Category Archives: About me

Reflecting

Do you hear that—that ffff sound? It’s me, blowing the dust off my blog. It’s quite thick, months worth actually.  My dashboard looks very foreign and for the life of me I can’t remember what all these controls all for, but the blog is still here and so am I.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve felt myself being pulled in this direction, a growing desire to write and feel my fingers racing across the keyboard, but even more a desire to sit, write and reflect. When I’m not writing, I’m not good at reflecting. Writing helps me focus, and manage my thoughts. By putting things into words,my mind gets organized and I understand myself better. After the last six months, I really need to spend time understanding myself better.

I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotion, albeit carefully controlled and managed emotion, but topsy turvy, full speed ahead emotion nonetheless. Life has happened in a big way, a scary way, a I want to run far into the forest screaming kind of way. But I haven’t. I’m here. Living it. Feeling it and learning from it.

My best friend recently said to me that she’s decided that the definition of being an adult is learning to live with and cope with change. She’s right, if there is anything I’ve learned in the last 15 years it is that nothing stay stagnant and as we get older and life continues to propel forward, change seems to happen more. My guess is it just feels that way because time passes like a freight train, with the weeks and months blending into a blurry landscape.

In a couple of weeks I’ll celebrate my birthday. I’m not fond of birthdays anymore because they remind me of how quickly time is passing. But just like change, birthdays are a fact of life. As I’ve grown older, I’ve taken my birthday as a cue to reflect on life, what is was over the year that has just passed and how I would like it to be in the year to come. This birthday signals my entry into the latter half of my thirties. My husband and many of my close friends have recently celebrated or a hair’s breadth from 40. FORTY. How is that even possible? I still remember celebrating my dad’s fortieth birthday. At the time, it seemed like a lifetime away for me.

And I suppose it has been a lifetime since that celebration during my expectant adolescence to the life I have now.

So far, my thirties have been tumultuous. Everything I’ve trusted and taken for granted—even, actually —my own sense of self has been wrung out, turned upside and left shaken and floundering for a sense of direction. These last few years have made me weary.

And yet, my thirties also brought the birth of my children, tremendous growth and opportunity in my career, and a variety of fulfilling and amazing life adventures.

In many ways, the cliché of finding oneself during this decade holds true for me. However, one difference is that it hasn’t exactly been about uncovering anything I didn’t already know.  I’ve always known, I just didn’t necessarily believe and trust. Often I still don’t. And that is what I’ve learned. Despite the unrest, my thirties have brought acceptance. I don’t always know myself, I frequently have trouble finding my way, I am, by nature a cavalcade of pent up emotion, and I often lose sight of perspective and that’s okay.

Idling

There isn’t much going on around these parts these days. That is to say not much beyond my hectic life as a full-time working mom with two busy boys. So, of course, I’m busy. But I’m also idling with the familiar rumble of routine filling may day.

I’ve settled comfortably into the depths of January, a favourite month of mine because it holds so few obligations. The weekends are long, filled with only the menial tasks of groceries, laundry, and vacuuming. We’re getting out to enjoy the winter weather when we can, and I’m enchanted to watch my boys’ joy over the time-honoured Canadian tradition of backyard skating rinks.

I’m reading voraciously and recently lost myself completely in State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s weird, wonderful and full of life. I’ve just cracked the cover on Learning to Breathe: My year-long quest to bring calm to my life by Priscilla Warner. I’ll write about this one soon.

I’m busy, oh so busy at work. I arrive at my office at 6:30 a.m. each morning and feel as though I don’t come up for air again until I leave at 2:30. And this is just how I like it.

I’ve registered for a year-long professional certificate program that I expect will be invigorating and stimulating, but that will surely put added pressure on a schedule already bursting at the seems.

I’m organizing and planning for a winter weekend scrapbooking retreat that I’ll be hosting for some of my closest friends. I’m so eager to lose myself in the creativity and good company.

I’m enjoying a return to the kitchen and feeling a renewed sense of interest in good, healthy food prepared from scratch and with love for my family’s table.

