Category Archives: health

authenticity

Be your authentic self.  Buzz words.  Everyone is saying things like this it seems these days.  But what does it truly mean?

I’m sure we all have our own take on what it means to be authentic.  But without spending time alone with yourself, how do you truly know if you are your own true authentic self, or if you are picking up on pieces of stronger personalities?  How do you know you aren’t just being what you are expected to be?

In this world, being authentic is hard.  There are expectations out there.  Go to University.  Get a high paying job.  Get married, have a family.  Don’t get divorced.  But where in all this does it fit to be truly authentic?

It doesn’t.

I have lived that life.  I was who everyone wanted me to be.  I did the education, I had great aspirations and hopes for a career.  I had the six figures.  I had the marriage and the family.  And all the illusions I had to maintain to keep up that façade.  I was miserable.

I got separated.  Parts of the false me started to fall away.  I opened up about the horrors of my relationship and people were shocked and stunned by what I had kept hidden.  But this is part of my story.  The true me.  I looked at my life and realized I wasn’t happy in that career.  I wasn’t truly interested in doing research or the other things I needed to do in order to be successful in that world.  I dropped it.  And I can tell you, it felt good.  It was a burden lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t realize I was carrying around.

I started exploring who I felt I was.  It was a redefining period of time.  I explored things that made be happy.  I sat.  I meditated.  I did yoga.  I went and spent time with just myself.  I was lost for over two decades, but somewhere in the silence, I found me.

Not everyone likes the me I am today, and I am ok with that.  I have been passed up for opportunities that I am more than qualified for simply because I no longer follow the corporate rules, and that is ok.  I forgive the people and the situation.  I thank the Universe for the experience and go forward knowing that I am exactly where I need to be, because where I am, is where I am accepted for who I truly am.  I am welcomed and encouraged to be my own authentic version of myself.  It has turned out better than anything I have ever expected or imagined.

That feels better than all those goals I had been chasing.  I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy pieces of that time because there are many parts that I loved and would do again.  But knowing now what it is to be fully me, I will not sacrifice my authenticity for any of the chairpersons, department heads or managers that think they have control over my fate.  They don’t control anything.  I am free.

And I am very happily and authentically me.

what strength means

You could look at the literal word and think of bodybuilders or construction men or firefighters even.  That is simply physical strength though.  What about the other strengths out there?

Strength to me is determination and courage.  Strength is the struggling student who works a full time job, still makes it to classes and still completes all the requirements to graduate and move their life into a new plane.  Strength is the cancer survivor who stays positive during the surgeries, the radiation treatments and the chemotherapy while still being that positive beacon for her children and her husband.  Strength is the father going into that surgery knowing full well that he may not wake up from the anesthesia yet taking the chance because if he doesn’t, the cancer still wins.  Strength is the wife who stands by his side and supports him because that’s all she can do.

Strength is the child who stands up for his friend against the schoolyard bully, even though he fears being the next target.  Strength is the single mother who gets up and goes to work every day to a job that causes her pain, yet she goes anyway because that is what her children need her to do.  Strength is the woman who leaves an abuser before it goes too far.  Strength is the man suffering depression, but he still gets out of bed every day.

I see all these people around me.  Perhaps they do not see their strength, but others do.  Strength is all around us.  We all have our own battles.  Some are more visible than others.  Don’t judge others based on what you think you see, for their story is like an iceberg: you may see the tip poking out above the surface, but the rest of the story and reasons for who they are and why they do what they do are hidden underneath in the dark waters.

Have an open mind and an open heart.  Give acceptance and love.

simply you

The other day I went to visit my doctor.  As usual, he asked how I was doing and if I was seeing anyone.  My doctor likes to keep tabs on me since he knew the issues that occurred before and during the divorce.  He always asks how my children are coping as well.

