It is Time to Heal

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IMG_20141001_175030Sixteen years ago I lay on the floor trying to sleep, anxious and excited about the events of the next day. The room was ready. Clean sheets on the bed, beautiful flowers on the side table and many little touches of romance all around.

Waiting…. waiting…. waiting….

I was in a place of waiting. Alone but knowing very soon I would not be alone any more. The anxieties, the nerves, the hopes, the dreams crystallizing in that moment as I lay on the floor unable to sleep for the sheer excitement that I would be a bride in just a few short hours, and then HIS wife forever.

How young and naïve I was sixteen years ago to believe marriage could save me from my anger and my pain; to think that marriage would change being a single mom into being a family with the minister simply uttering a few words for us to repeat and then blessing us by the power of the church vested in his 91-year-old hands and heart.IMG_20141001_175301

How so much more complicated the process would all end up being…. And how much more pain we’d unwittingly cause each other in the process…

It has been sixteen years filled with passion, love, anger, disillusionment, grief, and struggles of many varieties including power struggles, parenting struggles, health struggles and financial struggles, but here at the threshold of another celebration the biggest fact I cling to is we are still here. Every day we get up and reach for love, reach for understanding, reach for forgiveness and we look at each other across the bed sheets hoping we can find the love, the healing, the forgiveness to carry us through many more years.

There is a lot to forgive and a lot of letting go that needs to happen. Sometimes the pain feels overwhelming and like a gaping hole that can never be filled with enough love to wipe it out. It’s an ongoing, ever-challenging, ever-changing, ever-demanding process. Some days it still involves a lot of waiting… Waiting for patience. Waiting to feel loved. Waiting for validation – to feel noticed, to feel seen and to feel heard.

One of the most intentional emotions I brought away from my retreat in August is that it is time to clarify, to re-define, to evaluate, to change, to face the challenges of my relationship. To stop settling for unhappiness for the sake of my children. It’s an old story. What kind of example are my husband and I setting for our children when we settle for unhappiness in one of the most important and singularly defining relationships of our lives? I wouldn’t want this kind of relationship for any of my children so why am I settling for living in one and asking my spouse to do the same?

After sixteen years my husband and I are at a crossroads. Neither choice is an easy one.

Down one road, there are lawyers, not enough money to keep two households functioning, inevitably more anger and resentment, children having to adjust to missing one parent when they are with the other, missing their bedtime routines of “I love yous” and “see you in the mornings”, and so many more crazy changes and adjustments we haven’t even thought of. Down the other, there is work, lots of work. Reconnecting work, honouring work, loving work, re-defining work, hard work. Really hard work. Divorce will seem like a viable option at times because it would be easier to move on than face some really tough emotions we’ve spent a lot of time and energy avoiding over the last sixteen years.

It is time to heal.

It is time to face our relationship, ourselves, our choices, our responsibilities and find the love again or, and this is always a possibility, not find it but I want to know we did everything possible to save this family because we do owe our children that much and if at the end of the day we can’t, hopefully this process will at least help us choose an ending that honours each other and our children.

For now we are choosing the path of hard work and in that spirit my husband and I have decided to go on a relationship retreat in December. It’s in Paris, France. For a week, the focus will be us, there will be no hiding from each other behind screens or responsibilities or day-to-day life or the needs of the children. Anni and Tim Daulter will help us find our way back to each other, help us find ways to reconnect, help us find ways to redefine our relationship in healthier ways so that there’s less hiding behind pain, resentment and anger.

As we embark on our seventeenth year of marriage, I commit myself to the work that Paris will bring, to meeting my husband in a safe place where we can begin the process of letting go of all the burdens that weigh us down and keep us from being the people, the couple we are capable of being. I believe in my heart that if we don’t fix us, nothing else matters and that’s why this trip to Paris is so important and I am soooo grateful that my husband has chosen to participate in this retreat with me.

A friend asked me if I was placing too much hope in this retreat solving our problems?

The truth is I have to believe it’s possible, that this retreat could bring us the closure on a less than stellar past and an opening to a better future together. I have to believe we love each other enough to give this gift to each other and be willing to open the package and accept the gift into our lives. If I don’t believe that than what’s the point of going to Paris at all? We might as well give up now… So yes I believe this retreat can help turn our relationship around, can temporarily plug the holes in our sinking ship and give us the life boat to save ourselves. We just have to be willing to get in the life boat and row like hell.

I am willing to do the work. I am willing to let go. I am willing to find a new path. I am willing to get in the life boat with my husband and row like hell, hoping that both of us will be pulling together and working together towards the goal of a healthy, happy relationship that is the center of a healthy, happy home. At the end of the day I believe that’s all either of us really want.

So as we celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, we look to our future, waiting, waiting for the day we pack our bags and get on an airplane and for five days make us the center of our world for better or for worse…

I am ready to change, to heal, to love my husband with all my heart and in return open up myself to accepting his love, his healing and his changes, and together creating a safe place within ourselves and around us for the evolution to happen.

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Change and Changing

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5655715130_22866414c7_oLife changes, a truth we must accept. Time carries us in its ebb and flow, always towards tomorrow. My own life is moving towards a new chapter. None of my children are babies anymore. In three weeks I will be the mom of an 18-year-old, an adult in the eyes of most of the world and definitely in the eyes of the law. I don’t feel old enough or mature enough to be the parent of an adult but on October 11 that will become part of my résumé, along with also being the parent of a kindergartener.

