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

 

My 30′s Bucket List

Wow, it’s already December!  Never mind Christmas though, I’m now just months away from another milestone birthday.  Sigh, the big “4-0”….it’s around these milestones that I often ask myself, am I where I want to be?  My thirties have been full, but they don’t quite feel complete yet.  There are things that I still want to accomplish before my next birthday….eeeeeeekkkkk…February is just around the corner. 

1.  I want to lose 10lbs. 

Ugh these damn 10lbs! The same 10lbs I started this blog with a few years ago.  I may go up or down five pounds, but in general, it’s always these 10lbs that I end up picking up again when I move off of a round of discipline and hard work.  This is the weight I default to when I stop trying.  But I know this place now.  This weight is full of comfort and good enough.  This weight is a reflection of destressing through mindless eating and channel surfing.  These are the times that I shut down and tune out.  It’s almost a coping mechanism, my food bandaid.  This weight has little boundaries and lots of indulgences. This is the weight I can expect when I know I am acting impulsively and seeking immediate gratification.  But this is exactly why I want to lose it.  Living and floating through “good enough” isn’t actually good enough!!   I haven’t gotten the upper hand on this yet, but I’ll be damned to settle at this state.  I want discomfort, I want challenge, and I want growth.  10lbs is just the number really…what I’m actually looking for is to conquer this steady default state; clearly the security blanket I haven’t let go of yet.    

 2. I want to learn how to windex my parents regularly.

Mom and Dad November 2016I try and be there for my parents.  I help them with cleaning and meal planning. I drive them to appointments and talk to them every day.  But what I don’t do is treat them with the fragility they deserve.  I still see them and relate to them as I have almost all of my life. My ever “smart mouth, know’s better impatience, constantly busy, got better things to do” attitude they’ve always gotten from me.  It’s easy to see my parents kind of frozen in time.  It’s a taken for grantedness I’ve stupidly used as a life jacket.  It’s tough though!  They seem like the same people who use to be able to handle my sassiness and brattiness.  There are characteristics about each of them that are unchanging. …Mom’s bun, Dad’s propensity towards brand names and sales…Dad’s ability to guilt me…..Mom’s indifference and half an ear she gives when I talk to her…..but of course they aren’t the same people they use to be.  They have aged…a lot….if I can see those physical changes…I can only assume the impacts they are feeling mentally and emotionally.  It’s not like they’d ever truly share what they are actually burdened with, outside of the usual knee and joint complaints I’ve heard most of my life.  But I’d be a fool to not recognize that they aren’t rocks anymore,  they’ve turned into glass.  

 3. I want to love more than less. 

Loving people is effing hard!  ESPECIALLY when they don’t do things as I would do, when they aren’t strong as they are supposed to be.  When they make the same mistakes over and over again…or when they lie, cheat, deny accountability or seek to only serve themselves.  But truth be told, these behaviours shouldn’t be barriers to love, they should be reasons TO love.  Too bad it’s so hard for me to wrap my brain around that concept because it feels counterintuitive, but actions don’t equate to worthiness of  receiving love.  I’m not sure if people still parent in this way, but I remember growing up that people often withheld love punitively to shape behaviour.  It was common to feel the absence of love when I messed up as a kid…and that would make me feel guilty or accountable for my actions…and somehow I unintentionally translated that into actions dictating love.  I think I might have read that into religion while growing up too…that I was supposed to act in a certain way, and do certain things to earn favour or love.  Unfortunately, I’ve somehow engrained that into the way that I love as an adult.  But it makes sense that conditional love would force people to act out of fear, while unconditional love would allow people to act out of love.  When confronted with things that make me want to run, I need to practice staying put and loving harder.

 4. I want to take my relationships back old school.

I have to admit that as I get older, the flakier I seem to become.  I jump head first into commitments, then waiver when the time comes to follow through on them.  Maybe I over commit myself?  Maybe I need to budget more downtime in a week, but regardless it’s important for me to begin properly honouring my commitments and showing up for people.  It’s time to take my relationships back old school, long before text messaging, facebook and someday plans. 

