When Anxiety Sneaks Back In: What I’ve Learned From This Clumsy Dance

I know that my voice on this blog comes across as calm, zen-y and positive, but that doesn’t mean it’s never been laced with worry, anxiety, fear or sadness.  In fact, I have had some real ruts over the last few years that had me slumped on the kitchen floor, the bathroom floor, the living room floor…anything really that would hold me up – because I couldn’t quite reach that part of me that could hold me up on my own. Though I choose to find those glimmers of hope and hold on like nobody’s business, it doesn’t mean I am immune to some of the darker feelings that come with this human life package.

The a-ha moments didn’t occur simultaneously with the cry-my-heart-out moments or that gloomy morning when the words “I hate my life” spewed from my mouth.  Of course not.  There was work required on my part to switch my lenses and see what was really happening (as Farhana Dhalla says, “Nothing is being done TO you.  Everything is being done FOR you.”).  There were changes I had to make, decisions I needed to consider and a whole lot of gumption I had to muster up to break out of the boxes I felt trapped in.

Those boxes were my perceptions, things I viewed as constraints on my time, resentments I harboured, anger I fed and more.  Pretty discouraging really, when they were all stacked up against me, until one day I had the brilliant realization that I was the one who had built these boxes – and if I was strong enough to do that, then I am sure as hell strong enough to break them down.  And that realization was only the beginning of my process.

It’s been almost 6 and a half years since my firstborn came into this world – my teacher of so many things, the one I say stirred things up enough for me to start moving full-steam ahead on my purpose-path. When I look back on this time that has passed I see a myriad of experiences that have all served to make me the person I am today…not necessarily because of the actual experiences, but because of how I have chosen to work with them.  They didn’t all bring joy and of course, some of them remain like little holes that can’t be completely filled.  But they have shown me what I need to get through new challenges and that is their gift.

On October 22, 2013 I will be attending a launch event for the Anxiety BC for Mothers website.  Reading the words ‘anxiety’ and ‘mother’ in the same line on that invitation gripped me like a familiar hand with a strength I was surprised it could still possess.  You see, although I had moved forward with some of the larger experiences that held me in anxiety and depression’s grip (like the catapultion into motherhood and being stripped of my ‘childhood’ with the death of my mother), I have been rubbing shoulders with anxiety again these past few months.

At the beginning of May, I got to experience for the 4th time in my life that amazing rush that comes with a positive pregnancy test! Only, this time the rush was followed by waves of  fear and even panic.  As you may remember, my pregnancy last summer ended in a miscarriage; standing in my bathroom this past May holding the stick with two pink lines, I didn’t feel I was emotionally or mentally prepared to be where the Universe had placed me.  I didn’t want to talk about the fact that I was pregnant and I wondered when I was actually going to believe this was really going to happen.  When I was 9 weeks pregnant, I wrote a letter to the little one growing inside me and that certainly helped make it real but it was like a tiny knick in something huge.

I worried about every little thing – and the weekly text messages to my midwife are proof of that.  In fact, it wasn’t until I was 21 weeks pregnant and she suggested I speak to a prenatal counsellor about my anxiety that I wondered, “Are you serious?  Am I abnormally anxious?”

A part of me got defensive and came up with a million ‘reasons’ why every worried thought was justified.  But a stronger part of me resounded the truth within.  Half my pregnancy had gone by in a tornado of fear and what felt like months of holding my breath.  With my midwife’s suggestion, I was able to exhale and be present enough to take in what was really happening: both the beautiful pregnancy and the uninvited anxiety.

I’ve been here before and I’ve found my way out.  Though the situation is different from anything else I have worked through, I decided to take the steps I found worked for me in the past.  These tools are so consistent for me that I may as well have them tattooed on my body – they are that much a part of who I am:

  • taking inventory of the awesome things in my life
  • speaking to a spiritual counsellor
  • looking at the big picture – namely my purpose, why I’m here – and continuing my work in that direction
  • opening up to others who have been in my situation to voice my feelings and have them heard
  • writing in my journal

I don’t need to do all 5 things in one day, or even in one week. Sometimes the focus is on one area and then moves to another. They’re just there for the taking.

