Chapter 16: Fear

cropped-12191069_10156215582035531_501354011630829392_n.jpgDISCLAIMER
Don’t get me wrong, with any decision, taking a thoughtful approach and understanding the whole picture is a responsible and valuable process… But when choosing whether to do or not do something, if “FEAR OF…” is stopping you, it may be time to reevaluate the root of that fear…

It has become very apparent to me that FEAR is an internal dictator waiting to seize a position of power at any given moment.

Fear, if we allow it, can thwart opportunity as it hooks its teeth into that which is held closest to us, but fear only has power if we allow it…

What I have learned is that often fears that paralyze us from moving forward are lies, lies we convince ourselves to be the truth, to be a reality… A false reality created out of self doubt.

Fear of failure. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of missing out. Fear of being forgotten. Fear of judgment.

This past year has taught that fear is created from within, therefore fear can be rendered useless from within as well. My fears, rooted in a belief that I wasn’t enough have been silenced as I’ve learn to believe fully in myself. Slowly but surely I have learned to recognize and let of got those fears.

Fear.  I see you. I acknowledge you. But I am letting you go.

What fear are you going to let go of today?

 

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Chapter 15: Finding Zen

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Balance has been redefined.
Balance which once was the ability to juggle, has become a recognition that the ALL intricacies of my soul must be honoured and nurtured.

Throughout my journey, I have had moments where I felt off centre, I could never really describe it, but my energy made my discomfort apparent – something was off and happiness seemed darkened.

My imbalance was rooted in my own self neglect – suppression of emotions, pushing body to its brink, criticizing my being, and choosing isolation. I was denying myself time and space to ensure that my mind, body, and spirit were being honoured, nourished, and strengthened.

Yoga, which began for me as a way to stretch once a week so I could lift weights, has become a significant element of my life. I have learned to set intention, to step outside myself and connect with the space and energy around me. It has become a time for me to slow my thinking, to appreciate, and realize the value and power of the present moment.

I feel that I have found zen.

Although I still may have moments when I feel frazzled, I have learned to see the bigger picture. Just as I have chosen to live by the motto CHOOSING HAPPY, I have learned that stress is also a choice, why worry or be concerned over things in my life that I have no control, when instead aim to see opportunity for growth.

Balance is no longer the ability to just push forward, but instead the ability to be patient and kind with all parts of myself.

 

 

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Chapter 14: Seventy-Five.

Photo Credit: Chelsey Luren Dixon

Seventy-Five 

And although I try hard not to be driven by numbers anymore
75 is representative of much more than a quantity, it is representative of change. It is 75 days of choosing self love, choosing life, choosing happy.

5 months ago, after 74 days self love, 74 days pushing past my my bulimic habit, I allowed stress to trigger me into a summer of ups and downs.

This summer I took full advantage of rediscovering my love of life and embracing this amazing opportunity to learn about myself. But, the truth and reality is, I existed every day in constant battle with my habit , a battle of will. Although I hate to admit it, on more than one occasion, I allowed my habit to win. I had moments where I solely existed in the depths of hopelessness, certain my fate was sealed.

I don’t know what the switch was, but September 3rd and made a conscious decision to end it. I stepped fully into commitment, something I don’t feel I had really done. I said I wanted to get better, but my until my whole being, my whole soul believed change was possible, the power of my habit would always win.

Finally, I gave myself permission to unleash the strength within…

I have given myself permission to feel, honouring and acknowledging emotions.

I have given myself permission to no longer feel ashamed. Mental health struggles are a reality for most people, I am not alone, nor should I feel shame for what I battle with.

I have given myself permission to be human. To embrace that learning and discovery is non linear. 

I have given myself permission to put me first. I am no longer dictated by fears of what others may think, but instead strive for balance.

I have given myself permission to ask for help. I have learned that asking for support, and saying “I am not okay right now” is not a sign of weakness, in fact, I now see it as a sign of strength, a willingness to seek support in order to grow that much stronger. 

Give yourself permission to heal. The battle with mental health is all encompassing, infiltrating itself into every facet of your being. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, this battle can be utterly exhausting. Show yourself kindness, and give yourself permission to be vulnerable and ask for support.

One day my counter will be irrelevant, I will no longer need the quantify my growth. But for right now, 75 is my lucky number, a number that at times I truly believed I was so far for a reality it felt like an impossible task. I don’t say this to be conceited, but I am proud.

Photo Credit: Chelsey Luren Dixon  –

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Chapter 13: “I Love my legs because…”

Tahoe

For a majority of my life I have had a negative view of my body. Spending hours in fitting rooms tear soaked with shattered self confidence… trying outfit after outfit as my self esteem melted away…it was never the clothing, I blamed my body…

My legs too thick. My butt too big. My skin too pail. My acne too severe. My tummy too pudgy. My feet too wide. My height…Lacking.

These negative self thoughts strongly opposed my own personal belief system – for I know in my heart that the beauty of a person is not in what one can see on the outside, but the energy that they exude from their heart, their values and outlook on life that is reflected in their actions. 

I had allowed myself to deny all that made me me, putting my appearance on a pedestal as a determinant of my worth. I placed such high value on my appearance yet I was treating it with such cruelty – working out to the point of pain, starving myself, living with extreme diets.

If I truly valued my body, I would treat it with the utmost love, compassion, and kindness.
If I truly valued my body I would nurture it, living with balance not pain.
My actions were not reflective of my beliefs.