Am I seeing anyone?  No, not really.  But do I want to be?  Well, that got me to thinking.  Then the next day I read a brief article on the benefits of being single.  That got me thinking even more.  There are a lot of benefits to being single.  You are the only one spending your income, so you choose where it goes.  You decide if you use a credit card for a high-cost item or if you decide to save up before purchasing it.  You decide how to pay off debt (like divorce debt), and how you allot your dollars.  You decide how to decorate your home.  Are you a minimalist or do you like to fill your home with things?  Your choice.  You decide if you want a pet, and if so, what kind?  Do you want to travel?  Where do you want to go?

Here’s the best one.  You become utterly and solely you.  When in a relationship, partners tend to pick up on certain pieces of the other partner’s personality.  Quirks, sayings, behaviours.  These things tend to blend.  The dominant personality tends to overshadow the less dominant personality.  You essentially become the same person.  However, when you choose a life of being single, you know that who you are is simply you.  And that is a good feeling.

body and mind

With the days getting longer, I can feel spring is just around the corner.  The sun is almost cresting the horizon as my alarm calls me to wake in the mornings, which makes it easier and more pleasant when I start my day.  I am sure that many others feel the same way.

Winter can take a hold on us.  Seasonal Affective Disorder makes it harder and harder to get through the day for many living in the northern hemisphere.  I have discovered how it truly can affect our mood and outlook.  It’s like a seasonal depression that you can feel being lifted with the longer days and warmer temperatures slowly returning to us.  I have also found that taking the time for self care and physical exercise also helps quite a bit.  It gives me a bit more energy even when I think I’m tapped out.

I take that as a reminder that looking out for our physical health is a key factor in our mental health also.  It is a natural anti-depressant that helps me to keep going.  So do what works for you.  Go for a run, take a class, lift some weights, join a yoga studio.  Meditate.  Breathe.  Accept yourself and carry forward.

second chances

How do you decide who is worthy of a second chance in life?  How do you deem the worth of one’s value?

I know this is far too broad a topic, and extenuating circumstances will change the outcome for many people, depending on what the situation looks like.  But in general, are we programmed to cut people off or to continue to give them chances to succeed?  Where do we draw the line for our own mental or physical security?

This has nothing to do with past relationships that are creeping back in, although I know that is often where people tend to consider the second chances coming into play.  I am taking this as a much broader topic.  Think about reformed drug addicted individuals, gamblers who no longer gamble, military personnel who have come back from deployment with severe PTSD, or the teenager who has tried to take his/her own life.

It seems to me that the majority of the topics that I have considered have a mental health component attached to them.  Whether it is an addiction, or there is something else happening that causes mental unwellness, the bottom line to me is that it is an illness.  There are so many stigmas attached to mental illness, and that in itself is a hurdle to conquer.  Mental illness needs the same care and attention as physical illness.

Do people suffer the same lingering prejudices if they had pneumonia, broken bones or even cancer as those who have ADHD, bipolar disease or schizophrenia?  Generally, no.  Why?  Because if it is a physical ailment, people can visually see that the individual is better.  But with mental illness, it takes trust and a leap of faith to believe that the individual has healed or is under control.

Trust.  Faith.  Support.

Everybody is worthy of a second chance.  Particularly those who have realized their need for help and sought it out.  Why should they be shunned for this higher level thinking?  Because they have identified their own need?  It could happen to every one of us in some form or another.  Life is full of second chances.  You may be that second chance for someone who needs it.

value human interaction

I have been reminded lately of the importance of human interaction.  In this, I mean how important it is to have contact with others.  Physical contact, verbal communication, or whatever it is that satisfies that personal need.  We all need to be valued in some way.  To be appreciated.  To be wanted.

To be loved.

Remember those who play a role in your life, no matter how small.  Thank the person holding the door open for you as you enter the mall to buy those last minute gifts.  Smile at the lonely woman sitting and looking out her window as you walk to collect your children from school.  Give a compliment to a stranger for no other reason but to spread a little joy to the life of another.

