Resuscitating my Head, my Heart and our Marriage

I worry sometimes that I inflate things. That I make mountains out of molehills or spend too much time analyzing heart stuff with my head – and the truth is, not all heart matters can be contained (well actually restrained) by words…but this is just me, experiencing this world though my emotions first then perfecting the art of over analysis when my heart and my head seem out of whack (sigh).

When we couldn’t get naturally pregnant again after our first ectopic pregnancy, the non-option seemed to open a world of limitless options. The abundance of choice was actually quite paralyzing. Had we gotten pregnant, a part of me would have naturally defaulted into the acceptance of that purpose for my life – I would have believed that despite my own inadequacies and doubts, I would have trusted that I was “meant to be” a mother. But when the choice suddenly became mine to make; adoption, fertility, egg donor, DINKS (double income no kids)…it forced me to have to face all of the things I hate looking at in myself to really examine; what do I truly want? How do I truly feel about these things? What should I choose? Oh goodness, this was really like opening Pandora’s box because the questions seemed to breed more questions – much more complicated questions, like, what am I meant to do with my life? What’s my purpose?…The over achiever in me probably stepped up to bat first, not wanting to make the “wrong” decision….oh but what comes first when one approaches the magnitude of these matters? Head or heart? And geez, the prrressssssuuurree of needing to decide in the appropriate, conventional window of practicality and reality that I only have so much control over…and so brews the perfect storm.

I didn’t realize when these questions started to bubble, how “me” focused I was approaching them – but come on, that felt natural, because yes, it was my body at stake, my future to consider…all I kept asking myself is, “what do I really feel about these things” – constantly trying to pinpoint how these different things would affect me. So this head vs heart grappling turned into days, which turned into weeks, which have turned into months (to really no avail or resolution) but almost a year post efforts, it dawns on me (seriously out of the blue) how unintentionally “me centered” I’ve become.

There is almost a seductive illusion or veil to selfishness because it can innocently start off as so-called self care, self awareness or soul searching but when not managed properly or transparently, can become a hole that’s hard to dig out of. In a perfect world as a perfect human being I would be able to manage and handle the weight of such enormous pressure and questions functionally and I wouldn’t need to worry about the potential of me instead responding by shutting down, shutting out or choosing dysfunctional escape. But let’s be real. Of course I’m not perfect and we all have our own defaults and dysfunctional ways of being (which for me can look like constant impatience, anger, fear…well to just name a few…).

What seemingly started off as innocent “me” questions, inadvertently shifted and snowballed my sight line off of my marriage, my parents, my community – really anyone outside of me – and sure enough, I’ve become the centre of my own world. It’s funny because the place from where our thoughts and feelings come from, totally impacts our actions, and the choices we make. I was so wrapped up in all of my “me” questions, that I stopped asking the “we” questions; like what is best for us, what is best for Jason…and this “me’ness” infects everything…I stopped really looking at my parents needs, the needs of those around us…. And yes, I won’t argue that it’s difficult to care for others when we haven’t really cared for ourselves first. I would definitely agree that there are probably seasons of needing to be selfish, but God forbid we set up camp, overstay these times or develop roots that eventually become too hard to pull.

This has been tough for us. When the questions would become too ominous and too expansive to pick apart, I would table them in my own head and heart without sharing these weights even with Jason. Tabling them without sharing them has been causing some breakdown between us. But it’s hard sometimes, to navigate such divergent paths or streamline our different dreams, goals or desires in life; especially when we both have such vested interest in what either of us might choose – but I guess, that’s what marriage is – the commitment to at least try. So living in my head while trying to figure out my heart, has been my own fallacy; because it’s not just about me, and this selfishness is luxury I don’t believe a healthy marriage or real friendships can afford.

As tough as it is, I appreciate these breakdowns because they always seem to provide moments of change or growth. Jason and I have had many breakdowns that have allowed us to figure things out together. I’m not sure why I didn’t opt for this “together” approach from the get go, but am glad to be able to redeem that now. Thank God too for the friends who have very patiently been nudging me out of this selfishness, probably without them really knowing that’s what they were doing – the friends who check in, who ask without judgment, who listen without advice or the ones that invited us into their communities and lives when we’ve really needed these connections and support.

Struggling with heart/head issues is obviously a part of life, I guess the reprieve comes from who we let walk down those paths with us; or who God puts in our lives to hold our hands down them. <3

B&J2018 Ted2018

Making Life Again….not babies….

I feel like I’ve been at a stand still for some time now…almost like an emotional or spiritual paralysis…not like an intentional resistance to move on more like an involuntary unsureness of now what…now where? “Midlife Malaise” (a term from a book a girlfriend recently recommended).

There are probably pinnacle times in life when we pour ourselves into accomplishing certain goals in life…that fire to finish school, establish careers, find a partner, start and raise families, root ourselves into our communities, make meaningful impacts and accomplish big things…moments of fighting tooth and nail with bleeding finger tips trying to make those deadlines and check those boxes…and it’s exhausting, whether we hit those marks or fail trying. 

