Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Start

Today is the last day of 2015. I find it interesting that so much focus is put on a fresh new start for a fresh new year when, really, every moment is an opportunity to start over fresh. Every choice is a chance to take a different direction in your life. And I have come to realize all to well that I need to accept that other people will make their own choices, choose their own paths, despite their history, despite their experiences taking that same path before. It hurts to have to accept this, especially when it comes to people that I love and care for and would do almost anything for.

As much as I write about acceptance, truth and letting go I haven't accepted many things, I haven't been honest with myself and I haven't let go of a lot of feelings. It's time for me to do that. The only person I'm hurting is myself. I've been living in the past and it's wreaking havoc on my life, my heart, my spirit. There is only so long that I can stand beside someone and watch them make destructive choices - destructive to themselves and to others around them. I can no longer allow them to hurt me in that way, to use me. I am in charge of my own choices and my own life and the direction that it goes. I can no longer carry the weight of the worry, feel the pain, cry the tears. My soul feels crushed under this weight and I literally cannot breathe some days because of it.

I want to be free. I choose to be free. I release my thoughts. I have lived too long in the chains of worry beyond what is healthy, beyond what is caring. This relationship no longer serves me in any positive way and I must cut the ties that bind. I will always care and I will always unconditionally love but I am starting over - powering down, restarting, clearing my memory banks and reinstalling limited programs. There will always be a placeholder in my heart and I will always love. I will always have hope for happiness. But I need to make space in my heart for me, to love myself as I am and to make myself happy.

Every day is a challenge, for all of us, in our own way. We all experience the same emotions, whether it is fear, love, loneliness, joy, anger. It is how we choose to express them - or not express them - that influences our choices in life, that steers us on our journey. In the end it will be okay; it always is. Every day, you will be okay; you always are. Every day I will be okay; I always am.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Everything Changes

Everything changes.

Every year something is different. But this year, this Christmas, there is so much that is different. It’s overwhelming and I can’t contain my tears or sadness no matter how hard I try. There are good changes, of course, but overall I’m having a difficult time accepting that things aren’t the same as they were before and that they will never be like they were a year ago.

I’m doing my best to reflect on everything and look at who I am now compared to who I was a year ago but my mind keeps going to back to everything that is missing this year – how alone I feel instead of how strong I have become. How do I keep my mind from getting distracted by what isn’t here and stay focused on what is here? All this mindfulness training I’ve taken and practiced, the yoga that I’ve been doing, the meditation techniques I’ve learned don't seem to be enough.

I know that I need to process the feelings I’m experiencing – to feel them, to accept them – the sadness, loneliness and emptiness that ebbs and flows within me. That is only part of the solution though. I want to focus more on healing myself from within so that I can get back to doing the things that I love and enjoy, having fun with friends, laughing out loud, even. It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve even laughed a wholehearted, meaningful, joyful, cheery, happy laugh. So, so long. And it shouldn’t be like that. No one should have to feel so sad and lonely that they can’t bear to laugh. No one should have to endure so much loss, suffering or pain that it becomes difficult to find that space within from where laughter bubbles up.

I’ve been pulling books off my shelves that resonate with me and have added a few more to my collection in the past couple weeks. It’s a process: read, apply, practice, practice, and practice. And keep practicing, just like anything else. When I want to learn to play a new piano piece it takes practice. A new instrument – practice. A new yoga pose – practice. A new job – you got it, practice. I want to be diligent in my practice and I want to do well. I want to live well and be well. I have to also want to practice, which seems to be the crux of the problem. This won’t necessarily be my New Year’s “Resolution”, but it is a priority for me.

As I type this, I’m travelling to my hometown to be with my family for the holidays. It will be brief but my immediate family will all be together – the last time we were together at Christmas was 8 years ago. It will be good to have everyone together at the table for Christmas brunch and opening our gifts. But even those traditions will have changed, lost in the passage of time.

Everything changes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One Person

I attended a yoga retreat and went hiking over the weekend and, I do have to say, it was great for my heart and soul, not to mention my body! Needless to say I had a lot of time to reflect during and after both of these activities. When I took a look inside I was amazed at so many things that I have experienced, felt, done, communicated and accomplished over the past month.

I have been making sure to take time for self-care and, even though I may not be getting to bed at the time that I need to and even though some of my days are busier than others, I'm managing quite well. Yes, I come home from my new job and cry. Yes, I may still cry myself to sleep some nights. Or cry when I talk about certain events or conversations that have occurred in the not-so-distant past. But when I cry it's no longer an empty, depression filled moment where I'm wallowing in my own suckery (to coin a phrase from Jennifer Pastiloff). My tears are filled with relief, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration or love. So many emotions have welled up inside of me and are bursting at my seams, no longer caged in my heart like injured animals.