I recently underwent a surgery. it wasn’t hip replacement or a transplant but it was surgery nonetheless that put me out of commission for a little over a week.  I can’t even begin to describe how comforting it was to experience people’s actions of love while I was down and out. Days before my surgery my girlfriend Erin gave me a container of homemade slow roasted turkey soup…..the day of my surgery (and quite frankly every day since), my thoughtful husband Jason, bent over backwards to care for me, including much kanoodling and grape peeling…the day after surgery my EFF Christa came over and had lunch with me with an awesome bag of tea in hand. ..my family visited within a few days to show their love and support over dinner with flowers and a huge bottle of rum eggnog in hand (classic Suma move), my friend Jenny dropped off some food from a dinner and bible study we weren’t able to go to…my girlfriend Ayah came by with delicious arabic food and marinated chicken I could pop into the oven, and my friend Teresa sent a care package of tea with a lovely card attached.  These actions were invaluable to me.  I get now, how supportive and comforting it is to people when we make it a point of showing up for them.  I can recollect times recently that I peppered friends with “how can I help, I’m here for you” text messages, and sure those reminders are nice, but how effective are they at actually communicating love?  Maintaining relationships via text is easy and convenient, and I get it, lives are busy….but we don’t build or deepen relationships via message, we simply placate them. It’s like a poke on fb reminding someone your there…but it doesn’t lend to the experience of love though it appears to.  Conquering my flakiness is worth it if it makes a difference of someone’s love quotient in their life.  Relying on my presence instead of my phone seems old fashioned but certainly worthy of revival.

 5. I want to be open to unconventionally growing our family

It’s no secret that we don’t have kids yet.  Having our own children may or may not be a potential for us following an ectopic pregnancy we had earlier this year.  That was a hard truth to confront that led to many other difficult questions and conversations we worked our way through this year.  And though I’ve fretted and stressed about it for so long,  I am beginning to realize that family doesn’t have to be boxed into the way I’ve grown up believing it to be.  Maybe we expand through adoption, maybe we foster…maybe we have more fur babies, maybe we develop rooted relationships with brothers and sisters who aren’t blood…maybe we strengthen relationships in our extended families…whatever it is I just want to be open to the possibilities.  Both Jason and I recognize how important family is; and we need to also recognize the blessing in being able to create family in more ways than one.

My Family December 2016

 T-86 days

BLOWN WIDE OPEN – Mining for Diamonds

I have a very particular MO when it comes to conflict. 

I’ve always been a pretty emotional person – I’m either invested ALL in, or all OUT!  I’ve always been a person, who goes out of my way for people.  I try and be thoughtful and considerate while loving HUGE. If, while I’m all in, I feel like I’m being treated unfairly or poorly, omgsh LOOK OUT! See I don’t just mildly express love or anger, it’s big.  It’s loud.  It’s fire.  It comes in a big wave like my personality.  And then I shut down, and shut out.  It might not seem normal to most people, to have complete falling outs with people to a point where best friends become total strangers….but it has happened with me.  I hate being hurt by people.  I am so sensitive to people.   And it almost happened again this week…

Until I got a text. 

One line read, “Really I’m ok with your emotion, you can have at me! I just need to hear where you are coming from”…Um WHAT?  Her words instantly disarmed me.  For the first time, in ever probably, what felt like an upcoming shut out, cracked me wide open.  It was when she said “you can have at me” that threw me for a loop.  It expressed a level of commitment to relationship and understanding while in conflict, I’ve never met before in a friend.  It was beautifully disarming.  And while disarmed, I was able to really look into my feelings and where my angst was coming from.

Feeing excluded or invalued has always been a trigger for me.  I’m not sure to be honest, where it comes from…probably some silly elementary school yard thing that I’ve internalized and carried around all of these years. Regardless, it’s there, dormant, waiting to be triggered.

But her text took me right off my usual track and got me thinking instead of just feeling.