I’ve committed to a Yin Yoga class one night a week. It’s all I can fit right now, but I’m so glad I’ve made it a priority. When things feel like they are slipping just a bit out of control, I can look forward to the moment when I’ll force my mind to stop and focus on resetting my energy.

At night, I’ve been addicted to Lie to Me on Netflix. It stars Tim Roth. Have you seen it? Gosh, he is hot isn’t he? My husband and I have been ploughing through the 48 episodes. I’ve loved every one.

In short, I’m busy. But that’s nothing new. More importantly, I’m content, settled and moving through each day with a sense a calm in spite of it all.

 

My perfect day

Several weeks ago, I shared my Mondo Beyondo dream list. I haven’t looked at it since, which I think is a mistake. As a matter of course I’m not the kind of person that subscribes to the notion that it’s within my power to imagine my future and make it happen. But lately it seems that everywhere I turn I’m faced with the idea of naming my dreams, writing them down, and revisiting them often as an important step toward living the life I want to lead.  And as I’ve changed, so have my ideas about things, and I find myself more and more willing to believe in dreams, faith and prayer, drawn to a growing trust that they are the key to ongoing change in my life.

I believe this even of the little everyday changes.

So today I’m sharing my Mondo Beyondo dream list for the perfect day. I believe naming it brings me just a little closer to making it happen.

  • I start my day early, enjoy a hot coffee and a quiet hour of writing or reading.
  • My children and husband wake and we all sit down to breakfast together.
  • Jay takes our youngest son to daycare on his way to work, and I walk our oldest to school, chit chatting with him about the day ahead.
  • I return to my home office, get comfortable at my desk and enjoy five or six hours of productive professional time.
  • By mid-afternoon, I pack it in and set-off to greet my son at school and walk him home. This time together, in the morning and then again in the afternoon, is our opportunity to connect, and be present with just each other.
  • My husband comes home late afternoon with our youngest son, the boys play and enjoy each other’s company, while I retire to the kitchen to prepare a healthy family meal.
  • After dinner we go for a family walk, swim or bike ride.
  • We tuck the boys into bed, read stories and reflect on our days.
  • Once the children are comfortable in their beds, my husband and I gather on our front porch, our hands circling vibrant glasses of red wine, to talk about our days or whatever else comes to mind. We do this free of outside distraction or pressure.
  • I finish the evening by tidying up and preparing and packing lunches for the next day. Finally we snuggle into bed for an hour or two of reading, or a short meditation.

It’s a simple dream, the life I long to sink into, focused primarily on family, a slower pace and stretches of time to regenerate and renew.

If you’d like to learn more about Mondo Beyondo dreaming, I highly recommend you consider participating in a Mondo Beyondo online class about dreaming big. I’m not overstating when I say that it changed my life.

Clutter

I believe I’m a minimalist at heart. I like simplicity, structure and predictability. I’ve always been incredibly organized. I have three carefully organized calendars:  an agenda, my  iPhone and in Outlook at work. On top of that I track what I’ve done each and every day in a journal, ticking off accomplishments and quantifying expectations by week and by day. These habits are personally satisfying and define exactly the person I am.

Growing up, I spent every Saturday diligently tidying and straightening my room. I regularly tackled my closet, relishing the purging and systematic reorganizing. It just felt good. Before I had children, house cleaning was a relaxing and enjoyable activity. I’d don some comfortable clothing, press play on some loud, upbeat music and spend hours contentedly loving and caring for my home.

I am the most at ease when everything has a place, and is neatly tucked away.

So you can imagine how much I’ve struggled since becoming a mother. My husband and I used to joke about how hard it would be for me to have children, and to juggle all the copious quantities of stuff that comes with them. Funny as it may have been to imagine before their arrival, there is no question that the two little boys I so adore cause me a significant amount of mental unrest. Despite resisting the consumer influence that seems to come pre-packaged with the birth of children, I have struggled to relax whilst surrounded by clutter and bits and pieces of their life scattered all around our home.  My oldest son gathers toys and books and all sorts of treasures under his bed; my youngest flings Little People and trucks and cars to various corners of the house.  And suddenly the spacious open concept that I have loved so much becomes overwhelming and stressful.

