You Being You

I want to thank everyone who came out to my workshop last week! Thank you for being open, for being *present* and for your smiles and great questions! Let’s do it again some time!

Today, I came across this and just had to share:

Panache Desai quote

It is a quote from Panache Desai, from Discovering Your Soul Signature. It reminds me that although it is good to read books by others, and to want to change, it is important above all to learn to be yourself — to love yourself and to listen to your own guidance the most closely. And know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are the blessing to those around you and the world. YOU ARE a miracle!

If you’re wondering what a soul signature is, I believe it’s the unique and beautiful way you are in the world. It’s the precious, one-of-a-kind imprint you leave on those around you. It’s the wake of your vibration — like the wake of a boat moving along — as you go through your day!

Have a great day, everyone! Love you all. πŸ™‚

Unraveling Your Mistakes

I’m a monster knitter. Now, when I say “monster,” I mean that I knit a lot. I know, this is a surprise to some of you, since I never mention it here on my blog. I’ve read some knitting blogs and they are great fun, but I’ve never really wanted or needed to write about knitting, until now.

I did my first craft sale a couple of months ago.* This is the first time I’ve ever knitted things with the intention to sell them at a Christmas bazaar, and the whole experience was strangely humbling and personally risky.

Why do I say risky? Because when I make something by hand, I spend a lot of time and effort on it, and I want people to like it. I hope they will think it’s nice; I hope they appreciate the work I put in. And it takes courage (at least for me) to display myself and my homemade crafts for all to see, in public. I’ve helped my dad sell eggs at the Farmer’s Market, but this was very different — much riskier. I wanted to have a table at the bazaar, however, because it was something I’d never done before!

So, I had three baby sweaters for sale, which I had knitted over a year ago, and I spent about 6 weeks knitting mittens, toques and headbands to sell at my table. I made five pairs of children’s mittens using bulky yarn and a pattern that I had invented. I’ve created my own patterns lots of times, because, like I said, I knit a lot. I had traced my little friend James’ hand a while ago, so I had something to follow, but I was still anxious to have some real kids try them on. I hoped they would fit, but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t wait for people to come by my table and try them on their kids. So, you can imagine how surprised and chagrined I was when the first toddler came by and the mittens were too small.

They were way too narrow! They couldn’t get their chubby little hands into them! The cuffs wouldn’t stretch enough and, in most cases, they couldn’t even begin to get their hands in. I was so… discouraged, unhappy, frustrated and disappointed in myself. Here I thought I had made such great, warm mittens, and they were no good.

Of course, I had to hide all these feelings and keep a good face on. When the doors to the craft sale had opened and people had poured in, I had to work through some anxiety — mainly because it was my first sale — but when I realized the mittens were bad, I was really rattled. I know, in some of my writing, I come across as totally confident and empowered (I generally am), but this was a whole new realm of personal territory for me. I had to pretend everything was fine, that I was a good knitter, and that this craft sale was just a fun adventure for me. I had to keep standing there, smiling, while people walked by my table… a few stopped and remarked at my cute baby sweaters, and I sold a toque and the two pairs of adult-sized mittens. I could sympathize with people trying to find the “perfect thing” for a Christmas present, but I was quite distracted by own thoughts.

I consider myself to be a really good knitter. How could I have made that mistake? I guess I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. It’s humbling, and although this story is about knitting, the same thing can happen to any of us in any area of life. Have you ever thought you were good at something, and then screwed up and had to face the truth of your mistake, or lack of skill? It isn’t easy to keep going, and depending on how bad it was, the mistake might threaten to become a skeleton in the closet — something you never want to talk about, that you desperately wish had not happened. Now, the knitting mistake is no major disaster, but I still had to take some time to deal with it. I was pretty disappointed, but I’d say my self-esteem is again in tact. I have a bit more perspective now; it sucked, but it wasn’t that big a deal. I am humbled, but not defeated. πŸ™‚

The too-small mitten is on the left... see how the one on the right will be wider when it's done?