Ashley Wiles – a close friend, mentor, and founder of SoleGirls shifted my frame of thinking with the use of one simple phrase… “I love my legs because…”. I don’t think she truly realizes how much her energy, and her love of self has influenced me.

I have begun to see that the core of who I am, my adventurous soul, my loving heart, and my yearn to learn, will remain constant no matter the size of my jeans.
Those who love me, love me not because I have blonde hair and blue eyes, or because I can lift heavy weights, but because of my openness, and my love of life.

The relationship I have with my mirror is changing, it is not as often that I hear the voice of negativity…

I love my legs because they take me to the top of mountains…

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Chapter 12: Bringing Light to the Dark.

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We do not stand alone. 
The power of sharing.
The ripple effect.
The strength of community.

Over the past couple weeks I have seen and felt the efforts to shed light on the reality of mental health. More and more I see people stepping out their personally manifested bubble of darkness, stepping out of their world of isolation that is so significantly linked with mental health and into a the light of truth.

As each person steps forward sharing their story our community grows stronger, and more people see healing as a possibility. This wave of openness and honesty about our experiences is weakening the wall of shame we have each surrounded ourselves with – for the reality is, we are NOT alone.

Two amazing young women, Chelsey Kadyschuk & Jennifer Thompson,  women who I am so proud to call friends have recently shared their stories with the world – their stories of personal battles with mental health, addiction, and eating disorders. I am so utterly inspired by their bravery. Sharing your story publicly can be one of the most terrifying, yet most powerful and healing experiences. It is exposing a very significant piece of your life.

I remember the day I pressed “publish” and the wave of emotional release.
Finally, I didn’t have to hide.

Isolation is addictions strategic manoeuvre, and shame is the voice of power.

Yesterday in Washington DC a rally was held to END THE SILENCE. This is the time. The rock as been dropped and the ripples in the water continue to spread. Ending the silence and breaking the stigma will save lives.

Take the leap of faith.
Find your voice.
Love yourself enough to ask for help.
You are not alone. 
We are here. 

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Chapter 11: We are Creators

My Vision
We are creators of our own reality.
We have a choice.
A choice to be passive recipients or active participants in the story of our lives.

1 Year ago almost to the day, I became an active participant in my own life.

I began creating a reality I wanted. A reality of happiness and self love. 

After a summer of adventure and exploration I entered back into the routine of work life. Very quickly I felt the energy of the fast paced world, holding my breath as learning curves were thrown at me as fast as the tide changes the design of sand.
I was moving with the waves, controlled by the craziness around me. I felt like I was being thrown against the rocks.

A year ago I would have been swept away, but a year ago I was a different person. A year ago I did not fully understand the depth of who I am, the power I hold in creating my own reality.

This craziness, this feeling of being lost being blurred in the present moment was not going to become my new reality. This was not how my story was to continue.

Recognizing very quickly the change in my energy – feeling rushed and panicked, I took an evening to unplug. I spent three hours on my porch painting and writing, and for the first time since going back to work, I slept through the night.

Keeping with this momentum, I took part in an amazing. I created a vision board

A board representing my growth and my future. I flipped through magazines collecting images and phrases that resonated with me. This process for me was a form of active reflection, I was creating a visual representative of how I want to continue living my life.

This board will act as a constant reminder that I am a creator. The choices I make, my actions and reactions, are all MY CHOICE. These choices help me create the life I want.

I will continue to create happy. I will make the choice to embrase all the world throws at me, as opportunities to learn and to grow.

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Chapter 10: I am not alone. WE are not alone.

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I forget. No… I allow myself to forget.

I forget that I am not alone in my journey.  It is when I allow myself to forget, that I slip into a dark world of isolation where the voice of false reality is the loudest. Isolation is fuel to a negative feedback loop perpetuating dysfunctional behavior & negative self-talk. Isolation is the space where the reflection I see in the mirror is not one reflective of truth, it is a reflection without worth. 

Finding the light in the dark of isolation. 

Conversation. Connection. Community.

Openness. Honesty. Truth

Conversation and connection facilitate self-reflection & self-discovery. Openness and honesty break down the wall of lies we create as protective mechanisms – acknowledging the lies gives room for growth, revealing our authentic self. Speaking the truth about our fears and allows us to see the masked truth, the true reality.

My dear friend Chelsey always tells me that isolating myself during my times of pain or darkness is one of the most selfish things I can do, it is willingly giving my addiction power and opportunity. Conversation can be a chance for both parties to learn and grown. Connecting with my support system not only sets ME free, but also gives others a chance to reconnect with themselves and their journey of self-discovery.

Something I have realized through my professional world is that I learn the most about myself as an educator, and about the practice of teaching when given the opportunity to dialogue with other professionals, and reflect.

The same concept applies when working to overcome any mental health struggle – actually, the same concept applies to life! The more we surround ourselves with a community of diverse, open minded individuals, and allow ourselves to participate in open, honest, and raw conversations about life, the more we learn and grow.

I still have my moments of isolation. But with practice, and with patience, those moments are becoming few and far between as I take the power back.

I am so thankful for my community.
They support me patiently.
With love and kindness.
Recognizing that each learning moment has to come from within.
Recognizing that learning is a process, a process with up’s and downs.
Thank you dear friends.
Thank you. 

 

 

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