When that happens I can’t help myself—I dive in, I purge, I sort, and sometimes, I admit, I hide.

The same is true for how I organize my emotional life. I need categories, I thrive while using mental checklists, I prefer when life fits into neatly compartmentalized boxes. I want goals that I can quantify and measure. I need to be able to tick off accomplishments and know in measurable deliverables that I’ve met my own expectations. I’m a professional communicator at heart, my entire life is a strategic plan. It’s one of the reasons that blogging has been so appealing. I write things here, and then they hold me accountable, a record to measure progress against.

But just as I prefer mental order, so do I struggle when I’m experiencing mental clutter—too many deadlines, a social and professional calendar on overdrive, too many personal goals, hobbies and interests. All of it can easily overwhelm me.

I used to assume that life clutter was just a part of living, that being busy, on task and ahead of the curve was expected and desired. It’s taken me months to realize that living my life that way is a huge shame trigger that needs to be harnessed and respected. I’ve learned that this is who I am, and that it’s far easier to give in to this sensibility than it is to fight it and live like someone who I am not. So I write about the things that litter my mind as a way to set intention, monitor progress and stay on track. And I tidy my house, and insist that things be put in their place, to help settle my anxieties and surround myself with calm and contentment.

Since I began my journey to find myself more than a year ago, I’ve written about so many parts of myself. I’ve confessed to overwhelming challenges, shared my heart and my soul. I’ve tackled my dreams, been honest about insecurities, and explored new ideas and ways of thinking. Each and every piece has been an important step, and though there are so many more to take, I’m just grateful for all that I’ve been able to do, the safety I’ve felt in sharing them here.

When I sat down to write this post, I envisioned something different, but the words just led me here, to a place of deep gratitude to anyone who has read and been a part of this journey, to this space for providing an outlet, and to myself for being brave enough to set my intention, publicly and with complete commitment. This road has been tumultuous, but also wondrous and spiritually satisfying.

The Gift of Memories

“Home, as Wendell Berry points out, is not just a building but an enactment. It is the alchemy by which wood and glass and stone, field and mountain and sky, are transformed by domesticity…If these three nomadic years have taught me anything, it is that only a small part of being home is the house itself. It is also how we choose, over time, to imbue a place with meaning, how we inhabit the spaces we claim—making the beds, cleaning the refrigerator, and adoring the walls; offering dinner to a friend, sweeping the garage, stalking the peonies in May, shoveling the walkways after snow.” Katrina Kenison in The Gift of An Ordinary Day.

Over the last year so many of the books I’ve read have left a fingerprint on my heart—Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life by Karen Maezen Miller, Devotion by Dani Shapiro, Buddhism for Mothers, by Sarah Napthali, to name a few. Each has played an important part in my journey to find myself, and to live a live filled with grace and contentment. But none spoke to my soul as intensely as The Gift of An Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. In so many ways Katrina is a kindred spirit. Not only was I completely and utterly uplifted by the elegance of her prose, but I was  moved to tears time and again as I read her story.

The book is subtitled A mother’s memoir, but don’t be deceived. It is, for certain, a discussion and reflection on the challenges of raising adolescents and learning to adjust to a mother’s changing role in her sons’ lives, but even more it is a spiritual awakening. As Katrina herself describes, it’s about her “effort to welcome change and shift along with it.”

To fully illustrate the significance of change in her life, her story follows the path of her family’s move from a Boston suburb to building a brand new home many miles away from all that they know. She writes of a longing to simplify life, and embarks on a journey to find her family’s place in rural New Hampshire. In this, I am acutely familiar and it was from this connection that I felt her words speak to me.

When my husband and I were first married, almost 11 years ago, we had but one dream. We wanted to build a house of our own. The first five years of our marriage were all about making it happen. We spent years pouring over house plans, reading design books, and talking endless hours about what we hoped to create. At three years we purchased a vacant slice of land. There it stood, dense with trees and brush, earnestly waiting to help us fulfill our dreams.

