capturing happy

There have been a lot of blogs and videos popping up lately about being grateful and expressing  gratitude. Especially as it relates to people who have overcome tragedy or experienced a loss that has shaken their ability to be happy and feel happiness. I came across one last week that made me think deeply about what it means to be grateful and how I could maybe start to play with that idea in order to try to keep moving forward through what have been some rollercoaster times the last while. With the Winter Solstice just passed I have been searching for a way to celebrate the new start that it brings within me and the chance to begin something that will grow over the next year.

 

Grateful has always been a word that I have had a hard time embracing. My personal take on the word is that it insinuates that you are grateful, or thankful, to someone or something. Whether that is a spiritual belief in god or more vaguely, the universe, it leans towards giving thanks in a specific direction. Just never really found a place in me that the concept resonated with me in a way that I felt it should. Yet at the same time, I see and understand the concept and wanted to find a way to make it mean something to me as I start this new year.

 

Living with grief and finding happiness with grief and loss as a part of day to day life is rough. Some days it’s harder than others to find something that makes me smile. There are days that it feels like all I’m doing is just putting one foot in front of the other, and that isn’t how I want to live. That isn’t what I want for the rest of my life. There are other days though that are filled with joy and smiles and being happy that I’m here to live that day and have those moments. Those days are happening more and more. What’s also there is that even on the hard days, I am starting to be able to see the little things within those days that give me even a little something the be glad that I’m there to experience.

 

So the new year has started for me and with it, the chance to be aware. To purposely look for, and record, the happy in every day. Even on, especially on, those days that don’t seem to have any. A project for myself more than anything else. A picture every day to show myself that not only have I acknowledged that moment but that when I think there aren’t things to smile about I can look back and see that indeed there are.

 

Sometimes it’s hours lived loudly and fully and being so full of life that I want to scream. Sometimes it’s merely a little smile at the pretty sunset as I walk home quietly along the oceanfront. It doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small, just that it’s there, and it is.

 

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Sometimes it’s laughter and not tears

A gathering lately of friends -people who are, oddly, not necessarily closely connected yet are also,more close than can be explained. Tribe. Family. A weekend that words don’t really do justice.

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Words that still elude me trying to bring essence to the awareness of my experience. A soft knowing that happened in a moment when a smile broke out instead of tears. When I knew that, at that moment, healing meant laughter and silliness and the elation of flying and sharing space with a few amazing women. An oddly secluded and intimate space of time, safe, secure, simple and easy and just… yes. No words. Just feeling.

Feeling that in welcoming joy in, it wasn’t going to be with tears and pain. The wind blowing in my hair and ruffling my skirt around my legs as I giggled and joked and connected – with my Self – and more importantly with the people who I was blessed to be with during that time. The wind and the sunshine, the calmness and the joy in the women with me, the water, the trees, the dirt, the rock that brought me back to my senses even, all of it bringing feeling back.

Words try, but they can’t tell what has to be felt and seen with the heart instead of the mind. Sometimes it takes something so deeply in your body to take you so deeply out of it.

Thank You

Thank you to the lies. You have taught me to be more mindful with where I place my trust.

Thank you to the pain. You have allowed me to see what I can endure.

Thank you to deception. You have shown me to question and to not just accept.

Thank you to the struggles. You have proven to me my ability to overcome.

Thank you to emptiness. You have made me appreciate when my heart and my arms are full.

Thank you to sadness. You have shown me the joy in simple happiness.

Thank you to grief. You have shown me to appreciate and be thankful for my life.

Thank you to loneliness. You have shown me how to love being alone.

Thank you to hatred. You have helped me learn to let go.

Thank you to my darkness. You have shown me how to love the depth of it as a part of me.

Thank you to the days that felt like they would never end because of the hurt. You have taught me to savour the days that go by too fast.

Thank you to the ugliness of life. You have allowed me to see the beauty that is life as well.

A look at good rather than not-so-good

There have been alot of years ( A LOT) that I have ended the year with a very heartfelt “fuck you” to the months past. This is not one of them.

There’s the good versus the not-so-good scales being reviewed this morning in my head and my heart.

To be honest, 2014 was not a great year in many ways.
As far as personal relationships with others went, it was a year of ups and downs of pretty torrential hell at times. Sure, there were also times that I felt such tremendous love and connection that I smiled inside but it was filled with pain and hurt and pretty much wanting to swear off ever being involved with anyone again.

It as a year though, that I made huge gains in my personal relationship with my Self and that is a good balance to keep in mind.

But, looking back, it was also a year that held many highs rather than lows. Sometimes I have a hard time seeing the good but this isn’t one of those times.

2014 was the year that I set some significant physical goals for myself… and achieved them.

It was a year that in which I did things I didn’t think I could, and I’m owning the pride that I deserve to feel for that.

It was a year that I accomplished some things that people said I couldn’t.

It was a year that brought times of absolute joy in my life and for that I’m grateful.

It was a year of experiencing things that made my spirit soar and my heart feel open again.

It was a year of new experiences and new connections to see grow and flourish in the next.

