Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Strength

Blessings by Julia Cameron

There are days in our lives when the last thing we feel is strong. We feel defeated and beaten down. We can't muster up the energy needed to handle one more thing. And it seems easier to throw in the towel than stand up and keep going. Even one more step seems impossible. I've had moments like that. I'm sure you have, too. I've no doubt that everyone has.

But whenever I feel that way, I think back to some period in my life when the seemingly undefeatable obstacles were defeated. Somewhere inside me there was the strength needed to get back up and fight. All I had to do was search for it.

This is not unique to me.

Within each every one of us is the desire to be happy. Within each and every one of us is the need for a fulfilling life. And within each and every one of us is the strength to make it all happen.

If we dig deep enough inside, we just might surprise ourselves at how strong we can be and how much we can overcome.

Please share your thoughts.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mindfulness

This week's mindfulness exercise is a really good one. Here we go:



I will write down five things at the end of each day in my journal that I've been grateful for and I'll share them next Monday. You're welcome to do the same!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rebel

The Answer is Simple by Sonia Choquette
I grew up in a community where men were considered superior and women were expected to serve them. This was enforced in all the households and in the churches we attended. As a child, this oppressive and sexist environment was beyond my understanding, but when I became an adolescent (a philosophizing, hippie-loving and liberal-minded one, no less), the significance of this became perfectly clear and it didn’t sit well with me.

I raged and rebelled against the unjustness and backwardness of it all with every ounce of my being at a level of zeal that only a teen can emit. It wasn't easy to stand against the status quo and it wasn’t easy to be labeled as ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ or ‘flawed’. And it certainly wasn’t easy being the black sheep of the family and, in fact, the entire community. It was painful and depressing and soul piercing. But it was necessary. I dug my heels in deep and kept standing right back up every time my entire being was knocked down.

Looking back now, perhaps I could have handled it with a little more grace instead of with so much anger. Or could I have? Would I have been able to pave the road of equality that I placed my two daughters on years later if I hadn’t forced it? I don’t know. What I do know is that I have no regrets for rebelling and I’d do it all over again if I had to. Because sometimes we need to stand up for what we believe in and stand against what we don’t.

Have you ever rebelled against something?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Appreciation

Energy Oracle Cards by Sandra Anne Taylor

There are prickly bushes behind the woman in the image, but instead of getting caught up in that, she chooses to place her focus and appreciation on the scent and beauty of a single rose.

Sometimes we get caught up in the stresses of daily life and  it's hard to find something to be grateful for in all that mess. I know I am guilty of this. Whenever I'm overloaded, it's like a tornado sweeps me up and carries me away. My focus is shifted and I pay more attention to what's wrong instead of what's right.

This year I've been writing daily in a journal and keeping tabs on my thoughts and moods. When I'm having a bad day or feeling overwhelmed, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and think of something positive. No matter what's going on, I work hard at searching for something to appreciate...that single, beautiful and wonderfully-scented rose.

Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Overview

Animal Whispers Empowerment Cards by Madeleine Walker

With its extraordinary height, the giraffe is  able to reach quality food. But it's also able to view its surroundings from a completely different, more widespread perspective than the rest of us. We can learn a lot from this magnificent creature. Instead of being quick to judge others (and even ourselves), we should pause for a moment and see things beyond our own viewpoint, which can sometimes be quite rigid and even uninformed.

There is always more than one way of seeing things and when we broaden our horizons, we open up ourselves to understanding others, and even understanding ourselves. So walk tall and take a look around with an open mind and a widespread perspective.

Share your thoughts.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mindfulness

How did last week's exercise go? I have to admit that I did procrastinate on some things. But I also took action on others. So I guess it was a little bit of a success even though I could have done better. I'll just have to keep working on it.

Here is this week's mindfulness exercise:


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Slow Down

Crazy Sexy Love Notes by Kris Carr


Sometimes I take on too much, commit to too much, become overwhelmed by doing too much. When I reach that point, I clear my schedule and either do nothing or do something that's fun. My to-do list can be tackled at another time.

