Perspectives on Grief and Chasing Rainbows

It’s been exactly two weeks to the day since our family said goodbye to our dear friend Rocky. Today would have been his 17th birthday.

When we lose someone we love and are in the thick of grief, it seems normal to want the pain to go away so we can just feel better. We generally want to resume our “normal” routine and just get on with our lives. I’ve witnessed a definite sense of impatience, both in myself and in others, along with the desire for these unpleasant feelings to pass as quickly as possible. But as I continue to process the grief of losing my first (fur) baby, consummate lap dog, and sidekick extraordinaire, I have to question whether I’m doing myself any favours with the ‘suck it up and get over it quick’ approach.

I’m pretty new to this whole grief thing, relatively speaking anyway. Sure, I’ve lost grandparents and other relatives, and most definitely faced sadness as a result of loss, but somehow this time with my dog feels different. It is a profoundly deep sense of sadness and loss unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced before.

Maybe it’s because Rocky was much more than just a dog or family pet. In his latter years, he was the doppelganger of Falkor, the luckdragon from The Neverending Story. He was a fierce protector of babies and our home. He was a sensitive, caring companion; a gentle and kind, loyal and loving little dog. He had the most beautiful calm, soothing presence. He was a small dog with a great, big personality. Rocky was not only smart but also very wise, which forms the basis of my belief that he was basically an old soul wrapped up in a little fur coat.

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Our souls, Rocky’s and mine, only saw the absloute best in each other. There’s no question in my mind that he was gifted to me by the universe. He chose me to be his momma, and I believe our souls had a contract to help facilitate each other’s growth in this lifetime. Most importantly, I know he loved me without question or condition, and I, in turn, loved him with everything I had.

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

Jamie Anderson

Rocky&me

I’ve learned how unhealthy it is to suppress emotion, rather than allow it to flow through us and be processed as it is intended, by its very nature. I’m sensitive at the best of times, but lately I’ve found myself crying more often than not. Although the bouts of sadness are becoming less frequent as time marches on, I continue to allow my tears to flow whenever the need washes over me. In the first few days after Rocky passed, I was angry and irritable. I experienced extreme fatigue, headaches, food aversion, and mild nausea for almost a full week. Apparently, these are all common physical side effects associated with grieving. Huh, who knew?

Yup, this grief thing is definitely tricky, and not at all what I expected. But I’ve essentially placed myself right in the epicenter of an emotional storm and readied myself to ride it out for as long as it takes. It’s nowhere near the most pleasant thing I’ve ever done, but I do believe there’s value in staying the course—standing fully in my grief, unguarded and unprotected, and feeling my way through it, even in the face of the wind and unrelenting rain.

Over the last month of his life, I talked with a number of friends who offered their perspectives, as I struggled to come to terms with being responsible for making the final decision about when it would be ‘his time’. I recall a conversation in which one friend offered that, although Rocky had been part of our lives for close to 17 years and I certainly needed him for various reasons during that time, perhaps I had evolved to the point where I no longer required his wisdom and companionship via his continued physical presence. We also talked about our perspectives around what happens to a soul when the physical body can no longer be sustained.

Interestingly, Rocky appeared to my husband in his dream the very night after we said goodbye. He was licking my husband’s bald head, as he so often did during his time with us, and spoke with real words and a human voice. Rocky clearly told my husband that he was alright, and that he supports our family getting another dog when we we’re ready.

This put my mind at ease a bit. I was relieved to have some confirmation that Rocky was now without pain and seemingly at peace, but at the same time I was disheartened that I hadn’t received a sign or message from Rocky directly, myself. That was until a few days later when I began to notice a pattern—something just slightly out of the ordinary and with enough repetition to actually take note.

You guys, I am fully aware that you may not believe what I’m about to say. In fact, you may even think I’m a stark raving lunatic, but that’s okay. I’m not sure whether I am clairsentient, or if I’m just a heartsick fool whose feeling lost and desperately searching for meaning after the recent passing of her dog, but either way, I believe Rocky (or the energy of his spirit) has been presenting itself to me.

Why do I think this, you ask? Because I keep seeing rainbows—like everywhere, all over my house. Well, I suppose they’re not technically rainbows, but rather bands of colour and dispersions of light similar to the effect of a prism. But it hasn’t been just once or twice—it’s been pretty much daily for the past 10 days or so.