In this world of smart phone abuse, I watch as people walk down the street and hallways with their faces buried in screens.  People no longer notice those around them.  I feel the isolation of technology affecting society, and I urge everyone to be part of the resistance here.  Let’s not forget our humanity and our human interaction.

living a good life

This has been a challenge of a week.  It’s been a week of pondering, and of considering the words spoken to me merely seven days ago, although it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

My father has cancer.  The big C.

Huge deal right?  Well, my mother had cancer also.  She spent a couple years in treatment, and her follow up appointments have all been positive, showing no signs of new growth.  All positive.  She’s not without her health issues, and the scare we had in summer thankfully was not a malignant tumor but still dangerous in its own right.  But I digress.

The words my father spoke left me feeling oddly at ease, even though we still do not know all the details of the severity or chances of survival.  I’ve had a good life.  I have no regrets.  I have done in my life what I aimed to.

Nobody likes to consider life without their loved ones.  I am not the exception.  My father came back into my life once my marriage fell apart.  My ex kept me from having a relationship with my family, so once he was out of the picture, they were there, waiting all those 20 years for me to come back to my senses.  I feel like I have just gotten my father back, so of course I have considered life without him once again.  I’m not ready for him to go.

My father explained some things to me, and I understand completely.  He is not afraid of death, and for the record, nor am I.  I do not believe it to be the end of our existence.  He has lived the life of his choosing.  He has done all the things he has wanted to do, he has no regrets in this life.  He has lived a good life, by his standards.  He was never rich in monetary ways, but that never mattered to him.  He was rich in much better standards.  He has a family he loves dearly.  He has friends who are family of his choosing that he loves equally as much.  He gives from the depth of his heart and would give what he had if it meant someone else could use it more.  Don’t get me wrong, my father is not a saint.  He is human, and in that, he has made mistakes.  He has made some choices that were less than desirable.  But in that, he is 100% human and we all know there is no one living on earth that is perfect by any stretch.

So I considered the words he spoke.  All week, and likely still will.  I know that he will fight for his life should he need to, but if it is meant for him to leave our realm in any short time frame, he will have no regrets.  He will not weep for the things he had not yet done.  He does live a good life that will be celebrated whenever that time comes.  But I still pray that time is not too soon.

the concept of happiness

I think we all struggle with being happy from time to time.  The ebbs and flows of the emotional sea don’t stay constant in an euphoric state.  There are a myriad of quotes that attempt to explain why it’s ok.  

Without the rain, there would never be rainbows.

Insert your favourite quote here…

Sometimes I think happiness is a choice.  Sometimes I struggle with the hand I’ve been dealt in life and wonder why I’ve been given what I have, then wallow in self pity because of it.  I think it safe to assume we have all been there.  

So here I am, contemplating this concept of happiness.  As I read more and more about those who have less and less, it really does appear to be a conscious decision on whether or not we choose to be happy.  Interesting concept.  I’ve been reading how we can only have enough energy to make so many decisions in one day, so paring down to necessary items can reduce the number of unnecessary decisions being made in a day which leaves you with the energy to focus on the more important  decisions.  Maybe there’s something to that.  Less trivial decisions mean you can devote time to the meaningful stuff. By not putting off the meaningful stuff means less stress of knowing there is a weight on your shoulders waiting for you to address it…that looming dark cloud of problems needing to be tackled.

Happiness as a choice means you choose to let some things go. Like in meditation, we notice those thoughts entering in, acknowledge them, and mentally sweep them away.  Perhaps unhappiness can be something like that in our consciousness.

What if happiness truly is independent of our possessions?

