all you need is love and a dog

Love comes in many forms.  Romantic, platonic, family, pets, and any other version you can think of.  Many things I do in my life now are the result of love.  I tend to my children with motherly love to give them the safe place they need to grow into the amazing humans they are.  I spend time with my friends and cultivate those relationships, being mindful to ensure they know that they are loved and appreciated.  And pets, well…it’s nearly impossible to not show a pet they are loved in my household, especially when they so easily give that love right back to you.

Love is a necessity for growth, no matter who or where you are.  Love is one of those undeniable components that change life from survival mode to allowing one to flourish.  Just as humans need a certain amount of hugs to survive versus to thrive, this is just another version of showing our love for one another.

Growing up and well in through the two decades that I was married, I found saying the words I love you to be very forced and painful.  It seemed as if I didn’t really know how to say those words and truly feel the meaning of them.  I know there is a lot of psychology and background history there that really isn’t something I care to delve into, but there came a time when I was going through my divorce that I discovered what love really is, and I felt as if I had never truly allowed love into my heart until that point.  The interesting part is that it wasn’t a romantic love that changed me; it was the love of my true friends who stood with me and helped me through the divorce.  They were the ones who showed me what love is and how to embrace those around me.  I listened and I learned.  I paid attention to their actions and saw how easy it was for them to give a piece of themselves to me.  Somehow my heart softened and I could feel real love for the first time.  I realized that real love didn’t have to be painful; it didn’t have to hurt.  Real love comes without consequence, constraints or ultimatums.  Real love just is.

Now that I know how love actually feels, it is easy for me to give that love freely to those near me.  I can say those words now and truly mean them, and I do.  My friends and family hear them routinely, and assuredly, they come straight from my heart.  Don’t underestimate what can happen in a year.  These changes happened over the course of the last six years, and I am a completely different person today than I was then.  I owe a good deal of that change to those who stood with me and those who cried with me, and I reciprocate the love that I received from those dear friends right back and without reservation.

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holding space

As a spiritual person, holding space tends to be rather intuitive.  I’ve done it for years without analyzing or recognizing what it truly is.  Holding space for someone is one of the most giving things a person can do because it removes the ego and allows you to fully give of yourself to the person you are seeking to support.

For me, holding space takes many forms and has been a recurring theme in my relationships.  I often hold space for my dearest friend miles away when she is in emotional distress, and she will do the same for me.  Intention and energy are sent along with support and acceptance for whatever the other person is feeling or experiencing.  Holding space provides safety for the person needing support.  Sometimes it means the physical support of holding hands or an embrace; a kiss on the forehead to show they are loved as they are.  It means being that sounding board to let the other speak freely without judgement on their words, actions, or emotions.  It is the eye contact to allow the other to look deeper and find your soul reaching out to them.

Regardless of how the space is held, there is a common thread through it all; holding space is done selflessly.  It is done purely to support the other person regardless of personal feelings, opinions, or even the presence of self.  Holding space means giving all of yourself to that person for the time needed to support them and to allow the other person the freedom to be themselves completely, without the pressures or stresses to change those parts of themselves that are thought to be undesirable or needing change.  Holding space allows them to feel that they can just be; that they are enough as they are.  We are all perfectly imperfect, and exactly as we should be.

and the greatest of these is love

I spent the last two weeks preparing for, photographing, and editing images for a dear friend’s wedding.  It wasn’t a fancy or expensive wedding, just an intimate affair with their children, close friends, and me as the photographer.  It was one of the best kinds of weddings there are.

Romance has been the theme these past two weeks so it seems.  I watched as she went through the elation of marrying the man that she loved back in the days of climbing trees and skinning knees to saying the emotional and heartfelt vows they wrote to each other.  Life took them on different journeys; but thirty-some years later, they finally realized their youthful dreams of marrying each other.  I was honoured to be part of their day in any capacity.  I was even more honoured to be asked to capture their day for them.