This is the part I find incredibly fascinating: when I was creating my vision board at the end of December 2019, which coincidentally was around the same time that Rocky’s health took a serious downturn, I came across the word “rainbow” written in script font and filled in with pretty colours. I was perplexed, and even struggled to justify to myself why I would need to have this on my vision board, but I did. It didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. I even tried to remove it from among the collage of other words and images in an attempt to save space, but something inside me wouldn’t allow it, and literally insisted that it must be included. And without any further explanation or argument, I just decided to leave it.

rainbow

Now, my vision board lives in my office (which I have been hard-core avoiding lately, by the way), but I had to go in there the other day to grab something. That’s when I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and did a complete double take. It was at that exact moment that everything clicked and I made the “rainbow connection.” I started to sob uncontrollably, except they were tears of joy in having my suspicion confirmed that Rocky’s spirit and energy are present with me still. It’s like he’s been saying “hi” to me in the sweetest way possible, and my heart swelled at the realization of our soul’s continued connection.

As more days have passed and I finally found the courage to pick up Rocky’s ashes to ensure he’s with us on his birthday and forever after, I’ve noticed a slight shift in my perspective. While there’s no mistaking that I’m still sad, I am also making the effort to intentionally reflect on the good times and to focus on all the love for him that will always live in my heart.

I’m still crying quite a bit, although not nearly as much as in the first few days after he passed. The logical, rational part of my brain knows that storms don’t last forever—not even the emotional ones. And I know the sun will eventually come out and shine down on me again.

With this simple thought I remember, yet again, how people, situations, and yes—even animals—have the ability to crack us wide open. But it in being open to the experiences, the feelings and the lessons, allowing it all and being vulnerable through the process…this is where we realize our own capacity for growth and change.

In his life Rocky taught me about unconditional love, giving me the chance to experience the deepest and most pure form of love I’ve ever known. Through his death, I am now learning how to see the beauty in my pain, as has been shown to me in the eternal nature of his spirit, his enduring love, and of course in every rainbow I will see until the end of time.

Happy Birthday in heaven, Rocky dog!

You may also want to check out the blog I wrote a couple years ago about the many lessons Rocky taught me during his lifetime: old dog // new tricks.

Sacred

I’ve come to an extremely important and potentially life-altering realization. The seeds of this knowledge have been with me since birth, but have remained hidden from sight, and yet somehow nurtured, even in their dormancy, by every experience I’ve ever had. Every hardship and every triumph along the way has fertilized the soil of my life and been integrated into my growth, leading me to this place.

And when I look back in reflection on the myriad of experiences that have brought me to where I stand now, I can easily see the evidence of this one indisputable fact: my life is sacred.

Please, don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. With this statement I do not assert myself to be any more important or special than you or the next person. Rather, I am hereby staking my claim to being a physical manifestion of a Divine spark of light. I might add for the record this is something every human being can say of themselves, because it is the absolute truth for all of us. All you need to do is choose to see it, acknowledge it, and believe it to be true.

I was born unto the Creator of all things (call it God/Source, or whatever other moniker suits your fancy), and by virtue of this, I am an extension of the Divine. The ever-present universal energies of love and light from which I was created are always with me, and part of me, because it is my essential nature and the ultimate truth of who I am.

“What if you were to simply take in the entire world in the same spirit as if you had just walked into a holy place?
Because we are in a holy place.

The divinity that you see outside you is also within you.
Know this.
Don’t doubt it or question it—just for today.”

“I am everything you experience.
Your life is my gift to you.
And you—you are my most beloved creation.”

Panache Desai, Discovering Your Soul Signature

This realization represents a considerable shift in my thinking. It has left me feeling shook, with literally no option other than to accept complete responsibility for my life and everything in it. For better or for worse, my life is a masterpiece of my very own design.

Speaking from recent experience, the level of love and attention I focus on myself has a direct impact on how I choose to spend my time and energy. Subsequently, the energy that ripples out from the decisions I make in every moment is what creates my reality. Placing myself last on my own priority list has shown me, time and time again and in no uncertain terms, how to feel like junk and live in diametric opposition to a purposeful and intention-driven life.

