Thankful heart.

We find excuses. But what do excuses do? They simply make life complicated and tiring.

Each fall, as the leaves change and let go from their source, we simply clean them up. The trees say nothing; they don’t apologize, they don’t make excuses. They simply stand- naked before us in humble majestic strength. They are about to face the torments of nature.

With nothing left to give, they wait.  Comfortable in the silence.

I have been challenged by someone very inspiring to me. The challenge was, to make no excuses or reasons  when given a compliment, or a gift. She challenged me to simply say, “thank you”. It’s been a week. A painful week of catching myself, and biting my tongue. A week of trying to just be simple, and accept. As the week progressed, it became easier.

I once thought that I was a failure. But, with this challenge that she offered up to me, I am suddenly hearing kind things. These kind things are being taken in, and meditated on. I am in the beginning phase of ending the cycled thoughts of  “oh, well I guess I was just lucky this time because…, but I’m sure next time will be horrible…” and saying instead, a simple “Thank you”. With no excuse, no apology, no retort; I hear their words. I feel the pride. I am feeling the calm.  Who cares if next time it all goes to shit? That’s for next time!

Acceptance of what happens, who you are, and how your leaves fall is a magical gift. Thanksgiving food, family, friends and best of all- life.

Thank you.

Here and now…

Leading is a difficult task for the best of us. Some people come by the actions naturally, while others plan out their every movement through a task that may require “one in charge”. Nonetheless, in schools, one may see leadership opportunities pop up for both Teachers and Students alike, in the most unconventional moments of a day. Guiding a student through an anxiety attack, peer teaching someone how to calculate moles, or preparing to present a play to an audience; the extremes are significant. So much so, that everyone can fall within the spectrum of leadership.

So what’s the crux of my verbal spew today? It’s two-fold.  I have come to a strong learning of myself in the past year and, have therefore been able to see more of the “parts” of leadership clearly.  Let me explain… When I was in high school, I fancied myself as one of the “top” beans in student leadership, because of my role in student council. It was actually, a place for me to feel as though I fit in.  My shyness always made me feel separate from the regular crowd. I say it often but, I was friendly with everybody, but friends with no one. Not in school at least.

My shyness came from the fact that I felt different. I knew I was not like the other students in school. My anxiety and high levels of uncontrolled energy were the two things that made me that wee bit different. I was not able to sit still for long enough to associate with people fully.  When I did make friends, I smothered them. Friendships never lasted long. So, being in student council gave me purpose, tasks and jobs that made people happy.  I would give to those around me by “being of service”.  In a backhanded way, my role in student council allowed me to be closer to people. Therefore, being in “Leadership”; I thought myself a leader.

As job placements shuffled over the years, I have been placed in to roles that lead more. Teacher. Leader of classroom. Coach. Leader of team to win. etc… My first few years of teaching and “leading” had me spinning. My energy and enthusiasm masked my fears of failing. I always found amazing jobs  in schools that had me worry that if I didn’t have passing students, I would be let go. As a result, my teaching and work always sought out the future. I would say things like when you are “there”… or “‘This’ will lead to ‘this’ success… I was always trying to teach for results that would secure my future, and my students. But, apart from my career, I also caught myself planning my weekends well in advance… booking myself up solid. I did this so much that with all the pressure, I would break down once a month. Those break downs started as 1-2 day stints. The break downs then grew to 4-5 day stints. Final result was simply a constant nervous panic filled my body. Always worrying about how I would handle the unknown of what’s to come.  I finally realised that in my worry of the future, I was failing the present and having to constantly apologize for my pasts.

I took a long time to heal when I got hit last year. That concussion, if you will knocked a great deal of sense back into me. I stopped everything. I slowly started back…. What’s funny though, is at times I feel my old self coming back.  I am so much more mindful of it though. Now, I can sit and have a drink with that old self and then tell her to get out.

Mind you, I am still in awe of those around me, and how much they truly see my weaknesses coming, and yet accept me anyways. Case in point, a great leader and colleague of mine was talking about leadership a few weeks back. She called me on my forward thinking approach of working. She actually, in one sentence, summed me up solidly. She’s only really known me since January, and yet by pulling herself back daily, saw right through me. “Tracy, try to live in the here and now. If you do, you’ll appreciate your surroundings even more…”

In everything, leading is not by standing in the front of a crowd, and pointing your finger in directions one should travel. Leading is actually to be with people, taking the situation at hand, and making it a great experience. To get to that great experience, one needs to be an ideas person, a worker, or a cheerleader (etc…). When all things come together from this process, a great appreciation for what just occurred, can then build character. The process of building this character, allows one to look back and appreciate. One can then turn and face forward for the simple….