I have realized that in this short life that we live, all it takes is one person. One person yet so many interactions, discussions, encounters, and not only moments of laughter but also moments of tears, time spent together, time spent apart, sometimes in silence, sometimes close and sometimes with a distance between that seems immeasurable. This one person can teach you so much, can show you the way by leading you astray. This one person can open your heart so wide with love that sometimes it hurts. It hurts because all of these emotions that I have kept inside my heart for so very long are pushing to come out all at once.

How is it possible that I can feel so much, so many emotions, so deeply, for so long due to this one person? I never imagined that anything like this existed. The intensity, the duration, the difficulty of letting it all go, working through every memory and the emotion attached to each of those memories in order to release the energy, to release the sadness in the happiness, to release the anger in the pride, to release the loneliness in the love.

This one person might be an important one person in my life but it may not be the time for me to be an important one person in their life. And maybe, just maybe, I might need to consider that I need to let this one person go. Again.

Letting go doesn't mean that I've given up hope or lost faith or that I am at odds with whatever may be. Letting go is part of accepting what is, in order to ease my suffering. Accepting what is does not mean that I've given up hope. Easing my suffering does not mean that I am being selfish. I am taking care of myself, taking care of my heart and taking care of those emotions, one by one, that are pouring out of my heart.

It's time that my heart had a rest. It has been carrying a lot of heaviness inside of it for so very long. I think my heart deserves a break, and not in the way that it is used to. I am going to experience a heart (space) break…no more heartbreak. And the heart said, "It will be good for all of us."

When you think there is no hope to be had anywhere for anything, you will find me. I will be there with hope in my heart, no matter how small a flame, so that you may light your own fire of hope again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


"Pay attention to me!" she screams. I ignore her and go to work, go to yoga, spend time with my friends and, basically, spend time doing anything that doesn't involve her. But she's hurting and needs my attention. The problem is that I don't know how to pay attention to her, how to meet her needs. Do I read to her? Play games with her? Take her for a pedicure? No, those aren't the things she needs. She needs to feel loved, safe, appreciated and cared for. How do I help her feel those things? What do I say? What do I do? I'm confused and don't understand. I'm an intelligent gal but I don't know the answer to this one and it's bothering me. I need to take care of her - she is me - but I'm struggling to come up with a way to do that.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Importance of Pets

Some time ago I was in to see a counsellor (not my usual one) and she invited me to write a piece for a presentation the she and her co-worker were doing. The subject was about pets and how important a pet can be in a person's life, especially a person with a mental illness. Having just lost my BFF Kalvin and knowing that I enjoy writing, the counsellor thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to get some "stuff" out, to help the healing process along. So I sat on my bed with Kalvin's picture on my bedside table and I wrote. And I cried. And it hurt. It hurt yet it felt good to hurt like that and to let it go, to release it into the ethers of the Universe. I would like to share with you how important my pet, my dog, my BFF Kalvin was (and still is) to me.

If you're a romantic like me, you spend your life searching for someone, THE one. I never expected to find the unconditional love and support that I needed in a furry four legged creature. Kalvin found me and found a way into my home and into my heart. When I was depressed and crying he was there licking my tears, literally. When I needed a hug, he was there, all 100 and some pounds of him, in my lap. When I felt and thought that life just wasn't worth living anymore, he was there, nudging my hand. He was the one that needed me to go on with my battle, to be strong and persevere. On my darkest days the last thought I always had was "If I was gone who would feed Kalvin?" When I met Kalvin I never dreamed of how important he would become to me, to my life, how critical his presence would be to mine.

In the last few months of Kalvin's life I became critical to his presence.  He needed bandaging, his hearing was going and almost overnight he lost his vision. He moved slower and sometimes stumbled. But he adapted and persevered and remained strong. He went on with his battle until it was too much for both of us to bear. When his tail no longer wagged in happiness and joy, and the light was gone from his eyes, I knew that it was time for us to say goodbye.

My life will never be the same. There will always be a hole in my heart, a piece of my soul missing without his giant physical presence in my life, my small home, what used to be our home. Some people will say that I've lost a pet but I have lost so much more. I've lost my sidekick, my best friend, the only constant in my ever changing life. I know what being alone feels like and now I know what loneliness feels like. But I go on with my battle. I lived for Kalvin and I will continue to live for him, wake up for him, walk for him, run for him. He was my everything and now, without him, I must be strong, adapt, and persevere just as he did when life became difficult for him.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


I've been back to work now since the end of August. Although I did my best to enjoy my last week off I became somewhat stressed by thinking of all the things I DIDN'T accomplish. Self-defeating, right? I managed, though, and my first week of work went ok.