However, the idea of regarding my life as sacred single-handedly places such emphatic emphasis on my raison d’être that it brings every other detail into focus and becomes a yardstick by which I’ve started to measure my thoughts, words, and actions. Knowing that when I begin to veer off track or lose my footing, which will no doubt happen because I am human, SACRED is the compass that will bring me back to my true north.

Sacred is, at once, holding myself to a higher standard while allowing myself grace to make all the mistakes. It’s a lofty and ambitious—even holy—word to focus on, but it’s appearance on my radar screen of life is a beautiful, divinely-timed, and completely necessary occurence. I may even dare call it a miracle.

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The rub of choosing to see the Divine in my human self is the obvious and interesting point of contrast, and the challenge of navigating the complexities and potential pitfalls of this duality are not lost on me. If I’m being completely honest, which I know no other way to be (honesty is an important core value), the deep sense of devotion, dedication, reverence, and veneration to myself above all, as the word sacred connotes, is a foreign concept to me for a number of different reasons.

I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious or church-going family, and aside from a short-lived stint of curiosity around the traditional Christian God, religion, and the bible when I was seven, I’ve never really worshipped any particular God or deity. The idea of worshipping at the altar of myself on the daily, quite frankly, seems a little bit cray-cray. Yet, by the very same token, it’s likely the exact thing I need at the moment. And on the brink of one year—and a decade, even—ending, and another year and decade about to begin, I’m willing to give sacred a try.

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Alexander Pope

Yes, I’ve realized the error of my past ways (I am still human, after all), and as I continue along my path of learning and evolution, I’ve chosen to forgive myself for my previous misgivings. Standing in the present and looking toward the future, I’ve wiped the slate clean, and I couldn’t be more clear about my desire to invite sacred to a very prominent seat at my table. And as I do the work of crafting my intentions, goals, plans, dreams, and vision for the coming year, I will create sacred rituals and allow myself the luxury of reveling in the feeling of holding myself, sacred.

I am in the process of deciding where to direct my energy and how to spend my time in 2020, getting clear about what feels good and right to my soul. Although I’ve completed similar processes a number of times before, this time around is a bit different as I am guided by the knowledge that I am sacred. From this deep sense of reverence, I am inspired to move forward with both confidence and purpose into the year ahead.

And when I begin to slip back into doubt about who I am and why I am here, as I know I inevitably will, I will say a little prayer and gently remind myself:
I am luminous. I am both a wave in the infinite ocean, and the ocean, itself. I have access to infinite creativity, boundless potential, and the field of infinite consciousness. I am grateful to have my own unique set of gifts and talents that I am meant to share with the world. All of this and so much more is true because I am a spark of the Divine.

The life I have been given is sacred.

Yes, friends, the time has come to honour myself and my life as sacred.

SACRED.

And just in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, this is the word I have chosen for 2020—the year when, no thanks to corrective prescription eyewear, my vision is crystal clear and everything is coming completely into focus.

If you’ve made it all the way through this post, bless you! I know it’s been a long one! Please accept my sincere wish for you to make 2020 your brightest and most beautiful year yet.

And if you’re interested in choosing a word for yourself to guide you in the coming year, or visioning/planning your goals and intentions, or creating a vision board (I’m doing all of these, by the way, because…why not?), I’ve compiled the following list of questions to guide you through the process. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Rather, it is a process of inquiry compiled from a number of sources to be used as a starting point in planning and creating a life of intention and meaning.

Before jumping into the questions on this list, I recommend you first get comfortable and still, whether seated or lying down, and become very quiet. Do a guided meditation or simply focus on your breath for about five minutes, or however long you’re able to focus. Then begin the process of listening deeply to what bubbles up and what your heart is telling you. Grab a journal and a pen and start writing down whatever comes up for you, without editing or censoring yourself. Above all, enjoy the glorious ride, knowing that you can create a life that looks and feels exactly how you want.

Questions for Reflection:
Looking back at the previous year, what worked for you and what didn’t? What were your some of your wins and your losses? What did you learn from these situations?
How did you use the past year to grow (or stay stuck)?
Is there a goal that you didn’t achieve that you still would like to work toward?
What are you grateful for from this past year (or even the past five years)?
What do you want to keep from the previous year, and what do you want to throw away? (consider habits/routines, relationships, material possessions, and more)

Present Day Assessment:
Are there any commitments that no longer feel good and right to you?
What are your core values?
What are your strengths?
What do other people tell you you’re good at? What lights you up and what do you love to do?
In a very general sense, what does feel good and right to you? List it all…
Who are your role models and why? What traits do these individuals possess that you aspire to?