I can only be hurt by people, when they trigger my own insecurities.  My anger has nothing really to do with them, but everything to do with what I believe about myself.  If someone “makes me feel “ like I’m not fitting in, wanted or valued; it’s because I myself am believing that I don’t fit in, am wanted or valued.  The fear lies in me.  You cant’ make me feel something I don’t already believe about myself.  These lies I’ve somehow internalized create fear in me.  And I project.  But at the end of the day, it all comes from my own fears of being fraudulent, unloved or undeserving.

So before I can lash out again, point fingers or blame, I need to ask myself, who am I attacking?  The mirror in which I am seeing myself, or me for actually believing it?

 I guess that is my defence mechanism, and maybe that’s really what is behind my shut out; a smash of the mirror I can’t stand looking into.  Blaming you for what I feel or fear I see in myself I (even if none of it is true).

It was cathartic really.  She helped me shift, and I felt with clarity:

It’s time.

It’s time to step into my God given value.  It’s time to stop giving the devil these footholds and spaces in my life where he creates distance between me and those I love, creating isolation, perpetuating misunderstanding, resentment, judgment, justifications and more callouses inside.  Callouses on top of callouses.  Hardening my heart and securing these insecurities, magnifying them.  Burying them deeper and deeper inside of me.  So deep, that the truth of Who I Am becomes totally unrecognizable and I become a product of my falling outs.  I become my fall outs.  And the next conflict provides another layer of lies and more reasons to write someone else off, shut down and run the other way.

And so I prayed,

Jesus by my Miner. Help me dig through these fears and insecurities and find the value You’ve written over my heart in the very breath of who I am, created by You God.  Designed perfectly by You. 

How remarkable to have a friend who would offer the most beautiful thing, unwaivering commitment. Not resolution, not promises, pretty words, polite courtesies or pretend make up.  Unwaivering commitment to understanding each other. It was in her offer of understanding that I got to understand more about myself, in a way I’ve never known before.

I could have shut down. I could have chalked it up to another friendship gone wrong. I could have quickly erased her presence in my life, swept up those pieces and quietly discarded them…instead I was blown wide open and saw the garbage I need to discard in myself, and it’s good, because it is so time. <3

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What’s hell you ask? It’s called being an ADULT!!

Being an adult SUCKS!

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I nostalgically remember the days when I used to wish I could hurry and GROW UP so that I could be taken more seriously. I remember the days I wished for more independence and autonomy.  Eventually time passed and I finally became an adult, a real one… damn, it’s not half as glamorous as I had once imagined!  

I was a fake adult in my late teens and early twenties.  I use to drink chai in a to-go cup on my way to University which was toooottaaallllyyy GROWN UP!   At the same time however, I use to always carry my jacket on my arm during the dead of winter… less I put it on and it mess up my hair or clash with my outfit!!  (Fake adult).  I use to deposit my own cheques and pay for my own phone line at home. But every payday I use to run to Mariposa and buy a new shirt for the club that weekend.  I thought I managed my money well, but when I would run out of cash before my payday came up, I would inevitably hit my cousin Sheeba up for 20 bucks to support my pint of Rickers Red habit the following Friday night at the Power Plant.  (Fake adult).  I use to help my parents clean the house  - but I think at that time, “cleaning” only comprised of my room and the bathroom I used.  I think I might have done my own laundry…well maybe folded it? Okay, at best, put it away. I remember being “mature” enough to fall in love and have a boyfriend in my first year of University – in that same breath, I definitely remember crying like a baby and the emotional tantrums I threw in my misguided attempt to lure/demand that love back when it flew away. Sigh. 

Those were the days of reckless abandon and carefree living.  Those were the days of idealism and unmanageable emotions.  Those were the days when the most pressure I was under, was a busy Friday night at the hotel front desk I worked at maybe twice a week.  Did I mention the days I use to opt to make dinner for the family…shake n bake and some Lipton’s sidekicks dish…macros weren’t even a thing back then.

