The Flip-side of Resistance

If I were to pick only one word to describe my life, one word to sum it all up just perfectly, it would have to be: Resistance.

Many of the people, circumstances, and experiences I encounter, I resist. I oppose. I withstand. As far as I can tell or remember, I’ve been resisting most of my life, and if someone were to make my life into a book or movie, it would have to be called, The Great Resistance.

When it comes to actually feeling all my feelings, receiving feedback, and trying new things, my first and natural reaction is to resist. I resist listening to and following my intuition, being consistent with self-care, and accepting love that is offered to me. Allowing myself to fully participate in positive experiences and doing what I know is my calling? Yup, you guessed it—even more resistance! And when I encounter struggle or conflict, I put up resistance with a capital “R”.

As you can see, I take resistance to a whole new level. You might even say I’m the master, Grand Puba, and high priestess of the resistance department. I am literally resisting my own life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bit like trying to sprint through Jello.

If you’re wondering how that’s working out for me, well let’s just say it’s not really.

I have enough self-awareness to know that simply being aware of my resistance is no longer copacetic. Capiche? (You know what I mean?) The Great Resistance is preventing me from experiencing sustained joy and happiness and blocking me from finding my flow, ya know?

I had a little A-HA! moment when I realized: The flip-side of resistance is acceptance.

This is BIG, life-changing stuff here, people!

acceptance

I’m not talking about taking the road of acquiescence, passivity, or even resignation. I’m talking about being able to take whatever comes my way for what it is. Greeting every moment with interest and curiosity, rather than judgment. Setting aside all of my expectations and preconceived notions about what my life should look like in favour of receiving whatever it is. And believe me when I say that for me this is as much about allowing the good stuff as it is about welcoming the negative without a bunch of unnecessary drama and hoopla.

I think I’m starting to get it…

What I need, and what I’ve been searching for all along, is acceptance. I have a choice: I can continue to cause my own suffering by resisting everything, all the time, or I can choose to walk the road of acceptance, instead.

“Acceptance does not mean you agree with, condone, appreciate, or even like what has happened. Acceptance means that you know, regardless of what has happened, that there is something bigger than you at work. It also means you know that you are okay and that you will continue to be okay.”
Iyanla Vanzant

Resistance is a close cousin of fear, so it only makes sense that acceptance is one of love’s siblings. With this massive revelation, I’m setting my sights on seeing my resistance for what it is (essentially, fear in disguise), and gently moving beyond it to a place of loving acceptance—in all ways and with all things.

radicalacceptance

Starting right now, I am choosing acceptance over resistance, and committing myself to making acceptance a daily mindfulness practice.

One day at a time, one breath and one baby step at a time:
I will practice accepting whatever comes my way.
I will practice letting go of things I cannot control.
I will practice seeking solutions instead of complaining.
I will practice listening to the whispers of my sadness, pain, anger, and frustration.
I will practice seeing the beauty that exists in the world.
I will practice gratitude and focus on positivity.

Yes, I do get it now.

I accept responsibility for myself—all the good and bad parts.
I accept that I’m human, and I will have both good days and bad days.
I accept that acceptance is a practice.
I accept that this is where I begin.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat the practice of acceptance, times infinity.

See you on the flip side…
of resistance.

Has anyone else chosen to walk the road of mindful acceptance? Do you have tips, an experience, a story, or a comment to share? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a note in the comments below.

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?

Hello 2014 and My Big, Bold, Beautiful Life

hello-2014

I have a confession to make: I’ve tried at least three times to write a blog post in which I would thoughtfully reflect on the previous year while foreshadowing my best intentions for my life in 2014. The problem is each of the three previous drafts I wrote didn’t feel quite right. Too much reflection made me feel like I was dwelling and making excuses for being stuck in the past. Too much explanation of what ‘has been’ just felt like a feeble attempt at justifying myself to, well, myself.

The simple truth is 2013 taught me a great deal about myself and led me to some important realizations. It was a year of tremendous personal growth, spiritual awakening, and life-changing awareness. The universe gave me subtle and not-so-subtle taps on the shoulder—and even a few face palms. I received the message, loud and clear, that I need to both slow down (my mind), and stop (trying to be perfect, giving others power over me, and hiding my true self from the world).