My youngest, who celebrated his fourth birthday over the summer, is enjoying the challenge and excitement of being in Kindergarten. His mornings are full of new children, new toys and new experiences and then he spends his afternoons with me, visiting our favourite haunts, reading and having quiet time.

It is a slow letting go but in that letting go my life is changing. I am pursuing my sacred living studies and honing my skills as a birth worker, healer and a women’s health educator. I spend time playing with words and emotions, sharing the results on my blog and connecting with a social web of like-minded people. I spend time nurturing my own evolving persona which involves the physical practice of releasing the baggage that has weighed me down for too long and a cracking open of the armour that has imprisoned me under the guise of protection. It is a process of learning and exchanging old beliefs for new beliefs. New beliefs that embrace possibility and redefine my relationships with the natural world around me and the people in that world.

I am changing my inner dialogue, beginning to truly believe I am worthy, worthy of being called a good mother, worthy of being loved, worthy of following my dreams, worthy of opening my arms and my heart to the world and in turn worthy of finding and keeping friends who reflect my soul and heart back to me.

For the first time since I was teenager, I am looking towards the future with happiness, believing that the path before me is leading me towards self-fulfillment. I am not afraid of the changes ahead, I am embracing them. Tired of feeling broken, lost and angry, I am ready to trade those negative emotions in for ones that will serve me into the future.

It will take time and patience and self-love. There will be obstacles but a change of perspective turns obstacles into challenges that nurture growth. Words are so powerful and I’m learning how to use them to empower myself to change my present and my future.

Change is constant. I can’t stop it but I can embrace it, love it and own my place within its ebb and flow.

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The Emotional Hangover

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IMG_20140831_233300Lying in my sleeping bag, damp, cold and shivering, a mosquito buzzing around my ears. I feel it on my back, maybe even in the sleeping bag with me, biting, annoying, my skin crawling with itchiness real and imagined. I feel completely alone and I shiver with a cold that runs deeper than my chilled toes. There is nobody to warm me up but myself so I curl into a ball deep in my sleeping bag and hope sleep finds me but I lay there wanting so much to feel the warmth of another human being wrapped around me.

It was a weekend of baseball, booze, camping, hanging out with new friends, learning new games (slip and slide flip cup) and just generally having a good time. I am the quiet one, the non-drinker, the non-smoker, the one in the shadows holding the light so others can see. I am not loud, or obnoxious. I am the responsible one that catches the drunk when they stumble.

But oh how I wish I could be the one partying it up, the one willing to play, willing to be looked after, willing to stand in the light and be seen. My choice to opt out comes from a place of fear, fear of being seen for who I am and of being defined by my pain, my anger and my mistakes. Instead I take the safe route and I choose not to drink. I use my medications as my excuse but it goes so much deeper than that.

I don’t drink because I’m an angry drunk, a raging drunk, a pitiful crying drunk. Alcohol follows the path of least resistance and it finds its way between the cracks to my dark place, where I keep my anger, my rage, my pain all bottled up. The alcohol lets everything loose, it breaks me wide open. I lose the ability to keep the tears in check and they fall uncontrolled. It can and has ruined the fun for everyone, so I choose not to bring that to a party, which means I choose not to drink.

So I play the part of the responsible one. I let others enjoy themselves and then I’m there to catch them before they stumble into the fire or otherwise hurt themselves or cause any damage, to help them get back to the campsite safely or to the bathroom and back without hurting themselves. I stay hidden in the shadows. I take all the pictures of everyone having a good time but you won’t find me in any of the photos. I will be a phantom memory to most within a week or so when baseball season ends. I will be the “oh who was that girl?” and the “y’know so and so’s wife (friend, whatever), does anyone remember her name?” questions.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy myself because I did. It was nice to have a weekend away from the kids and to just hang out and have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere important to be. To laugh and to feel like a member of the group, even if it was only for a few days. It’s just so hard to feel like a real, integrated member when I’m working so hard to keep my dark secrets hidden and play nice, and to feel like if they knew the real me, my story, I would not be as welcome, and yet I don’t really give them a chance either because giving them a chance means taking the risk of exposing myself.

For most of the weekend I shifted aside my needs so my husband could thoroughly enjoy himself, play ball and be one of the guys and I encouraged him to let go and have fun. On the last night after he’d had too much to drink I held him wrapped in his sleeping bag until he stopped shivering and fell into a deep sleep, sleeping off the last of the effects of the alcohol, but in the darkness of the night I felt encompassed by a sense of utter loneliness despite being surrounded by a campsite full of friends. It was hard not to give into the overwhelming twinges of resentment and self-recrimination, angry because I’m not more outgoing, wishing I could just drink and be part of the life of the party instead of being the responsible one all the time, and being so afraid of letting my demons out to play and ruining the night for others, that at the end of it all I end up all alone cold and shivering in my sleeping bag.

I didn’t drink much at all, yet I woke up feeling hung over and exhausted, almost worse than some of the drinkers. It was an emotional hangover brought on by repressing everything I felt, the overwhelming loneliness, being frustrated by how much my anger and pain poisons my life, and all the artifices I use to keep people on the outside so they can’t see, really see the person I am, pain and all.

I won’t ever be the life of the party and as much as I envy those who find it so easy to let go, I’ve accepted that that’s not who I am but I’ve realized I also have a limit where I need some attention too, like wanting to be held until I am warm again. Some day maybe just maybe I will find the strength to step into the light and be seen, and be the one to stumble trusting that someone will be there to catch me when I do.

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.

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 pièce de résistance, 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)….