Looking Ahead to the Future:
In which areas of your life would you like to learn and grow in the coming year?
Which areas of your life require more attention and focus?
If you won the lottery tomorrow, and no longer had to work to earn an income, how would you spend your time?
How do you want to make the world a better place?
What does your ideal day look like, from start to finish?
Do you have a bucket list? Create a list of 25 things you’d like to do before you die.
Going into the year ahead, how do you want to feel?
How can you look to align your life with your strengths, core values, likes/dislikes, and how you want to feel?
What do you want your life to look like in three years time? Five years? Ten?
What are three things that are holding you back from accomplishing your wildest dreams? Choose one of these obstacles/impediments and write an action plan to overcome it.

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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!

Brisk Walk

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I bundled myself up in warm layers and ventured outside, no specific destination in mind. Just the intention to get outside and go for a walk.

It’s been quite cold in my neck of the woods this past week, which actually made it feel more like a month (some might even argue this past frozen week has felt like a year in and of itself). But the mercury had climbed enough yesterday afternoon to make it humanly possible to go outside, with plenty of extra clothing to pad my flesh against the harsh sting of the cold, of course.

I had been longing to be outside, to breathe the fresh, crisp air into my lungs. And so I walked, putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on my breath, and feeling the steady beat of my heart inside my chest. I walked. At some point, each of my footsteps  naturally and effortlessly synchronized with an inhale or an exhale. I walked in perfect rhythm and harmony with myself, each step a sacred partnership of movement and breath.

Not tiptoeing and not sauntering. Neither crawling nor running.
I walked, briskly and with intention, guided by inspiration and my intuition.

Call it symbolism or metaphor if you like, but I prefer to think of it as my new reality.

Intention – The deliberate approach I am consciously choosing for myself, to be all in for my own life. I like to think of intention as the opposite end of the spectrum from chance and coincidence. Sure, there’s always room for a little spontaneity, but I plan to begin each day with a strong intention to guide me. 

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Intuition – Trusting the quiet whispers from my heart and my soul, even when they don’t make sense. I am learning how it really is that simple. Intuition is like a muscle: the more you listen, the more you hear. I am listening.

Inspiration – Allowing the world’s beauty, emotion, and passion to fill my heart so full that I have no choice but to create something just as beautiful myself, as a way to express my gratitude and appreciation for all that is. To live an inspiring and inspiration-filled life, and maybe even to inspire others along the way.

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Taking in the first few deep breaths of crisp winter air as I walked made my nose run and cheeks rosy, but it also brought warmth and brightness to my soul. And perhaps the most beautiful thing of all is that I really don’t know where any of this is going, or where I’m going. But what’s more important is how, through willingness and an open heart, I’m learning to practice the art of surrender and to trust my journey.

I am grateful for the New Year that is now upon us; for the perspective and the clean slate it affords. Even if all of this is just a silly notion generated by my overactive imagination, it feels real. I am realizing there is an untapped energy source that has been resting dormant inside me. A swirl of ideas are fueling a renewed sense of curiosity, and a zest for experiencing the fullness of life is starting to take shape.

My path is not clear, and I really have no idea where I’m going. I suppose it’s possible, and even quite likely, that I could take a wrong turn. In fact, I could get very lost. I could get it all wrong and make terrible mistakes along the way. I could continue to be paralyzed—stuck in place—frozen by all-consuming fear. Or, I could walk on in spite of the obvious challenges and risks.

I choose to walk forward, one bold step at a time, along with my three faithful companions: intuition, inspiration, and intention.

There’s no way of knowing for sure what this year has in store, but I’m excited to take the walk.

 

What are you excited for in 2018? I’d love to connect with you! Drop me a line and let’s chat about what dreams and schemes you’re cooking up for the future.

 

A Dreamer Takes Flight

I’ve settled into my spot in 7A. My carry-on bag has been stowed securely under the seat in front of me. I spend the first 60 minutes of the flight from Toronto, Ontario to Oranjestad, Aruba reading 54 pages of Stephen King’s On Writing. Knowing little else of his life other than his notoriety as an author of numerous thriller genre books, I’m quite tickled by King’s keen wit and wry sense of humour. I may have actually chuckled out loud…twice…reading how he caught a terrible case of poison ivy after making the choice to go number two in a forested area and wiping with glossy green leaves.

