Taming the Beast

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10726509325_44e1195b13_oMy home is messy.

I used to keep an immaculate home. I washed the dishes every night or at least frequently enough the kitchen was usually pretty clean, and the rest of the house received regular scrubbings and cleanings too. I worked really hard to maintain the cleanliness and then my depression returned full force and just getting out of bed and into work every day was a huge effort and accomplishment. Then more children came along with more stuff to call their own and between my depression and our expanding family’s ever-expanding piles of stuff, I lost control and I have yet to get it back under control.

We live in a small three bedroom condominium and there’s very limited space for each person. It’s not impossible but it takes work and it takes compromise and it requires mutual respect of each others’ space. All of which we struggle with as each person has different needs and different ideas. My husband is a collector of super hero and sci-fi paraphernalia. He places a much higher value on his stuff than I do on my own so I sometimes don’t honour the value he places on things just because I don’t feel the same way about stuff in general. I’m trying, but it’s hard when I barely have a bookcase worth of space to call my own, while he has several bookcases and shelves. The children have no boundaries and their toys and book bags and whatnots and whathaveyous end up pretty much anywhere it’s convenient for them to drop them when they are finished with them. Yes, it’s part of the problem. My husband tries but there’s no consistent measures being employed to set these boundaries and maintain them. It’s on my to-do list…

To give a measuring stick of the mess we live in, we would not qualify for an episode of Hoarders but watching Hoarders makes me feel better about my mess. And it shouldn’t. Just because Hoarders is worse doesn’t make my situation less poisonous, suffocating or overwhelming. I hate living like this but I feel like I’ve surrendered to the beast simply for the sake of my sanity. Going to war every day with the beast and feeling like I was always on the losing end of the battles was and is emotionally exhausting, so I put up the white flag and surrendered. I let the mess envelop me and define me. I took on the mantra of this is me, this is my home and if you love me and want to spend time with me, you must accept my mess.

Yes, I have good days where I get up and say, today is the day I tame the beast and I’ll pick up my bucket and scrub brushes and go to war against the disorganization and dirt, but it’s always short-lived because as one place is improving another is falling apart or while I move on to tackle the next area, the first place falls apart all over again, and so I surrender yet again and the beast is victorious.

It’s not one battle that will win this fight, it’s a systemic planned attack with everyone working together and the adults setting good examples for the children. I can’t get mad at my daughter for not cleaning up her room when I haven’t seen the floor beside my bed in weeks. I have to take the lead, show her (and my other children) how it’s done and encourage them to work with me, but I feel so overwhelmed and I figured out why this week. I went to an Angel Healing session and I asked a question and as part of her answer she said, I sense your house is very oppressive.

It was like a light went on. That is the exact word to describe our home. Oppressive: weighing heavily on the mind or spirits; causing depression or discomfort.

At first glance it doesn’t seem so bad but it’s the emotional stuff people don’t see that really makes my home feel oppressive. The gunk, the unresolved anger, the frustrations, the unspoken emotions, and the soul grinding pain that lives just below the surface and robs us of our ability to live happily. It affects all of us to some degree or another and it won’t stop until we face the mounting pile of repressed emotions.

We’re very good at throwing things in boxes and sticking them in corners and pretending they don’t exist because taking the time to open them up and go through each piece of paper and item to decide what to do with it all feels overwhelming and impossible. There are probably more invisible boxes of emotional detritus that need clearing than there are boxes of stuff we need to go through but we are even better at ignoring the invisible stuff.

We’ve all found ways to cope with the invisible piles of emotional gunk that oppresses our living space. We’ve pushed it down and hidden it away, pretending it’s okay when it’s not. We’ve put up barriers between each other to keep a safe distance so we don’t accidentally trigger one another. If someone is accidentally triggered it rarely ends well. We have all developed defensive mechanisms and they are very quick to kick in.