Many good things had their origins in 2013, though, and I’d like to continue building on that momentum. I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone by changing jobs after 12 years and completing the Spartan 5 km obstacle race. Both are just about as far out of my comfort zone as I ever dreamed I could possibly go, but the point is I did those things and I’m now better and stronger for it.

While I’ve never really bought into the mass appeal of making New Year’s resolutions (if you want to make a change in your life you should be able to make it any time of year, right?), I am focused on being the best possible me I can be. So, as I turn my attention to the year ahead, I am naturally thinking about the things I can do to continue to move myself in this direction. In a nutshell, I intend to work on letting go of my obsession with perfection; blossoming into a confident, empowered woman; and reigniting my dreamer gene.

Coincidentally, I have a hard time with  dreams, and the ‘awake’ kind, in particular. As fate would have it, though, I stumbled upon a book called The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte a few months back. I then also learned of and joined a Desire Map book club, which starts next week. The premise of The Desire Map is getting clear on your desires and having those desires be the force behind everything you do, and I’m sure this will be a valuable exercise that will help guide me on my journey this year. In the final hours of 2013, my husband and I worked on completing some of the book’s exercises together. It was wonderful to share this experience as the conclusion of one year and the beginning of another, and I am grateful to have a partner who is open to exploring these ideas with me. Despite being fearful about venturing into uncharted territory  once again (I am actually scared out of my gourd), I’m also quite excited about the possibilities. I feel in my heart this is something I need to do now. That’s why I will trudge forward, even though I don’t have all the answers right now, knowing  I am—and will be—OK.

So even though I have some work ahead in terms of figuring out what my core desired feelings are à la Daniel Laporte, what I want for 2014, and beyond, are: vibrant health, deep compassion, inner peace, and abundant happiness. Cultivating meaningful relationships, nurturing my love of reading, playing and having more fun (could be a challenge for this super-serious girl), being present, breathing deeply, traveling, and saying sayonara to fear and self-limiting beliefs are also priorities.

If I’m being absolutely honest, though, what I want most this year is to be unapologetically BRAVE and OPEN. I want to give and receive LOVE, without holding anything back. I want to truly LIVE and appreciate every BIG, BOLD, BEAUTIFUL moment.

No resolutions.
No excuses.
No reservations.
No more pretending.

The winds of change are blowing, and there’s much to look forward to in 2014.
I can feel it.

My sincere wish is that each of you also find your awesome, HAPPY New Year! And if you are so inclined, I’d love for you to drop me a line to let me know how you plan to make 2014 your best year yet.

Love,
Andrea

Finding Gratitude, Part 2

This is a continuation of an earlier blog post. It might make a little more sense after reading Part 1 here.

After seeing how grateful my husband was to return to Saskatchewan to play against the Montreal Canadiens Alumni, it occurred to me that I’m not very good at the whole gratitude thing. In fact, I have some serious work to do in terms of nurturing my own gratitude.

That’s why, starting right now, I will make a concerted effort to become more aware of opportunities to be grateful.

I am pleased to share the following things in my life for which I’m grateful:

  • I have an amazingly loving and supportive husband, who treats me as an equal and encourages me to follow my passion.
  • I have two amazing children who are smart, healthy, and happy.
  • I have a beautiful home, which provides me with both shelter and solace.
  • I have money to provide for the needs of my family and myself.
  • I have a job that allows me to make a contribution by applying my skills in a professional setting, as well as providing flexibility and balance with my home life.
  • I have opportunities to travel with my family.
  • I’ve learned how important the mind-body connection is to me.
  • I have physical activities that I enjoy, such as running, hot yoga, and Sculpt Barre.
  • I am in relatively good health.
  • I have the knowledge and ability to take care of myself with proper nutrition, hydration, exercise, and sleep.
  • I am able to enjoy the rights and freedoms of living in a democratic society.
  • I am free to express my innermost thoughts and opinions without fear of repercussion.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Melody Beattie

My hope is that, as I make a conscious effort to notice and appreciate the things for which I am grateful, my gratitude list will continue to grow. Stay tuned…

I also invite you to share what you are grateful for in your life.

How I Found Gratitude on a Trip to Small-town Saskatchewan, Part 1

I remember the day my husband said to me, out of nowhere and with much enthusiasm, “I know exactly what I want for my birthday this year!” Slightly puzzled and moderately intrigued, I answered: “Ok, what?” His simple response: “To go to back to Humboldt with you and the kids.” I was even more puzzled.