Here and Now.

Lead by example.

An ode to reality.

One of my best friends came into my life a mere 16 years ago. I met her one night at an old “staple” watering hole of the west island that is now closed, called Clydes. My partner at the time, and I went to meet a gang of people there. I was the newbie. It was the night of “meeting the friends”.  The night of showing that you were worth meeting. Every person cordially greeted me.  They all made me feel welcome. Then, Rhi came right up to me, wrapped her arms around me and held me as if we were long lost friends seeing each other after decades of separation. She did the happy sway hug that you do when you have so much emotion of joy. She held me back, looked at me and said “I am so happy to meet you!” (spoiler alert: if you didn’t see the show, she may have had a glass of wine). She and I have been real with each other ever since. Truth, reality, acceptance and trust. True friendship.

Peace.

A calm heart occurs when love is given. Questioning subsides when truth is spoken directly to you. When truth is withheld from you, and then spoken to others, a sense of doubt in yourself and in the world around can fill you.  Acceptance comes from the truth being spoken and knowing that there is good and bad in each individual but being ready for both sides. If you will, it is loving both the Jekyll and the Hyde as equally as can be.

As I tenderly stepped through my week back to work, I saw how I listened to the broken telephone in the past, and built my solid doubt in myself. Anxiety. Nerves. It is easy to hear half of the information and, as a human, want to try to figure out a theory from only some of the parts. It is easy in chaos to leave out information and not understand the truth in someone’s words and actions. None the less, this can be what kills truth and breeds negativity. Being stronger in self and proud of who I am now, has allowed me to see that many people show love and friendship in different styles. My reaction to those styles has proven to be more calm, processed and accepting. Things that I used to take so personally have instantaneously (and suddenly) become more humbled intakes. Truth. A giggle, a blush and then a response of “you’re right. I will try differently”. Knowing self, and seeing that people see you creates equality in your heart. Equality is an even playing field that builds trust. What hit me this week is that the world is NOT against me. was against me. I did not have the love, trust and acceptance for me. In me not having that trust of self, those who are around me have felt a bit nervous, if you will. Perhaps they’ve had to walk on egg shells.

Crush those egg shells! Sweep them away. Make your path clean and know that you have a place. Not being good at something is not bad! It’s just that you are not meant for it. You’re still finding your place. Be patient! You will find it.

I carefully went to all of the beauties that have covered for me during my lengthy leave of absence. Little did (and do) they know of the  warmth it gave me, as they supported me blindly while I was on leave. It was to me, that acceptance and care of humans that sometimes lacks. I thanked each one, told them I was truly appreciative of their support. Each one will carry on with those tasks that they took on, and follow through to the end of the year. Each one will carry their strength and success they’ve built, and see it through to a final package. But, I offered to them my love and appreciation back by saying that I would be there If ever they needed me. My character is to support. My character is to show gratitude. Reality demonstrates however that knowing truth for some, can make for very awkward situations. Or, some may perhaps become very worried that I would be about to fall back into my old ways of frantic anxiety and self deprecation, after having loaded myself up too much. (I assure you, it’s not the case). From this past experience with me, they sought out support. They put up flags.

This is a solid form of reality when it comes to trying to help others. It can demonstrate care. Sadly though, so many things can be misconstrued when reality is presented in this manner.  What needs to be built is trust again. Time, consistency and positivity can only regain trust. Once that trust, pride in self and faith in others is restored; sense of place becomes whole again. Hopefully they will gradually see my calmer heart and stronger sense of self. Hopefully, I will slowly demonstrate to those around me that, I am beginning to understand my sense of place. My acceptance in myself and truth with myself will eventually show people I am not trying to prove myself anymore. It will show that, I know how to move forward. I will still offer my help, but only when I know that I am capable of being a positive support. I have learned the concept of limitations. Trust will be regained.

Rhi, like any human being, moves through this world and questions things as she goes along. Yet her ability to read others, and approach to many with understanding that we are all here together, has shown me how simple life really CAN be. She embraced me fully and completely. She took on my whole package, and tells me when that package is needing replenishment. Both her Mother and her Father taught her points that make her take on life like it is the ultimate adventure (on most days). She shares that knowledge with those around her. Her late father, Peter, always would say “Tell me what you know for sure…”. It’s funny; while one’s answer has to undeniably be “nothing”,  I do know that if you don’t accept yourself, others will have trouble doing the same in you.

