Quiet

“We are five months into 2019 and it’s still January.”

“January…it’s the Monday of months.”

And my personal favourite…
“January, it’s a tough year but we made it.”

There are so many memes about January being the longest month, well, pretty much, EVER…74 days long, or something to that effect.

The thing is, though, that‘s how it feels, at least it does to me. It’s usually quite cold where I live (we wear a minimum of seven heavy layers so we don’t freeze our skin if we do decide it’s necessary to go outside—winter in Alberta is no joke), the days are extremely short (we see so little daylight in our northern locale it’s literally depressing), and we’re generally confined to our homes for long stretches at a time…sometimes up to several weeks. There aren’t any holidays to break up the monotony, and time creeps slowly forward at about the same pace as a heard of turtles.

For interest sake, it’s been one month since I’ve posted anything here on the blog. (For what it’s worth, this feels like a church confessional, and I’m also having a deja-vu moment like I may have said this on here before.) But in any case, this post breaks precisely 31 days of blog silence.

Quiet.

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Sure, I could say I’ve been busy doing other things, which of course is true, at least to some extent.

I’ve been reading a fascinating book, The 5 am Club by Robin Sharma, doing online course work, cleaning and purging the house, writing in my Five-Minute Journal, doing yoga, meditating, testing my strength and stamina with kickboxing, as well as exploring my word of the year, nourish, in the nutritional sense by exploring ways to incorporate a more plant-based diet in my life (more to come with a dedicated blog post about this later).

At the same time, I’ve been isolating myself. Staying home. Being quiet. Sitting with unpleasant emotions I’d rather not feel. And if I’m being completely honest, the aforementioned process has seen me be far less intentional with my time in January than I had planned. This is definitely a common, re-occurring theme as my Five-Minute Journal asks me, every night without fail, “How could I have made today even better?” and my response often has to do with spending less time on my phone.

But alas, it’s true. Much to my dismay, I’ve allowed myself to be distracted and wasted oodles of time on social media. And while I’m on on here confessing all my sins, I’ve also taken to being distracted by online shopping, both to alleviate feelings of boredom as well as to avoid other things I’m having a hard time with, or just downright not wanting to do.

In between these things, and among the other routine demands of my daily life, I’ve enjoyed some small pockets of stillness. These slivers of quiet are, in one word, glorious.

It is in these moments I feel as though a beautiful blanket of fresh snow has draped itself, ever so effortlessly and gracefully, over the otherwise dull and lifeless landscape of my life.

A crystalline snowfall cleans and purifies the external world. Similarly, the quiet allows me to see clearly, making my perception of the world immaculate, even if only for a moment. The sun dances across the spotless surface of my freshly snow-covered mind, gleaming and sparkling as the light hits at sharp angles. And in these moments, my life is a blank canvas, with no limits as to what I might be able to create. I have access to an infinite number of possibilities.

Quiet.

And then the husband and kids come home, bringing animation, noise, and all manner of calamity with them. Oh, so much noise! Voices clamor for attention, as people yell to make themselves heard from one corner of the house to another. The girl—bless her heart—sings unabashedly at the top of her lungs as the boy blares video games in the basement while yelling at his friends over a mic. The dog barks endlessly for scraps of food or someone to bring him down the stairs or to help him down off the couch. Ding. Buzz. Beep. Alarms sound, signalling the need to go somewhere or do something important. My head rings from the chaos.

January certainly marked a return to chaos in my household, and I am thankful that it was interspersed with some pockets of quiet.

I know a little chaos in life is inevitable, but I so enjoy quiet.

It is where I connect with myself and my breath.

It is where I am able to extract order from chaos.

It is where I can hear my thoughts, separate one from the next, and discover slivers of clarity.

It is the source of my creativity, and the place from which I am able to access and honour my deepest truth.

As we welcome February in my neck of the woods, it looks like we may need to hunker down for some much colder temps and another big dump of fresh snow.

It is so beautiful and peaceful, and calls me to remember the profound power that is inherent, both in the quiet and the freshly fallen snow.

They almost seem to be one in the same.

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A Sign

A song played at the end of last week’s episode of This is Us. The lyrics stirred up something from deep inside me, like I’m talking on the level of my soul.

I grabbed my phone and quickly opened the Shazam app. The result came up in about 2.3 seconds: 42 by Mumford & Sons from the band’s 2018 album Delta.

I did a slight double take when I noticed the song was called 42.
Well, that’s very interesting, I thought…

I hit the button to purchase the song on Apple Music without hesitation. And I’ve pretty much been listening to it on repeat ever since.