I guess what happens between pinnacle moments is really what life is.  The unexpected, the unpredictable….and when we aren’t striving and accomplishing, we are just riding those waves in between.

After we closed our chapter on trying to have babies last year, I was ultimately left with a feeling of what I can best describe as rebellion.  Rebellion to the bs expectations I put on myself or the bs expectations I felt otherwise burdened by.  Rebellion for me, felt like a desire for wilderness, figurative chaos … imaginary forests with overgrown trees and messy abundance of unruliness….big open spaces where I could just breath again…be free again…new mental and emotional space where I could feel refreshed and inspired again…like an imaginary escape that could evoke immediate feelings of newness and exhilaration that would cure the flatness of failed trying.  But where was that? What could that look like? How could I find and experience that?

It’s a pretty tall task to translate these things into every day responsible adult life. (an old me might have found that in partying with friends, travel, tons of reflection, maybe a new job or new relationships). 

So instead of discovering, seeking and striving….I’ve been sitting…dipping my toes into potential pools of relief…whether it’s been making new friends at work, dipping deeper into some new personal friendships, reaching back to some old friends, attending a new Church every so often, or having gone to a Women’s Retreat with some beautiful girl friends, reprioritizing my health again, reconnecting with family (all of which I’ve done in peppered and inconsistent bouts)…. But maybe even just this period of indecision has it’s place…maybe these blank stretches of noncommittal coasting is in and of itself therapeutic…because after a bit of a hiatus, here I am, in front of my computer ready to write and move…well sort of.

I wonder what “making life” again looks like.  Does it mean a creating a bucket list? Does it mean creating new dreams? What breathes that fire again? Is it in having purpose? 

I’m not quite sure where it is, or what it actually looks like but I know it’s somewhere here in between my last pinnacle moment and the next one…… <3

The Mathews 2018

Taking a Heart Inventory

It’s time to take a heart inventory – it has been a friggin long ass winter and I know somewhere in the last while, I’ve shut down my intentionality and have been coasting on auto pilot just trying to get through this season.  I know on a deep level I’ve been feeling somewhat spent, tired, irritable, short…running on low motivation and trudging through these cold days lethargic and uninspired.  Sure, on a surface level,  I’ve still been working out, eating well, loving and spending time with friends and family here and there…but deep down I know there’s a lot that I’m purposely leaving untouched and cold.

I feel like I am trying to navigate myself through too much unfamiliarity and these big unknowns feel like mountains I don’t feel equipped yet to climb.

We aren’t going to have children – so now what? What does that mean for our lives? What does that mean for our marriage?  Will we be happy? Will we be fulfilled? Will it feel like we live lives that are contributing and meaningful?  What will we pour into instead? What are we being called for?  Will we stay in love with one another without that experience together?  Will we always find enough reasons to stay together without that major glue that seems to tide couples through some turbulent times?  What does it look like to have a meaningful, successful marriage without kids?  Is there more that motivates monogamy and forever committed partnership?

Can I be okay mothering my mother and fathering my father?  Will I find a happy medium in caring for their needs and letting go of my incessant attachment to wanting to just stay in the familiar daughter role I’ve known for the past ever?  Can I manage and mitigate through their resistance to feeling vulnerable and defenceless, and still preserve their dignity while I watch them being stripped of freedoms they’ll never get back?  Can I be strong enough to care for their needs and not feel overwhelmed by these responsibilities?   What does loving them and caring for them look like, without personally owning the totality of everything they are, everything they are becoming and everything they need?  Can they feel loved while I am so busy doing?  Can I find more to give them outside of doing stuff for them?  Between appointments, medications, shopping, cleaning, cooking, driving, being their go-to…can I find space to check in, to laugh, to love, to spend quality time without feeling stretched too thin?

I found out this week that a friend of mine has thyroid cancer.  Her palpable fear of that unknown is crazy and a reminder that these days and this life is not promised, even though we live in a taken for grantedness way as if we will always have so many more days ahead of us to get shit right.  God, when will I get it right?

Why can’t I find home in Church?  After leaving our small group last summer – why does it feel like we are still wandering?  Why does currently participating in a big Church with friends we love, in a huge building, with tons of different services, amazing spiritual music and strong messaging just not hit home for me?  I know it’s me, it’s not all of that.  Somewhere along the way I guess I’ve stopped being Church – Church stopped being inside of me and because of that I know that I won’t find home in a Church outside of me…so then what?  What does that mean? What am I looking for?  What am I feeling resistant to?  What am I struggling with?  Where will I find it?  Better yet, how and when will I find it?

In actually looking, it feels like a season of more questions than answers.  I bet I could google some inspirational quotes and life slogans that I could tape up on my bathroom mirror in the hopes of nudging me out of this heart and head space…but it definitely feels like it’ll take much more than that. What specifically?  I have no idea.  The irony of a response to my question being another question, doesn’t escape me.  Sigh.

