Tuesday, December 31, 2013

11 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

Thanks again to Marc and Angel Hack Life for this article. I hope you visit their website and take a look at what they have to offer!

Life is actually pretty simple, but we insist on making it complicated.  Here are a few easy ways to uncomplicate it:
  1. Learn from the past, and then get the heck out of there! – Past mistakes should teach you to create a wonderful future; not cause you to be afraid of it.  Don’t carry your mistakes around with you.  Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones.  Never regret.  If it’s good, it’s wonderful.  If it’s bad, it’s experience.  Success is not about where you are standing at any given point in time; it’s about how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve come to get there.
  2. Focus on what’s truly important.  – Identify what’s most important to you.  Eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.  No wasted time, no fluff, no regrets.
  3. Focus on being productive, not being busy. – Don’t just get things done; get the right things done.  Results are always more important than the time it takes to achieve them.  Stop and ask yourself if what you’re working on is worth the effort.  Is it bringing you in the same direction as your goals?  Don’t get caught up in odd jobs, even those that seem urgent, unless they are also important.  Read The 4-Hour Workweek.
  4. Give what you want to receive. – You get the best out of others, and every situation, when you give the best of yourself.  Start practicing thegolden rule.  If you want love, give love.  If you want friends, be friendly.  If you want money, provide value.  It works.  It really is this simple.
  5. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Don’t try to be friends with everyone.  Cultivate closer relationships with fewer people.  Start focusing on being everything to someone.  Helping or pleasing everyone is impossible.  But making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus and be yourself.
  6. Do what you know in your heart is right. – Stop doing immoral things simply because you can.  Start being honest with yourself and everyone else.  Don’t cheat.  Be faithful.  Be kind.  Do the right thing!  It is a less complicated way to live.  Integrity is the essence of everything successful.  When you break the rules of integrity you invite serious complications into your life.  Keep life simple and enjoyable by doing what you know in your heart is right.
  7. Organize your space. – Start clearing clutter.  Get rid of stuff you don’t use and then organize what’s left.  Keeping both your living and working areas organized is crucial.  If you have a cluttered space, it can be distracting and stressful.  A clear space is like a blank canvas, available to be used to create something great.
  8. Be efficient. – Stop being inefficient simply because you’ve always done it that way.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Many times we live with unplanned, complex systems in our lives simply because we haven’t given them much thought.  Instead, streamline your life by finding better ways of handling common tasks.  Focus on one system at a time (your cleaning system, your errands system, your paperwork system, your email system, etc.) and try to make it simplified, efficient, and logical.  Then, once you have it perfected, stick to it.  Read Getting Things Done.
  9. Let things be less than perfect. – Smile every chance you get; not because life has been easy, perfect, or exactly as you had anticipated, but because you choose to be happy and grateful for all the good things you do have, and all the problems you know you don’t have.  You must accept the fact that life is not perfect, that people are not perfect, and that you are not perfect.  And that’s okay, because the real world doesn’t reward perfection.  It rewards people who get GOOD things done.  And the only way to get GOOD things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.
  10. Let go of needless drama and those who create it. – Never create unnecessary drama, and don’t surround yourself with those who do. Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.  Don’t walk away from negative people, RUN!  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.
  11. Forget what everyone else thinks and wants for you. – One of the greatest freedoms is simply not caring what everyone else thinks of you.  Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and what you want to be.  The best thing you can do is follow your heart.  Take risks.  Don’t just accept the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what others will think, or afraid of what might happen.  If you do, nothing will ever happen.  Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.  They aren’t.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

10 Ways to Feel More Engaged and Alive

I came across this website and it has some interesting items on it, this one particular about how to feel more engaged and alive. And they are simple things to do. Things we probably take for granted or feel silly or childish doing. Set your inner child free and immerse yourself in these 10 ways!

Credit goes to Andrew Andestic and http://tinybuddha.com/blog/mystical-moments-10-ways-feel-engaged-alive/

1. Play with a child. Play like a child.

Children are the ultimate Zen masters. They come out of the womb fully enlightened, completely living in the moment, taking every experience in without all the extra layers of thought and worry we pile on. Then, sadly, they become adults.
But you can get some of this back by dropping the rake, the bills, and the dishes in order to push toy cars, throw leaves, and make snow angels. Lose yourself in the moment. Act silly. Make a fool of yourself.
Mystics often are mistaken for idiots. No kids available? I can loan you three, or I’m sure you have a friend or neighbor who would oblige as well.

2. Laugh hard

Humor is a great way to shake off painful emotions and transcend the everyday.
After a tough day, my wife and I will hit the internet and watch a few Saturday Night Live skits or some of the Colbert Report just to loosen us up and remind our heads that life should not be taken too seriously. A family tickle fest never hurts either.

3. Attend a new spiritual service

Historically, church functioned as a weekly stopping point for people to reflect and connect. That’s great. But church can become a rut, especially if you go every week to hear the same book read by the same person who usually says the same stuff.
Try a new service. Unitarian. Wiccan. Buddhist. Catholic. I recently tried out a Quaker service. We sat in complete silence for an hour. At first, I was petrified. I wanted to run out screaming. But then I settled into this beautiful state of relaxed peace.