Truth be told, being a real adult isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. 

mom and dadIt means aging parents.  Watching my parents go from strong independent people to aged semi-dependents who need help driving, and doing tasks they would have otherwise managed easily on their how like shovelling snow or cleaning, is hard.  It SUCKS to palpably experience their invincibility dissipate into vulnerability.  It hurts my heart while frustrating me at the same time. It’s a lot to manage but at the same time, there’s nothing in the world I would rather do than help them – but did I mention how tired I am and how much I hate doing stuff when I’m tired?

Being an adult apparently means I am constantly tired.  Being tired if I sleep less than seven hours is a guarantee.  Gone are those days of getting into bed at 4:30a and waking up a few hours later with old mascara and new dreams.

It means full time work to pay for bills and mortgages. Gone are those days of breezy part time jobs and four hour shifts.

It means getting up by 8:30a on a Saturday and if I’m lucky a forced sleep in until 9:30a.  Gone are those days of deep teenage ‘dead to the world’ sleeping until 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

Of course, being an adult means buying adult styled clothes.  No wonder old people wear waist high pants or loose tshirts – gone are the days of low rise jeans, flat bellies and no back fat! Being an adult means taking selfie pics from higher angles to make one’s face look skinnier….

Being an adult usually means monogamous marriages. But for the assholes who can’t manage that responsibility, being an adult means that breaking up with cheating partners isn’t as easy as a long conversation, a mixed slow songs cd on repeat and a pint of ice-cream –  not when children, mortgages, pension accounts, matrimonial homes and savings accounts are collateral damage.   Gone are the days of flitty dating and coasting through different relationships depending on the direction of the wind that day.

Being an adult means I spend more time at work during the work week than anywhere else.  These use to be a time, (when I was fake adulting), that I use to spend time working an eight hour day–  and THEN go on to spend endless hours in the evening with friends.  Hours upon hours of talking, laughing, hanging out, dinners, coffees or partying.  The time spent ‘after work’ hours may have sometimes exceeded or come close to the number of hours I spent ‘during works’ hours.  Now I swear that ratio feels like it’s 4:1 in favour of work.

Being an adult means sooooooooooo much responsibility and planning each minute of the day.  Every minute counts. Like those minutes that I spend first thing in the morning washing dishes….or as soon as I get home, again washing dishes…or the ridiculous dishes that pile up again before bed.  How about the minutes I spend checking in with my parents, sleeping, cooking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, working out, budgeting, juggling friends and family time…minute to minute to minute to minute…remember the days of having all of the time in the world to breeze through life?

Being an adult means colouring my hair once a month, nothing fun and sassy though – just black. I can’t do red because it will show my gray too quickly, and heaven forbid I do blond streaks again!  I mean, sure blonde would be fun and sassy….but who cares now about fun and sassy?!  Blond would damage my hair, and who wants to risk having to cut off the damaged hair and wait the forever for it to grow out?  Responsible Adulting at it’s best.

I say all of this kind of in jest but mostly in truth.  Being an adult can honestly SUCK sometimes.  But then I realize, there are joys that I experience now, that I never would have known in my younger fake adulting years.

There is a joy that is fundamentally rooted in emotional maturity and experience.  It is the pleasure of foresight now, to choose my battles instead of diving head and heart first into every emotional wave and rallying every issue into a cause.  Experience has honed my intuition and separated my gut instincts from the fog of wishful thinking.  Time has brought me numerous opportunities of loss and regret which have allowed me the truest practice of humility and gratitude.  Growing into an adult meant growing out of my ego centric self.  When my eyes started to open and my world started to get bigger, I started to realize how small I actually am.     Adulthood gave me the freedom to finally stop caring so deeply about what everyone else thinks of me, and gave me the courage to stop hiding my insecurities….It is only in this place of vulnerability and total acceptance of my humanness that I can experience deep faith, real faith. 

JB-Engagements-063bwAlso, growing through 38 years of life has blessed with me some amazingly long standing friendship and family relationships.  And of course, the greatest gift of my adultness was the readiness for REAL LOVE, my forever love … This love is so different (thank God) than how my fake adult loves had been……I suppose it’s definitely love I needed to grow into, something I never would have been mature enough to manage back then…whew, thank God my fake adulting eventually evolved into me becoming a real adult….it’s not always easy…but I suppose nothing with such meaningful payoffs ever is… <3

 

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The Bettyness Factor

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The Bettyness FactorI’m not too sure when I became an all or nothing kind of girl.  Lately it seems that I’m either all in, or totally all out.