I guess it’s just time to learn how to climb mountains. <3

March2018April2018

I’m Sorry if You are a Victim of my Storytelling

I hope I’m one of those “happy” old people…one of those seniors that you run into at the grocery store who meet you with a smile, laugh with the clerks and forgive their own stumbles.  The ones who feel warm and don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. OMGSH HOW??? How did you possibly live so many years and manage to stay happy?

With this in mind, I often struggle with how to somehow loosen that drain catch in my heart and let the resentment or anger that builds, out somehow. I don’t want to be bitter and twisted, though I know that potential is great.  God help me.

Truth is, I’m a great story teller…yes sometimes in the middle of social circles re-telling some hilarious experience I’ve had with a glass of wine in hand …but I don’t mean those kinds of stories.  Maybe I’m more of a great story creator, specifically those fictional stories I create around people and experiences in my life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s natural, and I get that we all do it.  Human beings are meaning making machines and it’s like we almost have no choice but to give meaning to the things we experience; it’s how we understand our worlds and make sense of stuff.  We rationalize, we explain, we blame, we justify, we validate and we label…not always maliciously, but instead in a “natural” attempt to understand shit that we go through.  We connect the dots. 

It starts off mildly, “oh so and so forgot to cc me in that important email”….and then another experience happens and we begin writing chapter two of that story “I can’t believe so and so started the meeting without me, she must really feel threatened by me”…then of course chapter three and chapter four soon follow as the plot thickens and the story becomes more complex…and before you know it, so and so missing me in an email culminates into so and so competing for my position and trying to squeeze me out! 

How many Chapter 10 complaints do we have in our lives and in our stories about certain people around us? Chapter 10 Complaints are those high level, broad, generalized, damaging labels – he or she is selfish, he or she never helps out, he or she is using me or is always competing with me, he or she is always taking care of themselves….you can recognize these story built personnas by the language you use, because NEVER and ALWAYS are pretty strong indicators that these characterizations are coming from your own story telling. 

The Truth is, it might have been that so and so had really missed me in that first email; innocently!  Maybe she was so nervous about sending out the email she missed the detail – maybe she didn’t realize I would need to be involved.   The problem when we write chapter one is we usually do it in the vacuum of our own thoughts, feelings, judgments and assumptions – we never usually test the things we are offended by…we rarely ask or call people out…we assume everything is always about us; and then we inevitably start to story tell.         

We buy into our assumptions and our fictions as if they are truth – but we forget, that they were based on our thoughts and perceptions, influenced by our emotions and limited by our limited understanding of the totality of a situation.  If Chapter One was off, then how can the rest of the story, on which Chapter One has been built…be true or trusted?

In recognizing these things, I keep trying to pull at those threads that weave my stories together.  I keep trying to deconstruct these chapters and back space all of the untruths I’ve layered for plot, drama and meaning.  I’m trying not to story tell, especially when I reach points where I can’t stand certain people anymore or the anger or bitterness I feel becomes stronger than feelings of amenability and love.  It’s not easy but I’m trying.  I don’t know what this actually means or what it looks like in real life…does it mean I start communicating more? Assuming less? Maybe I reflect on the assumptions I’ve made in my vacuum? Pray for understanding in the relationships that I struggle with?  I’m not really sure….

All I know for sure is that the LAST thing I want is a resentful or hardened heart…which is where I think story telling ends up.  I don’t want to feel blocked in love or stand off’ish to vulnerability or gun shy.  I want to keep myself open…

After all, I’m hoping to be a happy senior with a gummy smile and comfortable orthopedic shoes.      

#goals

<3

A B C D E F G H I J K L M O P Q R S T

Beware of Chronic’ing

I’m a big dreamer…a big plans kinda gal. My daily to do list and my “one day” to do list are both miles and miles long.  One has vacuuming and grocery shopping while the other has things like write a book and take a sewing class.  Although I’m usually chasing these plans and trying to catch up, part of me relishes in wildly and imaginatively juggling all of these balls simultaneously (of course while often dropping a couple or slipping on a few). 

I was told over beers last night post volleyball (it’s all about balance) that it’s actually counter efficient for people to multi-task and keep to do lists…that people are better off focusing and honing in on one goal at a time…I mean, I can’t argue that, it makes sense.  But for me this isn’t about efficiency or practicality.  For me, it’s a pulse check.  It’s a litmus test that yes, the list is still being written, I am still dreaming, still striving, still awake, and still moving forward (well backwards some days) – okay let’s just agree that I’m still “moving” (ish).

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been life stuck a number of times.  I know what it’s like to spin my wheels and really accomplish nothing, I’ve had many seasons of standing still.  But the chronic stand stillers or the “movement avoiders” are soul sucking to me.  I get it, we all  go through shit, but do we need to sit in it? Do we need to wade in it? Of course it’s a personal and subjective thing, because I don’t how long it takes before your skin starts to prune in the tub, only you know that for yourself.  But let’s be real here, sometimes we definitely over stay those welcomes.