I believe everyone has tools available to them – they may be totally different from mine or some may overlap.  And that is why I am looking forward to the launch of this new website: I want to know what resources new and expectant mothers have access to.  I want to share them with you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this really long post!  Even sitting here at 28 weeks pregnant, I can tell you that I have some moments of ‘squirmy’ uncertainty (if you could see my belly move as I type this you’d laugh at that expression!) but more and more they are replaced by anticipation and excitement.

In this moment, which is all we have, this is what is real.

Thank you for sharing this moment with me.

 

 

 

Am I Jinxing Myself Through Social Media?

The other day, someone asked me, “Do you ever feel that you’re jinxing things when you write what you’re doing on Facebook?”

Jinx.  There is so much wrapped up in that word for me; jinx and fear have been like evil sisters who have followed me down corridors, snickering at my pursuits, gripping me with icy fingers in the dead of the night, and lingering in shadows even on the brighter days.

Growing up, I internalized a fair number of messages, many of them fear-based.  There is no one to blame, nobody held me down and said, “Listen, little girl, the world is a scary place and if you try to rise above it you’re going to pay.”  But somehow, I decided that if I shine too bright or share too much of my true Self, I’d be labelled a braggart and be outcast.

There have actually been times when I’ve wished away good fortune because I felt it was better than living under the scrutiny of others, evoking their negative emotions – and perhaps if I was bestowed with too many “good things”, I’d have a “jinxed” life of loneliness, misery and shame.

So the question posed instantly slapped me in the face with the following that I’ve grappled with:

  • Is it wrong to tell people when something good happens to me?
  • If someone is jealous or displeased with the happiness in my life, am I at risk of losing it all?
  • How can I be proud of myself without appearing proud?  (Two definitions here…one means having pride and the other means arrogant…why does English do this to us?)

I have been sharing more of myself on Facebook and through this blog – the great things and the painful things, EVERYthing that makes my life an amazing human experience.  I had a lot to respond to this person and I surprised myself at how strong my convictions are – and best of all, how much they’ve changed in a very short time.

I discovered I knew how to answer these questions above in a way that is Truth for me.

Is it wrong to tell people when something good happens to me?  NO.

I share my joys for several reasons – and in no particular order, they are: I believe that things like happiness, joy, hope, inspiration are “contagious”, and I hope to spread these like nobody’s business.  I trust that the people I have attracted to my life are truly supportive of me and want to know what I’m doing, just as I love hearing from them.  I also strongly believe that the human experience is about sharing all the goods, the bads, and the uglies so that we can get through them together, learn together and grow together.  And, if I don’t share about the books I’ve written in the hopes of helping others, or the opportunities that I am taking to serve my purpose…then what good am I doing for anybody?  If everything that happens to me is for my Highest Good, which is the same as everyone else’s Highest Good since we are all One, then where’s the fear in sharing?

If someone is jealous or displeased with the happiness in my life, am I at risk of losing it all?  NO.  I trust this now like I have never done so before in my life.  I can’t explain it.  I have just removed that power from others and so it no longer exists.  Nobody has that kind of power over anybody.  We are all safe and wished well by the Universe.  When something happens that is painful or crappy, it is not because I did anything wrong or someone sat there for hours wishing it on me.  It’s simply another experience.

How can I be proud of myself without appearing proud?  My answer for this is two-fold.  First of all, if I truly have good intentions about sharing my accomplishments, it’s not the same as bragging.  Informing vs. rubbing someone’s nose in something are two different things.  So if my intentions are good, then I’ve done my part.  The rest is up to the reader/the listener.  How my news is received depends on the lenses worn by that person.

If my news invokes jealousy in the other person, I think that is a clear signal to them to look to their own life.  It’s actually a really good thing!  Emotions like anger and jealousy tell us that we are not happy with something in our lives and we need to make a change.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  I spent a very long time feeling frustrated – and blaming everyone else for it.  Remember the box I built for myself?  So now I’ve learned that as soon as I start pointing fingers at people or circumstances that are “making me feel _____” (insert negative emotion here) I need to look to myself and figure out what my Soul is really trying to tell me.  And often the answer will lead me to adding something else joyful in my life.