4. Read a mystical book by an enlightened person

There are so many great spiritual books out there that can help you step out of your frantic, everyday life and get you to look into to the soul. Eckhart Tolle is a current best-selling author with lots of good stuff. Fr. Anthony DeMello’s Awareness is wonderful and challenging. I love reading Allan Watts as a way to stretch my spiritual imagination.
Pick up a Zen book, like Zen Flesh, Zen Bonesand puzzle over some of the classic riddles (called Koans). Or grab a classic in mystical living by the likes of Brother Lawrence, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, or Lao Tzu.

5. Walk alone in the woods or by a river

No headphones. No talking. Walk slowly. You’re not working out your body; you’re working out your soul. Use a simple mantra or mindful phrase, like “In-Out, Deep-Slow, Calm-Ease, Smile-Release,” to stop your incessant thinking.
Spiritual master Krishnamurti once summarized the essence of all mystical practices in two words: “don’t think.” When you’re alone in nature, your ego falls away, leaving you with yourself.

6. Stargaze

Head to the country at night and lay out under the sky. Stargazing is a great way to remember the vastness of the universe. Inside us is that same vastness. We are made from atoms that were once part of the cosmos.
Being mystical is not about floating away on a cloud of euphoria. It’s about fully being in the perfect moment. The stars are there every night. Are we?

7. Listen to a great symphony or opera

A mystical experience can be any experience that forces you to slow down and activate new parts of your brain, triggering insight and expansive thinking. I love indie-rock, but after a long day of work, music without words gives space for my spinning brain to slow down.

8. Fast

Fasting has been used as a mystical practice for centuries by nearly every tradition out there, and that was back when food was hard to come by! It’s a great way to test your self-control, learn to deal with difficult feelings, let go of ingrained habits, and commune with those less fortunate in the world. And it’s free. (Of course, with eating disorders on the rise, please make sure this practice is right for you by consulting with your doctor.)

9. Volunteer

Get outside of your life, literally, and wrap yourselves up in someone else’s. I recommend spending time with the elderly, people who were alive before iPhones and Google (hard to believe). Consider not telling anybody what you’re doing; otherwise, volunteering just becomes another way to strengthen the ego.

10. Meditate

Meditation is the mystical practice used for millennia by countless great spiritual thinkers. It’s been proven by scientists to extend life and increase happiness. Isn’t it worth giving a try?
Stop your mind for a few moments. Look for the one inside you who knows you know. Count your breathing. Use one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s simple mindful meditations: “Breathing in, I smile; breathing out, I relax.”
By meditating, you change yourself and the world. You transform your soul with silence and transform the planet by creating a small, but powerful, pocket of peace.
If you really struggle with sitting still and calming your mind, use some light yoga. There are many great instructors out there who combine meditation techniques with yoga. Try ten or twenty minutes for a few days in a row. Notice the changes. You’ll be surprised.
A mystical moment is simply any moment when you are fully alive, in the present, embracing what is happening. Doing dishes can be a mystical experience! But if all else fails, there’s always sitting naked in a cave beating a drum.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Building Walls of Hope

I have learned that building walls of hope, the kind of walls that are meant to let people in and not keep them out, are just as dangerous as walls to keep people out. The only difference is that walls of hope come crashing down whereas walls of mistrust and defiance have to be chipped away at. So what do I do? How do I have hope and not have it come crashing down on me? How do I build something made of happiness and joy when everything falls down around me at the most inopportune time? I suppose there is no good time for bad things to happen.

I'm struggling with trying to find a balance between being prepared for not-so-good endings and thinking positive about the future. Where is the fine line? How do I find it? How do I keep myself near there? It seems balance is something that is a challenge for me, in all aspects of life. Seeing the big picture is good but the need to focus on the here and now is something that takes practice, focus and diligence. The big picture is just a reminder of where you are heading and it shouldn't exclude where you have been and how much you have accomplished or where you are at this moment in time.

I leave you (and me) with these words: Be present in every moment of every day. Keep the big picture in mind but don't lose focus on the here and now. Remember to keep balance in all areas of life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Share the Love, not the Misery

"Negativity and misery loves company! I choose NOT to join any of you people! Having wonderful days and things are just as they should be! Spreading happiness and tranquility to everyone!"

A friend of mine posted this as a status update earlier this week. As I was shovelling snow that night before I went on online, I was thinking about how social media allows people to fall into the role of "victim" and makes it easy for their friends to feel sorry for them. I'm guilty of allowing it to do that to me. I have left my social media accounts often, usually for a couple of weeks. This time I just came back on the day before my friend posted those words of wisdom.

When I decided to leave my virtual world behind this time, I was in a mood and didn't want to have the temptation available to fall into the victim role again. I brooded alone for days, weeks, even months. I kept my pain and hurt to myself as much as I could, but it would leak out occasionally, usually surprising me while I was driving or sitting at my desk at work. Often I would have to dash to the washroom to collect myself where I would scold myself for crying. My meltdown finally came Friday after work. Friday the 13th. My favourite day! I was having a party that night even! I planned the party when I was feeling low, hoping that it would lift my spirits even if I didn't want to be around people. It's always good to be surrounded by and supported by your close friends, though.