I’m passive aggressive, I use guilt trips and am quick to assume the martyr role. My husband runs away, pushes away or lashes out if you insist on getting too close, mostly with painful words. My 18 year-old fumes, swears and hits things. My 10 year-old whines, throws temper tantrums and she’s learned a few techniques from me as she resorts to guilt trips and “feel sorry for me” lines. The four year-old is still working on finding his place in this little game we play.

My husband and I have set a horrible example for dealing with conflict and difficult emotions. Until he and I can sit down and put all the detritus and craziness on the table and face our parts in this game nothing will change.

I believe in living by example and it extends to everything not just cleanliness skills. If children see you model good conflict resolution skills they will learn them too. If children see you lovingly deal with difficult emotions and honouring the individual’s trials with help and on-going support, they will mirror that back into the world. If children see you own up to your mistakes and apologize they will learn that too and if children see you trying to work on your weak points, they will know it’s okay to have weaknesses but that you need to always strive to do better. Having a weakness is not a valid reason to hurt others, and the excuse “that’s just who I am” is a very poor excuse to hurt the ones you love.

We must all strive to do better by each other. That is the true gift of loving someone, and it starts with a willingness to unpack and sort through the gunk that’s holding us hostage in our home. We really want to move, but I’d rather not take all this craziness with us. It’s time to purge, it’s time to clean it out, it’s time to tame the beast!

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The Gratitude Challenge

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231625731_32865d1061_oThere has been a trend going around Facebook where people nominate each other to do the Gratitude Challenge. It was very popular a month or so ago but at the moment it is pretty quiet. There were some variations on the challenge but the basic premise was for five days to post three items that you are grateful for and then to nominate three more people each day.

I only nominated one person each day as my friends list isn’t huge and I don’t like nominating people for the sake of filling a quota so I adapted the Gratitude Challenge to my own needs and comfort level. I also didn’t limit myself to three items per day. If some days I felt like adding more I did.

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It was a challenge I very much enjoyed as it didn’t involve calling anyone out to do something crazy or to shame anyone or to give money, and the idea didn’t get so diluted from being passed around that the original intent was lost. A gratitude challenge is exactly what it sounds like, a challenge that gets you to look at your life and see everything you have to be grateful for. In a society that never seems happy with what they have it’s good to challenge ourselves to see past our complaints and our often long lists of wants and acknowledge all the good stuff already in our lives, as well as to thank the people we often forget to thank in our fast paced lives.

As North Americans and other advanced societies in general we’ve come to see the state of wanting as normal. No matter how much we have, how big our houses are, how much stuff we cram in them, how new or advanced our technology is, we always want more. Even more mentally debilitating we refer to our wants as needs so they become something we must have instead of something we would like to have but could live without. As a result we base our merit as human beings on our ability to obtain these “needed” items.

The dilemma that arises is we never have enough and when we tie our worth to wants and needs that can never be fulfilled we as individuals also become never enough. The truth is we are all enough. The price tags society affixes to our worth are illusions. If money ceased to have any value, we’d all still be of value to the universe. The currency of the universe is energy.

How often do we say, if only we had more money…. But would more money make any real difference? What if we said instead, if only we had more energy? Many of us do say that but I’m not talking about more energy to get through a grinding work week or force ourselves out of bed to fit into a mold society prepares for us just so we can pay the bills and buy more of our wants which in turn keeps the grinding wheels of our society turning. The energy of the universe is innately empowering and a first step to claiming that energy is accepting we are enough and we have inside of us everything we need to be what we feel called to be.

The next step to claiming that energy and owning ourselves is gratitude. Don’t wait to be nominated for a Gratitude Challenge, take the time to be grateful every day. Breathe in love, exhale gratitude. Exhale love, breathe in gratitude. That’s the real cycle of living that matters.

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I am challenging all my readers, friends, family who read my work to start your own Gratitude Challenge. Make up whatever rules work for you, challenge others to do the same and let go of the needs that are only wants and see how blessed and beautiful and wonderful life is. Even on the darkest day there are rays of gratitude to be found and when you find your center and realize you have all you need, that will radiate out into the world and infect others.