There are a lot of people who would argue against this statement.  Any business who depends on consumerism. If the concept of happiness independent of material goods caught on, many of these businesspeople would no longer be making their millions of dollars a year. My materialistic ex would never agree with this statement, particularly when he bought four brand-spanking-new vehicles in a span of two years.  But there are many, many people in our first world countries who choose to subscribe to this concept of minimalism and the decision to be happy.  This happiness seems to resonate on a higher frequency. This is something I have experienced. It is incredibly satisfying. Then to find the consumerism re-enter my life, slowly at first, it has made a negative impact on my life.  Decisions to clean and declutter make me depressed. It’s like a punishment that keeps me from doing what I love.  I want to create. I want to write, paint, be creative in my post production for my photography, but it all gets put aside because how do I justify doing things that bring me joy when I have a mess everywhere, no space to work, and have problems finding the things I would need to accomplish my creative product?

So, here.  This is the concept of happiness.  I am choosing to be happy. I am tackling the evils of consumerism and materialistic ways.  I am removing these unnecessary things from my space and allowing happiness to move in.  Happiness is a much better housemate. 

I choose happiness.

the art of minimalism

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot. Much of it has been blog posts and articles on minimalism.  I need that extra encouragement and motivation to get back to some simplicity, as many of us do from time to time.

When my exhusband and I first parted ways, I bought a home for myself and my sons. We didn’t have a lot to put into our home, and it seemed rather bare.  I wanted to buy quality furniture that would last for a good long time, but I also wanted it to fit into our lifestyle. I also didn’t want to go into debt just to furnish the house.  So, some pieces came from Ikea, or ikea-esk shops.  Relatively inexpensive, but will do the job needed until I was ready to get the real deal.  And it was fine to start with.  We were just incredibly happy to be moving on with life in a positive note. 

After about five months, I found the dining set that spoke to me.  It had a rustic style, was made with refurbished wood, and the hardware was handmade.  It spoke to me on so many levels.  The style, the reuse of resources, the handmade personal touches.  It felt very earthy and helped me feel connected to nature the way I like to be.   I had saved the money needed which was great because that meant I wasn’t going into debt to buy this gorgeous piece of furniture.  

This was the only piece of furniture I have purchased for the house.  In all fairness, we don’t need anything else at this point badly enough to warrant the spending.  But where we did go wrong was the little spending.  The toys that add up but don’t get played with.  The extra craft supplies that we bought without specific purpose but had grand ideas for.  The extra stuff for Christmas that really wasn’t needed, wanted, or used, but was bought for the sake of volume for Christmas morning. 

Clutter affects us in so many ways.  It affects us mentally because there’s this mess looming over our heads that we know needs cleaning.  The dust that accumulates because we can’t properly dust around the extra stuff.  We just feel better when there is less around us.  I know that, yet I still fell into the trap of having stuff.

So, over the next 50 days, I am embarking on a personal challenge to declutter my home, and prepare a healthy and welcoming environment.  What I am hoping to achieve is mental comfort, a clean home that houses simply what we need or truly want.  Those things that are no longer necessary need to go.  Those things that hold negative feelings and negative memories must leave the premises.  These things create mental clutter, which is just as harmful.  Once this is done, my creative living can have the freedom to expand into the open spaces. And for me, this is very important. 

I encourage everyone to consider how the things in your environment affect you…both good and bad.  Minimalism is not for everyone, and it looks different for everyone too.  What is the same is the stress relieving effect it should provide. 

make your heart happy

Everyone needs to take time to do what makes their heart sing.  Whatever that may be for you, do it.

My heart sings when I do what is authentic to my being.  Maybe I’m creating something..painting, writing, or photographing.  Maybe I’m roadtripping with the two most special young men in my world.

Whatever it is, don’t wait.

Don’t wait for tomorrow.  Don’t wait for next week.  Don’t wait until the ‘time is right’.  Tomorrow never hits.  Next week always gets pushed back.  The time is never right.  Make the time.  We live this life once, and none of us are getting out alive.  Create happiness. Live love.  Sing and dance in the rain.  Go hunting dinosaurs.  Look for stars and chase rainbows.  Leave a legacy that people can look at your live and know that you’ve lived it well.

Namaste