There are always unknowns, does that mean we stop stepping out?  Yes, life is busy and stressful and unpredictable in many ways – but does the comfort of complacency feel better?  Before you know it, too many days pass with our inaction; that eventually any movement becomes unfamiliar and scary.  So much so, that those “to do” lists become chronic intention lists.  Like suffocating in the chatter of someone’s repeat story, repeat complaint or expired emotions….those “one day’ers” waiting for better conditions, the reeeepppeeeeaaaatt story tellers whose plot never changes.  Tell a new story – make a new list – plan a new day – come on already, let’s just move.  Status quoers love the potential of maintaining status quo, by pushing status quo on everyone around them (because of course, it serves them) but before you know it, we’ve all stopped moving.

There is a season for all things.  A time to wait, a time to plan and a time to do – there is a natural cycle –  If you don’t reap what you sow, if you don’t dig what you plant…if you wait too long the harvest rots.  The chronic holdout on the chronic intentions eventually become a chronic burden…and you almost become a slave to the idea and revere change as an idol that’s untouchable but worthy of worship. 

As a Christian, I believe that God equips us to live in this impossible world and accomplish impossible things.  As I grow older, I sometimes forget how very capable I am – and I see people around me forgetting to dream, forgetting to plan and putting off movement too…but capable is in our make up; capacity is in our DNA.  So on this day off, while I nurse my healing dog, I write and rewrite my to do lists, hopefully crossing off a few by day’s end but graciously remembering that it’s this juggling that keeps my blood flowing and my dreams moving.

<3

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Marry a Man Who Can’t Dance…

Truth be told, my husband and I had a not so fairytale start together.  Despite our crazy chemistry we were absolute opposites in EVERYTHING – you name it, we were on opposing ends of it!  Our connection was entirely irrational and definitely unreasonable.  But despite our differences, we were unexplainably drawn to each other from the start!  How? Why?  The connection came before we connected intellectually and emotionally – I always figured it was chemically, but now looking back, I realize it was spiritually – a meant to be kind of thing…

It’s hard to choose a husband with immature eyes and an ego driven heart.  Back in the day I was attracted to good looking guys (well beauty is in the eye of the beholder #hindsight) with big personalities – the cool guys.  Back then too, I had a specific group of girlfriends I use to brunch with and party with all of the time.  We were fun, funny, sex in the city type gals who were too cool for everything.  I remember the first time I saw my husband dance was just a few months into us being together, and we were amongst these friends…my husband unexpectedly busted out into some kind of super jovial VERY commotionary dance maneuvers  which I’m pretty sure included random clapping…and I remember seeing the huge grin across his face as he danced in front of me while I stared back at him in mortified awe worrying about what my girlfriends were thinking.

He was unlike anyone I’d ever dated before.

Thank God for that.  Thank God, he came into my life and bursted my cool little, ‘constantly worried about what everyone thinks of me’ bubble…thank God he was bigger, and the plan was much bigger than my ego.

Fast forward almost seven years later to this past weekend.  Despite having huge holiday plans, I got bronchitis and, what felt like a friggin extra large side of flu and fever.  I was completely laid out for five days.  I hadn’t been this sick in years.  Everything hurt, my entire body ached, I  had a fever, bad cough and was entirely out of commission- well out of my mind might be a more accurate way of describing it.  I might have tried pulling the blanket over me only to inadvertently flip my glass of cranberry juice all over me, my pillow and side of the bed…ugh…I was confused almost, slow to react, feeling completely bogged down, not myself and crazy emotional.  Not having health on any level is hard to confront and sure makes you appreciate what it means to be healthy.  But without even a second thought, there was my husband, constantly filling my hot water bottle, changing the sheets, rubbing my back, helping me in and out of the tub, picking up food for us, and being the incredible support I felt so held and comforted by.  Those big shoulders that carried my emotional and physical heaviness the whole time.  He watched a movie on his ipad beside me as I slept through New Years Eve.  My Dad also came down with a similar virus and without any hesitance, my husband took my Dad to the emergency clinic and stayed with him there from around 6p to 5:30a.m the next morning without any complaint.

I am so heartened by Jason’s incredible heart, his patience, his joy, his deep capacity to selflessly help those who need it, his willingness to run miles for those he loves, his creativity, his sense of humour, his strong arms, big shoulders, idealistic outlook, powerful strength and emotional depth – I am so thankful for this amazing man who humbled my loud ego, who quieted my judgment and totally cracked my heart wide open.

So that would be my advice – when and if you choose a partner…choose one who can’t dance…well, let me rephrase that, someone who can’t dance with ego and conscientiousness; instead marry someone who dances without inhibition and with joy…and crumbles your cool little world and shatters everything meaningless and finally lets the meaningful in.

<3

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F*ck 2017!!!