I’m either in saving mode or spending. Dieting or binging.  Spiritual mode or secular.  Helping people or being selfish.   Being productive or wasting away on my couch.  When did I start choosing sides I wonder?  When did being one thing seem to automatically eliminate the potential of being the other? 

 

Somehow, I think I’ve managed to unknowingly climb into a “supposed to” box mentality, wherein, things are supposed to look, feel and smell in a very particular way.  For example, saving is supposed to look like me putting aside my savings first, pulling out cash to spend and not purchasing things I don’t need in between paydays.  Mind you, if I “ruin” this picture perfect savings scenario in some way by pulling out my trusty visa for a small online purchase, it’s inevitable that I’ll continue to spend money on new clothes, maybe some new hair products,  a few eating out meals and a new gym bag (as I promise myself to start budgeting again next pay day).  Or spirituality; if I don’t start my morning off with some morning devotion with a cup of coffee, my Bible and prayer, (the picture perfect way spirituality ought to look like in my life)  it seems like the thought of God barely crosses my mind throughout the day.  If I don’t work out and meal plan, then it’s no surprise to find me on a deep fried bender…all IN, or all OUT.  Sigh.  I’m so tired of this binge mentality  because it’s infecting so many areas of my life.

 

When did I start putting all of this “picture perfect” pressure on myself?  When did things start having to look a particular way? Instead of these perfect boxes that I am struggling to step into and achieve, how do I just integrate all of the chaos together? What does spirituality look like without the picture perfect moments of prayer and bible readings first thing in the morning? What does being healthy look like when I don’t have time to work out or cook?  What do these things look like in the mess of life and the unpredictability it often brings?

 

I’m not quite sure how to be a “some of everything” kind of girl, though surely, that most best characterizes my life.  I wonder what having a binge lifestyle means?   When you think about the concept of it, it doesn’t really make sense.  Indulgence seems pleasurable (as in the excitement of splurging and buying that initial online purchase), but binging seems excessive to a point of punishment or causing pain, most likely followed by guilt or regret.  Binging isn’t just the act of doing something, it’s an excessive carried-awayness.  But it’s counter intuitive.  Why would I choose pain over pleasure? Why would I deliberately hurt myself by going too far?  It doesn’t really make logical sense.  Maybe it’s an emotional response to something.  Emotional responses can defy reason…..So the question is, why does a slight step off course for me, end up in a crash landing only to be realigned a next go around – a next payday, a following Monday or a Sunday morning service…

 

Maybe I am just trying too hard to be good at these things.  Maybe I’m not even just trying to be good, maybe I am trying too hard to be perfect at these things.  And maybe it’s the trying that I am rebelling against, causing the unintentional binging, the emotional response to letting myself down from achieving what I hoped (or expected) I would.  The truth of the matter is, I’m not perfect, and I probably don’t want to be confined by anything, including my own high expectations!  Maybe I need to make a shift from what I think something is supposed to look like, to what it actually is in my life.  Instead of focusing on what it looks like to be a perfect saver, how does it feel to  save a few pennies while I spend some too?  Not focus on what a good Christian is supposed to do, but how does it feel to act in Christianly ways throughout the day – maybe it’s time to stop worshipping these small gods I’ve built: The Saver, The Church Goer, Runner, The Worker, The Wife, The Good Daughter….and just focus on being me?  Maybe it’s time to accept my personalization of my roles, the bettyness I add to them.  The bettyness in my spirituality means that I have a big wide open heart who longs to love God and know Him deeply, but the bettyness in me has commitment issues, and time management issues and may wake up mornings either too late or too distracted to pray – does that change my big wide open heart? Nope. I do really embrace and love an active and healthy lifestyle, but the bettyness in me loves to indulge on sweets and fried foods at times, does that change the fact that I like to get up in the mornings and run before work? Nope!  Why have I been so unaccepting of my own bettyness all of this time?  Why was I instead trying to conform to these perfect unattainable illusions?