So I finish off by saying:

“Go forth and be you; Wonderful!”screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-10-01-51-am

Cliff Jumping

“It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter…”

A beautiful couple of days, spent at a cottage with friends. The cottage; a gorgeous little shack owned and passed down through the years to my friend and her brother. This place is the type of place that encourages little kids to search out frogs, adventurers to allow their imaginations to grow and for Fairies to kiss your cheeks all day long. The lake glimmers from the magic, both day and night, in sunshine and rain. The beauty fills your heart and lasts with you for days…

One particular day, a swim was called for. Floating down the water on noodles to a high rise of space. A place that will excite you and allow you to calm your heart as you float back to the dock. A cliff. First friend goes… “whhhheeeeeeeee!” Kersplouuush.  Second friend goes… “Wheeeeeeeee!” Kersplouuuush. My turn. Fear. Terror. Unknown. Danger. Bweeep Bweeep! Internal alarm sounding. As I stood there, counting to 3 over and over and hesitating for 25 minutes, one would be able to imagine my purple ‘Fear’ character from “Inside Out” rolling on the ground in fetal position.

“1- 2- 3….”  sigh, try again. “1- 2- 3….” no luck. Correction; no courage.

As my friends encouragingly allowed hypothermia to set into their bodies, while treading water the entire time, I established a relationship with the water below. They did what any friend would do… coax me in with encouraging words. A couple of jokes came out too. This made all of us more relaxed while the water below waited to have me be enveloped. My two friends did the jump and survived.. why wouldn’t I?

I must admit now. It was so much more than that. It actually had nothing to do with potentially breaking my neck on a hiding rock. Ok… it had a 10% potential factor. It was ‘could I do all of this with the same grace, hilarity, exuberance, and tenacity’ as my friends. No. I couldn’t. I found that out once I went. I did it with awkwardness, fear and absolute humility. “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! Kerrrrrsssssplat”. I jumped. I came up from under water still screaming. Looked at my two beautifully blue friends and heard “its about damn time. Now do it again!!!”  I did. Over and over and over. Suddenly, I started noticing something; I was starting to do all of it with the same grace, hilarity, exuberance, and tenacity as my friends did.  Courage.

As good old Gord would say; my word!!!

With Anxiety and with brain thought instability, living normally every day can be a challenge. It’s not that I am crazy. Don’t get me wrong: I do crazy things often, have crazy moments and have allowed Ms. Crazy to come out more often than she should. Yet, I realise now that I have a child, that crazy is the new normal. Anxiety however, that is hard.

It is said that if you are depressed, you look too much behind you. If you have too much anxiety, you live in the future. There are times I look so far forward, I am living in another generation. Deep breath. exhale. Again. And again… ok. I am back. The amount of “what ifs” don’t matter when you’ve missed the “what now”. I am beginning to learn oh so quickly that, you can’t get to the future without building the now. Right now. Now. If you need to make lists for every day to stay grounded and on a task, that’s ok! If you need to live by routine- do it. We’ve come in to this world without a manual. I know… religions have given us books to live by. That is a good start for many. But, while it stipulates rules on how to travel with belief, we need to also know that what we are doing and how we initiate those beliefs into the energy of the world, is good. We need to know that we haven’t caused a catastrophic shift in that energy. For those moments, there is no guide. All we can do is hold on for a second and watch if the Jenga falls. Not having a book is what can set people like me off. The care for others, the task being done properly and efficiently, the energy staying stable. That is what gets my head thinking in advance. Breathe. Exhale. Smile. Shoulders. Breathe. You are back. No books. So how do I know that I am doing things properly? I don’t. That’s just it. We don’t know. We won’t know until we do. Over and over again if we have to. We will only ever know, when we allow ourselves to just be in the moment.

So, how do we get to the moment? Breathing has become the best technique for me.And yes, I breathe… automatically. I mean deep breath. Fill those lungs up fully. Alter the pace of the breathing. I feel my chest getting tight. I take a breath. This has become my favourite, also because it makes my bust stick out just a bit. Hey, a girl can dream, no? Back to the breath. By altering the breath and refocussing, this allows you to lose your mind spiral and refocusing on you. centering yourself.

Another method that a friend taught me is to change your thought. Seems simple enough, yes. But when you’ve fallen down a deep rabbit hole, that simple shit turns complex! Changing your thoughts to what you cherish the most re-centers you. I combine it with a finger touch. Thumb to finger tip press, hold and think of your cherished item. do it three to five times and switch thumb to different finger each time.