Wow, I’m sure glad this year is winding down.  It just hasn’t felt like a great year. Sure it wasn’t alllllll negative, but this year in general feels like it leaves me with a ‘good riddance’ kind of feeling.

Our fertility efforts failed this year.

Yes, truth be told I wasn’t gung ho on getting pregnant. I had mixed feelings about plunging into parenthood…so much so that the actual fertility process wracked me with a lot of stress and anxiety. But still, despite that, the finality of not being able to bear my own children and being officially stripped of that option, while freeing in some sense is also super heavy and sad. Upon anticipating that possibility (probably a long time ago) I think I  jumped into quick validation mode to spare me too much emotional fall out down the road. Well ‘I’m not sure anyway’…’It might not be meant for us’….and while this open burden loomed over our heads and hearts for the last forever years together, I almost involuntarily rallied for the side of kidless while in this self protective mode.  For a long time I felt emotionally detached from connecting with people’s kids… I think in some defensive way I defaulted into some kind of ‘kid offensive’ mode.  To make myself feel better, kids had to be a bad choice…I made myself see them as more of a barrier or challenge to any situation… but something about the fertility experiences we had in 2017, cracked my hardness towards children….maybe it was out of curiousity….maybe it was a way of researching how it could feel in my own life to have children. ..but they all got to me…something opened and I get it now. Friends and families children got to me. I see the value of child rearing and these family units…the joy and energy children bring to adult worlds, the blessings that they are…. I see it now. Somewhere my heart and walls softened and I started to actually love and appreciate the children around me. And with those walls down, I grieve my own loss and incapacity. I grieve the loss of not being able to grow, birth, nuture and be responsible for a tiny human in that way. I grieve not bringing that joy and vitality into my own parents lives and I grieve not being able to experience those firsts with my husband and possibly forever miss out on expressing maternal instincts of love.

But I recognize that this feeling of being more open, less protective and less hardened to children, while hurts in these ways, also allows me to really love and feel loved by the ones in my life. And there is something so special and irreplaceable in that.

In 2017 our family relationships healed, I was able to reconnect with extended family at the beginning of the year…we celebrated my Dads 75th birthday…certain friendships deepened, whole others strained…a close friend lost her Mom, another family friend recently lost her Dad…I turned 40 *gulp*….J and I left a small group/community we had been a part of a number of years…for the first time in a long time we are Church homeless and still feel like we are wandering….my Mom’s health took a turn…I feel the consequences more than ever before with my parents health issues, age and needs…my husband went through job transitioning…my little cousin got engaged, while another friend got married…another cousin had a baby…we got our finances in order and cleared our debt….we finished the rooms in our home…a couple of close friends moved away….a friend’s husband passed away….friends of ours had their second baby boy after what seemed like an impossibility of having more than one child… a lot of stuff…

Given all of this stuff, I didn’t realize my default response modes…the ones I tend to function in as if they are normal states of being when my stress levels are high or there is a lot going on…the reality is when i feel stressed, I respond to it in really dysfunctional ways. It wasn’t until my husband and I went to Jamaica recently that I took the time and space to finally pay attention.

*I default by living in constant fear and anxiety that something bad is going to happen. I live in this mistrust of people, situations and worst case scenarios. I plan my life and my days to always accommodate worst case scenarios and how to mitigate around them, just in case the “unexpected” should happen…but all of this negative energy is soul sucking and exhausting.

*I default by attaching to good enough and being afraid of change. In again, a fear based approach of worse happening, I attach to the comfort, security and safety of how I know things to be and because of that I take little risk….but I feel void of adventure and possibility by clinging to predictability.

*I wrestle with constant back and forth guilt or resentment when I feel stressed and spent because part of dealing with stress for me is to save the world, be a hero and make good out of bad…but I do that with little regard for my own boundaries, energy levels and without recognizing I’m actually needing and seeking to be saved too….and those mixed wires crossing, without me really seeing them, leaves me feeling spent, undernourished and bitter.

*When I’m stressed I watch a lot of tv!!!! It saves me from having to confront or sit in what is truly going on in me or around me.

*Another huge default for me is to blur boundaries and put up wrongful fence lines in the relationships around me because I don’t properly communicate where I’m at when I’m in stressed mode so eventually what started as small offences and slight hurt feelings snowball into big walls because things get too built up….but obviously this kind of disconnect is destructive to someone like me who so highly values love and connection.

(BIG RELIEVING SIGH)

Some time away was exactly what I needed to unwind, decompress, breathe, rest and see the things I needed to….the things I need  to work on….the things I need to pray on and grow on….and while challenging, I’m glad because even just seeing the dysfunction and toxicity I had blindly been living in, is in and of itself freeing….and a beginning…

So goodbye 2017, it’s been a slice…listen it wasn’t you, it was me….I just don’t think we had the right fit…. I’m sure you have plenty of other people who love you and are sad to see you go….but me? Well…I’m more looking forward to the new year….

