The Light

The darkness is calling and I am staving off the familiar comfort of its tendrils.
It reaches; I resist, holding fast to the light, inviting it to awash me with peace and hope.

The darkness tempts me with the promise of cover and quiet.
I take two steps forward and one step back, hoping the shadows don’t pull me in.

The darkness reminds me that I feel home with it wrapped around me.
It knows I am uncomfortable in the light.

The darkness closes in as I take another two steps forward and one step back.
But the light shines more brightly and shrinks the shadows.

The darkness retreats and I take three steps back, distancing myself.
I suddenly notice the warmth of the glare of the light.

The light wraps its warmth around me and welcomes me home.
It doesn’t blind me; it helps me to see. My eyes simply need to adjust.

Conquering 2016

A few years ago, I decided to choose one word at the beginning of each calendar year to guide me and help inform my choices. When I’m stuck, I think of my word and it often encourages my personal growth. The process has worked surprisingly well for me and has helped me get through some really trying months, days, weeks, and moments. Each year, I carry the word over and continue to call on it to help guide and motivate me.

2013: Reclaim – After an unfortunate 2012, I chose reclaim for 2013 and I have been in the process of reclaiming every aspect of my life, since. Some things I have reclaimed in the most  unexpected and dramatic ways. This year, I will reclaim my body. If that sounds like a fitness goal, it’s because it mostly is. It’s more than that, though; it’s about strength. In 2015, I discovered my mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. Now, it’s time to strengthen the physical and take my body back so it reflects my inner strength.  Sure, the appearance of my body will change, but that is a secondary benefit. It’s time for me to feel strong in all aspects of my being – to reclaim my body as a reflection of how I feel inside.

2014: Shine – I chose to shine in 2014 and have been struggling with it since. I don’t like the spotlight and I don’t relish being the centre of attention. In 2014, I did manage to shine with Thank You Ninjas, but the momentum of that didn’t last because I was so uncomfortable. I didn’t like the attention it garnered and always shied away from the spotlight. Being featured in the Toronto Star, though exhilarating, nearly did me in. I wasn’t ready. This year, I feel I might be more open to shining and have an overwhelming urge to share my story. It just may be the year to figure out how to write it all down.

44291_10150585799434995_1835946530741007155_n2015: Rise - This word has guided me like none before; it defined 2015. Last year, I experienced many prolonged moments of darkness – to put it poetically. I needed to rise to survive. I had to physically rise every single morning and carry on with my life, take care of my kids, and do my job. Often, I took comfort in the cover of darkness, and this word helped me focus on the light and push me to rise out of the ashes. The darkness felt safe and inviting, but I knew in my heart that I needed to rise and step into the light – blinding and exposing as it felt. And rise, I did! I kept rising until the shadows stopped calling and the light stopped blinding me. Now, the darkness complements the light. And this year when I fall into the shadows, I will rise again.

2016: Conquer – After a few recent traumatic events, fears became a prominent feature in my life. I embraced existing ones and developed new ones, wrapping myself up in them believing they would protect me. Like the shadows, they comforted me and I let them affect my actions, interactions, and perception of my experiences. These fears lied to me and controlled me, and I let them because they made me feel safer. A few weeks ago, I realized that unless I’m in actual, imminent danger, fear is an illusion. Though some of my fears make sense given my experiences, few are rational and most are damaging. This year, I am going to conquer my fears. I am going to allow myself to question how they influence me and address the control they have on almost every aspect of my life. I don’t expect my fears to retreat easily; they will persist and come back and try to convince me they exist to protect me. But this year, and those to come, I will call those fears out, and I will conquer them one day at a time.

Home Sweet Home

July 28, 2014.

That was the date of my last post. 14 months ago. I remember that day – the last time I wrote. I was sitting in the screened in porch at my dad’s house, coffee in hand, soaking in the solitude and trying to quiet my brain. In some ways, it seems like yesterday. I can recount my inner dialogue – the pull to hit the road and go home versus the desire to just sit and be. Just be. Be still.