This is the revolution the world needs and it starts with each and every one of us.

Here’s my Gratitude Challenge for today.

1) I am grateful for my mother. She is my rock and my foundation. She is there when I need her, even when I don’t feel deserving of her care.

2) I am grateful for my husband who is willing to get on an airplane and fly across the Atlantic Ocean for the purpose of working on our relationship.

3) I am grateful to the energy workers I have met and am meeting in my life who are showing me new ways to find peace and healing energy and who are encouraging me as I start my path towards being an energy worker as well.

4) I am grateful for having found the Sacred Living movement and being able to integrate it into my life’s work.

5) I am grateful for all those who read and share my blog. I write for me but I also write to connect with you.

If you follow my Facebook page or my twitter account, I will start randomly posting Gratitude Challenge updates and you are welcome to share them and carry them into your own lives and use them to find your own center of gratitude.

Meeting Needs

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2822745259_86e9306308_oMy son just turned four.

The first day of the new school year is less than a week away and I haven’t signed him up for kindergarten yet. In my heart I don’t want to but I’ve had to face some tough, emotional, letting go kind of stuff over the last month. One of the issues that surfaced was finding space and time for me in my life and accepting that I am worthy of that space and time.

I have decided that I will consecrate my space and time to a few hours each morning while my four-year-old is at school playing, socializing and learning. I have also decided that there will be a compromise. He will go for half days instead of full days, giving us our afternoons for quiet time, exploration time and one on one time. In this way we will find balance. He will get to experience kindergarten, I will have the time to work on my courses that I’ve signed up for and we’ll still have our time together.

My little guy is super excited about starting school. Picked out a new pair of Spider-Man sneakers and asked me if he would get a “boy dress” after he saw all of his sister’s new clothes! His Daddy thinks we should buy him a kilt.

I am super excited too. I will be learning more from the sacred living movement. Currently I’m signed up for Medicine Woman and the Postpartum course, and I will likely be adding a Sacred Essence course which is all about the essence of flowers. I’ve also signed up for another course, The Woman’s Healing Arts Teacher Training, and there’s another course I started back in the spring that I need to get back to and finish. My next three to four months will be bursting full of learning.

Then there’s my writing. I have set myself a goal to be published by “Elephant Journal” before the end of the year (2014). I have one friend from high school who has been incredibly encouraging and she is helping me with editing and the focus of my pieces. The other day she dared me to submit a piece by the end of the day and I did! Then I got my first rejection notice. Oh yes that was disappointing but only for a brief moment. All writers, even the best, have rejection letters and this one wasn’t even a true rejection letter, it was a “we like your piece but it needs some tweaking before we can publish it” letter. So I am taking their advice and re-working it a bit, and hopefully I will be ready to re-submit it soon.

Between my courses, my writing, my long list of books I want to read and even some time to do some crafting, my mornings will be very busy and for the first time in my life I feel like I have a true vision of my future and I am really excited. I have the flutters of butterflies in my stomach when I think of all the ways I can bring healing, connection and abundance to other women in my community and to be able to do it in such a way that I can also support my family. It will be a truly incredible blessing.

Unfortunately as excited as I am to embark on this journey of growth and learning there is a dark side. Choosing to send my son to school is going against every fiber of my soul and I am really hoping I have made the right decision. I really wanted to home school him, or un-school him as the case might be, and having to compromise that ideal is proving emotionally difficult. I think it’s why I’m procrastinating on signing him up because in a way I feel like I’m failing my son by giving into the system. The truth is I am not a failure and I’m not failing my son for making this decision to put my needs first because once I’m finished with the bulk of my education and get my business going, I will be able to re-visit home schooling and by then I will be able to meet the needs of my children far better because I took this time to meet my own needs first.