Blended families can be a challenge; but they can also be an amazing new chapter in life.  The man she brought into her child’s life is truly in love with her, and as I observed them as a whole over the weekend, I noticed things that perhaps only a photographer sees.  I saw how he discreetly kept an eye on his young step-son while he continued on doing what he was doing.  I saw how she included his adult daughters as if she had known them all her life, like lifelong friends.  Most of all, I saw how he watched her.  I saw how even though his exterior has been weathered from life, his eyes were soft.  I saw how his eyes softened even more every time he looked at her.  She didn’t notice most times because she was busy being a hostess to her family, but he always had the look in his eyes that showed his soul whenever he laid his eyes on her.  There was no doubt that this man has always loved his bride, and I sense he wanted to take in every single moment of this day so that he would never forget it.

Love.  The greatest of these truly is love.

how to see your vision

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about vision boards and vision journals lately.  They are two paths to help one realize their potential, a visual guide to continue on towards goals, and a motivator to get where one wants to go.

I wonder sometimes how many people put on the solid effort to create visions to propel themselves to the next level of their lives.  This motivates me to help others in achieving their goals and dreams.  I would love to be able to help others to create their own vision board, or journal, or even both.  I have a new mission in life.

I would love to hear from those who do vision boards/journals and how they help you.  I would also love to hear from those who do not, but are interested in them and what questions might arise that should be answered.

 

easter

Easter is often thought of as a religious holiday.  This year, Passover occurs at the same time, giving many individuals reason to celebrate their given faiths concurrently.

I see Easter as more than a religious observance.  Easter to me is the time of renewal for myself, Mother Nature, and the world in general.  Living in North America, Easter falls at the start of spring.  While we still have plenty of snow around today, it hardly feels like spring, but the attitude and expectations are still the same nonetheless.  Spring brings about new life, and since Easter occurs during this season, the two are intertwined for me.

There are many times of the year where I feel the need to re-evaluate and refresh my goals and motivations.  Naturally, Easter is one of them.  I find with the days getting longer, and the sun feeling warmer as it shines through the windows, it is a good time to check in with my progress.  I look to see which goals I am on my way to meeting, which ones I have met, and where I need to go from here.

I get motivation at Easter because there are new beginnings happening all around me.  The snow is melting, the grass starts to grow and green up.  Tulips and other flowers start to wake from their winter sleep.  I see birds start nesting in their homes in my back yard, preparing for their new babies.  It sets the tone for the next few months, as we gear up for summer, then prepare for autumn.  Spring and Easter are one of my favourite times of the year.

I wish you all a wonderful spring, and I hope you choose to celebrate the season in whichever manner suits you best.

is happiness a choice?

Is happiness a choice, or is it something that simply is?  Do we get to decide if we are happy or not?  Are we just a victim of our surroundings?

In my life, I believe we can choose to be happy.  Yes, things happen in life that can be difficult, but when it comes down to it all, how we opt to deal with the things that have happened, its ultimately up to us whether we choose to remain sad or bitter about the events, or if we instead decide to still be happy.

Happiness is a much healthier option.  I have seen people who seemingly have everything in life, yet they simply cannot be happy for themselves.  Keep in mind, this is different from those exhibiting signs of depression, and I would not lump a mental health condition into the same category.  I have also seen people who have had severely traumatic events happen in their lives who still chose to be grateful that they are still alive on this earth.

We all have days where the weight of the world brings us down.  I try to remind myself that I am lucky to be where I am.  I have gratitude for the friends and family I have, my living conditions, my job and my passions.  I am grateful for having an able body which allows me to do things that others may not have the opportunity to do.  This gratitude invariably leads me to happiness.

I look for the positives; for the good in the world.  I avoid the news because happy news does not make money and therefore they do not play it.  I cultivate my circle of friends to ones who reflect my inner light, and we bring each other up instead of drawing them down.  I count my blessings.

Everyday, there is something new to be grateful for.  Look for it and you will find happiness everywhere.

friendships

Friendship is something that can be taken for granted.  For many people, they have always had friends surrounding them, and it is a blessing.  Old, long-lasting friendships are truly a treasured thing for they have endured the test of time; a friendship that has grown and changed just as the people have.  It can be rare to find these days.  People tend to move with work opportunities and for the hopes of a different life.  These decisions impact those friendships simply because distance is a difficult thing to endure.