The first summer and winter after it became ours, we spent weekend after weekend trekking from our house to the lot. We’d pack a picnic, a hot thermos of coffee and we’d work side by side for hours, clearing, cutting, burning, piling and readying it for the big build. In the evenings we’d curl up in bed with a laptop and a design program. Jay, a civil engineering technologist, worked on the plans, calculating and illustrating each section, each structural piece. We’d tweak and discuss every wall, every door, every room. He’d pulled it all together, right there on a the screen. We relished in showing the plans to friends, in describing how we envisioned each room. Bit by bit, the dream was coming together.

In the spring of 2004 we broke ground.

It had been a year since we’d set the project in motion. I was 27, he was 29. We were fiercely united and committed to making it happen. But little did I know the real work had hardly begun. The home that we had envisioned, every nook, every cranny, born from a desire to do it ourselves, and propelled by love, tears, sweat, blood and frustration, would take 4 months until we could move in. We’d sold our first house, we had a deadline, and we focused on it.

Over that four months I was tested in ways I can honestly say I had never been before and never been again. It was the most physically and emotionally challenging experience of my life. I would argue, even harder that having a baby. Our marriage came within a breath of falling apart. The destruction was close, so close I could practically taste it. I learned so much about perseverance, about pushing through when you think you have nothing left to push with.

I learned about concrete blocks, how to use a compound mitre-saw, how to measure, cut and insulate a wall stud. I learned that it’s better to paint a house when you have running water, and that bathrooms can be made from tarps and trees. I learned not to panic when you dig a hole and come back to find it filled to brimming with water, and far more than I ever imagined possible about water-proofing a basement with tar. Yes. Tar.

At the same time I learned about patience, and kindness, and giving in when you need to. I learned that you can make your dreams happen if you are only willing to stay the course. And I learned to love my husband more deeply than I ever thought possible. He was the light that keep the dream bright. He was the focus that kept our eye on the ball. He was the one who worked hours and hours, long into the night, fuelled by an urgency that wasn’t immediately obvious to me. He kept us on course, and for that I love him.

And so, as I read The Gift of An Ordinary Day, and cherished each memory of Katrina’s, nodding in understanding and kinship for what it means to move forward with something that feels right but may seem absurd. And I’m grateful, so deeply grateful for her wisdom about what it means to live life each day, full of wonder for the simple things and the joy of “moving more deeply into the present.”

This book was a gift for me, an exquisite gift rich with memories of where I’ve been and hope for where I’m going.

Thank you Katrina.

Remembering

April is a difficult month. It feels like one long breath caught between what has been and what should have been. It marks the anniversary of my mother’s death, 29 years ago, new mom of two young girls, and only 24 herself. At a time when she should have been cradled by the promise of a long and beautiful life, she struggled with a deadly illness and to say her goodbyes. Instead of hope and excitement for what was to come, she suffered with intense fear and anguish over what was inevitable. Instead of choosing bright Easter dresses for her young girls, she was extracting a promise from her husband to take care of “her girls.”

Her girls, her husband, her whole life would move forward without her. Her spirit snuffed out before she had a proper chance to live.

Only 24.

It’s never easy to remember. So much of who I am and who I am not is laced with this history . As each year passes and I grow years older than she did, I struggle. I struggle with my own loss and sadness and with a growing and deep awareness that I will never know who she was.

In our youth, we believe ourselves invincible, that we will be and achieve and do all the things we dream of. I have my own twisted experience with this. As a younger woman, I believed that my day would come, that I would somehow know her. I’ve never faced her death and what it really means, the loss of her as permanent. I think that’s what happens when experience the death of your most primal connection at 4 years old. The reality is quickly, succinctly swept away by a higher power. It’s impossible to deal with the emotions surrounding such an experience as such an emotionally immature age. So your spirit takes over, covers it up, with years and layers of diversions.

But it never goes away. It’s there. Deep, profound, heavy and dark. All of it. It’s only hidden.

This year is particularly hard. My sons have the remarkable distinction of having been born on my birthday and my sister’s birthday. Even more stunning is that their age gap is exactly the same as ours, just shy of three years.