A Soul Review

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5632294010_fc3cddc11d_bI sit in the tub, my refuge from the world, rereading my words, editing, wondering if I have the strength to publish them, to share them, knowing there are parts that may upset people close to me. I talk about how I feel, sometimes those words are hard to hear. I’ve referenced divorce, not because I want one but because some days I don’t know if I’m strong enough to make the changes I’m trying to make or if I can live with the things I can’t change about our situation.

I married very young. I was lost and floundering as a single mom. I thought my marriage could save me. It didn’t. But I learned that my expectations were unreasonable. Marriage based on salvationary ideas will fail. It was never my husband’s job. And he had no idea where to start or what I needed, partly because I didn’t either.

We have both tried and are still trying almost sixteen years on. My husband has followed me to every counsellor, marriage help session, couples therapy and family therapy I could drag him to. We met with some success and for a while things would get better.

We’ve had some wonderful times, made some great memories, birthed two amazing children, and enjoyed some very passionate chemistry.

There’s a great deal I love about my husband but there are also a few traits that I wish I could change. I’m sure the sentiment is mutual. I have no delusions of perfection, if anything I don’t give myself enough credit for what I do get right.

I know I can’t change my husband. I can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. And he shouldn’t be trying to change me either. It doesn’t mean we can’t change but that the changes have to come from within ourselves to be truly life altering.

But here’s the question and the point we find ourselves at. Can we live with what we can’t (or won’t) change?

I do explore those ideas in my writings, my feelings surrounding our current situation. They are my feelings and while they may elicit a visceral reaction, the reaction is yours. As I own my feelings, you must own your reactions. It’s easy to lash out, not so easy to sit with the emotions and examine where they come from and why.

Part of the reason for my blog and my writings is exactly that. I am conducting a soul review, digging up what I’ve long kept buried, figuring out what I need and want and going through what I already have and doing a clean sweep to choose what will stay and what no longer serves me. Some decisions will be easy to make, others more complicated but at the end of it all, the question that needs answering is this, “does this honour me, my soul, my life?” If the answer is no than it is time to let go and move on and to find a way to do so in a way that honours the past, present and future.

All I ask is to bear with me as I go through this soul review. It’s a new road for me too and there will be mistakes, but I am pleading for understanding, patience and space to try new things, to let go and to scream and cry and laugh and be real, really real. It’s not an easy thing to ask, but it is what’s needed and as the title of my blog is soul nudism, it’s part of the journey too.

I Choose…

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1936440_140197265504_7848093_nI choose fresh strawberries. I choose to get down on my knees and get dirty and pick my own because I love the smell, the taste of freshly picked strawberries.

I choose to cook with basic food and feed my family with food made with my hands. I take them strawberry picking so they know where food comes from.

I choose sandals. I choose not to put them on today so I can feel the earth under my feet, the sand between my toes.

I choose yoga pants and sports bras. I choose my son, to be with him, to get dirty with him and not worry about clean clothes.

I choose how to spend my time, sometimes I waste it playing games but I also choose to spend it learning, connecting, writing. Sometimes it looks the same but it’s not.

I choose to be a mother, a role model, a friend, a lover, a wife, and sometimes I fall and fail, others I’m trying to be too much at the same time and nobody is happy, even me, but I choose to be all these things as best I can and when I fall, when I fail, I choose to pick myself up and try again.

I choose to forgive others when they make mistakes. I forgive others easier than I forgive myself but I choose to keep working on it. I am a work-in-progress, ever-evolving, ever-learning, ever-changing.

I choose to find the positives even in the darkest storms. To believe in the good in people, even when things go wrong.

I choose to standup and take on the world in its imperfections and do what I can to make my corner a little happier.

