didn’t ask questions, or challenge your parents or any authority figure for that matter. I also went to a private Catholic school, so you can imagine how it was drilled into me at a young age, that you follow the set guidelines for how to live your life cause if you don’t, well, you’re a bad person, or worse yet, you’ll go to hell. So, I grew up with this notion that you must live your life this way or you will be unlovable and unacceptable to others. I then carried these beliefs into my adult life and I have found these beliefs have really held me back.

As I approach my 40s, I simply don’t want to live like that anymore. It is exhausting trying to please everyone all of the time and it causes me way too much stress and unhappiness, plus as a mom to 3 kids, do I really want to set the example that it is ok to sacrifice your own personal happiness in order to keep everyone else happy? How would I feel if one of my children lived their own life this way? I would feel bad about that, but that is what I am setting them up for if I don’t learn to love myself enough to put my own happiness and well being first.

So, this has been the journey I have been on for the last year or so. It has been very difficult at times, and I have met resistance from certain people. I think it is hard sometimes for others to embrace our new way of being and sometimes it can result in them bowing out of our lives because our new path doesn’t connect up with the path that they are on. That is a difficult part of this journey, however  once you embark on a journey like this, there really is no going back,  and as painful as it can be, and man, it can be painful, it is also very rewarding knowing that you are no longer the passenger in your own life, but actually in the driver’s seat.

So would I say I no longer people please? Of course I still do. I am a work in progress and it takes a long time to let go of beliefs that are so deeply ingrained, but the awareness is there now, and it is with that awareness that I am growing, and changing, and becoming the person that I was meant to be before this destructive belief system took hold. Most importantly, I am embracing life like I never have before, which is a beautiful thing indeed.

“You can search throughout the entire Universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe deserve your love and affection.” Buddha

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

These dreams live within me, dreams of adventure, and romance, and happiness, and love.

Dreams that light a fire in me, filling me with hope and excitement, filling up that void, the empty space that kept me stuck for so very long.

To dream these big dreams seemed as impossible as actually doing them, so I let go and tamed the best parts of me until there was nothing left of who I really was.

And as I watched my unhappiness grow and the darkness beginning to claim me, I thought I would go mad, for who could live this life of nothingness? This life of unfulfilled dreams? This life that wasn’t authentic, and beautiful, and brave, and bold?

Who could possibly go on this way, knowing with every unrealized dream they are getting closer to a living death?

And when I could take it no longer, this march towards this thing that was crushing my soul, a light came on.

Just a flicker.

Like someone lighting a match in the darkness.

And I felt that pull.

A pull to let go of the familiar, the things that were tearing me down.

A pull to step into unexplored territory and grab onto something different and extraordinary.

Was I afraid?

Yes.

I felt that fear to the point where it nearly paralyzed me but I pushed on, for the fear of living a life without the dreams of a wild, untamed heart was greater then risking it all.

And so my adventure begins…

The Awakening of the Sleeping Goddess

For when the strength came,
it came hard and fast.
For she was the survivor, the warrior, the champion of her own life.
And everything that had ever happened to her, all the pain and despair, served as her stepping stone towards greatness.
Because that was her destiny, to hurt but to draw strength from that hurt,
and to awaken the sleeping goddess within and recognise that this world needs her bravery, her kindness, her joy, her fire, and her love.
This world is ready for her to remember who she is.
This world is ready for her to stand tall and proud like the warrior princess she has always been.

image: Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

Tales of a 39-Year Old Skater Mom

I recently celebrated a pretty important birthday. It’s the last birthday before I enter my 40s (gasp). Truthfully, I’m actually not very phased by getting older. I’m definitely coming to realize that the whole “age is just a number” saying is totally true. These days  I’m less fixated on how many years I’ve been on this earth and more concerned about how I’m using this time I have on earth.

Am I living an authentic life? Am I doing the things that make me happy, surrounded by people that make me feel good? Am I being true to myself or am I living my life based on someone else’s idea of what makes for a meaningful life? These are the questions I have found myself asking myself for the last couple of years. Honestly, there was a considerable amount of time I spent not living an authentic life, which created a great deal of unhappiness within me.

So with this birthday, I decided I would grab life with both hands. I would do something I have always wanted to do and I wouldn’t care one bit about what anyone else thought about it. For my birthday, I would get a skateboard, and I would teach myself how to ride it, and hopefully even learn a few tricks along the way. So I did.

I have always wanted to learn how to skateboard. As a teen, I remember watching my younger brother and his friends skating for hours on end. I not only loved watching them land a trick they had been attempting to land for days, sometimes weeks, but I loved the comradery within the group. How their passion for the sport had brought them together and how they always had each others’ backs. I would watch these guys and fantasize about skating with them, but there was very much the attitude of “girls don’t skate” at that time, and I, someone who was always very concerned about following the crowd, would have never gone against what was considered the norm, so I kept my desire to learn to skate to myself and never tried.

As the years crept on, I always still felt this draw towards skateboarding, but in my mind, it was even more ridiculous to go down that road because now, I’m a grown woman, with kids of my own. So, I continued to fantasize about getting on a board, but I wasn’t going to do anything about it, until recently.

As my birthday was approaching, I started thinking more and more about just going for it. Fulfilling my dream of learning to skateboard. So, I began investigating. I did my research. Going online, talking to other skaters, getting an idea of the best board for someone like me,  who had no experience whatsoever, but isn’t the likes of a 12 year old boy. Finally, I found my perfect board, which would be delivered just in time for my birthday.

When my board arrived, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Obviously, it was tough at first. I fell a few times, got a few bruises, embarrassed myself in front of a couple of neighbors, but truthfully, getting that board was one of the best decisions I ever made. I really, really love being on that board. It has built my confidence in ways I can’t even begin to describe, and it has opened up a whole world of possibilities for me. Since I started skating, I’m now out trying all kinds of things I was too afraid to try before and I’m having the most incredible adventures along the way.

So what would I say to anyone who is hesitant about following their dreams, for whatever reason? I would say, fight whatever fear is holding you back from following your dreams. This is the key to opening up your life to amazing opportunities. This is the key to finding true happiness.