This year, this month, they are the exact age we were when my mother died: almost 5, and just 2. Little. Vulnerable. So young. Not even completely out of diapers.

Yesterday afternoon we were just hanging out. The two of them were being the boisterous boys they always are, bouncing on my bed as I tried and failed to read. I chose instead to stop and watch them, squeal and giggle. I soaked up their sheer intensity, delighted in the life that fills them up and said a silent prayer of thanks for my own.

I asked my husband. “How do you suppose it would feel to know that you would be raising them alone?”

He refused to answer the question. He preferred to change the subject. I don’t really blame him. To him, it’s inconceivable. To me it is too.

And yet I think about it more and more these days, probably because I knew we approaching this significant anniversary. I feel such pain for both of us. For her, and what she has missed, and for me, for what I have missed.

Life is not a race

A Brand New Day My whole life, I’ve been in a rush.

I finished high school in four years instead of five. I went to university at 18 and less than two years in I started to get antsy. I couldn’t see my education leading to any meaningful work, so I took a leave of absence and went to college for a practical education in communications. It was a rash decision, and while it was the right one at the time, it was largely motivated by my haste to start working.

I graduated and had my first full time job at 21. Only then did I realize that the degree I had so quickly pooh-poohed was a vital distinction I needed to get the job I wanted, at the pay scale I expected. So I went back and got it, while continuing to work full time.

I bought my first house and was married to my high school sweetheart at 23. A few short years later we jumped on the first vacant piece of property we looked at so that we could realize our dream of building our own house. I was 26 when we built it.

The only thing I didn’t do in a hurry was have children. We were married 5 years before we took the leap. Arguably, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I always thought my propensity to push forward came from a healthy dose of ambition—to achieve, to have, to get somewhere. It served me well, I have a lot to be proud of and I’m comfortably settled into a very good life. But now, with the benefit of a few extra years of experience, and because I’ve finally allowed myself the time to breathe, I find myself wishing I could go back and push pause.

There is so much I would tell my younger self. So much I would do differently with the benefit of hindsight. So here it is, a letter to my younger self:

Christine,

Life is not a race. I know it feels like it is—you want to do well and achieve so much, and for all the right reasons. But when you dash from goal to goal you forget to savour all the steps in between and miss the opportunity to learn from each misstep. You plough forward, blind to the lessons and deaf to all the warnings and you’ll begin to forget where you were headed and why.

Take the time to really consider your goals. Don’t worry about the expectations of others. They aren’t the ones who will be living your life. I cannot emphasize this enough. Stop, think and revisit your deepest thoughts often. Reflect on who you think you are and who you want to be. What brings you joy and helps you to feel fulfilled? Use this to help you decide what you want to do with your life. A day will come when you learn that a career should be about passion and happiness, rather than expectation and success. It should complement the rest of your your life, not be your life.  Otherwise, you might regret some of the choices you make.

Don’t worry so much. Let yourself make mistakes.  If you do everything you can to avoid them, you’ll learn that you are living your life more for others than for yourself. Your mistakes won’t define who you are, but they are valuable tools. They build character and confidence. The beautiful thing about mistakes is that they are truly yours. They help you discover who you really are.

Have fun. You will forget over and over again to live and let loose your grip on responsibility. Your focus on being good will keep you from all the things you should be doing at your age, the things you can only do before family and professional obligations. Play is healthy and important. It’s okay to go off course every once in a while. You might be surprised by the things you learn while taking a short cut, or a detour. Life is longer than you think. You have so much time to get it right.

Most importantly, have faith in yourself. You have so much to offer, all of it just waiting to overflow. It will take time for you to find your way, but when you discover the right direction it will be a wonderful thing. That doesn’t mean you will be free of all the bumpy roads, but a life without bumpy roads is not worth living. Life is not a race, it’s a journey and that the joy really comes from the living.

You are a good person. You are enough. If you slow down, look deep inside, you’ll see it for yourself.