The too-small mitten is on the left… see how the one on the right will be wider when it’s done?

So, I have started unravelling the children’s mittens that were too small and re-knitting them to be wider. The first pair I’m re-doing I am going to give to a friend’s son — because it is much more fun knitting for someone in particular than for an unknown customer. And they are turning out really well! So, unravel your life, if you have to, and put it back together… and do it because someone cares about you, or because you are learning to care for yourself. πŸ™‚

*Forgive the delay in posting this, but I only recently got around to unraveling those mittens… πŸ™‚

No New Year’s Resolution Required

Another new year is here!

In keeping with tradition, I like to take a little time to review the past year and make plans for things I’d like to do in the coming year. I do not, however, join in on a few other well-practiced traditions:
– beating myself up over things I’ve eaten over the holidays, weight I’ve gained, or any other thing I’ve done.
– making ridiculous, unrealistic New Year’s resolutions — for me, that would be to stop eating chocolate or cheezies!
– beating myself up over resolutions broken — or shall I say, blasted into smithereens, like a high-speed collision between two satellites in space.

No, I don’t beat myself up over anything. I’ve come a long way!

To beat myself up would be a savage act of violence to a survivor of violence, an act of profound disrespect for the journey I have been on. It would be like peeing on Martin Luther King’s grave or stomping on the tulips that so stalwartly push through the soil in spring.

As I said, I’ve been through a lot. When I first left home, I went through a very difficult stage, adjusting to city life and making ends meet. I went to the food bank at my church a few times. I was shy, but it was really self-discovery. I had good boyfriends and bad, and a marriage “we won’t speak of.” It was bad, but on the flip side — the recovery side — I unlocked creative potential I never knew I had. I wrote upwards of 10 songs. I was a singer in a Christian rock band for 4 years. Then I started writing; the creativity needed an outlet somewhere. I’ve written two books* so far and countless blog posts.

I’ve gone through phases where I didn’t like myself much. I’ve even had, for a short time, suicidal thoughts. I’ve had to work hard, physically and mentally, to shed all that baggage and baloney that was weighing down my spirit, festering in my mind.

Yes, I’ve come a long way. I’m so incredibly happy where I am now. The changes in me were not sudden, yet they’ve been significant. They were gradual, and inevitable. You cannot hide from the Light for long, before it finds you, warms you up, thaws your frozen heart, and lets you know you are loved.

You are loved.

You can do it.

You will make it. If I can make it, so can you.

You don’t have to change.

Change if you want to, not because you hate yourself. You know, even if you are in exactly the same place a year from now, you won’t be a failure. You are precious, and you are on the perfect journey.
Do some things differently in 2014, if you’d like, but do it because you’d like to see where it takes you. Do something new to have a new experience, but while you are learning, changing or just living, be easy on yourself. We are always changing — nothing stays the same — so why not think about what kind of person you’d like to become… what direction is your change going in? I find this more helpful than making resolutions!

New Year’s is a great time to reflect and review, but never let yourself get lost in the past. (Chapter 28 in Love Your Skeletons talks about this more.)

Let 2014 be the year you appreciate yourself more, forgive yourself more, and love yourself more.

You are only limited by

Related posts:
Starting Over…
Lifelong Growth
What Does the Future Hold?

*My first book is the one associated with this blog, Love Your Skeletons and my second book is York Boat Captain: 18 Life-Changing Days on the Peace River.

Wildflower

I am not a blade of grass.
I am not like everyone else,
Cut to the same height,
Living shoulder-to-shoulder,
Standing-room-only on the lawn,
Waiting to be walked on.

I am a wildflower,
Growing on the bank
Of a beautiful river.
Swaying in the breeze,
Basking in the sun,
Bobbing in the rain,
Roots spread out,
Reaching for the sky.