I laid down after work to have a nap and it just wasn't working. The dog was pacing around, I was tossing and turning and then I started to cry, bawl even. It sounded horrid. When I have those kinds of days in the summer I wonder what my neighbours must think when they hear the wailing through an open window! I'm not sure why but when I am in that emotional state, talking with a friend and/or getting a hug from a friend just makes me bawl even more. I came to realize Friday that I still have some work to do on giving myself permission to grieve, to feel, to release emotions. It doesn't matter so much "why" I feel the need to cry. It matters that I accept that I feel that way, allow myself to feel the emotion and make time to feel it. Dismissing it or scolding myself is not very productive or emotionally healing.

Over the past few months I have experienced a lot of emotional losses. The death, if you will, of a lengthy physical relationship; the chaos of a long-distance friendship turned romance turned...well, into nothing at the moment; and now a new journey, with its own ups and downs, trying my best to be supportive to a friend who turns the communication on and off like a kid playing with a light switch!

It leads me to the same question time and time again: How can I be there for someone and help them pick up their pieces if I can't even pick up my own pieces sometimes? I've learned that I need a partner who is emotionally stronger than I am but not cold, unable to show empathy, insensitive or withdraws from emotion. I wonder if I will ever find that person. I've accepted that it's okay if I don't. I have many friends and family that care for me more than I can imagine! All I need to do is ask for help and they will be there, not to enable me in the role of victim, but to acknowledge my feelings and help bring me happiness and tranquility. They are my reasonable voice when all reason has left my mind. And for that I can't thank them enough! I love you, friends and family, even when I'm being stubborn and am in a broken hearted mess. In fact, that's probably when I love you the most but show you the least.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Don't Panic

It's day three of a three day weekend which was supposed to be productive and fulfilling even with the cancellation of the original ORIGINAL plan of fleeing the country on an exciting overnight getaway. Getting past the disappointment of the cancellation of the exciting getaway was the first hurdle. I managed that. Then I was sick for an entire day of the past 3 days. This has cut my productive time by one third. Well, okay, actually more than one third because once I have one unproductive day it doesn't stop there.

I'm doing my best to be productive today. I DID do laundry yesterday and go out visiting and stayed in and had company over. Now to fold the laundry and put the laundry away and then go over my laundry list of other things to do.  But I'm stuck. I have a sense of dread within me today. A ball of fear in my gut, a breath full of panic just after this next normal breath. I woke up in full panic attack mode, tears and everything, twice today. I remember my dreams and why I was panicking in them, why I was crying in them but the dreams themselves make no sense to me, no sense to my literal, critical mind.

How do I being to analyze something that maybe isn't to be analyzed?  I want someone to just explain it to me. Why does it have to be like this? Why right now? Why until when? Why me? My fear is keeping me inside today; physically inside the house and emotionally and mentally inside my head and heart. Everything I read or think about or do brings me to tears. Going to the office today (government holiday) to do a mid-term test for a computer course I'm taking through work seems an insurmountable task. Who can I call on to talk me down from my ledge of fear and out the door of my home into the world of opportunities? How can I get things scratched off my list of things to do if I'm living in this fear in this moment? How do I get out of this moment of fear? How do I step out of it and into the good that I know is just one step away?

It was supposed to be such a great and wonderful weekend. Filled with new things, new places, new people and new experiences.  I was ready for it. No fear there. But it didn't happen like it was supposed to. Maybe I'm not over the disappointment, heartache and pain that I thought I was over. I was ready to venture out on my own again, to take a chance and put it all on the line. Then the line was cut. Once it's cut you can never mend it back to its original strength again. There will always be weakness, uncertainty, doubt of the future. I don't want those feelings to exist in me, not about this. I want to be strong, certain and sure of the future. But there is no guarantee, not with this, not with anything. I don't know how to handle it, how to stand up strong, to be the person I need to be until the time is right when I can be the person I want to be.

I just want to close my eyes and not think about it, not worry about it, and sometimes even not be a part of it. I need to decide if I can be strong enough to be a part of it, to ride it out until I don't have to be quite this strong anymore. Or maybe I will have to be even stronger after that time...I'm so uncertain what I need to do that all I want to do is sleep. Sleep until the moment has arrived when I can stop being strong, if even for a moment or a day or two or three.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons

Weep for yourself, my man,
You'll never be what is in your heart
Weep Little Lion Man,
You're not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself,
Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems
That you made in your own head

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
Didn't I, my...

Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble Little Lion Man,
You'll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face,
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck
Now learn from your mother or else spend your days
Biting your own neck

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear? (x2)

Didn't I, my dear?


But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear? (x2)

Didn't I, my dear?

Giving It Your All

Original posting date: May 20/13

He has realized he has no emotional connections to people. 

He really wants to talk to someone about this disconnection that he has. He feels there is no purpose in his life. That he could die today and it would be ok, that he has accomplished what he set out to do for himself. 

I really wasn't expecting this. I have an almost unlimited amount of patience with him about this kind of stuff. I get it. It's not that he's an asshole, he just has issues. It's not that he has bad personality traits, he just doesn't know how to interact with people and enjoy things on an emotional level. It's not all his fault. It's how he was raised and the choices that were made for him when he wasn't old enough to make them himself. It's due to his life experiences as an adult. He didn't ask to be this way.