We are all fabulous, miraculous, purposeful and passionate beings – putting ourselves in boxes, hiding our true Selves from the world, giving in to fears and fear-based ideas like “jinxes” go against our nature.  We’re conditioned to do these things and then spend so much of our adult lives wondering why we’re unhappy or why things aren’t working out the way we thought they would.  That’s OK.  Acknowledge these fears and learn from them.  Even they have their place.

I am truly humbled to be here, on this planet, in this life, in your inbox…and getting to know who YOU are is completely my honour.  In fact, I’ve made it part of my life’s work to do so.  What are YOUR thoughts on jinxes, fears, sharing yourself completely?

Image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Miscarriage Came With Messages

I have started and re-started this entry so many times over the past couple of months – mostly in my head, mostly at 4 am, mostly in moments of heartbreak followed by clarity followed by heartbreak.  In writing this, I hope my words find their way from my heart to yours and give you what it is you need to take from it.  My wish is that the clickety-clack of my keyboard that has offered me so much release over the past few years translates to some kind of release for you.  Whether you have miscarried or not, this is for you, because we’ve all been where I was that night – in some form, in some way.

I’m no stranger to loss.  In the past 25 years, I have said goodbye to two uncles, two grandparents, my father-in-law and my mother…and now my unborn child.  But please, throw no pity my way – I won’t accept it.  I consider myself a very lucky person to have been so close to these wonderful people; that kind of love doesn’t die and I still feel its effects years later.  The first person I lost, my uncle, was a second father to me and at the age of 9, his death rocked my world.  But it wouldn’t have had such an impact if I hadn’t known that kind of love, if I hadn’t grown up to that point on his knee, with his laughter, and surrounded by that indescribable feeling of my family extending comfortably beyond those I lived with.  Do you see what I mean?  My family – whether they are in physical form or not – is my comfort.  Always.

It may seem impossible that when someone is taken from us, we gain something in exchange but it’s been true in my life and for that I am grateful.  I had never considered, though, that I’d lose a child I was carrying.  That happened to some other people, but not to me.  Well, I was wrong about both those things; I learned that 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriages.  So, it doesn’t happen to just some other people – it has happened to almost everyone I know and have since met/talked to.  After opening up about my miscarriage, I have heard countless stories of others.

And this, in a nutshell, is mine.

We were in the living room – my dad, two children and I – enjoying each other’s company and exchanging ideas for baby names.  I was pregnant with my third child.   Certain it was a girl, I shared my favourite name with my dad.

“That’s beautiful.  Perfect.”  He nodded.  When we shared our news with my family – that a baby would be arriving in 2013 – my dad had danced over to me and swallowed me up in a big bear hug.  Needless to say, he was ecstatic about adding to the joy in our lives.  I was about 5 weeks along then and that’s when my pregnancy symptoms hit me hard and knocked me off my feet.

It ended up being a very rough summer.  Pregnancy has never been a walk in the park for me; the first 3 months at least are spent in a nauseous, debilitated state.  This time around was no exception – though in the months we tried to get pregnant I told myself, “Third time’s a charm; this one will be the easiest.”  It so happened, this experience would be the toughest and take a devastating turn.

During the time I was pregnant, I spent much of the day on the couch.  Movement made me heave; even changing position on the couch could sometimes trigger it.  I had trouble eating more than a few bites at a time because the food literally felt stuck in my chest and sometimes never made its way down.  Drinking was next to impossible and water was the last thing that I wanted to pass my lips.  I got moisture from grapes and blueberries, but even they sometimes didn’t stay down.  I had to back out of some very large obligations, I stopped writing – all I wanted to do was get through the trimester.

Among the heaving, the reflux pain and the gassy tummy, though, I was deliriously happy.  A mama of 3 – that’s how I always saw myself.  No matter how many times I questioned my ability or my sanity, my arms always felt a little empty without that third child.  And so I dreamed of this baby, pictured her being enveloped in the love that I know my family has to offer, basking in the attention of a big sister, trying to keep up with her big brother.  I dreamed of holding this baby, feeling much more confident and happy with who I am outside of being a mother and knowing that would extend into my ability to be the perfect mother for this child and her siblings.  I looked forward to the joys of a newborn, the excitement of wondering how this little creature would fit in to our existing framework.  And finally, at least half of the clothes that have completely taken over our storage space, would be worn again!