I choose to live with less. I choose to be happy with less because when I count what really matters it’s a short list: family, us, you, me and the kids. I choose to be happy despite tough times because if it takes more stuff to be happy, I’ll never find happiness. So I choose less stuff and more connecting time. Less tv and more picnics at the beach. Less trinkets and more making memories. Less electronics and more watching the kids grow up. I choose more talking, more listening, more connecting. I already have everything I need for that.

I choose to believe, to believe in you, to believe in me, to believe in us, to believe there is something greater than both of us and strong enough to re-kindle what we have lost, to help us find each other in the mess of our lives.

I choose you. I choose us. I choose love.

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Feeding my Soul

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2683676764_8ed0b79dbe_bFriday I was in my element! I could cook without worrying about the mess. The party wasn’t at my house. I was just providing the food. So I cooked!

I planned my menu, shopped for missing ingredients, and then concocted, mixed, rolled and poured until I had enough food to feed a small army.

I always make too much.

I go above and beyond because I love to share my love of food as well as my ability to feed people well. Friday I got to do just that.

I made veggie squares, salami rolls, roasted pineapple wrapped in bacon, humus, a four layer dip, cauliflower pizza with marinara sauce, and the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance, the chocolate birthday cake, a two layer slwpid-20140523_182940.jpgab cake with Oreo cream cheese icing sandwiched between the two layers which I then iced in milk chocolate icing with Oreo crumbs sprinkled on top. Mmmmm good!

Everything was good!

Oh I dream of a huge kitchen with space to experiment, with elbow room to roll, pound, mix, shape and create food to feed and entertain the souls of my friends and family. Room to make a mess and actually enjoy the mess, instead of feeling like I’m fighting for every inch of usable counter space.

I’ve had friends over on a spur of the moment invitation for brunch and whipped up a feast of waffles, muffins, bacon and sausages.

I love feeding people, and I’m always trying new ideas, experimenting, and creating amazing food to share. The process is inherently artistic as you are taking basics like flour and eggs and turning them into something soul inspiring.

I came home Friday night and I was still in my artistic mode, still feeling incredibly inspired so I pulled out my new beads and sat and played with them, stringing different beads together until I created something beautiful, a flower.

20140526_183906It’s all about creating beauty.

Beauty as food, as a beaded flower, as a poem, and even as the art of loving someone else. Touching them, awakening them, vibrating them. All of this is fuelled from the same creative need to fill the soul with beauty, to connect with a world on a level that is more than trudging through life and making do. It’s about stopping to hear your heart beat, to listen, really listen, to the whispers of your soul and let it free to create something beautiful.

This weekend I did all this and more. My soul stretched its wings and created food, art, words and love. Then I released my creations into the world to connect with the souls of others. This is how life should be lived, how my life should be lived. Sharing, giving, opening up, creating, loving…. If I can base my life on those principles I will find the happiness I am looking for, longing for….

What a rush!

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The words rushed out of my pen. The first page of the letter started awkwardly but as I found my stride the words were just there, unbidden, demanding to come out. It felt so incredibly amazing to write a letter again. It was like the unclogging of an artery. You could almost hear an audible pop as the detritus dislodged and flushed free. I didn’t want to stop, I just wanted to be left alone so the words could flow with uninterrupted glee to dance across the pages and tell my stories. To connect my ideas, my experiences, my dreams, my hopes together as in a beautiful woven necklace of multi-coloured beads. Hoping the words make sense when they are read but not entirely caring. Letters are so much less about making sense as just a free flow of ideas. It’s inspiring, perhaps illogical at times, but definitely inspiring.

After writing that letter I feel like some ideas are making more sense for me now and I have better words to explain myself, to be understood with. Other ideas have become clearer but need to incubate a little longer before they can be born. And some ideas were cast aside as I realized in working through them that they really didn’t make any sense. That’s what writing letters for me is, a mental work-out of epic proportions that puts my ideas through their paces and only the fit survive to be born. The rest are rinsed away with the detritus.

So here’s to a successful first step in my re-kindling of my letter writing habits. Now to choose my second victim (insert evil laugh here)….