I sat down to do some things and thought it would be a good time to write.  My head is a swirling eddy of thoughts, plans, goals, emotions, feelings and a bunch of other garbage getting in the way. It's almost time for me to go back to work and I'm panicking. I'm running out of time to get things done. I forget how to focus; I can't find it anywhere in my tool box of helpful things. I feel like I want to vomit. My head is spinning. I'm spinning. Out of control.  Someone stop the spinning. Get me off this thing. Let me breathe; let me focus; let me plan. Give me more time.

Why today? Why now?

It's so true when they say you hurt the ones you love the most.  Passive aggressiveness is not a good trait to own.  All those things you don't want to say come out in a horrible way.  I didn't mean for it to sound like that. I didn't mean for it to mean that. I guess it's something that I can't say on an ordinary day. I didn't think it mattered but it does. It matters so much that I hid it deep inside and it escaped while my guard was down.

It doesn't mean I don't care. Quite the opposite. It means I care a lot. Maybe too much. What will happen? Where will we go? Where will we be? What will happen? Happen to me....

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crazy or Sad?

Here’s why I think I’m crazy lately. Wait. Crazy or sad? Or both? I don't really know.  I’m not sleeping well, I’m constipated, I’m overwhelmed (still) with everything on my calendar, I’m emotional even when nothing warrants waves of emotion, I want to do things but I just think about them and don’t do them so I get frustrated and depressed, work is unfulfilling, I don’t have the energy or the concentration to play piano. And every day I yell at my pets because of all of this.

Maybe my meds aren't working. I don’t know. I just assume they are working. I never really think about it. I should have my shrink check into that. The constipation alone is enough to make anyone grumpy and there are other bad signs in there, too. My friends are worried. But I am pretty sure that it all has to do with too much on my calendar. When I have a night that I don’t have anything to do (like tonight), I do absolutely nothing. But I struggle with that. With it being okay to relax. I feel I need to be DOING something, accomplishing something for the good of the world, all the time. It’s a recurring theme at my counselling appointments. If I would have stayed at work today then I would have gone to yoga right from work. I feel empty...especially when I’m not DOING things.

I will go put my car in the garage and practice piano and do some stretching. Enough moping about for me. I will just sit here and cry if I keep doing this. Hopefully something will work tonight...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Let's Be Friends

In this day and age of social media the term "friends" has become overused, less meaningful and just plain boring. What does it mean to have over 1000 friends online? Or to have less than 60? Does it make you any more or less of a person? Any more or less "cool"?

I've come to look at social media as a place to air our, and others', dirty laundry. A place where we can find people that care, even if just for a brief moment in time (enough to type "so sorry to hear" or "like" your status or repost), about what is going on in our life, what our struggles are, what our beliefs are, what our celebrations are. In reality though, how many of those "friends" would stop their world for more than a brief moment in time, more than long enough to click "like" and pick up the phone or stop by to see how things really are? Maybe send a text and make sure you are okay or to congratulate you and ask a few more questions than would be appropriate on the "public domain".

I admit, I'm guilty of all of these non-interactive interactions that are available with the technology out there today. I try not to make use of them too often but I find it easier to communicate through writing/typing than through talking. I used to write letters…with a *gasp* pen and paper to convey my thoughts and emotions to those I care about in my life. Now it has been reduced to short snippets here and there via texting or a "like" and a "share" to let others know that I agree with what they agree with, which someone else waaaaaaay down the electronic line came up with. Granted a lot of the sayings that are shared have become important to me and they are used in my screen saver to remind me of things that I forget to tell myself.

This blog has become my journal of sorts to share with the online world. Like I've said before, I'm not sure who reads it, if anyone at all does, but that doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that I have put my heart out on the line to share my ideas, my feelings, my thoughts and parts of my life with others. It may be electronic and impersonal in a way but that in itself makes it easier for me to share. That also seems to make it easier for people to be bullies and to be bullied. But that's a whole other sensitive topic in itself.

I am going to reflect on my "friendships" and not feel guilty about unfriending people that aren't real in my life. I personally like to keep my friends under 100 and I am still careful about what I share these days, mores than in the past. Once it's out there on the inter web, it's out there forever, for all to see, even if you have the strictest privacy settings.  There will always be prying eyes that will take your words and construe them, take your thoughts and turn them against you. To call these people "friends" is a mis-statement.

So if you want to be friends, let's be friends. Let's be REAL friends.  The kind that get together every once in awhile (online if the distance is far) and shoot the shit, talk about real stuff and feel real feelings.  And maybe we won't have a lot of time for each other but we will know that the time we do have for each other is important. And in between those get togethers, if either of our worlds should fall apart, we will know that a simple phone call to hear the other's real voice on the end of the line, when we might feel at the end of our line, could make all the difference.

Thank you to all of my REAL friends for helping me when I was at the end of my line and thank you for the future moments when you will keep me from the end of my line.

Be love, my friends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Looking for Help? You Don't Need to Look in Your Wallet!

In the many conversations that I have had with friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances over the years one thing has continuously come up. I thought I would share my findings with you as there may be more people out there that aren't aware of this. Here in Ontario you DO NOT have to pay for most types of counselling.