It was a year that held a lot of good.

It was a year that helped me believe that more like that , and better even, are possible.

So goodbye 2014, you haven’t been all bad and for that I’m thankful.

Good enough isn’t good enough

There comes a time in life when you look around and take stock and have to be honest with what and where you are.

Birthdays are that for me. Having just had one, it’s was a time to reflect and analyse.

I’ve had a life that was, at times, nasty and rough and hell to wake up to. This same life has had moments that took my breath away, times that I simply could not have been any happier without bursting was how I felt. Lots of times of just middle of the road “ok” as well. We all have. I know what it’s like to be miserable and unhappy in the truest meaning of those words. I count my blessings that my life is pretty good now. I have a lot to be thankful for – and I am.

So what’s worse than “bad”? It’s becoming complacent with less than what you really want. Becoming accepting and tolerant of the unacceptable.

So I asked myself what’s so unacceptable in my life? Settling. Not going hard for what I want. What I desire. Having dreams and goals and not making them happen.

I’m tired of listening to my Self desire and to seeing my Self no further towards the realization of that.

It’s easier to look around and say “it’s pretty good”. My son said to me the other day that he wonders who he thinks he is to feel that he should have it better than other people… That made me reply swiftly that not just him, but everyone, deserves – seriously deserves – the best and to have dreams and goals come to fruition. Then I had to sit back and wonder why I wasn’t necessarily living that sentiment myself.

I have been, for a couple of years now, allowing myself to start to grieve the death of my dreams as I get older. Shelving some aspirations as unrealistic or unachievable. Telling myself to stop dreaming and smarten up and just enjoy what I have and not desire anything else. There’s always something that comes up and demands energy and focus… and I allow that “something” to be not Me. I allow that “something” to take that focus and energy in entirety…leaving nothing for me to draw from to make happen what I want to happen.

I get slightly infuriated with myself when I take time to look at where I am with regards to achievements. Knowing that I am the only reason why I haven’t progressed further. Time to change that.

I look at travel options and lifestyle choices and I ponder and I think “one day” or “maybe” to things that I want, things that speak to me living my truths. Then I face the “why not?” … and the only answer is for me to get off my ass and make it all happen. No more waiting, no more “one day”. We all have a finite number of days and we don’t usually know what that magic number of them is, so….

Good enough isn’t good enough anymore. A nice life is nice…but I want one that sweeps me off my feet and leaves me breathless and grinning and saying “again!”. It’s my life, time to craft it, nurture it and make it that way.

I inspire me

Inspiration is an intriguing point for me lately.

I have shared this before but it bears repeating… http://www.wicca-spirituality.com/akhilandeshvari.html

Directly relating to some musings I have had lately regarding my own “brokenness” https://truthfreedomjoy.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/the-beauty-of-broken/

Revisiting this yesterday as I returned from running a 10km race, The Victoria Goddess Run. It has been a long haul the last couple of years through grief and depression, ptsd and insomnia that has kicked my ass physically and brought me to a place where most of the time my whole body hurts and I’m habitually exhausted. Mentally, emotionally and physically. Most days, things just feel so hard to do. But I do what needs to get done. And more recently I’ve even started to have fun again and see joy in my life.

A large part of that has been making my physical well-being and happiness a priority again. For those who have known me for years, you know that I am an active person. My usual level of fitness and activity is pretty high and demanding. And I love that. I love my body feeling strong and healthy and capable. I haven’t felt that way for the last couple of years and it’s been steadily wearing me down emotionally.

Feeling disconnected to my physical self is something I hadn’t experienced in years. My Yoga training and being a Yoga teacher, fitness instructor and personal trainer brought me a level of body awareness and somewhat acceptance that was sorely needed starting in my late 20’s.

Two years after Willie’s death and grieving still, 6 months ago I realized that I have found myself almost completely foreign to myself physically. Not able to do what I “normally” would not even blink an eye at… flexibility lost… strength diminished and a body that looks notably different due to extra weight and a lack of muscle definition… Struggling still with insomnia and depression and battling self-harm manifesting in a rearing up of anorexic behaviour again it was time to make changes.

So I set a goal to run a half marathon. I signed up in November 2013 and it was for yesterday, June 1st 2014. I had never run a half marathon but was determined to do it.

Depression and grief held on… insomnia got worse… my weight went up instead of down no matter what I tried it seemed like. Injuries one after the other as I struggled to just push through. Coupled with self-hatred and sheer disgust at myself for what felt like moving farther from my goal every week instead of closer. 2 months ago I made the decision to alter my goal to the 10km distance instead of the half-marathon. This was in the midst of a hamstring pull so bad that I couldn’t even walk, let alone run and the reality that, as Physio pointed out, the idea of running a half-marathon in less than 7 weeks when I couldn’t run 2km without pain was ridiculous.
So, I altered my goal. All the while still looking at other areas of my life and seeing that it was a theme that I was hating. I would make plans to socialize or go out and I would almost always cancel. I had moved from being someone who NEVER didn’t deliver to someone who would shrug and say “whatever”. Part of me, a large part of me, really expected that I would not run even the 10km that I had signed up for. When I found out that my son’s Karate tournament was on the same weekend I thought “of course” and resigned myself to not running it.

