Gallery-Written

I Surrender—AGAIN.

I used to think I had to manage my stress. And despite some of the things you read here, for the most part I can be a pretty happy go lucky person, so I thought for a long time it was working. I’d write and paint. I’d go for walks. I’d laugh with friends. I meditate. I journal. Scratch that-I use this page as my journal, ha. I do affirmations. I do all kinds of self development. And earlier this year I started doing acupuncture and energy healing. And now I’m learning to do energy healing on myself and others as well. And while all of those things are good, and these things have pulled me into a huge spiritual, and magically transformative season of growth, I realized the other day that my stress is not something I need to manage. As managing it had just become code for pushing it away.

My emotions aren’t something bad, they are not another annoying mess that I need to clean up. And don’t get me wrong, it feels like a mess when it’s coming out! Shifting and taking another step up isn’t always all zen, sitting in a room with crystals and meditating. I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings coming out of me that I tried to bury. For example I didn’t think it was ok to be angry. Especially because I was the most angry at dead people. And I wanted so badly to be good and nice and to fit in, that I pretended not to be upset even when I was. And it was confusing because I could recognize when I did lose it (or when others were projecting, aka losing it), that it wasn’t helpful. So what do you do with it? I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to manage it.

And that’s ok! I didn’t do anything wrong. And if you’re trying to manage it, you aren’t doing anything wrong either. You are trying to move in a positive direction and that’s great, but maybe you are as ready for this next step as I was. And maybe you can find your way there faster if you’ll think of this example the next time you’re in the thick of it.

Just after Halloween, and perhaps not surprisingly just after obtaining a level two in Reiki, I had all kinds of emotions bubbling up. I was angry, AGAIN, all the time! I felt like I was white knuckling it through EVERYTHING. Everything was getting under my skin. I was getting sick of myself, AGAIN.

I didn’t understand, I thought I was doing all the “right” things, walks and meditation, reiki, etc, but those feelings were still there. And I was starting to get snippy with my family and I don’t like that. I started to wonder if anything I was doing was actually helping. I started to tell myself that this is just another thing I’m going fail at. It was painful and confusing. In hindsight I can see that obviously my mindset had shifted back into some past patterns. But now I realize it’s also because I kept trying to manage it. To make it go away. Then one day my son and I headed outside, I was cleaning up pumpkins and other things from Halloween and he was sliding down the hill on our property. At one point our dog, who was supposed to be inside, got all excited and jumped on him. She knocked him over and scratched his face. He was crying but I was so full of my own emotions I couldn’t take it, with gritted teeth and balled fists, I stormed over there. I tried to hold it in but I starting yelling at both my son and the dog.

“Damnit, I told you not to let the dog out. Now look!”

“Bad dog”

“You wouldn’t be fuckin’ crying right now if you’d have done what you were told”

Not my finest moment. It really didn’t need to be a big deal. Any other day, I could have just comforted my son, he had learned his lesson the hard way. I didn’t need to pound it in with harsh words. Any other day, I could have corrected the dog, she is incredibly smart but still a puppy essentially, and doesn’t really realize how powerful she is when she excitedly jumps up to play with her buddy. Which is why she was supposed to stay in until I could supervise. But it wasn’t any other day. I had years of rage sitting just below the surface. I was ready to tear a strip off of anyone. I grabbed the dog by the collar and smacked her on the nose. I wanted to spank the living fuck out of her. And although we believe in positive reinforcement to train her, she now cowered in fear like a dog that had been beaten her whole life.

I could tell she was terrified, and my son who had every right to cry, now looked at me in horror as he said, “please don’t hit her.”