I’ve put the book away and had water, coffee, and some (plain) plane cookies. Following my in-flight guided meditation, a Ludovico Einaudi piano melody flows through the thin white chord that extends out of the bottom of my phone and then separate into two branches; each one delivering a steady stream of full, rich, sound into the tiny buds in my ears. A soft, plaid flannel wrap is draped across my legs to keep away the airplane draft.

7A is a window seat, directly above the left jet. Looking out the window at 39,000 feet, the trivial details that previously preoccupied my thoughts around the items I forgot to pack (the tally currently stands at hairbrush, razor, and sunscreen) have completely faded away, replaced with seemingly endless blankets off cotton-baton like clouds. The sky clears a little, and my view becomes a haze of solid grey with only a string of clouds formed into a long straight line just beneath the jet. Then all of a sudden the entire sky changes to a sheet of brilliant cyan with not a single cloud in sight. I am mesmerized by the sky’s beauty, in all its changing forms.

I am defying the laws of gravity, floating through the atmosphere. The great expanse of the wide-open sky is my home, at least for the next few hours. I am flying.

This bird’s-eye view of the world has created a shift inside me. My spirit is lifted as high as the elevation at which we’re flying, and my heart is filled with the hope that all things—both great and small—are possible. Left alone with my thoughts, climbing to the top of the universe, I’ve found comfort in a soft blanket of clouds and my own dreams.

I’ve recently set a big dream in motion, speaking aloud the deepest desire of my heart. And I wonder if this is why the sky is unfolding so magically for me today, showing me both the vastness of possibility and the impermanence of everything. The meaning is far greater than I’m currently able to express. Today, the sky represents a new beginning; the start of something so incredible I don’t yet fully understand. Whatever it is, it’s something so remarkable and beautiful and potentially life-changing that I’m not yet able to articulate it in words.

In this moment, I’m no longer thinking about what is or isn’t in my suitcase.

Everything is perfectly simple and simply perfect.

I have my head in the clouds and I’m flying on the wings of my dream.

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.

Trust is the Word

Despite any appearance to the contrary, I’ve always been a fake-it-till-you-make-it chick. And when I stop to think about why this is so, all signs point to an obvious lack of trust in myself.

Through my personal journey of contemplation and self-reflection over the past several years, I have realized there are some major chinks in my armour, not the least of which is an inability to trust myself. Further, this has made me painfully aware of another vulnerability: I cannot fully realize my potential on this planet until I have completely embraced the radical concept of self-trust.

Trust is inextricably intertwined with some other equally nebulous ideas. When I think of trust, I also think of BELIEF, CONFIDENCE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY, FAITH, COURAGE, and BRAVERY.

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I honestly believe my reasons for lacking trust in myself boil down to 1.) fear and 2.) having an overly active loud mouth of an inner critic. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario when I consider which of these came first, as they apparently fuel and feed off of each other.

But coming back to the concept of trust, turning this word back on myself has been an interesting exercise. I mean, it’s one thing when you realize that you’ve lost trust for someone whom you consider to be important in your life, but when that person is yourself, whoa!

I would argue that trust matters most in relationships of an intimate nature. And what is more intimate than the relationship one has with oneself? By this logic, trust is a biggie. It’s huge. The absence of it a major clue that, “Houston, we have a problem!”

It’s hard to like someone you don’t trust, and it’s hard to like yourself if you don’t trust yourself.
Leo Babruta

But I’m here to tell you, straight up, there is a void inside my soul where the trust button is supposed to be. It’s like a vacuum in which there is no air for my flame to burn. Heck, there’s not even a spark to light the flame. For some reason, the visual of a motherboard with an empty slot where the processor is supposed to be comes to mind. There’s a label with an arrow showing exactly where the trust processor belongs, but it’s just not there.

This visual demonstrates how integral I have come to believe self-trust is to pursuing and achieving anything worthwhile in this world, because, even though I’m no technology expert, I’d imagine a motherboard without a processor is virtually useless. Haha, virtually, get it? Similarly, without that trust ‘processor’ functioning in me, it feels humanly impossible to follow through on my purpose with the serious work of this life.