Stop WaitingIdeal Conditions

 

 

 

 

 

Stop waiting for ideal conditions….stop trying to create perfect scenarios….true enough some of my messiest moments have created my deepest joys and most meaningful memories.

 

I’d heard so much in dieting and in fitness forums that restricting oneself with extreme limitations can cause someone to eventually give up and binge. Who knew that it was possible to create extreme restrictions/binging cycles in one’s life totally outside of the dieting and fitness realm?!

 

I will work on, being well, being whole and being me, in all of my bettyness.  <3

 

 

 

Leaving the Lights On

May 18 2013 UsMy wonderfully loving, ever playful, (often exasperating) husband and I have been married almost two years now.  As I sit and admire the horizon of our two year anniversary, I recognize my heart is full and grateful.  Sure he makes me laugh and is fun to be with.  He’s a great Dad to our fur baby and would be an amazing father should we ever be blessed with children.  He’s light and good hearted, a committed partner and a hardworking guy who would give the shirt off his back should he come across someone in need. Thankfully his skin is warm and his embrace comforting, but those are not the things I am grateful for today. 

I am grateful for the promise he gave me almost two years ago now.  The same promise he commits to, well WE commit to each and every day.

In a world that is constantly changing and breaking apart; in a life with no guarantees; he promises me permanency.  He promises me, he’ll stick.  It is in this sacred space between us, I find the freedom to truly be myself.  I can be myself without caution, without filter and without political correctness.  Yes there is judgment because we are not perfect.  Of course there is insecurity, or times of resentment and conflict.  But always, in the parameter of our space, is the freedom to just be; regardless of what that is.  What greater love than this?  He knows my scars, has carried my baggage, has felt my weaknesses and knows my faults, but even still; we remain.

Our Happiness ForeverI once had a girlfriend, express to another girlfriend that she has a “forgiving heart”, is that the glue?  Is that the fence that holds this intimate space?  Maybe it’s love, forgiveness, support, companionship, loyalty, commitment – or maybe it’s something simple like a promise that holds the space between two people where they can be in relationship, be fiercely themselves and still be accepted just as they imperfectly are; even if they bloom in different directions.

This kind of permanency and security in my marriage is familiar to me, it comes from my family.  It is the unconditional presence my mom, dad, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews have always offered; it’s not always pretty or presented with a beautiful bow, but we are blood; ever changing but ever remaining. 

I was drMay 14 2015 Leaving the Lights Oniving home the other night after having met a girl friend for coffee.  It was pretty late and dark outside.  As I rounded the bend to turn into our garage, I was heartened to drive closer and notice  my husband, without me having to ask, had left the lights on for me.  That small gesture of love touched me.  That’s what love does, in our spaces, regardless of what is going on, we leave the lights on so our loved ones can find their ways easier. 

So this day, I am grateful.  My heart is full for these people and these spaces in my life that have given me the gift of being loved, understood and accepted; these ones that have lightened my way.  I realize that it’s in these spaces that I truly grow and find freedom ….it are these spaces that I claim; the ones I live in, live for and give my promises to….<3

It’s Challenge Time!!!

Game on Boys!!!

I think one of the best ways to invigorate one’s fitness and diet plan is by shaking it up with a challenge!  Though I think that I’ve been doing pretty good these past few months, and have been fairly active and eating better, surely it won’t hurt to allow my competitive self to step forward again and reignite my daily motivation. 

Meet the Competitors,  Daniel McOiler, Brown Vin Diesel and myself CSBG

Brown Vin Diesel       CSBGDaniel McOiler

The challenge is the person to lose the most percentage of weight in 99 days wins the $99 pot.  Another aspect of our competition is a weekly add of a Fit Bit challenge.  Every week, whoever has the most steps gets a dollar from the others, which we’ll accrue until the end of the 99 days.  This takes us to July 27, 2015 GAME ON!!