Sitting on the couch that day with my dad and kids, dreaming of my third baby, I was not expecting to feel a sudden gush between my legs.  And I was certainly not prepared for the ambulance ride I endured in shock, nor of the fear that settled over me as I waited for my husband to join me in the sterile hospital room.

“I’m sorry!” I found myself crying to him in anguish when he rushed in, panting.  “I’m so, so sorry!”  Assuring me it would be all right, my husband grasped my hand and for a moment – just a moment – I thought, maybe it would be.  A couple of tests later, we still clung to each other and waited for the news that I was already preparing myself to hear.

“Unfortunately, the ultrasound did not detect a heartbeat.  The pregnancy is not viable. “  The emergency doctor paused before delivering the final sentence.  “The baby has died.”

And just like that, I was no longer pregnant.  I was no longer carrying that third child who I felt had been visiting me in spirit for several months.  I had to go home and tell my 5 year old daughter that the sibling she had been drawing pictures of and kissing through my belly all summer was not going to grow and be with us.  And somehow, I had to find the strength to face Life again even when this new space I was occupying felt foreign and strange.

That first night was hell.  After our parents and siblings, the first call I made was to my cousin, Nazira.  She, my friend Salima and a couple others close to me, had been with me through the entire pregnancy – calling, texting and listening to my heaving play-by-plays every day.  (God bless them!)  Telling Nazira was incredibly difficult because I knew how much she loved my baby.  That’s what I mean about my extended family; when something happens to one of us, it happens to us all.  In her words and through her tears, I found a little strength.  I knew I still had to call Salima the next day but the thought of a “next day” at that point was too much for me.

After sitting in shocked silence, exchanging looks of devastation with my husband, we climbed up to bed, limp with exhaustion.  And then that awful night – that first night of loss that I know so well – began.  My body shook with sobs till it was almost dawn.  I felt that familiar mixture of disbelief, pain and grief that I felt after losing my mom 3 years ago.  It’s the exact same agony – losing someone you have loved all your life and losing someone you have loved all its life.  In between bouts of tears, though, a strange thing was happening.

I kept hearing a voice that I’m sure was mine and I’m sure was not.  “Everything is Perfect.  Everything that is happening is happening for my Highest Good.”  These phrases kept tumbling in my brain, wrapping me up in hope and calming my racing, breaking heart.  Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t hear those words that night, if I didn’t have the short reprieves from hysteria to gently guide me to daybreak?

Every night since then has been better.  The moments of grief are a little more widely spaced between the knowing that all is well.  From what I’ve learned of grief, it doesn’t completely leave, it just changes.  That first night revealed to me how much I have learned, how much I have come to rely on a Greater Power to handle my worries and difficulties.  I’m still not at a point where I am emotionally ready to exchange my unborn baby for a lesson…but if it was meant to teach me something, then I’m happy to have learned of my own spiritual growth.

My baby would have been born around the next Spring equinox, one of my favourite days of the year.  To lessen the impact of that day, my family and I are planting tulips this fall which will bloom when our baby was supposed to.  I find joy in tulips as they announce brighter, longer days and I can’t think of a more fitting celebration of life for the earth and my baby than that.

miscarriage, messages, losing a pregnancy, lost pregnancy, grief, loss, motherhood

Would you do me a favour?  When you see the tulips bloom next Spring, would you offer up some thanks for what you have, for what Earth provides us and for the experiences you will have in the new year?

Thanks for listening to my story; I can assure you there were many more messages for me in this experience that I will release on this page as time goes by.

 

 

When Things Start To Tip

Have you ever experienced that slip-slidey feeling of not being able to dig your heels into the ground hard enough?  You know when you’re running at full speed, adrenalined-up, and then whooooops!  Where did the ground go?! 

Thunk! 

Ah, there it is!  (Ouch!)

OK, so here’s something I’ve been learning over the past couple years as I’ve added more joy and excitement to my life, as well as more responsibility.