<3

Jamaica 2017 2

 

Community Terrorist vs Eternal Optimist vs Gamechangers

Wow, it’s during times like these that all I can do to cope and maintain some level of “normalcy” is just pray.

Reading about these recent events, what happened in our own City on Saturday night (Edmonton), then the mass shooting in Vegas is just DEVASTATING….and so friggin overwhelming. My heart breaks for the innocent officers and bystanders involved. WHY? HOW COULD SOMEONE? Are but just a couple of the answerable questions I’m struggling with.  This all feels super heavy and impossible.

I keep hearing messaging about unity around these events, about being kind and compassionate to one another during times of adversity…yes, you’re right, let’s stay united, let’s focus on unity.

Hmmm, one thing that has really stayed with me around the Edmonton incident is how did the initial reporting of the accused’s race prove relevant?  Did disclosing that stand alone marker about his ethnicity promote unity? Did his cultural background somehow provide some insight or remarkable (factual) context to the situation? I don’t see how? (other than the many assumptions and judgements people probably would have broad stroke generalized given this current climate of confusion, tension and fear).  And sure, fair enough, I’m not a journalist, nor am I an investigator, so I don’t really have the authority to criticize.  For all I know, this information is evidentiary and valuable. It’s just that, on a humanistic sort of gut  level, I didn’t get it and still quite don’t. How can we promote unity when in the very manner we first receive the information, there is already division, separation – them vs us – “that group” – “those people” – implied in the messaging? (caveat: or so I’ve received it)

Language is important.

On a very base level, we either create unity, or we create division. On a very base level, we either spread love or we spread hate. Foundationally, we either live from a place of fear, or we live from a place of hope.  And everything that flows from where we start – our words, our language, our actions, our choices, our interactions, our posts…are all going to have some ripple effect in some way towards some greater end.  Which end is what we should all ask ourselves; which way are we wanting to go? Where are we trying to point? What are we trying to spread? How are we making people think and feel?

Never mind big acts of terrorism, mass shootings and global events (which seem impossible and so far gone to fix) – can we just start with some accountability in our own lives, in our own families, in our own communities and our own networks?

I get it, we are all entitled to our own opinions, judgements, perceptions and feelings. I can’t tell you what to feel – I’m not you – I don’t know what you’ve gone through, in the way that you’ve gone through stuff to judge how you feel about certain things. Fair enough.  But we’ve all gone through stuff.  We all mitigate through the outcomes of our own experiences; and all of the feelings, judgments and perceptions we create and wrestle with trying to assimilate our experiences into our repertoires of life.

But having said that, at the end of the day, regardless of what I’ve been through; do my opinions, judgments, perceptions and feelings preclude me from relating to another human being on just a human being level?  That’s the weirdness when people alienate, isolate or relegate other people – on some level, WE ARE ALL PEOPLE.  So I ask myself, despite what I am feeling, going through or wrestling with, am I being a good human being at the end of the day that is spreading more love – or am I creating more division in my sphere of influence?  What about those directly within my hands reach?  Are they feeling loved, respected and accepted?  Or are they not?  Can I say that whoever came into contact with me today whether that be via text, in person or online, left feeling lighter, happier or better? Is neutral, indifferent or nothing good enough anymore?  God willing the answer isn’t worse!

It’s easy to sit in the privacy of our own homes, behind our phones and spew criticisms of gun laws, immigration control, leaders responses etc….and sure, maybe some of these contribute to the problem…but if we were all to turn that scrutiny inwards and look at our own selves and our own spheres of influence, what are we personally creating or contributing to?  If it’s not unity and love, then how can we deny that in some way, we are part of the problem too?

People should be greater than principles.  Love should be easiest to spread. Forgiveness should diffuse our judgments and communication should lessen the gaps of misunderstanding.  People who spread love are game changers. That’s what we need more of – not opinions, not differences, not reasons to be more afraid and more things to be wary of, not more defending or criticisms – we need more people able to change the state of our current situation by just being better….better communicators, better menders, better “understanderers”, better “hopers”….better partners, better siblings, better friends, better teachers, better parents, better bosses, better colleagues, better Church members, better neighbours…just better.

That is the kind of mark I want to leave – the afterthought I want to be,  the smile on someone’s face or the reason for their sigh of relief….I want to contribute to the reason someone else favored kindness over division – Maybe that’s where unity starts, at just a person choosing to be better. Now that’s something I can manage… it’s a much simpler concept than trying to change the world…but maybe the eternal optimist in me wants to believe that it could be enough. <3

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WHAT I LEARNT FROM TAKING HORMONE INJECTIONS

For anyone who takes it for granted, please trust me when I say that pregnancy journeys are not always black and white – not all of them start with a quick check of the stick and cute baby announcements on Facebook… some of them are dark and mucky.