As for my bad spell this summer, I think it's over now. Things headed downhill in April, after I had surgery Easter weekend, though the events were unrelated to my surgery.

The first: I experienced a heart wrenching and difficult breakup. It was like nothing I've ever experienced before.

The second (part 1): the beginning of June and my last week of work, my dog had a health emergency that the vet wasn't quite sure of. After that, his health steadily declined and he needed quite a bit of palliative care.

The third: My grandma was also very sick and passed away in July. In early August, my dog, Kalvin, and I travelled home for a family gathering in my grandma's memory. It was good to see all of the family and extended family and a few lifelong friends of my grandma.

The second (part 2): The day after Kalvin and I returned back to Thunder Bay, he and I spent our final day together. I had to have him put down due to his age and health issues. I still cry every day for him and miss him so much but I know I made the right decision for him. It's so lonely without him around the house. So empty and quiet…

Amidst all of this I managed to get to yoga class, lose some weight, and visit with friends. And I learned so many things - about myself, others, life, love and death. As sad and enduring as it has been, it has also been an illuminating journey the past few months. As I adjust to a new lifestyle without Kalvin, and being back at work, I've still got my chin up. Well, some days I do. I know both my grandma and Kalvin would want me to be happy. If Kalvin was here right now he would be wanting a hug and licking the tears off my face. If my grandma was here right now she would be telling me how amazing I am and how proud she is of me and what a wonderful woman I grew up to be.

After spending some time ruminating on how the things I've experienced have made me feel I happened to come across this post on Facebook. It was the sweet icing on a dilapidated cake.

I needed to be broken down — to have my heart mangled and broken by someone that I unconditionally love, to experience loss of family and friend in immeasurable amounts and to feel emotions I didn't want to feel.  All of this was so that I could build myself up again, to be stronger, to have an improved sense of self-respect. I now know that I deserve much more than I have been giving myself and allowing myself to receive.

Thank you, Universe, for giving me the opportunity for this lesson in loneliness, sadness and grief.

PS I'm still feeling emotions I don't want to feel and even though my mind wants to be done with these emotions, my body is saying, "Nuh-uh, no way. We aren't done feeling this stuff yet, kiddo." So here I sit typing, crying, feeling, enduring, allowing — but not wallowing.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Who I Am

If there is anything that makes me feel vulnerable, it's falling in love. Falling in love and being in love reveals all of my insecurities and past scars in a way that nothing else does. In order to be loved, it is said that one must love oneself first. I have stripped myself down and built myself back up many times and every single time I learn something about myself and others, about life, love, heartbreak and loss. And every single time this happens, I love myself more and think that I'm ready to let someone love me, again. But it seems to be a repeating cycle ending the same way, with me broken, hurting and taken advantage of. While the rest of the world goes on I end up stripping my broken self down once more.

Yes, I hide some parts of who I am. Yes, I protect some parts of who I am. But at the end of the day when each and every one of us lays our head down, can we honestly tell ourselves "Hey, today I was 100% me, 100% of the time and I loved it all!"? The entire world doesn't need to see my entire self every day, all day. That's like walking around naked all the time! No one wants that and no one wants to see that! The parts that I hide or protect are becoming smaller but in each of those parts is something sacred to me. Something private, that only I know and that only I have access to. And I want to keep that part of me, for me. I don't think that's a bad thing. And I don't think that who I am on the outside or the people that I attract into my life are bad things, even if the endings aren't so great.

I have learned that I deserve better and want better; I deserve more and want more. I have learned that I am an amazing woman with amazing strength. I have so much love to give that it's bursting out of me! I have learned that this love that I have to share isn't for everyone and that, when I do share, I have to have boundaries in place beforehand. People can only take advantage of me and break me down if I choose to let them.

Whether I like it or not, I am sensitive. Whether it is intended or not, I will be hurt. Whether I want to or not, I will feel sad and I will cry. These are things that I must accept. These are things that are a part of me just as my strength, generosity and compassion are a part of me. That is who I am.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

This Story

I want to remember the beginning. And maybe the middle. I don't want to remember the end. But it's all part of the same story and for the story to be whole I have to remember it all. The great moments, the first moments, the shared and proud moments, the not-so-great moments, the moments that hurt, the moments when it felt like everything was falling apart and no one knew what to do.

That is what makes it complete. That is how I gather my strength and, even though I am still grieving, wipe my tears and face another day. It's not the parts of the story that make it good or not-so-good. It's the entire piece, from front to back, start to finish, inside and out, that make you love it no matter what.