If you feel like your world is spinning out of control, take a deep breath and slow down. There's always tomorrow.

Have a peaceful Saturday!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Speak Up

Miracles Now by Gabrielle Bernstein

We all have something to say. But sometimes we don't share our point of view. I know I don't always speak up. Sometimes the circumstances make it difficult and even uncomfortable. But I am getting more assertive with this as I get older, even if it's only at a snail's pace. Because I don't want to be silenced. And unless I'm in a troubling situation, I will speak.

So...

Speak up.
Speak freely.
Speak with confidence.

Most importantly, be truthful and speak with integrity. And allow others the same privilege.

Do you find it difficult to speak up?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mindfulness

How did you do with last week's exercise? Did you pay attention to the different scents in your surroundings? Did you notice any unusual smells? What was your favourite? What was your least favourite? I loved the smell of home cooking when I walked into my brother and sister-in-law's place on Sunday for lunch. My least favourite was the horrible scent on a deodorant that I bought thinking it was unscented. I tried it once and that was enough.

Here is this week's mindfulness exercise:


Monday, April 9, 2018

A Complicated Grief

From the moment I was born, I already had a best friend: my brother Steve. We were only 11 months apart (Irish twins) and throughout our entire childhoods we were inseparable. From morning to night, we were practically joined at the hip. We ate together, slept at the same time, woke up at the same time, played together, shared everything we had with one another, and never fought. We went so far as mimicking each other’s actions. If he left three peas on his plate, I did, too. If I drank only half my glass of milk, so did he. If he didn’t want to put on a scarf, neither did I. We were two peas in a pod. And my childhood was that much more amazing with him in it.

Today marks the 7th year since my beloved brother died. He was only 47. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. I miss his smile, his voice, his hearty laugh, his way of thinking, his wacky sense of humour, his dedication and loyalty to our family, the way he adored his nieces, his unique outlook on life, his generosity, his kindness, his honesty and everything else that made him remarkable. Most of all, I miss his presence in all our family gatherings and celebrations. And in my life. The world became a sadder place when he left it.

Talking to Heaven by Doreen Virtue and James Van Praagh
Card pulled this morning after asking what message my brother
would have for me on this day when my grief is really intense.

For years now I've been dealing with a very complicated grief. Because, you see, my brother died by suicide. There, I finally said it out loud. Not because I didn't want to but because my family, mostly the older generation, and the community I grew up in didn't want it said. They are an old world, very religious group that is ashamed of these things, convinced that a suicide leads to a soul's eternal damnation. That shame, those beliefs and the desperate attempt to cover up the cause of my brother's death perpetuates the stigma surrounding suicide. And so does my silence.

But no more. I do not agree with their views and therefore I cannot be a part of this anymore. I feel like I've been suffocating for years and I refuse to continue living this way. This needs to be set free and released into the universe. His story needs to be told. He's owed that much. And I have to help put an end to the stigma that surrounds this extremely important topic. Other lives depend on this.

So today I freely and openly say what needs to be said:

My brother died by suicide.



Years later, it still stings. I have come to understand that there will always will be troubled emotions, feelings of guilt and unanswered question like: "What could I have done to prevent this?". But I've also come to accept that he had made up his mind and there isn't really anything I could have done. My brother suffered from mental illness that he refused to seek help for because - you guessed it - he was ashamed. He suffered in silence until the suffering became unbearable. This is what stigma does.

We must stop being afraid of discussing anything about suicide. We need to talk honestly, intelligently, sensitively and nonjudgmentally about it so we can raise awareness, help prevent more suicides and offer support to suicide survivors dealing with a traumatic and complicated grief.

Time helps us heal and I've gotten used to a new normal even though I've never stopped wishing things could have been different. Most importantly, I have reached a point in my life where I've accepted that the questions that once threatened to suffocate me will never be answered. The pain has subsided with the passage of time even though the ache remains. But it's an ache that I can live with. And today I release a burden that I've carried for all these years to help me heal further. And to honour my brother who I loved with all my heart. A beautiful soul who deserves better.

Have you ever lost a loved one to suicide or some type of traumatic death?