Then something clicked. I thought, I can do this. I had been able to rehab to consistently able to complete 5km (still with pain but I could do it). That little part of me that still believed in me was there enough to make a plan and decide that I was going to believe that I could do it.

A weekend of controlled chaos of race package pick-up, ferry and rush hour traffic to Vancouver, not enough sleep… full day at a Karate tournament and a hell of a long trip home to the island … not enough sleep and a morning that came too quickly and there I was. June 1st and the Goddess Run.

Incredulous that I had made it and was doing it. I had set a time of wanting to do it in under 1hr 15 minutes. My last organized race was over 10 years ago and my time was 1hr and 1 minute. In my mind I had a time of 1hr and 8mins that I wanted to meet but felt that was unachievable.

Even as I got set up to run I fought with the feelings of failure that I was running the 10km instead of the half-marathon but as I got going something clicked and I realized that I should be proud of myself for even being there when all along I had been convinced that I wouldn’t even show up. It’s hard to put into words how good it felt – even with just 1km under my feet – to be there and running. I didn’t care about time, just that I was doing it and was going to finish. To feel my body strong and my mind focused and determined was a feeling that I had forgotten I had in me. It’s true that the mind trickles down and what you set in your mind, you create and manifest with your actions. Your body is a vessel for the experiences of your Self.

A moment… I looked up and the woman in front of me was wearing a shirt that read “You Inspire Me”… I felt tears in my eyes and I thought to myself something I hadn’t thought I would ever think… I felt proud of myself and I thought “ I inspire me”. It’s hard for me to write those words because for so long now I have beaten myself up for my failings and hated myself for what I felt like were my weaknesses but those three words are a turning point. The fact that I was running at that moment – achieving what I set out to do when I truly believed that I wouldn’t – that moment showed me that the “me” that I always knew could do and achieve anything is still “me”. Never not broken but always strong and capable.
Finished the 10km in 1:02:57. Better than I hoped for but even if it had been an hour and a half I would have been proud.

Who would You be?

I think sometimes we forget how to be other than how we are. We all have our “norms”; how we usually are. It can be like how Eeyore is always sad or how Tigger is always bouncy. We become so accustomed to being one way that we are programmed to have that as our nature.

If you drive a wagon the same route on the same road every day, ruts will develop in the road. The route will eventually become habit and routine and just the way you always go. If it’s drawn by a horse, you will eventually not have to even direct the horse anymore after enough time. It will know where to go, when to turn, when to slow and when to speed up. The whole act becomes a rut.
We do this with our driving too. I have been shocked before to arrive somewhere and to have had my mind on my thoughts so much that I don’t actually remember the minutiae of the act of driving to where I ended up at. I went through the right streets and made the correct turns… I could only assume that I stopped at the appropriate lights and crossing.. I made it where I was going safely but I was on the driving equivalent of auto-pilot.
The same thing happens with life is so many areas. The worst one is in our feelings though. We become so used to the same feelings and the same way of relating that, after a while, even unhealthy or uncomfortable feelings become “easy”. A way of life.

We try to make changes and every now and then, the changes hit their mark. A moment happens when we realize that we don’t feel the same… that we feel differently… that change not only can happen but has… and yet somehow… we revert back to the “norm”.

We react differently than “usual” to a situation. Reacting in a healthy way instead of the “usual” way that nurtures hurt and fear and isolation… and somehow talk ourselves around again into the unhealthy feelings being dominant. Why? Because that how it’s supposed to be. Doesn’t’ matter if it’s not right… it’s usual… and that, in a twisted way, makes it comfortable even in it’s wrongness.
We consistently choose sameness over uncharted territory – even when that sameness is exactly what we profess to not want anymore.. what we struggle against and tear at and say we want to change – more than anything…

What would happen to the story of piglet asked Eeyore how he was and Eeyore said he felt great, that the day looked beautiful (instead of the usual gloomy) and that he was in a terrific mood…Impossible… that’s not Eeyore’s “story”. No one would know how to relate to him; and the worst affected would be Eeyore himself. Sure, he might enjoy his new-found giddiness for a bit but it’s easier for him to be how he always has been. It’s easier to complain and mope and be comfortable… because at the end of the day, it’s easier to be unhappy and cozy with the usual than it is to finally be the change you say you’ve always wanted. Once you change your story and make it how you want it… you have to take responsibility for the state of affairs and own that.

For so many, it’s easier to remain a victim of being caught in the same old trap of mood and feelings and behaviours.
I asked myself today… “What would you be if you had nothing “wrong” to complain about… if you loved yourself for how you are right now… not how you want to be…if you looked in the mirror and saw the beautiful and sexy and caring person that you are that you never see? You’d be amazingly who you were meant to be.” A harsh truth but one that I told myself over a decade ago and one that I forgot about recently.