It’s amazing how a moment can feel like yesterday even after so much has happened since. So much pain. So much change. So much growth. In some of those moments, between then and now, I thought about this place. My place. The place where I share my thoughts and opinions. The place I expose myself. The mere thought of this place terrified me – there was so much happening, but I had nothing to share. Nothing to give. Exposure was not an option. To expose the rawness would only invite more pain.

So I steered clear of this place and it never occurred to me that I might come back some day. The only reason this place still exists is that I couldn’t be bothered to get rid of it. This piece of me. This account of almost nine years of my life, selective though the account may be.

Yet, here I am reclaiming this space. I’m clearing the cobwebs and declaring it safe to inhabit. To embrace. To expose myself in ways that remain to be seen.

10435521_10150439683529995_3087093137798234040_nI am a different person than I was on July 28, 2014. Everything is different and I couldn’t be happier. After months of barely keeping my head above water, I am now safely on solid ground – light on my feet, under a wide open sky.

My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, but with the light comes clarity and there is no going back. The dark, stormy waters are behind me. Forever. I have emerged a new person and I am reclaiming this space, as I have reclaimed my life.

Home sweet home.

 

Solitude and the art of being.

As I sit in the screen-in porch at my dad’s house, I realize that I am completely alone. The only other heartbeats around me belong to the hearts of birds and chipmunks, those wild turkeys that eat the birdseed that the squirrels knock to the ground from the birdfeeder, and innumerable other little creatures in the trees, grass, air, and cracks in the stone. But no people. I am the only one.

The wind picks up and rustles the trees. It’s a bit chilly for July. I think it might be raining, but I can hardly tell through the screen – maybe just a misting.10483631_10150406924284995_207213603067644352_n

Solitude.

I can’t remember the last time I was this alone. I’m never this alone in the suburbs – we share a wall with the neighbours. People drive by in their cars and on their bikes. They walk past our house on the way to school, or to catch the train. They are just always there.

This solitude is comforting and has given me time to reflect. It struck me today that I’ve lost the art of being. At some point, I became a doer – always thinking about what’s next, where I need to be, who I need to talk to, feed, bathe, put to bed, email, text back, call (gasp!), make dinner for, buy coffee from, get to an appointment with… so many tasks.

As I sit here, I am trying to just let myself write and push away thoughts about when I’m going to head back home and what route I’ll take – where I will stop for coffee and whether I’ll need gas before I get home. I’m trying not to think about rushing home to relieve the caregiver of my kids. I need this time. This solitude. This moment – for me, to be me, to just be.

I’m Still Standing…

“How are you still standing?” She said to me as we talked about my day. “I’d be a puddle of tears if I’d had to deal with half the stuff you do.” she said. I shrugged. “I don’t have a choice” I replied. “Besides, it’s my normal. I’m used to it.”

The truth is, though, that I often do want to dissolve into a puddle on the floor, or rock myself while clutching my knees against my chest, or not leave the house because the thought of getting ready seems like too much to bear.

But I resist. I carry on with my day, moment by moment, adjusting to every new curve ball life throws our way. I’ve mastered the art of catching them bare-handed before they break a window, or hit someone in the head. I wish I had a bat to hit them out of the park, but instead I just collect them, waiting for the pitcher to tire.

Our little family has endured a lot in the past 4 years – more than the average family of four, though every one has its trials. We’re dealing with medical issues, testing, treatments, side effects, uncertainty, and the death of a family member… and that is just in the past three months. It’s been difficult and trying, but we have a good support system.

An average month sees me at a doctor’s office, lab, or hospital about six times – for me and the kids. We’re starting to finally get some answers to some questions, so that might slow down in the coming months.

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It’s busy. I’m busy. It’s stressful and I’m stressed. But, I’m still standing. Because I have to and I need to and I want to. I manage, and in spite of all the stress and upheaval in our lives, I’m happy.

I have figured out how to cope – my therapy comes in the form of drives in the country and moments of solitude by the water. Nature grounds me and gives me peace. I focus on moments so I can live my life, instead of having it consume me. I revel in the beauty and find the joy in the moment – the smell of the flowers, the lapping of the waves, the wind rustling fresh leaves, Em’s shrieks of delight at discovering fish in a tank (even though I didn’t share in her delight). Life is made in moments – and my joyful moments far outweigh my heavy ones

Here’s to joyful moments…

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