I started trying to justify my actions, but I paused. I felt so ashamed that I started to cry. I apologized and told him it was wrong for me to react that way. We had a good talk over hot chocolate and rehashed some rules about the dog. And you’d think maybe it was done, but I could still feel that pent up energy in me. Only now I had added shame. I still didn’t know what to do. And I couldn’t go meditate or go for a walk, I had chores to finish. So that’s what I did. And as I was taking the pumpkins out to the compost heap I realized one of the pumpkins still had a candle in it. My husband had put one of my nice candle holders in it and the lid of the pumpkin was frozen shut. I fucked around with it for a little while, muttering about “that fucker.” Until I finally freed it by smashing it open with my foot. It felt so good I kept smashing, then I grabbed another and another, and kept beating, punching, screaming and kicking out all the anger and grief and sadness, until I fell to my knees beside them. And I cried and I cried.

And you might ask yourself why I would be telling you this. I’ve wondered myself why I’m doing this. But I’m figuring it out. I’m doing this because it gives me hope. Even more than that it helps me to surrender, to be vulnerable, to say I’m not perfect but that is the greatest reason to show myself more love, not less. And I hope that one day you’ll read this story and refer back to it when you need it most. And I will too!

Because it’s that kind of self love that keeps you true. It’s that love that pulls you back on the road when you feel yourself heading into the ditch. It’s not about spa days. Its not just for women. It’s what keeps you from crashing. So the more fucked up you fear you are, or your life is, or dare I say you think other people are, the more you need to ask yourself, “what can I do in this moment to love myself better?”

It’s about realizing it’s not about “them.” It’s not about what happened to you. It’s about you. Knowing and loving and seeing that you are the amazing person you are and have always been.

And sometimes that will be achieved through meditation or walks or sports or whatever. But you don’t need to manage your emotions, you need to feel them. They demand to be felt. If you’re stubborn like me, you’ve probably tried everything you can to deal with them. But I ask you friend-have you ever tried surrendering to them? Try it. Be mad, be sad, cry, beat the face off your jack o’ lantern. Do what you can for you, so you can LET IT OUT. That is how you stop hurting yourself, that is how you stop hurting anyone else. That is how you heal and break the patterns that throw you off your path. That is self love.

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Spirit Speaks.

Sometimes I feel like I’m swinging on a pendulum. Feeling very clear, strong and present, and then swinging into rank lows where I dip right back into painful bits of the past, overthinking all the complicated relationships in my friend and family groups. Then to top it off I hit up my old storylines and generally say mean shit to myself. I scratch my way out of the pit, and fall back in. Up, down, up, down. I’m trying to be gentle with myself, and practice all that I’ve learned the last while but it’s hard to see through the fog sometimes, so I keep asking the universe to guide me. And this morning I had a visitor so I thought I’d share the story with you guys.

My boys had fallen asleep in the basement and I ended up heading upstairs alone, well not alone. Our German Shepard came up with me. We both snuggled into our beds but we were restless. I turned on some guided meditation and at some point, I’m not sure when, I fell asleep. It seemed like only a second had passed when I was awakened the dog, now on the main floor, barking and growling. She was really going nuts. So I grabbed my phone and looked out the windows. By the way our home is situated and nestled into the hill you can see for miles, in fact you can see two nearby towns and the city from my bedroom window. From this vantage point I could see there wasn’t anyone out front. So I walked to the other bedrooms one by one, ending at the back bedroom. At first glance I thought the fields and bushes behind the house were still as well. And then suddenly as if out of nowhere I realized there was a massive bull moose standing in the tree line not twenty feet from me. He looked up at me and we stared at on another for a couple minutes before he turned and ran. I watched him disappear into the night and I looked at my phone, 1:11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month. Now some people might say that is a coincidence, but if this year has taught me anything it’s that there are no coincidences. Only a few months ago I was directed to nearby energy healers following a dream where I was guided by a wolf. Sooo whatever, I’m learning to roll with it haha. So thank you universe. I got the message, loud and clear.

Gallery-Written · Life · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Just Visiting.

Sometimes when I’m just hanging out, minding my own business I get these visitors.

Ding dong.

I open the door and surprise! Sometimes it’s Happiness coming to say hello. Sometimes it’s Elation. Sometimes it’s Sadness. Sometimes it’s Anger. Do you know them?