He had seen a tweet that said the Montreal Canadiens Alumni were coming to the small, dusty Saskatchewan town to put on a show as a fundraiser for his alumni junior hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos. The day it was going to happen—his birthday. “Do you know how awesome this is going to be? I have to be there,” he told me.

He contacted the team’s management, asking if he could play, and about one week later they let him know he had a spot on the roster. So it was settled. Our family would drive for six hours to Saskatchewan so my husband could fulfill his only birthday wish: getting to wear the Broncos jersey once again.

Needless to say I was not nearly as enthusiastic about the idea. Whereas my husband was utterly thrilled, I could only think of how many other things I would rather be doing. Let me tell you, driving for six hours with two kids who can’t go 30 minutes without an “I’m bored” or “Are we there yet?” wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. But how could I say no when my husband was more excited than a child on Christmas morning? Quite simply, I couldn’t.

When we arrived in Humboldt on Saturday night, we had just enough time to go for supper before he had to be at the Elgar Patterson Arena to skate with the other guys who would also be playing for the “home team.” I took the kids to the hotel pool, so they could burn off some pent-up energy from the drive. I expected my husband to be gone about an hour and a half. When he returned to the hotel nearly two and a half hours later, I asked him what took so long. He simply response was that he was the last one to come off the ice.

I could see the emotion in my husband’s eyes that Sunday afternoon as the colour guy announced the lineup of players. His eyes were wide and he had a silly grin plastered across his face. Behind the nervous smile I knew he was as giddy as a child. Yet, as a man he was overcome by fond memories of playing the game he loves in this very place at a very different time.

My husband was asked to do a post-game interview with the local radio station, as it turns out he was the only former Bronco to play that afternoon against the Canadiens. Somehow he was able to put into words exactly what was written all over his face in those few precious moments right before the game.

He spoke about how important it was to him to bring his wife and kids there, to show us where he spent so much time as a teenager­—and where he became a man. How talked about how great it was to be welcomed into the town when he first arrived at 17. He expressed how the skills he developed and the experiences he had while playing in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League prepared him for both college and life. And he said how much he appreciated the opportunity to come back and wear the Humboldt jersey once again.

He must have thanked the kids and I at least a dozen times on the drive back home, most of these expressions of appreciation took place before we even reached Saskatoon!

And it finally hit me: This is gratitude.

To be continued…

Taking back control of my life in October

This post could also be called, All work and no play makes My Phare Lady a cranky woman!

You see, my life got sucked up and swallowed whole by the swirling vortex of September. A tad dramatic? Maybe. But it’s the most accurate way to sum up how I’ve been feeling lately.

It seems like it was just yesterday we were doing back-to-school shopping for the kids (well in advance of the actual start of the school year back at the beginning of August, I might add). We were organized and on top of the game. Now, with two kids in school and extracurricular activities on top of my working three days a week and trying to manage a busy household, I’m completely overwhelmed by our new fall family routine.

What frustrates me most is that I never seem to have enough hours in a day to accomplish everything I need, not to mention what I would like to do. I want to do more of the things that feed my soul, like reading books, blogging, and exercising more often, but with barely enough time to accomplish the basic essentials (I have mountains of laundry and dust bunnies in all corners of my house), that’s just not happening.

I am running around in circles and instead of getting closer to finding my passion, I feel discouraged and discontent. In my quest for balance, harmony, and personal fulfillment, I feel like time—or the absence of it—is the enemy. (I may need to re-read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, but who has time for that? Oh, the irony!)

The rational side of me knows life is essentially the events that happen as a result of a series of choices. And the only reasonable conclusion I’ve been able to come to is this: I need to get absolutely clear on my goals and priorities. I need to devise a plan about to how to use my “spare” time as efficiently as possible toward achieving my goals. Without the ability to clone myself, or the unlikely event that some higher power is going to add more hours to each day, a thoughtful and deliberate plan of attack is likely my best bet for taking back my life in October.

So, stay tuned for my goals and action plan in a future blog post. (I hope putting this out there on the Internet will keep me honest!)

Also, I’m curious to know:
What are your strategies for getting everything done and maintaining a healthy balance? How do you accomplish life’s necessary tasks while still leaving some time for fun and the things that feed your soul?