For some of us, these journeys include things like surgeries, needles, constant bloodwork, biweekly ultrasounds and sterile rooms.  I thank the beautiful women in my life who shared their closely guarded stories with me, almost like taking my hand through the process.  There is something to be said about strength in numbers and easing the load through connection and shared commonality…

My husband and I tried a round of IVF in July.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be – I dreaded it forever, but the experience itself was manageable (yes physically uncomfortable with the constant pokes and prods, and yes emotionally up and down) but manageable nonetheless.  Having a Doctor with an amazing sense of humour sure helped a lot too.  There was a lot that came out of the process, huge invaluable realizations I might not otherwise have ever come to.  Maybe it was the hormones?  The heightened state of sensitivity I was in?  Or maybe it was the acute awareness of the potentially life changing measures we were taking…whatever the cause, this is what I learnt while taking hormone injections:

1.  Life isn’t conventional, and the expectation that it should be poses a huge barrier for those of us outliers to accept and live out our realities.  Even just getting to a point of accepting fertility intervention was a tall task for me.  The thing that most held me back (ironically) was myself!!  It was my attachment to the “natural course of life” and my perception of the way things were “supposed” to be that kept me from moving forward.  At the heart of my beliefs was the driving expectation that babies are conceived in bedrooms (or backseats….just kidding) not hospital rooms.   I believed that if I were intended to be a mother, it would have happened without me having to take such inorganic and peculiar paths to get there …But true enough, life isn’t conventional.  There really is no norm, and the only things our expectations produce are barriers to living out our lives with more ease than harm.  There is no definitive so-called “normal” way of life.  There is just life.  And it is up to each of us to live out our own realities and our own lives the best way we can.

2. For the last at least twenty years of my life, unbeknownst to me, I have mistaken control for love.  Okay yes, I am definitely a Type A kinda gal, chalk full of lists and organized schedules.  Being in control has always felt somewhat natural for me.  And sure, that’s fine and dandy when it comes to my day to day living activities…but not fine when it comes to matters of the heart.

I had become so entrenched in my way of doing things (my choices, my decisions, my way of living) that it was almost impossible for me to relinquish all of it to my Doctor.  It was almost paralyzing trying to imagine giving someone else control over my hormones, my body and my future, I was petrified of the transition!   I hadn’t realized how far and how deep I had gone in my need for control, it felt irreversibly engrained.  What had once served me so seemingly well, had become hugely debilitating when it mattered the most.  It baffled me!  How had this happened? How had my Type A personality morphed into this unhealthy control freak way of being?

Somewhere between prayer and reflection, the origin of my misguided desire for control started to surface.  Many many moons ago, I had experienced the dissolution of a relationship I had been crraaazzzzzyy attached to at that time.  That ending was beyond my control and choice, and that separation at the time had felt like it had happened to me (not for me, not with me) but to me.  It was in that state of perceived “helplessness” that I first felt unloved.  So somewhere over the years, from that point on, the mistaking of control for love started to mutate deep down inside of me.  Somehow I began equating a connection between control and love.  Kinda like subconsciously believing that  if I were to lose control (be too vulnerable) that it could lead me to feeling unloved again – so conversely, I think I sought maintaining some level of “control” to ensure the feeling of “loved”.

I don’t know how this has impacted me and my relationships or friendships over the years, but realizing these things resonate with me – not to say of course that I haven’t experienced real love, because I definitely believe I have and do now– but I can admit that while looking back, it hasn’t been often that I feel truly vulnerable or allow myself to be truly at the mercy of many things….but that saddens me, that I would have been coming from a place of  seeking control instead of love – I guess so much so that I might have stopped really recognizing the difference between the two.

3. Despite being Christian, despite having been a part of a great Church community and an amazing Church family…despite so many levels of growth and maturity I had thought were taking place in my spiritual life…despite thinking I was almost ready to eat solid food instead of the milk I was so accustomed to drinking (1 Corinthians 3:2); I didn’t realize until it was crunch time, that deep down I’ve been recklessly holding onto the lie that life is ironic and God doesn’t work for us.

I came to realize that this is what I’ve actually been believing!  I’ve been believing  that His will is to test us and that things happen in life to make us ‘stronger’….but this isn’t a proper reflection of the God I’ve been seeking relationship with, and this certainly isn’t the outlook I want to have on life!  Talk about a negative lens to look through!  The revelation stunned me because I’ve always believed myself to be a positive and hopeful person.  When friends and family have problems, I’m always the wiz problem solver, the hoper of all things possible and good.  But when the chips were down, I surprisingly found myself coming from a place of doubt and disbelief.

It’s easy to allow fear and worst case scenarios weed and suffocate the fruits of patience and process.  All of a sudden quick answers and need to knows became more important than trusting, waiting and letting it all unfold.  What started off as a peaceful process became chaotic and commotionary because of the fear that made me jump ship on faith.

But I recognize that, if at the end of the day I have been holding on to this belief that life is ironic and God is not for us, then that must mean that I am living from a deep place of insecurity and fear without even realizing it.  But why? When did I stop trusting the process? When did I stop believing in God’s goodness?  When did fear replace love? Where was love when I was seeking control? Where was God when I was supposedly in control?