As much as I love a nice melody or sweet harmony, the soulful strum of an acoustic guitar, the unexpected twist of a bridge, or the dynamic rise of a full orchestral crescendo (special thanks to my college Music Appreciation class for this knowledge and terminology), it’s usually the lyrics, or the message a song imparts, that evoke emotion and make it memorable, keeping me coming back for more.

I’m actually kind of obsessed with song lyrics. Case in point: I recently told a friend how I constantly think in lyrics, like pretty much ALL. THE. TIME. My husband and I have entire conversations in song lyrics, both by text and in person in a call and response fashion. AND I have a secret dream about writing song lyrics. Oops, I guess the cat’s out of the bag now and it’s really not a secret anymore.

The words are layered over chords played on an organ, as the song begins with a feeling reminiscent of a church hymn…
“Where do I turn to when there’s no choice to make? And how do I presume when there’s so much at stake?

Building…
“I was so sure, oh, of it all. And what if I need you in my darkest hour?”

Fear. Uncertainty. Isolation. I have been marinating in all the feelings, and it often feels like a certain type of darkness. So many questions plague my mind, yet so few answers have appeared.

An electric guitar is layered in over the baseline and back beat…
“And what if it turns out there is no other?”

I’ve been doubting myself again lately, in all the majorly important ways, and then I this song comes along, so unexpectedly, as the punctuation mark at the end of my most favourite TV show. Really, the only show I watch religiously each week. And it feels a bit like a hug from an old friend, as if it was played specifically for me.

Quieter, with guitar strings plucked to a staccato beat…
“If this is our last hope, we would see a sign, oh, we would see a sign.”

I’ve scoured the Internet, and I cannot find any indication of why the song is titled 42.

My mind trails off, as I think about how I am building a new foundation—one that’s based on a strong sense of my truest self. As I process and grow through my challenges, I continue to learn I am wise and wonderful and capable of anything I want to do. And I am doing everything in my power to integrate this knowledge into my way of being.

Yet, I find myself needing to learn and relearn these truths. Repeatedly teaching myself as I attempt to believe—fully and completely—in all that I am. I remind myself that I am everything I need, and that all of the answers to my own questions are already within me. I also know that as I follow this path—my yellow brick road to freedom and peace—I will continue to stumble, and to forget, from time to time.

I suppose it’s quite normal, really, for those of us who identify as seekers to look for answers, validation, and signs beyond ourselves. I believe it’s our humanity that makes it so. We are wired for connection to other humans, after all; we are literally programmed to seek out others to whom we can relate and with whom we can share this human experience. It’s a fundamental part of our existence. Through all the joy and the pain, we just need to feel like we’re not doing this life all alone.

Louder again (mezzo forte)…
“If this is our time now
we wanna see a sign, oh,
we would see a sign…”

I am exactly 42 years old (and two months plus a handful of days, if you want to get technical), and dare I say, albeit strange, this song is a very timely reminder. It’s a sign so simple and obvious that I could have easily missed it had I not been paying attention.

It is a true beacon of hope. A clear signal of inspiration. A symbolic guiding light, if you will, giving me the courage and strength I need to continue on.

Everything has been building to this precise moment. It’s a sign that, in spite of how I’ve been feeling, I am not alone. I know I am loved and supported. Life is giving me what I need in each and every moment, and everything is working out for me exactly as it should.

THIS IS MY TIME.

I thank the universe for this message of gentle reassurance, delivered in the best possible way, at the perfect time for me to hear, all while lovingly wrapped in the beautiful poetry of the special lyrics of this song.

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This is also a sign. Clever, isn’t it? Found while on vacation in Paia Town, Maui in 2017.

And, for what it’s worth, I also strongly believe this isn’t just about me. I feel compelled to share this story with you, for the universe works in strange and mysterious ways, and just in case you may also be looking for a sign of hope or reassurance, too.

So let me do a quick recap just in case you might have missed it:
You are strong enough to get through anything life throws your way.
And you are enough, period. Exactly as you are.

xo

Do you believe in signs from the universe? I’d love to hear from you!

Where do I turn to when there’s no choice to make?
And how do I presume when there’s so much at stake?
I was so sure, oh, of it all
But what if I need you in my darkest hour?
And what if it turns out there is no other?
If this is our last hope
We would see a sign, oh
We would see a sign
Well I’ve been running from the ashes we left
Forgiveness begs for itself but how can I forget
When there’s a stain on it all
But what if I need you in my darkest hour?
And what if it turns out there is no other?
We had it all
If this is our time now
We wanna see a sign, oh
We would see a sign
So give us a sign
I need some guiding light
Children of darkness, oh
Songwriters: Benjamin Walter David Lovett / Edward James Milton Dwane / Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford / Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall

Bad Blogger (Made for More)

Hi, I’m Andrea, also known as MyPhareLady. I’m going to make a bold and shocking statement: I might just be the world’s worst blogger, by social media industry standards, anyway.