If you try to cut me down,
Stomp on me,
Or control how I grow,
You will see my wild side!
I cannot be crushed,
I cannot be stopped.
I will grow and flourish
No matter what,
Because to do so is my nature,
And nature can’t be stopped.

I bloom and grow,
See the river rise and fall,
Sway in the breeze,
Bask in the sun,
Bob in the rain,
Roots spreading out,
Reach for the sky.

purple pasqueflowers

I wrote this poem for a beautiful, Filipino waitress serving me at a local “greasy spoon” restaurant. She was sweet, friendly and efficient. I glanced up and saw her carrying a load of plates, full of food, to a nearby table. She wasn’t “on” in that moment; she wasn’t performing or pretending. She saw me looking at her and a split second passed — of knowing, of shared struggles, of understanding — before she put her smile back on. I grabbed a pen and wrote this on a napkin and left it for her on the table.

Lifelong Growth

If people knew how hard I had to work to achieve my mastery, they would not think it so wonderful.” – Michealangelo

Are you surprised to see that the famous artist, Michealangelo, had to work hard? We tend to think of him as a genius, prodigy or virtuoso — child wonder — whose talent is miraculous and utterly natural. While he may have had talent, clearly this didn’t mean everything came easily to him.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour principle. He says, and I agree, that it takes about 10,000 hours of doing something to become a master at it. Whether it is golf, writing, art or music, whatever it is — it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become truly accomplished at it.

And yet, many of us have fallen into the trap of wanting things fast, and if we aren’t careful, this attitude can lead to frustration. When we forget that growth and mastery take time, we may feel that we aren’t accomplishing what we want, or we may become blind to the progress we’ve already made. Whether we want to learn something, grow or overcome something from our past, it going to take practice and time.

Don’t be discouraged! 10,000 hours is a lot of time! If you “work on” your issue — read a book, do some journaling, whatever — for one hour a day, you’ll reach 10,000 hours in about 27 and a half years. So, now you can see why I gave this post the title “lifelong growth!” When you are feeling frustrated with yourself, remember that things take time. Have you been at it 27 years? No? Then be easy on yourself! Of course, you can spend more than one hour a day — ballet dancers practice for many hours a day for many years to become masters at their craft — but beware tackling your problems (especially overcoming painful events of the past) with too much gusto. The 10,000 hour rule applies to practice, and personal growth takes straight-up time as well. So please, in whatever you are working on, be patient with yourself and think of personal growth as a lifelong adventure rather than an accomplishment.

The Wisdom of the Trees

wisdom of the trees

One particularly lovely day, as the sun set, I asked the amazing trees nearby, who had stood like sentinels for decades, what they would tell me if they could speak. This is what they said:     Be.     Here.     Now.     Simple yet powerful advice!

Be.

I interpret this part of the message from the trees to mean to stop worrying so much about doing, accomplishing, filling my days with tasks and pleasures. Just be. Just breathe. Spend more time simply existing.

Here.

I realized that I spent quite a bit of time in my head, wishing or imagining I was somewhere else. Part of the power of the present moment comes from an acute awareness of where I am — the power of getting out of my head and into my body, coming back to Earth, so to speak. Being grounded in the here is the first step in being grounded at all.

Now.

Our personal power is focused in the present moment, right now. The ability to enjoy the present fully and create the future we want starts, literally, now. It’s fun to think about how the direction my life will take in the months and years to come is hinging on this very moment — this exact second. I neither want to strain for the future, nor do I resist going into it. I am not looking back to the past to relive “the good old days” nor am I straining to leave it behind. I do I see the past nor the present as my source of defining moments. I am who I am now and only now. I know, it gets a little hokey sounding, but it is true! My entire life to come is balancing on this moment, teetering, and I can easily decide what direction I want it to take: more kindness, peace, fun, and adventures! πŸ™‚

Be.     Here.     Now.

It is the doorway to a deeper peace, profound assurance and trust that the world is a loving place.