I'm sure that there are specific kinds of counsellors and programs that do cost but in all my years of treatment (and it's been a lot of years, a lot of doctors, a lot of referrals, a lot of counsellors, a lot of psychiatrists…you get my drift) I have NEVER had to pay a cent. This is one of the reasons that we pay provincial taxes! Granted our mental health care system is lagging far behind our physical health care system, which itself isn't that great, but there are options available to get you the help that you need. If you don't have an Employee Assistance Plan to hook you up with a counsellor there are numbers to call to speak with professionals who will get you the help that you need. Heck you can even drop me a line and I will pass on all my wisdom and advice that I have learned over the years that I don't use for myself. Just kidding, I do use it. Not as often as I should, though.

So to anyone out there in Blog Land who thinks that you are alone and things will never get better, that there is no one to talk to, that no one cares, remember this post. There are people and facilities to help you out at no cost to you. There are people that care. Even though I don't know who is out there reading this, I care about you. You are reading this blog for a reason whether it's because you know me or just to be a silent friend and read what goes on in my life in the hopes of helping yourself or a loved one.

Be well, my friends. Be safe and be strong. When in doubt, practice Random Acts of Kindness! And please don't be scared to ask for help. I will be there in spirit right beside you.

Some links you may find useful:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Toxic Relationships

I came across a link to an article about toxic relationships.  Since my life has mostly been about toxic relationships in one way or another (don't we all have at least one in our past or present?) I thought it would be a good read.  Turns out it was. And it had a list of questions to contemplate to determine if the relationship is toxic or not. I thought I would paste them below for you to ponder.  I have been pondering them myself but haven't really sat down to think about them seriously, more just letting them flop around in my brain right now.  Read, think, write, muse and, if necessary, act.
  • Is the pain too great to stay the same?
  • Do I constantly picture an alternate reality?
  • Do I need a translator to be heard?
  • Is it impossible to make boundaries?
  • Am I the only one that is willing to meet in the middle?
  • Is getting an apology (when it’s truly deserved) like pulling teeth?
  • Does this relationship take more energy than it gives?
  • Is blaming and complaining getting really old?
  • Am I completely fatigued when I’m with the person and energetic when they’re gone?
  • If it’s a romantic relationship, are the sparks dead, end of story?
  • Do I smile when I want to yell and then yell at the wrong people?
  • Is the only thing holding me back my fear of newness?
  • Am I afraid of what people will think of me if this relationship fails?
  • Does this person make me feel like I’m lost without them?
  • Do I find myself missing the old me?
  • And so on…
The hardest parts are acknowledging that you are in a toxic relationship and then doing something about it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"I Can't Get No....Satisfaction"

Today I woke up feeling Blah. I didn't want to get out of bed but I had things to do, places to go and, unfortunately, people to see in amongst there. My schedule was set the night before and I was set to stick to my schedule the night before. That feeling did not stay with me through the night.  It went somewhere far, far away (although I'm sure it will return when it is ready). I rearranged my schedule, post-poned a few things and outright cancelled a few other things. I did go to my counselling appointment which helped with my thought process but didn't actually make me feel any better by the end of the day, which is right now, almost literally. It probably will be past the end of the day by the time I hit "Publish".

First I will talk about how I felt then I will talk about what I am going to work on to change how I feel when (not if) this comes up again for me.

When I woke up this morning I felt frustrated, depressed, confused, anti-social and generally unsatisfied in every area of my life. I have been laid off work for 2 months now, heading back in one month. I feel depressed about that. There was so much I wanted to accomplish but haven't. And time is slipping away on me. My "To Do" list has barely anything scratched off and I feel angry and frustrated about that. I felt really great on Monday and was even dancing around the house making silly noises to my pets while I cooked supper.  Yes, I cooked supper.  It was not cereal or a sandwich or a granola bar. It was a real meal. This almost sudden change in mood confused me today. Then, enter anti-social, stage left: I was irritated by drivers on my way to my appointment and even by the people waiting at reception while I was checking in for my appointment. I didn't want to go out for supper for my friend's birthday or go over to another friend's house to watch Masterchef. Thinking about all of the above, my home, my career, my relationship, my situation in life, made me feel unsatisfied. So I know the "why"... sort of. Now I need to change my outlook on all of it. Enter Social Worker (Counsellor) Alison.

It's always convenient when you have an appointment with your counsellor on a day when you feel like shit inside your head. It's more productive than going on a good day, I think! So we looked at how I was feeling and discussed some options and an action plan for me. I did get most of my things accomplished today that I set out to do but the ones that fell off my list are the most important ones to me. This is "Me Time" not "Everyone Else Time" and I tend to forget that. The result: "Me" things get lost or ignored because of the "Everyone Else" things.

Out of the discussion came the root of the issue. I'm stuck on reorganizing my house. More specifically two rooms in my house. I have sorted and thrown out and recycled and given away a lot of things from one room. But I need to do more.  I can't do more until I have room in the other room. So I need to sort, throw out, recycle and give away stuff from the other room. I'm having difficulty with that one. I am seeking permission from people that gave me stuff in order for me to get rid of it. I feel guilty that I'm getting rid of it. But I shouldn't.  It's okay to throw stuff out. It's okay to give stuff away.  It's okay to sell stuff. And I know it will feel good to get rid of a lot of the stuff that is cluttering up my house and my mind.  It is not good for my mental state to have this clutter in there and out here. And if it has to go in the landfill then so be it. My mental health is more important right now.  And besides, I recycle, up-cycle, donate, reuse and repurpose things all the time.  I seldom put garbage out more than once a month, if that. I don't generate a lot of waste even with 2 cats and a dog (all natural, flushable, biodegradable litter and a doggy doo composter).  There is nothing wrong with throwing away a few things here and there. I need to accept that there are things that come into my life that I will need to throw away.