The following is a list of eight solid reasons to support this claim:

  1. Historically speaking, I haven’t done the best job of posting regularly and consistently.
  2. I don’t have a large following.
  3. Sometimes when I put my stuff out into the world via a blog post, I have absolutely no idea if anyone ever reads, or moreover can relate to what I’ve written.
  4. I don’t receive many comments on my posts.
  5. My blog isn’t driven by a specific product or service. (I’m not trying to sell anything to anyone.)
  6. I don’t put much energy into curating beautifully staged photos with perfect lighting to complement my posts.
  7. I make absolutely no money running my blog. I don’t have companies approaching me about sponsorships and endorsement deals, nor do I accept paid advertising on my site (not that anyone has ever asked me about any of these things…lol).
  8. I don’t really advertise or promote my blog, apart from sharing with family, friends, and on my personal social media feeds.

There. I said it. These are my blogging “failures.” The many reasons I suck at blogging. But I can also say that none of these things had anything to do with me wanting to start a blog in the first place.

So, the next (and most obvious) question is, if you’re not doing it to make money, why bother having a blog, right?

Well, the reason I started this blog was simple: because it originated with a tiny whisper from my heart. And although this small voice from within was barely audible, I was incapable of ignoring it. Well, I suppose I did try for a while, but it was persistent and just kept getting louder and louder, so I eventually caved to its demands.

I couldn’t make much sense of it at the time, but I knew I must honour the deep longing to share my writing with an audience, even through my uncertainty and fear. There was a reason for listening to the whispers of my heart that I couldn’t comprehend then, nor am I even sure I understand now—to not only take that leap of faith into the world of creative self-expression, but also to make myself vulnerable to a vast Interweb of strangers at the same time.

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Switching gears—and please bear with me as I promise to bring these thoughts full circle by the end of this post—I recently discovered an author, momprepreneur, and all-around magical unicorn of a woman by the name of Ms. Rachel Hollis. Seriously, this woman was not even on my radar two months ago, but a friend invited me to go see the final screening of her documentary, Made for More, in our city in August. I jumped at the chance (because, who doesn’t want a night out with a girlfriend?), and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how authentic, raw, and vulnerable she is, not to mention her determination to inspire and uplift other women is unstoppable. Needless to say I found the documentary (and Rachel) to be refreshing and inspirational in every possible way.

I’ve since started following all of her social media, devoured her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and, in an effort to end 2018 with strength, intention, clarity, and grace, have been participating in her #last90days challenge. In the relatively short time I’ve known of Rachel Hollis, I’ve received so much inspiration from her work and the simple truths she has made it her mission to share. Among these are the importance of: being completely and unapologetically yourself; maintaining a growth mindset; going all in, as in being 100% invested in your goals (still working on this one); paying no mind to other people’s opinions; and, last but certainly not least, that all women deserve to belong and be supported by community.

Discovering Rachel Hollis has reminded me about what’s really important to me, what’s important in life, and also why I started this blog in the first place. For me, it was never about making money and having a billion subscribers. Rather, it was always supposed to be an online space dedicated to authenticity, growth, community, and connection.

Thanks in large part to Rachel’s wisdom and teachings, I’m able to see it all so much more clearly now: my passion, and ultimately my goal for this blog, is to bring women together in the spirit of community to create dialogue around topics that matter. This is a vehicle for sharing my thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and using them as a catalyst or starting point for conversations with other women. It’s a way for me to use my voice for good, to help others on a parallel or intersecting path—to build a sisterhood of like-minded souls who, just like me, are seeking a community in which love, support, and kindness reign supreme.

Even though I know all too well the metrics that define a successful blogger, and even though I admittedly fall way short of these metrics on all accounts, I cannot shake the feeling that I must continue to forge ahead. I must keep writing. I must keep sharing the pieces of myself and my life experiences I feel called to share. I must do so, not because I’m seeking fame or notoriety, but because this blog is here for a reason, and dare I say I think it’s supposed to serve a far greater purpose than anything that can be defined solely by monetization or subscriber statistics.

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And perhaps most important of all, this blog has taught me, time and time again, that when my heart speaks, what it’s telling me is not up for negotiation. I MUST listen. And if listening to my heart and following my dreams in spite of the evidence that’s stacked against me means I’m the worst blogger out there, I suppose I’m alright with that.

And I’m pretty sure that it’s all because I’m learning (and maybe even starting to believe) that I am made for more.