Evil is Not Always Evil

Good and evil — it seems, universally, that there is an unending struggle between the two. At times, good seems to win, and at other times, evil appears to have the upper hand.

Some say evil began with Adam and Eve, when they ate of the wrong tree back in the garden. Some say it really came to a head with Hitler and the Nazis. And some have much more radical ideas.

Ernest Holmes, philosopher and teacher, enlightened man and author of the religion-transcendent book The Science of Mind, said that evil is not a thing unto itself; it is a misuse of that which is good. God is good, and God is in everything, yet sometimes in our ignorance, we misuse the good within us, and this appears as evil (or any sort of non-good).

So it would seem that evil is not always evil.

Another way to think of it is this — energy can be changed, transformed, but never destroyed. Likewise, we do not have the power to truly destroy. What we burn, might also be seen as sweet incense. What we kill, returns to Source. What we injure, often comes back stronger.

Have you seen the video on the internet of the young woman who spoke to the UN Council about the importance of education for children? Her name is Malala Yousafzai and she isn’t your average leader. She was shot in the head by a Taliban man while demonstrating the need for better education for children, and in particular, for girls. Now look at the incredible impact she is having on the world! Although there may appear to be great “evil” in the Taliban, their power really is limited. Out of an act that was a gargantuan misuse of good comes a landslide of goodness!

So again, evil is not always evil. Sometimes, evil brings out good.

May I share with you another way I know this? My ex-husband was a pretty unpleasant guy — some might say there was evil in him. He was abusive, controlling, belittling, and had violent mood swings. We were together for over two years before I was able to leave him. It was an incredibly difficult time for me.

But if you only knew the good that came out of that “evil” — I have been so blessed since I left him! I am now an unstoppable optimist. I am grateful every day for my peaceful surroundings. I have the most amazing friends and support system, including an amazing, loving husband. I love and connect with animals in a special way. I have found incredible peace and even enlightenment, and it’s very unlikely I would have ever risen above if it weren’t for the “evil” I lived with day-to-day. I am living in the amazing rebound effect of good-for-evil.

Knowing that good can come from evil can help you forgive yourself for any “evil” you may have done. We have all done things that were unkind or hurtful. We have all made mistakes. But that does not make us evil — it simply means we were misusing the potential for good.

We, in our misuse of good, put a heavy, dark filter over the light that is within, that is everywhere… so it seems dark, it seems evil, but the light is still there. Some people are so used to living in the dark, the light seems foreign, unbearable. But the light is always there! Goodness can and does come from bad things that happen, and, like you, many victims of violence become powerful advocates and lightworkers.

Life is worth living. Life is full of good. Life loves you, just so you can love life.

Can you see good that has come out of your difficult times, where “evil” seemed to surround you? If not yet, then it’s coming! Sometimes, a large lump of good comes from an ongoing “evil” — remember Malala? And we don’t even know the other small bits of good that are emerging, all over the world, in areas where evil wants or seems to reign. Have faith that the Universe is good — that perspective will get you through anything, and will bring you amazing resiliency, deep and joyous blessings and unbounded support.

All Headed in the Same Direction

Do you ever see the same person over and over again as you go about your life? It’s strange, isn’t it? Do you ever wonder why you keep bumping into the same person? Or, do you ever go through periods of time where you don’t see anyone around at all?

I often spend time alone — as an introvert, I don’t mind it at all, and I often get my best ideas as a writer when I’m alone. I live in the Northwest Territories, one of Canada’s northernmost regions. The NWT is a big, barely-populated area. To give you an idea of how thin the population density is, consider this:

  • The population of the whole territory is about 41,500 people.
  • Everyone is spread over an area 1.34 million square km (~457,000 sq mi).
  • That’s a little bigger than Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas combined, or in Europe, it would be France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands all together.
  • According to Wikipedia, the population density of the NWT is 0.04 people/square km, which really means there are 25 square km for each person (9.6 sq mi).
  • In most places, the population density is expressed as people per square kilometre, such as
    – Washington state at 40 people/km2
    – Illinois at 90 people/km2
    – Italy at 198 people/km2.