So why the dissatisfaction with everything else? Maybe it's my mood, maybe it's because my needs aren't being met, maybe it's because I expect too much from myself and from others. Maybe I'm just tired and overwhelmed and need to break things down into smaller tasks (surprise, surprise as this seems to be a recurring theme in my life). My latest app for my iPad/iPhone is called "Do It (Tomorrow)". All you see is today and tomorrow and you add things to your to do list. It's very much like writing one on paper which I LOVE! What you don't get done today automatically rolls over to tomorrow. When something is done, you tap it and it gets crossed out, like on a piece of paper, which I LOVE! Did I already mention that? :) I'm hoping that this little simple app will help me focus on the now instead of the bigger picture which in turn will lead to less frustration and more productivity.

With the hope of less frustration and more productivity in mind, I best be getting to bed to hopefully get a good night of rest. It's a busy day tomorrow and I'm running out of tomorrows to move things to! :D  Be well, my friends. In Darkness and in Light.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Long Drive Home

I wish that there was a thought track that recorded every single thought that passed through my head at any given time.  I took the four hour drive from the city to the country to visit my parents and man I had some great thoughts!  But now I don't remember them.  My only companion was my dog and he wasn't much for conversation so I had a lot of time to think.  He was more interested in sticking his snout out the window to get a good whiff of whatever it was that he could smell in passing.

I do remember some of my thoughts though:
  • I prayed to the dragon fly gods and goddesses and asked them to forgive me for all the dragon flies that were being unintentionally mounted to the grill of my car as I sped down the road.
  • I wished I had a thought recorder, more often than once in that four hours!
  • Why do turtles cross the road?
  • If the dog is so hot why doesn't he drink water when we stop and I fill up his dish?
  • What goes on in the vast expanse of trees and rocks that line the highway?
  • I wonder where they are going.  I wonder where they are going. I wonder where they are going. I wonder where they are coming from.
  • I need to google endorphins and find out why mine seem to be stuck somewhere.
  • Why is the limousine bus from my city out here in the middle of nowhere? I wonder who's paying for THAT trip!
  • Why do dogs roll in poop? I hope that was bear poop...it smells like berries.  It must be bear poop.
As I drove down the highway I thought of all the times I had driven that route, each vehicle that I was driving or had travelled in, who I was with, where we stopped for pee breaks, where I stopped to pick flowers, where I got a speeding ticket.  It brought back a lot of memories.  Most of them good.  Like MW seeing his first moose ever. I'm pretty sure he was in his early thirties at the time.  I remember thinking "Who hasn't seen a moose?" but if you are from the southern USA and have never been to Canada or northern USA you have probably never seen a real live moose. Something that I take for granted. The child-like excitement he showed was uplifting, enlightening even. :)

This made start thinking about some of my firsts and to contemplate what I felt.  Excitement? Fear? Joy? Anxiety? Giddiness?  I don't really remember a lot of excitement of joy.  Maybe some giddiness, but mostly fear and anxiety associated with the firsts I could recall.  I don't regret anything that has happened in my life but sometimes I do wish that I could have some of those firsts over again and feel the happiness and excitement instead of the anxiety and fear that I recall. I was scared most of the time. Scared to take off my lifejacket in swimming lessons, scared to cross the border when they changed the "toll" system, scared to go somewhere new for the first time without anyone with me.

I still feel that way often, like a frightened child in a dark room not knowing where the light switch is but knowing it is there somewhere. Reaching out and grasping in the dark, feeling the wall with one hand and swiping the other in front so as not to stub a toe or bash a kneecap. I need to console that frightened child within me, take her hand and lead her to the light switch, help her turn it on and let her know that it's ok, that there is nothing to be afraid of. Not knowing what's in store or what's in the dark is a part of life. Everyone is in the same boat. None of us can see the future, not even fortune tellers ( a recent psychic event was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, they said).

All that I can do is plan my best to reach my goals and when life throws a curve ball, I need to adjust my plans accordingly. What are my goals and plans anyways?  Anyone out there know? I seem to have gotten lost in my thoughts and need to bushwhack my way back to my path. I thought this summer was going to be different than it has been. I wanted to accomplish so much. I'm not really sure what I've been doing, really. Someone asked me "Why do you have to accomplish anything while you are laid off?" Maybe I've said this before in a previous blog but I keep thinking about it. Why DO I need to accomplish anything? Because that's what I do. I like to accomplish things, not for recognition but to learn and grow and conquer my demons. One day I will even conquer those demons in my head that chase me when I am training to run.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Who Am I NOT?

Who? Or What? Either way it's a difficult question. I was reading a friend's blog the other night and "Who are you not?" was a question she posed at the end of it. I wrote it down on a sticky and put it on my desk. (Well actually I typed it on a "sticky" and put it on my "desktop" on my computer. Love this digital world.) So I've been pondering that, among other things. Too much time to think these days.

What does it mean? "Who am I not?" Literally? Or figuratively? Or characteristically? I'm going to have to read her blog again and figure out what this confounded question really means...