Big stuff! Big eye opening, heart bursting stuff.

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At the end of the day, we were “unsuccessful” in the process….the fruits of our labour were many things but conception….and vulnerably speaking, probably won’t ever be… And though this outcome is entirely unconventional, and completely out of my control – I oddly feel unusually and supernaturally hopeful….

Inequitable Relationships – (my nemesis!!)

 “We see people not as they are, but as we are”. 

Donating LoveFor some reason this keeps staying with me. Except for me, it might be more of a “I hope from people, not from what they give, but from what I would have given to them.”. ”   …(and when they fall short it kiiiiilllllllssss me).  I guess to put it another way, I hope for a reciprocated exchange of love.  It doesn’t feel fair otherwise!  Love isn’t like some bunch of outgrown clothes I annually clean out of my closet  and detachedly throw into some donation bin – love is something I give with intention and thoughtfullness. 

I feel like I am going through a season of disconnect.  There are relationships in my life that feel dispassioned and severed.  I’m not sure yet if this is an intentional time of refurbishing and making space, or if it’s just happenstance. What I will purposely insert in this season however, is an opportunity to reflect and digest.  Maybe go inside and see what’s coming up for me during this time.

Identifying and responding to people’s needs doesn’t always feel like rocket science to me.  Having a heart for people’s feelings and supporting them in ways that are validating and meaningful to them, doesn’t always feel super hard to identify.  Yes, I’m not perfect, I’m not trying to blow myself up here, and am keenly aware of how selfish I can be sometimes, and the millions of times I have fallen through for people.  I mean it’s not easy.  It’s definitely not convenient.  Loving people and committing to relationships is not black and white.  It means doing inconvenient things like being there for people when they need you, showing up for them when you don’t feel like it, going that extra mile when you already have a full plate.  And for me, it sometimes feels unreciprocated  - and it are those unreciprocated times that eat away at me (don’t get me wrong, I am immensely thankful for the handful of gracious people in my life that know me, get me and make me feel unconditionally loved).

So what’s up with that?  For some reason, lately, I feel less of a patience with that inequity in relationships.  I feel less tolerance and space for it.  The people that are quick to accept my apologies without offering their own. The ones who get defensive without checking their own actions.  Sure, at different times in my life, it was okay to feel “less loved” by people that I loved dearly. It was okay to not feel the extra mile from people I was walking miles for.  At one time it was okay to lend ears to people always wanting to share their details without ever really knowing details of my own, or showing up for them when they went MIA on me. 

Is it better to break relationships that feel inequitable? Is it better to allow the distances and disconnect to grow? Or if I try and bridge the gaps, what does that look like without me having to feel like a doormat, or me just absorbing the deficit?  I guess in broader terms, what does this brokenness need?

The answer that comes to mind is Grace.

Not wilful blindess, not victimized acceptance, not pretend forgiveness or vengeful payback  – no one needs to be the villain, no one needs to be the martyr….I guess relationships and just people in general are constantly in need of Grace.

In an passage authored by Mary Fairchild she states: “When we experience God’s grace, we receive favor that we do not deserve. When we experience God’s mercy, we are spared punishment that we do deserve”

Interesting food for thought, how do we extend grace, and how do we extend mercy? How can I extend either without feeling shorted or like I am being taken from? How do you create boundaries with people without judging them? Oh wait, maybe this ends from where I started:

I had started at: I hope for a reciprocated exchange of love.

Maybe the truth underlying my statement above is that it’s not hope. Maybe I’m not “hoping” for people to reciprocate, maybe I actually expect them to.  So maybe the statement ought to read, “I expect a reciprocated exchange of love” or put more simply, I expect people to love me the way I have loved them.  But even in just saying that, I recognize the inherent problem in that.  I can’t personally love on demand.  I can’t love just by virtue of being asked to.  I love, because that’s what’s in me to give. How then could I ever ask for a reciprocal exchange? It’s like an impossible measure.  What if one person’s love is quick forgiveness.  Or what if another  person’s expression of love is intimate sharing.  Perhaps somebody’s love might be expressed by remembering a person’s details or silent prayer. I guess there is no one universal measure of love to ultimately check off or determine how much love we give, and how much love we have received in return.  And maybe that feeling of inequity is stemming from the unreasonable expectation that there is.  But when scrutinized, proves the impossibility.  Maybe that’s why Gary Chapman had identified the 5 different love languages, because love is expressed in many different forms, and maybe he only scratches the surface. 

So maybe it’s in this unknown space of immeasurable love, that we give grace and mercy to the moments where it feels inequitable – and maybe hope, that in the long run, it is all reciprocated, in some form or another – Maybe we just believe that we get back what we give, and at the end of the day it’s all a wash…and it’s all love.

<3

Ted and I 2017J and I April 2017