Sparking Joy

It wasn’t a clean break. The space I was trying to build with someone else is still a work in progress because we weren’t ready to let go yet. It’s currently relationship limbo. That nebulous space where you know something is there, but nobody knows what it is, exactly. It seems I’m the kind of person who needs the security of a label. ‘Single, but dating’? ‘It’s Complicated’? I don’t know how any of this relationship stuff works, which is no small irony considering the career and life path I’ve chosen.

I’m taking until the end of this lunar cycle on the 31st to feel my way through to the next steps with this one. Do I keep trying? Do I start to let go and begin to date other people? Do I end it completely and take a break? It’s been challenging, and a few certainties have emerged. I’m certain I need to put the vast majority of my energy towards mom life and school. I’m certain that there are specific personality types/behaviours that trigger incredible anxiety for me in relationship. I’m certain that I’ve lost my sense of joy.

Losing my joy is frankly scary. I blame nobody but myself for this. My ability to find joy, or at the very least, beauty in every day is what gets me by. I’ve been so consumed in this relationship puzzle, and in fact, the relationship puzzle at large, that I’m losing the wonder of each moment. Why have I made finding romantic love so important? Is it because I feel that it ultimately eludes me? Is it because I’m afraid of being alone? Am I trying to prove my worth through someone else? Am I trying to justify the terrible heartbreak I weathered with a shiny prize in the bottom of the box?

My wise friend Paje recently said ‘don’t look for a relationship, but let a relationship emerge if there’s going to be one’. This was like a small explosion in my brain. I should not compromise or commit exclusively until I am completely sure that there is something real emerging. Something real and mutual.

So, it’s back to the foundation again. My foundation. The qualities and choices that lead me to my higher purpose; to the kind of woman I want to be. She is strong, loving, independent, wise, generous, sensual, inspiring. She wants someone who will celebrate this with her the way that her dear friends do. The way that she celebrates the wonder of the people she loves. Someone who has the space in their life to actually see her, and know her worth. Is that really possible here?

Maybe I was too hungry for this idea of a relationship. Maybe the Universe knows that I’m not ready for a relationship right now, even if I believe otherwise. Maybe it’s a bad time to eat when you’re starving because that’s when you make choices that aren’t so healthy.

It’s a gray day here, but the heat has broken. I’m moving through this Monday sifting for joy in the mundane. I feel lucky that I can work from home and spend the morning sipping amazing coffee without worrying about what I look like. I feel, for a brief moment, the sweet buzz of an excellent energy exchange the night before. I take note of the fact that the sight of my belly in this clingy dress doesn’t bother me as much as it usually does. I give thanks for the low cost of repairing my punctured tire (thanks Peninsula Tire). I’m happy for good food for lunch. There’s a coffee date with my lovely friend Kate to look forward to. Maybe I’ll buy myself a birthday dress at the outlet mall. I’ll get to see my kids later, even if it’s just for a little visit. I’ll think of my free evening as an opportunity to catch up on my studies. Don’t dwell. Keep on moving forward.

Each day I need to wake up and promise myself that my priority will be searching for the good and the beautiful. Even if the day has only tiny morsels to offer up. Can you believe, after everything I went through last year, that I would allow myself to lose sight of my worth? To lose sight of the sparkle I’ve fought so hard to recapture? It happens to the best of us, doesn’t it? We take for granted our own priorities until suddenly we don’t even feel like ourselves anymore.

Here’s a little exercise. My therapist, James McQueen taught me this one, and I revisit it again and again. James introduced me to Acceptance and Commitment therapy (or ACT) and I really love the hands-on approach to mindfulness that ACT offers:

Divide a page into four quadrants.

In the bottom right quadrant, make a list of the core values that are most important to you. Also list the people who are most important in your life. 

In the bottom left quadrant, list all of your behaviours and feelings (including self-talk phrases) that take you away from your values. 

In the top left list all of the ways that you manage any emotion or behaviour that takes you further away from these values. 

In the top right quadrant, create a list of things you can do to manage the behaviours and bring yourself closer to your core values.       
    
You can apply this exercise to life in general, to your career, to any specific relationship, or to relationship as a concept. This entire blog is a testimony to the power of writing things down when you’re trying to manifest change, and there’s real power in revisiting the words you’ve committed to the page.     

For more information about ACT, you can visit this site There’s lots of excellent free resources here too.

And so, as I launch into birthday week (I’m a Leo, we don’t just have one day) I’m on the hunt for that which I can delight in. What are some tiny things that you do to spark your own joy?                                                                                                                                                  

2018 Wish List

Happy New Year!

Photos by Kyle Andrew

I hope the festive season was good to you and those you hold in your heart. This year, we slowed things down for the holidays. We knew we wanted to try something different after a particularly maudlin 2017 Christmas, but this decision was reinforced by a series of daily meltdowns I had leading up to the holidays. (I can’t talk about that yet, but I will soon). Christmas Day was spent at home, all day, in our PJs. My parents, brother, auntie and dear cousin joined us for a small turkey feast and we played cards, ate too much, and shared some laughs. This felt so completely right, that it’s gotta become a new tradition.