Letting Go

I used to have a rabbit. I used to have fish. And a cat. Then the fish died. Then I ended up with a dog. Still had the cat and the rabbit. Then the rabbit died. Then I ended up with another cat. Oh and there was a tarantula and another rabbit and some baby rabbits in there too. 

It was some time ago that my spider, my fish and my rabbit died. Not all at the same time though thank goodness! My dad was down here a few weeks ago and we cleaned out underneath the front steps. It's a horrible dirty stinky mouldy place under there. That's where I had my pet stuff stored. A fish tank and paraphernalia. A couple of rabbit pens and paraphernalia. A spider tank. He was wondering why I still had all that stuff. I didn't have the animals anymore so why would I still hang onto all that physical stuff? I said what if I get more fish? Or another rabbit? He chuckled and shook his head and grinned at me the way a dad does when he doesn't understand why his daughter does the things she does. 

I thought about it for a while after he had left. Why was I holding on to these things? What did they mean to me? What did they represent to me? Was it something as simple as "out of sight, out of mind"?

I let them go. To people that needed them that will use them to make a good home for some lucky pets.  Some fish for a little girl. An orphaned jack rabbit for a young couple. It was sad for me but good for me to do. 

Why do we hold on? Why do we let go of some stuff and not others? Physically, emotionally, spiritually, literally, figuratively, with anger, with love, with need, with desire, with jealousy, with every ounce of our being, sometimes.

What do you hold onto and why?

PS You should see my dad's garage/woodshed/storage building.  It's full of stuff he doesn't use. Not that I'm pointing fingers but if he wonders where I learned this behaviour...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Change is Afoot

The past couple of months have been an emotional roller coaster for me as a big (anticipated, yearly) change is coming up.  I am being laid off of work. Now we all know from my previous posts that I don't handle change well.  Even if it is anticipated and has happened before.  Just something about me that I haven't quite mastered yet.  It will come, just like everything else I have worked on.  As long as I don't get distracted....which I just did after that sentence before this one.  Totally forgot what I was doing here. So back to where I was. Change. I only work 9 months of the year (for now), so every Spring I get laid off and every Fall I come back.  I'm hoping to get something full-time eventually but for now, this is nice.  Summers off to realign myself spiritually, physically and mentally while still looking for the job that will pay the bills and keep me happy all year, not just part of the year.

This next change is a biggie. In emailing with a friend I have come across an interesting discovery.  Call it a revelation of sorts?  The trigger of the intense emotions I feel when I am training for running have been discovered.  When I go training I start out good but then after I run/walk for a bit I start to get angry.  I've realized that it's all the voices (distorted thoughts) in my head comparing me to others, telling my I'm fat and lazy and I can't do this so why am I even trying, that I should be at home sleeping or doing something fun that lead to this intense anger. It doesn't matter where I jog or with whom, the distorted thoughts are louder than anything else; it makes me angry. It makes me angry that they are there.  It makes me angry that they are so loud.  And it makes me angry that I can't outrun them...yet.

I'm planning on joining a gym in May, work on my cardio and do some strength training. Maybe I won't be able to reach my goal of being able to jog the whole 5K at the beginning of June but I will finish the race. Then I will keep training for the 5K race in September and see what happens. One step at a time.  Eventually I will not only outrun the demons in my head but I will change how they see me.  Soon I will be no longer be worried about my progress compared to others, I will be more confident than ever in my skin and I will know that I CAN do this!  Just like anything that is worth doing, it will be a struggle and I will have setbacks but I must persevere.  Being able to run 5K is a goal that is important to me and I need to build that into my schedule.  If nothing else, I will have developed a healthy exercise routine so that when I go back to work in August I will have a better lifestyle.

On a side note, there is an interesting blog I've come across by Seth Godin and I find today's entry thought provoking. Enjoy! : )

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Procrastination Leads to Frustration Leads to Anger

April 8/13 Original Date

The past few weeks I've been stuck in a rut.  It took a few days of semi-isolation to come to terms with what has been holding me back.  I reached my boiling point Sunday afternoon.  I have been struggling with getting back to training to run the 5K in June so I have joined a running group on Thursday evenings.  My boyfriend helped me to set up a target for my elliptical training.  Sunday afternoon I was so psyched to get on the elliptical!  I knew what I had to do and I was going to do my best to do it!  My runners were on, my music was ready and I started on the elliptical.  Well 2.5 minutes later I was done.  I had no rhythm, everything hurt and I got mad.  I got frustrated. I got angry.  I, me, one who never gets angry (or seldom, especially THIS level of anger) got angry. At everything that came into my path. The spatula that wouldn't stay on the counter, the dog that wouldn't get out of the way, the remote that wouldn't work.  Yeah you get it.

So I sat down and thought. It came down to a number of things and I'm going to list them because I think they should be listed.  Feel free to skip over the bulleted list if you think you know what's coming.  I won't know so I won't be offended. ; )

  1. I keep myself busy, too busy in fact. My psychiatrist assigned some homework "Why do I feel the need to be busy all the time?"
  2. I don't have time for everything that I want to do (and this - among other reasons - leads to bullet point number 1 above).
  3. I'm often tired and seem to need more sleep than most people (again, this leads to number 1 and 2 above!).
  4. I don't make time for myself, to relax, to do nothing, or to do something that I enjoy doing by myself, for myself.
  5. My weight is increasing slowly and my pants are becoming too tight too fast for my liking.
  6. I don't have the time or energy to exercise.
  7. I don't matter.

