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.

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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.

Extreme Makeover: Pantry Edition

A few weeks ago, I boldly showed off my drawers. To be clear, I showed the insides of my makeup drawers after a fit of purging and organizing induced by the first full moon of 2020.

At the time, the energy of cleansing, purging, and release hit me like a tidal wave (as in I chose to catch that wave and go with its flow, rather than go down like a sinking ship), and this very same energy has carried me through January. Back when I showed the world my drawers I also declared my pantry was next up on my list for a complete overhaul, and I’m here to tell you, with much pride and excitement, I’ve followed through with my intention to do just that.

Let me start by saying that I am no expert in the organization department. While I am a true Virgo at heart and I certainly appreciate the finer details of organizational systems and processes, I’ve never been great at creating those very systems in the first place. And after many failed attempts at organizing the items in my walk-through pantry, I essentially conceited defeat and threw in the proverbial (dish) towel. I distinctly remember the moment when I realized keeping my pantry neat and organized had become an exercise in futility. My kids were around one and three years of age, and at the time I knew I needed to choose my battles carefully. In other words, I was a working mother with two young kids and I only had so much energy to go around (and so many flips to give). My pantry was one of the things I decided to stop obsessing about, and I simply let it go.

Over the past ten or so years my pantry and all its contents grew increasingly unruly. After all these years of neglect, it became an overgrown jungle of pasta, rice, cereal, dry and canned goods, and the occasional half-eaten bag of chips that got tossed in willy-nilly, never to be found again, or at least not until well after the bag’s expiration date. Each time I went to look for something I needed, I would wince and my right eye would twitch a little. That is, until I pretty much stopped caring all together, as you can see in the photo below. (Ack, it’s such a mess!)

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I recently came across some photos of beautifully organized pantries on Instagram (the kind pantry dreams are made of) and I got a little insta-jelly. But thankfully that was just the kick in the pants I needed to do something. So I set to work researching online the various products available, and came up with a plan to restore order in my pantry.

After much deliberation, I ended up choosing Rubbermaid Brilliance containers, which boast an airtight seal, stack-ability, a wide variety of canister sizes/sets, and an overall simple and clean design esthetic. I started out with one 10-piece set (purchased from Amazon) and an additional 4-piece set (purchased from Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon), which I planned to use as the starting point for my pantry project, along with some Mason jars and baskets I already had on hand. I may end up purchasing additional Rubbermaid Brilliance storage pieces in the future, but we’ll see.

Other items I purchased to complete my pantry overhaul included:

  • Two rolls of Con-Tact® Grip 12-Inch x 15-Foot Non-Adhesive Ultra Shelf Liner
  • Two medium sized Spectrum Diversified Scoop stacking storage baskets
  • One SimpleHouseware stackable can rack organizer
  • And although my spices are not technically part of my pantry, I also purchased a set of 12 (4 oz) square jars with chalkboard labels to help me clean up my spice cupboard.

spices

Following is the basic process I followed:

  • Take an “inventory” of what I had on hand to determine how many storage containers and what other types of organization products I would need. This step also required taking measurements of the shelf space.
  • Source and/or place orders for pantry organization products and food storage containers. Upon arrival, unbox and wash new containers thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
  • Remove everything from pantry, one shelf at a time. This is a great time to check expiration dates and dispose of anything that’s out of date or will no longer be used. If food is still good and just not something your family will use, consider donating to a local food bank.
  • Do a thorough clean (wipe and/or sweep) the shelves to remover any residue, crumbs or debris.
  • Organize all food items into “like” groups and categories: baking ingredients, pasta and noodles, rice, cereal, etc.
  • Cut strips of shelf liner material to size for each shelf.
  • Transfer dry goods out of packaging into storage containers.
  • Place food back into pantry, keeping in mind regularly used items should be more centrally located. Items that don’t get used as much can be placed on higher or lower shelves. This step may entail some trial and error to determine what works best for you on a daily basis, so don’t be afraid to start somewhere and make changes as you go.

I’m so very happy with the way my pantry turned out! Here are some pics of the finished product:

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I know this post may seem entirely out of character; like it doesn’t jive with the type of content I normally post on my blog. Despite how it may appear, there is something deeper going on. If you read my last post, Sacred, you may recall how I chose that as the word I would use to guide me with the intention of bringing depth and greater meaning to my life this year. Indeed, in these first few weeks of 2020, I have been focused on creating routines that honour my sacred nature, specifically those that nurture my mental and physical health and overall wellbeing. And knowing myself as I do, I’ve come to understand the importance of order, cleanliness, and organization in my world. In fact, these qualities are so important to me that I would go so far as to call them, sacred.