My final one can be done anywhere. But, I am warning you that if you do it in aisle 7 of the grocery store, people may call the authorities. Child’s pose. Best. Like a hug, with deep breaths and time to think of your cherished valued things in your life. Like a sunday with the cherry on top.

If I may be metaphorical, drawing from my cliff jumping experience. You only live once. Experience thrill. There may be a rock down below. Jump feet first. Jump as far out as possible. Go with all your might. You will get bruises. But it also makes for amazing stories. It fills your heart with joy. It fills your brain with recall experiences.

Courage. My word. We need it everyday. And believe it or not… even the most confident in this world has to recall courage once in a while. But remember… if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t matter.

 

Downey, Gord. Courage (For Hugh MacLennan). The Tragically Hip. Chris Tsangarides, Piye., 1993. CD.

A writing of thoughts on a day to remember…

November 11th. The day we need to remember. We remember all those who fought in wars, all those who died in wars and all those who sacrificed their ‘timeline of life” so that we could live a long and wondrous one. A life that matches the timeline we were intended to.

But, then, we think of that statement… and if you get into faith, you think… that was their intended timeline- that was their path. Thanks to them, and their purpose in life; we live longer. But we will never know for sure, and so we need to remember. It is essential to remember.

In my own faith, all I can say is God bless them.

But this year is an interesting year. 2016. The year we lost David Bowie, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Gene Wilder and my latest heartbreak…Leonard Cohen. So, you may ask how can I tie these moments together? I’m not going to tie them together. But I will talk about how crappy this week has been. I will talk about how all these people have gone… and how we may be easily forgetting their promotion of life and their efforts in pulling humanity together. Just as those who sacrificed their lives, did. We are forgetting unity of the one race- The HUMAN RACE.

Neither for Trump, nor for Clinton; I, as a human being who has seen some good fights for freedom and equality in her short lifetime, was saddened by this week’s political decision to elect someone who has taken the last 116 years alone and added poor ingredients to the pot of progress. This election marked a divide in humanity. A popularity contest. And might I add… one that did not actually have a popular person on either side (but that is just me- as I believe there were some big fault lines on either side. But we allowed our personal hearts to grasp to the better of the two. For some they grasped to the winner, and the rest of us grasped to the loser). We had to muster up our values to match with the candidate we thought was better for the job. But through it all- it has nothing to do with the candidates themselves. It was that our values were demonstrating great divide. Our values as the Human Race created rifts… instead of bringing together for the greater good. The American people are either devastated or elated. And now- instead of working together, they will spend the next four years learning how to move together again. Learn how to do the shimmy or the twist.

Is this progress?

wellsville-dugout

No. It’s not. It looks like “one step forward and four steps back. Not a positive dance.

All that work. All those efforts of our soldiers; our family members/ our friends/ our neighbours who fought and died for us. In one poorly educated act of painting on a wall, a decision made… it tore down all of their work. And this is just ONE example. I digress, because I do not want anything else so horrible in my blog. But humans need to see this… We VOWED we would never go back there! This is absolutely disgusting!  There is not difference in the HUMAN RACE!!! Our ancestors are of all lines. We are all connected together. There is no colour. But, if you want to argue about colour- we are a rainbow of beauty. Everyone is always mesmerized by the beauty of a rainbow. Our earth has been painted by this beauty of all different colours of people walking and moving together and most of all… working together.

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This remembrance day is more important than ever. We need to now rebuild. We need to now remember the people who are no longer with us and educate properly. We need to share, speak, tell stories and not allow social media to take away the ability to have normal communication with other human beings. Everyone on this earth is part of one group… the Human Race. We cannot divide anymore. We cannot look at color. No more walls.

Love the humans, the trees, the birds, the bees.

All these “famous” people who died this year- they respected the Human Race. All the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us- they respected the Human Race.

Quotes that promote love of Human Race:

‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’– The ten commandments.

‘The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.’- David Bowie

‘Dearly beloved, we are gather here today to get through this thing called life’- Prince

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’– Muhammed Ali

‘What is essential, is invisible to the eye’– Gene Wilder

and now saving the best for last…

‘And every breath we drew was Hallelujah’ – Leonard Cohen.

Humanity is one group. Let’s keep fighting for the unity that all those who promoted it and fought so that they do not live in vain.

Namaste.

nb: These are my feelings, and my opinion. Yes, with human conversation, I can be proved wrong. You may not agree with me. That’s ok. But, at the end of the day- remember- I will laugh with you, be your friend and pay for my rent on earth by being there for you and our differences. please be respectful.

All these books… but only I can “Self Help”.