They probably visit you too.

I also get the odd visit from Anxiety and Depression. Maybe you do too?

I like when Happiness, Joy and Wellness come to visit. In fact I usually ask if they can stay longer. Except when Grief shows up at the same time. Cause then Confusion shows up too, usually that’s when I think about asking Happiness to leave. But you’d be surprised how much room you can make for everyone!

Oh ya and some guests are easier than others. Joy loves laughing with me. But anger always makes a mess when he comes around. Brave always convinces me to try new things, but Scared often shows up at that exact same time and he’s not really into new activities.

And oh my when Anxiety and Depression show up-yikes. I used to put up caution tape. I wanted to keep others out while they were visiting. I was so embarrassed by them. They’re always lying, they yammer on and on, and they never have anything nice to say. They always drag out the old photo albums, even the ones I thought I’d gotten rid of. They bully me. And even when I tell them I have other things to do, they disrespect me, follow me on errands. Interrupt activities with my family. And I don’t want to be rude but they kinda stink. Usually at some point Angry and Sad make and appearance too and if I ask them to leave, they all trash the place. Ugh, and now Exhaustion has decided to drop by.

And believe me, I get pretty sick of some of them. I tried hiding inside and not answering the door, but Numb sneaks in the window or something, cause he’s always there when I’ve tried it. And anyway I realized if I don’t answer I’ll never know when Happiness comes around. And I’d hate to miss a visit from her.

So what to do? What to do? I’m kinda realizing it doesn’t matter which one comes to visit they are total attention hogs. And I noticed they all try to say they’re me. It’s kinda weird. I mean I’m cool, but fuck, it’s creepy guys. You’re not me! You’re just visiting!

And then it hit me. They’re just visiting! It’s kinda rude of me to invite Happy in with open arms and then tell Depression to fuck off. I wonder if that’s why he misbehaves? They all have some valuable qualities. So I decided it doesn’t matter who comes to visit, I’d break bread with them. I’d face them head on, visit, and hear them out. It’s a bit uncomfortable, especially when Depression invites his whole gang in. They’re still not my favourite guest, but I started to notice that when I make room at the table for them and give them space to speak they don’t stay nearly as long. Turns out they are usually just looking for someone to fight with. So I’ve started embracing them too. And I can tell it really throws them off their game, they aren’t nearly as noisy. And if I can I make it a point to invite Love in while they’re there, well that makes things a lot easier! In fact the more I invite Love in, the more likely it is the rowdy boys just smile or nod as they pass by.

And now when they go, I can honestly say thanks for the visit. Because although I hope some of them don’t come back right away I am thankful for all of them.

Because regardless who’s visiting I know now that I’m going to learn something new and gain new experiences from each one. But on those days that they are noisy and getting under your skin, take a page from my book. Invite Love in, and if it seems you’re own Love is nowhere to be found, reach out. You are not alone!! Just keep reminding yourself over and over that you are not your emotions. They’re just visiting!

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Think Grey in May.

In late 2010 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A benign (non-cancerous) but hormone secreting tumor, on the pituitary gland. Since then I have painted and drawn brains many times, as my brain is often on my mind. Since then I have had to adjust and even give up what I think my life and dreams should look like. I have grieved many times because of it.

I have had struggles to say the least. But as the great Frida Kaloh once said “at the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” And as I was creating this piece for brain tumour awareness month I was struck by this truth. In my lived experience I have discovered that life will always find ways to bring us to our knees. But this is the amazing thing. We all have these choices. In every moment. I have the control to change how I am reacting to any given situation. I don’t fake positivity. But I now try to bring love to the situation. I legit say I’m sorry this is happening, I say this to myself, then I ask myself what I need. How I can love myself through this. When life gets me down, love brings me back up.

So here’s to those of you that are struggling with the chronic condition we call life today. I hope you can find enough self compassion to love yourself today in whatever way you see fit.

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Hey all thanks for being here. If you enjoyed this story I hope you’ll also check out http://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/