With all my love,
MyPhareLady
xo

WAIT! Don’t go yet…just one more really IMPORTANT thing:
I want to know what big dreams and goals are you working on, and more importantly, what are you doing to get through the challenges and push past the setbacks you encounter along the way? Are you working toward something that feels so completely out of reach, or even impossible, that you often think about giving up, but choose to keep going anyway?
I’d really love to hear from you. Let’s get this conversation started…drop me a line in the comments below!

Dream State

The first thoughts that dance across my consciousness
before I emerge from my cocoon of slumber are granular.
A mysterious whisper from a sacred place taunts me
to recognize unfamiliar words,
to put them in a string and decode their meaning.
Divine messages begin to take shape inside my mind.
I strain to arrange the pieces in a way I can understand.
The voice of omniscience is muffled.
I don’t speak the language.
I am not picking up the right frequency.
The images are blurry, out of focus, overexposed.
An unseen ticking clock is a metronome of urgency.
The tension is palpable,
as I wait for fragments of meaning to peek through the fog.
One flicker of clarity is my only clue
about how much information is still missing from the riddle.
Time is running out.
An energy—a deep desire to understand—lures me to linger,
searching with eyelids pressed a while longer.
Someone, from somewhere, is trying to tell me something important.
Only the more I focus on trying to understand,
the less any part of it makes sense.
A collision occurs in the space between dreams and reality,
and a deafeningly loud, yet inaudible noise rings through the cosmos.
Twisted heaps of metal and shards of broken glass form a boundary,
marking the distinction between two separate worlds.
My eyes are wide open and,
in the same instant,
the message that was being born in my consciousness
fades to visual static and dissolves into nothing.
I lie very still in the early morning darkness,
hoping for the chance at another glimpse,
but questions are all that remain.
Most of all, I wonder if anything will return the next time I close my eyes.

Minding the gap between intention and action…

I had been thinking about the subject quite a bit anyway, when out of no where came a friend’s Instagram post of one Danielle LaPorte’s Conversation Starter app questions: “When you have moments of doubting whether your desires will come true, how do you restore your belief?”

Interesting. Very interesting. Prior to receiving the message that came wrapped in the riddle of LaPorte’s question, I have to admit that my own doubts were growing and gathering momentum on a daily basis. You see, I had been quite focused on observing what I call “the gap.” No, I’m not referring to the clothing store here, but rather the passing of time and space between my intentions and my actions.

Over and over and over again, my thoughts would return to how the length of the gap was growing in direct proportion to the amount of energy I focused on it. Like being hit by a ton of bricks, I suddenly realized how my own resistance was the most likely culprit in my {perceived} prolonging of said gap.

And it’s no wonder I’ve been feeling less than productive lately, as I can now see that I’ve been creating a veritable minefield of resistance, placing my desires in direct conflict with my resistance, thus inhibiting my readiness to receive. The opposing forces of fear, scarcity, and lack have been playing like a worn-out country song in my head, running defense and working in direct opposition to my aforementioned intentions.

Then I had another pretty major realization: I’ve been going about this stuff all wrong. My {perceived} inability to bring my desires to fruition is not the result of my own inaction at all. Rather, finding flow and moving in the direction of my intentions is actually more about aligning my expectations and releasing my resistance. Because the truth of the matter is, as long as I am not fully embracing the expectation that what I want is possible and I really do deserve it, it’s never gonna happen.

So, all this time I’ve been looking at the gap as a place of nothingness. No changes. No results. Just the sad and lonely never-never land place of incomplete intentions, dead goals, and broken dreams. I had allowed the gap to become a very scary, uncomfortable place—one that I was constantly looking to escape via the nearest exit. {Aha, more resistance!} Are you seeing a theme here?

But what if all this time, in all my black and white absoluteness, I’ve been looking at the gap all wrong? What if the gap actually does serve a very important purpose?

I am starting to see how the gap, this quiet time and space in all its infinite wisdom, is deliberately urging me to get still and quiet… to examine what’s true… and to become absolutely clear about my intentions. The gap is nudging me to come to a place of clarity, as this is the first step to creating alignment and focusing my energy where it needs to go.

All of this information has been coming at me, fast and furious, blowing my mind wide open. And while I can’t be certain, I have a bit of a hunch that the gap is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do for me. I have a feeling that I need to get clear in order to dissolve my resistance and bring me back into alignment with the love and abundance I so crave.

blogimage_whereuneedtobeIs it possible that you may also have a gap? If you do, let me assure you that despite any lack of tangible evidence or concrete, physical proof, the gap is probably doing its job for you, too. All any of us have to do is be still and patient, get crystal clear, ensure we’re not throwing out resistance, and allow the Universe to work its magic.

How do you mind your gap? Remember the energy you direct toward it may determine how things play out for you.

And with that I leave you with this beautiful quote that sums it all up in divine perfection.

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”
― Teresa of Ávila