Trust is a funny thing. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it, or smell it. It’s either there or it isn’t. You know when it is there and when it isn’t.

And that is precisely my reason for choosing TRUST as the one word to guide me in 2016. It is the one thing I know am currently lacking and that has the potential to change the course and trajectory of my life.

Trust is something akin to a special brand of blind faith. It is the unwavering belief that, in the face of adversity and against all odds, life is going to work out exactly how it’s supposed to. It’s that unshakable place of being firmly rooted in the knowing that life is always working in your favour.

For me, trusting myself implicitly would mean defeating self-doubt and being so thoroughly self-assured that my every move is guided by a very cool (yet non arrogant) sense of confidence. The reliable presence of trust in my life would translate to avoiding the urge to compare myself to others and bypassing the impulse to second guess my instincts. Perhaps most importantly for me, embodying trust would be like knowing with everything in me that, no matter what the universe throws my way, ‘I’ve got this.’

When baking a cake, you make sure to include all of the ingredients in the recipe. When you’re building a life you love, you’ve got to start by trusting yourself.

If I sit down to write not having a concrete idea in mind before hand, I need to trust the ideas will come to me, and through me. And it all starts by having that trust in myself in the first place, to get my rear end into that chair and just start typing.

Trust is the fertile ground in which I have planted my seeds of intention for 2016. With its constant loving attention, I am better equipped to nurture my seeds and encourage their growth. With trust as the foundation of everything I do, I believe there’s nothing I cannot accomplish. And with some good, old-fashioned hard work, my efforts will finally take shape and flower into reality.

2016: I trust it’s my time to shine!

Trust words

How do you measure a year in a life?

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago on a day much like today, I took a huge leap of faith by leaving my job in favour of devoting more time to my family, as well as to explore my passion for writing. There was something so magical and almost intoxicating to me about what I imagined I would be able to accomplish, and the one-year mark was the first and most important major checkpoint on the journey of this new life.

With one year having come and gone, I’ve struggled to use my time effectively and to create a solid routine for myself. I’ve been tripped up, time and time again, in my attempts to balance the obligations of running a household and raising two young children against the pursuit of my own goals and dreams.

And somewhere between the crushing expectations I place on myself and (learning) to relax my tendency to control every microsecond of my life, I became frozen in place. Frustrated and overwhelmed, I threw my hands up in the air and did nothing. And so I find myself one year down the road with virtually nothing to show for the lapse in time.

On second thought, perhaps it’s not entirely accurate to say I haven’t accomplished anything… I’ve read books and completed courses. I’ve done a great deal of self-reflection and personal work. And I feel, from the deepest parts of my being, that I’m inching ever closer to being reacquainted with my most authentic self.

When I set aside the disappointment I feel about the lack of writing I’ve done, what I can do is measure the past year in the valuable lessons I’ve learned. And so I’d like to share the top 10 big ones that I’ve had both the pain and pleasure of experiencing:

  1. I create my own suffering. It’s human nature, really. But once I really began to understand how my thoughts create my reality, I also realized that I can choose to see things differently, and there is tremendous freedom in that. This is a practice that isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the effort.
  2. Everything is temporary. Impermanence is the way of the universe. This means I can change my mind, and I can change my self. And so I am. Change is the precursor of growth, so I am growing.
  3. Related to point number 2 above, it’s best not to become attached to anything, even the stories about my past. No, especially the stories about my past.
  4. Fear can be debilitating, if I allow it to have that power over me. That’s why when something really matters, I need to summon every ounce of courage I have and do (whatever that thing is) anyway. When given the choice between comfort and growth (and I always have a choice), I choose growth.
  5. It’s simply not possible for material stuff and things to fill the emptiness inside. Even if it does provide some satisfaction initially, the effects wear off quickly and leave an even greater emptiness in their wake. For this very reason, I find myself growing less concerned about the acquisition of stuff and more focused on experiencing life. At the same time, I have learned how letting go of stuff and things creates space for new possibilities. This realization is extremely liberating.
  6. Living a numb existence and being on autopilot day in and day out is really no way to live. Emotions are energy in motion, and must be acknowledged and felt so they can be processed and released. If not, this energy gets trapped in the body and will inevitably cause problems, such as spontaneously erupting like a volcano at an inappropriate time later on, or causing illness and even disease. What’s the moral if the story here? Feel my feelings. Feel my feelings! FEEL MY FEELINGS!
  7. Having a healthy dose of self-worth, nurtured by regular portions of self-love, is the absolute best way to nurture my personal power and live an authentic life. I am learning to love myself because doing so is essential to my happiness and success.
  8. I am far more important and powerful than I have given myself credit for. We all are. We’re all here for a reason; we have all been given this life to accomplish a particular purpose that is unique to each of us. And we are all connected—our thoughts, behaviours, and actions send ripples out into the world that have an effect on others.
  9. From a growing awareness around my own resistance, I’m learning how important it is to get to its source, such as understanding why a particular person or situation pushes my buttons. There’s two big reasons why this is so: 1) Resistance is fueled by ignorance and fears, therefore harboring resistance to change and simply to what is makes life more difficult overall, and 2) When you recognize resistance as a tool for growth, you can embrace and learn from the lessons that you are presented with, instead of being stuck on repeat. This one is definitely a work in progress and one that requires me to be fully awake to the present moment.
  10. I cannot underestimate the absolute value of faith, particularly in the face of adversity and in the absence of the fruits of productivity. And this is where I am reminded of the divine timing of my life. I trust that I am exactly where I’m meant to be, learning what I need to know, and that everything I’m doing now is necessary for me to move forward in the future.
  11. Ok, I know I said there were 10 lessons, but here’s a bonus just for you: Love will light the way (if you let it)!

faith_fearEven though I bought in to the idea of what I should have been able to accomplish over the past year, and subsequently admonished myself for falling short on my goals, I also know that undoing years of conditioning and patterns simply doesn’t happen over night. I am erasing the old, worn out recordings of my limiting beliefs and replacing them with a new inspirational soundtrack for my life. I can hear the music playing faintly in the distance, so know I am on the right track to creating a life I love.

Do any of these lessons resonate for you? Which ones in particular can you relate to and why? I’d also love to hear how you measure a year in your life.

I leave you with the lyrics to a beautifully fitting song, Seasons of Love from RENT
By Daniel Noonan
SONGWRITERS
Jonathan D. Larson

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments, oh dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love (love)
Seasons of love (love)

One small step for mypharelady = one giant leap for my self-worth

If there’s one thing I know it’s that I can be a stubborn, slow learner. If there’s another thing I know it’s that slow and steady still gets you to the finish line.

After finishing my second half marathon I was adamant that I’d never complete a full marathon. In my mind, doing anything for a distance of 42 km and what would likely take me over five hours is the definition of insanity. No, thank you. Not for this girl. It’s really quite funny how, in certain moments like these, we feel we have all the answers. Everything is absolutely black and white. Yet, with a little time, some learning, and a lot of perspective, we can—and quite often do—change our minds.

Despite having completed a number of races, which by most people’s standards would qualify me as a runner, I’ve always struggled with the moniker. Similarly, despite making a living for close to 15 years by writing, not to mention running this blog and having a dream of writing and publishing a book of my own, calling myself a writer has always felt a little uncomfortable.

I can imagine anyone reading this right now is probably scratching their head and wondering what the hell long distance running and writing have to do with each other. The answer, at least in my case, is quite a lot. Both can take a toll on us: taxing our bodies, zapping our energy, and depleting us mentally. Both require tremendous focus, dedication, and most of all courage. Both require that the participant never give up hope of reaching their final destination—whether it be crossing the finish line or sharing their work with the world by publishing a book.

And I guess that’s precisely why I finally went ahead and purchased the domain name {mypharelady.com}. You see, when I originally created this blog about 2.5 years ago, I just couldn’t justify the expense for a personal blog that was little more than a hobby. Fast forward a few short years and I now see how that decision was less about the cost and more about subconsciously keeping myself small.

It has taken moldways_newdoorse some time to see the fault in my earlier perspective, and also that I still have a ways to go in the self-love and self-worth department. But I also realize staying where I am, in the nice warm fluffy walls of my comfort zone, won’t change anything either.

Is there any way to guarantee the small investment I’ve made in registering this domain will yield any kind of financial return? No. Is giving myself a gentle kick in the ass to get out of my comfort zone and taking a giant leap of faith just what I need? Hell ya and ‘nuff said.