So, hopefully you can understand how, as I drove 470 km (~290 miles) across the NWT yesterday, I hardly saw any vehicles. I met some oncoming trucks, but only saw one vehicle going the same way as me. After driving that way for several hours, I arrived at the Liard River ferry crossing. (Since it is so expensive to build bridges in most places — the Deh Cho Bridge is a recent exception — the government operates ferries to take vehicles of all shapes and sizes across.) As I approached, I was surprised to see a line up of six pick-up trucks in front of me. Where did they come from?

Well, it seems all that time I was driving, the highway wasn’t abandoned. There were people in front of me, just around the corner beyond my view the whole time. I thought I was alone on the road, but it turns out we were all headed in the same direction, spread out a little so we couldn’t see each other.

The same is true in life. Sometimes, when we’re going through a tough time, we feel alone, but we aren’t — we’re just all going in the same direction, spread out along the way. We all go through similar challenges and stages in life, but we just don’t do it at the same time. There are people with us on the journey, but we don’t always see them. There are people thinking of us and wishing us well, they just don’t come along for every step. Rest assured there are people with you on your journey — you are not alone!

During those times that we feel alone, we get to know ourselves better, and we grow stronger individually. We also learn to believe in ourselves and trust that everything will work out for the best. We learn faith — literally, believing in something we can’t see — when we realize we aren’t alone even though it seems that way.

And if you keep seeing the same person over and over again on the subway, maybe he/she is on the same journey as you — not just on the same subway! Why not smile and say hi?

Johnny Berens Ferry
One of the ferries in the NWT — the Johnny Berens Ferry. This a small one — see how the truck takes up most of it? πŸ™‚

Possibilities!

Sometimes, I can't help but think

Sorry I haven’t posted any new articles or insights in a while, but I have been writing on other projects lately. In fact, what started out as a blog post for this site is now becoming a chapter in my next book, so although you’ll have to wait a while until you get to read it, it’s good stuff! πŸ™‚

This week’s inspirational picture was taken along the Mackenzie River, in Canada’s beautiful Northwest Territories. The float planes are from Simpson Air, in case you’re interested, and seeing them truly does make me think of the possibilities! With a float plane, you don’t need a runway or a landing strip — any lake that’s big enough or river that’s not full of rapids will do!

A Safe Harbour

Safe harbour

When times are tough and everything seems so difficult, remember that there is always a safe harbour waiting for you. You are never far from the Source of wisdom, insight and strength… Spirit is but a thought away, waiting to help… and you have more friends than you know!

– – – – –

I took this photo on the west coast of Vancouver Island, not far from Ucluelet, BC. Beautiful!

Everything…

Everything is for my good

Affirmations to Try, Part 2

Here are some more affirmations to try when you want to boost yourself up! πŸ™‚

“I am younger, healthier and happier than I’ve ever been.”

“I am so lucky to have such wonderful people around me.”

“I am getting ready to “level up!”

“There is always sunshine above the clouds.”

“Life is getting better every day!”

“There is so much to look forward to.”

“Everything is coming together for me.”

“All around me, things are working together for good.”

“I have so much to be grateful for!”

Here are some more affirmations.

New Outlook on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. Love. Sweethearts. Lovers. It’s a day to celebrate that person who will buy you chocolate, a diamond, or take you out for a dimly-lit overpriced dinner. Oops, is my skepticism showing? πŸ˜‰

But what if you’re single? Valentine’s Day can be a very lonely day! But it doesn’t have to be. Being single doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you as a person. Your value does not depend on being in a relationship.