Pay close attention to the signs – those loving whispers from your body that may feel like aches, the increased demands of your children, the realization that you miss your partner with whom you share a home, or whatever that may look for you.  Pick up on them as soon as possible, before the slip, before the tip – – and make a little shift.

Balancing all the loves of my life is well worth the time and effort.

Recently for me, that meant a change in my schedule to accommodate my son’s now early-rising habits and my daughter being home from school.  I was so accustomed to having my mornings to work that the first couple weeks of not having that time was a real shock to my system.

The first stage was denial; I tried being rigid and entertaining them “on the side” but that clearly was not working.  Nobody was happy.  In the end, it was easier to switch my perspective.  Now I have a much earlier start to my work day before the pitter-patter of feet are heard around 8 am.  Once they’re up, I’m theirs.  On the three days a week I have some childcare in the afternoons, I hand them over to another caring adult and I can turn my attention back to what needs to be done in the world of writing and fundraising.  I’ve noticed that in the time I spend with my children I am more “fully present” because I’m not trying to figure out how I’m going to get my work done while I’m pushing them on the swings at the park.  I know there’s a time for that, even if looks a little different now.  And that’s not to say that something won’t linger in my mind while I’m with them.  I assume it’s that way with parents who work outside the home, too.

And I know that one day, this routine will change and I’ll have to bend with it.  It may just be a couple months away, if not sooner!

Avoiding the thunk is the goal because I’ve been there and it hurts.  I trust that whatever I need to be able to do my life’s work and to raise my children the way I want to is within my reach.  Sometimes that’s a big leap of faith, but it’s getting me somewhere.

Do you have signs that you look for to check for the balance in your life?  What do you do to maintain that balance?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a lovely Friday!

 

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What’s On Your ‘Live A Life You Love’ Resume?

 

Switching career paths spurs the need to create a new resume.  So, that’s been on my mind the last little while.  How do I pin down on paper my credentials, my accomplishments and the “extra” facts?  (You know which ones…those bullets at the end of the resume that say things like “Proficient in Microsoft Excel” or “Fluent in Yiddish.”  Do resumes still have that section?  It’s been awhile for me.)

What’s on your resume that tells the world who you are?  What kinds of really cool things have you done or participated in that highlight your beliefs and values?  On the flip side, what have you let slide or pass you by so that the “academic” or “work” sections stay padded while the “live a life you love” portion remains slim?

Here’s an example.  On Wednesday, September 12, 2012 from noon- 4 pm, a huge peace-loving crowd will gather at the Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre to break the Guinness Book of World Records.  Kindness is Key Training Inc. and the co-authors of Heartmind Wisdom will be forming the world’s largest HUMAN peace sign!

www.kindnessiskey.com

Why?  For many reasons.

  • to show the Earth how much we love it and that we wish its inhabitants beautiful peace
  • to celebrate our younger generations, who will be participating by the school-fuls, as the future leaders of a world at peace
  • to support charities such as the Surrey Food Bank, Mercy Ships Charity Hospital as well as local schools
  • to have a great time with our families and friends – listening and dancing to live music by Denise Hagan and Jean Pierre Makosso (and others to be announced soon!)
  • to tell people for decades to come that we were a part of this awesome, IMPACTFUL event

A few short years ago, I would have heard of this event and thought, “That’s cool.”  But my thoughts wouldn’t have gone further than that because they would have been pitted against self-made barriers like “I’m too busy.  I have this and that responsibility.  I don’t have the time for stuff like that.”

Now I understand the power of my own choice; I choose how I view things like time and responsibility.  I decide what’s a note-worthy experience and what’s something that I can put off for another day.  I listen to my heart just a little more each day and allow my soul to decide what to do next.  I’ve learned to kind of step out of my own way.

It’s not easy to break thought patterns!!  It’s not easy to ignore the anxiety or fear that come with letting go and pushing past the comfort zone.  The self-made barriers get smaller with time but for some of us, they remain there if only as piles of rubble that we must gingerly step over.  (Or take a huge leap, depending on how big the pile!)