My own personal goal with this challenge (outside of KICKING THEIR BUTTS) is to focus on vitality.  To continue eating better and staying away from quick fixes and fast results.  Since I started this blog, my focus has definitely shifted from dieting to developing a sustainable and good lifestyle, and it continues to be a work in progress for me.

There are different tools that I rely on now to support my goals and lifestyle – when I first started, I went it alone (well other than being accompanied with useless diet books and quick fix programs), but the truth of the matter is, the more meaningful support I have around me, the easier time I have in keeping this momentum flowing.

My FitBit Charge HR: it is such a useful tool to monitor how many steps I take in a day, how many calories I burn, my heartrate and distance travelled.  There are so many generic programs out there that so objectively, without any personal attention, dictate how many calories a person should take in.  Generically, I always get “1200”as the number of calories I should be consuming from these online programs – but in monitoring my FitBit which is personalized to myself and my daily expenditures, 1200 calories for one day is often too low.

Myfitnesspal.com: HUGE! Huge tool for calorie counting and monitoring.  Until using my fitnesspal I had no idea how many secret calories I was consuming, but myfitnesspal is a great way of keeping track of what I’m taking in.

Yoga: As I’ve been blogging about, yoga at Lahari has been life changing for me.  It’s important for me to be around health minded people in that same space of awareness, energy and vitality; each time I go I feel more secure in what I’m doing, like they take my fine print and hit the BOLD key.

Michelle “Cha-Cha” Krause Weightloss Transformation Support Group:  I’ve joined a 5 week program being led by Michelle who had amazing success in weightloss and life experience gain (you can find her on facebook to see her ridiculous weightloss results, she was up to 150lbs in less than two years).  Her support group is a fantastic time of information sharing once a week about overcoming challenges, identifying triggers and habits, meal planning, recipe sharing and understanding nutrition.  Her transformative content is about tweaking our insides as well as adjusting our outsides, which to me, is not only valuable information, but information that is necessary for long term sustenance.

Activity: I enjoy running and working out, getting my body moving feels good to me.  Once my mentality shifted from weightloss to movement, working out stopped feeling like such a chore.  Instead of just solo workouts, I’ve been running with friends at work or my dog after work.  I also joined a volleyball league that plays one night a week.  Team sports has been the perfect way of making activity feel natural and fun again.   Now that it’s warming up outside, I can get back into walking and biking again.

For the past few months, I have really just been monitoring my daily intake, my daily outtake and seeing how my body works without harsh manipulation or rules.  I’ve been trying to listen more and understand my own cues and what my triggers are, what feels good to me and what doesn’t– I’ve been trying to figure out where I can create safe  room in my week for guilt free indulgences and what types of food I do enjoy eating that are nutritious for me and sustainable.  I’ve been trying to focus more on pleasing myself than punishing myself.  Slowly, I’ve been cutting stuff out that isn’t aligned with my healthful goals, like diet soda and sweetener or processed foods with too many ingredients; but like I said, it’s all a work in progress. I take daily pictures, journal and pray often.  For me a shift has happened that really speaks to a better sense of acceptance, happiness and well being…over everything else; but I feel like I’m only at a starting place with so much space ahead of me to continue to learn, grow and bloom.

With this challenge with Daniel McOiler and BVD, my goal is to focus on vitality and movement.  I want to play, I want to move my body, I want to break the molds of typical challenges wherein I solely focus on weight loss and allow this competition instead to refuel and re-inspire my lifestyle goals.  I want to continue being more like who I was before I fell asleep and went into cruise control years ago.  I want this daily accountability to breathe life into my spirit again and remind me that I want to be really engaged with my life each day and not fall into the habits of complacency or negativity.    

It’s all good, and IT’S ON!!!!

Tantalizing Nakedness

Mona and NorineI went to Lahari Yoga Studio last Friday with my girlfriends Mona and Norine.  The minute I walked in, I was delectably enthralled; the beautiful sari wall hangings, the vibrant colours, the smell of lavender and the welcoming souls around us….Sigh, too bad that initial charismatic high fell flat just moments into my incredibly awkward and oh so taxing yoga session!   The inflexibility and tightness within my body translated into mild stretches and weak attempts at the poses; never mind the rising disdain and frustration within me for yoga in general, (obviously hot yoga is only meant for rubber bodied people)….