Sure, the pretty pantry pics I found initially inspired me based on their functional beauty and esthetic appeal, but I wanted to tackle mine because I see it everyday, and its previous disarray was negatively affecting my mental state. I would become mildly annoyed and even agitated as I walked by or through it multiple times a day. Over time, the frustration grew to the point where I could no longer stand it. This is but one small example of how outer order plays a huge role in creating inner calm, or conversely, how chaos in my physical environment (in this case, my pantry) was causing me to feel mentally chaotic as well.

The underlying energy encouraging me to take small steps and inspired action in all areas of my life is an intentional focus on the sacred quality of simplicity. Cleaning out my pantry, taking stock of what I’ve actually got (so many types of tea!), streamlining its contents, and getting rid of expired and outdated food products was so satisfying. This seemingly small act feels like a form of simplification that will inevitably result in making my life easier.

The other huge bonus of having a clean, organized pantry is being able to clearly see and access all of my cooking ingredients, knowing exactly what I have on hand, and also when I’m low or have completely run out of something that needs restocking.

What I’m really saying is this pantry overhaul was about much more than what the eye can see. Transforming it from ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ to ‘A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place’ has brought me so much joy and peace of mind. And now that I’m riding this high, having discovered the profound effect a clean and organized pantry can have, I feel like there’s no stopping what I’ll tackle next. Watch out junk drawers, cupboards, and closets: I’m coming for you next.

**This is in no way a sponsored post.**

 

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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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.

 

Reinventing with a Single Word for 2017

The practice of choosing a word to guide us into and through a new year has become quite common—sort of a more fluid update to the alternative resolution setting, if you will. The word should be something important and meaningful, and serves as a thematic focus or guidepost for how you want to live. As the underlying intention for your choices and actions, the word represents a feeling, sense of being, or something else you’d like to attract or create more of in your life.

The process of choosing my word for this year was surprisingly efficient, which hasn’t always been the case for me, as I am prone to chronic over thinking and analyzing these types of things until the cows come home. But this time was different. On December 29, a friend posted on Facebook asking who had chosen a word for 2017, and while I hadn’t given it much thought at that point, my word hit me very suddenly—entirely organically and with almost frightning velocity.

But it felt right. It also felt enormous and heavy, and if I’m being honest (which I generally am because it’s the only way I know how to be), it made me a touch uncomfortable. But that’s also the reason why I knew I had found the right word for me this year.

In science and biology, metamorphosis is an incredible process of change that a living creature endures after its birth, transforming it from one physical form to another entirely different state. Most commonly, we think of it as the process that changes a squiggly little tadpole into a mature frog, or a slimy caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

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While all of this science stuff is unquestionably true, my word for 2017 has a slightly different meaning to me. I am madly in love with the idea that we as humans can be ever-evolving and changing. We can even completely reinvent ourselves if we choose. With this in mind, I can no longer stay inside the comfort of the container in which I’ve been living. I’ve become too much for the shell that surrounds me. Shedding layers and a “skin” that no longer feels like home, this is the year I will emerge, transformed—a new and improved version of myself. Cha-cha-changes!

The sheltered state of being and the span of time during which I have been inwardly focused on deep growth has served its intended purpose in bringing me here. In fact, I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it were not for taking the time and space to process, heal, and grow beyond what I once was. For the most part, these changes have happened in darkness and isolation, just like the pupa stage in the life of a butterfly. And now, as a result of having undergone the lessons and changes, the time has come for me to emerge from my chrysalis, with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence in myself.

Trusting the timing of my life and summoning all the courage I have inside, the time has come to push my way out of the walls that have enclosed me. And as the light seeps in through the cracks of my cocoon, I’ll slowly begin to make my way out. Once free from my enclosure, I will follow the cue of a butterfly, gracefully spreading my wings to show my true colours. And then, I will fly.

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And so it happened just like this: the question was posed and I quickly found my word, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say my word found me. All of this transpired in the same day, maybe even the same hour. Energized by this newly cemented positive intention, I had created a new vision board for myself, with metamoprhosis as the central focus, before the time I went to bed on December 30.

visionboard

As the board reflects, my transformation has and will continue to include regular yoga and meditation practice, writing, learning from nature, listening to the voice of my intuition, along with generous doses of fun, happiness, simplicity, confidence, grace, balance, inspiration, power, and of course love.