This Valentine’s Day, rather than focusing on romantic couple love, let’s remember and celebrate all the amazing people in our lives! Let’s make February 14 a special day to make sure we don’t forget about all the lovely, caring people in our lives…

  • friends who are like sisters, brothers, and cousins
  • sisters, brothers, and cousins who are amazing friends!
  • friends who would give us the shirt off their back if we needed it
  • friends who would drive for 8 hours to see us
  • friends who call to check on us just to make sure we’re okay
  • friends who support us in our dreams, accept us as we are and laugh at our funny stories
  • friends who are like partners in crime!
  • friends who were there for us when we were mourning, or who visit us in the hospital
  • friends who take us along with them to some tropical place, or music festival, or canoe trip
  • friends who we just can’t wait to see again

There is no need to be lonely on Valentine’s Day, when you are as lucky as I am to have friends like these. Allowing yourself to get down in the dumps because you don’t have “that special someone” is a slap in the face to all the wonderful people you do have! In a way, it’s a profound new level of UNthankfulness, so no wonder it feels so hopeless and full of despair. Might I suggest a radical change in your perspective?

Be grateful for all the amazing people in your life. You are not alone. You never will be! Refuse to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself, moping, or feeling desperate to hook up with somebody. You are better than that — that is only one option of how to act on Valentine’s Day. You could instead choose to be fabulously happy, calling or messaging all your best friends to let them know how important they are to you, or making plans to do something you LOVE to do but don’t usually have the time for. This, of all days, is the day to make sure you don’t forget those people who have helped you when you are down, who held you up when you were weak, or who believed in you when you weren’t so sure about yourself. Know that you are an amazing person, full of life and vitality, and that life is full of possibilities.

Nope, there won’t be any moping around this place! My chocolate is happiness and my diamonds are appreciation. I go for joy! Married and dating people, you can appreciate all the wonderful people in your life, too!

(Photo from Patti Digh’s blog)

When Times are Tough… Stepping into the Dark

When I step from a well-lit area into the dark, an interesting thing happens. My heart starts to beat a little harder and I feel almost like I am blind — I cannot see anything, so I turn my head from side to side and blink furiously. But in a very short time — ten to fifteen seconds — my eyes start to adjust and then I can see again. The longer I am in the dark, the better I can see. After several minutes, I can see almost everything around me and aside from reading small print, I can function totally normally. I bet you’ve experienced the same thing, moving into the darkness!

The same can be true in our lives. When you enter a “dark period” in your life, it feels very unpleasant and your heart starts to pound, too. You can’t see what’s coming up, or what resources or obstacles are around you. Your reflex is to stop everything — instinct won’t let you move unless you can see what you’re walking into. However, if you just wait a little while, the darkness begins to lose its edge, and in no time, you can start to see what is going on. If you stay calm, you can adapt and continue functioning normally. If you panic or think that this is the end of the world, even though your eyes are adjusting, you won’t be able to understand what you are seeing clearly. You won’t know where to go.

So, remember that if times are tough — or if you are remembering a skeleton in your closet that brings back those feelings that times are tough — just wait a little while and you will start to see clearly again. It won’t take long, I promise. It’s a good idea to pause while you regain your vision, just don’t stop there indefinitely. Once you can see again, you can move forward.

Take care, everybody!

Affirmations to Try

I just thought I would take a quick minute to share some of my favourite affirmations with you! Although some are “deeper” than others, they have all been very helpful and powerful. Give them a try or make your own!

“I am surrounded by people who love and support me.”

“Everything I eat goes into the building blocks for healthy cells.”

“Every time I brush my teeth, they get healthier and healthier.”

“I have all the money I could possibly need for anything and everything I could possibly want or need to pay for!”

“Nothing can harm my eternal spirit.”

“I love my job and I’m really good at it!”

“My car is awesome; it cruises along so smoothly and operates perfectly.”

“Good things are coming my way!”

And the one I use most frequently: “Everything always goes smoothly for me.”

May these affirmations help you be kind to yourself, love yourself more, and overcome your past. Do you have any affirmations you’d like to share?