New friendships are forged, and they become equally as important.  They are based in what is relevant in their lives at the time they were brought together.  The great thing about new friendships is that they all have the opportunity to turn into old friendships, given enough time.  Neither one is more valuable than the other.  They are all equally as important.

I am grateful for all the friendships in my life, both new and old.  I look forward to these newer friendships growing and ageing along with me, and I truly hope they do.  I do not ever wish to take any of my friendships for granted.  For me, they are blooms in my garden of life.  I want to cultivate them, removing the weeds, and feed the flowers.

looking back, planning forward

I spent yesterday evening thinking back to what the past five years has brought me, and how my life has changed.  Yes, divorce will do that to you.  But, there is more to it than that.  I have realized when I look back at the past five years, I am amazed at how much I have done and how it has helped me grow as an individual.

Not only have I become free from a life (and marriage) that were strangling me, I have opened myself up and become more of who I truly am.  I have taken courses and completed two certificates, with the third and fourth ones to be completed shortly.  None of which have anything to do with my profession, I might add.  They are simply because I enjoy them and choose to increase my knowledge in other areas that interest me.  I have dramatically improved my photography skills through practice, mentorship, and coursework, and continue to do so.  I have taken myself out of my comfort zone and explored places I would never have expected to go on my own before these five years.  I have joined groups and met new friends that mean the world to me.  I have plans and aspirations for the next five years that have spiralled off of what the previous five years have provided me.

Something that I didn’t realize when I was in the midst of it all, but when I look back, I can see how much the little bits have changed me over time.  Tony Robbins says that people overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can do in a year.  It’s true.  I have seen it in myself, and I believe what he has said.  I am grateful for my self-motivation to do more.  I am glad I have not allowed my life to become passive, but instead, take an active role in what happens in my life.  This is my journey, and I want to make the most of it!

self-improvement

The term “self-improvement” has always left me with a cliché sense to the term.  What exactly do you mean when you say you’re doing some self-improvement?  The term, to me, implies that you felt you weren’t enough as you were.  Harsh, I know.

It isn’t what it means at all.  In fact, I too, have been working on some self-improvement.  I do it all the time, even if I may not use that term specifically.

Self-improvement really refers to bettering yourself as time goes on; to compete with the person you were, not anyone else.  We all improve with age, don’t we?  Any time we pick up one of those self-help books, or an audio podcast designed to help us with one aspect of our lives or another, we are tuning into self-improvement.

Striving for more is self-improvement in itself.  Are you looking to learn a new craft, a new language, or try a new cuisine?  Anything that broadens our own experiences is a form of self-improvement.  It doesn’t have to be the inspirational, motivational speakers, or the life coaches, the woo woo, or even the subliminal tapes.  Anything we do to experience more that our world has to offer is a form of self-improvement.

So, call it what you will, but whatever it is, I encourage you to continue to be a better person tomorrow, than you were today.

whatifitis

This is my self-diagnosis.  It captivated me years ago and it keeps me hostage in my safe place.  Whatifitis is rooted in fear.  It prevents me from taking chances in so many areas of my life: my career, my hobbies, my love life, my dreams.  It keeps me frozen in my current state because it is a comfort zone, although comfort zones aren’t always as safe as what they appear to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I have conquered some of my whatifitis, such as taking solo trips and visiting new places with my sons, but it still keeps me in shackles when it comes to other aspects in my life.

It keeps me from taking the what-if leap.

What if I started that small business.

What if I allowed that man to come into my life and my family.

What if I didn’t overthink every single solitary step in my life?

Overcoming whatifitis isn’t an overnight thing.  The cure is hard work and determination.  There needs to be a realization and self reflection on what I am doing. Is there is any self-sabotaging behaviours present?  There needs to be a plan; a schematic to ensure whatifitis doesn’t return to take me back to that place.  I have had a glimpse of the freedom from whatifitis, and it is a beautiful thing.  I think I am ready to explore that further, and to find a way to cure myself of this condition.