While I must admit that running a full marathon still isn’t anywhere on my radar (I don’t feel the need to prove to myself that I can do it), I am determined to write and publish a book. Therefore, I intend to continue trudging forward, slowly and steadily down the long and winding road, until I reach the finish line.

I’d like to know…

Have you ever felt confined by your comfort zone and, if so, what did you do to shake things up?

And

In the face of self-doubt and other setbacks, how do you keep yourself focused on achieving your dreams and goals?

My story is unfolding, with major changes and subtle shifts

This summer has been a time of significant transition for me—a time of both major changes and subtle shifts. My daughter finished Grade 2 and my son graduated from Kindergarten, I left my job at the end of June, and I somehow finally summoned the courage to announce to the world that I plan to pursue my dream of becoming a published author.

While I’ve always insisted on working outside of the home (I felt I had something valid to offer the world and felt strongly that staying home with the kids wasn’t right for me), over the last year it became increasingly apparent that my children needed to have me around more than I needed to have a career, even if I was only working part time.

At first this message came masquerading as something else, but as time went on it got louder and much more obvious. This dance went on for a while but I began to see through the veiled disguise, eventually coming to understand being available to my children was the answer I didn’t know I was looking for, yet desperately needed to find.

But don’t let me fool you into thinking the decision to become a stay-at-home mom was an easy one for me to make, nor that it wasn’t met with any resistance on my part. In fact, resistance might just be the understatement of the century. My ego screamed and kicked and dug its heels in on this one. My identity as a career woman—a working mother—has guided every major decision I’ve made in the last eight years, and I was fiercely determined not to let go of the “working” part. I was extremely emotional just discussing the idea of not working, and I cried as I gave notice to my employer, all the while knowing it was what I needed to do.

As more friends and family members learn about my decision, many have asked about my motives and how it feels to assume this new role on a full-time basis. It’s not an easy question for me to answer, as I have mixed emotions and likely will for some time. What I do know, on the other hand, is this: the major changes that I’ve recently initiated are precipitating several smaller and more subtle shifts, which seem to be coming at me, fast and furious, in a successive chain reaction.

These subtle shifts have helped me to realize it’s time, once and for all, to release the pain and stagnant energy that is not serving me in the pursuit of my greatest good. I am learning to let go of things I can’t control. I am allowing myself to love and be loved. I am listening to my intuition more freely and uncovering what I desire most, which for the moment is to create, to nurture, to express love, and to receive love into my heart.

I want to live my life on purpose, starting right now with just one season (thanks to Melsha Shea for creating #SummerOnPurpose). This summer I want to be the most loving mother I can possibly be for my two beautiful children. I want to experience, through them, what being a kid is all about—having fun, playing, and seeing the world through innocent eyes with childlike wonder. I want to grow flowers and vegetables in my backyard. I want to do more art journaling. (Art journaling is an incredibly therapeutic process, and I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t already done so. Check out http://www.jenngarman.com. She’s a great teacher!) I want to read, cook, bake, dance, and move. Oh, yes, and I want to WRITE!

My first art journal page, "My story is unfolding"

My first art journal page, “My story is unfolding”

Through a series of synchronicities, I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop on How to Write and Publish Your First Book in Seven Steps, presented by Kelly Falardeau and Carrie Kohan. These two wise women removed the mystery around book publishing by providing a series of practical and easy-to-follow steps, as well as sharing a process to capture my ideas and create outlines for the books I want to write. Further, Carrie Kohan rocked my world with her ability to “read” me, while confirming my deeply held belief about the incredible healing power of meditation. The workshop was both simple and extremely powerful, as it helped me realize I can stretch beyond my perceived limitations and pursue my passion of writing. With the knowledge Kelly and Carrie shared, and as I remain open to the possibilities life brings, I will share my words and stories with the world.

All of these changes in a relatively short period of time has felt like a whirlwind. It all feels like a bit much for a girl who prefers life to happen on her terms while having both feet firmly planted on the ground. But I can honestly say, without reservation, that my soul is downright giddy to have uncovered this path. So I’d like to thank the universe for these major changes and subtle shifts that are leading me to my truth. It’s like a reassuring pat on the back that’s letting me know, in no uncertain terms, I’m on the right track and my story is unfolding exactly how it’s supposed to.