Now that I think of it, metamorphosis is more than my word for 2017; it’s the real and powerful process in which I’m currently immersed. It’s my intention or drishti (focus) and my mantra for continued growth during the year that lies ahead. It signifies both where I am and the direction in which I want to go. And I think it goes without saying that I’m super stoked to see what will happen next. It also doesn’t hurt that, according to numerology, 2017 is a “1” year—a year of manifestation and new beginnings, as well as creation, love, intuition, and success. I have a feeling it’s going to be an amazing year!

Have you chosen a word or theme for yourself? What plans and goals, resolutions and intentions will you be nurturing this year? I’d love to hear from you about what you’re cooking up for 2017!

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.

Lessons in Gratitude For Our Modern, Stone-Age Family

The events that have transpired over the past few weeks have me feeling like I’m the matriarch of a modern, stone-age family. But unlike Fred Flintstone, I’m not feeling compelled to shout out with glee, Yaba-daba-doo!

It all started a couple of weeks ago when our dishwasher that’s slightly more than five years old kicked the bucket. More precisely, it began leaking buckets of water all over the kitchen floor, and then wouldn’t run a cycle past the 10-minute mark. Knowing the likelihood of being able to fix it was slim to none (because LG doesn’t make replacement parts for its appliances older than five years), we opted to save our time and energy and just go buy a new one. Now we’re waiting the two to three weeks for delivery and installation, and we’re doing dishes the old-fashioned way in the mean time. Scrubbing pots and pans and constantly having dishpan hands has got me feeling quite primitive. I mean, come on, even Wilma Flintstone had an octopus to wash her dishes for her!

Then, earlier last week, our house was a touch chilly, despite the furnace being on, or so we thought. My husband went downstairs to check, and not only did he discover the furnace wasn’t running, but also that he wasn’t able to reignite the pilot light. We placed a service call to our friendly neighbourhood furnace company, and when the technician came out the next day his assessment was that our furnace was destined for sheet metal heaven. This left us feeling a little blue—because we were cold AND were facing a huge, unplanned expenditure to replace our home’s primary heat source. And once again, just like cave people thousands of years ago, we sought warmth by fire while we we waited for our new furnace to be installed. Thank goodness for fireplaces!

In spite of all of this, and all kidding aside, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of viewing these trials for what they really are—challenges that are simply a part of life, without feeling oh-so sorry for myself, being too over-the-top dramatic, and creating all kinds of stories around what was happening. This may be partially due to the fact that I do my best to practice an attitude of gratitude, and my daily meditation practice may also be helping to keep me more grounded and centered. Whatever the deal is, I realize these kinds of things just happen and it’s really not worth getting bent out of shape over. Acknowledge. Address. Move on without any stories and attachment.

Nonetheless, these situations have, once again, presented me with the opportunity to see life from a different perspective. And, oh, the lessons they’ve revealed. Here’s just a few that I think merit being shared:

  1. While I had initially thought otherwise (probably because it gave me flashbacks to the numerous marathon dishwashing sessions of my youth), doing the dishes by hand hasn’t been as completely awful and tedious as I thought it would be. On the contrary. Washing and drying our dirty dishes by hand has very subtly provided time for me to bond with my husband and children. Surprisingly, everyone has been quite willing to help out, so that’s a HUGE positive right there. Plus, I’ve had some interesting and heartwarming conversations with my family members that I may not have otherwise had if not for our time washing dishes together. And, to my credit, we haven’t even resorted to using paper plates and plastic cutlery to eat our meals!
  1. Related to the point above, I’ve seen how our incapacitated dishwasher is teaching my children the value of hard work and doing something productive with their hands, aside from holding a device or playing video games. The situation has allowed us to explain to our children how not everyone in the world has all of the luxuries and amenities we do, which I hope will instill in them a sense of appreciation for how privileged they are. Also, having them help with the dishes gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. (My son now tells me he is a dish-drying expert.) I’d say this is a win-win for all of us.
Kids caught in the act of helping.

Kids caught helping. Who needs an octopus, or a dishwasher, when you’ve got these two?