It's the entire being, as a whole, that makes you fall in love.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Things I am grateful for today:
- dirty teacups; this means I have friends to share my successes and setbacks with
- dirty dishes; this means I have food to eat
- dirty laundry; this means I have clothing and blankets to keep me warm
- dirty floors and rugs; this means I have a house to shelter me and a home to be comfortable in
- hot tea; this means that I have potable water and the comfort of electricity

There are so many things that I take for granted every day, yet every day there are so many things that I am grateful for. I used to keep a gratitude journal. Every night before bed I would make a short list of things I was grateful for. It couldn't be the same things every day so I actually had to THINK about what I was grateful for that day. Not as easy as it sounds. Try it for a week. You might be surprised at what you are grateful for as well as what you take for granted. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Difficulty in Journaling

Before I type the rest of this I need to tell myself (and probably some readers out there) that just because I think it, write it or type it, doesn't mean it's true. It just means that's how I'm feeling at one point in time. It doesn't mean that is who I am or who I want to be necessarily. I hurt, I feel, I stress out, we all do it. I need a release. Sometimes blogging is my release, sometimes it's cleaning and sometimes (but not often enough anymore it seems) it is playing the piano or listening to music that fills my soul with whatever I am feeling at that moment in time.

I've been going through waves of emotions the past few weeks. Anger, stress, fear, anxiety, the odd burst of happiness, wonder, amazement, shock, disbelief. And through it all I've been learning more and more about mental illness — mine and others'. I've been learning about the HUGE misconception that knowledge means understanding, that agreement means compromise and most of all I've been learning about trust.

I recently finished a 20 week group program through St. Joseph's Mental Health Outpatient Program. It was on Interpersonal Skills for people with depression. We started out with a goal to work towards during the 20 week program. Mine was to use all of my resources to search for a new job. Half way through the program each member had a check-in with the facilitators to evaluate our individual goal(s), if it was still something we wanted, how we were doing working towards it, if the help of the other group members and the facilitators was in fact helpful. I added a new goal at that time — to journal my feelings that I had difficulty expressing before I actually expressed them or instead of expressing them. The journalling was supposed to be a way for me to put my thoughts down on paper/screen and re-evaluate them to ensure that, when or if it came time, I could get my point across to another person verbally without getting too emotional. Even though I came up with this goal and knew that writing things down helped me, I still found it very difficult to do. And I still do today.

So here I am typing to you about my fear of journalling. I get writer's block when I sit down to journal, to write that letter that will never get sent, to try to organize my emotions and feelings into words on a page. I have no troubles at all making a "To Do" list and organizing THOSE thoughts and ideas into words on a page. So why is that? This irrational fear inside me says that if I write it or type it then it MUST be true. All those irrational things or hurtful things that I think in my head that I sometimes want to say to others — if I write or type those things then they are true. This fear inside me tells me that I'm a mean person for thinking those things and/or writing them. This fear inside me tells me that I'm wrong for feeling frustrated or ignored or sad or depressed or feeling anything that doesn't sound or feel like it lies on the "happy" end of the mood spectrum.

I know that's all bullshit my ego is telling me to try to keep me safe, but it's doing me some serious harm. Instead of practicing saying how I feel by writing it out a few times, I'm packing it up, stuffing it down and gagging on it. It literally is making me want to vomit sometimes. If I'm not feeling like I want to vomit then I'm stewing in the poisonous juices that these unspoken feelings create. The aroma creeps out of my pores and you can see the poison on my face, in my eyes and body language. I turn into a needy, passive-aggressive, moody, poisoned soul. I don't want to be this person. I want to be who I know I truly am — loving, caring, kind, considerate — while still being able to put a voice to my emotions and feelings without someone calling me a bitch. I want to trust my emotions and move forward every day to make a better life for myself and my partner. I want to trust that I am doing the best that I can at any given moment and that my partner is doing the same. I want to trust that the universe has a plan for me and that I just need to keep walking and doing what I love in order for that plan to develop and unfold in front of my eyes. But I can't. My emotions are getting in the way; the frustration is clouding my judgement. And I don't know how to clear the poison from my eyes or the clouds from my judgement.

In a study on change, people were told to sign their name with their non-dominant hand for a set number of days. After getting used to this, and some signatures even looking legible, the group was told that they now had a choice: they could continue to use their non-dominant hand to sign their name or they could go back to using their dominant hand. I can't remember the exact percentage nor can I find the article citing this particular study, but I do recall that the vast majority of the people went back to using their dominant hand, when given the choice. If given the choice, going back is almost always easier but is it necessarily better? The fear keeps me stuck where I am, for now…