But despite the rising internal resistance inside of me, I was also feeling so conflicted; I wanted to like it – the music, the atmosphere and the unfamiliar path our yogi was taking us down (away from the hustle and bustle of the world outside, to this quiet and beautiful promise of freedom within was so titillating and sweet, I so badly wanted to follow her down that rabbit hole), but I couldn’t do it.  I watched with envy as our instructor wrapped her legs over her shoulders and contorted her body in such beautiful ways seemingly radiating eternal youthfulness…I relished in her whole hearted encouragement to play and explore our own mobilities, I was drawn to her radiant energy and uninhibited playfulness.…but NOPE, I couldn’t do it.

I gave up part way through the session.  I mentally detached, physically flopped, stopped trying and sipped from my water as I patiently waited for the last of the minutes to tick by.  I rationalized excuses in my head to take me off the hook.  It’s probably against my religion.  Yoga isn’t for everyone.  I’m better at running….blah blah blah.  Bottom line was, I tried but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even flatten my palms on the ground when I stretched down, couldn’t keep my heels on the ground for downward dog or keep my hips on my ankles for child’s pose.  Sigh, it’s not for me I begrudgingly surmised.

When asked by our glowing yogi after class (over delicious treats) how I liked it, I told her it was too taxing for me, I tried but couldn’t do it – and she plainly with a smile, asked, why was I trying, what was I trying to do?  Um, you know, the poses you were leading us through!….But she replied that yoga isn’t about trying, accomplishing or being anywhere else other than where you are at….huh?  Wow, that’s some deep shit. I finished my baked quinoa pasta with red thai curry sauce and chicken and bid them adieu convinced yoga just wasn’t for me.  It was uncomfortable, awkward and too hard.

But her words stayed with me that drive home – why was I trying and not just doing?  Why wasn’t it good enough for me to just experience the poses in the state that I was in(tightness and all) without trying to go further?  Do I ever perform without striving for certain levels? Do I ever work without standards? Ever act or play without trying to constantly get better and progress or accomplish something?  Aren’t I always in forward projection mode? Isn’t that the direction I’ve been programmed to head all of my life? Succession, progression, keep getting further ahead, further up or keep accumulating?  I mean the purpose of volleyball or basketball practices back in high school were to make us play better as a team, not just play.  But then it dawned on me, that’s practice when understood as a verb.  When I looked it up, practice can also be defined as a noun, “the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use” – the actual application of yoga, the practice of it, seems more about being than trying – experiencing than striving, accepting than fighting, releasing than holding on to…..wow so interesting.

The more I stewed on this, the more I realized that I have accumulated so much over these past years. I am literally wearing layers and layers of past experiences, good and bad: the ways that I’ve understood them, the meanings I’ve given them, expectations I’ve unconsciously put on myself of how I expect myself to perform,  defined standards of where I expect myself to be….never mind the layers of excuses, justifications, default patterns and ways of thinking I snap into without even realizing.  For so long I thought I was fending off expectations I thought others were putting on me, only to realize that I’m fighting myself and the expectations I’ve burdened my own self with.  There was a time I felt freer to play, explore, give, experience, jump off cliffs….part of my accumulation over the years include such things as caution, safety, fear, ego, defensiveness, self-preservation….

January 16 2015So this year, when I put together my vision board for 2015 – there is a shift, a palpable shift from where I’ve been headed and the direction I’ve been going for the past few years.  I do want to lose, but it’s not pounds or inches this year…I instead want to lose in a different way…I want to strip myself of all the accumulation on me and around me; free myself from my own accumulation.  I want to stop practicing and really just practice life.  Michelle our yoga instructor last Friday said we as humans spend too much time thinking, doing etc…all we need to do sometimes is just be….we are human beings after all.  Yes. Exactly. <3

January 16 2015 Me