Tweens hugging

Another new tradition is crafting a list of things I’d like for the brand new year. I won’t call them resolutions, because I feel the pressure just typing those letters. I wanted to write something for you as we sail into the New Year, but everything I started to craft sounded like trite horse shit. I’m sitting on a mountain of change, and I can’t talk about it yet. I’m avoiding sharing my feelings with you because they’ve been messy, and unpleasant, and embarrassing. Instead, I give to you my 2018 wish list.

Health

  • More fun ways to exercise
  • A return to a keto lifestyle
  • Increased energy
  • Gratitude for my healthy body
  • Creativity in the bedroom
  • Time in nature
  • Time in the kitchen
  • Stress management techniques that work
  • A sense of security

Happiness

  • More face-to-face time with my friends
  • More time connecting with my kids
  • Down time
  • A gratitude practice
  • Bubble baths
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Frivolous ways to spend time
  • Opportunities for volunteering
  • Dinners with family
  • A sense of security
  • Truth bombs on the daily
  • Saying no to things that make me anxious and resentful

Creativity

  • Crafting time
  • Journal time on the regular
  • Crafts with the kids
  • A sense of security

Work

  • Organization
  • Discipline
  • Growth
  • Daily writing practice
  • Regular efforts at promotion
  • A published novel and/or literary agent
  • A sense of security

In addition to this list, I intend to spend the next few days mind-mapping all of the ideas rolling around in my brain when it comes to work. I don’t actually know what mind-mapping is, but when I imagine myself doing this, I’ve got colorful markers in hand and I’m puking out random ideas onto an empty page. I have some power over my work life, and I’d like to exert control where I can.

Another thing I just did, not because I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, but because my SEO optimizer prompted me to add some internal links, was go back through this blog and ready every post I’ve ever written around January 1st. This hurt my heart, and in particular, I could see a real turning point in 2014. As I type, I find myself yearning for the articulation and joy of 2016 (my brother’s awesome photos really say it all, though). These posts are inconsistent, but I’ve linked you here in case anyone would like to read my evolution:

2009

2010

2011

2013

2014

2016

Kid drinking milk christmas pajamas

It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in 2018. It seems that each year, there’s a sea change, and trying to prepare for such a thing seems like a guaranteed way to get washed out. I’ve become an expert in self-reliance, and that’s something. In fact, I think that’s everything, now. I can count on myself. I can take care of myself. I believe I’m a good mother, though certainly not perfect. I have sometimes believed that I’m a good partner, but I don’t know about that anymore.

I’d like to find stability and trust in 2018, even if that means trusting my own two feet to carry me the rest of the way. If I’m deeply honest, (and vulnerable in the ways you’ve always seemed to love), I’d like to know that lasting romantic love does in fact exist, and that it’s safe to trust another person on a profound level.

What’s on your 2018 Wish List?

A To-Do List For A Difficult Day

Anyone who knows me knows about my love/hate relationship with November. This year, I seem to have gone darker and deeper into the grey than ever before. I need vitamin B, or iron. I need a week off. There’s never enough sleep, never enough time. The leaves are hanging on longer because even they seem to know that I need the added brightness of their outrageous colours. The good news is, it’s nearly over.

Here’s a to-do list for today. It will likely be extended to tomorrow as well. These are big days for me, these two. Big enough that without such a list, I might just sit here and stare out the window and not get anything done at all. Feel free to borrow this list, any time you need to. You’re guaranteed to feel at least 3% better if you use it.

Today I will…

  1. Eat an entire bar of chocolate. Well, almost. But, it’s fair trade and sugar free. Plus it’s dark, 70% even, so I’m okay with this.
  2. Cry over nothing.
  3. Cry over some really big things.
  4. Write.
  5. Try to work. Mostly suck at this.
  6. Make an entire thermos of tea and sip it slowly all afternoon.
  7. Listen to Leonard Cohen.
  8. Miss my kids.
  9. Colour.
  10. Read for pleasure.
  11. Eat soup for dinner.
  12. Wear my slippers at work because I need the extra cozy.
  13. Wear lipstick, or something else that makes me feel better.
  14. Finish all my work so I can do whatever I want all weekend.
  15. Send lovey emojis to my cousin-sister.
  16. Call my mom.
  17. Hug my kids after school.
  18. Go for a walk.
  19. Try not to cry in front of people who barely know me.
  20. Avoid the news, because sometimes I have to.
  21. Sing.
  22. Have a glass of wine, but only one.
  23. Make a fire in the fireplace.
  24. Add some frankincense to the diffuser.
  25. Watch a funny Christmas movie.
  26. Eat popcorn.
  27. Light a candle.
  28. Remember the spectacular depth and breadth of love.

Five Simple Rituals to Celebrate Spring

Ahhh…Spring is in the air, can you feel it? I can’t wait to celebrate the Equinox and open my heart and my soul to the new possibilities and the fresh start that Spring has to offer. I’m more than ready for warmer days, gentle rains, and the arrival of buds and blossoms everywhere I turn. In honor of the Vernal Equinox, here are five simple rituals to celebrate Spring.

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A New Year’s Intentions Coloring Journal

I love the clean slate of a brand-spanking New Year. Yes I make resolutions. Yes I set goals. Yes, I am currently devouring Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map and planning to illuminate all of the feelings I wish to own  in 2016. There is  no greater ritual than starting fresh, and no greater time to emerge with a renewed sense of self than at the start of the New Year. I’m still enjoying the haze of holiday time with my family, but I wanted to make a little gift for you in case you also love the idea of setting some New Year’s Intentions.

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