As the “live a life you love” section of the resume builds, it does a funny thing.  It spills right over in to all the other sections.  It shapes them, influences them, permeates them until the entire resume is filled with only things that make the heart beat and the soul vibrate.

I don’t know where I am on this journey exactly, but I can tell you my life is very different from what it was in those days when I thought I didn’t have time or had too much responsibility to do something fun and impactful on a world level.  It’s a little more colourful!

I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you have something you’d like to share about choices, following your heart or global impact?

 

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Not 5, But 6 Lessons I Learned About Life From Designing A New Website

This post is dedicated to my fabulous web design team, Hyedie and Malena, who held my hand through this exciting and scary venture.  Why scary?  Well, I’ll remind you about my relationship with technology.  Read on to see what I’ve gained from this experience, besides a beautiful website that I now feel “moved in” to.

Most lessons seem to arrive in denominations of 5:  Top 5 Reasons To blah blah blah or 10 Rules For blah blah blah.  For some reason, I received an added bonus.  Who am I to question it?

So, here are the lessons I have learned about life from designing a new website.

1.  When designing your website and considering all of the aesthetic and functional features that you require to meet your needs, don’t be afraid to ask for every little detail your heart desires.  Every swirl on an image, every curve of a font can be yours if you just ask.  If something needs to be tailor-made just for you, it will be.  The same is true for life.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never know if something is possible.  You could go years wondering what would have happened if you had just asked that person out for coffee or applied for that job that seemed out of your league.  Once you present your desire, you may need to wait a little while for things to line up or for the plan to be executed, but trust that it will happen.  The chances of something happening at all are far greater if you pursue it.

2.  Sometimes it’s difficult to see the brilliant possibilities in your path if you are still cluttered with the residue of your past.  The morning my new site went live, I was disappointed to find that I was constantly being redirected to my old site.  I didn’t understand; my husband was able to view the site on his laptop just fine.  I fired off an email to Malena who replied that I probably needed to clear my cache.  To do that, I called my cousin and IT genius to walk me through the process.  (Go ahead, laugh.  I laughed first.)  Once my cache was cleared, I had no problem viewing my new site!  Making the connection to the rest of my life then, I find this is true in many situations.  Being hung up on the past, or looking at new possibilities with old fears and anxieties doesn’t allow me to see what’s really in front of me.  Clear the cache.  My new mantra.

3.  When making decisions around your design and function and asking for all of the things you want, it is also wise to talk to someone who’s been there so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.  If your web designer suggests adding the main menu on the home page, take the time to find out why; it may have to do with something you never thought about and it may be extremely useful.  (Malena will be adding this for me…she was right!).  Such is true when making decisions about things you don’t know a whole lot about in the rest of your life.  Planning your first trip to South America?  Ask someone who’s been there if they have any tips for you.  Yes, you can pick and choose what works for you and ultimately you will have an entirely unique experience anyway…but sometimes a little extra information from a valued source can come in handy!

4.  Resolving a problem situation in web design may be as simple as deleting some html code or adding a new plugin.  Resolving a problem situation in life may be as simple as deleting a toxic relationship or adding a new support system.  ‘Nuff said.

5.  Don’t wait for perfection before you launch – your website OR a dream/plan/idea.  If I did that with my website, it still would not be up.  You may notice that some of my links in my posts are directing you to the old website.  I didn’t let that stop me because I didn’t want to delay the experience of using my new website any longer.  There will be tweaks made here and there – additions and subtractions made probably for the rest of time.  Waiting for perfection will guarantee a failure to launch.  True in web design, true in life.  Leave perfection alone – it’s not for the human race.  Perfection is something I have been pitted against my whole life, and letting go of it ever so slowly, is changing my experience on a daily basis.

6.  And the bonus!  The most meaningful part of any website, and of life itself, are the people who are in it with you.  However they come to you, they are the best part of it all – your subscribers, your online community, your flesh and blood, your childhood friends, your new kindred spirits.  The people who invest in you are the pulse of your journey.  Take them with you to all your magical places and take the time to visit their world, too.

Which of these lessons rang true for you?  How have you learned them and accepted them?  Leave a comment if you’d like to share – we’d love to hear from you!