Love always,
The self you will become


Image: ‘A Brand New Day‘ by Thomas Hawk via a Creative Commons license.

The Cinderella Effect

There is something extraordinary happening to me. I’ve been sitting with it for a while now, hesitant to express it for many reasons, mostly because I can’t shake the fear that once I do it will all change.  I’m calling it the cinderella effect. It’s the feeling you get when you first slip your feet into a perfectly fitting pair of shoes. What’s more, the shoes not only fit impeccably, they are actually quite comfortable.

Many months ago I expressed that I was living my life teetering on the edge of a cliff. I felt like I was going to fall, fall so far that I would no longer recognize myself. It was fuelled by a sensation of being significantly disconnected from myself, as if I was going through the motions of a life that didn’t fit. As that post rolled into many more over many months, several that were written from a deep fog of uncertainty and insecurity, the cliff somehow transformed into a wall, a wall that separated two parts of my self: the self I used to be before motherhood and the self I wanted to be. Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to bridge the gap and inhabit either life with any degree of certainty.

Much has happened since then, I’ve spent countless hours focusing on that wall. In the beginning I willed it to clear a path and show me the way, then I practically begged it, until I realized I had to accept it and forget about focusing what was beyond it.

And now it’ s happening. There is a subtle, but profound shift. If I hadn’t been paying such close attention, I’m not sure I could have noticed it.

I wrote a post early this week about Faith and Intuition. Kelly of The Miller Mix left a comment saying: You are doing mighty work woman! I was so happy to have someone acknowledge it so directly, to point it out, even to me.

It’s been happening a lot lately. This fitting together of the pieces of the puzzle. The awareness is almost physical, like my soul is snapping into place. Like I’m slipping into a perfect fitting pair of shoes. And that place is not only about living a more honest life, but it’s offering self-understanding and acceptance.

Last week I read Amy at The Never True Tales post about The Witching Years, and then Lindsey’s follow-up piece in which she helped me to realize that what I lost when I became a mother was certainty. Snap. Click. Nod. More understanding.

At the same time, I’ve been doing a lot of heavy book reading, underlining and annotating furiously. Crying and sharing passages with my husband. Snap. Click. Cry. Nod. More understanding.

And then this morning, I was driving along on my commute, listening to audio of Brené Brown from the Mondo Beyondo Winter Dream Lab. She was talking spirituality and intuition. As I listened, I started to cry, not because of sadness, but because her words were unlocking something inside me. I felt an awareness quietly slide into place, an understanding of my own faith that I had never recognized before. It was the single most important moment of this entire journey I’ve been on.

Seemingly out of nowhere I felt a deep calm come over me and I realized that what I am doing now, this mighty work, is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

This is me. This is who I am. This digging deep, the meditation, the slowing down and living life, the writing, the inward focus. All of it. This is what I am supposed to be doing. It’s not leading me somewhere new, it’s right now. I’m there. This is it.

Does that make any sense at all? It’s so very hard to describe. It’s all coming together. It’s like my life has finally found me, and is offering a gloriously comfortable fit.

Image: ‘untitled‘ by Patricia via a Creative Commons license.

Odds and ends

We have a lazy weekend routine in our house that started many years before we had children. My husband and I like to loll around in bed, taking our time to wake up. Our weekdays start very early; my husband leaves for work by 5:00 and me by 6:00. By the time Saturday rolls around,  we need a break from our morning madness. Since the birth of our sons, we’ve held on to this tradition as best we could though with a few adjustments. We no longer doze and linger in bed reading, drinking coffee for hours; now we snuggle, cuddle and tickle little boys for as long as they stay agreeable. Our oldest pads in every weekend morning on his own. The youngest calls from his crib across the hall. We take turns braving the early morning cold to fetch him.

It’s my favourite part of the week—I focus on nothing but the three men in my life, wrapped warmly in the cocoon of our bed.

This weekend something extra special happened. My oldest and I were quietly cuddled together when he said:

Mommy, I hit my head on the firetruck at school this week. It hurt mommy, and I was crying for you.

I responded: Oh honey, I’m so sorry that happened and that I wasn’t there.