This weekend I was feeling really down on myself over all of these things but mostly it was the last one that was nagging me.  I have this really cool App called Unstuck and it walks you through finding a solution (or deeper issue) to why you are "stuck" on something.  Originally I thought that my issue was related directly to not having the time or energy to exercise.  Boy was I wrong.  What came out of the process was that I don't matter.  Talk about a loaded statement.  It just brings more questions, right?

  • Why don't I matter?
  • Who don't I matter to?
  • Does it matter at all if I don't matter?
  • How do I fix this?
  • Where did this come from?

So I did what most people would do these days.  I turned to FaceBook to air my concerns. I reached out to my friends and family for support.  This is what I posted:

Over the past week I have been struggling with some things in my mind. My ego is doubting the positive things that my brain is telling me. I don't ask this often, if at all, of my friends so if you could please help me work this one out I would greatly appreciate it. My brain says that my friends love me no matter what, just as I love them, no matter what. My ego doubts this. My ego doesn't feel safe and she needs your words of love and support to make her feel safe and help her to help me to know that my friends DO love me no matter what. Thank you, my friends.

And what a response I got!  Sometimes you just need to hear or read the words that you know someone feels in their heart but seldom speaks aloud.  My call for help was answered and I knew that I had to make time for me. I knew that it was time to show myself that I DO MATTER to myself and to everyone around me.

My solution began with organizing my "stuff", my physical stuff.  You know, the piles of laundry on the dining table, the piles of paper that need to be sorted into smaller piles and then dealt with one small pile at a time.  So that was what I did.  I sorted and folded, put things in their place.  Putting physical things in their place helps to put emotional and mental things in their place as well, for whatever reason that may be.  In the short-term it will be an uphill with my time management and saying "no" to commitments but I know I will see progress.  I have some free time coming up and am looking forward to doing things that matter to me and that help me to feel that I matter to myself: being productive and working on reaching my goals like running, piano, writing, home improvements, and relaxing. : )  After all, what is life all about if you don't take care of yourself and do things that you love?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Empty Your Cup

Things have been busy around here.  I'm sure you read that a lot and hear that a lot. I'm behind on everything it seems. Laundry, dishes, piano, blog reading (and writing), Board duties.  In the past few months a few changes have happened.  My mood has stabilized with the addition of a secondary medication taken daily. I am now taking 300 mg of Wellbutrin, in addition to the 300 mg of Effexor.  It has helped tremendously!  The only downside is the constipation.  I've never had to visit THAT section of the drugstore before so it was an interesting experience.  Not one pharmacist or sales clerk offered to help me.  I'm really not surprised! LOL!  Thank goodness for moms. : )

As far as the being too busy goes, my session with the social worker I've been seeing at the Mental Health Outpatient Program simply reminded me of all the tricks and tools of the trade that I have up my sleeve. I have collected an arsenal of tools over the years to combat and overcome distorted thinking, values ingrained in me from childhood, social pressure, the desire to please everyone, yadah, yadah, yadah.  Part one of my assignment is to list everything that I do in an average week.  Part two is to keep track of everything I do in blocks of time in my calendar. It's a beautiful rainbow of blocks. Yes, I colour code my activities. Yellow for work, green for health, blue for volunteer, red for romantic/partner time, and purple for personal.  So tonight is purple time.  I was looking for a link to a website in my bookmarks and decided to edit my bookmarks.  I came across a page that I had known was there but forgot the entirety of the story it held. I often remind others that if your cup is not full, you cannot fill anyone else's cup.  Yet again I should heed my own advice.  Follow the link below with me and be enlightened! : )


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our Purpose

I'm getting around to writing a post soon so in the mean time I thought I would add this for your reading pleasure! I came across it through something that my mom sent to me and I found that some of the article resonated with me. To see the full article click on the link under the heading. You might find something that resonates with you! :)

When We Don't Live Into Our Purpose We Become Depressed
An excerpt from

Failing to keep the cosmic order healthy in our corner of the world in my sense of it, as a therapist, is the number one cause of depression and anxiety. We are all wired to give to life. What I have found is that we as humans tend to beat ourselves up for not living into some grand looking, far reaching, meaningful purpose that gets us noticed and approved of by others. And so we miss the small essential progressions that must be made in our character and in our practical life so that we can move forward in a daily, incremental way towards a unique way of contribution.

Life essentially requires that we round ourselves out in all areas. We are always being called by life situations to grow and to round out our character. We also must progress as a whole regarding other people. This means if we are not moving forward towards our purpose we need to ask, "What do I need to give to my life situation right now? or "What is life waiting for me to give right now so that I can move forward in my growth?" We have to be alert to how we need to change to give meaningfully to the reality of our life as it is right now. This is how we find our place in the fabric of life. This is how we evolve our life, our purpose and the world. We sense into what is required of us in the present moment, cosmic order by one small, kind act at a time.

This is how we evolve as families, as work groups, and as larger and evolving systems. Perhaps the biggest mistake people make in pursuing their purpose is thinking that they can progress as an individual entity and that they are not part of a larger network of connection that needs to progress along with the whole.