  1. As I already alluded to above, these circumstances have framed and reaffirmed for me just how fortunate we are to have modern conveniences, such as central heating, air conditioning, and hot water, and the luxury of a machine to wash and dry our dishes for us. Much of the world’s population can only dream of having access to these things at some point in their lives, while it’s easy for us to take them for granted. And while it causes us some minor inconvenience to be without, I know we’ll have these things working again in relatively short order. Choosing to see beyond the initial inconvenience allows me to see how truly blessed we are.
  1. I believe it was Oprah that said, “You are responsible for the energy you bring” (to every situation). This is something I am aware of and watch closely about myself. The concept was further illustrated for me by our furnace installer. The first day, he was visibly frustrated from the moment he arrived at our house. As I was home for the duration of the work being completed, I observed his behaviour on that first day, noticing how he cursed when things weren’t going according to plan and how his mood mirrored the angry thrash metal music he had blaring in the basement. At the end of the day, he shared how his work truck had broken down on the side of the road the day before, he was without his regular helper, and the guy who had been assisting on our job was quite inexperienced. It was obvious to me what had been happening, so I simply smiled and told him to have a good night’s rest and come back the following day with a clean slate. The next morning he showed up with both of his helpers and a notably sunnier disposition. His music selection had morphed from the previous day’s death metal to The Beatles and other assorted softer classic rock music. And, as you can well imagine, the installation process went much smoother that second day. The shift in his mood and energy was palpable, and the trickle-down effect that had onto the installation process was nothing short of a miracle.

The bottom line in all of this is, no matter how bad things may seem, we can always choose to find something for which to be grateful. It can be tough to do in practice sometimes, but it’s a choice each one of us has the power to make. And when we consciously choose gratitude, positivity, and happiness, the odds are pretty good that we’ll make life easier for ourselves and those around us.

What are you grateful for today?

Lift the Sky

Life continues to show me how some events simply cannot be explained; they can only be felt. And because of who I am, the depth of my feelings, and how I process them, life can feel extremely negative and heavy at times. These are the times when my energy gets depleted, I feel drained, and then I usually wind up getting sick. This is exactly what happened to me this past Saturday morning. The one bright spot is that I’m learning to recognize the signs and triggers of this pattern, and I have gained the awareness around when I need to shift my energy toward the positive.

You may have seen a video of six-year-old, Tianna, which has been circulating on social media and gone viral, receiving over 9 million views on Facebook since last week. In the video, the young girl from Surrey, BC talks broadly and openly about the need for people to be kind to one another, while specifically focusing on her divorced parents. She has a great deal of wisdom to share, but the one message that really stood out for me was when she said: “My heart is something. Everyone else’s heart is something, too. I just want everything to be as good as possible.”

That’s right, Tianna, my heart is something. And like you, my heart is telling me the world could use a little extra positivity, love, and hope right now.

I wrote the following piece quite a while ago about an experience that had a deep and profound transformational effect on me. It shook me and woke me up and made me realize how absolutely anything is possible if you just believe.

In a moment of complete vulnerability, I am choosing to set these words free now. Releasing them is so  much more than a symbolic nod toward their meaning; it is an act of courage in letting go. And it is my intention to continue to practice letting go, as I have come to accept this as an ongoing process that must happen gradually and incrementally.

letgoMy heart is something, and this is my message of hope to the world. May all who read it find the courage they need to let go of anything that dulls their energy, keeps them stuck, suppresses their power, and holds them back from being their most authentic self.

May you all come to understand and truly believe that you, too, can lift the sky.

Peace.
xo

Her gentle vice soothed and enveloped me, providing the comfort of a warm blanket.

She said softly: “Feeling your feet planted firmly on the ground, remembering that every challenge in your life is there to serve you, and knowing you are bigger than any obstacle.”

Then in a moment so inexplicably strange and beautiful, she uttered five simple words that would change me forever.

You.
Can.
Lift.
The.
Sky.

What once would have seemed entirely impractical, and even unfathomable, became a metaphor for my altered consciousness—a bridge transcending the worlds between fantasy and reality.

The moment the words slipped across her lips, I realized I actually could do just that, or anything else for that matter, as long as I had the desire and the belief it was possible.

Suddenly and effortlessly, I just let go. I let go of the pain I was carrying in my heart. I let go of the heaviness of the expectations that I’ve placed on myself for so long. I let go of the desperate need to know what’s next and to have the right answers to all of life’s questions.

I let go of the weight of the world, and a single tear rolled down my cheek.

I finally understood what it has always been my destiny to know.

With my arms extended to the heavens, I can feel the heat of the sun blaze against my fingertips, the stars are mine to touch, and the moon is in within my grasp.

I can lift the sky.

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