Forgive me. I feel very cynical these days. I have been in crisis mode for the last six months. I have read books on “self help”, I have seen therapists, osteopaths and meditated. But nothing is helping. Nothing until last week…

Last week, I read the book “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton. Something sparked me. It was not that she was the “end all and be all” of self help. The book was fantastic! What connected with me, was the honesty she had with herself. This may have been the only thing I connected to with her book. I did not relate to her “capes” that she wore to deal with life. I never drank to oblivion, I never was bulimic, and I never did drugs. Those, I realise are her capes. Her ability however, to tell the world about all of her rock bottoms basically has allowed me to look critically of myself and know that I have the following issues:

  1. I care more for the people around me, what they think and how I can make their lives better- because asking them is way easier than asking myself.
  2. I apologize to everyone for basically “being me”.
  3. I love online shopping.

All of these things are diversion techniques to not deal with the issues that have allowed me to slowly (and not so subtly) think  “I am not good enough”.

When I was young, my Father died of Cancer. The poor man started out with Testicular Cancer. In the 1970’s, Cancer was not fully understood to the degree it is today. As he waited, his Cancer grew and spread. It spread in his body for 3 years. This in turn made my Mom have to work well over time and my sister and I have to grow up differently. My dad’s ultimate demise was a brain tumor. I was 4 and a half. It was days before Christmas.

The magic of Christmas has always been a struggle for me. While the world counts down for the time of giving, remembering the gift of life and the time of sharing love; Christmas was a time for remembering that my Dad was taken away. It’s kinda always been that way. Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE Christmas. But, I love it because my Mom, who worked so hard to get through the dreadful anniversary, made Christmas magic. With great stress and overtime work; it was magic. But I digress…

My childhood before school was taking bad images of my Father in the hospital and making good ones for my brain to keep seeing. Daydreaming and taking stress to a “Unicorn world” was what I did. But, it became a habit, and a solid learned behaviour. What then ended up happening, was I began getting in trouble for not listening. The yelling and questioning started from Teachers in school. My mom, once I arrived home, would then have to figure out how to fix this problem. She kinda had enough on her plate at the time… so understandably so, I’d get in trouble at home.  But… what was my coping mechanism? Daydreams and make believe.

I relate strongly with the students in the classroom of Charlie Brown cartoons. As I sat in French school from Kindergarten to grade 3, all I heard in the background of my daydream land was the muffled sound of the Teacher (mwah mwah, mwah mwah mwah….).  I knew how to look at the speaker while I was bouncing on clouds in my head. The teachers thought I was listening. I can honestly say, I don’t think I spoke in school for 4 years. I didn’t know how to speak french. I was a classic case of being pushed through the system and the product of memorization.

Not learning the foundations proved to make learning VERY difficult for me in the years to come. I think of school… ugh… I cringe. So, why am I now a Teacher? So that I can take notice of the students who have trouble. To figure out ways of learning for the students who create barriers. Needless to say, it creates a lot of angst and many an hour of figuring out how to connect with their brains. Wait… what about my brain? Did I ever take the time for that? Hmmm. nope.

So, my point to all this bloggity blog is this; I have been off for a few of months from a concussion (my 5th one in my life) which then turned into an Anxiety fest. A horrible party of thoughts I didn’t invite but showed up anyways because,  “a thought of a thought invited that thought, and then they came with the other thoughts…” It’s been the worst party I have ever attended.  Ever. I have had to ask myself to “dance , talk and be intimate with myself” for all these months and I keep turning me away. I am not good enough.

“Can you even dance?”

“Hells Yes! Why would you think that?”

“Because you were at an event one time and you saw a colleague point and laugh at you while you were Dancing.”

“Oh yeah, that… well she did that to everyone…”

“So, then you can dance?”

“Yes. I can find a beat. I may not be ‘Dance Show’ worthy; but i know how to have fun!”

And so today, I’m going to start to dance. I warn you; It’s going to be full on elementary dancing. The “side step- hit heel- side step hit heel- keep arms straight and hands on shoulders” kinda dance.  This blog will be my personal sharing of self discoveries. The courage I will take to do “extreme sports” with myself and understand as to why, I feel I need to apologize for me if I bounce of the big red ball badly in “wipeout scenes”. I am going to learn how to wipe out in style, stand up and like my daughter, scream “I’m ok!! and brush it off and keep going.” Dealt with, done and move forward. No apologies.

Gosh darn it… I am ok. I am good enough. (I give you permission to say it all in Stuart Smalley’s voice… I did too.)

I am off to read, experiment and learn. Ciao for now.