I was really missing you mommy.

My heart split open wide. I’ve never felt more intensely like a mother than at that moment.

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I’ve always considered myself to be an outgoing person. I enjoy getting out and engaging in the company of different social groups. I’m comfortable in a crowd, and I happily attend events filled with strangers. I’m not shy and small talk comes naturally.

But in these last few months as I’ve focused on changing bits and pieces of my life, I’ve realized how intensely I need the quiet of my home (I say this quite loosely considering I have two boys under 5) and the comfort and routine of predictability. Dani Shapiro wrote this week about being self-protective. She wrote that “we must protect ourselves from that which throws us off course.” When I read that, it’s like a part of myself clicked into place. A piece of my own puzzle that had been elusive and indistinct.

You may remember when I wrote about my plans for 2011 that I talked about Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project where wrote extensively about of Being Gretchen saying that the idea of the person she wishes she were obscures her understanding of who she actually is. What I describe here is a classic example of me learning what it means to Be Christine. I like to be at home, I like quiet nights and weekends free of obligation. I long to live life simply, but have felt guilt because of it. I didn’t believe that that was the person I should be, what a successful person was.

While seemingly a simply realization, it’s a vital connection to my recovery.

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While we’re on the subject of my plans for 2011, we’ve reached the end of January. How is that possible? More importantly, how is it possible that it’s time for a new theme? In January, I focused on meditation. Toward the end of the month, because of a persistent cold and other challenges, I lost my focus a bit. Ironic actually. I’m in no way done with my meditation practice, I think it’s here to stay. I’m certain I’ll revisit my progress with it often.

In February, I plan to explore food in honour of reading Women Food and God by Geneen Roth for The Maladjusted Book Club. Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t say I have food issues. However this book made me really consider how my life is influenced by food. I’ll be writing about it all through the month.

Embracing my imperfection

Some of you will remember my life altering post from last fall when I declared my perfect protest. I laid myself bare, confessing my battle with depression. But I didn’t sit and wallow. I expressed my intent to fight back and fight back I have.

In the more than three months since that day, I’ve stayed the course on my medication despite my unease and fear of it, I made small changes in my personal and professional life, I looked inside and evaluated, I’ve had groundbreaking and profound personal realizations through therapy and I focused on acceptance and forgiveness. I’ve been reading and reading and reading. I’ve been inspired, I’ve cried, I’ve yelled, I’ve felt humble and even joy.

With the benefit of a mind free of cobwebs, I can see how these months have in many ways been a gift. I have a deeper understanding of myself which allows me to clean up the mess. Sarah Napthali expresses it perfectly in Buddhism for Mothers:

Nobody finds the journey along a spiritual path a straight line of progress: life still has its highs and lows and with them our commitment travels through peaks and troughs. Our emotional life may even become worse before it gets better. Uncovering hidden or suppressed wounds is uncomfortable and can trigger unexpected emotional reactions. Healing is highly likely to be our first priority after years of denying or ignoring inner pain. In the long run we can only benefit from the internal spring cleaning of any mess that blocks our joy in living.

And I’m not done. In fact, I’ve only begun.

While I battle against a sadness and fear such as I have never known, this awakening has ignited a wonderment at possibility such that I have never known. All of it important, all of it part of me. The difference is that now I can cope, I can do this hard work without falling apart. I feel stronger. Every day.

On Monday I’ll take another step on my journey toward filling my life with “compassion, connection and courage.” I’ve registered for the Mondo Beyondo Winter Dream Lab with Brené Brown. It’s so poetic and perfect. The perfect protest which led me to today was first inspired by Brené. The course will explore the ten guideposts of wholehearted living found in her book: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You are and Embrace Who You Really Are. This book, which I’m almost finished consuming, deserves a post (or several) of its own. You can be sure they will come.

The course will provide weekly prompts to help us process what we are learning. I plan to bring some of my work here to share and be honest. Over the eight weeks, I’ll continue to explore my themes for 2011, this month being meditation. So things are busy, but in a good and exciting way. And it’s all part of me remembering to Be Me.